December 31, 2010

sweet chairs

This catalog, full of furniture and fabulous dream craft rooms, somehow arrived in my husband's name. I really fell in love with these chairs. I have no need for them. But I like them. If you think you have a need for them, then head over to

December 30, 2010

vintage berries

We have a white elephant exchange at work every Christmas. It's often quite amusing with an array of odd or ugly holiday-themed items. This year I made a trade to nab a set of vintage placemats and napkins. I actually like them a lot.

The napkins wouldn't be hard to incorporate into something else – A quilt? An apron? Doll clothes? The placemats stump me though. They're quilted so I am wondering if they could become potholders. Future projects I suppose!

December 29, 2010

Love these colors...

I saw this ad for this event in Chicago on the back of a magazine and was struck not only with the well-done design and clever illustration within the typography but the awesome color combination. I can really see this as a quilt for instance…

December 28, 2010

My obsession with Material Obsession!

I recently discovered the book Material Obsession by Kath Doughty and Sarah Fielke. Not long after checking that one out from the Library and devouring the pages upon pages of lush and gorgeous quilt inspiration I stumbled across Material Obsession 2! Lovely! Amazing! Both carry the subtitle "Modern Quilts with Traditional Roots" and I fell head over heels for the intricate creations in crazy colors. I haven't committed to any new quilt projects yet but when I am ready to take that step (perhaps after finishing my first quilt?!) you can bet I will be returning to these lovelies.

December 27, 2010

family crafting for a birthday

Every now and then I manage to get the whole family involved in my craft-fests. Here's my hubby and my daughter working on a birthday gift for a special someone who turns 80 today!

An up-cycled jar, a painted lid, and bits of paper containing memories, compliments, and original art creates a simple gift everyone in our family could be involved in creating!

December 21, 2010

the unconventional stockings are hung

The stockings at my house are made from leftover scraps from home decor projects (got to love that nice, heavy weight fabric) and therefore match my fun and funky style perfectly. Plus, I absolutely adore the elfin curl at the toe.

So don't be afraid to try something unusual with the fabric choice. These instructions from Craftzine suggest using old shirts. This brings to mind some interesting thoughts – could a stocking be made from a favorite clothing item or blanket? Or a quilted combination?

Fellow crafters – share your own links to stocking ideas in the comments!

December 20, 2010

old is new – vintage treasures for Christmastime

I am loving the crafts of my great-grandmothers!

Thank you to Great-Grandma Auriel Dougan for her ceramics:

Thank you to Great-Grandma Sonya Clark for her sewing:

December 17, 2010

the tulips are blooming

Well, perhaps not right this moment.

These images came from an email forward. They were taken in Holland (as in the European country, not the city in Michigan). Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the photographer so I cannot give him or her proper credit. They don't have much to do with my own art right now except that I found them absolutely stunning. It is kind of relief to drink in this kind of color when the muted days of winter have descended upon us.

December 16, 2010

wreath making!

Every year, on Thanksgiving or near it, I take the clippers and go foraging in my parents' backyard for a variety of greens and their front yard for holly. I always save the low branches from our you-cut Christmas tree as well. From this great heap of raw material, a wire wreath frame, and a roll of green floral wire, I create a wreath. I love doing it, I love the results, and I love that I have created this tradition that is really a gift for myself.  That's what the best art and craft should be about: enjoying every step of the process.

I've taken a class in making wreaths before but it involved dried flowers, a styrofoam base, and hot glue. So I don't think much of that knowledge applies here. I pretty much have developed my own method. I pick the flatter branches for the first layer, arrange them so they encircle the base, one tucking beneath the previous, and wire them into place. Then I just build up from there. I save the smallest pieces, like the holly, for last as they serve as more of an accent. The best part about using a variety of different evergreens is the difference in shape, color, and texture.

The back of the frame: You can see how the base-layer branches get woven into the frame.

The finished product!

December 15, 2010

creativity at home in the Library

There are two great displays at the Library right now that my design eye is so impressed with!

One is for Spilled Ink, our adult reading club. This year your prize for signing up is a little "I heart..." button. The prize for reading 10 books (really, it's that easy!) is a nice messenger style bag. I created the graphics for all of it, of course. Luckily, I didn't have a part in producing all those buttons! And I can't take any credit for the fun display.

The other is a Christmas tree made from very carefully stacked bound periodicals and old CDs and DVDs. How cool is that?

December 14, 2010

a periodic table of fonts!

My husband found this for me and it was a gift via email forward. He's a chemistry teacher and I am a graphic designer. Combine these and you get this:

 I am greatly amused!

