Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Last week I found two magazines I love waiting for me in my mailbox. We were just about to head out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday so I packed them up and brought them along. Later that day I was sitting next to the fire with my sweetie husband and it was one of those really idyllic times when you just feel like life is good. The magazines are Art Quilting Studio and Sew Somerset and I am thrilled to have my work in them. This is the first time I've been published in Art Quilting. It was one of the first art magazines I ever purchased and a total dream come true to have my work in it. Actually I purchased them both for the first time when we were about to make a big road trip out to Montana to see my brother and his wife. I splurged and it felt so good to have those two mags to read. I remember Ruth Rae was in both of those issues and I went absolutely gaga over her work. Flipping through the two issues that just came my husband saw an article she wrote in the Sew Somerset and said, "look you and Ruth Rae are in the same issue!" How cute that he even knew who she was. Totally gives away what a fan girl I am. But you have to admit I have great taste :)

This makes the fifth and sixth magazines I've been published in this year. I am so so grateful to both Stampington and Cloth Paper Scissors/Interweave for being so very supportive of my work. We make big goals and little goals each year and my goal for 2011 was to get published as much as I could. I made a decision at the beginning of the year that I would submit something for each magazine deadline I could. I chose magazines that I thought would fit my work, or that I have a past experience with and did the best I could to remember and meet their deadlines. Easier said then done I found. :)

I wish I could remember who said it, but someone said that getting published was more about quantity then anything else. The more article proposals you send out the more likely you are to be published. Yes, the chance of getting rejected is higher as well, but the successes more than make up for the rejections when the ratio is 3:1 or greater. I still have a lot of art out there that I haven't heard about, and had a few things rejected this year, but I feel really really good about how many successes I've had. So now that I've seen how important having one really major goal for a year is, I'm wondering what should I make my 2012 goal. How about you? What's your goal for the next year?

I'm a big believer that if  you even whisper it to yourself, saying it out loud makes you more committed to achieving it. So say it to yourself, or share it here, it doesn't matter. Just do it!

Monday, November 28, 2011

One Basic Wreath- So Many Different Ways to Be Creative!

Enter Christmas!!!!
It must be the Christmas Season- I'm immersed in snowflakes, ornaments, and wreaths. And ideas about sugar plums have danced through my head at the strangest moments lately. It's all because it's the holiday season- at last! Today I want to show you some wreaths I worked on last week. Every year I make a guest appearance at my old MOPs group to do a class on wreath decorating. Each mom gets a live wreath (we purchase from Costco) and I bring in decorations to add. It's easiest to give them a choice of two different types, so we did glitzy and natural. Here's the break down...

Ooh... La La Glitzy!
Anatomy of a Glitzy Wreath
Big Ol' Silver or Red glittery bow
LOTS and LOTS of Silver or Glittery Ornaments*
Sprays like glittery berries or add-on's like snowflakes to fill out

*For ornaments I favor the shatterproof one's available from the major home improvement stores. I bought a 100+ selection of Martha Stewart ornaments that came in a big plastic barrel. They do sell them in smaller assortments, I was buying for 25+ women so the mega size was perfect.

Simple and Natural
Anatomy of a Natural Wreath
Big Ol' bow or ribbon in natural tomes like burlap, or canvas
Pieces of birch branches, pine cones, maybe a nest
Sprays of red, natural or natural looking berries

For both you need:
Floral wire, wire cutter (to make bow)
Hot glue in either a pan or gun
Surface to work and glue on
Scissor for ribbon
A wreath
Some Basic Info and Tips
Because I'm buying in bulk I like to hit the craft stores for basic fillers like the berries and for assorted ribbon. I could go wholesale but most retail stores are selling Christmas supplies at 50% off right now. It actually works out to be cheaper.The hot glue I do buy at a Floral wholesaler. I have a glue pan that I love from Oasis and I buy bags of floral glue each year. Floral hot glue looks like little yellow pillows vs. the stick form that you buy for your glue gun. The benefit of the floral type is that it's fabulously quick and easy to dip ornaments, sticks, pine cones, or whatever in the glue pan. It's dip and stick- that's it. Floral glue is also formulated to not break when it gets cold, so it's nice to use around here where temps can dip pretty low. If you don't want to use glue at all you can usually wire in any decorative elements.

