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Archive for December, 2011

It has been a fabulous staycation this past week.  It was nice to have David home the whole week, closing my shops and not having to answer emails or go to the post office.  It was lovely to decompress, watch movies with my hubby and be lazy.

Here are some photos that capture the week…

We ate way too much…including roasted duck for Christmas dinner followed by homemade baklava.  I also made uber rich and sweet cinnamon buns this week a la Pioneer Woman

Oy, need to have Weight Watchers on speed dial after the new year, for real!

*****

I created lots (over 30 pieces in fact!) including these smaller pieces I collaged for a painting project I’m working on…

A couple things have shifted with regards to licensing.  My agent and I were originally planning to launch my portfolio in January at the Atlanta gift show, but since I made the decision to not license my girls, my portfolio lost a big chunk of material, so we’ve decided to push back to May and launch at Surtex, a major art licensing show.  So with that in mind, I am going to share the work I’ve done up to this point, but will revert back to some secrecy on new work in the new year until May, save for a couple pieces here and there (and of course, any new girls I make).

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I’ve been decorating the tree more…yes, our Christmas tree!  When most people are taking it down, I’m ramping it up!  It was a seeming miracle we even got it up this year with how busy things were the weeks up to Christmas, so when we usually have the tree up around Thanksgiving, it was only the week before Christmas that we finally got it up this year.  As such, I plan to keep it up for a a couple more weeks and realized that our tree was looking really sad and needed some more vintage and handmade touches.

So I added some vintage bulbs…

And a vintage button garland and music sheet pennant banner…

Think it looks a little better!

Thing is, this is the only Christmas item in our home right now, save for a fun ornament wreath I made the other day:

Hard to capture now as it's snowing out and so bright compared to inside our house!

So with a bunch of ideas and inspiration tucked into a folder, I hope to start in early November next year as I really do love the season.

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We went antique shopping for the first time in many, many months…

You can see where I got some of those vintage bulbs, right?  Love!

And did year end inventory…oy.  At least I was much more organized this time around.

And next year I won’t be dealing with any leftover materials from my goodies shop making it even easier (which by the way, I’m going to have a huge clearance sale on eco-crafted paper goods, i.e. stickers, bows, tags, etc. in the next couple of weeks if anyone is interested…will post more info soon).

And as can be seen by my bookcase, I have a ton of originals to list!

It will be a busy start to the New Year, that’s for sure…

*****

And finally I’m getting together with my girlfriends this weekend to ring in the New Year.  Happiness.

What a divine week.  Staycations are great, aren’t they?

What are your plans for the New Year?

Here’s wishing you a great start to the New Year!

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Okay, so I’m a sucker for January 1st.  As ridiculous as it sounds, I can’t shake the notion that you can start with a clean slate with the New Year (though I know that anything can change starting with the day you make a decision).  But even though I say I shouldn’t, I can’t help but make New Year’s resolutions.  Though I can say that this year most of my resolutions are related to my business and not personal, so I think of it as productive goal setting!

Anyway, with New Year Resolutions on the mind, I created this treasury…enjoy the wonderful inspirational prompts:

TaClick on the image to see any of these items up close

Thanks for clicking the link to take a look and supporting these artists and the handmade movement!

In case you were wondering, my business New Year’s Resolutions are:

1. actively seek out wholesale accounts in niche/boutique shops in my local area
2. start doing craft/art fairs, especially my favorite Paris Street Market outside of Denver
3. get rid of/sell off any destash from my older shops that are no longer open
4. finish up left over craft projects and utilize all the supplies I’ve purchased over the year with a particular project in mind
5. Only buy supplies I absolutely need to run my shops and pay off my business CC (which has accumulated because of poor purchasing decisions related to #3 and #4!)

Do you have any resolutions for the New Year?  Feel like sharing? ;)

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Merry Christmas

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We take the weather ’round here very seriously…

If it’s snowing enough that we have to shovel our driveway, well then we’re going to enjoy ourselves a little bit…

A little work, a little play…well, more like play, then work, then play some more.  I think that’s a good motto to live by.

Yes, we go sledding down our driveway (and if you ever doubted if it would be steep enough for it, the picture above oughta answer that).  Our road is even steeper than our driveway but since a neighbor was nice enough to plow it with his ATV (our road isn’t maintained by the county), we didn’t want to make the snowpack icy with our sleds, so driveway it was!

