Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Handmade Telescope & what it's meant to me

So my husband made the most awesome gift for me this year: a telescope.

Yeah. A t-e-l-e-s-c-o-p-e.

He worked on it for more than a month - evenings, weekends, he was holed up in our garage, working away. It never occurred to me that he was making a telescope. I mean - who does that? Especially when they haven't made anything before. That's right, this was my husband's first woodworking project.

I was excited to get to share it with the MAKE readers yesterday, and was surprised to learn that it had been picked up by Gizmodo. (although, no, Chris hasn't cheated on me.)

Because you can read about the actual telescope everywhere else, I thought I'd examine some interesting thoughts and emotions that have surfaced in the wake of revealing the project.

Setting the bar high
A friend's husband emailed her when he saw the project on Gizmodo, saying Chris had "raised the bar" on husband/wife gifts. I guess he has, but here's the thing: Chris and I rarely exchange gifts. I've actually watched said friend exchange sweet, small gifts with her husband for years, and wished Chris and I did more of that. There's something to be said for small, meaningful, frequent gifts. Sure, a handmade telescope that ends up getting a lot of internet publicity is cool, but it doesn't mean that smaller gifts aren't special or should be made to feel inadequate.

A gift for gift's sake
The closing line on the Gizmodo post really zinged me:

So Rachel, you've got a really nice husband, but he's probably cheated on you in the past year. That's the only logical explanation.
I know this is just hipster snark, and that's fine and all, but really? Are we all so jaded that we can't accept that someone would make a gift for gift's sake (or for - gasp - love!)? I also like to think this was as much a gift for Chris as it was for me. He works a lot, and the hours he spent in the garage with his favorite music playing was an excellent way to unwind and relax and get creative for a bit. To me, the gift of the telescope is secondary to that gift of time for himself.

Inspiring some low self-esteem
One thing that has surprised me about myself from all of this is a bit of a feeling of inadequacy. (and, yeah, I know this is just my own little issue and I'll get over it just fine, but it's still worth mentioning) Remember how I said this was Chris' first woodworking project? It's really his first project of any sort, and he nailed it. Like on-the-head nailed it. He decided to do it, found plans online and excecuted it perfectly. Has my first version of anything I've made ever been anywhere in the same vicinity of perfect?

Hell. no.

What gives? I'm suppposed to be the creative one in our equation. I'm supposed to be the "Maker" here. He's the accountant, the spreadsheet guy, and now he's showing me up in the field of making stuff, too? It's causing me to reevaluate my methods. Sometimes I'm a little too happy-go-lucky-fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-give-plans-the-finger. Maybe there's something to be said for his extrememe focus, determination and fortitude. I rarely finish a project on time, I'm always scrambling, procrastinating ... playing. He started and finished the project BOOM-BOOM-BOOM. Done and done. Do NOT get me wrong, playing is essential, but sometimes I mistake lollygagging for playing and my work suffers.

I know Chris didn't expect all this to come from the telescope project, and if anything it's just an interesting way to see how a handmade gift can spark more thought and discussion than you imagined. Who knew a gift made to look out into the heavens could turn focus so much closer to home?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Get Your Glee On!

It's finally here! The Official Grand Opening Soiree for the Stitch Lab! Leslie and Carol have put together an amazing weekend of the most awesome indie crafters in Austin, and the Lab is all decked out for a glee-filled event. Saturday and Sunday, noon to 8PM, guests can peruse the goods of more than 20 of Austin's best-loved artisans, munch on seriously tasty vittles and sip festive bevvies. Best yet, all of the yummy fabrics and wool felt at the Stitch Lab are a whopping 20% off. I was just in the Lab this week, teaching a class, and saw some of the newest fabrics Leslie has stocked. Oh. My. Goodness. I wanted to lick every last bit of it! It was all so dreamy!

You can read all about the event and all the vendors over on the event page. I can't wait to get over there and splurge on some fabric and felt and other goodies as a little Christmas gift to myself. ;) Hope to see you there!

And in case you missed it, my good pal, Misty, did a beautiful write up and house tour of the Stitch Lab for Apartment Therapy. The pictures are divine! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hurrah! It's the new CRAFT!

