Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes You Feel Inspired, Sometimes You Don't

There are days that I look at this blank screen and think "what can I possibly say that anyone else would like to read?" I feel tapped. Then I look at the list of past posts on the side of the page and I think how did I ever find that many things to write about? Some are just fun and frivolous, some are of news I'd like to share, some are etsy items I love, and some are about books I've read. Usually I'm attempting to share something with you. You may or may not be interested but I'll throw it out there in the hopes that because it interests me it might interest some of you.

Inspiration fuels all our creative activities,including blogging, but only sometimes does it take you out of yourself and make the creation process effortless. When I write with this kind of inspiration, I feel like the typist, not the writer. The words are given to me. You know how that is, it happens with art too. Sometimes every decision you make seems made for you. Every color or mark you make was whispered to you. You simply do as you're told. It's inspiration at it's finest. it.Those are the times that I feel like God is breathing the inspiration into me.

Today I don't feel inspired to write on any one thing or another so I thought I would write about that. But as always when I think about inspiration, one thought leads to a question that leads to another thought that inevitably leads to a question. So for the rest of the day I'm going to keep track of all the instances when I acted upon inspiration. Whether it was reaching for a red colored pencil or a blue- or composing a photo from a slightly different angle, or writing down my thoughts.

I'd love to have you give it a try as well! Then let me know if you were surprised by anything. I'll do the same and it'll be our little experiment! Thank you!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Fashionable Escape

Every once in a while things get a little too hectic around here and I like to grab a little escapism time to roam the web in search of the fabulous.

This morning I found a link on fb for an online shop that was new to me- Shop Ruche. I love their vintage inspired modern, it reminds me of the things at Anthropoligie that make me swoon. But if you hop over, check out their prices. I haven't done any internet clothes shopping but I'm definitely going to check back here when searching out some new pieces for the fall.

Thinking fashion I have two other things to share with you. One is the new book Sew Serendipity. The eye candy here is amazing. I love (i.e. want) everything I've seen so far. I've been on a look out for a killer trench for a while and love this take on it (see above). If you visit the author's blog you can see another version of a coat she made and is wearing in this post. Super cute!

The other place my momentary escape took me was to Alabama Chanin's site. I've been a fan of this company's aesthetic, and design since I first happened upon Natalie Chanin's book, Alabama Stitch Book. She does a lot with detail and stitching that really captivates me. If you aren't familiar with this artist or her community it really is worthwhile checking out her book. Especially if you're someone who loves the hand sewn look or loves to hand sew.

My time is up- I hear a munchkin calling my name. :) Have a great day!

Monday, June 28, 2010

An Interview and the Release of my Book's Cover!!!!

I had a super pleasant surprise this morning when I found an interview I did last week on The Shop Bug's site. It was a surprise because she pulled a lot of images from my blog to go with the interview. Some of which I haven't seen for a while.

I really loved doing this interview. It was a lot of fun to think about some of the questions Rachel asked. You know, you don't think about some things UNTIL someone asks. She has a great site so I would LOVE it if you would follow the link above and check out the interview.

THEN I scrolled down and found she had my book cover. YES! MY book cover has been released!!! Here it is:

(I don't think I've ever used so many capitals in a post before)!!!! I absolutely love what North Light did for the cover and don't think it looks like anything else out there. What do you think? Wouldn't this stand out on the shelf if you were browsing? Wouldn't it make you want to pick it up and see more? I think so... :)

Yay!! It finally seems like it's really all happening!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

"My Mama is an Artist"

Photos taken by my son- J. Swift, age 5
I wrote this post in my head last night while I was putting my son to bed. I was thinking about a moment earlier in the day when he had my camera. He was snapping pics and said in this oh so serious voice, "Now I want to take a photo of the Artist with her Art." At the time I just thought how cute his little voice was when he said it. But later, as often happens, he was going to bed and I was going over the days moments in my mind. Suddenly I began to think of that comment in a different light.

