Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Red Thread

Wow. I just finished reading a blog my cousin has set up to share their adoption journey. She and her husband leave today for Seoul, South Korea. They have been constantly in my heart these last few days and I know that God will bless this experience. I know too that they will be wonderful parents. The love they already feel, never yet having held their son is amazing. It's already the complete and unconditional love of parents. I can't imagine how emotional it will be to for them to meet their son.

Tomorrow is the day, and coincidentally it's my cousin's birthday as well. I'm absolutely certain she consider this birthday the very best ever! A while ago Heidi shared a children's book with me that I just love. It's The Red Thread by Grace Lin. Here's a description of the book.

"There is an ancient Chinese belief which states that when a child is born an invisible red threads connect that child's soul to all those people - present and in the future - who will play a part in that child's life. As each birthday passes, those threads shorten and tighten, bringing closer those people who are fated to be together. This story is not the tale of the legend, but a fairy tale inspired by the legend."

I keep thinking about this red thread today. If you've never heard of this before I really encourage you to read this book. It'll make you cry with tenderness for both parents and child.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Scrapbook-2007

I took a few photos of a scrapbook I made a few years ago that I thought included some pretty fun pictures. I'm always trying to take pictures of my son that really capture who he is at that age or what he's doing. A way of stopping a moment in time.

I tried to create a mix in the scrapbook of still shots of decorations, activities, and my son being cute. I also cut up a few special Christmas cards we received and added them to the scrapbook as well. Oh, and a tip- I had the blank scrapbook already made at Christmas so after, when my enthusiasm for the holiday waned, all I had left to do was add the photos and text.

One of the best techniques I stumbled on while putting this scrapbook together was to apply rub-on's directly to my photo's surface. It turned out to be a really nice way to integrate the photo into the page as a whole. I also got my set of gel pens for Christmas that year and decided to try writing right in the book.

Some of my favorite photo opportunities are:
Mailing a letter to Santa
The first Snow
Decorating the Christmas Tree
Snuggled in bed Christmas Eve
Holding a Christmas wreath
Throwing a snowball
Making Christmas Cookies

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Disappointed- but dealing with it.

Today's an up and down day. Actually, down then up I guess. It started whenI ran over to my local JoAnn Etc. to buy Ruth Rae's Layered Tattered, and Stitched. I had flipped through it before, loved the book, and keep thinking of it so I figure I should hand over one of my 50% coupons and get me one.

Alas, they had every book BUT that one. On the way out I found the latest Sew Somerset on the rack. Instantly a thundercloud must have appeared over me 'cause I just started grumbling because my last submission wasn't in it. Which is a dumb thing to be upset over- cause they might still use it for another issue. I was just disappointed. Besides- I have a BOOK coming out. Talk about needing some perspective.

It came as soon as I got home. First, the issue is great. I love everything in it. They seem to get better and better each time. If my work didn't get in, then at least it's because they has so much cool stuff to put in. Kind of consoling. Then I checked my e-mail. In it I found an e-mail from my editor with a lovely little attachment that made my heart actually leap. It was my book cover!!!! I can't show it yet but it's bright and pretty and will definitely stand out on the shelf. It's so much better than I imagined.

Down then up. I know as an artist that putting my work out there is putting myself out there. Sometimes I face rejection. Perhaps even a nasty critique or two. But I know it'll be worth it. It IS worth it. Every time I write something that encourages someone else it makes it totally worth it. Putting my work out there is the price I pay so that I have that voice. So that it will be heard. Totally worth it!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

From One Holiday to the Next!!!

Like all of you we had an extremely busy holiday weekend. Friday was Cookie Baking Day at my aunt's, and Saturday morning my mom informed us all that it was Decorating Day. So while Jasper and my mother were scouring the storage area for Christmas decorations I got the upstairs holiday ready.

I hung garlands and wreaths and then switched over the fireplace area. This is a focal point in many people's homes. Especially at Christmas! I thought the contrast in colors and decor was interesting so I snapped a few photos to share with you. You'll notice that the basic composition is similar. Two larger arrangements bookmarking a central area. The other difference is the candles. It's a small detail to change them but it really helps to pull the primary accent color up the wall. Creating a larger visual impression overall.

The deep red is repeated in the berry wreaths hung in front of the windows as well as the stairway garlands. My parents have been adding to their Christmas decor each year for years. It makes putting the decorations in place simple. I already know what they have and where it goes.

Which is why I was able to decorate the entire upstairs while Jasper and my Mom did the tree in his bedroom. But in their defense, Jasper did manage to cram on that little tree the entire assortment of ornaments usually left for the 10 foot tree upstairs.

As you can see in the photo I snapped, he is very very proud of his tree! Enjoy the holidays!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday To -do's

The holidays are almost here and my little boy has been asking everyday WHEN can we start to decorate? I'm making him wait til after Thanksgiving. Poor child! It's hard to wait- at any age. So today we are starting to get together what we'll need to celebrate Thanksgiving and then for the Cookie Baking Day which follows on Friday. So now that I'm thinking ahead I thought I'd share what's on my to do list these next few days.