UPDATED to add: Natalie has posted a great guide and introduction to the new CRAFT web site - read on to see all the new stuff! And - sign up for our newsletter to be entered in giveaways every day for a week. Today (Tuesday, Dec. 1) we are giving away a Yudu Screen Printing Machine from Provocraft! Go sign up and spread the word!)

This morning larked the launch of the new CRAFT web site. The redesign includes further integration of all the elements you loved in the print version of the magazine, as well as your daily dose of inspiration with exclusive projects and highlights from the best craft blogs around. We also have great contests and opportunities for participation (Twilight knit-along, anyone?)

I'm so incredibly proud of the team of folks who made all this happen. You can't imagine the hours of work and dedication that go into a massive site overhaul like this (and we're not just talking about making things look nice - it's got major backend work to make the site more user-friendly). It's just more proof of CRAFT's dedication to being the absolute hub for all things craft-related on the internet. We have a team of awesome folks working our backsides off to make the site its best and who give the site a certain flavor and style you can't find anywhere else. We also have tons of great, highly talented contributors who bring exclusive content (along with their expertise) to the site. It makes for an incredibly rich resource. I feel crazy lucky to be a part of it.

Check it out and let us know what you think! Be sure to check out all the new sections listed across the top of the page (you'll recignize them from the print magazine) and be sure to either subscribe to our RSS or CRAFT Daily so you can keep up with all the great content that is posted each and every day.

Among other things, I've got a great profile piece on artist, fabric designer and awesome mom (to SIX), Anna Maria Horner. It was such a treat to interview her. I was blown away not just by all she does, but also (and more importantly) the spirit with which she does it. Enjoy!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Craft Leftovers Winners!

With all the holiday hubbub, I forgot to post the Craft Leftovers winners! Thanks for the comments! I got my copy of the new CL last week, and have loved reading it over the holiday weekend. Kristin has outdone herself!

So here are the lucky winners!

Please send an email to averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com with your shipping info!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Embroidery Floss Overload

A year and a half ago, I had the privilege to work with three other women, stitching projects for Jenny Hart's latest book, Embroidered Effects. Aside from the honor of being asked to participate, and the fun of working with such insanely talented stitchers, one of the really fun perks was receiving a designer's pack of embroidery floss from Presencia to use for stitching the projects.

This brick of embroidery floss - every color in the Prescencia family - arrived on my doorstep and literally made me cry a little as I opened it. Somehow in the midst of my floss freakout, I had the wherewithal to grab my camera and snap some pictures before I demolished the brick and set to work stitching.

Remember that feeling you had when you got a new box of crayons - especially if you were lucky enough to get the 64-count box? That immense feeling of possibility you had when you pulled back the lid and saw all the pristine colors neatly organized and ready for creating ... that was magic, right? That's exactly how I felt when I opened this package of embroidery floss. I was overwhelmed by an intense feeling of gratitude and an immediate need to create. It was awesome. Looking at the pictures brings all that emotion right back, and I'm so glad I snapped them. Enjoy! See more on my Flickr set, and zoom in for optimal floss freakout.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Bent with Terry Border

Terry Border makes me laugh.

A lot.

And since I'm a big fan of laughing, I'm a big fan of Terry's and his hilarious Bent Objects art. I'm guessing that, by now, you've seen his art around the internet, on your local bookstore's shelves and even on the Target greeting card aisle. And I'm guessing you've been laughing, too.

Terry's new book, Bent Objects - The Secret Life of Everyday Things, is a collection of new pieces from Border that are hilarious, clever and sometimes just a bit racy. I've followed Terry's work for a long time now, and was a bit curious about how I'd react to his book. Here was an artist whose work I'd enjoyed online for ages, complimented by his personal quips. Would I get the same hysterical laughter reaction and feeling of personal connection from a hold-in-my-hands book?

In a word: Yes.

Terry's book is hysterical. His pieces of art straddle whimsy and dark humor in the same page and make you think. Sure, you're thinking about things like hot dogs pooping baked beans, but your thinking. And you're laughing. A lot. In fact, I just picked the book up to flip through and come up with a list of favorite images, and I gut laughed on every.single.page.

