Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Easy DIY Christmas card display frame using vintage bump chenille

Alright, chick-a-dees. This is a seriously easy DIY that packs a nice graphic punch of vintage textual flair. Say "hello, vintage bump chenille garland".
If you've never experienced chenille (fancy pipe-cleaners), get some. It is oh-so petable.

Ok, anyways, in all likelihood you have a nice stream of Christmas cards coming in. If you are like me and want to display them in a way that looks a bit more intentional than scotch tape on the wall AND only expend 20 minutes of your time, this project is for you.

SUPPLIES: picture frame, vintage bump chenille garland (available on Etsy), staple gun, spray paint (optional), clips

The frame is from a thrift store. It had a goose picture in it that was so dated I'm not even going to share it. Since the frame was plain wood, I spritzed it with gold spray paint for extra holiday dazzle.

 Once dry, I flipped the frame over and stapled the chenille in a zig-zag pattern.
As you can see, I alternated where the chenille was stapled to give it some dimension.
To display the card, you can either weave them into the chenille or use clips.
I snatched some of the DIY chip clips from the kitchen to hold the cards but I think that glitterfied clothes pins would be super cute as well.

That is how to show off your seasonal snail mail!

On the other hand, if you are like me and have not mailed out any cards yet (*shame*) there is hope. Are you familiar with Treat? They have super adorable, customizable cards that can be ordered up to December 19. Definitely something to take advantage of or, for all you non-procrastinators, remember for next year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Christmas Porch

After decorating the mantle, putting festive bits and bobs on the front porch is definitely one of my favorite things. Part of the thrill is probably still new home-owner giddiness but part of it is nostalgia. Growing up, we didn't have AC so in the summers we spent a lot of time on our porch. A LOT of time. I can't even tell you how many library books I read rocking in my parents porch swing. 
Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure there were even a few times where my sister and I hauled all our construction paper and kiddie craft supplies out on the porch. (Life foreshadowing?) We might have abandoned the mess once our art projects were properly bedazzled but more likely we cleaned everything up and did NOT leave sticker sheets to blow around the neighborhood ;) 

Anyways, all that to say I LOVE porches! And I have a porch! And it's currently decorated to feel like cozy Christmas!

Want to know a secret? This whole setup is primarily our firewood. It's strategically placed in a cute vintage wagon with bits of greenery and a few pine cones to look like it took lots of effort and thought, but it really didn't. Nothing complicated or expensive. The best part - after Christmas we will burn the wood and have almost nothing to store that we don't use for other things! 

Christmas JOY door banner 
I feel a bit like I'm bragging about reinventing the wheel since the door-banner wreath-alternative idea has been around for a few ages but, by golly, I MADE this one and I'm going to show it off!

So, like I said, I made it.
Once upon a time that golden corduroy was a pair of pants. I enjoyed wearing them until the back pocket ripped out. It was a sad day when that happened, but now the memory of the pants lives on in the banner. A banner that has a polka dot backing, making it way better than a pair of pants.
I made the pompom using cotton string. If you want to learn how to make pompoms, go to Pinterest. There are literally 1000s of tutorials.
The wooden letters were purchased at Hob Lob, painted, and embellished with reclaimed wooden bits. I hot glued them to the banner.
As for the hanging apparatus, I stuck a couple wooden knobs on a trimmed down kabob stick and gave them a spritz with the paint.

That about wraps it up for the outside. Christmas is kinda the best, yeah?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hand Lettering | December Desktop Calendar

 A hand-lettered calendar, delivered straight from my Dropbox to your desktop.

Monday, November 24, 2014

We rest

Keith snapped this pic and it has become one of my faves. Do you see that sweet pup on guard as I nap?
Not long ago I shared an ambitious list of all the things we wanted to accomplish this fall. Then the days got short and the weather got chilly and we were wooed by The Wood Burning Stove. The list was replaced with books. Time we would have spent working on home renovations turned into reading hour(s). At first this was frustrating. It is hard for me to describe how annoyed I was at being unproductive after work. Basically, I turned into a totally sun-dependent sloth and without the light I get almost nothing done.
I am coming to terms with that - it is good to have some down time. It's a resting season.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 3, 2014

Maker's Session: By Beep

Ever come across a handmade item so awesome it leaves you marveling for a few moments? Me too. This post is part of a little series in which I talk to the people who make these awesome things. Not to steal all their secrets, but to get to know these awesome makers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day creative life. Read the other Maker's Sessions here

When I stumbles across Emily Haworth's shop By Beep, I was instantly smitten by the adorable, whimsical designs but when I realized they are made primarily of paper... whoa. Total awe! 
Below, Emily shares about her work and creative process but if want to see even more her beautiful work stop by her website, follow her on twitter, and like her on facebook!

