Saturday, May 31, 2008

A few last little tidbits for tomorrow

Door Prizes from the Stitch Lab - Leslie has selected six fabulous prints from the Two Young Street, Prints Charming collection and put together two sets of fat quarters to give away. YUM!

Door Prizes from Naughty Secretary Club - oodles and oodles of goodies! It's going to be hard to part with these darlins!

Door Prizes from Chronicle Books! We'll be giving away a copy of Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Fuzzy Felted Friends and Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts! Amigurumi! and Eco Dog: Healthy Living for Your Pet.

Examples of our Make and Take Projects! These button bracelets are based on the Red Sparkles Vintage Button Bracelet from Susan Beal's new book Bead Simple (you can read my review over here. In a word: magnificent!) The current issue of CRAFT magazine has another button bracelet project from Susan called Cute As A Button. We'll have copies of that project to show at the event as well.

My name tag! Leslie had the brilliant idea to print our name tags on fabric and stitch them up nicely. My stitching isn't generally this wonky, but the felt is the stiff kind, and it was kind of tricky to stitch on.

Whew! I still have last-minute errands to run, so it's time to get off the computer and on the road.
See you tomorrow!
CRAFT Magazine Release Party
at the Work*Shop from 1-4 PM with special guest
Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching

And a list of very sincere thank-yous to all the folks who have blogged or posted about the event! THANK YOU! If I've somehow missed you, please let me know!
Anne Marie Beard

Apartment Therapy

Austin Craft Mafia - Thanks, Jen!

Adrienne Breaux of IF+D

Cookie Madness - who will also be at the event with some of her delicious cookies!


My Goodness Confectionery - who will be providing some yummy mini cupcakes!

Naughty Secretary Club - who has also donated some FABULOUS door prizes!

Shannon Lowry of Round Robin Press

Pink Argyle

Ramonsterwear - thanks, Kathie! :)

The Stitch Lab

Sublime Stitching - who has also donated awesome door prizes, and - of course - don't forget that Jenny Hart will be a guest at the event!

The Work*Shop

Friday, May 30, 2008

Countdown to CRAFT Release Party

Yeah, yeah, so I promised a post a day this week. Whew-boy. Two kids, two jobs, two dogs (one of which we discovered needs an $800 heatworm treatment this week - oy!) and doing the actual planning for this event has left me a tad breathless ... and blogless! But things are coming together so well, and it's going to be

So just come on and join us! I'm posting reminder details below. This will likely be my last post before the event, but once I get the wrap-up post up on Monday (Sunday night if I'm not completely toast) I'll be back to normal bloggy goodness. Including a 100th post giveaway! Because somewhere in this week, I hit 100 posts, and totally missed it. So I may have a random 108th post giveaway or something. But there will be something! Non-Austinites, thanks for stickin' 'round and not being too terribly jealous this week. :)

When: Sunday, June 1, 2008 from 1PM to 4PM
Where: The Work*Shop Austin - 2438 West Anderson Lane, Suite C5* Austin, Texas 78757 (next to Terra Toys and Zinger Hardware)
Who: Hosted by me (Average Jane Crafter a.k.a. Rachel Hobson) and Leslie Bonnell of the Stitch Lab sewing studio. Special guests include Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, and special yummy goodies from Anna Ginsberg of Cookie Madness, and maybe a few other surprises ....
RSVP to averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com or on Facebook (friend me while you're at it!)

Oh wait! I still need to post a list of links to all the awesome people who've been blogging about the event! I'll do that. thanks, y'all!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CRAFT Magazine - the reason we are celebrating this weekend

All this fun stuff I've been talking about this week is fine and good, but the core of why we are having this awesome party is the fabulous CRAFT Magazine! I've actually been working on a week-long series about several different craft magazines, and CRAFT is at the top of that list. The CRAFT folks have established themselves as the authority on the DIY movement, and have done a spectacular job at building and supporting the crafting community.

All of my friends who have CRAFT subscriptions talk about receiving their quarterly mag in the same way. They get that kind of glassy eye look, and describe - in detail - their reading ritual. I'm no better. The minute I see the magazine in my mailbox, I get all giddy. As soon as I get back to the house, I tear it open and scan through every single page, making mental notes of things I want to go back and check out. After the initial scan, the magazine usually luxuriates on my nightstand, offering up fun reading material for weeks. Once I've fully read it cover-to-cover (and if I'm not immediately doing a project from the issue) it hits my bookshelf, along with all my other issues (I have all but the first one!)

I'm going to go ahead and reveal my complete and utter geeky-ness here by admitting that I look at them all in a line on my shelf much the same way I've admired bookshelves lined with the yellow spines of National Geographic. Sure, there are only 7 issues, but still - I hold them in that regard.

And why not? They are filled with inspiration, fun, and - most importantly - things that I just love and that make me happy. You can't get much better than that.