When the book arrived in the mail, my entire family gathered around to read it together. Don't think this is some Rockwellian regular occurrence. I should say that once I started to read it and laugh hysterically, the family gathered around to see what was so funny. And we all laughed. A lot. Some of the jokes are above the kids heads (read: a doughnut dad's "point of view" as he sends his doughnut daughter off with her hot dog boyfriend) but they still got many of them, and just seeing things like chapstick with arms, legs and on a skateboard made them laugh. A lot.

I love this book, and every time I pick it up, I find something new I somehow missed. The details are spot on, and the humor is fantastically brilliant. (it reminds me a lot of The Far Side in that read ... wait 2-3-4 ... LAUGH kind of way)

I have to confess that I received Terry's book weeks ago and have been holding off to review it for one simple reason: I wanted to try a Bent Object myself. You see, Terry includes a tutorial for making a cork person Bent Object at the end of his book. This endeared him to me even more, and I was hell bent (ha!) on making one. I finally grabbed some wire at the craft store the other day, but I had no wine corks here at home. As I sat in my office, looking around at all my crafty bits, it struck me.

I call it "Getting ready for a hot date"

I hope it makes you laugh. A lot. (or a bit, who am I kidding - I'm an amateur here!)

PS - making a Bent Object was far more difficult than I expected it to be, and photographing it was insanely hard. The massive amounts of respect I had for Terry have been quadrupled.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Big News From Craft Leftovers Monthly
A discount and a giveaway

Craft Leftovers was one of the very first craft blogs I read on a regular basis. There was something about Kristin's reuse philosophy and comfortable writing style that had me hooked from the first Craft Leftover's post I ever read.

Later, she posted a call for readers to create craft projects from fabric or items they had on hand. I created my first version of the armrest embroidery organizer and was thrilled when she posted about it. (and was even more thrilled when it was picked up by Craftzine - something that made me insanely giddy!) My devotion to Kristin and Craft Leftovers was sealed.

After a couple of years of emailing, I was finally able to meet Kristin at Maker Faire back in May. She was just as sweet and kind and generous and passionate as I'd imagined she'd be.

One of the things I've loved watching Kristin develop over the years is her Craft Leftovers Monthly, a zine and kits she offers on either issue-by-issue or subscription basis. The zines have Kristin's special style woven in to ever detail, and are fantastic sources of inspiration and information. From Kristin:

Craft Leftovers Monthly is all about living life creatively. It's full of resourceful projects, patterns, and ideas for using what's on hand. It turned two years old in August and is 100% recycled and 100% handmade!
She's just announced that, after two years, Craft Leftovers Monthly has outgrown it's initial quarter-page format. The new Craft Leftovers Monthly is larger in format and page count, and now includes projects from from guest designers for the first time ever.

And here's the sweetest part of the deal: Kristin has generously offered Average Jane Crafter readers a special 20% discount on their entire shop order at Craft Leftovers ( Just enter avgjanecraft as your coupon code*). And, she's given me a couple of copies of Craft Leftovers Monthly to give away to my readers. Just leave a comment by 6PM on Wednesday, Nov 18 and I'll draw a winner on Thursday. Thanks, Kristin! Check out her web site to read more about her art, craft and reuse philosophy!

* Use avgjanecraft as your coupon code to get 20% off your entire order from the Craft Leftovers Monthly category (not including shipping). The offer is good through December 15th!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Dreamy New Stitch Lab
Stitch with me here next week!

The Stitch Lab move is complete, and the new location is one of the coziest, warmest, most welcoming and inspiring places I have ever experienced. Leslie's attention to detail is phenomenal, and every little nook and cranny has something special in it. The sewing space is large and open and fantastically functional. The handwork room is cozy and filled with inspiring embroidered pieces and the most awesome crazy quilt curtains you have ever seen. Even the bathroom is inspiring and fun! Come. ON! I love this place! I just want to hang out there all day long and make stuff!

