Let's crafty!

Let's crafty!

Friday, April 30, 2010

doodles and inspiration and such

Feeling a little under the weather today....I may have caught a cold from a friend's kids. I love children but they are such germ factories!

In any case...I feel rather productive. Last week, I managed to:
  • make 35 flower barrettes
  • brainstorm/thumbnail some upcoming projects
  • drop off more barrettes, pins, coasters and purses to ArtSpring
  • and have a lovely time in Albuquerque!
This week, I've been cleaning and getting rid of stuff. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) going through my stack of work papers to throw away gave me an idea for some collages...I had a lot of cute doodles on my huge pile of legal pads and want to use them for something.

I particularly enjoyed this little bird doodle:

Here is a sketch for another project I want to do with beads, sequins and primarily satin stitch/embroidery on fabric. I'd like it to be really ornate, filled with color and sparkly things!

I was partially inspired by artist Renee Harris. I love how she uses embroidery in narrative pieces...you don't see that very often.

I also would like to do a fabric collage or something with a windmill! I have always been semi obsessed with windmills. 
In the Netherlands, I went to visit Zaanse Schans and was fascinated by the windmills, particularly "The Cat," which is a working windmill that they use to grind pigments for paints. Of course, I bought some oil paints made there :) A beautiful place and a lovely day!

I did this little painting of one of the windmills there. Can't believe it was in 2004!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Craft show this weekend!

Please join us this Sunday for the Riverdale Park Arts Fest! Brie and I will be hosting a booth again this year--hopefully this time without the rain. It will be from 11am-6pm at the Riverdale Park Farmer's Market/Historic Town Center. It's right next to the MARC station at the intersection of Queensbury Road and Rhode Island Ave.

We fondly refer to last year's Arts Fest as "Hobo Fest" due to the rain, cold, train, and other hobo-like conditions--here are some pictures to refresh your memories.

Yeah there I am at our booth. I think this is early in the day, before we were freezing :)

Brie may kill me for this one...it's her Hercule Poirot look. There weren't a lot of visitors so we got bored and made fake mustaches, etc. out of some of my leftover felt.

Yup, this one documents the hobo-ness accurately. I was so cold that I was wearing some t-shirt rag as a blanket. Brie also ran to CVS and purchased some No Nonsense Socks for our freezing feet. They said "No Nonsense" across the toes, which we found hysterical.

This year we are hoping for a warm day with no rain for Arts Fest!  I checked out the weather forecast and it said cloudy but with a high of 82, which is promising.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Craft book review!

I checked out a bunch of craft books from the library last week...thought I'd do a quick review on some of them from time to time. Here's my first one :)

Crafting a Business: Make Money Doing What You Love by Kathie Fitzgerald

For crafty folks, this is a quick and inspirational read. It centers on 28 profiles of successful craft businesses, including artisans, service providers, shop owners, and designers.

The stories (and accompanying photos of the products/shops) were great--but shorter than I would have liked. A bit more detail on the stories would have given better insight into what really made these businesswomen successful besides creativity and determination. There's a good variety in the types of crafts and the products were really beautiful.

The second section focuses more on the financial side of crafting. It's a little vague but presents some good basics to consider when starting your business (including taxes, product development, staffing, business plan).

The book doesn't have much detail on specific strategies, but it did inspire me to make about 10 lists about what else I can do to market my stuff and other crafts to try.  The resource directory in the back has a handy list of websites/contact info of professional organizations, magazines, craft schools and shows, etc.

I did notice that the book was focused solely on female crafters, and often made references to women's challenges/needs in the business--although it wasn't presented up front as specifically for women. Just slightly odd.

All in all, I'd say it's worth a read, especially if you're just starting out selling your stuff, or if you've hit a wall/need some motivation.

I will definitely be checking out the websites of some of these artists to learn more about what they've done and get additional ideas.

Good morning!

Yay! Great way to start the day--I've been featured on Jenny The Artist's blog! She features a beautiful thing and its creator each day :) Go take a look!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This week's pics: art, birdies, etc.

It's been a few days since my last post but I have been quite productive! Here are all the barrettes I've made so far this week:

Here's a picture of a little painting I started a while ago and will finish this evening:

Some additional amusing photos from Albuquerque--here's a sign from the downtown area:

Here's me, playing with a sulfur-crested cockatoo in the zoo. She seemed pretty tame, a wild bird normally would not let you pet it like this. She was in the cage by herself and seemed lonely...sad because they are social birds. When I whistled, she repeated the noises right back to me. I wanted to take her home!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Procrastinating myself

Yep, that's what I call it when I'm distracting myself from one task using another. The computer is really good for this :)

As promised, here's a pic of some of the flower barrette variations I've been working on. Tried sequins on a few of them. I prefer the buttons, they're both easier and cuter, in my opinion. A larger sequin would have been nicer so that I didn't need to use three.

