Sunday, April 2, 2017

My Happiness Hat

As I travel my path as an artist and a person who is listening carefully to my soul, I found that I needed expand my art and share this journey...

So where would that take me and my beloved students?
I found that I had to stop, take a deep breath, and listen to my soul...and hear what it was telling me...

“Art is when you hear a knocking from your soul 
... and you answer.” 
~Terri Guillemets

It was telling me loud and clear to share my love of hats and the symbolism that communes with them...and with that I had to stop again, and ask questions and hear the answers...

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, 
and the less the artist does the better.” 
~André Gide

It is in the stillness that the answers will come to becomes so obvious that you wonder why it took you so long to get it!

“The whole culture is telling you to hurry, 
while the art tells you to take your time. 
Always listen to the art.” 
~Junot Diaz 

As I shared the direction my soul was going with my students in CA last year, they were receptive of creating a hat for a workshop was there in that amazing connection that Kathy came up with the name "My Happiness Hat"!

Of course!!! My Happiness Hat.

I thought about which materials I would use outside of fabric but still having the "hand" of fabric. Paper...but no ordinary paper. It had to be as thoughtful as my fabrics I use. It had to have the quality that I am known had to be different from what is usual.

I consider paper to be a sister of fabric. I have created in both for many of my artistic life.

Now...which flowers to bring to life in paper...

Lily and Peony...soulful and delicate.
Here my Story Hats© in fabric.

Lily = Love

Peony = Peace

I was excited to create these for a class...

In creating this hat...from paper, I felt that the details where just as important and meaningful as in my one of a kind Story Hats©.

As you well know, I am about the details of my pieces. I find that each step is very important in creating a quality piece.

So I looked at each element of the hat. The Petals, leaves, hat base exterior and interior.
I thought about the design of each...with one focal flower as in my original pieces.
And of course how would each flower relate to my students or potential buyer of these beauties.

I chose my paper carefully and ended up with a heavier weight designer crepe paper. It differs from the usual craft store paper in weave, quality of paper used, and in thickness. I also decided to mix my papers using a fine quality card stock for the leaves. The Hat base exterior was made from easy accessible card stock paper that my students could find, this way they could add their own touch into it. The interior was made from nice thicker wrapping paper and/or museum quality papers I found online.

Closely related to my fabric petals, where I dye the fabric, with the paper petals I bleached the ends.
Fabric Petals

Paper Petals

Fabric Petals and Leaf
Paper Flowers and Leaf

Fabric Interior

Paper Interior

I feel as an artist that it is important to do things with the same intentions and care, no matter what your project is.
Here are the Paper Hats...My Happiness Hats I created!

* Love: Lily 百合
The Lily symbolizes “forever in love” and is often associated with summer, abundance and luck. Used as a lucky charm, the Lily is known to avert the effects of the “evil eye.” The Lily hat is blessed with love and the power of warmth.

* Peace : Peony 牡丹
The Chinese name for peony means “beautiful”. The flowers represent riches, prosperity and honor.

Peonies embody romance and prosperity and are regarded as an omen of good fortune and a happy marriage. They are also considered as a symbol for nobility and honor in full bloom, the peony symbolizes peace.

I will be teaching My Happiness Hat 
Piecemakers Costa Mesa CA
April 22-23, 2017

...and as a bonus if you take the class you will be able to attend my Story Hat Presentation with the price of the class...I will talk about the presentation in my next blog!
I'm also very excited to share with you my work through a 2 hour slide show presentation of my work. I will discuss my work in detail and answer any questions about my work!

Not able to make the class
Sunday April 23 will be the presentation

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My Story Hat Book

Many of you know my Story Hats, the love of stitches and stories that come together.

...hats give you the possibility to dream.
Philip Treacy

When creating these Story Hats, I think about not only their size, shape, their movement, but also their voice...what do I want this hat to you.

For many years, people have been asking for a book of my Story Hats...and finally it is here! 

I have put together a carefully chosen collection of my Story Hats to include:
  • Butterfly
  • Goldfish
  • Seahorse
  • Lotus
  • Lily
  • Elephant
  • Dragon
  • Happy Dog
  • Rabbit/Hare
  • Snow Tiger
  • Green Tiger
  • and of course, Black Cat.

