Archive for April, 2010

I’ve been working on my new mixed-media interests lately and totally wrecking my studio jumping from paper to paint and back to paper.  I’ve also purchased some digital collage work/clip art that I’ve been printing out onto recycled paper that’s already been printed on one side.  I also got a hold of a book of gorgeous pin-ups from the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s that I’ve been upcycling into cards and bookmarks.  My hands are starting to get arthritic from using scissors all day long!

Anyhow, here are the 12 new additions to the shop this week:

Gift Wrap accessories - gift tags made with recycled paper/magazines and paperboard:

Stationery - envelopes and envelopes seals/stickers made from recycled magazines/paper:

Photo cards - mounted on 100% post-consumer recycled content cardstock:

So that’s about it…still cranking out more stuff, still have about 25 more items to post, so check back!  Have a great weekend everyone!  :)

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Envelope addition

Okay, check out this really cool site where you enter any address, any message and it pulls down Google Earth maps, creates a template and you literally print off and fold – no signup, no fee.  Easy peasy.  Make this eco-friendly by printing on recycled paper that has already been printed on (in other words, use the blank white side for your pic…no one cares that it looks like on the inside, or you could decorate).  Or use this image for the inside of you envelope and decorate your pre-printed outside of your envelope, creating some mail art.


I can’t copy a pic because it only generates what you request, but it’s cool, I assure you!

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So in my last post, I mentioned that I’m in love with mixed media art – particularly paint and paper collage.  It occurred to me that I was doing this very thing in college, but with mail.  I would cut images/color blocks and patterns/kitschy sayings, etc. and glue them to envelopes.  I thought it was fun and I always anticipated the element of surprise the recipient would have not only receiving a personal letter in the mail, but a decorated one at that!

For one reason or another, I buried that creative streak and forgot about it, until recently as I’ve been learning and reading up on mixed media art.  I’ve been quite excited to check out books with my library system which specifically speaks to mail art – kind of what I was doing before, but on a whole new level.  Some envelopes are incredible, like those from another favorite artist: http://tumblefishstudio.blogspot.com/ (she is very particular about letting anyone download/link images, so I’ll stay away and just leave the link, but her work is spectacular and I hope you’ll check it out!).

Anywho, it got me to thinking about creating art on envelopes and reminded me that I should post about the many ways you can reuse them or reuse paper to make them.  One not need be an artist at all to try these suggestions and help save some trees along the way.

Reusing sent envelopes:

This takes gingerly steps (in other words, no tearing through mail) but most of the envelopes you receive can be deconstructed/turned inside out and then easily reconstructed with a couple dabs of a glue stick and voila, you have a free and eco-friendly envelope!  I particularly like the “security envelopes” – those that are decorated inside with blue/black squiggles and lines to help conceal the contents – as they add a fun design element to your envelope.

With this guy, I simply unsealed the whole thing, turned it inside out and resealed it.  To finish it off, I put some reused blue paper over the window and in the return address spot to bring balance to the piece, added a fun recycled sticker that I made and it was done in just a couple minutes!  I also glued a blue piece to reconstruct the flap since mine kinda disintegrated when I opened it up.  Overall, super easy.

If you need a visual tool to help understand this, here’s a great tutorial:  http://www.cutoutandkeep.net/projects/inside_out

Upcycling an envelope out of magazines/images/junk mail, etc.

This involves finding an image you love (8.5″x11″ size or thereabouts is what I typically use) and folding and gluing to make your own envelope.  Also super simple.  If you google “how to make envelope” you’ll find a myriad of ways to do it, including some very fancy origami-style envelopes.  Or, you can follow this simple trick.

  1. Keep sheet vertical and fold your piece in half horizontally, leaving a bit of extra room at the top (to make your flap with)
  2. Fold over remaining piece to create flap
  3. Open it back up again and fold the sides in about an inch (give or take, depending on if you have a particular size envelope in mind)
  4. Open back up and cut the creases on the sides of the bottom and top flap, leaving only side flaps in the middle part
  5. Fold sides in and apply glue stick to the tops/outer edges facing you
  6. Bring up the bottom part and fold onto onto glued parts
  7. You can leave as is, though I like to trim the flap on a slight diagonal
  8. Apply double sided tape to the inside of your flap for sealing your envelope or apply a sticker or envelope seal on the outside

Easy, right?