  • Pouring through recipes to choose just the right cookies to add to our usuals this year.
  • Buying containers for all the cookies.
  • Taking a trip to Costco to buy all the ingredients- IN BULK!!!
  • Mixing up gingerbread dough and baking it in little house molds to assemble later.
  • Writing out our Christmas lists.
  • Listening to LOTS of Charlie Brown Christmas music
  • Listening to LOTS of other Christmas music.
  • Decorating Gingerbread houses with the boys.
  • Teaching them that more has to actually go on the house than goes in their mouths. (There's a ratio there...)
  • Putting up Christmas Lights.
  • Making sure no one falls and hurts themselves while putting up said lights.
  • Enjoying some time with family and friends- I hope you do too!!!
What do you do to prepare? I'd love to know...

Hope you have a wonderful start to the season!!! Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Creating a Focal Point

This weekend I was reminded of how amazing a good focal point can be. I'd been called in to create the floral decorations for a church dinner that was being held Sunday morning in our building's gymnasium. It's a huge space and very very gym-ish. Basketball hoops, court lines on the floor, and banners on all 4 walls. Impossible to disguise any of it. So instead of trying to disguise it I used a trick I'd learned as a wedding and events floral designer. I used the concept of a focal point. In event design this would usually be somewhere that was immediately visible to the eye upon entering the room. It would be big and glorious and immediately set the mood in the mind of the attendee that this was an occasion. By drawing the eye and creating that first impression I kept the attendees from noticing the room en large- at least until after that first impression was made. Secondly, they would notice the tables set with matching arrangements. I like to have two or three different styles of varying heights to add interest.

I also placed the arrangement on a round table sitting on top of a beautiful golden rug. The round shape contrasted nicely with squares and rectangles of all the satellite tables. Again, adding to the visual weight of the focal arrangement.
When I was doing weddings I would always visit the sites with the bride prior to creating a design. This way I was able to walk through and take notice of the places that the guests would linger. This might be the entrance, or an alcove, the dining table, or a staircase. Placing flowers in these places enhanced their value to my mind because they would register longer in the mind of the guest. Thus, they would make a bigger impression. It was also much more elegant than throwing money at everything because if you followed that tact the guest would tune out almost immediately because of the visual overload. As in a painting, the eye needs a chance to rest, and if you don't give it that rest it becomes fatigued quite easily.

Recently, a friend mentioned that a good party planner would plan their evening so it included high and low moments over the course of the night. If you constantly strive to keep the evening strung high the guest can feel overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted.

But now I'm thinking. I guess this might be true of life as well. If not for the depressions we might not appreciate as acutely the high moments. I guess we need both.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just an idea I had...

I'm been waiting to show you a photo of my little fabric and wire cuff until I had it finished. It still needed some snaps. I've never tried to add snaps before and I should probably have attempted it on something OTHER than this cuff to start. Live and learn. Well, maybe. I do this kind of thing a lot. Sometimes it pays off big and sometimes I have to start over.

So the snap thing didn't go real well and I have no finished photo for you so I'll share this. You can still get an idea of what I was thinking... and when I get version 2 done I'll give you all a peek at that as well! In the meantime, happy crafting!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Inspirational Quote

I was reading quotes about art tonight and found this from what I consider an unlikely source.

”Beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting.” -- Winston Churchill.

Blank Beauties

So my funk lasted two days and I said ENOUGH and decided the best solution was laughing with my 4 year old and playing with my art. I enjoy them both so much and they do my soul so much good. The playing part came easy since I'm still obsessed by the possibilities for my new angel forms. I'm thinking gardening angel with seed packets collaged to the thread form around her middle, and I'm seeing "wings" everywhere I look. So I spent a little time and made up two more "blank canvases". They're the basic form but without the personalities yet. Although I couldn't resist adding a little heart to them both. And maybe I'll just keep one of these as is. Sometimes simple is good.

But I find it's more fun to embellish.

Monday, November 16, 2009


It's funny how those "Monday" kinds of days so often fall on Monday. For whatever reason, today has been one of those kinds of days for me. It's been a struggle from the moment I woke up. I even went back to bed thinking that might salvage the day but, no. Still a Monday.

How do you deal with these days?

Actually, I feel like I need to clean house. I sort of let everything slide on the weekends thinking that Monday I'll clean it all up and start the week fresh. I've had that attitude toward my life lately too. I let it slide knowing that I have the book to finish. But it seems that if you let life slip just a little, before long it's a landslide and you're trying to figure out what to do with all the rubble.

I know what to do. I need to take care of myself. I need to give myself permission to cook some nice meals instead of just throwing everything together at 5 o'clock. I need to stock some yummy good for me eats in the cupboard instead of raiding the Halloween stash when I hit that 3 o'clock low. I need to get outside and soak up some Vitamin D and I need to exercise daily to keep my serotonin levels up.

I need to do a little self nurturing and spend some time with my husband by the fireplace and cultivate that comfy feeling. Instead of burning the candle at both ends. What is there about work that makes us think that we have to sacrifice everything else for it? I don't know. But I do know that if I take a little time to recharge I'll feel a lot better.

Maybe that's the lesson of Mondays.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Whoo-hoo!! 100 Sales!!

My Etsy shop reached a milestone yesterday- 100 sales!!!! I'm really excited. To reach 100 sales was one of my very first whispered goals when I started my shop and it feels really really good to see it. In fact, I copied it from my site so you could see it too. LOL!! It feels great. I know there are other shops out there that saw 100 sales the first month ( you shall remain nameless...) but my work is unique and not for everyone and so to see this is still a HUGE thrill for me.

other items

Saturday, November 14, 2009

And then there were TWO!!!