It is hardcover coffee table book and features stunning 12" x 12" glossy images from my amazing photographers Mark Mortensen and Allan Rodriguez Villalobos.
Each hat has two full pages of exceptional photography showing a full shot and close ups. 

I believe that my pieces are multi layered not only in fabric but also in meaning so, I have also shared with you the special symbolic meaning, wishes or protection each Story Hat holds.

The book has sold out in it's first unadvertised "outing".
I am doing these as a limited run with signed copies going to those who order in this next pre-order round. The cost is $69 + shipping (anywhere in the world).

If you are interested in this next pre-order run,
please let me know email me here and I'll include you!

I am grateful for all the years I have been able to create these pieces of my soul and am thrilled to share them with you.

The Story Hats themselves, as art pieces, will eventually be for sale, I will keep you posted...and I am now starting to create a couture line of my Story Hats for women!

I hope to hear from you!

As always...creating meaning to add beauty to your life.

Insight from others:
This book is absolutely GORGEOUS....extraordinary photos and Leslie's writing is, as always, lovely, wise, and inspirational! I hope everyone is able to add one to YOUR collections!

Excellent book! Keep going through it. Thanks Leslie. Look forward to your next one!

This book is a gorgeous and an instant inspiring boost. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Questions Part 2

This is a continuation of my Questions posting. 
My Questioning of myself and my it here.

As I stated there was some stumbling that lead me to questions myself and how to make a living with my have that "conversation with myself on what matters...what feels right.

I am finding that I ask a question and must keep a quiet mind to hear those answers. Taking the time to be become aware of the possibilities.

Many of you have do I become still...quiet? In today's world the noise has grown in such a manner that many do not realize that we are even living in noise. It has become a humming comfort to us...but myself, as an artist, I find that I cannot think clearly in clutter or humming.

For me, I take every morning as a ritual for myself. I walk, not as exercise but more as a meditation. I get out of my head and into the space around me...yes, it usually takes a good lap around the park before I can achieve this. And when I do I notice the sky, the birds, I notice that I am breathing...I notice the beauty. in all the feathers that keep coming onto my path! 
We now have a bowl of feathers...that's a whole other discussion...
Image may contain: outdoor

This quiet and talking with dear ones, has helped me to define who I am as an artist and my path. It may again be tweaked and change a bit...but I am now finding the answers very clear that it now seems so obvious!

So thank you my dear friends and cherished man in my're are making this journey glorious.

I am forever grateful.

So, how does this translate into my work??
I am finding that I have many collections that are just waiting to be created and some, like my dolls, that will continue on...

Let's start with one of my collections -  the beginning of my LL Couture line:

I started with bags and infinity scarves...I was thinking of the most versatile things...

I designed the tote from black wool and digitally printed fabric for the lining...this is the bag that I carry most often. I am fairly rough on it and it has held up well over the years. I pre-wash the fabric so you can machine wash it and yes, dry it also!

These are from the Botanic Series:
There are three bags left.
If interested please email me here.

I love these bags but I needed more... more of what my art is about...where my soul is...
After talking with my friend, Pam, it dawned on me like the sun breaking through the clouds! She said you are known for your dolls and your hats and your detailed techniques...there it was in the quiet stillness...the fabrics and my stitching...

So, here is my proto-type of my LL Couture Tote...
These bags are bit larger and can carry 8 1/2" x 11" papers in a folder, ipads,  phones, and other needs comfortably.

As you can see this is the same stitching technique I use on my Story hat base. 
Interior with a vintage kimono fabric pocket.

Initially I was going to applique my Lotus, Lily, Goldfish, etc on the outside...but after talking through concepts with my business consultant...another obviously came into light.

Keep the tote simple for the everyday and place the Lotus shape etc. into top stitching. THEN! the evening bag (fits into the tote) can be more expressive with my appliques. Everything starting to fall into place.

So bottom line and how does this relate to you?
  • Keep it simple, don't over think it. Quiet your mind.
  • Talk it over with trusted souls. Quiet your mind.
  • Let it happen, you have the answers. Quiet your mind.
  • Give it your best and always be kind.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Year of the Rooster 2017

and the Rooster crows...

Many of you know my love of studying Chinese and Japanese art forms and symbolism that contribute to and inspire my own art work.