I also love being able to see articles written by people I know and admire. One of my most hilarious magazine moments was when I opened the Play issue and recognized Diane's thumbs in her Otedama tutorial before I even read her byline. Clearly, I've read waaaaay to many of her wonderful tutorials. :)

I finally treated myself to a subscription to CRAFT last fall at Maker Faire. They were having specials on subscriptions and I jumped on it. I was so glad I did. Not only did I get a great deal on the subscription, but I got to take a free issue home with me that day - so it was like a double bonus. Five issues for the price of discounted four! Score!

And guess what? If you come to the CRAFT Release Party this weekend, you'll get to partake of that same deal. Five issues for the price of a discounted four. (buying 4 issues on the newsstand would be $59.96 while the subscriptions are only $34.95) You'll get to subscribe *and* take a copy of CRAFT home with you that day. How fabulous is that? What are you waiting for?

More updates on the event tomorrow - including more about the yummy food we'll have. In the meantime, I'll whet your appetite with a look at one of the many door prizes we'll have on Sunday. They are adorable, practical, fun mini wallets from Austin handbag designer, Anne Marie Beard. (cash not included ;)

From Anne Marie: These things are so cute and are perfect for the essentials so you can slip them right in your back pocket or a tiny cute purse. The versatile and super useful pouch are a staple of shoppers all over Austin. They're one of the best selling items at Parts & Labour, and are made so well, that people use them until the fabric wears into shreds...but the seams are still sewn! Thanks, Anne Marie!

Monday, May 26, 2008

A little more about our CRAFT Release Party venue - The Work*Shop

Just over three years ago, I started hearing about The Work*Shop - a walk-in craft shop here in Austin. At the time, I had a newborn baby, and was kind of new to Austin, so it took me a while to get over there. But when I did ... ooooohhh lordy. I fell deeply in love. Not just with the place - with wall-to-wall crafty opportunities - but with the owners, Cindy and Lisa. I attended classes, did some paint-your-own-pottery, and even got to see Leah Kramer of there once. It's also the place where I first met Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching and took an embroidery class from her.

So when I first got word that I'd be hosting the first-ever Austin CRAFT Magazine Release Party, I knew there was no where else in town we could hold the event. Late last year, The Work*Shop moved locations from 6th Street to Anderson Lane, just next to one of Austin's most awesome toy stores, Terra Toys. The space is amazing. It's huge, open and inviting. There are loads of tables, great separation of craft areas, a great party area, and a fantastic consignment boutique of Austin handmade goods.

It's dreamy.

The Work*Shop is a great place to get your craft on - especially if you are with a group of friends who each want to do something different. You can paint your own pottery, do mosaics, make jewelry, decoupage, make bath products and more. They offer fun classes and workshops, and several craft groups meet there on a regular basis. The folks who work there are loads of fun, too.

On Sunday, we'll be using the party area for our main craft project set up. We'll have a special table full of Sublime Stitching goodies (including Jenny Hart!) up in the boutique area, and we'll have some snacks at the back of the shop. We'll even have one table set up with some random crafty bits that the kiddos can play with. And even with all that, there will still be plenty of tables and space for folks to partake in any of the crafts The Work*Shop has to offer.

In fact, Lisa has generously offered a 15% discount on any of the crafts in the Work*Shop for folks who are coming to the Release Party. So you can do our project from the magazine, mingle with some crafty celebs, munch on some treats, entertain the kids, and make some additional awesome crafts at a discount.

Seriously, all this goodness is making me a bit giddy.

And if you can't make it to the Work*Shop on Sunday, be sure to check out their web site for projects you can do any time, and to read about their summer camps for kids.

In other news, super-fun-most-fabulous jewlery designer, Jennifer Perkins, of Naughty Secretary Club gave the Release Party a shout out on her blog today. Thanks, Jen! We're sorry that she won't be able to come to the party ('cause she'll be out in L.A. pimping her soon-to-be-released-and-sure-to-be-awesome book: The Working Girl's Guide to Handmade Jewelry), but she's been kind enough to donate some of her goodies for door prizes. Woot!

Reminder on the details!

When: Sunday, June 1, 2008 from 1PM to 4PM
Where: The Work*Shop Austin - 2438 West Anderson Lane, Suite C5* Austin, Texas 78757 (next to Terra Toys and Zinger Hardware)
Who: Hosted by me (Average Jane Crafter a.k.a. Rachel Hobson) and Leslie Bonnell of the Stitch Lab sewing studio. Special guests include Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, and special yummy goodies from Anna Ginsberg of Cookie Madness, and maybe a few other surprises ....
RSVP to averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com or on Facebook (friend me while you're at it!)