Share a bit about yourself, your creative background, and how you describe your style.
My name is Emily Haworth, and I am an artist living in Chicago, Illinois.
As a young adult, I dabbled in a few colleges, but school never truly fulfilled me. I have always thrived more on my own as an artist. It wasn't until I made the decision to learn independently that I began to connect the dots of my artistic style.
My work tends to take on a whimsical and nostalgic style. I communicate more through art than I do with words, so my work holds many symbolic messages. My messages are usually vague enough for people to contribute their own meanings based on their personal life experiences.

When did you get interested in making jewelry and how long have you been working with it?
Jewelry making began to charm me a little less than a decade ago. It began with me taking apart old jewelry in order to add my own admired baubles to it.

 How did paper come to be in your creations?
I started by creating shadow boxes. I grew a love for designing tiny paper environments inside of the them. Soon I began to notice that sections of these set designs could be incorporated into fashion. I began to toy with this idea and a year later ByBeep was born.

What does your creative process involve?
My mind is always in a hundred places at a time, so I'm always writing notes to keep everything organized and unforgotten. When I return to these notes, I start with the idea that feels most urgent. After that, I solve the details, figure out the layout, play with colors and textures, etc. Then I am ready to build. I work this way with every medium I use.

How does an average day in jewelry making go for you?
Since I already know how to create the jewelry in my store, my hands will go into autopilot while I brainstorm future projects. My jewelry process consists of a great deal of prepping, steady hands, and listening to hours worth of music. The time flies. However, if I am making a new piece, it goes exactly like my answer for in the above question.

Who loves your product?
I find that people who enjoy wearing statement pieces are more likely to be drawn to my jewelry. These people tend to be artists or people with an artistic eye. I also have many sculpture pieces that resemble machines/ instruments used in artistic professions or hobbies. People who work in these fields relate to my jewelry because it showcases who they are. The sewing machine necklace, for example, is a popular piece.

What bit of wisdom would you pass on to someone interested in making paper jewelry?
My work came together by making mistakes and continuing to try new approaches. Eventually it all came together. That is the secret. There is always a way to reach your desired goal, but you have to keep working at it. It will always take time to solve the puzzle.

What is something the creative business has taught you?
Exactly that, it is a business. It is a lot like walking into a boutique and someone saying, "Hey, you have every job-title in this store, and you have to make all the merchandise too." It takes a lot of dedication and time to make a creative business successful. The biggest thing I have learned is you have to be willing to take baby steps even though all you want to do is run miles.

Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Yes. I am in the process of developing a clothing line for ByBeep. The clothing will be hand printed and designed by me with Eco-friendly inks. This will make ByBeep more well-rounded, which I am excited about.

Anyone else looking forward to seeing the By Beep clothing line? To keep tabs on what else Emily is making, tag along on twitter, facebook, and her personal website.
PS - you should really check out her drawings.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Year 1

Want to know something CRAZY? We've been home-owners for a year.
The date sticks because moving into your first house on Halloween in pretty memorable.
Today is rainy and cold just like it was last year. Fortunately, we now have a cozy fireplace.

Three cheers for home ownership and all the adventures it brings!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

2 sisters, 1 art journal | The wee dino loves ice cream

It's been a few weeks since I posted an art journal page from the book my sister and I shared. To make up for the absence I'm back with a cute, tiny dino to make you extra happy.
If you are new to this blog (Hello!) and want the back-story, read about the beginning here and check out other pages here.

Those of you that have been following along probably recognize that I did this page. It's funny how we all have 'styles' even when just arranging ephemera on a page.

Other than the fact that I love the ice cream loving longneck I don't have much to say about this page.

