Upcoming Events

Fall is looking pretty busy! In addition to my sudden craze to winterize the house, I have some fall events coming up. Some places you can find me:

Oct. 12: Horse Hair Earring Class: Create a pair of horse hair earrings with me at Out of Our Hands in Emmaus, PA. Bring your own horse hair or use what I have on hand. Loads of fun.

Oct. 18-19: Museum of Indian Culture Powwow. The crispness of fall near the Little Lehigh River is delicious. I’ll be demonstrating porcupine quillwork while others are dancing, drumming, singing and flint knapping. Check it out.

Nov. 15 & 16: Lehigh Valley Crafts Guild Holiday Marketplace: Bring your Holiday shopping list and check book and purchase some fine handmade arts and crafts. Not only can you find something for everyone on your list, you’ll support many local artists. I will at the marketplace with Melody and our booth will be filled to overflowing with jewelry, bags and other accessories. Stop by and say hi! Gift Certificates will also be available if just can’t make up your mind.

If you’re thinking about having a custom horse hair piece made for a Christmas gift, get your hair to me early! After November 26 a $20 rush fee will be added to all custom orders needed by Christmas.

Catching Up

Spots of beads here and there add some zing to this fabric folder o' thank you cards.

A spot of beads here, a few stitches there.

These last few weeks I’ve been trying to catch up and finish projects I started long ago. Of course, before I did that I had to put together this birthday gift for Melody.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

I was trying for a mosaic effect here. Whether I accomplished it or not, it's still looks neat.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery of these flowers.

Couldn't help but highlight the bright, buttery tones of these flowers.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

These bicolored teardrops were a great find at My Father's Beads. I couldn't pass them up, even though I had no idea what to do with them. Their time has come.

When we saw the gratitude wrap, Melody pointed out that it was the adult version of the art sketch books I make for kids. I like the idea of having a stash of cards that I can write on the go and not worry about mangling them in the depths of my purse.

I made my own pattern for this (as I do most of my projects) so that three quarter-yards of fabric will yield two card wraps. Cut two quarter-yards of fabric in half and you have the inside and outside for two books. The third quarter-yard allows for pockets and a little left over. (There’s fusible fleece sandwiched between the inside and outside, too.) Little measuring, less cutting, more time for embellishing.

Embellishing was the fun part. This Amy Butler Burgundy gothic rose print just cried out for some beads.

The final product outside...

The final product outside...

...and inside.

...and inside.

Inside, the pockets and liner are from Portabello Pixie’s Farmer’s Market line of fabrics. Maybe I’ll finish the second card wrap this week for another birthday.

I did actually finish some projects though…

Curtains for my 5-year-old’s room. I’ve had this fabric sitting in my studio for oh, about 2 years. Finally I got to stitching it up.

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

I envision some pink beads hanging from the green tiebacks. Yet more embellishing to do!

Cutting and sewing with really big pieces of fabric makes me nervous. What if I cut it wrong? What if it’s not the right length? What if it turns into a horrificially difficult project like my living room curtains? What if the bottoms don’t line up when I hang them? Plenty of worries to put off a project for 2 years.

Turns out, they were long enough to fit inside the windows (think tension rod), but not quite long enough to hang from a curtain rod. I added the green satin at the bottom, and love it. It makes the room glow in the morning sun.

I also whipped up an artist book for a recent birthday party. Four hours before the party I was adding the felt flower. Better late than never!

And I finally finished some gourds we’ve been working on (I’ll post a tutorial on those another day).

So I’m all done, right? Not a chance. I have at least 10 new projects in the works, or at least stewing in my head. Here’s a sneak peek at one…

What do you think this is going to be?

What do you think this is going to be?

Week Of Wonderfuls

Mary Jane

MaryJanesFarm Magazine sittin' atop the fence post.

It’s been a week of wonderful things.

First Up: MARYJANES FARM magazine. I love, love, l-o-v-e this magazine. I guess it speaks to my inner fantasy to own an old stone farm house with shutters and a big red barn. The beauty of this mag is that it encourages everyone to be “a farm girl at heart” no matter where you live and how many chickens you do or don’t have.

I’ve been waiting eons for a new issue and guess what? Now you can buy a regular subscription! The folks at Mary Jane’s Farm obviously hooked up with a publisher (they used to do it all by themselves, whenever they got around to it). And while I’m slightly disappointed that they now accept ads–not accepting ads was innovative–I’ll take it in exchange for more regular issues.

You can hear a podcast interview at CraftCast and find out all the things the founder Mary Jane Butters is up to. She has a new book out, too, that I’ll be check out next time I go on a Barnes & Noble date with friends.

Luxuriously squishy moss near the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Luxuriously squishy moss near the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

New England Fare: Clams, mussels and lobsters from a clambake.

New England Fare: Clams, mussels and lobsters from a clambake.