A little stitchy gift

Today, my daughter and I headed down to Wimberly with my parents for my cousin's daughter's birthday (how many family members did I just pack into that sentence?). I didn't have time to go out and buy a gift, and my cousin and her family live very simply and are about to move overseas, so I knew they wouldn't want any bulky toys or heavy books. I also didn't have time to sew or stitch anything for her.

So what was I to do?

I ended up putting together a little stitch bag for her. She's turning seven, so I thought it could be just right for her. I grabbed some felt and stamped several pieces with Sublime Stitching designs. I pulled out several colors of floss and tied them together, and added a small wooden hoop and little scissors (or - as I like to call them - Snippy McSnipersons). I also cut a small rectangle of felt an stuck three embroidery needles in there. I tucked everything in the drawstring bag I made in my Beginning I Sewing class, and - poof - the gift was ready.

She loved it. She immediately hooped up a design and chose a color of floss. I helped her thread the needle and showed her the backstitch. Before I knew it, she'd stitched half the design. It was fantastic! So much fun! A new stitcher is born ....

More on the CRAFT Release Party tomorrow!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Did somebody say, "door prizes?"

Here's today's teaser for the CRAFT Magazine Release party, and it falls into the Door Prize category. The fabulous folks over at Sublime Stitching (and don't forget, Sublime Stitching's own Jenny Hart will be a special guest at the release party!) have donated some of their brand-spankin' new, insanely adorable Sublime Stitching Postcard Sets. The 5X7 postcards come in sets with three designs and envelopes, and we've got three sets to give away. They are so darn cute! It's gonna be hard to hand them off!

If you aren't in Austin or can't make the party, you can buy your own set of these darlins over at the Sublime Stitching Website.

I'll be giving teasers of our other door prizes from the likes of Naughty Secretary Club, Chronicle Books, the Stitch Lab and more throughout the week. Don't forget to tell your friends, post your RSVP on Facebook and blog about it!

Reminder on the details!
When: Sunday, June 1, 2008 from 1PM to 4PM
Where: The Work*Shop Austin - 2438 West Anderson Lane, Suite C5* Austin, Texas 78757 (next to Terra Toys and Zinger Hardware)
Who: Hosted by me (Average Jane Crafter a.k.a. Rachel Hobson) and Leslie Bonnell of the Stitch Lab sewing studio. Special guests include Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, and special yummy goodies from Anna Ginsberg of Cookie Madness, and maybe a few other surprises ....
RSVP to averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com or on Facebook (friend me while you're at it!)

Friday, May 23, 2008

A little more about the CRAFT release party

Things are really coming together - even in such a short time period - for the CRAFT release party. I'll be revealing a tidbit or two each day on what we'll have going on. Yesterday, Leslie made the first sample of the craft we'll be making (adorable! and wearable!) and last night I met with Lisa from the Work*Shop to make more plans for the event (loads of fun!). Our conversation didn't last as long as I would have liked, though, because I was slammed with a raging ear infection. What am I? Three years old? I mean, that's how old I was the last time I had one of these suckers. With some antibiotics, pain medicine and a marathon nap today, I'm feeling a little better.

In the meantime, I've started a special sidebar blogroll specifically for Austin craft and design bloggers (if you're reading in a feed reader, click on over to check it out!). If you are here in Austin and are a craft or design blogger, and you're not listed there, let me know and I'll add you! And, if you'd like to blog about the CRAFT release party, that would rock! In fact, I've got this handy little graphic you can add to your blog if you want. Just grab it and go! Let me know if you use it.

OK, ear pain's not completely gone so I'm gonna go snuggle up with our new dog, Emilie. She's curled up at my feet and just gave me a look that said, "let's move this to the couch, lady" She's such a love!

Oh! And here are some fun little contests going on at friend's blogs right now - check 'em out!
Stacy at Stacy Sews has a great review of Sew U Home Stretch on her blog. After you've read it, you'll probably want a copy ... which is good, 'cause she's giving one away. Just post a comment.

And Joan at Nini Makes is celebrating her blog anniversary with an embroidery pattern PDF giveaway, along with a chance to win some of her incredible craft stash. Everyone who comments will receive a copy of the beautiful embroidery pattern, and one lucky winner will get some amazing crafty goods.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Austin CRAFT Magazine Release Party - June 1

Put it on your calendars, folks, 'cause it's gonna be a B-L-A-S-T. I'm over-the-moon excited about hosting the first-ever Austin CRAFT Magazine Release Party. You can read about the last round of release parties over on the CRAFTzine blog. They sound like fun, huh? And this one is going to rock like nobody's business.

We've got a great hands-on project from the latest issue of CRAFT, special guests (like Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching! wowza!), awesome deals on CRAFT magazine subscriptions (the best gift you'll ever give to yourself and your friends). We'll also have amazing door prizes from the likes of Sublime Stitching, Naughty Secretary Club, the Stitch Lab sewing studio, Chronicle Books, Anne Marie Beard and more!