Reusing and embellishing those free  “Business Reply Mail” envelopes:

We all get a ton of these – with credit card offers, will bills, with magazine subscriptions, with unsolicited requests, yada yada.  I experience uber eco-guilt throwing these out (even recycling) knowing that they are essentially a free envelope that was probably made with virgin pulp.  These are perfectly good for use but need just a bit of tweeking.  Some people have tried to send them out by replacing the middle part with an address label and affixing a stamp.  Turns out that those bar codes on the bottom/top/sides will redirect your mail back to the company that originally sent it out, thus it is imperative that you cover these up.  Here’s where a little creative embellishment comes in.

You can paint your envelope, doodle/draw over the marks, cover with scrap paper/magazines/images, stamp over, etc.  It’s really up to your imagination.  The one I embellished below includes a bit of all of these elements and makes for a fun creative envelope.

So you see, there are so many ways you can save some trees by just looking around and using up materials that would likely end up in the trash (even the recycling bin is not a great option – better than trash – but not nearly as good as reusing).  Go green and save green!

What else can you repurpose using common household ingredients?  (This is the conversation I have in my head alllll day long!!!)  You should see all the different ideas I’m drumming up with used dryer sheets at the moment – post to come out soon!  :)

Happy Reusing/Repurposing!

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Oops!  Losing track of my days.  I’ve been a creating machine.  I’ve recently fallen in love with “mixed media” art.  It’s a combination of painting/collaging and I especially love the whimsical themes.  Here are some pieces from my favorite mixed-media artist, Kelly Rae Roberts:

"What is calling you II" from Kelly Rae Roberts

"Creative Voice" from Kelly Rae Roberts

I took out about 14 books/periodicals on mixed media paper collage and her book really spoke to me; not only do I find her work beautiful but she speaks to how she was a social worker, got married, bought a house and did the 9 to 5 but found herself so incredibly unfulfilled.  She was pushing down her artistic passions but once she let go, her world exploded with possibilities and she is now a well-known and very successful artist.

So in any event, I was honing my collaging skills this week.  It’s quite messy.  I’m peeling glue off my fingertips all day long.  And its hard for a somewhat linear thinker like me just slop stuff together.  I’m really trying to break through the “color in the lines” theory that I grew up with.  What I love, however, is that I can strictly work with recycled materials.  LOVE THAT!

I was more successful with getting more items in my shop this week, 11 new items in all,  if you care to take a peak:

Gift Wrap accessories - gift tags made with recycled paper/magazines and paperboard:

Turqoise/Aqua with Tree branches Theme

Mixed Flowers Theme

Roses Theme

Silver/Black Theme

Stationery - envelopes and envelopes seals/stickers made from recycled magazines/paper:

Green leaves with brown background

Assorted orange hues

Assorted world map envelopes

Photo cards - mounted on 100% post-consumer recycled content cardstock:

Various Tuscan/Roman doors and doorknockers

Sunflower bike - single photo card

Blue cruiser - single photo card

Eco Candes - made with eco-soy, pure beeswax and 25% recycled candle remnants:

I still have about 20 more listings to get up (some are duplicates of above, but in different colors) but other new items.  Once I get my first mixed-media piece done (an 8×10 that I’m working on now), I’ll take a pic and have you all review it!  Stay tuned and have a great weekend everyone!  :)

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Happy Earth Day!

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Stretching yourself

And I mean figuratively, not literally.

You know the saying that the greatest growth comes from stretching beyond your comfort zone?  Well the saying is the easy part, the actual doing is a whole other matter.  It really is difficult, sometimes painful to do something that you are completely uncomfortable doing; the fear of the unknown, letting go of your own mental blocks and showing courage where you didn’t know it existed.

So I might be a bit melodramatic when you hear the two examples of my personal stretching, but the experiences have been profound for me.

First example

I’ve always crafted, been creative and appreciated art.  But I still consider myself a new artist.  I’ve always had the voice but only recently applied it to practice.  I’m still relatively new to everything and am slowly gaining the confidence that comes with time.  So I was nearly paralyzed with fear when a customer asked if I would do a custom order for her.  She liked my coffee cozies (which usually have very basic shapes – hearts/flowers/leaves, etc.) but wanted a custom design of a classic airplane and her name on it.  Hand-stitched.  Whaaaat?  Do you know how complex that is?