So the angel I created on Thursday night was so fun I went ahead and made another one yesterday. I don't think she's quite done yet but she was loads of fun to make. I love the idea of using art materials in my sculpture- not just to create it but to decorate it as well. So yesterday I grabbed a whole bunch of dried up Golden tubes I had left over from college and tried to wire them on to this girl's skirt. It ended up being a little too bulky seeming- but still a cool idea so I think I might have to work with it for another piece. Instead of the tubes of acrylic this little girl got a Tim Holtz ideology pendant that's stamped with the word "believe" and some yummy little clay fragments I had in my stash.

The fragments were made by Teri of Terraworks studio on Etsy, several months ago. I'd had the idea of creating a wire ball and then stitching in the clay pieces but the clay sticked out a little too much when I tried it, upsetting the rounded shape of the ball. Which I hated admitting to myself because they were just too cool. So I reluctantly set them aside trusting that I'd find a place for them in the future. And wouldn't you know they are the perfect accents for this angel. I love her so much more with these little fragmented bits of art wired into her skirt. They help to give her a personality and I just love that.

So now the ideas are just flowing in and I want to try all sorts of things with this form. But not today. Today I have to work on writing the introductions for each project in the book. So I will stop using you all as an excuse to procrastinate. Have a good weekend!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I had a friend just send me the dictionary definition of audacious and thought I'd share. Here's what I found at for the word audacious - extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive. Also - extremely bold or daring; lively; unrestrained; uninhibited.

Dream Audaciously

Meet my angel. She has spoons for wings and a chicken wire base. Stamped on some fabric scraps are the words "Dream" "Audaciously" and "Impossible things." A few posts ago Jill of creative oasis mentioned that she liked how I described my dream of the book as audacious. I hadn't thought too much about my choice of wording until I read her comment. Then I started to think a bit more about it.

Dreams are often audacious. When we allow ourselves to dream audaciously of impossible things, then there's a spark of hope and challenge that begins to well within us. A belief that maybe we could realize it, which develops into a what if we did- how would we start? And that is the beginning of actualizing our dreams.

Lately I've read how our dreams are given to us by God and how he uses these to instill in us a direction or purpose for our lives. Dream audaciously of climbing Mt. Everest? Or of designing your own line of children's clothes? How about writing a book? Or of having your own solo gallery exhibit? Often we live life dismissing those dreams in favor of what we see as real life. But what if we took a step towards our dreams? And then another and another? I believe we're blessed when we do. It takes courage to start, but once we do the way becomes clearer and it becomes a little easier. There is also the heart satisfaction that we are living the life we were created to live. Each one of us is unique with unique talents, abilities, interests, and experiences. Each one of us was created on purpose. Our dreams are often the clue to that purpose.

My little angel started out a week ago as an idea. Then Wednesday became a sketch. Then yesterday as I gathered supplies she became a little clearer to me, and then last night I found her. She wants to encourage us all to dream. Dream Audaciously of Impossible Things. What dreams of yours do you catch your breath at the thought of? My little angel wants to show you the possiblity and to wing you on your way to realizing that dream. I want to see you realize that dream. It's a wonderful journey.

Added Later: I had a friend just send me the dictionary definition of audacious and thought I'd share. "Here's what I found at for the word audacious - extremely original; without restriction to prior ideas; highly inventive. Also - extremely bold or daring; lively; unrestrained; uninhibited." Gives one ideas doesn't it? Thanks Shelley!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chicken Wire Inspirations- New Mixed Media Art

OH- the creative juices are flowing lately and I have way too many ideas and plans. Today I ran over to my local craft store and picked up a grey sweatshirt, a bunch of wooden finials and wooden accents, some snowflake stickers, a wooden ruler, some snaps, and when I got home and poured out the contents of my bag on the table I just sat down and laughed. I had the pieces for four different projects. When am I going to get done 4 more projects? But I'm determined. Otherwise the ideas are going to just flit around my mind bothering me until I give them some attention. Do your creative thoughts pester you like this? They suck up my concentration and disturb my thoughts until I'm just annoyed with them and will work on them just so I can move on.

Lately, I've had chicken wire on the brain. Maybe, because I'd toyed with the idea of submitting a chicken wire entry for a Somerset Life call. Maybe, because one of the projects I revisited at the photo shoot was chicken wire. Maybe, because a friend mentioned a bed stead made of chickenwire. I don't know why but it would be on my mind after all that.... :) Two days ago I had a vision of a chicken wire angel. Her body would be wood, her wings- metal, and her skirt- chicken wire. I've done some figures in wire but I think this mixed media angel could be something really special. So I gathered up a bunch of potential materials and I thought I'd give you a look. See what you think. I love how a mess of mismatched elements can become something.

Two weeks ago I created a chicken wire heart and then wrapped it with cheesecloth strips that have dried plaster compound on it. You dip it in water and then it hardens into the shape of whatever you lay it on. Mine was originally created to make medical casts. You know, to wrap broken arms or legs or whatever. I got it at a surplus store ages ago and it wasn't performing as well as it did 13 years ago. Maybe there's a shelf life I didn't know about. :) But whatever, the plaster was a bit crumblier than it had been and so I ended up covering up most of it with fabric strips that I dipped in liquid starch. You can buy the plaster product under the name Rigid Wrap at any craft store- mine came on a bigger roll th0ugh and was tons cheaper. So here's a look at that project too.