Really, is there any reason you wouldn't be there? COME ON!

When: Sunday, June 1, 2008 from 1PM to 4PM
Where: The Work*Shop Austin - 2438 West Anderson Lane, Suite C5* Austin, Texas 78757 (next to Terra Toys and Zinger Hardware)
Who: Hosted by me (Average Jane Crafter a.k.a. Rachel Hobson) and Leslie Bonnell of the Stitch Lab sewing studio. Special guests include Jenny Hart of Sublime Stitching, and special yummy goodies from Anna Ginsberg of Cookie Madness, and maybe a few other surprises ....
RSVP to averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com or on Facebook (friend me while you're at it!)

Attention Austin Bloggers: If you are attending and/or blogging about this event please let me know! I'll be setting up a special blogroll of Austin Craft Bloggers and will link to you. Email me with info or questions at averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com

More info to come as we count down to this super fun event!


Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feeding my printing frenzey - a review of Lotta Prints by Lotta Jansdotter

After a week of screen printing, and after having read Diane's review of Lotta Prints, I was super excited to have the book land on my doorstep over the weekend. I've already read it cover to cover (it's an easy read) and I'm chomping at the bit to get started on some of the projects. The book covers several different kinds of printing techniques, from as simple as stamping, to carving your own stamps (either in a potato or linoleum) and even covers the basics of screen printing.

Before the instruction even starts, though, I was fascinated with Lotta's introduction to the book. I loved reading about how she got started in printing - she was an art school drop out who fell in love with surface design and went off on her own to start her design company. Reading about how she got started, and how she's printed in spaces like an apartment bathroom made me excited to start trying some things on my own. Sometimes it's easy to feel like you need a big fancy studio space of your own to get started on something new, but it's a nice reminder that if you love something enough you'll make whatever space you have available to you work.

Also in the introduction is Lotta's explanation of where she finds inspiration. In a word: everywhere. And here's where one of my favorite parts of the book comes in to play - inspiration images. They are scattered throughout the book and include photographs and sketches from Lotta's sketch books. They offer a great view into her creative process and are beautifully fun and inspirational.

Lotta's materials and prep section is also great, and she includes a great resource section at the back of the book. Most printing supplies are inexpensive and easy to obtain, but for items that might not be picked up at the grocery store or home improvement store, she's included resources to help you find them.

The book covers rubber stamping, iron-on transfers, leaf printing, stencil art, potato printing, lino-block printing and screen printing. Here are my thoughts on each method as described in the book:

Rubber Stamping - This is as basic as it gets - a rubber stamp and an ink pad or paint and you're good to go. What's nice about Lotta's projects is that she shows you ways to use basic stamps in fun, fresh creative ways. Her ideas are modern and clean and simply gorgeous.

Iron-on transfers - I'm an iron-on kinda gal. I went through a hard core iron-on phase several years ago, and ironed stuff on to anything that would stand still for two minutes. But I still had something to get from this section of the book. It's not so much a technical explanation of how to iron-on a transfer (most folks can figure that out on their own with the instructions included with the transfer paper) but, once again, she shows some beautiful project ideas that will inspire you to go past the standard find-an-image-smack-it-down-in-the-middle-of-the-front-of-your-tshirt ideas.

Leaf Printing - hearkening back to the days of summer camp, this section shows how easy it is to print with leaves. It's got me looking at foliage in a whole new way.

Stencil Art - forget the country angles and hearts that floated around the ceiling borders of homes in the 1980s, Lotta's stencil project ideas are stunningly gorgeous, modern and organic. As someone who swore off stencils ages ago, this section of the book has me thinking I might need to reconsider.

Potato Printing - Who knew a veggie could give such cool results? Again, I was thinking this was something better left to kinder crafts, but her potato-stamped projects are breathtaking.

Lino-block printing - this section really interested me, because it's something I've been wanting to try. She makes it seem really doable, and offers some great advice on tools and supplies (my favorite, of which, is that she recommends the inexpensive set of cutting tools. Score! That kind of info makes my frugal heart happy.)

Screen Printing - having just come off a week-long screen printing class, this section was both happy and difficult for me to read. I think you could read it an get some basic ideas on how screen printing works, but if you are serious about further exploring this medium, I'd do yourself a favor and take a class. I think there are a lot of variables and places where things could go wrong, and it's worth it to learn this skill with someone right next to you who knows what they are doing. That said, after having taken a silk screen class, this section of the book made complete sense to me and will serve as a great reminder for everything I learned in class.