December 13, 2010

a color choice has been made

Well, we're one step closer to updating the future "big girl room." My daughter has made the color selection and we have purchased 2 gallons of paint. We've both got time off between the holidays so hopefully we can make some paint progress!

December 10, 2010

Pantone has announced their color of the year!

A sassy pinkish red dubbed "honeysuckle!"

It reminds me of the hard-to-define color I pulled from some fabric we used in the nursery and put in the mural I painted once upon a time:

December 9, 2010

ornamental balls for Thanksgiving

I was so enthused with my ornamental balls that I led a post-Thanksgiving dinner craft session. My husband's aunt and cousin, my mom-in-law, my father-in-law, and my sister-in-law all got involved. Good food and craft craziness – what more could you want out of a holiday?

December 8, 2010

more decorating with Christmas cards

I always save my favorite Christmas cards and rehang them on my lovely French doors (one per pane) but this decorating season I have used them in new ways.

I like to tuck them in various places: a long horizontal card on the windowsill above the kitchen sink, two featuring my "cow cat" sitting on a side table, one with calligraphy text depicting the various names of Jesus near a large letter A that I display year round, a cheery snowman card near a cheery snowman decoration and so on.

Here, the lavender robes of this Mary illustration and the tall, thin orientation of the card mimic the antique glass bottle I already had on display. And now that I am looking at the photo again, I notice that the floral pattern and gold found within the plate also pick up on details in the card.

Something new for me this year was using them on my mantle. I sorted out all of the old cards featuring Christmas tree designs and aligned them on top of my garland.

December 7, 2010

crafting for the Library – card tree

In another Martha-inspired moment I sought to recreate her card tree. First you hunt down a collection of branches and a favorite vase or bucket. Then you choose a variety of Christmas card fronts and either use them whole or cut smaller shapes from them. A simple hole punch, some ribbon, and perhaps a bead and you've created custom ornaments. Some sort of rocks or gravel will probably help to stabilize your branches.

For my tree I stuck to a specific color scheme – blues and teals. This made it easier to sort my cards and select the ones I would ultimately use. For the most part my ribbon was too thick for the beads I had so for a few I chose to use thread.

Like all my artistic endeavors, it took me longer than I expected. However, it's a fairly simple craft and a great way to make use of favorite cards from years past. My finishing touch was a partially full box of vintage blue Christmas bulbs (another treasure from my mom's bountiful basement!).

December 6, 2010

crafting for the Library – ornamental balls

The Library hosted a series of craft programs after this year's Santa Claus Parade. I volunteered my time (I know, what was I thinking?) and pre-made some items and then was on hand to help with the actual event.

The Martha craft that I got quite obsessed with was making ornamental balls. The suggestion is to use old Christmas cards. I also did some using paint chip samples, Celebration of the Book brochures, invitations, and other miscellaneous cards I happened to have kept. It is a fabulous way to use scraps. I think any slightly heavy paper item will do.

I invested in a 2" paper punch for cutting out the circles. Each ornamental ball is made of 20 circles upon which you score an equilateral triangle and then fold up the flaps. There is no way I would have the patience to carefully cut out each circle!

After that, it's just a matter of gluing! There are 5 that point in towards each other to make a "helmet" shape. You do this once for the top and again for the bottom. With the remaining 10, you simply glue them in a row alternating pointing up and down. Glue that into a loop and then glue on the top and bottom and you have an ornamental ball!

Here is a finished product nestled in the Christmas tree:

December 3, 2010

make time, make quilts

My dear friend and partner in craft is also embarking on a quilt project for her child. We are pushing each other and encouraging each other to actually complete the darn things. So, with all the best of intentions, we put a date on the calendar in early November. I think in our ideal world, the quilt tops were to be done before that date and we would visit her mother for advice on doing the actual quilting (it's all a bit fuzzy to me at this point).

Well, we all know we don't live in the ideal world. So needless to say, neither of us had our quilt tops done by the time the pre-planned Saturday rolled around. On top of that, we discovered the patterns we had been working from were for lap sized quilts. This is different (and smaller) from twin sized. So I was attempting to do math (shocker!) to figure out a revised pattern. And then there were many errors which I can only attribute to my beginner's lack of skill and dull math skills. So, in the end, my fabulous "extra" fabric was reduced to a mountain of not-measured-right and not-cut-right scraps.

However, real progress was made! I have everything cut out and I have started sewing the rows of squares together. I was sufficiently motivated to clean my art room and moved the quilt-on-the-floor down there. So I now I can show it to people and they can actually see what it will look like.

