Studio Complete?

The fabric area of my studio complete with brand new bulletin boards. This Ikea shelving and orange boxes are perfect for this area.

My custom bulletin boards are finally hung!

I feel like my studio might almost be done. My husband and I started redecorating our third floor over a year ago with new paint, carpet, shelving…the works. It’s been a very slow process because we did most of it ourselves.

The bulletin boards are at the top of the stairs, so it's like an art gallery as you enter the room.

The chunk of it was done last spring but organization eluded me for a long time and it took a while to find the right shelving. Bulletin boards were my last big push and, of course, I couldn’t just buy cork from Staples. They had to be fancy-pants bulletin boards I made myself from stuff I found here and matching fabrics. I chose three Ikea fabrics and then made a mosaic using those fabrics and some Laura Gunn scraps that Kristen was so gracious to give to me.

And finally they are on the wall.

It’s sad that both my husband and I have grandfathers who were carpenters, yet neither of us can hang a coat rack without worrying it’ll fly off the way and whack us in the forehead.

Luck for us there are people like Chris Fairchild from In Order to Organize.

All my jewerly supplies in one area neatly labeled. I need one more piece of furniture to marry the beading area to the sewing area. Coming soon!

Chris owns a personal organization and personal training business right here in Easton. Not only can he put holes in my 100-year-old walls without worry, he can organize, build, plan and create. Chris organizes any aspect of your home, business or work flow.

In spring, Chris talked me through how I use each section of my studio and what would make the most sense in terms of storage and organization. He helped me decide on shelving, and I plan to have him make shelves for a closet and a wall shelf above my sewing machine.

That’s his other great talent. Chris can design and build custom pieces for your house.

He hung my bulletin boards for me and I am eternally grateful. I assisted him as he figured out the spacing (does holding a level count as assisting?). If I’d hung them they’d be crooked, and I’d have to lie that uneven spacing is art at its best.  Instead he measured and drilled and they look beautiful.

So is my studio finally done? I suppose as done as it’ll ever be. I have a few boxes to unpack and I still can’t find my rotary cutter, but that may just be a casualty of reorganizing.

The kids supplies and crafting area is on the left side of the table. It's not as tidy-looking as I'd like, but it's functional. Once everyone can read, I might transition to more orange storage boxes.

Weekend Recovery

My treasure hunters trying out their new cargo-pants-turned-field-bags.

My treasure hunters trying out their new cargo-pants-turned-field-bags.

What better way to recover from a weekend than a creativity binge?

Instead of cleaning my studio and re-shelving all my props from the Powwow this weekend, I’ve been sewing up a storm. At last count I had 2 field bags, 6 bibs and a bunch of cloth napkins.

The Powwow was a good time, despite the weather. Saturday the sun showed up, and therefore, so did the crowds. I demonstrated porcupine quill, wrapping a rawhide medicine wheel with dyed quills.

Sunday saw a stead rain ALL day. Honestly, in the 5 years I’ve done this festival (3 times a year, at that) this is the first time it rained for an entire day. Rather than be miffed by the fact that rain keeps the crowds away, I took it as a vacation day. It’s all in the attitude, right?

I sat under a dry tent, worked on an easy quillwork project and listened to the rain. No kids to entertain, no laundry or cleaning to distract me. Just drinking coffee, listening to the drums and the music of the weather, enjoying my craft. During the especially slow afternoon, my neighbor the flintknapper and I traded secrets; I showed him some quillwork, he let me bang rocks together.

Although the spectators were few, the Native dancers were still out there dancing in the rain. In a day and age where rain equals holing up in front of the TV, it’s great to see people who aren’t scared off by a bit of weather.

Come Monday morning I didn’t record my sales for taxes or put away quills. Instead, I set to work on some treasure-hunting field bags for the kids. I saw this idea on some one’s blog (if it was you, let me know so I can give you credit!) to turn turn old cargo pants into a kid bag with lots of pockets. I cut off the legs, sewed up the bottoms and added new fabric to make the strap and flap. The kids were so excited. A great place to stash all their dandelions and rocks from neighborhood walks. My pockets will be so empty!

Bibs and napkins will keep everyone clean!

Bibs and napkins will keep everyone clean!

The studio is still a mess, maybe even a bigger mess. But the way I look at it, I am cleaning up my studio by using the fabric crowding the space. It’s all in the attitude, right?

Box o’ Birds

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There is a woman up north, in New Hampshire to be exact, who is about to pop.

She’s tall and slender, so at this point, as she patiently awaits the arrival of child #3, she probably looks like a lollipop– long, thin legs and a very round belly on top.

Her due date is not far off, which means the phone calls will start. If you’ve ever been pregnant and made it to your due date, you know what I’m talking about. When folks call up and say, “Did you have the baby yet?” or “How are you feeling?” Both my kids were late, so I got a lot of these phone calls. I had the urge to be sarcastic: “Yeah, I had the baby three weeks ago and just didn’t tell you” or “Hey, strap on a 30 pounds cat food and tell me how you feel.” But I was never that rude, even though I secretly wanted to be.

So rather than call with inane questions, I decided to send her a box of birds. She loves these birds (as do I!). I sewed up all colors and patterns, stuck ’em in a box and mailed them north. Hopefully a box of birds will bring a little sanctuary to the days of waiting for baby while chasing around two other little ones.

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Who would you send a box of birds to?

But wait…there’s more for me to give away! That’s right, it’s April 1, and I have some prizes to give away from the March Happy Birthday Giveaway!

Thanks to all who left comments over the last month. I wish I could send all of you prizes! But the random number generator picked #2 and #12. The lucky winners are…

Gina will be getting the adjustable horse hair bracelet and…

Kristi will get the art journal.