As Diane mentioned in her review, the clever Chronicle Books folks have included several beautiful templates at the back of the book and even have an envelope on the back cover where you can store them once you tear them out. Man, I love the Chronicle folks. Their design is always clean, simple, gorgeous and ingenious. You should check out the Chronicle blog - aside from having Craft Book Thursdays, they also have a day where they talk about book design. It's fascinating. One of my favorite things I saw on there was when they showed the tons and tons of cover mock ups that one of their designers made for a book. As a gal who has always wished she'd gone to design school, it's a nice way to get a dose of vicarious living.

Lotta Prints is a beautiful, well-written book that will expose you to a nice variety of print methods. While some of the methods are pretty basic, what sets this book apart is its style and project inspiration. Lott'as viewpoint and eye for simple modern designs makes this book a luscious treat for the eyes. It's a perfect book to add to your collection.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Camp Silkscreen Wrap Up

(Thanks, Sarah & Josh, for the title suggestion. :)

Wow. What a truly fabulous, fun, inspiring week of silkscreening that was. I am so so so glad I did that. Getting to spend every day last week in an art studio, leaning stuff and making stuff and spending time with fun, cool, creative folks was just what my soul needed. I didn't want it to end, and I'm not sure how I'll adjust to not heading to class on Monday.

Thank you, Kat, for your incredibly insightful instruction and gentle guidance in practice. You are the BEST. And thank you Christina, Jordan and Marge for making class so much fun (and for enduring my goofy stories all week).

In all - here are the highlights of what we learned this week:
- Stretching and taping our own screens - tedious in some respects, but also very meditative - I loved it!
- making stencils - I loved this! Playing around with an exacto knife is a lot of fun to me.
- Painting screens - a great method that gives a nice "woodblock" quality to the print.
- using filler and drawing fluid to get an image on a screen. I loved this one, too, because I loved painting with the drawing fluid. My screen from this method turned out great.
- painting/stamping wax on screens for prints - I actually didn't end up trying this one, because I spent so much time on the paint screen and filler screen, but it looked really cool
- photo emulsion! FUNFUNFUN!

And then, of course, we screened our little hearts out. We did a few prints each day, but yesterday was a full on print-a-thon. It was a total blast.

I'd write more, but after spending a week doing something for myself, my house is a PIT, the laundry is mountainous, and our fridge is bare. It's time to take care of some domestic issues for a while. I'll go ahead and let the pictures from this week speak for themselves. If you are in Austin, I can't recommend Kat's classes enough. She's moving in to a new studio this month, so keep an eye on her web site and email her to get on her email list for updates on her revised summer schedule. (photo captions are down at the bottom)

Picture Captions:

  1. My Barack Obama Heart Pillowcase - the blue one is glow in the dark paint.
  2. My printing table in full action
  3. Average Jane Crafter and a spool of thread. The AJC part is actually something I burned to go with another screen (meaning I could mask the spool and just get the AJC part) but I like the way it looks with the spool
  4. My spool shirt!
  5. E.T. table action!!!!!
  6. I printed a few E.T. shirts, and I think this one is my favorite. Ironically, this was a t-shirt I really didn't like anymore, but one screen print later, it's a favorite.
  7. Really, one of my favorite things I made. I burned a photo emulsion screen with a vintage embroidery transfer from Floresita. It's one of my favorite transfers, and I've actually been meaning to stitch it for my daughter. Instead, I screened it on a shirt for now. It came out great.
  8. Sunny downtown Austin. Our last day of class was absolutely gorgeous. Mid-70s, clear skies - it was heavenly. When I came out of Dougherty, downtown looked about the way I felt - all sunny and happy - so I had to snap a picture. I love this city.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

OK, so back to Barack

I'm blogging in random pockets of "free time" today (read: three minutes here, feed a kid, three minutes there, drive a kid somewhere, three minutes over there, give the dog medicine, and so on). So back to Barack.

Today was Day Three of my five-day silk screen crash course. Can I just say - one more time - how absolutely divine it is to go work in an art studio from 9AM - 2PM every day? Seriously, a gal could get used to this.

Today I finished paining one screen in the morning. It wouldn't have been so tedious or taken so long if I hadn't picked such a detailed image. Whew. It got a bit mind-numbing there for a minute. I'll be curious to see how it prints. I should get to try it out tomorrow.

We also coated a couple of screens with the photo emulsion stuff (is there a more technical term? Kat, help me out) That was fun and very interesting. Tomorrow, we'll burn images on the screens and get read to print them on Friday. That is going to be fu-hun.

I also created a Barack Obama stencil today. It blew my mind. Here's what I love about printing so far: you spend all this time and work prepping a stencil or screen, and all the while you aren't sure how it's going to print (at least I'm not at this stage in my learning process). And just when you think, "This is gonna print like crud" you print it and it exceeds all your wildest expectations.

My Barack stencil did just that today. I spent ages cutting it out. Kat and I had to sit and walk through getting the ears just right, and there was some "oops" cutting, re-taping and re-cutting going on. Once I finished the stencil, I thought, "Meh ... it's okaaaaayy, but ...." What can I say, I had low expectations.