I love setting myself the task to really explore a medium or material. Once I start to play around with the possiblities of something the ideas just flow. So think about it... What could you create? Maybe it'll get your creative juices flowing as well....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Cherry On Top

Sometimes in life we hope and pray for what we need and really don't expect anything more. Then it comes, not just what we'd asked for- but above and beyond. It's as if God is showing us how much more he could give. It's the cherry on top. Last week I had one of those experiences. Not only did the photo shoot go incredibly well but all week long I was excited for Friday night. Yes, that was the end of the week and I knew I'd be so glad to have it over, but I was also looking forward to celebrating with a friend. That was the Cherry on top.

So Friday night after the shoot was over, I was able to "meet" my friend Shelley for the first time. We've been e-mail friends for over a year now. We met on Etsy way back when I'd first started. She was one of my first customers and when I looked up her shop I had to convo her and tell her how WONDERFUL and truly AMAZING I thought her work was. I've convo'd many of my customers but somehow Shelley and I really hit it off. We're both artists and we're both Christians and I think that gave us a base to start from that really helped the relationship along. I now count her as one of my very best friends and so, when I found out that my publisher was in Cincinnati- as is Shelley- I suggested we get together at the end of the week. It was so fun to anticipate and all week long I told people about it. It was funny to see the caution that came to people's eyes when I told them I was going to meet a friend from the internet. It does sound like the beginning to some horror flick, but I was confident we'd have a blast. And it was so fun!!! Definitely the cherry on top for the whole wonderful experience.

And really, finding friends and kindred spirits has been the best thing about all of my adventures of the last year. Any of you who are artists know how special it is to find those kindred spirits. You know, the people who just get you and you don't have to explain yourself to, I count so many of you in that group. Strangers who leave comments and become friends. Some of you I know well, and some I've yet to get to know. I appreciate each and every one of you though- and want each of you to know that in this adventure, you're all the cherry on top for me. Thank you!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Photo Shoot Week!

I worried about it, I planned for it, and the anticipation of it nearly threw me over the edge but the week came, and it went and it was wonderful! I was in the hands of professionals (North Light publishes approximately 70 books a year), and the people I met just reinforced that impression I had of professionalism. My editor, Rachel, was amazing to work with, as was the photographer, Christine. They were the two people I spent the majority of my time with and they made it so easy, as well as fun and immensely enjoyable to create this book. Best of all, I now feel like it's going to be such a better book than it was, because these two people have added their talent and time to make it amazing. I was also able to meet the designer, the sales and marketing staff, and a host of others who have completely humbled me with their enthusiasm for their jobs and this book. It was a wonderful experience.

The goal we had for the week was to step out all 25 projects within a Mon-Fri, 9-5 schedule. We finished each night ahead of schedule and by Friday we had just one project left and so I was able to clean up a bit and take a few photos of my own to share with you. It was a fascinating experience for someone who loves books as much as I do, to see first hand how they come together and all the people that are involved in the process.

The studio itself, is such an amazing workspace. The room I was in all week was my photographer, Christine's, and just one room of this massive workspace. It was really fun to get a look at the prop room and to glimpse some of the other author's works as they were being photographed. I have a fascination with the juxtaposition of plain and fabulous and this studio completely embodied that. I've seen the wonderfully polished photographs that are taken in this building and to see the workhorse of a space they're taken in was really interesting. The photo at right is of a room within the studio that they will paint and decorate to use as a backdrop for photographing an author's projects. All week it looked like the photo at right and then the very last day, Friday, it was completely transformed with curtains, furniture, bedding, and was positively adorable. All decked out and ready to showcase the new works of an amazing author. So for me, it was absolutely fascinating to see the lengths that North Light's photographers, designers, and stylists will go to for a great photo.

So that's it for the little studio tour- I hoped you enjoyed it!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The First Step

So in 2 more days I leave for Cincinnati to do the step by step photo shoot for my book, Creative Bloom! I'm excited. Then nervous. Then excited. And because the nervous part is there I went organizational crazy and have been trying to plan out every little detail of the next week. Impossible, I've decided, since I've never done this before and can't begin to know how it'll all work. My editor did send me a rough idea; work in the studio from 9-5, one hour lunch breaks to meet staff, and I gather that my evenings will consist of me, prepping for the next day. Doesn't sound so bad- right?

But because I've made it to this step, I looked back today at the first step. And I thought I'd share it with you. Waaay back in November of last year I was working on some article ideas for Stampington when I realized that I had quite a few and it was fairly diverse group. I had wall displays, jewelry, lamps, other home decor, christmas ornaments, and art quilts. In all I'd used the wire and fabric combination I love. Then it hit me that I had enough material for a book. It was a completely audacious idea and I started to think it through. The next few days I wrote an outline, looked at other craft books to find a publisher I liked, and did a little research on what a book usually included. The books I loved were all North Light Books so I decided to find out what I needed to do to approach them. Their website made it easy. They spell out exactly what they look for in a book, an author, and the proposal. Nothing I read excluded me or my idea. In fact, the longer I looked the more I realized that this part, the first step- was completely doable.