I haven't posted any barrettes to my etsy store yet but they are now available for sale at ArtSpring in Silver Spring. I cut patterns for about 20 more, in a bunch of different colors of purple, lavender (including the tie dye felt), pink, and orange.

Hmmm...any other ideas for what to put in the center besides sequins or buttons?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where did the day go?

Just a quick post today--been a busy bee with lots of weekend plans. Yesterday spent the day crafting with Brie and managed to finish 12 coasters (3 sets), as well as a bunch of barrettes. Today I worked on a few variations of purple barrettes (will post photos tomorrow--they came out pretty cute).

I took a quick picture of the coasters and liked how they look like a stack of pancakes.

Mmm this makes me want pancakes. :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday How-to: Making a Flower Barrette

I apologize for the multitude of posts today, but I really wanted to put up my first how-to!

Now that I've figured out how to make these barrettes, I thought I'd share :)

1) To start with, cut a square of felt a little bigger than the barrette you plan to use. You don't want the metal barrette to show from the front.

I will be working on two of these simultaneously in the pictures, so don't let the extra pieces confuse you--they're just there to show more of the process at once.

2) Cut off the corners to make the square into a circle--you can save a step if you have something that's the right size circle to cut around.

Yes, I could use a template but I find them actually more frustrating to cut felt around than doing freehand.

Cut 6 evenly spaced notches into the felt and then start cutting to delineate the petals.

3) Cut a second piece of felt as a "shadow" to your flower. You see both of the flowers I'm working on here--one with a shadow already cut, and one just pinned. The shadow will be the back that you attach the barrette to, so try to cut it pretty closely to match the front piece.

4) Next, sew a button to the front piece. I like to use a button with four holes when necessary (you can sew it even more securely), but any kind will do.

Here you can see my bird Edy "helping." He likes to chew on the felt and remove the pins.

5) Attach the barrette securely to the back side of the shadow/back piece by sewing through the holes in the metal. If you like, you can also put a little glue or Mod Podge between the barrette and the felt.

I also sew about 6 loops around the main bar part of the barrette to make sure it is really securely attached to the felt. Click on the pictures to see more detail of how I've done this. In the picture above you can see the back of the second barrette I'm working on as well.

6) Pin the front piece and back piece together. Using a coordinating color of embroidery floss, sew the two pieces together with a blanket stitch.

The parts near the barrette and the inside corners are a little tricky, so be extra careful and take your time on those. Knot the last end and sew it inside the flower and you're done!

Here's the finished flower, hanging out next to its unfinished sibling.

This is a pretty quick project--once I finished the first one and got the hang of it, I found that I can churn out several of these in an hour.

If you have thoughts/feedback/questions on my how-to, please let me know! I really enjoyed putting it together and making this barrette...

...and here is a picture of it on the holodeck:

Happy crafting!

Outdoor inspiration and itchiness

Yesterday I took a walk around my neighborhood (where 80% of my neighbors seemed to be hammering things) and saw a ton of lavender/purple flowers. Here they are in my overly pale hand (no, that's not entirely the camera, my hand is that scarily white).

As has been noted, I am perhaps a vampire. The one downside to my walk was that as soon as I got inside, I was ridiculously itchy--due to my new and tragic sun allergy.

I thought the flowers were pretty though--wisteria, vinca, violets, lilacs, some kind of cherry blossom type thing...there were also some grape hyacinths but I didn't want to steal them from the person's yard.

Anyway, I brought them inside and did a watercolor of each:

And then was inspired by these purple flowers to pick out new felts for my next batch of barrettes, pins, etc.

The tie-dye one should be interesting...or perhaps hideous, we'll see!

Yesterday's craft: flower barrettes, + button fail!

Yesterday I was able to finish 5 flower barrettes and they turned out super cute, if I do say so myself!

I also wanted to share this picture, because it amused me:

What's that? Oh, it's a button with ONLY ONE hole. Useful. I tried to sew it to something and was like, what the hell? Worst button ever! I guess you could still try to attach it to something using the one hole, but it would look pretty stupid. haha.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pink barrette conundrums

As part of my craft-a-day challenge, I wanted to start AND finish a small project today. Finally decided to give the barrette thing a try and encountered a few challenges:

1) The smallest barrette I could find was about 1.25 inches, which means the barrettes will be larger than my pins normally are. This isn't a huge deal, but I don't like the idea of a giant barrette stuck to my head--although maybe other people are ok with this?

2) Attaching the barrette back is a little different than the pinback...also not a huge deal but not ideal. I felt wanted it to be really secure--so I sewed the felt to the holes on the ends, put fabric Mod Podge between the barrette and felt, and sewed the middle of the barrette to the felt for good measure.

It feels pretty solid to me! But if anyone has other ideas for fastening the barrette, I'm game.

Here's what the finished product looked like. I don't love it, but it's cute and was a good first try, as well as a quick project.

Orange you glad?