But when I put that puppy down on some scrap fabric and printed it with an insanely delicious aqua paint ... oooooohhhhhh .... it was like magic. I pulled the screen up and almost passed out. It came out ten million times better than I thought it would. Before I knew it, we were all giddily screening him on anything that would sit still for two seconds - the table cloth, our aprons, students' bags - it was Obama madness (what is it about him!) Mostly, though, it was loads of fun. I worked really hard today on lots of tedious stuff, but the payoff was gigantic. I love that!

And, thanks to some great inspiration from a fellow student and from Kat, I have some fun ideas of what I am going to do with these prints. I can't wait. I wish I had them at home so I could start playing now!

Kat also showed us how to use wax on screens and create interesting textures for backgrounds. I was so involved in painting and cutting that I didn't have a chance to play with the wax today, but it will still be set up tomorrow so I can take a shot at it. Should be fun.

Tonight, I'm going to make some final decisions on what images to use for photo emulsion, and I'm going to start work on a couple of other stencils. I have one more set of stretcher bars and fabric, so I'm going to make one more screen as well.

In the meantime, I'm plotting where I'll set up my silk screen station in the house ......

I don't have time to write a post about how happy I am at the moment ....

But let's just say .... he turned out 100 times BETTER than I thought he would.

Best. Stencil. Ever.

I'll post more tonight with the full finished project, but let's just say I'm all kinds of giddy at the moment.

Time to slip back into real life for a bit. :-P

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Screeny Goodness!

I'm on Day Two of my five-day silk screen crash course, and I am loving it. I really think I may have found a new hobby/obsession. I joked with my classmates about live-blogging the class, but even though I'm there most of the day, there's no way I'd have time to blog. I've been too busy learning and doing and having serious fun.

Yesterday we learned some basics about silk screening - different methods, selecting art, understanding the tools, etc. We learned how to build our own silk screens, which is loads of fun. We went to town with the staple guns and have been duct taping like crazy. It's a little tedious, but also very satisfying.

One thing that's been interesting is how much silk screening is like sewing in terms of prep time. Sometimes folks think of sewing and think of just being at a machine whipping up a garment. In actuality, though, you spend most of your time measuring, marking, basting, prepping, and pressing. The time spent at the machine is actually a really small part of it. I've found the same is true of silk screening. We've spent a lot of time prepping, stapling, stretching, taping, drawing, slicing stencils, choosing images, painting screens, etc. Today, in the last 15 minutes of class, we finally made our first rough prints. I love it, though. Every step of the process is highly enjoyable.

We made stencils yesterday I had a great book with me that my friend, Bella, loaned me more than a year ago. I ended up finding perfect stencil templates in it, and after some playing around on the photo copier, I made a little scene for my first stencil. When we had our chance to print this afternoon, I was very excited ... and a little nervous. With Kat's gentle instruction, though, my first prints went off with out a hitch. It was such an awesome feeling! I love making stuff - and learning new things! This is like Dream Week for me. I already have ideas for what I'm going to do with these first few prints. It's hard to tell in the picture, but the prints are actually in gold paint.

Tomorrow we start talking about photo emulsion screens and we'll finish painting our other screens (or at least I will ... everyone else finished those today, I was a bit of a slow poke. Can you tell what image I'm creating up on that top screen up there?). We'll even get to do something with wax, which is always fun.

For now, I have to sign off. I still have a screen to tape tonight! Stay tuned for more silk screen updates!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

And the winner is ...

I pulled the qualifying comments into a text document, doubled up those who blogged about the giveaway, numbered them all and then used a handy random number generator to pick the winner.

So congratulations ... momof2gr8kids! YAY! One of my Creative Mom Podcast pals. :)

Here was her comment:

Thanks for this post it validates for me the reason I said no to helping the youngest childs teacher tomorrow, for one I have to take care of me.. my husband travels alot so when he's not here the only me time I get is when they are at school.. and I am already stressed with a birthday party this weekend and one next, and mothers day thrown into it all .. I just said no I have an appointment tomorrow, which I do. ITs with ME. thanks for the post again and Happy day to you too! just say NO!
She gets a copy of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal *and* Haiku Mama. Enjoy!

And I'll be mailing them out next week, 'cause this week I am on major silk screen duty and won't be getting to the post office anytime soon. I'm all geeked out with my class supplies packed up and ready to go in the morning. What can I say, I'm a little overexcited.

Mother's Day giveaway update

OK - here's a little something to sweeten the Mother's Day giveaway deal: In addition to a copy of the Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal, the winner will also receive a signed copy of Kari Anne Roy's hilarious Haiku Mama. I was just lucky enough to win the LiveMom's Mother's Day giveaway (yay!) and a signed copy of Haiku Mama was part of the prize package. Thing is, I already have a signed copy - one that's well-read and laughed over, in fact - so I'm passing on the copy to the winner of my Mother's Day giveaway!