My son is 5. He has never known the mama that was too scared to call herself an artist. The mama who wanted more than ANYTHING in the world to be an artist. He never knew the frustrated me who was always out of sorts because I had a dream with no idea how to realize it. He never knew the mama who was, honestly, scared to reach for her dream because there was risk associated with it.

The mama he knows is an artist, who makes art every day, who has business cards that say "artist" under her name. The mama he knows wrote a book about her art journey. He doesn't know anything different. I think I'm very glad that the mama he knows dreams big and reaches for those dreams. He's seen my work in magazines, he's seen me excited, he's seen me selling my work and goes with me when I ship it to places like Vancouver, Singapore, and Australia.

I wonder if he'll grow up ready and expecting to reach for his own dreams someday because of this. I wonder what kind of influence this mama will have vs. the me that existed before. And I wonder if maybe the timing of it all wasn't due to the fact that this me had become a mama. There's something about becoming a mother that clarifies your view of the world. That makes you more ready to stand up for your family and your self as an extension. Truly, I wonder if I would be the artist I am today if I hadn't become a mama first.

What about you? What has changed your life and are you ready to grasp your dreams? Will you be the person you want to be or the person you don't? What kind of mama or papa will your child know? Will she be an Artist? Will he see you frustrated by life, or reaching for your dreams in spite of the daily frustrations of life?

As always I'd love to hear what you think- so please leave a comment!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Local Craftiness: The Creative Connection

Ruth Rae's Family Keepsakes Album
The blog button's been there for a few weeks now but I'm starting to get a little excited for this fall's Creative Connection. It is a 3-day event here in Minneapolis, that will be bringing in amazing artist/entrepreneurs from all over the country. It was put together to be a girls only event that will have a pretty even mix of art classes (yay!) and business courses/panels for the artist who's trying to make her way. I first read of it back in March and got so excited I couldn't sleep the night I read of it. I just couldn't believe an actual to goodness art retreat was happening here in the Twin Cities.

I'd read for years about Art and Soul, and events that are similar and really really really wanted to go. It was and still is, a dream of mine. Now here was one that is completely unique in that it combines art with the business of art- and it was LOCAL. I wanted so badly to go. My husband made it happen. If any of you are at a crossroads with your artistic business, or just starting one, and if you're somewhat local, try to attend this conference. If only for a day. I really feel in my heart of hearts it will be worth it. It's a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. That's also the weekend of Junk Bonanza which I attended last year and have to assure you is another "can't miss."

If you do decide to come- let me know. I'd love to meet you!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A look inside my Sketchbooks

Ideas for mini art quilts
Art journals are all the rage and while I LOVE looking at the gorgeous filled pages, I can't help contrasting them with my sketchbooks. The visual journals are beautiful, stunning, colorful and works of art unto themselves. Mine are, well, not. They are less works of art and more of a tool for me to use as a collection point.

I've kept a sketchbook since my figure drawing class in college. The instructor was amazing and forced us to develop sketchbook pages as part of the course credit. I loved it and have usually had one at hand, or in my purse, or with me in the car, ever since.

One of my covered covers
I know several artists will actually keep several sketchbooks at once but I like having all my recent thoughts, ideas, and sketches together in one place. When I've filled that sketchbook I date it and then, start another. I ALWAYS decorate the cover, add ribbons to the side, whatever to make it personal. I consider a sketchbook a must have- just curious but what do you do to keep your ideas and thoughts together?

Here is a sampling of what I put into my sketchbooks.
      - notes on techniques I've been reading about
          -color combinations that thrill me
-my thoughts on the museum or art fair trip I just took
-inspiring quotes I've stumbled across
-visual lists of my products
-rough sketches of ideas for different projects
-photos to jog my memory of something
-articles torn from magazines
-to-do lists
-things I WANT to-do lists
-postcards of art I love with a note about why I love that piece
What got me thinking about this today was the new book, Journal Junkies Workshop by Eric M. Scott and David R. Midler. I really like how they sort of combine the "art journal" with my workhorse of a sketchbook. It's a great book filled with techniques and ideas- check it out if you have the chance! And let me know what you use. I'm super curious!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Giveaway Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS JANEL!!!! You'll receive a set of three flowers in the distressed cream finish. THANK YOU ALL for participating!