Yes, I do. The right page, as you can see, is a bag from foreign gummies. I had the clever idea to glue it in and use it as a pocket. Apparently my idea was too clever because Kali never thought to look in it ;)


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Life Lately

1_ Instead of the seesters, Keith decked out in Downton this time. Isn't he so handsome? This is our cosplay. And since we staffed the event we got paid for it. Score!

2_  It is almost NOVEMBER. How did that happen? On a happy note, the fall season has been wonderfully long and beautiful this year. Some years it goes from leafy green summer to a barren winter in the span of 4 days.

3_ I've been eyeballing acrylic inks at Hob Lob for years and finally bought some (off the clearance rack!) I love, love, love them! They are runny like watercolors but have ultra pigmented, highly saturated color. So pretty.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Maker's Session: Sarah Mimo Clocks

Ever come across a handmade item so awesome it leaves you marveling for a few moments? Me too. This post is part of a little series in which I talk to the people who make these awesome things. Not to steal all their secrets, but to get to know these awesome makers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day creative life. Read the other Maker's Sessions here.

Pinterest introduced me to Sarah Mimo's Etsy shop full of stunning, crazy-amazing laser cut clocks. If you haven't seen these beauties you are in for a visual treat because they are awesome. If you are a wee bit curious about how these are made (and I know you are) keep reading because Sarah shares all sorts of interesting bits about her work below. Don't forget to check out her website and friend her on Instagram.

Share a bit about yourself, your creative background, and how you describe your style. 
My name is Sarah Mimo, I'm a NYC based designer/artist, currently making laser-cut clocks. I grew up in the Midwest near Chicago. I went to Pratt Institute to study illustration which wound up being great preparation for what I do now. My work is probably most influenced by Art Nouveau and Mid-Century Modern design.

When did you get interested in working with wood and how long have you been laser cutting?
Wood is a really gorgeous material, I think everyone who works with it falls in love with it. I had always been interested in wood but I didn't really start working with it until right after college when I decided to build my own furniture to save money. I didn't have many tools and absolutely no experience so the end product was pretty crude. I've been laser cutting since my senior year in college. I had been making cut paper art since high school and laser cutting felt like a natural progression. I was drawn to laser cutting because I could work with more heavy-duty materials and therefor make products that were sturdier and more durable, unlike my paper work.

Sophia Clock

How did clocks come to be in your focus?
Growing up I always had a poor relationship with time, I was always running late or anxiously awaiting something. To me clocks had always been annoying because they never had good news, I think that's why so many of my designs are hard to read. But at some point my relationship to time changed, it became my cheerleader when things started to get stressful. Working on the clocks was my extremely literal way of reminding myself that "this too shall pass". Now I'm working on some new things that aren't clocks but I still really enjoy making new timepieces.

What does your creative process involve?
Some designs come together really easily and some I have to wrestle with for a while. Sometimes a clock starts as a traditional sketch, sometimes it's an iphone picture that I send through random apps. I finalize my designs in Adobe Illustrator and then send them through my laser cutter. After a piece is cut I dremel any parts that the laser couldn't get through and then it's ready for gluing, assembling, staining, and finishing. I make each clock myself and I hope to keep doing that. Getting messy and working with my hands is my favorite part of the process.

 How does an average day in creating go for you?
I like to spend the first half of my day working on orders (cutting, sanding, gluing, staining, finishing) and the second half working on new designs. I try to keep a pretty structured schedule so that I don't get overwhelmed. 

Who loves your product?
People who don't normally like clocks. The modern, geometric star clock is a popular design.

What bit of wisdom would you pass on to someone interesting in working with laser cutters?
I have nothing nice to say about laser cutters, they are a huge pain. I wouldn't work with them unless I had to. I use to outsource my cutting, which was a huge pain, and now I have my own setup, which is a different kind of pain. I'm grateful for them, but they have also been the source of 50% of my bad days over the last two years. (I don't think this would be good to include in the interview but it is the truth.)
On a different note, I get all my business advice from Grimes.