My first thought was no.  I was going to politely tell her thank you, but it was out of my realm.  In truth, it was way beyond my comfort level.  I really didn’t think I could cut out fabric so small and complex and hand-stitch it together; I didn’t even know how to hem a pair of pants a couple years ago.  Surely it would look like a Picasso rendition.  But just as fearful as I was about taking on this project, I was just as fearful at saying no…to a customer.  I hemmed and hawed for a day, squeezed my eyes shut and decided to take the leap.  I sent her some pics I found online until she picked one out to give me an idea of where to start.  I worked on it for almost 4 hours (which makes my hourly wage, oh, about $4/hour – I really need to assess my pricing!) and was utterly amazed at how it turned out.  I am soooo not trying to “toot my own horn,” but trying to explain my relief at how it came out.

Beyond feeling an immense sense of relief when it was complete, I also felt my confidence take a giant leap.  It sounds like just a simple art project that turned out well, but it’s so much more than that.  To stretch beyond your comfort zone and actually be successful is truly a powerful moment.  I am so happy that I pushed through the fear and took on this challenge.  It has helped me realize that I am only constricted by my own personal limits.  And while we all have our own boundaries and those are at times necessary, it’s good to extend yourself at times.

After handstitching was complete; before sizing down/sewing the sleeve together

Second example

I hate ice skating.  I know, that sounds ridiculous.  Ice skating is sweet and gentile; sugar and spice and everything nice, right?  And don’t get me wrong – I don’t hate the sport of ice skating.  In fact, I think professional ice skaters are amazing.  I just personally hate to ice skate myself.  Thing is, I don’t want to hate it.  I want to be proficient on skates, but seeing me on ice skates in like watching a cartoon dog walk onto on icy lake – wobbly, unbalanced and nearly splayed out on all fours.

Trouble is, my husband loves to ice skate and play hockey and has wanted me to ice skate with him for the past 10 years we’ve been together.  I’ve tried, oh, about 4 times, but each time I leave the ice, swearing under my breath about how much skating sucks and being pissed off at myself for not being able to stay balanced.  Strange thing is that speed skating is one of my favorite sports to watch on the Olympics.  I love short track for the action, but am mesmerized by long track – the rhythmic action of the stride, the smooth and precise sway.  I think it appeals to the freestyle swimmer in me.  Some might call it boring but the rhythmic action of a perfected stride is absolutely cathartic to me.

I’d love to learn how to do that I accidentally mentioned aloud while watching long track, but I can’t even freaking stand on skates without waving my arms like I’ve fallen off a building. *Sigh*  A lightbulb went off in my husband’s head because a couple weeks he announced that he had signed us up for an adult skating 101 class.  He knew that I wanted to learn to skate but would never have the gumption to sign up on my own, so he went ahead and did it so that I would be forced to overcome my fear.  I didn’t have the chance to make the decision and frankly I was relieved.  I know that making the decision to move forward is part of  “pushing through fear” but I knew I would still have plenty of obstacles to overcome in this class.

Last week was the first of six classes and I really did learn some great techniques to help me gain balance and be more confident on skates.  I was excited at the possibilities but still nervous and fearful.  I even took a good fall onto my knee, which hurt and brought up feelings of fear, but I pulled my big girl panties up and persevered.

This week we went to the public skate session to practice what we learned before our second class.  I did surprisingly well and even got the hang of some of the things I really struggled with in the first class.  Oh that’s how you do it, I thought once I finally got the hang of a technique.  Each time this happened, my confidence soared.  I left the rink feeling like I could actually be a decent skater one day (something I would never have thought before).

Then we went to the second class.  Still high on my successful practice session, I stepped onto the ice.  I knew right away that there would be trouble.  I was wobbly from the get-go.  What the hell?  I did so good before…I’m supposed to keep getting better, not regress?! This shook away all the confidence I had gained earlier, and then some.  To make matters worse, a new and more advanced couple who wasn’t in our class last week were now part of it.  And there were about 30 other people on the ice too – other classes and personal lessons going on and several people in the overhead stands.  I was feeling shaken.  On top of that, our class felt like it was going at lightning speed.  We’d learn how to turn on a dime (what?!) and no less than a couple minutes later would we learn stops.  I haven’t even come close to learning the turns yet! And I fell…lots.  I was so wobbly and stricken with fear and with each fall (5 times in fact) I could feel myself sink deeper.