Sierra, being part Husky, used to love the snow, sitting outside on a snow pack for hours on end watching for little critters.  But in her older age, she walks around for a bit before deciding she’d prefer a nice warm bed to hang out in…

Peanut is generally a hardy pug.  She’ll go for hikes for hours on end, climbing up steep terrain.  And she doesn’t mind the snow too much, but she wimped out early and decided she too preferred a warm place to hang.

Zoe on the other hand LOVES the snow.  She’ll stay out for hours, chasing snowballs, digging for the earth, and running after anything we’ll throw her way.  She’ll lunge over snowpiles and run around with boundless energy.  She cries to go out and play and cries for an hour after we get back in because she wants to play some more.  She certainly doesn’t fall far from our apple tree!

Alas, it was time to get to work and shovel…at least the scenery doesn’t suck!

We make sure to shovel 3/4 of the width of our driveway for passage of our vehicle; but 1/4 is left intact as a semi-permanent sled run.  We’ve got our priorities straight.

And at the end of the day we hang our wet clothes to dry, don some PJ’s, brew some coffee and enjoy the beauty the snow has brought.

Happy day.

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it’s gonna be a white Christmas, eh?

It’s still coming down pretty hard…going sledding later on today.  Because that’s what 36-39 year olds without children do.  Bah! ;)

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I used to make paper bows in my shop with recycled pieces of paper and was often asked how I made them.  I didn’t share at the time because frankly it took me a long time to hone my skill and I was trying to sell them in my shop.  There are lots of tutorial on-line which provide a great base, but I found they looked a bit cookie cutter or frumpy and don’t give the fullness or unique flair that I wanted, so I kept practicing until I created a couple variations I liked to work with.

Disclaimer, this is a pic-heavy (though colorful!) post; apologies for the obnoxious watermarks…old photos from my former shop!

Now these take a while to make so I did these in the evenings while on the couch and with the TV as company; I’m the type that likes TV on in the background, but find it awfully hard to just sit and watch TV.  I need to be doing something with my hands.  Typically I’d be able to make 5 or 6 in an hour (depending on size and type of paper) .  And seeing that most people don’t want to pay more than a $1 a bow, it wasn’t very profitable, unless you want to make $5/hour!

But hey, if you’re looking to spruce up your packages yet add a handmade touch, these are just the thing!

First there are a myriad of ways to make bows, so I’ll show you a couple varieties, but first, let’s start with your standard chunkie bow.

First here’s what you’ll need:

  • paper trimmer (I like my rotary trimmer for smaller pieces of paper as my big paper trimmer would wreck it); of course if you don’t have one, just use scissors!
  • scissors
  • tape
  • pieces of paper of varying sizes (I like using sheets from magazines – stores will often give them away free as they get credit from companies when they return covers; I also like using music sheets I find at the thrift store or used book stores)
  • tape
  • double-sided foam tape
  • embroidery floss, string or thick thread & needle (I use thicker needles as the eyelet can fit floss and it can punch through paper/cardstock easier)
  • leftover cardstock, paperboard, even thin cardboard
  • buttons (optional)

You’ll want to select pieces of paper that have a decent front side and back side.  The pieces I used for this example were from a holiday themed cookbook magazine which I knew would yield nice reds/greens and the backside was pink.  If you’re making a full-enclosed chunky bow, this won’t be an issue, but if you’re creating an open-faced bow with a button in the middle, the front and back side are equally important (more on that later).

Click on image to see in greater detail

First trim your paper along the long side of the paper, (Figure 1) making them the width of about 3/4″ (you can go thinner for a wispier bow or thicker for a chunkier bow).  I find that a standard size magazine page will be enough for one bow, but sometimes you need a little more, so play around with it until you’re happy with it.

Then fold each strip into a figure 8 (Figure 2 & 3) with the image you want showing on the outside of the strip.  Tape the backside of the strips to keep the figure 8 shape in place.  To make a fluffier, wispier closed bow, keep the figure 8 loose (Figure 4) or if you want pointy edges and an open faced bow, keep the figure 8 tight (Figure 5).  I like mine somewhere in the middle.

Click on image to see in greater detail

Once you have a pile of “folded” figure 8 strips (Figure 6) start aligning them loosely (Figure 7) saving the best pieces for the top (Figure 8).  You’ll see that the more piece you add, the more the bow starts to close in on itself (Figure 9).  If you find that after you have gathered your bow that it’s not closing in, just add more strips.