Here's the absolute best tip I have-
ALWAYS FLUFF YOUR WREATH!!!! What I mean is that since wreaths are shipped lying flat they are usually very, very, flat when you get them. Always take your fingers and rake them through the wreath in the opposite direction of how they're attached. Lift and shake the greens as you pull them back a bit and you'll see a huge difference immediately- I promise! 

A spray- two ways
 One more related tips is to always work your wire berry sprays by bending the wire into a more natural curve. Here's a pic of two sprays, the one on the left is how it comes in the store. The one on the right has been bent into a more natural spray form. There's a definite difference.
BE CREATIVE with your Embellishments!!!!
Getting Crafty.... :)
The fun part is of course the additional elements you add. I added a carpenter's ruler in a star shape to mine this year. In the past, I've included great big birch branches, red dogwood, yarn balls, knitted mittens, birds,wire stars, vintage elements, dried pomegranates, oversized pine cones, and the like.Think outside of the traditional wreath and you'll love what you end up with. Here are some ideas to get you started....Enjoy! :)
Vintage Lace and Paper Wreath

Snowflake Wreath

Birdhouse Wreath

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Kid Friendly Holiday Decor- A Table Runner to Give Thanks

My son's class had their Thanksgiving party last Friday. I usually make sure I have a corner on doing the craft project. I love coming up with something that the kids enjoy, that is meaningful, and won't get surreptitiously tossed in the recycling the next day. I usually try to wrap into it some sort of material or technique that I'm interested in right then as well. So the project I designed this year was a table runner. Each kid got a rectangular piece of canvas (roughly the size of a place mat and a half) with a bright border, that they wrote on with fabric marker and then stamped on. Quick, easy, and it allowed for some individual expression. I plan on having ours out each November for the next few years and getting Jasper to write something new that he's thankful for. I think it'll be fun to see his thoughts and his writing change over the years. So... if you're looking for a way to emphasize the "thanksgiving" part of the holiday with your kids- read on!

Thanksgiving Table Runner

Tools and Materials
Strip of heavy canvas fabric (26 1/2" long and 11 1/2 " wide) 
Assorted yellow and brown patterned fabrics
Fusible interfacing, sewable
Sewing machine
Hand carved or purchased leaf stamps
Distress Ink pads in assorted fall colors
Mini Mister or spray bottle with fine nozzle
Fabric Marker, brown

At Home Prep:
Most of my school projects for this age (6-7) require quite a bit of prep on my part as the kids are only able to do so much.
1.Start by cutting out 16 pieces of canvas fabric.
2.Next, I got out the iron and ironed under about an inch on each of the long sides. The ends I left raw.
3. Next, I pulled out my patterned fabrics and ironed fusible interfacing to the backs of those I liked best and then hand cut those pieces into strips that were anywhere from an inch to 3/4" wide. I tried to cut them a little haphazardly so that they were uneven.
4.Then, using the iron, I ironed these strips to the sides of my runner (see pic). Cutting the strips to various lengths as I went for a fake patchwork look.
5. The final step was using my handy dandy NEW sewing machine (really this was all just an excuse to play with it a bit) and ran a straight stitch down each of the long sides about 1/2" from edge (you can switch up steps 4 and 5 and seam the edges before adding the patchwork strips so the stitching isn't as obvious). I like obvious. 
6. If you want to, hand carve a few different leaf shapes. I did an oak, maple and an elm.

At the School Party:
This is where I had the fun of watching the kids get creative. Each was a little different but they had a sample that I had made to go by so they kind of new what size to make their big letters.
1. With a fabric marker have the kid write their name on the back of the runner. Then we all did "Thank You God" along the center of the runner in about 3 1/2" letters. Next, I had each child write something they were thankful for with their name if they were going to bring it home and let their siblings add their thought as well.
Sprayed and Unsprayed- It's a personal choice :)
2. The second part of the decorating was the stamping. Each stamp is carved by me out of ez cut carving blocks. Check out my stamp carving tutorials for the how-to make these directions. We used Distress inks in straw, vintage photo, rusty hinge, and peeled paint. When you first stamp on the fabric the image is pretty faint. BUT- Add a little mist of water and you get this cool water color effect that's much darker. It's cool to talk this up as almost being magic ink to the kids. They LOVE it! I love that a couple of them started mixing the inks on the stamp to get multi colored prints like little artists. Let the ink dry and it should be permanent. Test it by dabbing it a bit with a wet cloth before laundering. Although I'd only launder these if absolutely necessary.