And then it started to happen.  I think most women can appreciate this moment.  I could feel hot angry, frustrated tears coming to my eyes.  DO NOT CRY I told myself.  DON’T…DON’TDAMNIT!!! Too late.  No matter how hard I tried to talk myself out of it, my body didn’t care and the tears came streaming down.  Luckily I was able to face the penalty box and appear to stretch (my feet have been hurting and my instructor knows this) but I know some people saw it and now I was feeling like a weenie.  Crying over ice skating – how ridiculous does that sound?  STOP IT I kept telling myself as I tried to pull myself together and wipe my tears.  David saw me and tried to console me and cheer me on but I just wanted to disappear or at least seem as if nothing was wrong.  Last thing I wanted was for a classmate or worse yet, my instructor, ask what was wrong.  So I stared at the ice as if I was watching my instructors feet and learning from her moves.  Hopefully she wouldn’t notice.

The pivotal moment came when I thought about skating off the rink.   What’s the point I thought.  I clearly hate to skate, I’m absolutely frightened being on the ice and my loss of balance makes me feel out of control and my confidence is shot.  Why continue through this torturous process?  It would be so easy to quit at that moment.  To run, er, skate away and go back to my comfort zone.

But now I’m pissed off and determined more than ever to conquer this fear.  It’s as if the ice, the skates, the sport has become a personal entity and I frankly want to kick it’s ass and emerge victorious.  You can’t take me down, stupid ice.

So, with little confidence or balance left, I kept going.  And you know what, I survived.  And with each technique that I was able to complete somewhat successfully (aka not fall on my face), I felt the confidence level rise just a bit.  And so we’re going again today to practice at the public skate session where there are never more than a couple people so the whole rink is open, no one to grade me on my falls or technique.  A safe haven to try, try again.

Is there a part of me that wants to quit?  You betcha.  But once again, it’s pushing through that fear, stretching beyond my comfort level and knowing the rewards that exist on the other side – not only technique, but more importantly, confidence.

So, while its so easy to stay within your comfort zone, its so much more fulfilling to know that you’ve conquered a fear, that you’ve ventured into the unknown and not only survived, but often thrived.  The rewards are immense.

You know I love quotes, but probably my favorite quote of all is, “Leap and the net will appear.”  I have the magnet on my fridge.  And whenever I’ve come to a crossroads, I always remind myself of that quote.  I’ve made some pretty brazen decisions in my life that are not at all safe, but it’s always worked out.  And even if the outcome didn’t always turn out to what I wanted at the moment, in retrospect, I learned something valuable along the way, it opened doors that would not have otherwise been there and life has exploded with possibilities.

So, next time you’re faced with a decision that really requires you to stretch beyond your comfort zone, ask yourself what’s holding you back?

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Here is the auction for the eco-friendly items that my Etsy team members and I donated to!  Each category contains items that are worth over $100 in value.  Auction is open worldwide today and ends May 2nd!  At least check it out to see the lovely handmade items made with reused/recycled/repurposed materials:

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So, I’m still trying to find my groove regarding my “work” schedule and balancing down time with my hubby and taking care of domestic tasks.  I just don’t understand how those people with 4 kids, a full-time job and a home business on the side do it!  No sleep…I’m sure.

Anyhow, it was a busy week in terms of networking.  As mentioned before, I joined a fantastic group of other eco-artists on Etsy (EcoEtsy).  They are a fantastic group of people, are very active and I jumped in to be a part of the action by volunteering to be co-editor of their business tips feature on their blog, which is featured on Fridays.  Click here for the article that Lisa of LilFishStudios and I put together!

From the shop of my co-editor, Lisa at Lil Fish Studios

The blog has a different feature everyday and while some of it is geared toward the Etsy shopowner, most of it is eco-friendly tips/tutorials/living that is applicable to any person.  Talk about inspiration for what to make out of common household items!  I’m consistently amazed at the creativity and ingenuity!  You can click on the EcoEtsy link to the right (see that pretty blue bird?) to be taken directly to the site or go to www.ecoetsy.com

Additionally, with Earth Day around the corner, we got featured in Etsy’s daily blog which has brought us a lot of great exposure.  Click here for the article!

I’m just thrilled to be part of such a great group of like-minded eco-artists who not only craft green but try to live a green and simple life as well.

I’ve been busy adding more supplies to my Green Earth Supplies shop as well as my handmade shop including these:

A set of 5 diferent 5x7 "frameable" photo cards from scenes in Tuscany and Rome, Italy

Recycled gift tags of flowers found in magazines, junk mail, etc.

Recycled gift tags (using recycled paperboard) and pictures of sunflowers as found in old calendars, magazines, etc.

I have about 30 more items ready to list, but Etsy is working on updating some things on the site and has temporarily taken down some tools that help with listing quickly; I simply don’t have the gumption to take the long route now, so I’d rather wait for the short-cut to come back in before I post more.  I’m still crafting my heart out even though you may not see much of it now!