THEN, shaking somewhat, I told my husband. I didn't know what he'd say. I'd never done much writing and to suggest a book seemed a little crazy even to me. But he listened, looked at the North Light suggestions, and told me I could do it. That moment changed everything. He thought I could do it. It wasn't just a crazy idea I had. Suddenly, I was excited to give it a try. So, I did. The very next night I wrote up the proposal, the outline, put some pictures together, and e-mailed it off. I heard back the very next morning. The editor who replied was so nice and wonderful about it. She said what she liked, and what she was hesitant about, and made some suggestions. I replied and that was the start of it! Over the course of the next few months I completely reworked the entire proposal, created art samples to send, and changed everything about the outline as the concept of the book became clearer to me.

Last May it all went before the publishing board at North Light and was approved. So that's what, 7 months between my initial idea and my green light. It was so hard to wait! But I know that the timing was God's and that this has all been according to his timeline so of course it happened all as it should. But it's still been a fabulously, crazy ride.

Oh, and in case this inspires any of you.... here's the link to the page I found that began this all..... Remember crazy can just be the first look you might have at absolutely amazing!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Of Possibilities and Plans...

Have you ever gotten ready for a trip, putting all your energies towards preparing for a great new adventure and then once you've left- you think about home? Traveling anywhere away from home always stirs the "reflecting on my life at home" thought thread for me. It's one of the things I look forward to most. I love traveling but one of the primary benefits for me is that it allows me to gain some perspective on my everyday life.

The book experience feels to me like a trip I've been on for a long time and now that I'm past the half way mark ( I'll be done completely in January) I'm realizing how much of my time and energy has been unavailable to me. A qualification to be a mixed media artist should be a low attention level. We flit from one thing to another, to another. And although that worked completely in my favor designing the various book projects, I've been unable to really luxuriate in that "whither I will" feeling for a while. I was in the land of "set project" and it's been hard on me at times. I feel the tug to go off in different directions but have to be a grown up and tell myself "not til AFTER I get my work done." Of course that didn't always work and I have followed a few meandering side paths but the majority of my creative energy has been flowing into this book.

But now the little whisper is saying "not now- but soon..." and I'm like a kid in a candy shop. I can't even start to choose in what direction I'd like to move next. Do I want to invest my time in art jewelry classes? What about going back to the pastel drawings? What about this writing bug I've had? I could take classes locally. The art journalling I see artists like Zinnia and other women exploring is really exciting and I think I'd like to try more of that as well. Just choosing between 2-D and 3-D was impossible. So I'd decided to stumble on and let myself meander a bit. Don't worry about a direction and just play, play, play.

Then today I opened a package that seemed to focus me again. It was a little tiny package and inside were business cards. My first ever and there right on the front I saw them. My etsy address, and this blog address. Seeing those written right on there reminded me that I have goals with regards to both my etsy site and this blog that I haven't reached yet. Goals to make them amazing and informative and enjoyable for others. I have ambitions for these two sites that I can not wait to begin to work towards again. Lots and lots of plans that I want to see fulfilled and so I've decided. When this is done I'm going to refocus on these two things and see just how far I can take them. This isn't incompatible with the whole fun thing either. I can play constructively.

Just not yet.

Oh, and the business cards- Shelley of did a fabulous job designing them for me- Thanks Shelley, I love them!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Letting Go of Your Work

It was 4 months and 25 projects but I am done done done! And there's nobody home so I'm going to celebrate with you!! Life's been pretty crazy lately, as I learn to balance family, the book, my job as a stay at home mom, and friends. At times I really wondered if I could do it and although I'm not done with it all yet- I am now one HUGE step closer!

The last project I finished was a bracelet. When I submitted it as part of my final project list last July it was a vague idea teasing me. I loved the idea but didn't know how to do it. So every time you hear me suggest that you, my artist friend, take a risk, I want you to know I do it too. The bracelet was a risk- but I had confidence that I could work it out as I went. Well the time went and I was down to my last 4 projects and I still had only a vague idea of what to do. But you know, as soon as it was time to "do it" the inspiration came. That's just one small experience but it actually sums up the progress of most of this book. I get an idea, have no idea how to do it, commit to doing it, and then when the time comes- the inspirations there. It's been a wonderful experience and I really feel as if God has been right beside me this entire time. As if it was a partnership with him doing all the hardwork and my job being to wait or act as the moment dictated.

The picture of my son above reminds me that when you write or create from the heart, letting that work go, is like throwing stones into the water. Our work is something we want to hold close and treasure. The projects I've sent to the publisher are my soul's work from the last 4 months. I could have held them close but by sending them I was making the choice to let go and toss them as hard and far as I could. They'll fly for awhile then drop into the water. And then, if I'm lucky, they'll ripple the water in countless circles and effect the lives of others. Hopefully encouraging them to do the same.

Although- if you want to know a secret...I always take a few pictures of the completed work before I send them anywhere. That way I can pull the image I want, whenever I want, and visit it. I know that I would never have made the jump to selling my work on etsy if I hadn't figured that one out. I need to know that I still have them available to me in some form. They're just too much a part of me.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Spooky Fun!

