Saturday, January 30, 2010

Let the Pick-Pocketing Begin

For a Saturday I was surprisingly proactive today. I am still currently obsessing over little handmade journals/sketchbooks. For me it doesn't get old, because each of them are one-of-a-kind. I enjoy finding the perfect little things to include in them and of course the paper selection. All of today's journals utilize my absolute favorite Neenah Environment Desert Storm paper.

I incorporated some fun, new elements into the above journals. For starters, I started playing with die-cuts of different shapes and sizes. There are some hand-colored features as well as little embellishments. Also, for one, I unearthed an old sketch and included it. Another thing I did was play with my inner-pocket placements. Each one also features a special little envelope hidden somewhere toward the middle with either a blank card or illustration. For a more detailed view of these, please visit my etsy shop:

In case I take the day off tomorrow, have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Special Message For Stephen

In regards to yesterday's post, here is a picture of the special message in Braille from Anne to Stephen.

It was a true pleasure to do this card for her, and I think I have a new email pen-pal. :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

At a Loss For Words

Today has been one heck of a day. I received a tweet from a friend saying that she had seen my Braille Valentines in etsy's 'Handpicked Items' section of their page. If that wasn't cool enough, I hopped back on my computer to find that 3 sales had been made in the short while when they were featured.

I emailed both customers - just a note of thanks and appreciation for checking out my listings. What I got back was so amazing. The first woman, Anne, emailed me back to thank ME. She said she had never been able to find a card to give to her friend before, because he is blind. She was so excited that I had made something to speak to a different, untapped audience. She even shared his story with me, a complete stranger. Anne also asked if she could pay me a little more to include a personal message. Honestly, I couldn't do that. I was just so touched by the whole thing that I included her message at no extra charge. It just made me feel so happy that she can give her friend a card that he can read.

My second customer, Bek, was wonderful as well. She actually entered my etsy shop based on the Braille Valentines and then continued to shop around a little more. Bek shared with me that her son has Asperger's and that he has taken a particular interest in Braille. She said that one of my valentines was perfect for him right now, and she can't wait to give it to him.

I am beyond humbled right now. A lot of people are successful on etsy everyday. I like making things and posting them just to get out there. If people like or appreciate what I make, then that is a bonus for me. It just makes me feel really honored that I was able to give them something they couldn't find before.

Thank you, Bek and Anne. :)

One thing I do with every order I fulfill is include and handwritten thank you. I package it right along with the item. It may not always be a fold over card...but with every order that ships the recipient receives a personal thank you from me. They get the email immediately, but I think it is just a nice little extra to take the time and give really excellent customer service.

I have a lot on the agenda that I would like to accomplish this weekend. Be on look-out for more various Braille greetings and new handmade cards.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Love You Like I Love...

Today I thought it would be fun to honor food. It is my favorite thing in the world next to my family and friends and dog. There may be some other things I am leaving out, but food is definitely at the top of the list with those other things. I love to cook. I love to bake. Sometimes when people tell me about something they ate I can taste it. I love the way food smells - a garlic punch in the face, brownies in the oven and any citrus fruit. I really could go on and on.

For this project, I thought it would be fun to drag out an old friend, Color-Aid. Anyone who went to school for art or design knows what I am talking about, that fat cardboard box filled with a plethora of chalky paper pieces. Fortunately, I held onto mine even though I have been graduated for quite a few years now. The box is destroyed, however most of the paper in it is in great condition. I even have some scrappy bits from old projects.

Now that I have detailed a food and paper passion, I will just go ahead and show you what I made.

I love you like I love...


I am making a whole line of culinary loves. You better believe there will be some meat in there (and some veg for the non-carnivores). All of these will soon be available in my etsy shop:

Also, if anyone out there has some old, neglected Color-Aid paper I would happily accept some donations! Thank you :)

Finally, I've Been Bitten Again... the creative bug! It feels good to have some kind of motivation back. I have spent months of unemployment wanting to do things but just feeling overwhelmed by the possibilities and other lame excuses. I normally cannot concentrate at a cluttered desk, but I suppose this is image is a positive one:

There's lots of crap everywhere, I know. But this morning this desk was absolutely clean and clear. As much as it sort of pains me to leave this mess, it also inspires me to keep making more things.