Do you teach any classes or have any tutorial/ebooks people can buy?
I don't, but I'm happy to help anyone who thinks they might need it. sarahmimo (at) gmail (dot) com

What is something the creative business has taught you?
Be kind to your fellow designers. I've met some amazing people who have looked out for me and pointed me in the right direction when I was getting started. Andrea at SaltyandSweetDesign.com, Kevin Stanton at kevinjaystanton.com, and Michael Delaporte at Michaeldelaporte.com

Any exciting projects on the horizon?
Yes! I'm working on some stuff I've wanted to make for a while. Non-clock things! They really embody what I've always hoped to make and I hope people enjoy it. It took a while for me to get the confidence to put this new work out there so I'm really excited. I'm experimenting with color and different materials. I'll be sure to let you know when it's ready.
Isn't Sarah great? :) There are multiple ways to keep tabs on her awesomeness: Instagram, Etsy, Website.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dead Plants: A then / now progress report

This is what the back fence looked like early in the summer. The growth was intense. As you can see, the vines were creeping through the fence and actually causing some of the planks to pop out of place. No bueno. So began the battle.
I'm pretty sure that my dad finds spraying weed killer deeply satisfying. He asked where the spray was every time he came over. All that spraying eventually got us to the next few pictures:

Dead plants never looked so good! As I mentioned, it did take a few rounds of spraying (and a few months of waiting) for everything to die. There were quite a few bush-trees with substantial root balls to kill.

Fast forward a bit and with the moral support of Toaster-pup and the muscles of my dad, the work began.

The original plan was to plant a low maintenance oriental grass behind the fence. Something pretty and self-sustaining. However, the plans got reworked, as they usually do. I'm not really sure why there is a Great Dirt Pile behind the garage but there is. (yah! not.) In this great dirt pile are random landscaping rocks. And old shingles. And bits of garbage. Since I didn't feel like hauling the rocks away I decided to put landscaping barrier down and put the rocks where the oriental grass would have gone.
Is it pretty? Not really. Is it self-sustaining? Oh, yes.

BTW, my dad call it the "seawall". If I refer to it as such in the future, you know why.

PS - the Dirt Pile is still there but less Great (thus the carefully cropped "after" picture). Someday it will be gone and a full picture will be shared. I hope that the tree stump painted to blend in with the garage will also be gone. And that crap-tastic fence gate.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

DIY: How to make a 3D moon (or a moon pinata)

If you are like a few of the other people in my life and want to know how to make a moon like the on my mantle, today is your lucky day. It's much easier than it looks and I have a tutorial to prove it.

Cardboard, hot glue gun, newsprint paper, box cutter (or xacto knife), pen, cord, nail

The white circles are to show where I stuck the nails into the cardboard.
Not too many years ago, I drew a picture of the guys from Metalocalypse on a nice sturdy piece of cardboard for Keith's birthday. Clearly, we were on a pretty strict student budget. While that poster hung in the apartment for several years, it had been living an unobserved life in the attic since we moved. I decided to repurpose the cardboard (again).

1_Draw the moon shape.
While you can totally free-hand the moon, I wanted a more precise shape since it was going to be so large. To do this I tied the cord to form a loop and hooked the cord on a nail that was stuck in the cardboard. Stick the writing utensil in the cord loop for a make-shift compass.
Once you have a circle drawn, shift the nail over a few inches and draw another. This will give you a lovely crescent shape. Draw a nose if you want one.

2_  Cut the moon out.
Use the first moon as a template for the second so you don't have to duplicate your handcrafted geometry.

As you can see, I peiced together one of my moon faces. Not a big deal. Hot glue is amazing stuff.

3_ Cut cardboard strips out of light weight cardboard (think cereal box).
These are what you will use to make the moon 3D. I made my strips 4 inches wide.

4_ Glue your moon
Bending as you go, glue the cardboard strips to the edge of one of the moon's face pieces. FYI, you might have to pinch the two peices of cardboard together until the hot glue hardens. Once you have glued strips around the entire perimeter, add the second face piece. If you are making your moon a pinata, you will want to add a hanging cord and candy before you glue the second face down.

5_ Paper!
This is the fun part. Still using hot glue, stick the newsprint on the cardboard moon form. As you can see, mine was crinkly, which added awesome texture. Continue adding paper till it is covered to your liking.
NOTE: Adding the decorative paper this way, in sheets, was MUCH quicker and less tedious than cutting fringe out of tissue paper. It all depends on what you want your end result to look like though.