1. Lab A, 2. Lab B, 3. Lab A, 4. Lab B

You can come hang out with me - for a class at least. I have a class scheduled for Monday, Nov 9. This will be my first class to teach at the new place, and I'm so excited! Come on and join us, won't you!? If you need more convincing, read my post about what past students have had to say about my hand embroidery classes at The Stitch Lab.

Even if you can't make next week's class, you need to stop by the Lab (we have retail hours now!) and check out the stunning selection of yummy fabrics. It'll knock your socks off.

Enjoy, and I hope to see you at the new Stitch Lab soon!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

For all the t-shirt hoarders in the house

My family has always teased me about my massive collection of t-shirts - almost to the point of convincing me to trash all my "meaningful" old shirts. Almost. But there's been a small group of shirts that I've held on to for years - some all the way back to third grade - and I finally found a way to put them all to good use.

We're in the middle of a very cool contest over at CRAFT right now (raise your hand if you'd like to have a serger! Then, quick, go enter the contest!) called Me, My Scarf & I. The contest requires you to sew a scarf that somehow matches or speaks to your personality. I loved this idea, and when I was cleaning out my closet a few weeks ago and found a stash of my old t-shirts, I knew exactly what to do with them.

I posted the resulting project up on CRAFT yesterday, and have gotten some very generous, kind responses. I've also had a few very small world encounters - one person who lived in my home town and was in the newspaper for which my dad was the publisher, and one friend from high school who recognized the t-shirt from our production of Fiddler on the Roof. Very cool!

This project was so easy - a little time consuming, but used very basic sewing skills, and it makes me so happy to see the shirts in this new way. Go check it out, and also check out what the fate of my beloved Space Camp t-shirt was .....

Monday, October 26, 2009

Come stitch with me!

Austin folks, here's your reminder about my hand embroidery classes at the Stitch Lab! And have you heard the news? The Stitch Lab is moving to a NEW, fantastic location! Beginning next week, classes will be held at 1000 S. 1st street, a charming, comfy house with loads of space for classes and y-u-m-m-y fabric. We'll even have a separate room for the hand work classes (like embroidery!). I can. not. wait. to get teaching in there. I was able to help paint in the hand work room a few weeks ago (before the flu plague hit us) and it is just so awesome. This is going to be the place to get crafty and comfy and connect with friends. HURRAH!

With the new location comes more of the fabulous class offerings. I truly can't express how lucky I feel to be a part of a group of such awesome instructors and of a teaching facility that offers such a varied and interesting array of classes.

As always, I'll be teaching hand embroidery classes. We're also working on adding in some advanced embroidery and silk ribbon embroidery classes, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter to get the up-to-date info on that. I have ONE SPOT that just opened in my class this Wednesday. It will be the last time I teach at the original Stitch Lab location, and I'm excited to get back to teaching after being off for a few weeks.

If you can't make this Wednesday's class, check the schedule for loads of other opportunities. Grab a friend and learn to stitch! You won't be disappointed. Here are some nice things my students have said about their embroidery class experience:

Thank you for introducing me to the world of embroidery. I'm an addict! There is something so cathartic about pushing and pulling a needle and thread through taut fabric... It's a cheap drug! And I want to thank you for being so patient with me during class. You made me feel so comfortable with the whole process. ~Jen

You now have me hooked completely. Thanks for a great class! ~Jean

Thanks so much for the class! I have been embroidering the heck out of anything I can get my hands on! ~Jessica

Our class sampler, stitched by Eliza!

From Eliza's blog:
Rachel’s class was wonderfully fun, but it wasn’t until the next morning that I realized the calming effect stitching has on me. I finished my french knots while waiting in my car for an early meeting to start and instantly became relaxed.

Some of Eliza's post-class handiwork! Amazing!

Thanks so much to all the rad students I've had. You make my job very easy and very, very, fun.

So what are you waiting for? Nab that last spot in this week's class or grab a spot in one of the others. It's time to unlock the stitcher inside of YOU!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Embroidered Effects Winner!

Wowza! Thanks for all the great comments! It was so much fun to go through and read about all the different games everyone likes to play. It reminded me how much I enjoy playing games, and that I really need to establish a game night around here. It's too much fun!