And – big bonus here – hubby helped me to figure out how to thread a bobbin on the 1948 Kenmore and I got started using my "new" sewing machine. I have to say it is going quite well, much better than expected. I kind of like the knee lean lever over the foot pedal.

December 2, 2010

art on the walls – finally!

Funny how something so simple can sit around undone for months and months. At last we managed to produce hammer and nails at a time when the child was awake and find homes for several framed pieces (the framing itself was another thing that sat undone for months and months!).

A brief tour:

 Migrated from the basement where the computer used to me. The colors are right and the design (anyone remember this as a postage stamp?) one of my favorites.

 Hanging over the fireplace instead of propped on the mantel. It's a summery image but I think I will be leaving it up year round for the time being. Until fresh inspiration strikes.

Tucked in a cozy corner together. I threatened to not hang these at all until I acquired a third to group with them but that seemed a silly reason not to go ahead and enjoy them. I had several other spots in mind for this pair but they're just too small out in the open. I either need lots and lots of smaller ones or some large ones to mix in before I venture into those wide open spaces.

So the good news: I have walls enough to get (or create!) more art in the future!

December 1, 2010

lonely beaches are the best

This past October we visited relatives who live further north and further west... When I get that close I cannot resist the call of Lake Michigan.

Despite the bitter cold wind we bundled up and marched bravely to the shoreline to breathe deep the fresh air and contemplate the power of the waves. The late afternoon sun of autumn draped the churning, greenish waves with a golden glow. The trees were mostly bare, a few rust colored leaves lingering. The tidy snow fences were already bent and twisted by the wind, gathering drifts of dry powdery sand. Long shadows followed us as we dashed across the deserted beach, reveling in wide open space and the loud, overwhelming and powerful presence of nature.

November 30, 2010

faded ferns

I am the first to admit I am a lazy gardener. I know all about cleaning up the garden at the end of the season – clipping, trimming, raking, and such. But I never do. And sometimes my reward is treasures like this. This lovely fern spent autumn fading to a soft white. How striking against the browns of windblown oak leaves! The lacy little leaves are so lovely and defined.

November 29, 2010

I still love my blog...

Apologies to my dear readers who have been left wondering about me for the past few months. I have managed to make time to make art on a few occasions and I look forward to sharing those. Mostly I have been forced to make time to rest. I have been feeling a bit better these days and hope to get back into the swing of blog writing once again.

This beautiful leaf caught my eye on a dark night as I walked between the building and the car. I am lucky to have a beautifully landscaped workplace that offers treasures like these, even in unassuming places like parking lots. Autumn is truly my favorite season and I am always a bit sad to see it go.

October 28, 2010

Helvetica a treat for design eyes

I just recently checked out the documentary Helvetica from the Library.

"It's a movie about fonts?" my husband asked me doubtfully when I proposed watching it together.

"Well... it's actually just about one font," I admitted.

Needless to say, I enjoyed it much more than he did. The pace was quick, the visuals lively and fun, and the interviews of design greats were inspiring. The film covered the origins of Helvetica and its rise to popularity, showing the startling difference between advertising of the 1950s and 1960s. It also made you so much more aware how pervasive it is as a font choice in both Europe and the United States. The interviews were balanced between those who found it an indispensable font for all purposes and those who thought it was bland, generic, overused, and dated.

I would recommend it for anyone interested into a sneak peek into the world of typography and graphic design – I promise you don't have to be a designer to be entertained by it!

October 26, 2010

Charley Harper fan

His subject matter was most often animals illustrated in a beautiful, simple, modern style uniquely his own. I really really like it. Check out the book on his life, the adorable children's books, the 2011 calendar, and the official website.

And I just found these fun alphabet flashcards!

October 25, 2010

Anthropologie is coming!

The store is coming to Grand Rapids!  Nothing better than being inspired by beautiful products arranged in beautiful displays amongst some beautiful interior design. Some people get on their mailing list just to be inspired by their luscious visuals.

The website is pretty fun too – what is your home decorating style? Craftsman, artist loft, cottage, or modern cabin?

On a design note, they've done a remarkable job of bringing the layered and textured to the design of their website. For a medium that frequently uses Photoshop effects to create shadows and shine, it's nice to see a more illustrative and organic look on a website.

October 20, 2010

I want to make these masks!

Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of CraftSanity podcasting and blogging fame, I do love your ideas! Just recently she posted step-by-step instructions on making fun little masks. If I only I wasn't in the middle of not working on a quilt! I am doggedly trying to accomplish the current project list before taking on any more. A skim of the steps makes it clear that another trip to the fabric store would be in order. So I will wait.

Anyone else with creative and adventurous children just might want to whip these up though. So fun!