Today I continued my task of updating etsy pictures and I posted a few new items:

Sunny Orange Spring Flower felt needle book

I actually finished the needlebook a few days ago but just hadn't yet taken a picture I really liked of it.

Red/Orange/Yellow felt coasters (set of 4)


I'm really excited that a) the coasters turned out super cute and b) my friend Jeff already purchased my first batch on etsy! I'm still working on 3 or 4 more batches. A big thank you to Brie for the idea to do the coasters in this color--I love them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Rainy day photos--part 2

Update on my craft-a-day progress so far!

I've managed to finish one batch of the red/orange/yellow coasters. The light's not great but you can see a set to the left here.

I took a picture of the unfinished coasters as well (before I sewed the thread ends back in) and I thought they actually looked kinda cool too.

I'm hoping to finish a few more sets this evening and move on to another project.

Yay for rainy days!

Rainy day photos--part 1

I've spent this rainy, gloomy morning focusing on redoing photos of some of my etsy items. I think when I originally posted a few items (particularly some of the purses), I was in a rush--and doing stuff in a rush never does you any favors. I was surprised by the crappiness of a few images and have redone them. No wonder those items had not been purchased!

Here's my redone lime purse, which was a major improvement over the last photo. It was so yucky I will not even post the old photo!

I'm not 100% happy with all of the pics...the lighting was a challenge today. Ideally, I'd like my brother to do the photos with his fancy camera and retouch them as needed. I am certainly not the photography expert he is.

The other thing that is interesting is trying to pick an image that looks great small AND large--the orange slices purse image I chose as the main image was the one that looked best in thumbnail form. If your image doesn't look interesting as the thumbnail that appears in a search, folks will never click to see the full image.

One of the next things I'd like to do with these photos is take pictures of my items with more interesting settings/backgrounds. I don't want the main image to be too fussy, but it can be nice to have some context for the piece, or something to add some "mood."

Here was an attempt to add a little more interest while doing the photo of  the Pale Pink Flower pin. The first one is more interesting to me, but it is also confusing--it looks like the flower is part of the necklace, not a pin. I wouldn't be able to use that pic alone/without some clarifying words or pics. The second one is a little less confusing.

Also want to try using some different fabrics/textures as a background. I like using book pages or wooden surfaces because they're attractive without being too distracting but I want some more variation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Getting started & Top 10 "want to make"

This morning I had a random burst of motivation--I've learned I should take advantage of those immediately when they happen! I was also inspired by the Skull-A-Day blog and will embarking on my own craft-a-day adventure :) Right now this shouldn't be hard, as I'm unemployed and my days are pretty free.

The past few weeks, I've been working on a bunch of felt craft projects, mostly flower needlebooks. Currently, I'm in the midst of finishing an orange felt purse with flowers (seen in the picture above with just the flower embroidery done).

I'm also brainstorming a bunch of new projects, based upon other things I've seen or wanted to make for a while. Here are the top 10 "want to make" for the week:

1) Felt Flowers Garland--first saw this in a tiny and marvelous crafts shop in Pecs, Hungary and instantly thought, "Why haven't I made these yet?"

2) More fruit pins--recently was commissioned to make a pineapple pin for a friend as a gift and it turned out pretty cute. Strawberries, fruit slices, pineapples, and pears have always been favorites of mine to doodle.

3) Leaf coasters in red/orange/yellow--these felt coasters of mine have sold well in the art store, so I want to branch out and try some new color combos. Plus, they're quick and easy to make so that's always satisfying!

4) Sets of felt tags--for some reason, these always seem cuter as a group.

5) Something related to a bird coming out of an egg. My cockatiel Tiny is currently sitting on 3 eggs (should be 2 or 3 more coming). While they won't hatch, there is
something magical about the whole process.

6) Bib necklace--I acquired a ridiculous number of beads and gems in the hopes of making one of these trendy items this summer...but haven't yet gotten around to it.

7) Flower barrettes--have had several requests at craft fairs from moms who wanted my pins in a barrette form their little girls could wear.

8) Ornate felt/fabric illustration--The Fabrics of Fairytale (by Tanya Robyn Barr, illustrated by Rachel Griffin) is a beautiful book full of awesome fabric illustrations to stories from around the world. Every time I look at it I feel both inspired, and lazy! Would like to finally get off my butt and finish the illustration I started after buying the book like 3 years ago.

9) Sage green/tan chenille scarf--I put the warp on the loom last week but haven't yet begun the actual weaving, despite having all of my yarns picked out. Probably will do in one or two sittings.

10) Next two woven scarves--would like to at least plan my colors and wind the warp for these. Likely that I would do a second sage green/tan scarf, more focused on the tan this time...once I get into the yarns I usually like to try another variation on the same theme.

Wow, if I finish even 50% of those projects these week, I deserve a prize--and NOT jellybeans (I have eaten two bags of them this week, including some that tasted like nail polish).
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