Vacation in the Sun: Just returned from vacationing in New Hampshire (again). Got in some family time and outdoor time. Finally it was sunny and we got in some mini-hikes and a classic New England Clambake. Plus we visited the great Science Museum where the kids got to see lots of wild animals up close.

New fabrics to add to my stash!New fabrics to add to my stash!

New Fabric to play with: Kris of Monkeyfoot Designs she passed on to me some scraps of fabrics from Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry. And lucky me! Her PortabelloPixie Farmers Market order came in while I was visiting so I came home with some adorable prints (note the apples and stripes and firework flowers). I’m itching to stitch these up into some new coffee cuffs.

Yummy dinner at Mama’s Restaurant & Cafe Baci, Hackettstown, NJ: On the last leg of the journey south, the kids and I stopped for a bite in Hackettstown, NJ and I was in heaven: Mama’s Restaurant & Cafe Baci has a gluten-free menu. Not just a box with 3 items, but 4 pages of gluten-free pasta, pizza, breadsticks and dessert (carrot walnut cake, anyone?). It was awesome to order a huge bowl of penne pasta with Alfredo sauce, shrimp, artichokes and asparagus, and not worry about how I’d feel later. Plus, I had garlic herb breadsticks, pipin’ hot Italian bread with butter and white cake with white icing to go (all gluten-free!). I’ll be heading back there.

Sunflower's cousin Ceillie
Sunflower’s cousin Ceillie

Saw Sunflower: My 5-year-old couldn’t wait to see our resident garter snake and name it. Big strides I say, because my 5-year-old still screams bloody murder at the tiniest insect. But she appreciates snakes. Yeah! Sunflower is her name because she’s black and yellow.

Blueberry cream cheese hearts. Yum!

Blueberry cream cheese hearts. Yum!

Homemade Breakfast: My 5-year-old decided to make breakfast this morning. She found a recipe in a back issue of My Big Backyard magazine. We didn’t have strawberries so she used the blueberries we picked last week and the blueberry jam I made from our pickins. Yummy!

Captions and sharing: My web guru (aka my husband) updated my version of WordPress and look! I have captions on my photos! I’m so excited. He also figured out while my Notable Reads (down there on the left, below the Crafty Crow button) were not working. He’s a computer ace! So click away now to see the bird mobiles and watercolor techniques.



I just returned from vacation on an island.

Birds! 6I just like to say that because it sounds like I went somewhere very exotic.

It is an exotic place in its own special way. Not exotic in the floating pool-side drinks and cabana boys style, but the opposite extreme of exotic where the cabin didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing.

There I am on the island’s rocky beach bordering Lake Champlain sewing birds.Birds! 5

After mentioning my vacation to many different people, I realized this type of experience really is “exotic,” foreign to many. I’m surprised at the number of people who have never “showered” in a basin or carried their water supply somewhere.

When you have to carry your water from a lake, then boil it before you can make coffee, do the dishes or bath, it really makes you consider energy consumption and waste in a whole new way. My dear friends who invited us to their cabin are considering different solar options for powering their cabin. I highly recommend this kind of vacation as a crash course for anyone who wants to reduce their energy consumption, go green, reduce their carbon footprint, or whatever you want to call it. Try this lifestyle for a few days, and it will make you rethink your whole household.

Surprisingly, my 5-year-old didn’t complain once that she had to put shoes on and walk with a flashlight to the toilet in the middle of the night. The lack of conveniences didn’t phase her when she had snakes to watch and water to splash in.

Truth be told, we did have cell phone service, which was helpful when we sent the men out a huntin’ to the mainland for ice and pizza to go (it was a vacation, after all). And the kids had battery operated toys to keep them entertained while we made dinner. The whole vacation was such a blast!

Before setting out to the island with–dear me!– no internet service, we did more traditional vacationing by visiting family.

Birds! 3

My nephew was baptized and I made him this bird mobile for a gift. Shall we say they’re doves to go with the baptism theme?

No matter what kind of birds they are, they are so cute, and they’re my latest crafting obsession. I downloaded the pattern from Spool Sewing blog.

So cute, so simple and a great 3-D project for beginners. Getting them to balance is tricky, but the eye hooks are key.

I’ve become so enamored with these birds, I want to make them for everyone. My nephew got the first flock, although I think his mother may have claimed them because she loves birds.

The cabin on the island got the second set. (This photo is not the best!)

Birds! 7

Through 6 hours of driving, daytime kiddie naps and lakeside resting, I stuffed and sewed birds. I even got to take my sister-in-law’s Janome sewing machine for a spin stitching them up. Sweeeeet machine!

On the island I found odd-shaped driftwood for the mobile.

These birds look like they’re talking to each other.

Birds! 4

I used awning fabrics and regular cotton for those birds, but was thinking of spraying them with Camp Dry so I can hang them outside.