Just a head's up to head over to Shelley's blog for some more spooky fun. She's got pumpkins and crows and my personal fave- a papier mache skull covered with a baroque pattern. Ooooh! Just lovin' it! She got creative and used the same pumpkin piece in both her harvest and halloween pieces which is just so clever! So click here for the details!You'll boo amazed!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Starbuck's Inspiration

Here it is! More Harvest Decor that's quick and easy to make and add's a really nice personal element to your home. Here's the inspiration behind this project:

At the end of August I was looking forward to a couple of things happening in September. One was Jasper's first day of school and the other was the reintroduction of Starbuck's seasonal latte, the Pumpkin Spice. I've never been big into the coffee drinks, but one day as I was sitting with a friend over coffee the server came around with samples. In our memories it's strange what we can recall clearly and what seems fuzzy. The birth of my son- fuzzy. The first time I tasted a Pumpkin Spice Latte- I have complete recall of it. So yummy! So last year and now this year I've added it to my list of seasonal treats along with pumpkin bread and apple muffins.

When I started to create this little quilt I hand cut the pumpkin shape first with all of it's elements and stitched that on before I could think of what to add to the space above it. I thought of "Autumn", or "Harvest-y goodness", or just something about Fall. Nothing really worked. But then it came to me. "Pumpkin Spice is Nice." Now you may be thinking you would have chosen something else but this was personal art and I made the personal connection and now I smile when I see it. What simple pleasure could you make art of? Is there a Harvest osmell or activity you particularly look forward to each year? Something you'd like to share?

How To:
1) Creating a mini art quilt is fabulously easy (which I love), and you get great results (which I love even more)! To sketch out some ideas, then choose one and select some fabrics to work with. Working with different patterns and colors is really enjoyable to me so I sometimes start here and then figure out what to make of them.
2) Cut out a background piece- Here I chose black. Then, cut out your major design elements, I have the pumpkin, the leaves, etc. They cling really well to the background fabric once you set them on, so I use this opportunity to do some collage like playing around with the piece to further develop the design.
3) Once you have want you like laid out on the background piece, start to stitch them into place. Sometimes, just for ease, I'll glue on the smaller fabrics with a dab of the glue stick. Then using the embroidery floss of your choice start to straight stitch the pieces together. I love this step because the stitches add a drawing element that really adds to the collage feel of this process.
4) After I stitched down everything I usually step back to look at the overall design. This is where I decided on the "pumpkin spice" theme. I hand cut the letters and then glue sticked them down. I do need to go back over with some stitching to hold but it's good for now. Or I might pull them off and adhere them to a piece of that iron on interfacing. Then cut them and place them as desired. Easy!
5) Embellishment time! Now is the time to take a look at your design again and see if there's anything you can add to give it that extra punch. I chose to add the green backing fabric and some buttons. I have half a mind to go back in and add some salvage items I have, like an old roller skate key, but we'll see.
6) To finish I cut little strips from scraps of the orange fabric for ties. Bend the piece in half and then stitch to the top of your quilt. It can then hang from anything you'd like. I might switch this one over to an old ruler yet. Or a rusty old hanger. We'll see.... FUN!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tutorial: How to Spell "BOO"!

Inspired by the season, Shelley of Singlestone Studios and I have put together a couple of projects to share with you this week. So swing on over to her blog after this for some more harvest inspirations! Here's my first contribution, a quick little project I created this weekend just for you bloggers! It's a little "Boo" sign that is both simple and cheap to create. I estimate that the entire thing cost less than $5. I did it myself but you could easily involve your kids in this one too!

What you need:
3 little unpainted wooden plaques (JoAnn)
19 gauge steel wire (hardware store)
4 odd cream buttons
chalkboard paint, black
paper towels
1/4 yd. approx. orange and black fabric (JoAnn)
glue stick

Craft drill
wire cutter
needle nose pliers

Step One: Glob on some of the chalkboard paint to the top of each plaque and rub it in with a paper towel. We're going for a glazed look so if you get too much in areas- wipe it off. I put just enough on to cover the wood completely, but still see the grain. Let dry.
Step Two: I used my craft drill and put holes in the top corners and bottom corners on 2 of the plaques but on the third only drill 2 at the top corners.
Step Three: Sand your edges to get a nice worn and spooky look.
Step Four: Cut out a "B", and 2 "O's" from the orange fabric. I handcut mine but you can blow up the letters in your word processor and then print them out for insta-templates. Just hold the paper and fabric together and cut around your shape. It's an easy way to get a certain font. I think hand cut works pretty well for this project however. Rough looks nice here.
Step Five: Cut about 12" of the wire and thread one end each through the top two holes of one of the 4 hole plaques. This will be the hanger, so leave a little slack and then wrap the ends around the wire and then trim excess. If desired you can make a little loop in the center where it will hang.
Step Six: Cut 4 lengths of wire approx. 6" in length. Thread through holes from back and connect the plaques one below the other and so on. I spaced the plaques as I wanted and then twisted the wire. Then wrap one end around the other and then clip the excess. The second end gets trimmed to about a 1/2" length and then you insert it through a button. Wrap the wire over into the second button hole and then under for security and then trim any leftover wire. Do this 4 times to finish.

So there you go 6 easy steps and you have a stylish and spooky bit of home decor you created yourself! This same project could be altered so that the plaques are side by side and say trick or treat or use a harvest theme such as Be Thankful. Instead of text you could also get creative and do a trio of bats or pumpkins. If you go harvesty painting the plaques a pumpkin or deep red tone and then accenting with a bit of gold paint would be very pretty. You could also use these to go 3-d. Simply drill through the plaque where you would like to add your skeleton keys or sticks or whatever and then wrap the item with wire and twist behind to secure. I think using old wallpaper on these would be fun too. SO a simple shape but lots and lots of places to go with it. I could see a triptych created from these as well.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Local Craftiness: Crazy Fun Weekend!