While I was I was upstairs right now sleeping with my husband, I had to make just one more book. I experienced slight withdrawal when I stopped earlier this evening to break for dinner. I was actually going to bed for the night...but then I passed my desk and decided to make just one more for tonight.

I wish I could take credit for this awesome birdcage lady illustration, but I cannot. It is a stamp that I embellished with some hand-coloring and metallics. The cover stock is recycled Neenah environmental paper (my favorite hands down). The first liner page is hot pink Indian script. High quality Mohawk recycled paper fills in the middle along with a text weight piece of the same Neenah paper as the cover. I also included a little envelope in the center for more tiny storage in addition to the inside cover pocket. Finally, the binding technique is the same as the previous books listed in the post below.

Thanks again so much for taking the time to gander at this. As promised, more items similar to these will be in my etsy shop later this week.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bears, Books and Binds

Today was quite the productive one. It's always nice to reflect back and know that I did something worthwhile. My friend Sarah called me up and asked if I would help her with some self promotional pieces. She came equipped with some great paper and energy. (We notoriously don't get things done together). Anyhow, we decided to go with a journal/sketchbook. We made a few just to start. but I think they turned out pretty good:

The one with the bird in the jar is mine. I recently filled my prior book.

This is a look inside of one of the books that Sarah and I worked on. It is nice and thick and lined with some specialty map paper. It also features an inner side pocket perfect for business cards or other pocket-sized info. The binding is a very simple technique using one piece of thread and 3 holes.

Finally, I also worked on some more valentines. My good friend Nick asked me to contribute some pieces for an event his film company is holding downtown. I decided to make some more grizzly cards:

Please check out Nick @

Please check out Sarah @

And finally please check back often with my etsy store as I will be adding more new items like the sketchbooks shown above:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pizza Time

Wow. I have done a pretty good job of neglecting posts this week. At least that means I have been productive...I think. Anyhow, we had Phil's parents over yesterday for a dinner and game night. We decided to make homemade pizzas. This is something Phil takes very seriously, and he makes all of his dough from scratch. He of course made his signature taco pizza with seasoned ground beef, taco sauce and Mexican cheese blend:

I decided that I wanted to make one too. Sadly and ashamedly, we used to be really bad at letting food go. A ton was being thrown out every couple weeks. Lately, I have been making brand new dishes out of leftovers, and we have been more successful with using up ALL of our food in the fridge. But getting back to the pizza...We had some fresh basil that was about to turn, week old spinach and marinara sauce (that I doctored up) from a few nights earlier. So that is what went on to the dough:

It was even more delicious than we anticipated. The marinara had a ton of flavor in itself, and then I just mixed it with a little bit of pizza sauce to ensure full coverage. I did a chiffonade (rolled the leaves up and then cut them into little ribbons) with the basil so as to not overpower any other flavors. FInally, I did a sprinkling of minced garlic over the whole thing and topped with mozzarella cheese. 

Molto Bene!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Birthday Greetings

I've tried to make a promise to myself that I won't purchase any more cards - for any occasion. I have the tools and the skills to make them, so it's pretty ridiculous not to. I realized that I had a lot of different things for various holidays but nothing really just for birthdays.

I came up with this present design. It is nice and simple and makes great use of scrap fabric, ribbon, etc. It's also generic enough to use for just about any occasion. It's also gender-neutral. All I have to do is make the appropriate fabric/paper choices.

Another thing I like about these is that the time put into them is evident. Each square of fabric is sewn. Each ribbon is sewn. I think it's nice to say, "I care about you so much that I took time to hand make something for you."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Busy, Busy

This weekend has been pretty loaded with activities. However, I will have some new things to post this coming week. Sorry for a slight slump, but please stay posted for more handmade goodness!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Recycled Bird Print

Good evening. Today was a whirlwind day, and it kind of escaped me. Even though Dexter did not take a nap today I did find some time to create a little something. I wasn't in the mood to break out a ton of supplies, so I made something from older materials.