Next I’m hoping to make a flock or two for home…one for my porch and one for my 2-year-olds’ room. I’ve got all the time in the world right now because mentally, I’m still on vacation.

I Love Spring!

Baseball artist book

As I type this, I am sitting outside, precariously balancing my laptop upon my knees with the sun shining in my face. I love spring. And it has finally come to eastern Pennsylvania.

Today will mark the third day in a row I’ve spent all day digging in the dirt. I love spring. And I love digging in the dirt.

Something about it renews me, makes me feel better after a long winter of being cold and shut in without only grays and whites outside. My husband begs for these days to come by mid-February, because apparently I’m much easier to deal with after I’ve had my hands in the dirt.

True, indeed. Everything is okay in the spring. It doesn’t matter than my 5-year-old just dumped my coffee all over the table because we’re outside and I love spring. It doesn’t matter that my 1-year-old had jelly all down the front of his shirt after wrestling a PB&J sandwich. He went on to play in the yard until he covered the jelly with dirt. That’s okay because it’s spring and you’re supposed to get dirty.

As kids we used to measure a day by how much dirt we got in the folds of our necks. A good day equaled lots of dirt in creases you didn’t even know you had.

I’ll be digging my new veggie patch today and planting some lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard. Nothing is as beautiful as a patch of freshly dug and then raked soil. It’s so even and perfect. Okay, so maybe the little curly heads of peas popping through the soil are even better, but I won’t see that loveliness for another 7 to 10 days, weather permitting, according to package directions.

Off I go to dig in the dirt like a happy little mole, but I leave you with these pictures of the artist book gifts I made for last weekend’s birthday parties. The little artists loved the books and I think they turned out well.

The owner of the green and orange book with cat pockets likes the Lyra Ferby pencils, which are short and fat, so I made two rows of pencil pockets. The are great colored pencils, by the way, if you haven’t tried them.

Cat artist book

The outside of this book.

Cat artist book outside

I never located any Red Sox or Phillies fabric for the pockets on the baseball artist book, but I like the way the ticking looks like an old-time baseball uniform. I’m sure that’s lost of its 5-year-old owner.

Of course, an hour before I left for the party I realized it really needed a baseball team patch on the front. A thought for the next project, and the project after, that I’ll be pondering as I dig in the dirt.

Baseball artist book outside

I love spring.

Busy as bees

Gray Horse Hair Bracelet

It’s been a busy week here at Red-Tail Designs HQ.

I finished the bracelet for my customer in Kentucky. As you can see above, it turned out looking more black than gray. I sent it out last week and by now she should be enjoying a remembrance of her horse. The 14 karat gold clasp and beads give it a bit of a glow.

Birthstone Babies

Also finished up a project for a neighbor who wanted me to create birthstone babies that matched the ones she already had. The store where she’d purchased the first 4 charms had gone out of business. With a growing brood of grandchildren, she wanted to add two more to her collection and turn her pin into a necklace.

Coffee cuffs were also on the menu this week. I experimented with some new “boy fabrics” (as I like to call them) and then restocked the local coffee shop, Cosmic Cup Coffee Co. It’s tough to find interesting fabrics for men. There’s some cute stuff for boys and sports fabrics are often a hit with men, although so far this year I can’t find any of the baseball team fabrics in cotton. I wanted to make a Mets cuff for my husband, but all I can find is fleece. Beyond sports themes, it’s often hard to find fabrics that are expressive of men that aren’t so uptight.

Skull and crossbones is a good solution. The owner of the Cosmic Cup liked his personal cuff I made for him.

Skull Coffee cuff

He’s a supported of the subversive culture who gets a kick out of pirates.

This little dog in the tea cup also cracks me up.

Tea Cup Dog Coffee Cuff

Inside Shot of Coffee Cuffs

I was a little more successful in finding fabrics for a new baby boy. He doesn’t seem like the pirate type, so I stuck with the sports theme.

Baby Bibs with matching coffee cuff

I even made a bib that matches the coffee cuff I made for his mom. She can turn the roses inside out to reveal the same fabric as the bib. I’ve been working on putting a completely different type of fabric on the inside of the cuffs so you can two looks for the price of one.

Princess BarbiesAll of these projects came in the midst of planning a princess birthday party for my now 5-year-old. I had the partygoers make regular Barbie dresses into princess-wear for their Barbies. With jewels, fabric and glitter glue at their disposal, the little princesses proceeded to load the dresses mostly with glitter. When I later found glitter glue on the toilet seat, I declared the party a success.

Just when I thought I’d catch a break from the all the parties, I realized I need presents for two parties coming up this weekend.

My latest gift for kids is an artist book with space for tablet, colored pencils and stickers.

Artist SketchbooksOpened artist sketchbooks
I have the fabrics cut, but still have to sew. Pretty easy until I get to sewing the pocket for the colored pencils. That takes a little time.

New fabrics for sketchbooks