September 29, 2010

unconvential wreaths

I really wanted to title this one "ring around the rosy" but there is no way anyone could find that via the all-powerful google. The "ring" part works but I suppose not so much the "rosy..."

Anyway, I indulged in a gift for myself while I was at Minty Keen. A new wreath for my freshly painted front door! I debated mightily between teal (to match the living room walls that the door leads to), green (to offset the garden that is on either side of the door), or magenta (I really liked it). I went with instinct and bought the magenta. And I like it a lot.

The fresh paint on the front door got me to thinking about other wreaths I have seen and enjoyed. Bookmarked in my "future projects" folder is this pom pom wreath made from yarn. When I first saw it I was super excited. Think of the color possibilities! I could make one for everyone I know! Then it occurred to me that maybe everyone I know wouldn't be as excited about this style wreath as I am and I calmed myself back down.

A quick check of Whip Up lends a few other options. Be sure to check out "30 best holiday wreaths." This site really is the one-stop shop for inspiration and how-to instructions.

Plastic bags! This is where my daughter would say "What?!" with absolute two-year-old shock and delight at something so strange.

Old books!


September 28, 2010

I'm keen on Minty Keen

Last week I adventured to a brand new shop downtown selling a bit of this and a bit of that and lots of everything I love. Minty Keen has vintage treasures – including my favorite fabric finds: handkerchiefs, tablecloths, and aprons – all happily mingled with crafty goodness and stationery delights. Heavenly! The owner is an absolute peach: friendly, helpful, enthusiastic, and obviously gifted in an artistic way herself. The store is a visual delight and inspiration. It was love at first sight for this designer/crafter/artist!

I am not the only one who has this store on my radar. It was recently featured in the Grand Rapids Press and in the Rapid Growth website. If you're going to be downtown for ArtPrize you might as well take a peek. Get an early start on your holiday shopping or treat yourself to a one-of-a-kind gift.

September 27, 2010

ArtPrize 2010: my favorite in red

ArtPrize is on and Grand Rapids is hopping! It is amazing to watch the city undergo such an amazing transformation within mere days. Murals sprout up on previously unnoticed brick walls, now elevated to canvas status. Strange creatures invade: flying pigs soar, head nodding elephants march, and dragons stand guard. Giant nests are woven, photos are displayed, paintings exhibited, videos shown. Place after place beckons, come, look, see something you've never seen before.

We had the pleasure of heading out on opening night, last Wednesday, for an impromptu adventure. Work clothes and shoes and a toddler who is in the middle of potty training limited us a bit but we still took in quite a bit.

My favorite so far is this piece, Lure/Forest by Beili Liu. My photos hardly do it justice but I am so impressed with the way it fills the empty space of the new UICA, gently dipping up and down, all so delicate and interconnected. In some ways it reminds me of sea creatures underwater, perhaps jellyfish. Considering where my creative interests are taking me as of late, I am not surprised to be attracted to something made with needle and thread either.

September 20, 2010

empty shelves no more!

I have been arranging and re-arranging ever since my shelves arrived. They aren't stuffed, in fact a few are even empty, but I have arrived at a point where I feel ready to share it with the world. I think it is going to be something I can continue to play with. I am very much enjoying having my treasures out on display!

First, the full view.

Now, I will highlight a couple of my favorite arrangements and combination:

Stones from the Upper Peninsula (displayed underwater for the most brilliant colors) with an antique chocolates tin adorned with butterflies. I love how the colors are similar on these two.

Textured milk glass with textured coral.

Round shapes: stopper, bottle, antique jar, and bird's nest. I would love to add to my nest collection. I think they're so impressively constructed, woven from practically nothing. How does a bird even get started?

More round shapes: driftwood and basket; seashell matches in color.

September 18, 2010


Yes, football! I now have the task of designing exhibits for the Local History department at the Grand Rapids Public Library. We have a fabulous collection in our archives and these exhibits are a fun way to show them off. This latest exhibit, titled Gridiron's Golden Era: Early Days of High School Football in Grand Rapids covers the 1890s through the 1950s.

Now let me be the first to tell you I have never been an athlete and I have never been a true fan of any sport. In fact, football is one of those sports that is kind of difficult for me to understand. So imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed working on this exhibit! Besides showcasing our local history, the exhibit also tells the larger story of the sport gaining popularity in America.

We got featured in the Grand Rapids Press this week, a lovely article that refers to my panels as "mosaics." Plus, the online version of the article has some of the video footage.

It's going to be up at the Main Library through the end of this year so come on down for a visit!

September 16, 2010

spring colors!

But wait we haven't finished autumn or started winter!

Pantone and the world of fashion have announced colors for spring 2011 already. I felt rather in style to note that the colors I have chosen for my daughter's quilt are pulled right from the women's colors. Check out honeysuckle, peapod, and beeswax. I also enjoyed reading about the designer's inspirations and "must-have" items (most of which have nothing in common with my life!). None the less, I found it amusing.

September 15, 2010

A giant "e" in the front lawn of the Library

Every now and then being the only person in the building with flexible design software means I get to do some very interesting projects. Like create a many-paged template for a giant letter "e" wearing headphones. Check out the fully blooming result on this Library site.

And be amused at the progress photos below:

Jean helping to tape it together. We spread out in the Auditorium, the only room with enough floor space.

The Maintenance guys wondering what the heck we got them into.

 Freshly planted.