Then thread your needle doubling your thread (sorry, don’t know the official term of this!) and tying a knot at the end (Figure 10).  My piece of thread/floss is usually 18″ long (or 9″ when folded).

Click on image to see in greater detail

Taking your top strip and insert the threaded needle through the bottom (Figure 11) pulling through so the knotted end is underneath.  Then sew back through the top to the bottom (think if you were sewing through an imaginary button.  Now your threaded needle will be hanging from the bottom of that first strip.  Now keep adding more strips, this time just punching straight through (Figure 12) as if you were stringing popcorn for a garland.  This part goes really quick.

When you’ve added all your strips and are content with the fullness of the bow, punch through a piece of cardstock, cut your string and tie a knot (Figure 13).  Add a piece of double-sided foam tape for easy application onto gifts (I’ve found they work much better than regular double-sided tape with staying on).  Voila,  you’re done (Figure 15).

Click on image to see in greater detail

In Figure 16, I made a tiny bow (good for jewelery-sized boxes) and you can see that the end are a little bit pointier…

In these bows, the paper was longer which lends to a more open-faced bow.  These are great to add buttons to which gives them a unique flair.  You can see that I did the same thing as the first bow, but truly sewed a button on (Figure 17 & 18).  I kept adding strips (Figure 19) and you can see in Figure 20 that if you want a simple, flatter bow, you can stop after only 3 or 4 strips, or you can add more to create a fuller bow (Figure 21).

Here are more examples of “button” bows I’ve made in the past:

I like to use magazine ads as it is a way to use up paper before it heads to the recycling bin and often adds colorful variations…

But sometimes I’d use catalogs/junk mail that came in the mail…

You can see that this bow is more curly…to make this style, use thinner width strips, 1/4″ – 1/2″ – but keep in mind they’ll be more delicate.

I also loved to use vintage/used ledger sheets…

Heck, I even used coffee bags!

It’s really up to your imagination!!  And while you’re making bows, why not wrap your gifts in unique ways using materials you probably have in your house?  See my old post on eco-friendly wrapping paper.

Hope you found this helpful; now go and create fun bows for your holiday packages!

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Here is the treasury I made this week.  You know my love of snow (and they are predicting a white Christmas for us here – Weee!)

Click on the image to see any of these items up close

Can you say snowflake?  Some great photography as well as craftsmanship (and I’m so in love with that ornament wreath).

Thanks for taking a peek at the collection I’ve pulled together and for supporting the work of these artisans!

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Um, is it really less than a week away from Christmas?

Part of me thinks, “Aw, already??” and part of me thinks “thank goodness!”

The weekend before last I had the highest amount of orders in my art shop ever.  Which is great!  Until my professional photo printer died.

Panic set in.  Very quickly.

With each additional order the “this is a Christmas gift, please get it to me in time!!” requests grew louder and louder.  And because I print and make everything on site, I had to get a printer – quick!  Now I have a fairly large inventory, but with over 150 images and more than 10 possible options with each image, that’s well over 1,500 items (at just a quantity of one each).  Obviously I can’t keep a full inventory on hand and then the timing of this in the middle of the holiday rush meant I was already low on inventory!  And when I ran to Staples in hopes they could print off some photo prints for me, the coloring was so off, so that wasn’t an option.  All I could do was fill the orders I had inventory on and pray for a quick turnaround.  Can you feel the panic rising?

Unfortunately, these types of printers aren’t sold in your average office supply/electronics retail store, so I had to bite the bullet and order online and while I was at it, I upgraded my model so I could do large format prints (up to 13×19).  Luckily the manufacturer was offering a rebate that saved me a couple hundred dollars (holler!) but then to expedite it, I had to pay an extra $50 in upgraded shipping.  I didn’t care, I needed it pronto.

This sucker is huge!

With fingers and toes crossed, it arrived on Tuesday – thank you UPS second day air – and I thought crisis was averted, right?  Wrong…the color profile was all wrong and my images were coming out too dark or too yellow or too pink.  And when you’re selling artwork or merchandise with your artwork on it, it has to be just right!    I had major buyers remorse.  Why didn’t I just replace the previous printer I had and loved?  Orders were piling up and 2 wholesale orders came in as well.  I could feel hot tears of frustration rising to the surface…

Well it took a full 24 hours, 50 sheets of photo paper, 3 cartridges of ink (and one awesome technically inclined husband) to get the color profile right.  And eureka, it was a moment I tell you!