Congrats, ladies. Your prizes will be in the mail shortly!

Work of Art

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

The outside of the journal cover featuring bird and cherry tree silhouettes.

Ever make something so gorgeous, so just beyond the skills you know that you don’t want to give it away?

Here it is! A new journal cover made with Japanese import bird fabric and Amy Butler prints from the Belle and Lotus collections. I’m so excited with how it turned out.

The inside of the journal cover.

The inside of the journal cover.

Over the weekend my friend bestowed this journal cover on her sister as a birthday gift. I told her if she doesn’t like it, to give it back because I’d keepin’ it!

The sister had requested this a bit ago and asked for a zipper closure rather than the loop or Velcro I’d been using. In my mind putting it a zipper was INCREDIBLY hard. So I put it off.

My first zipper!

My first zipper!

As the deadline approached, I finally fished out my sewing machine manual. And I fished out the zipper foot. Who knew I even owned such an animal?

And guess what? It wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I figured out how to sandwich one side of the zipper inside the seam and the other side of the zipper in a flap of fabric.

Along the way, I discovered the other sewing machine feet that I never used and all the cool things I can do with my sewing machine. Part of my machine slids off to sew sleeves! And I can drop the feet for darning and freehand sewing!

Now my sewing machine manual, along with Amy Karol’s Bend the Rules Sewing are by my nightstand for before-bed reading. I’m so excited by all the techniques I can try with my sewing machine. If only I’d read the manual when I got the sewing machine 13 years ago!

But back to the birdie journal cover…

Velcro allows you to keep the top open and slide in a side-fold journal or keep the side closed and slide in a top-fold journal.

Secure the Velcro along the side and you can slide in a top-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Attach the Velcro along the top and you can slide in a side-fold journal.

Not only does it have a zipper closure, but I used Velcro to develop a pocket that accommodates both top- and side-fold journals or art pads. I have another idea to improve upon this, but that’s for the next batch of art journals.

A little fancing stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

A little fancy stitching on the business card and sticky-note pockets.

My friend’s sister also requested a business card pocket. I included another pocket below it and a pen and pencil pocket.

I’m secretly hoping the receiver of this gift doesn’t like it so I can keep it. But apparently my friend might snag it first. I guess I’d better get back in the sewing room and make a few more.

********Only 3 more days to leave a comment so you can be entered in the drawing for great prizes from Red-Tail Designs! ***********

Prizes!

Fun prizes you can win!

There is still time to enter the Birthday Giveaway! Just a leave a comment between now and March 31, 2009, and you’re automatically entered to win one of these Red-Tail Designs creations.

My newest product: adjustable horse hair bracelet

1. Adjustable Horse Hair Bracelet: Brown and white horse hair are braided together to create a swirled effect. Copper rings accent the bracelet and make it adjustable so it will fit any size wrist.

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This horse hair bracelet is my newest product and I’m hoping to make some more of these this spring.

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2. Galloping Horses Art Journal: Horses on the outside and pencils, paper and stickers on the inside. Take along art supplies where ever you go. My son and I were drawning while waiting at the DMV the other day.

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The watercolor pencils, plus a paint brush, let you scribble away or add some water to create watercolor effects. The journal closes with a leather strap and magnetic clasp.

prize1Good luck!

Off to the Snail Races!

Aren’t these the happiest snails you’ve ever seen? When I saw this pattern for snail races a month ago, I knew this was the perfect gift for my nephew’s first birthday. It’s so cute!

The snails are made from the same sweater I used for the handwarmers. I think i have just enough sweater left to make my 2-year-old a snail racing game, too.

I made a few modifications to the game.

The snails advance on the racetrack by color rather than number, using a big colored dice I “borrowed” from another game. The color blocks on the racetrack are 13″ by 4 1/2″ pieces of fabric, stitched together and surrounded by blue bias tape.

The top of the racetrack is open so the snails can nestle inside for storage. I stitched between the green and yellow color blocks so the kids can’t shove the snails all the way to the bottom.

Snails going to bed.

Snails going to bed.

Snaps (yeah for Melody’s new snap setter!) keep them snug.

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snapping the snails into bed. Yet another 30 minutes of entertainment for the kids beyond the gameplaying!

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Snug as snails in a racetrack.

Recent Projects

Some projects I’ve been working on:
I shipped this bracelet off to its owner this week. The first project completed from the recent batch of horse hair the mailman brought me.
 
This custom horse hair bracelet includes sterling silver star beads. They really make the bracelet glow.

This custom horse hair bracelet includes sterling silver star beads. They really make the bracelet glow.

 More birds! I finally got a decent picture of the bird mobile. I have about 5 more birds flying around here that I’m going to make into a mobile for me. 

The bird mobile for a baby shower last weekend.

A bird mobile for a baby shower last weekend.

In addition to the mobile, the babies (yes, babies) have some snazzy homemade bibs. The farm and bug flannels mix it up a bit.

Bibs for the babies, too.

Bibs for the babies, too.

The babies’ dad is a big Yankees fan. I cut the Yanks logo out of the main fabric then stitched around it. For the future: a Yankees baseball. 

These bibs were more for the dad than the kids!

These bibs were more for the dad than the kids!

These handwarmers should come in handy (ha!) this weekend at the powwow. The weatherman says it will barely reach the 60s. That’s going to feel cold after these last few sunny days. Next week I plan to post a tutorial on how to make these handsocks out of a felted sweater.

Stripe-edy handwarmers I whipped up this week.

Stripe-edy handwarmers I whipped up this week.

 

 Hope to see you this weekend at the powwow. I’m off to dig some warm sweaters and long johns out of the closet to supplement the handwarmers. Enjoy the fall weather!

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.


Birds!

Birds!1

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.