The EcoEtsy team will begin their auction of items donated by EcoEtsy members on April 19th – I’ll be sure to remind you on that day of it so you can see all the items up for auction; proceeds to benefit a non-profit environmental organization (I’m not sure who at the moment, but will find out!).

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Sorry I haven’t posted much this week.  Writing is like artwork: I need to feel inspired to get going.  And while sometimes I find that I have 5 topics that I want to blog all at once, other times I struggle to come up with material.  This week was certainly the latter.

However, one of the things I’ve been feeling the need to do is purge.  If you recall in my ice cream post, I spoke of the need to purge and donate every couple months.  Usually it’s just one room or area of my house at a time.  But today, I feel like conquering the whole darn place!  I’m not sure if it’s the beautiful, warm sunshine that makes me want to fling open the doors and declare “SPRING CLEANING!” but I feel the need to declutter and donate to those who could make better use the items collecting dust here.

I sometimes feel as though I live a dichotomous life.  On one hand, I firmly believe that the less stuff you have, the less it consumes you.  I’ve worked hard to decrease my consumerism and materialistic wants over the past couple of years, so tchotchkes are certainly not an issue.  On the other hand, I’m an artist and an environmental one at that!  All the things I make are with recycled items and materials that would end up in the trash, so its hard for me to let things go.  Even scraps of paper cause me to hem and haw – will I use it?  Do I dare throw ‘em out?  What would a minimalist do?  What would an artist do?  What would an environmentalist do?  It causes me to go a bit batty, so my biggest challenge is striking balance.

So, I take it drawer by drawer, cabinet by cabinet, closet by closet and assess what I haven’t used in the past year.  And because I do this a couple times a year, it’s a fairly easy/quick process.  I know for some it would take weeks.  For me, I can do it in a day or two.  And then take a car load full of stuff to the thrift store (where I buy a lot of my materials for my crafts/home as well, so it’s certainly a karmic circle).

There are many articles that have come out in the past couple of years about the act of decluttering and how the psyche responds to cleared out space.  The theory is that getting rid of stuff allows you the emotional space to allow new and better (non-materialistic) things to come into your life, like love, relationships, peace, happiness, etc.  So although I’m not lacking in any of those areas, who wouldn’t want more of that?

And really, do I need that bread machine that makes rock hard loaves and hasn’t been used in years?  Those shoes that felt great at the store but are too painful to break in at home and haven’t been touched?  And those too-small-maybe-when-I’m-thin-enough-I-can-fit-into-them-again clothes?  I’m finally parting ways.  None of these items contribute to my happiness, but for someone else, they could.

It’s work but totally liberating and worth it in my book!

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Well, for the first time since opening up my shop, I dramatically slowed “production” as I was trying to organize myself, launch my supplies shop, get involved with the EcoEtsy team I’ve joined and also spend more evening time with the hubby.

With that said, here’s what’s new on the business front:

  • New item added to shop – I finally made a couple batches of candles, after many-a-trial-and-error, and figured out a way that works for me.  I have about 15 of them in various colors and need to photograph/list them, but here’s an example of one.  It’s made of 50% eco-soy wax, 25% pure beeswax, and 25% recycled candle wax remnants (you know when a candle only burns half way through?  Here’s my nifty way of reusing it).  I’ve decoupaged a tree on the outside to make it unique from your standard candles, but will have some without any “embellishment”

    You can click on picture to go directly to this listing and shop

  • New supplies shop launched:  www.greenearthsupplies.etsy.com – still a work in progress and working through some minor bugs but you can see some of the items I’m featuring, namely recycled envelopes, recycled cardstock, recycled folded cards and coming soon – biodegradable clear bags, recycled address labels, recycled bubble mailers and recycled business cards.  As you can see, being a supplier of eco-friendly office/business supplies is very important to me!  Here’s an example of some items:

On the eco-front, here are some great posts blogged by fellow EcoEtsy team members:

This upcoming week (since my wknd. is Tue/Wed and thus today is technically my “Tuesday”) I plan on listing several new items a day (I have many things in waiting, it’s just a PIA to photograph/list these items/calculate shipping, etc. – my least favorite part on the business end, but necessary nonetheless).  And once more info comes down on the Earth Day auction (for which I donated 2 items and many others from my team did as well), I’ll be sure to post so you can check it out.

Thanks for stopping by!

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