I think I'll need to check out this Bananagrams game so many people mentioned. I was surprised that a couple of my favorites didn't make it on to the list. Balderdash, anyone!? How about Mastermind? Surely someone wants to come over and play a round of the Welcome Back Kotter game with me? (Up Your Nose With A Rubbe Hose!) Or how about the E.T. board game?

Thanks to everyone who entered. I wish I had a copy of the book for all of you! It's a truly fantastic embroidery book, though, so I highly recommend grabbing a copy for yourself and a friend. Enjoy!

And the winner is .....
Mollie! Please shoot me an email at averagejanecrafter at gmail dot com with your mailing address so I can get the book out to you!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Don't forget! You still have time to enter to win a copy of Embroidered Effects!

I feel very lucky to be included in a group of Halloween stories over on Dude Craft this week. Paul invited a handful of folks to share their childhood Halloween memories, and seeing as how Halloween is one of my very favorite holidays, I could not pass up the opportunity.

So why is my picture* all fuzzed out above? Well, if you want to see pure vintage Average Jane Crafter in a classic 1980s Halloween costume inspired by a certain song from The Bangles, you'll have to click on over to Dude Craft for the big prize.

Be sure to add Dude Craft to your regular blog rotation. He's a prolific poster with a knack for finding fantastic goodies on the web, and for writing well-said, thought-provoking posts. Very good stuff. Enjoy! And thank you again, Paul, for including me! :)

*Thank you, mom, for making the costume, letting me make the "serious" face when you took the picture, and for finding the picture among the dozens of family photo albums so I could share it with Paul!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hedgies from abroad

Don't forget! You still have time to enter to win a copy of Embroidered Effects!

I've followed the work of Eva of Apple and Eve since I first saw her gorgeously stitched plush animals in the Flickr embroidery group. Her stitching is pristine, as is her sewing. I was an instant fan.

So when I saw her post about a "crazy hedgehog project" last month, I couldn't help but jump at the opportunity. Here's what she posted:
well, I was thinking about two tiny hedgehogs I made of vintage cotton, remeber? Sadly, I had only small scraps of that fabric, so maybe only one hedgehog will be available in my shop later. But then I thought, that you, my dear friends, have maybe some lovely bits of fabrics in your homes too. So, what if I could make a tiny hedgehog for you from your own fabric? For free?

Like most crafters, my fabric scrap cup runneth over, and I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to de-stash a bit, support Eva and get one of her hedgehogs for myself. I happened to get the fabric in the mail to her the next day, and within a couple off weeks, I had these three adorable hedgies back in my hands. I love the way she used the fabric, especially on the one little guy who ends up with a leaf on one side of his body, and a flower on the other. You can tell she put a lot of thought and work into situating the pattern to make fantastic hedgies.

I'm so thankful to have been a part of this "crazy hedgehog project" (partly because it's fun to have emails in your inbox with the subject line "crazy hedgehog project" and I love my sweet little collection of hedgies from Eva. It was such fun to think of moving some fabric I've had for ages and haven't know what to do with yet across the ocean to Germany to Eva's hands and then to have it returned in such cute form so quickly! I haven't seen the others listed in her shop yet, but do check it out - her work is amazing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Crack! Bam! Flower! Win a book!

Remember when I told you a few weeks ago to be on the lookout for a freebie pattern from the Embroidered Effects book by Jenny Hart? Well, it was up last Friday over on CRAFT. I would have mentioned it sooner if we werent' hit with shingles, flu, deadlines and general mayhem over here.

I'm especially excited, because the pattern is of one of the projects I stitched for the book: a Mah Jong table cloth. My mom has been playing Mah Jong for ages, and always wanted me to learn. Finally, about 9 years ago, we were stuck out at a friend's house on a holiday weekend and I had nothing to do. I reluctantly sat down at the table with her friends and learned to play.

They had to pry me away from the table more than five hours later. It was that fun and that addictive.

Now, I'm not talking about the Mah Jong some of you may be familiar with on the computer where you click and match tiles. We're talking the real deal, four-player Mah Jong. I've been told it's like Gin Rummy, but I don't play Gin Rummy, so I can't say for sure. All I know is that it's a blast, and it's the kind of game you can get wrapped up in and play for hours.