With this, I find the Chinese New Year animals I hold this as a gospel for myself personally? No, not really since I truly believe we create our own paths. 

But, it is a bit curious that last year was the Year of the Monkey...

Monkeys are masters of practical jokes, 
because they like playing most of the time.
Mischievousness, curiosity, and cleverness, 
can make them very naughty.


2017 brings the Year of the Fire Rooster. It will be a powerful one, with no middle of the road when it comes to moving forward. This year, impressions count. You’ll want to be at your best and be clear on your intentions concerning love, money, and business. Stick to practical and well-proven paths to ensure success, rather than risky ventures.
Remember: In a Rooster Year, all of the Chinese animals can reap great rewards by tapping into Rooster traits.
Here are some of the characteristics that will be rewarded this year:
Hard work
Family values
Top-notch appearances  

Watercolor by Arti Chauhan

The year's is the Yin Fire Rooster. Yin is (in Chinese philosophy) characterized as female and sustaining and associated with earth, dark, and cold.

Inherently this Yin year, the discipline of metal meets the passion of fire may cause the year to have a mysterious duality... a little out of balance at times.

By carefully blending discipline and passion together, it will make a complete balance to create a perfect masterpiece!
The element of the year combines with the animal to color its influence. This year it’s fire, and I think that’s a good sign. Fire’s basic nature is to rise. And through illumination, it’s able to shed light into the darkest corners; this heralds a time of transparency and clarity. Fire also unifies. Humans through the ages have gathered around its warmth, and though many kinds of things can be fed to a fire, it all becomes one as ash. " -Link here to DragonTree Newletter 

The Chinese Rooster is also associated with the Phoenix, which is representative of all the powerful bird family bringing new opportunities and chances to your front door. What we lose in the ashes of the past can rise again in our future. This year is the year of new beginnings and scenarios. Strike while the fire is hot! Use the resources, the strength and tenacity of the Phoenix Rooster to make it happen. -Mary Shurtleff

The Phoenix is used because it is a more spiritual translation with the potential for personal growth. By facing your fears is to be reborn but is not always easy.
Therefore, the year of the Phoenix 2017 is a time of conscientiousness, hard work, discipline, and a realistic outlook. Practical endeavors succeed. Nonsensical plans do not. Be a bit frugal financially, and refrain from complaining. Choose your battles wisely because there could be much crowing and pecking this year. Keep to the high ground and do not engage in petty arguments.
Keep life simple. -for more link here

Bottom line:

Find Balance between discipline and passion. 
Keep it simple...while strutting your stuff...
keep gracious...and crow- in happiness.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Word of the Year 2017

I was reading some Facebook postings and noticed a dear friend had chosen her WORD for the year!

I looked back on my blogs and noticed that I hadn't chosen a WORD for about three years...yup that seems about was a three year transition that I went through to get to where I am today.

Extreme hardships can bring on the opportunity for extreme personal growth. 
It can be a time where it becomes possible to shed un-needed people, places, and choice or maybe by the Divine. I choose to believe both.

I like to choose a word for soul growth and that sets an intention for that year. To me, this brings the New Year in on a positive note versus behavior modifications that (most) times cannot be met.

There was a litany of so many words that scrambled through my brain!

...and when you least expect the right word to come to you it does... was in the middle of a kick-boxing lesson when my instructor was asking me for suggestions for a name of a new routine of hits and kicks...I said the banana peel and got kind of an eye roll...then I said how about unfolding lotus...well needless to say THOSE were not the kind of titles he was looking for...but it told me exactly were my soul was...unfolding...

to open to the view
: reveal; especially : to make clear by gradual disclosure and often by recital
to remove (as a package) from the folds
: unwrap
to open from a folded state : open out : expand, blossom
: develop, evolve <as the story unfolds>
 to open out gradually to the view or understanding 
:become known <a panorama unfolds before their eyes>

perfect...I believe I am at a place in my life where all the bindings that were holding me from being all that I can be are gone...or recognizable...and I can be who and what I am blessed to inspire share my share my artist.

In order to make this journey all that is to be I have found that one of the greatest lessons is not to push the process...let it unfold and it will and it has!
See this blog posting for more insight LINK HERE

I have found that when I push things to happen in my life, it only delays or derails the beautiful things that are suppose to come into my life. It is suppose to flow…to unfold.