Laughter is a big part of self-renewal, and nothing will make you laugh like Kari's book. Case in point:

Bubbles are awesome,
but don't pop them with your eyes.

Then they kind of suck.

and (from the facing page of the one above, actually!)

Toddler lexicon:

"Mommy, my butt is sneezing."
Translate that one fast.

Kari is one of the most hilarious, awesome people I know. You will love this book. You can read a great profile of Kari on the LiveMom web site, while you're at it. Enjoy!

You still have to read and comment on the original giveaway post, and be sure to read all the "rules" on commenting. Thanks, y'all. I'll draw late tonight so you still have some time to enter.

Why, yes, that is a feather stitch hanging on my neck

I'm going to disregard the fact that even though I got to sleep in a little this morning, I still ended up cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes once I got downstairs and that neither of my kids wished me a Happy Mother's Day until a few hours after I got up. That's because my husband came through on my request for Mother's Day: Embroidery Jewelry. It's ok that I had to send a web site to him, with specific details on what I wanted. It's even ok that he sat on the couch with his laptop across the room from me last week and asked questions about the order before he placed it. I was still pleasantly surprised by this sweet little gift.

I stumbled across Silent Stitches a couple of months ago on a random Google search. I can't even remember what I was looking for, but it's like I'd typed, "What is my dream jewelry" in the search box and this came up. I literally gasped as I scrolled down the page and enjoyed these beautifully delicate needlework charms. I bookmarked the site and went back often. A few weeks ago, I sent the link - along with specifics on my wish list - to my husband with "Mother's day is on its way" in the subject line. I'm not usually so direct with what I want for gifts (what can I say, I still hold out hope that he'd discover something like this on his own) but this time I just knew exactly what I wanted, and I knew I didn't want to be disappointed.

I have to admit I had low expectations on how they would arrive and how they would look. So when Chris handed me a perfectly - and I mean perfection like I've never seen - wrapped gift box with paper that had sweet embroidery scissors all over it, I knew something special was going to be inside. I even grabbed my camera, because I was so overcome with how perfectly the box was wrapped. Check out the custom paper, and look how they folded it so their name is perfectly centered on the back of the box! Sakes alive! How did they do that? The awesome little grosgrain ribbon bow made me want to scream in delight.
Once I purposefully cut through tape and removed the paper without destroying it, I opened the box to find the most beautiful (and - again - beautifully packaged) charms and chain. I was blown away by the quality of the charms - they are .... darn, I have to say it again ... PERFECT. And they were attached to the card with a tiny strand of thread. When I flipped them over, I discovered another tiny envelope with "Extra links" beautifully handwritten across the front. I don't know anything about the person who wrote it, but it's as though they channeled my grandmother's penmanship to a T.
This is what I love about buying things from small businesses and independent designers (not that I'm able to do it as much as I like). They take so much time and care in packaging your purchase. I cannot imagine how much time someone spent putting my gift together. From displaying the charms on the card to making the tiny "extra links" envelope and putting it all together - it was just so special to open it. And then - then the beautiful charms!
There's feather stitch charm, an embroidery hoop charm, a pair of stork scissors and a needle. They have loads more to choose from, and I'll likely add to my collection - especially now that I see how much more beautiful they are in person, and how much time they put into the packaging and delivery.

What were you lucky enough to receive for Mother's Day today?

** UPDATE: I'll be drawing the winner for the Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal tonight, so you still have time to enter! Please read the whole post and the comment guidelines. :) **

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A giveaway for Mother's Day

I don't spend too much time talking about having kids on this blog. I've mentioned my kids a couple of times, but this certainly isn't a parenting or family blog. I think that's mostly because crafting is my break from motherhood. It's the thing I do to relax, re-energize, and have some time for myself. So it's no surprise that my kids don't make more appearances on my craft blog.

As I've read post after post on what to make for mother's on Mother's Day (all great ideas, btw), I decided to take a little different approach to my Mother's Day post. I thought it would be good to talk about what has helped me become a better mom, and how I maintain my sanity in the crazy day-to-day of having kids.

I can't say that I've had the rosy perfect motherhood experience. After my first child was born premature (she weight four pounds!) and battled raging reflux for most of her first year, and my thyroid went all to heck after my son was born (causing me to go nutty and gain a bunch of weight) it's no wonder I looked around and thought, "um ... remind me again why I did this."

But I am reminded every day why - in little ways. Like how my son - home sick from school and curled up on the couch next to me right now - just snuggled in to me and said, "I love you, mama." out of nowhere.*

Crafting has made an incredible difference in my state of mind - especially over the last year. Exploring my creative side, connecting with other creative folks, and making things with my hands almost daily has been hugely important to maintaining my mental health. I love to see how other moms do the same.