A few years ago I took a screen printing (stencil style) class at my local Museum of Contemporary Art. It was there that I illustrated a bird to put on a tote bag. I liked it so much that instead of trashing my used stencil, I kept it. I didn't know how well it would hold up, but I think it did okay:

I started off by taking some left over Paper Source patterned paper and laying it flat. Then, I took my recycled bird stencil and positioned it on top of the paper. I went through my cans of spray paint and decided that my neon chartreuse would look best. I sprayed my stencil and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After that, it was dry to the touch. I liked how it looked, but it needed some more definition. The spray paint left a 'halo' effect on the paper below. I used a regular Sharpie black marker to outline all of the bird's shapes. Finally, I cut it to the size of my frame and hung it right at eye level at my desk. It didn't take that long, and I am happy with the finished product.

I think tomorrow I may go back to fabric...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cake - Out of the Box

Hello again. This morning I woke up and had the urge to, bake. I knew that I had a boxed carrot cake mix and some frosting. Knowing that it would be rather bland as is, I added some leftover ingredients we had around the kitchen:

extras: golden raisins, some chopped walnuts, shredded carrots
(and the frosting - coconut pecan)

TIP! I want to add the extras to beef up the mixture and make it really hearty. Before just throwing them in the cake mix, I had a small bowl set aside with a couple tablespoons of flour. By lighting dusting the nuts, carrots and raisins, it insured that they would not sink to the bottom of the batter. (This works with chocolate chips too). This technique allows them to be evenly dispersed throughout your product.

To make matters a little easier, I had some company to talk to me while I was baking and cleaning up:

The hardest part...waiting for it to cool...

Luckily, I have Henrietta to help with the time management.

And finally, after cooling for an hour I got to frost it. This is what it looked like before I inhaled a
big, fat slice:

It was absolutely delicious. I also didn't feel awful for eating it, because it had carrots and nuts and such. To me, that means it is supremely healthy, and it can be eaten multiple slices at a I right!?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Skirting the Issue

Well today was more of an errand day than anything else. I did find some new, clearance fabrics at JoAnn's! I always go to the remnants and red tags first. Luckily, today I found everything I needed/wanted and didn't have to pay full price. Here is the haul (a good mix of chiffon, flannel, cotton and corduroy):

Since I was so fabric inspired today, I thought I would share some of the skirts I have made in the past year. All three of these were made in class at the Singer Factory downtown. The nice thing about making your own clothes is that you know they will fit! Even after all of the cheesecakes and pork chops, I can still put any one of these on without hassle. ;) Here are the skirts in chronological order of which they were made:

Skirt #1 - Classic Pencil

Skirt #2 - Short and Gathered

Skirt #3 - Classic Pencil, elongated w/kick pleat (not shown here)

So there they are. I'd like to say a special thanks to my model, Heloise. She does such a good job of holding them all up. Time to brainstorm my new fabric projects...

Animal Attraction

Most often when I go to get a card for someone at the store two thoughts cross my mind - a). I shouldn't be buying a card when I can just make one. b). None of these are really good, so I'll go with the best of the worst. I rarely have that 'Hallmark' moment where I find a card that says just what I want it to, or rarely have it come close to saying something I would naturally say. I feel I've always had a quirkier way of communicating things anyway. 