When I feel that strong un-ease, I know that I am out of balance…my soul is actually telling me so. I’m resisting all that could be…. I’m pushing down the wrong path.

So, I back off. I take the time to stop and be quiet. It may take moments or days but the truly rightful soulful answer comes to fact it is so clear that I think "duh, of course"! And in some cases the answer may be to wait a bit longer because the right answer or path has not appeared yet.

From there the path is so obviously clear and focused...then I know I'm where I should be on this part of my journey!

Next week...

Letting the Path happen:

The LL COUTURE Handbag!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Hello All,
I would like to share with you my process as I unfold my life as an is a life journey where at times you do need to question yourself...your path.

My life has had some incredible challenges, that I am, now, so very grateful for. I needed everyone of those challenges to question where I was and where I wanted to go...and work to become the person I am today and the life that I am living today...thankful.

As I now stand on my own two feet with great support and look at my future as to how I will make a living. 

I would like to share with you, as perhaps, an inspiration or my hope, as a guide into the unknown (as it is).

In the hopes of continuing with my Story Hat© line, I initially thought of a sponsor purchasing the collection as an art display and donating it to a hospital that helps children with cancer. This was at the time still raw within my own heart after my Dad passed from brain cancer. What a great tribute to him in his memory.
Note: My inspiration came from hats that were originally created for children in China by the expectant Mother. These hats imbue protection and well wished for the child-to-come future. It took this concept and created my line of Story Hats©.

Goldfish Story Hat © Leslie Molen
copyright 2016
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos

Next, came the idea of creating polar fleece hats for children in (chemo) treatment that would be purchased by other sponsors. As the Story Hat Project©,these hats would be gifted to the children, in my hopes, to bring them joy and a bit of play into their lives.

Everything was the point of being accepted as a project by a hospital. Then BOOM!
Several road blocks started to arise. Which brought up questions...questions within myself.

After designing several polar fleece hats, I realized that it was not within my ability to create a version of the polar fleece hats that could be (realistically) cost effective without watering them down to something that I would not be happy with. On the other hand, keeping them at the quality was in no way feasible to be able to create as a mass product.

My questions to myself as an artist, as a business person where as follows: 
1. Was it even doable to make a living being an artist? I do things by piece not by hourly rate. 

2. How do I produce and sell enough to receive a monthly income that I can actually live on?

I have been very fortunate to be a full-time artist for the last 25 years of my life. In this time, I have been able to master my craft of textiles to be the best that I can be...and understand also, how to run it as a business (of art). I have worked extremely and passionately hard at it...

Hydrangea Story Doll © Leslie Molen
copyright 2014
Photography:Mark Mortensen

I was thankful for these "roadblocks"... it gave me time to breathe and think this through.

To ask questions, I came to the understanding that I am an artist, I am not a mass producer...this is what I am- an my my soul...with each and every stitch.

1. Yes, I am extremely efficient but also need to continue to create at the quality level that is associated with me as a master artist. Continue creating each as a quality piece and know that people will appreciate the originality and uniqueness of my work.

2. Expand my business beyond dolls (small very limited market) to pieces that are still original and unique but gain a larger market share.

I started with simply made tote bags and scarves...not quite there...but on the right path.

A very dear close friend told me that I am very well known for my dolls and my hats...geez...of course...I decided to expand on what I am already known Asian techniques.

Butterfly Story Hat © Leslie Molen
copyright 2016
Photography: Alan Rodriguez Villalobos

And so with that I am creating a line that I call LL Couture. This also in memory of my Dad who called me LL.

I realized that my first attempt was a stepping stone but not at the level I wanted and have worked so hard to be known for. At this posting, I have drafted the pattern for my new handbag that compliment my dolls and Story Hats...

Most importantly, I took the time to listen to my my soul and take that direction. 

For the Story Hat© line, I will continue creating them and am working on having them as a exhibit to share with others. Eventually have them for sale as art pieces.

The Story Hat Project©. I have not dismissed that. I so believe in giving back. The Project is on my work sheets that I hang in my studio...perhaps moved to the side- for now...the right person(s), time and place will come.

I have all faith that this is where I am suppose to be...this is what I am suppose to be...

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