And that's all there is to it!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Maker's Session: The Cabin Gift Shop Q&A

Ever come across a handmade item so awesome it leaves you marveling for a few moments? Me too. This is the first post in a little series in which I talk to the people who make these awesome things. Not to steal all their secrets, but to get to know these awesome makers and get a glimpse into their day-to-day creative life.

If you aren't familiar with The Cabin Gift Shop on Etsy then let me have the pleasure of introducing you! Alyssa Nott, is the creator of awesome leather goodies.  My sister, Kali, is her assistant and let me tell you, these girl have a knack for leather crafting - stitching, staining, and stamping everything by hand. Seriously impressive, top notch stuff.  You will like what you see so be sure to check out the shop and follow along on Instagram.

Tell us a little about your creative background. 
Alyssa: First of all Shakti, We want to say thank you for allowing us to be part of your blog!
When I was little my favorite past time was watching people draw.  I used to beg and beg my parents to draw for me, a habit that they quickly found to be less than endearing. As a result, they began enrolling me in art classes.  I started working with clay, charcoal, watercolor and oil paints.  When I was eighteen I received an art scholarship, but ironically after a year I transferred schools with the intentions of being a veterinarian. It turns out that animal medicine is not my calling, and though my degree is in biochemistry, I am thrilled to be able to deviate from that and run my Etsy shop.

Kali: Alyssa and I met at school while studying Chemistry. After five years of studying science, I was delighted to join her team and begin to embrace the right side of my brain once again. My mother, a woman who is the essence of creativity, spent endless years instilling in me the love of art and the knowledge that art and beauty infiltrate every aspect of life. I love working with Alyssa. She is a wee bit OCD about her work and takes great pride in each item she makes; she strives for perfection. Her efforts have resulted in a process that produces high quality leather products and I am proud to be a part of of her shop. Although we are very similar people, our strengths and perspectives are very different which results in a healthy and effective collaboration. I hope to remain a part of The Cabin Gift Shop for a long time.

When did you get interested in leather crafting and how long have you been working with it?
The first leather piece I ever made was actually a knife sheath that I put together from a kit several years ago.  I bought the kit for my then boyfriend (we are very excited to be getting married next August) for Christmas but he took too long to get around to using it, so I did it.  I was hooked! And things have escalated considerably from there. 

How would you describe your style?
Although our marketing style is rustic, our products are polished and professional. We strive to produce a quality product that is both utilitarian and beautiful.

What does your creative process involve?
In the beginning I was very inspired by nature and animals.  As my shop has grown the customers have become the inspiration. They are able to present requests or challenges that push us to make new designs and reconsider our products.

How does an average day in leather crafting go?
We start pretty early, usually around six or seven. First we spend an hour or so doing computer work and after that it’s all leather.  Our process is hands on every step of the way. Cutting, carving, staining, finishing, sewing, and more finishing – it’s all done by hand.  As there are only two of us in the shop there is always LOTS to do and every day is different, which is something we love!

Any exciting projects on the horizon?
We are very excited to be working on our first partnership with a website outside of Etsy. We are finalizing the agreement so I don’t think I can reveal the site yet, but it is super exciting to have the opportunity to expand our business this way.

Who loves your product?
Our products are both utilitarian and timeless so our customers cover a pretty wide variety of people.  We’ve worked with everyone from young students and hipsters to middle aged professionals to farmers to elderly who have proven to be somewhat less than fully computer literate, but very sweet.  I think that one of the great things about Etsy though, it brings people and shops together that would otherwise never consider each other. Our most popular products include our field notes vest, our cardholder and the small Moleskine notebook cover.

Do you have a "day job"?
This is my day job.  Kali and I both do this full time. Which is completely exhilarating. 

What bit of wisdom would you pass on to someone interesting in working with leather?
You will learn from your mistakes and your mistakes will be plentiful.  Also, leather is quite a bit like hair, it has a mind of its own and will do what it wants, best to learn to work with it and not against it.

What is something the creative business has taught you?
When I started working with leather it was a hobby that grew into my job.  I’ve been learning tons about customer service, marketing, and business in general. I love that I am able to make a living doing something I love so much! I feel like I am challenged and forced to grow every day.

A big thank you to Alyssa and Kali for answering all the questions :)
Don't forget that their leather phone cases and wallets make awesome gifts for all the hard to shop for men on you Christmas list! Check out the shop and see all the pretties on Instagram