I decided that for Valentine's Day I wasn't going to do something typical. My sentiments still come across but in a much different way. Hopefully the humor is seen there. I always like to find things that make me laugh or smile and share them with others. Thus, I give to you these two animal inspired and funny valentines:

This first one is my Cowboy Valentine. I used a nice metallic gold ink on high quality red paper. The brown card is textured and made from recycled materials. The phrase "I bucking love you" just seemed fitting for this one. :)

This second card features an angry grizzly bear. Let's face it, bears are pretty hot right now, and the angrier the better. One of my friends is bear-obsessed, and he was kind of the inspiration behind this card. It was a lot of fun to make and is more of a collage than anything else. The screen-printed bear silhouette was done on my Gocco and then illustrated by hand. The trees are decorative pieces of scrap paper, and the felted heart was found. Though the outside may appear sort of intimidating, the inside opens up to read 'Please don't get mauled by bears. I love you too much.' So you see, it really is quite sweet after all.

As always, thanks so much for looking and reading. I apologize for the change of layout, but I am just experimenting to see what works best. These cards and other products are available online in my etsy shop:

Saturday, January 9, 2010

I've Got a Secret...

...and today I bring you a few more valentines. These simple little cards were inspired by the art of sending a secret message. The kraft paper envelopes hold a special greeting for the recipient. Some have a message printed on the outside revealing only the envelopes content. Others have the message on the inside making it more of a mystery. I also tried to play on some words according to the images used.

This was a fun project, because it took me back to the grade school days of the valentine exchange (only this time I didn't have to make a milk carton or paper plate holder to keep them in). Each of these cards were lovingly stamped and assembled by hand. Some have added hand-colored detail. They are all available in my etsy shop as well:

Thanks again for stopping by! ...more to come soon...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Bag Lady

So I have been sewing for about two years solid now, and I have 4 skirts, 1 shirt and an assortment of bags and plush animals to show for it. However, I don't always feel like making something from a pattern. I have found that totes are simple enough to make and don't take much time at all. It's also a great use of scrap fabric. I even made a little fabric bag (minus the handles) and used it as a gift bag. It served it served its purpose of housing a present, and the lucky recipient got a keepsake for herself.

This first tote is composed of oilcloth (chickens were found on ebay, faux bois and brocade were from etsy). I wanted to use this fabric, because I was making a grocery tote. The outside is completely wipeable, and the linen lining provides sturdy support. I found the pattern online here:

This specific tote has a circular bottom, and that proved to be a little challenging at first but still very doable. With the leftover material I was able to make a little purse for myself. (I couldn't let the cute chickens go to waste!) The best part was I just folded the fabric in half and then sewed the sides up. I didn't even have to make a bottom.

The second tote shown here was made of spare bits I had laying around. The outer fabric is a superfine brown corduroy, and the inside is a cotton print. First, I sandwiched the two fabrics together for each side and sewed them creating a durable duplex fabric of sorts. Then I pinned my two sides together and sewed everything but the top where the opening was. Next I did a few rows of stitches for added decoration. (For the gift bag, I just stopped here. It was so easy to make and meant a little more than the store bought alternative. Plus, you can tailor them to any size!) For the little handbag I added some handles, which were just two long strips of the corduroy fabric folded in half. I personally love the look of a stitch and again made rows of straights and zig-zags alternating for extra interest. Finally, I like to secure the handles for all of my bags with the "X" method. Again, I like the way it looks, and it adds more support.

Thanks for looking at my projects! Please feel free to share any of your own. I'd love to see them :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Fresh Start for Twenty-Ten

Hello friends. It's amazing to believe that it's already 2010. Last year I really neglected this blog and posted a bunch of random things. I want to try and do my best this year to keep my postings based on the things I create. I'll also try to commit more, thus keeping me on the ball with productivity and personal projects.

During the winter holiday I was busy creating valentines for my etsy shop.

I also made some Braille valentines earlier this week. I found an old Braille alphabet I had saved. I knew immediately that I was going to put it to use. It occurred to me that I have never personally seen any Braille valentines. I also liked the idea of having an interactive card. The materials I used for the 'dots' allowed me to achieve a raised texture, giving the cards a 3 dimensional effect. Even if they aren't used with their intended purpose, they make a nice keepsake design. The dots on a solid background are nice and modern and would look great framed.

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at my artwork. Please check back frequently, as I will be adding more and more handmades as the days go by.