Monday, June 21, 2010


It's Monday and I'm excited. NOT because it's Monday but because today I get to announce my GIVEAWAY! By request, I'll be giving away a set of my Wallflowers.

If you've been looking for a way to add that sweet handmade look to your decor- This will do it! I have them up in my own home and LOVE them. They will come in a set of three, and in your choice of black, distressed cream, or rust colored.

They hang on a simple finishing nail and will go anywhere. I have them grouped around a piece of art, but they would easily go in a line across the top of a mirror, down that little tiny thin piece of wall you have in your hall, or scattered above the headboard of your little girl.

SO to enter, simply head over to my new facebook fan page and hit LIKE then, leave a comment under the status announcing this giveaway. Let me know if you would like your set in black, distressed cream, or rust colored. CONTEST ENDS ON WEDNESDAY, June 21st. I'll contact you on Wednesday via facebook if you've won. Good luck to you ALL!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Passing it Along- Fabric Time Keepers

diy ornithology clock
Saw this diy ornithology clock over at going home to roost's site today. I LOVE it! She pulled it from design*sponge and the original contributor was Katie Pruitt. The bird theme is sweet, the feathers make it fabulous, and the fabric/embroidery hoop make it divine. So check out the tutorial here.

Strangely clocks are one of those things that have interested me lately. Just yesterday I was idly brainstorming ways to make a fabric and wire clock and how I would support it, the structure, etc. I don't know why this was on my mind. These things just happen sometimes. Then I find this gorgeous fabric clock and I swoon. So coming up with my own design is definitely a project to put on my "must do" list.

Now curious, I also did a bit of research on Etsy. This item is titled "Super Funky Fiber Clock" and is by Slapdash Designs. Super and funky are definitely the right adjectives don't you think?

Then there was the Fabric Watch by JSartist. They don't actually keep time but I thought they were cute. :)
Cute- if you haven't figured it out yet goes a LONG LONG way with me.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Thursday Watercolor Class

Some of the girls getting ready for class to start
Last week my first watercolor class was rained out before we could actually start painting. I thought I'd get a chance to play with the paints this last weekend, but never really had the time. SO if you thought I was holding out on you- I'm not. I promised I share and here you go. :)

Along the garden path
Here is my absolutely first ever real watercolor painting. Have to say that although I enjoyed the majority of the experience after a while the whole not knowing what I was doing thing started to get to me. I know I've talked about this before but it is hard to be a beginner again. And although some of the principles I know from other mediums did transfer (like composition) the working light to dark thing really through me for a loop. I wish I'd thought to take a photo of the actual scene that I painted. It was a lot lighter and brighter than this. Really a beautiful day to be out.

The class meets just outside the Lake Harriet Rose Garden so I walked through the roses to get to class. It was so pretty so I took a couple of photos to share.
View of the garden and fountain

Looking through the border at the rows of roses
Beauty Close Up

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Giveaway's as a way to Pay it Forward

Twice in one day- again. The new tutorial is below but I thought I'd share something exciting. One of my BFF's (Blog Friends Forever) Christi over at 2 if by Sea is offering one of my all time favorite necklaces of hers, "go", in a Giveaway this week.

Fabulous- but I love the conditions of entering. You have to PAY IT FORWARD and in order to enter, have to host a giveaway yourself. I'd been toying with the idea already, as a way to introduce you all to my new Facebook Fan Page. So I took this for a sign from above and am planning to do my own giveaway later this week. So stay tuned!!!!!

And hop on over to Christi's blog and maybe give it a go yourself. :)

PS I have a couple of Christi's necklaces and they are AMAZING!!!!!!!