I wish I could tell you locals to pop over to the Library and see it but it has since been removed to make way for ArtPrize. We're a venue and will be having 3 pieces outdoors: flying pigs, giant clouds, and a copper tree. I am super excited about this year's event and will be sure to post photos as I view art around town.

crazy chicken

Just because he's funny. I think I need more "characters" to live in my gardens.

September 13, 2010

a gift for me

I went to the Garfield Park Arts & Craft show (in the pouring rain!) on Saturday with the pretense of doing some Christmas shopping. However, the only person who got a gift out of the deal was me! I bought a lovely glass flower made of several antique dishes layered together. The woman I bought my flower from calls her company KimberGem Designs and she is at the Fulton Street Artisans Market on Sundays through the end of the month.

September 9, 2010

pepperful colors

We went to the Meijer Gardens a few nights ago (love that membership!). It was a wild windy night and my daughter was in a curious and energetic mood. I even managed to discover another Chihuly piece despite the fact I have been to the Gardens during this exhibit 3 times previously. They've extended the show through fall and I think the photo opportunities will be amazing.
Tonight I am going to share a photo of ornamental peppers, mostly because I loved the color combination. If you're seeking a fresh color combination for your next project, here you go!

September 8, 2010

paint project: rain barrel

I started with a coat of primer, followed by two coats of a solid dark green, and finished up with experiment I am about to share with you.

I will say that I did not completely solve the mystery of how to best paint a very smooth plastic barrel. I am wondering if I should have roughed up the surface with some sand paper before I even started. The paint has been chipped in a couple of places. A chunk is peeled right back to the original smooth plastic.

Since the rain barrel will live in my garden I wanted it to look like it belonged. I suppose the other tactic would have been to transform it into an eye-catching piece of artwork. I did consider this... I mulled over coating it in broken plates and mirrors. At any rate, I finally settled on the more "natural" look by choosing two rather tame shades of green.

As I mentioned, I did the darker green as a base. For the lighter green I gathered various leaves from around the yard and used them like stamps: dipping them in the paint and pressing them on the rain barrel. It worked fairly well. I would suggest doing an initial print on a piece of paper to remove excess paint before stamping it onto the rain barrel.

The result looks rather abstract and textural but I am happy with it. I got so excited about the fern and the reverse side of the hosta leaf (where the veins are thicker and pick up paint better) that I printed some on paper. I might just scan them and make some notecards or stationery with them.

September 7, 2010

paint project: doors

Bright and early Saturday morning I got started painting the front doors. The directions said to wait four hours before a second coat, which I did. Then we just left them open all day letting the cool breeze blow over them. They dried rather quickly. I always love how fresh something looks when it has been repainted.

The before and after doesn't do justice for the door since it is in shadow behind the screen door. But you can still compare the shutter colors!



September 6, 2010

Oh happy day!

The pergola is complete. Finished. Done. Over. Now let's enjoy a few before and after shots to just how far we've come.





September 3, 2010

Crafty author coming to the Library!

The Library brings in cool people all the time, of course, but this is the first time I have been super excited to meet an author. And it's not because I am a big fan who has read all her books. In fact, I hadn't even heard of her before. But more because I just can't get enough of hearing about people's creative journeys and processes. This is a big part of the reason I am addicted to the CraftSanity podcast.

I got a sneak peek at her book and it is beautiful! Lots of color and fabulous pairings of paper and fabric and sewing. A very interesting idea to me. She showcases a lot of different methods for altering the paper or fabric before using it to create projects.

Here's the official event description:

Stitch Alchemy: Combining Paper and Fabric for Mixed Media Art
Wednesday, November 3, 2010, 7:00 pm
Main Library – 111 Library St NE

Kelli Perkins will demonstrate basic stitchpaper techniques from her book Stitch Alchemy, including weaving wonderment, inviting juiciness and casting chance. What happens when we open ourselves to serendipity and let go of pre-determined outcomes? As a mixed media artist, Kelli has had to learn to embrace happy accidents as she ventures into unknown territory. She’ll share what she does when inspiration strikes, what it means to be an art gypsy, and why fear is a natural companion to creativity. Free and open to the public.

So, any fellow West Michigan artists should mark their calendars for 7:00 pm on Wednesday, November 3 to be inspired by Kelli Perkins, author of Stitch Alchemy.

September 2, 2010

visions of patio lights

 A beautiful and simple white light like these showcased on

Fun round bulbs remind me of summer fairs and carnivals... in a good way! Check out the full pergola update story here. The canvas cloths woven in and out makes beautiful shade too. My ultimate goal is to have vines of course.

And here they are again. This blog snagged the photo off of Flickr so I don't know where it came from originally. Very fancy with the arched top and the doors on the side.

September 1, 2010

My first sewing machine!

A 1952 Kenmore 117-959, courtesy of my great-grandmother, claimed from my parents' basement. Let me give you a tour!

First off, it is a piece of furniture. I love the little daisy on the drawer. And I really love the magic way the machine just pops out. It reminds me of the bat cave in the 1960s television version of Batman. Which has absolutely nothing to do with sewing but everything to do with hidden gadgets.


Cute little drawers, full of project remnants (handmade pattern pieces for doll clothes cut out of old greeting cards), a spare light bulb (packaging trimmed to fit the drawer), and even a scrap of fabric loosened on the journey to my house. It appears to be a practice piece from a child (my mom?).

The original owner's manual with the delivery date carefully noted. Now I have a real chance of learning to use this machine!

 Plus this stash of thread. For now I tossed them into this vase as decoration. Does anyone know if thread goes bad?

I have been advised I should have it professionally cleaned, oiled, etc. before using it. Wish I had thought of that before my husband and I dragged it down the stairs to my art room!