Which explains why, despite my mother giving me my own Mah Jong set 8 years ago, I haven't gotten to play much. Once you have kids, chunks of hours at a time to play a game vaporize. But I still love the game and wish I had more friends my age to play with me (hint, hint, friends)

I've been hoping Jenny would do a Mah Jong pattern at some point (turns out she's a big Mah Jong player, too) and was thrilled beyond thrilled when she told me that the first project I'd be stitching for the book would be a Mah Jong table cloth. How rad is that!? I love that the majority of the deisgn is created to rest on top of the table and frames the tile holders - so cool!

Sadly, the photo stylist for the book must not have known much about Mah Jong, as the picture was set up like the computer tile matching game. Ah well!

So, you can scurry over on to CRAFT and download the free Mah Jong pattern for yourself. IF you don't feel like making a table cloth, they would be great for napkins, tea towels, coin purses (for the betting Mah Jong players) and more. The designs are gorgeous - enjoy! And go learn how to play Mah Jong if you don't already know!

This is my son, modeling one of the other projects I stitched for the book - a robot control panel t-shirt! hehehe! When I put it on him, he couldn't stop running around saying (in a robot voice), "I am a robot! I will destroy you! I am a robot!"

And what's even better - if the one free pattern isn't enough for you - you can win the entire book right here! The fine folks at Chronicle Books have given me an extra copy of Embroidered Effects to share with you fine folks! Just leave a comment on this post, telling me what your favorite game to play is, and I'll draw a winner at random on Tuesday, October 20 and will post the winner on Wednesday, Oct 21. Enjoy, and spread the word!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The interview in which I dork out.

That's Pam (KittyKill) from Craftster, looking cute as a button and gettin' crafty with folks at Maker Faire!

I can't remember when I first found KittyKill's work on Craftster, but I know it was early on in my embroidery obsession. Her stitching is amazing. Like, painstakingly amazing. I've always been a bit of a fangirl for her.

We "met" online briefly while we both worked on the Secret Tea Towel tour for Jenny Hart , but I didn't get to meet her in person until back in May at Maker Faire Bay Area. She was there with Craftster, and I kinda stalked her for a few minutes while she helped hang their banner. I don't think I even called her by her real name (Pam) I think I just yelled out something like, "OHMYGAWDIT'SKITTYKILL!"

My coolness is unmatched, folks.

Pam's most awesome embroidery tattoo.

She was sweet and friendly, and it genuinely felt like we hadn't just met before, but that we were good friends. It was fantastic! She didn't even freak out when I instantly went to fondle her freaking amazing embroidery tattoo (really, my favorite embroidery tattoo - pictures don't do it justice).

Pam's just posted up a nice little interview with moi over on her blog, Faster KittyKill! I always thought that tv interviews would be painfully awkward, but it appears I can even come off as a huge dork in writing, so ... just bear with me.

Thank you, Pam, for this opportunity, and for being such a rad embroidery inspiration! :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Embroidery, art and vodka

I've been lucky to have some fun opportunities for a little freelance stitching in the last year, and even luckier to have those jobs involve some of my favorite things: vodka, art and Sublime Stitching.

First up: Sublime Stitching. I'll be writing more on this soon over at Craftzine, but last summer, I was one of four women who helped stitch the projects that were photographed for Jenny's newest embroidery book, Embroidered Effects. It was a thrill and a pleasure, and just down right fun. I'll have more on that stitching adventure in a later post, and even more over at Craftzine next week. (A little birdie would like me to tell you that we'll even have a free pattern from the book, so be sure to check out Craftzine next Friday, October 2)

Next: Tito's Vodka. When it comes to adult beverages, I'm a vodka gal, and when it comes to vodka, I'm a Tito's gal. So when my pal, Jennifer Perkins, passed my name on to the Tito's folks when they were looking for someone to embroider their bottle label for an ad, you can bet I jumped all over that opportunity. The ad was planned for the SXSW edition of BUST magazine, and I love that the folks at Tito's thought to incorporate hand embroidery.