*****

I was able to get all my orders out (even after one long 20 hour work day) and things have come to a natural slowdown, so we were able to get the tree up…

And things this past weekend slowed down even that much more and it started to snow today which makes me really happy…

And our dining room table still looks like this after my painting/creating this weekend (why bother cleaning up when I’m just gonna paint some more tonight, right?)

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The girls are doing great…especially Sierra who was having a lot of health issues; her most recent sinus infection is just about healed…sweet girl

Zoe has been soaking up the sunny afternoons this last week…

And Peanut…well, she’s still a peanut alright…here she is keeping David company in the studio…

David and I are both taking next week off to reacquaint, relax as well as take care of necessary tasks (can you say year end inventory…brutal!).

*****

In other news I have a half written tutorial on making handmade paper bows like these…hope to finish it up and have it posted by tomorrow or Wednesday, so check back if you want to add these to your gift wrapping arsenal!

If you celebrate the Holidays, I hope they are sweet and not to stressful for you!

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(and doing something creative)

I’m generally a happy and positive person; I bound out of bed early each morning and eager to start each day.

But this morning was different…I woke up in the worst mood.  Tired.  Cranky.  And sad.

Do you ever get those moments where you feel like the thing you’ve been wishing and hoping for won’t come to fruition and you just deflate?  Yeah, that was me today.

I thought about going back to bed.  Typically a bad mood can be overcome with a couple hours of sleep.  But instead, I decided to paint.  And as I often do when going to sleep or in a cathartic state of paint, I count my blessings…kind of like a prayerful mantra.  And of this came the piece above.  And sure enough, after counting my blessings and spending the day painting, the fog had lifted and I had created 5 new pieces.

So next time you get in that mood, start a gratitude list in your head.  And don’t just defer to the big things (i.e. family, home, a job) – and not that those are important, they most certainly are!  But I find that I can crack a smile thinking of the smallest things in my day:

The person that held the door open for me at the post office…

The person that let me skip the line at the grocery store…

The person who gave me a compliment or sent me a nice email…

The sweet thing that my spouse said or did for me…

Even something the dogs did that made me laugh.

Sometimes it’s those little things, those ordinary moments that can carry us through those foggy times.  And through a grateful heart comes many great opportunities.

Persistence and patience meantime ;)

 

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My shops have been extremely busy these past few weeks and I’m down to the final wire before I close them down for the week between Christmas & New Years.  I haven’t taken a day off in weeks so I’m looking forward to taking a break, spending time with David and oh yeah, do the dreaded task of end-of-year inventory of my business.

But my point in telling you this is that with all this day and night hustle with orders, I haven’t had to “sweat” the holidays because I’ve dropped a lot of the conventional expectations that most people succumb to with the holidays.

We don’t exchange gifts (well, David really needed a nice, supportive pillow and I needed a coffee maker, so we bought those earlier this month when running errands together, but that’s it); we don’t even do stocking stuffers and you know what, it’s no big deal and we appreciate not dealing with the hassle.  And I convinced my family and friends not to do gift exchanges years ago and everyone appreciates having one less thing to do.

We don’t do holiday parties (though we’re not really in social circles that do all that; we’d rather have more intimate get-togethers with close friends and even then, those can wait until after the holidays), we don’t send out cards (I’d rather send personalized cards to people throughout the year when they least expect) and we don’t feel compelled to go all decoration crazy.  Heck, we only got the tree up today and only have a strand of lights decorating the outside of our front door.  That’s it.

And I only make enough holidays cookies to send a small batch to my elder in-laws and to keep a few in the house for us to nibble on.  Perhaps not having kids or big corporate jobs or the fact that we live in a rural area helps cut down on the expectations, but it really boils down to you and choosing what you want to partake in and what you don’t.

Here’s a post I wrote last year on the topic and here’s a great article that I read recently on an art blog – she shares my sentiments that it’s up to you to just say no!

So it may sound scroog-y to keep holidays low-key, but I guarantee you that you’ll find them much more enjoyable and keeping in line with the true sentiment of the holidays.

What have you given up for the holidays this year (or what do you vow to give up next year)?  How do you keep it low-key and more meaningful?

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