Notes: You can use other inks, as long as they're permanent once dry. You can use Sharpies instead of fabric markers. Please do let the kids doodle all over it if they want- it's artistic expression! I worked with 3 kids at a time. It worked best with the three stamps, and I would recommend you have 3 fabric markers available as well as more then one mister. Cover the work surface as the inks if placed face down on the table, don't want to come off. Tell them to ink the stamps with the image facing up so they can tell where they applied the ink. You can also use purchased stamps. You can even used purchased place mats for the project. Just keep it easy and you'll keep it fun for them!
One more super cool thing: As part of the party the kids took turns at a sandwich station where they made 200 sandwiches for the organization 363 days to distribute to the homeless in our area. Honestly, if you ask them it was their favorite part! Just throwing it out there as an idea...:)

Friday, November 11, 2011

All the Ways to be You- Using Your Art out in the World

Me at the International Quilt Festival
It's been a busy few weeks- I've been to the Create-a-Thon, to Houston and back for Make it University, done a slew of volunteer work and worked like crazy here at home. I did take pics of it all so that I could show you once I had the chance to connect with you again. The main lesson of the last few weeks is that people need and love beauty. If you are an artist, it will come out in all areas of your life- from your work to your home life. Let it. Be the beauty in someone's day. Create it around you and not only will you have the enjoyment that comes from creating but others will appreciate the difference you made. Truly.

Donation Box
Here are a few of the ways I was able to put my creative personality to work:
At my son's school I was given the task of creating donation boxes for the warm clothing drive we did. I took a pic of the boxes because I was so pleased what a little paper and paint could do.  
Our class's auction basket
I've been arranging baskets for the school auction- again, not anything that required a ton of talent but I was again able to put some of my creative skills to work and people really appreciate it.  
The sample for my MIU class
At the Quilt Festival in Houston I was able to teach at Make it University which is sponsored by Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Scissors magazines. To prep for that I made over 65 card kits that turned out pretty darn adorable. They were simple to make, but the students who received them LOVED the project and were so pleased with their results.  
The Create-a-Thon
The Art2Heart group I've mentioned here had their Create-a-Thon and I was able to teach 20 some volunteers how to make my wire and fabric ornaments. Those ornaments will be for sale at their boutique in Hamel, Mn and all proceeds from their sales will go to help support the different mission organizations that they contribute to.
Yesterday I made a turkey bulletin board for my son's classroom (no pic available for that). ;)

Auction additon
It's been a ride for sure but so so worth all the time and work to make these things happen. People are so grateful just to have someone step up and say "I can do that" when there's a creative problem that they have. Through these activities I've rediscovered that to be an artist means so much more in the day to day world then I ever realized when I was in school.  I thought it meant selling my work, making art every day, creating art to pay the bills. But I've discovered it means something more. I did a post a bit ago about how I believe artist is a personality not a job title, so I'm not going to go into that more today but I did want to show you what it's come to mean in my life. I found it means stepping up, it means saying "I can do that", it means being creative with everything from markers to paints. It means creating art for sale, for gifting, for examples, for inspiration, and for my home or wardrobe. It means being confident in my ability to create. It means connecting with my Creator whenever I do create.
 New Ornament Ideas

What does it mean to you? How does your artistic personality come out in your life? Does it leak here or there or do you embrace it with all the time and commitment and opportunity you can? Do you limit your creative nature to canvas or do you express it wherever you can? Are you known for your table scapes for the school banquet each fall, or do you decorate the church each Christmas season? Do you make cute little notes to put in your kids lunch box? How do you make your gifts available to others? Do you?