The job was to completely stitch the Tito's label, but just as the job started (and it had a very quick turnaround) I became deathly ill. I was sicker than I had been in years - fever, chills, the works. I remember laying in my bed, surrounded by crumpled tissues, just stitching-stitching-stitching. I was able to complete the massive amount of satin stitch on the word Tito's, and began stitching the middle portion of the image when the deadline hit.

Fortunately, the Tito's folks were very nice and flexible and decided to work the "in progress" piece into the ad, complete with my needle still attached to the floss as it came from the fabric. I think it actually turned out even better this way! The ad ran in at least two issues of BUST last spring, and someone told me they've also seen it in a beer and wine magazine. If you happen to spot it in another magazine, let me know, and wave "hello" to the embroidery that reminds me of a time I was so sick, I wished I could just drown myself in .... vodka.

Finally: art! Austin's coolness never ceases to amaze me. We've lived here five years, and every single day I find new inspiring people and places. I feel very lucky to live here. Back in August, I had the opportunity to stitch for one of these inspiring people (and places!): Randy Franklin of Yard Dog Art Gallery on S. Congress. Randy was looking for someone to stitch his logo and a skull design on a cool, vintage-style western shirt. Jenny Hart referred him to me (thanks, Jenny!) and the stitching took off.

I was really pleased with how it turned out, and Randy seemed to be as well. One of the best parts about the project was getting to deliver the shirt to Randy at the Yard Dog gallery. This intimate gallery on Austin's well-know S. Congress strip is my kind of art gallery. From the Yard Dog web site:

The gallery's roots are in folk and outsider art from North America, especially the Deep South, but we show art by many contemporary artists who work in a folky, funky vernacular. The art we show is maximalist: colorful, edgy, representational.
Like I said ... my kinda art.

What's even better is that, starting November 6, there will be an embroidered art show at Yard Dog. Jenny Hart is curating the exhibit, called Over and Under, and it will run through December 6. You can follow more information about the exhibit here.

I'm incredibly grateful for these opportunities to stitch this last year, and will continue to thank my lucky stars for any future fun freelance embroidery jobs that involve some of my favorite things. Who knows, maybe NASA will come knocking next ....

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Patricia Zapata's Paper Perfection

I met Patricia Zapata one year ago at Maker Faire Austin, where she was demoing her diorama project from Craft 07. I'd followed her work for a while, and her pristine aesthetic appealed to my need for clean, simple crafting. I tend to be ... messy and a bit chaotic. Patricia's gorgeous, clean, modern paper projects were soothing and special.

When we met, we instantly connected over talk of juggling work with kids and mundane tasks of parenting life like laundry, oh ... the never-ending laundry. As Patricia explained it, her paper crafting and blog are sacred. They are her space to have a bit of calm and beauty in the midst of the often chaotic surrounds of family life.

I loved this about Patricia, and I think it's something that everyone needs - not just moms. Crafting, creating, writing - these things can provide the comfortable, inspirational reservoirs we all need.

I also remember Patricia talking about her summer that year, and how it was packed with fun family time and lots of work on her book. I've been waiting to see it ever since, and when I received my copy last month, I felt that same sense of peace and inspiration that Patricia's blog has always provided.

Home, Paper, Scissors is Patricia's first book, and has dozens of home decor paper projects ranging from quick and easy cupcake toppers to gorgeous wall clocks. There are projects for every room in your house, and the possibilities of working paper into you decor will surprise you. (a paper table runner!? how cool is that?)

One of my favorite things about Patricia is how she can find insanely creative ways to reuse materials that otherwise might just get tossed into the trash can. She's a master of the cardboard paper towel tube. I've seen her print with them, make gift tags out of them, and was happy to see they make an appearance or two in Home, Paper Scissors as well.

She also includes her famous magazine bowls that she presented at Maker Faire Austin 2007 (when I was too shy to introduce myself).

I also love that there are opportunities to take up some of the projects with your kids. She's posted some positively brilliant projects that she's done with her kids on her blog, and several of the projects in Home, Paper, Scissors are kid-friendly as well.

Patricia's skilled designer's eye and talent for creating 3-dimensional projects out of paper make Home, Paper, Scissors a book well worth adding to your craft collection. Enjoy!