Sometimes you only have time for one load of laundry, do you yours or your kid's? I chose to do Jasper's and ran around town wearing whatever seemed cleanest all weekend. But it was an awesome few days. I started it early by throwing caution to the wind and taking my son to Junk Bonanza on Thursday for the Blogging Party. I sound dramatic but it's a big risk taking a 4 year old with to an event like that. Fortunately God smiled on me and I thought to call and invite my cousin to join us. We played tag team with Jasper and I got to meet some fabulous craft personalities.

What I liked best however was meeting some local gals who I'll introduce you to in my next post. Fellow moms like Jill Hinson (who created the Thrify Mom's Challenge Table- which rocked), and artsymama (blogger extraordinaire!). I was completely blown away by the creativity of the vendors as well. I saw a bit on Thursday and then returned on Saturday morning with a friend to see the rest. When I got home I filled 4 sketchbook pages with ideas I had and sketches of what I'd seen.

Two hours at home and then it was off to Scrapfest 2009 at the Mall of America. I'd registered for the Stylish Standing Desk Calendar workshop sponsored by Me and My Big Ideas. It was a good little project and I liked that they gave us a lot of extra materials. We got the majority of it done right there in class and I'll finish the rest up sometime this week. I took the class because I eventually would like to teach classes like this and wanted to experience one first. So between the blogging party I attended on Thursday and the Scrap class on Saturday I feel like I really did some positive things for my future art career. Yay!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Local Craftiness: Junk Bonanza Coming SOON!!!

Ok I almost missed this one. But I'd wandered over to the MNhandmade Ning group to leave a comment for Jenni of Smith's Infusion, when I happened to see a post about a blogger's party. Curious I clicked. A bonanza of happiness greeted me. For those who don't know( cause that was me 10 minutes ago), the Junk Bonanza is a wonderful happy place. But for more specifics I have a quote from their website.

"The Happenin’s
What the heck is the Junk Bonanza, you say? Y'all must be a newbie. The Bonanza hosts over one-hundred juried “junk” vendors. These folks are harborin’ all sorts of vintage finds, from eye-popping antiques to one-of-a-kind old-timey wares. There are local harvest goods to get your taste buds tingling! We've also got plenty of activities going on, so be sure to check 'em out!"

Sounds fun you say? It gets better! Matthew Mead who I mentioned last post, is going to be there as well as The Farm Chicks, and local fave Ki Nassauer. Who in my opinion is THE GIRL as far as upcycling and repurposing greatness goes. I'm also kind of excited to see the challenge table decor that Jill Hinson is creating completely from hardware store finds.

But back to the blog party. It's a party from 1-2pm Sept 17th for bloggers. There will be several celebrity bloggers attending including Jo Packham, creator of Where Women Create. So my question is- Do you think I can bring Jasper? and then would I want to? What do y'all think? :)

Friday, September 11, 2009


We're starting to get into the season here and yesterday's shopping trip did nothing to curtail the urge I'm feeling to spookify my home. The first shop I walked into was brimming with cauldrons and witches and spooky spooky decor. LOVED IT! So I bought a few things and set them up while cooking dinner last night. I couldn't wait. Unfortunately that meant that my family did. We ate a little late. But when one feels the urge to decorate I say go for it! So I pulled out my bittersweet garland and played around with some crows I had purchased earlier. Very very fun.

Then this morning I woke up with plans for adding some written wire words (BOO!) and a spooky tree. I pulled out a tree form I'd started a while back and finished the wire work on that and let Jasper put his little cat and pumpkin knick knack under it. He's always afraid I'm going to sell the stuff he likes so he made sure to tell me that it was NOT for sale. Kind of cute. I'm thinking it needs some spider webs and maybe a noose. Or some bats and ghosts hanging from it 's branches. I also have some boo-tiful orange and black fabric that I'm thinking might look really cute stitched to the leaves. Although that might be over kill. Still I like the idea. I've also got some plans for a big wire spider's web with a scribble spider to hang in my foyer. Or maybe we'll make the spider's body of fimo. Ideas... ideas! A big moon would be fun as well.

And just to whet your appetite a little more... I want to introduce you to one of the most creative books I've stumbled on lately; Matthew Mead's Halloween Book. It's got one great idea after another and I just positively love them all. Party decorations, yummy spooky eats, stitched fabric moon quilts, and fabulous little needle felted pumpkins are just a few of the goodies in this must-have or at least must-look at book for the season. I love it! Oooh.. and in the next few days I'll try to post a few more scary ideas and I have a tutorial that's been requested as well. Lots and lots of fun you won't want to miss. And remember now...(insert spooky cackle here) YOU'Ve BEEN WARNED!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Upcoming Submission Info

It's helpful for me to see all upcoming submission deadlines in one place so I thought I'd post them here and share them with you all too.