Tutorial: Collaged Wire Birdcage

It drives my husband crazy. I'll have a stack of what looks like junk or recyclables on the counter, he'll decide to be a dear and help clean things off. As he's in the act I'll walk into the room and yell "nooooo!' He sighs and knows what's coming next- "I was going to use those for an art project!" I know it drives him crazy and I try to keep everything in my art room but it does all tend to seep over into other rooms. My latest save are Sunbutter jar lids. I keep thinking they'd make such a nice substrate for- something. I didn't know what. But then it came to me- little wire birdcages. The jar lids make the base. My lids were plastic but you could certainly sub a metal lid instead. I'm also thinking they'd make a good mini shadow box or cameo art but haven't quite figured those out yet. What about you? What could you do with your lids? Give it some thought and then let me know- I'd love to see!
Tutorial: Collaged Wire Birdcage

Tools and Materials
16 gauge steel wire (I used a sepia toned)
19 gauge wire (brown)
Jar lid
Old book paper/scrap paper
Matte or Gel Medium
Glue brush or foam applicator
Needle nose pliers
Heavy Duty Wire Cutters

Step One: Tear your book or scrap paper into strips. Using your brush apply matte medium to the jar lid. Lay on a strip of paper, and then brush more medium on top. Using your fingers to smooth the paper down really helps to create a flat adhesion. Apply more medium and then layer more strips over the edge of the lid. Continue until you've completely covered the lid with at least two layers. Let dry.

Step Two: Using your handy dandy Crop-a-dile punch 6 holes evenly around the exterior of the lid. Position the Crop-a-dile so that you don't punch the holes too close to the edge. (See picture at top.)

Step Three: Cut three pieces of wire to about 12" long. Using a jar or bottle of some sort, create a gently bend in the center of the wires by wrapping all three of the wires around the object at once.

Step Four: Bend the end of each wire out to create a 90- degree angle. Do this with each of the three wires. Then place one within the jar lid. Insert the wire through two holes opposite each other, and then bend the wire up and wrap around itself to secure. Repeat with each of the wires. You might need to slightly adjust the length of each so that the tops will cross over each other snugly. When you've completely wrapped the wire ends then use your needle nose to bend your cut ends in.

Step Five: Using your 19-gauge wire wrap together the tops of your three wires. Create a loop, cut your wire, leaving another 1/2" or so. Then continue to wrap your wire end around the loop to finish. If necessary, use your needle nose wire to bend your cut end in.

Step Six: Using your 19-gauge wire again, begin to wrap it around the bottom of the wires, about 1" up from the bottom. Then continue to the next wire, until you've gone completely around the cage. Repeat around the top of the cage. If desired, you can repeat this as often as you like to enhance your design.

To create the swing- Use the needle nose pliers to curl one end of the 16-gauge wire, cut the wire, and then curl the other end. Using your 19-gauge wire, wrap the end around the top of one of your curls. Leave about 5" and cut. Then repeat with the other side. Position your swing inside the cage and then wrap the ends of your wire around the top of the cage. Add your little birdie 
(I found mine at a local junk/antique store) and display your creation!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Seeing Opportunity in Disappointments

 Yesterday, I arrived home to find on my doorstep, artwork that I had submitted to a magazine probably a year or so ago. They held onto it, but apparently "never found a place for it" because there it was, all boxed up and waiting for me. With a letter that basically said- "We're sorry we can't use your work. Don't be disappointed, please continue to submit your work....." All very nicely said, and I expected it to smart a little but when I read it I felt glad. So I took a moment to think about why this is. Definitely, this is NOT my normal response to rejection.  

Vinyl Decal by Single Stone Studios
I think it is because I place my trust in God and I believe in myself. This happened for a reason. They couldn't use my work, BUT I've been wanting to make a submission to another magazine and was thinking of more work using the tin lids that I've been playing with. Now I had these two pieces, which I still really like, to add to the submission.   

Plus, I was just kind of glad to see them again. When you create something you're infusing it with you. These were one of a kind little pieces and it is fun to see this bit of me return home.

I also realize that not everyone will like what I like. It's just one of those things. I don't like everything that everyone else does. I can't really expect EVERYONE to like what I do. However, it makes finding the people who do get it and do like it all the better.

So thank you all for being "my kind of people".

I'm very glad you've come.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A Handmade Wrap Job

It was a busy busy weekend with a birthday party, errands, and a lot of stitching to be done. I'm prepping for the art fair I'll be participating in this July. I tend to worry about events and over-prepare. So although I don't feel all that ready I do have a growing number of flowers, hearts, and birdcages accumulating in various areas throughout my house.