I came across Carrie's blog back in February and was totally inspired by her Flood quilt. Here's a picture and her artist statement about the quilt. You can read more about the quilt on her blog here and here. Thanks, Carrie, for permission to post the picture and info!
"Most of the pieces on display were inspired by my experience of becoming a mother-the joys and challenges that come with such a life-altering event. The four largest quilts reflect my experience with postpartum depression after the birth of my daughter. It is a time that I’m choosing not to forget, a placemarker for my experience as a new mother. Because of the intimate quality it gives my work, I choose to stitch, embroider, felt and appliqué by hand. I love the meditative quality of hand-stitching and the feeling of connection I have with other women while I am creating."

Isn't that amazing? I am so inspired by her work. I love seeing moms use art and craft to work through emotionally difficult times (with, of course, all other kids of necessary support!)

One thing that helped me become a better mom (and I'm not talking packing-whole-food-snacks-for-the-park-and-never-cursing-in-front-of-my-kids mom) and helped me treat myself better was being part of a Personal Renewal Group for mothers. Meeting with a group of mothers to talk about subjects like reconnecting with your former self and exploring ways to bring more adventure and creativity into my life helped me stop beating myself up and, instead, start taking care of myself - at least half as well as I took care of my kids. It also spurred me to spend more time exploring things that made me happy - like crafting!

After a few years in my PRG, I was fortunate enough to work with a team of moms to bring the materials behind the Personal Renewal Groups to moms everywhere. Our group leader, author and career coach Renee Trudeau, took her work that she developed through her PRGs and created a beautiful book called The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. It's a gorgeously designed month-by-month guide on reconnecting with yourself and creating balance in your life from the inside out.

We're not talking lists and systems on having a cleaner house here. This book is about digging deep and exploring your experiences and expectations around being a mom, and on how to take better care of yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally. It sounds like heavy lifting (and it can be at times) but it's the work that I did in my PRGs that really revolutionized how I treat myself and how I view motherhood. I've facilitated my own PRG for the last year with a really fantastic group of women and have loved it.

So now on to the giveaway. You ready yet? The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal and PRGs around the book are a huge grass roots movement to help moms take better care of themselves. If you are looking for a Mother's Day gift, I highly recommend ordering a copy from Renee's web site (don't even get me started on how much Amazon takes from authors) and ask your local bookstores to carry the book.

Next, check out her web site to learn more about the book and Personal Renewal Groups. Then take a look at the downloadable chapter called Month 4 - Managing Your Energy: Setting Your Priorities, Saying No and Asking for Help. Read the chapter - really read it (it's one of my faves). The chapters are short and easy to read. Then leave a comment here with what your favorite way to say no (from the book, or if you have another one to add) is. If you want to enter twice, post about the book and the contest on your blog and link to it in the comments here. You've got to show me you've read the chapter - incomplete comments won't be included in the drawing. I'm going all old-skool teacher on you here!

I'll draw a winner on Mother's Day (Sunday the 11th) and will send that person a copy of The Mother's Guide to Self-Renewal. Heck, I may even be able to get it signed for ya!

I also have to add my mad crazy love for my fantastic support group of intelligent, funny, supportive, diverse amazing women through the AustinMama Yahoo Group. I couldn't have survived motherhood this far without them! I recently talked with a friend who is pregnant with her first child, and my one bit of advice for her was: find a group of women who support you no matter what, and dig in with them. That community has been my life line.

So how ever you celebrate Mother's Day, just be sure to go easy on yourself and take some time to take care of yourself.

* Lest you think I've had an idyllic writing experience this afternoon, you should know that it's taken me more than three hours to get this post wrapped up, and I've helped him in the bathroom, watched several episodes of Scooby Doo, played some hockey with a play doh lid and eaten fruit cheerios with him. I envy folks who can sit down and complete a task uninterrupted in a huge way!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Embroidery Overload

One of my all-time favorite non-crafty blogs is Cute Overload. I seriously get excited when I see updates in my Google Reader. Something about disgruntled bunnies and hedgehogs kronching food just makes my day and lowers the ole blood pressure.

I giggled with delight when I saw them post an embroidery pattern that played on their "Caturday" feature. Even more interesting, though, was the conversation that ensued in the comments about copyright infringement with vintage embroidery designs. Aside from some interesting information, it was really cool to see several people mention that they were interested in getting started on embroidery, and others who piped in with resources. Some of my favorite embroidery web sites (Floresita's vintage transfers and Sublime Stitching) were linked to in the comments.

Whatever it takes to get more stitching, I guess ...

Saturday, May 3, 2008

And what are you doing with your spools of thread?

My buddy, Kat, sent along a link to this jaw-dropping spool-of-thread art. Prepare to be amazed.