First up
Greencraft Magazine is calling for any repurposed, recycled, or upcycled art to publish in the second issue of this new magazine. This is a Stampington publication and I really liked the job they did with the premier issue. Rather than follow their usual format of writer submitted articles, you submit your work and the article proposal but they seem to do the writing. So it makes for a nice cohesive read. Plus I love the ingenuity of the "green" artists and the quality of art seems really fabulous for a initial publication. Deadline: Sept. 15th, '09

Art Quilting Quarterly is another new publication that looks really promising. I would love to get some work into this. They do have some reader challenges listed for their next publication that look really fun. There is a challenge to create a quilt block using as your inspiration something in your car. It could be old gym shoes, or the dash, whatever. Another really inspiring idea is to create a work using the Johnny Cash song, Walk the Line. I'm thinking that could be pictoral or abstract.... Finally, the last challenge that I thought was really interesting would be to create a quilted triptych. It's a format that has always fascinated me and I think it would be lots of fun to design "outside the box". Just figuring out a creative way of linking them would be way too artistically entertaining. Ok now that you know what a challenge geek I am.... you should try it too! Deadline for all three of these challenges is: Oct. 15th, '09

Next of interest,
Somerset Life has a challenge calling for creative uses of chicken wire. After getting creative with that medium for the May Day Cone I conjured up for the book I decided this would be a fun challenge to do. The suggestion in the challenge is for artists to feel inspired by an artist in their last publication that wrapped chicken wire around mason jars for a chic vase. That sounds sooo shabby chic and I need to get a look at that. Deadline: Nov. 15th, '09

New to the News stands in April of 2010 is Prims: The Art of Primitive Elegance. Stampington describes the artwork that they envision for this new publication as "art that will capture the imagination and enchant with it's simple beauty- be it through dolls, jewelry, painting, mixed media works, teddy bears, or illustrations." They also emphasize that this will be a collection of handcrafted artistry. I love the idea of this publication. In my work I try to really almost exaggerate the handcrafted feel of my stitching and wire bending. When I get it too perfect it ends up losing a lot of it's character and resembles too closely the mass produced art and decor we see everywhere. The soul of the art seems to reside in it's imperfections. Through these the hand of the artist is visible and contrasts favorably with that which is done by machine. In my opinion. :)
Deadline: Nov. 15th, '09

There are also two other new publications that you might be interested in.
Jewelry Affaire is described as featuring jewelry that is simple with an understated elegance. They are requesting submissions that are easy to understand and create but that radiate elegance. To view this Call you can click here. The second is All Things String. It is calling for art submissions that use string innovatively. Wool, strips of t-shirts, thin white yarn, hemp string, as long as it's string they want to see what you can do with it. I love the idea behind this magazine as well. You can knot, stitch, weave, knit, crochet, loop, pin, or braid it into jewelry, rugs, wall art, and furniture. Whatever you can imagine and create. Sounds like soooo much fun!!! The deadlines for these are Nov. 15th, and Dec. 1st respectively.

These are Stampington publications, and to see the full write ups of the calls please click here. I've also looked at the Cloth Paper Scissors readers challenges and you can see those here as well.

So take a look and if any of these get your creative juices flowing- give'em a shot!! If nothing else you've an amazing challenge to inspire you to create some amazing new art. What's not to love about that?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Recycled Decor

The last week I've taken a bit of a break from the book projects to concentrate on designing and creating the decor for my local MOPs group meetings. MOPs is short for Mothers of Preschoolers- preschoolers being birth to age 6 or so. This is my fourth and last year- next year Jasper starts Kindergarten. With the book I didn't know if I could be as involved in the decorating and projects as I have in year's past but I found that it's one thing acknowledging that in my head and another actually giving up the position. At the leader's meeting I couldn't help opening up my mouth and suggesting things. Of course, once you suggest things and others agree it's pretty much up to you to execute the ideas as well.

It was just sooo hard. The theme this year is "Together on Planet Mom" and I was pushing for the "go green and it's all one world" interpretation vs. the Space Aliens from another planet interpretation. I envisioned recycled decorations. For instance, using past year's purchases and adapting them to this year's theme. I also thought I'd use old cereal boxes for name tags and the bulletin board and recycle pages from old cookbooks and maps to pull in the Moms One World theme. So with this vision it was completely impossible for me to keep my mouth shut while they were talking space party decorations from the dollar store.

I had fun though and recruited some help so it hasn't been too much and I'm pretty much done and ready to go back to the book stuff. Plus, I figured out that it's good to be focused but it's also important to be able to take a break occasionally and do something for fun. I had fun with the name tags but I had LOTS of fun doing a write up on the theme. It's titled Motherhood Manifesto. One of them sent me a link to submit it to the MOPs international site and crazy thing- they took it! I'd love to have you check it out. So taking the time to do something else had been good. Now I feel like I've escaped the tunnel vision I felt I had before and am able to start again with the book stuff a little refreshed. So that I guess is the moral to this story. WORK HARD but take a break once on a while and HAVE FUN, just cause, too!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Creating My Own Fall Garden

It's been a crazy summer weather-wise this year. Much cooler than usual. We seem to have gone from Spring right into fall with maybe a few odd days of 90's. Yesterday I saw my first orange leaves announcing the advent of fall. I do enjoy fall and fall colors are my absolute favorite to play with especially when I was doing weddings. Orange red callas with deep purple mums and chartreuse little kermit mums make me swoon. So this week when I decided it was time to restock the Etsy shop I created some fun springy blooms of wire and then indulged in some fall colored fabrics. I just loved working with these. So here's a photo of my springy-fall blooms and maybe the colors and patterns will get you thinking it too! The majority of them will be listed soon in my shop as well. YAY!