On Saturday morning, as I was wrapping the birthday present, I thought it was looking kind of cute so I took a couple of pics to share with you. It's amazing how good a couple of paper grocery bags can look with just a little ribbon and paint added.

A few months ago I decided I'd rather spend more money on the present and skip the expensive wrapping papers and committed to using recycled materials or materials I had on hand whenever I can. Every thing I used for this wrap job was something I had here around the house.

I've also begun doing tags instead of cards, as the kids usually just skip the card opening and go straight for the present anyways. To make it cute I used a scrapbooking paper folded in half and then cut into a tag shape. Next came the grommet- it came with my crop-a-dile and is SO easy to add. Then a little stitching, and Voila'. Simple and easy. Of course you could skip the grommet and the stitching.

The time it took to do this was WAY less than you would think AND much quicker than making a run to Target for the supplies. Plus, I think it looks kind of cute. :)

For more ideas for wrapping with paper bags check out the pics here and here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Vacation Mode- Are You Ready?

Dreaming about summer vacations today. It's another rainy day and I'm really longing to get out and take a good roadtrip. That has to wait right now, so I thought I'd do a little dreaming with you here. What about you ? Do you have any vacation plans for this summer? If so, or if you're just dreaming like me, here are some Vacation Themed goods straight from Etsy that are sure to inspire!

This "take a hike" plaque by Mary Kate McDevitt strikes the perfect tone for me. Our last two summer vacations were to Glacier National Park, and I had a blast last summer doing a little "hiking" with my 5 yr old.

Love the photos in this Roadside Attractions Vintage Sign collection. By Bomobob on Etsy, this is a shop I hadn't found before but now LOVE!

Ok this "roadtrip" bib was just too cute so I had to include it. :) But it would be the cutest vacation-ware ever! I found it in Mountain Aven Baby's Etsy shop. She actually has a couple of cute baby girl dresses using the same fabric I used for my Won-Ton bag a post or so ago.

My mom (shameless plug) has a really fun vintage clipboard that she altered with paper and accents for a fun road trip theme. The top photo is one of my grandpa taken while he was on a roadtrip in the '40's.

Then there was this id tag necklace that seemed to say it all. The sentiment is a favorite of mine but I love how the tag looks so battered and worn. As if it truly belonged to someone who spent their life "taking the road less traveled." I found it in the Etsy shop Happy GoLicky. They strive to make jewelry that makes the "soul smile." I love that sentiment.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Best Kind of Present

Tomorrow morning I have my first actual painting class. It's a plein aire watercolor class and I'm taking it with a few friends.

When they first suggested it my first thought was "I can't do it". There were too many obstacles. For one thing, it's in the morning and I have a little boy at home with me. Then there were the materials, I had none. That's right a studio filled with art materials and I had none of the supplies. Oh, except a kneaded eraser and pencil. So there was cost involved there too. I really didn't think I'd be able to participate- it seemed too hard to make work.

But here's where the wonderful comes in. Out of nowhere my mother in law (the watercolor artist) decides she no longer needs some of her supplies. She's upgrading or they just aren't ones' she would use. Would I like them? I thought I must have told her about the class but no, it was just one of those amazing things that happen. Paints and brushes, check. Then my husband says he can work from home when I'm at the class. Babysitter problem solved- just like that.

Everything that I thought would keep me from this class has just fallen into place. Even down to the gift card to Michael's some friends gave me, and the 40% sale they just happened to be having on watercolor paper. God is making this work for me and I am so grateful. Sometimes it takes everything falling into place for me to see how God is moving in my life. I mean I know he's there when life is hard, and I lean on him then. But receiving a gift, which is what this class feels like to me, is one of those unexpected gestures that shows love. Like your dad sticking a $20 in your wallet when you're not looking. It's giving simply because you care.

So although I was feeling pretty nervous about this class, I also feel certain it's going to be a great experience. I'll let you know how it goes. :)