Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Illustration Friday #1 (On Wednesday)

A few weeks ago, I was using my favorite boredom web-tool, StumbleUpon, when I came across a website called IllustrationFriday. The general premise of this website is that every Friday they assign a simple topic and you have until just before the next Friday to upload it to whatever web browser and link it on their site. Then, everyone looks at it and 'oohs' and 'ahs' or maybe they don't.  Basically, it's just a fun little weekly drawing challenge and, frankly, I could use more of those.

So this past Friday, the topic was "Asleep."  Here is what I drew (Tuesday night).  Please excuse the poor photograph (it was taken with my cell phone by the light on my nightstand).

Rather than draw a person sleeping, I drew a tree, as that is what (in my opinion) they do all winter, every winter, just like bears.

I plan (hope) to keep up with this, though in the future, I am hoping to make Illustration Friday actually on Friday and draw the topic on the day I receive it, so people on Illustration Friday have all week to gawk.

Treasury Tuesday (On Tuesday!): A Little Gray...

I love the color gray. I do not think it is a dreary color at all, but smooth and creamy and cool.  I think it goes with anything and can make nearly every other color pop and, done right, it can really pop itself.  It feels metallic without being shiny, industrial without being hard...it's really just the perfect middleground for just about anything.  So, of course, I built a treasury around it (and on a Tuesday for once).

'A little gray makes everything brighter....' by cursiveart

White, black, grey....can all be incredibly bright in the right circumstances.

Carved White Porcelain ...

Little Red Heart House ...

Handcrafted Modern Chai...

Graces - Wall sculpture...

With the Winds

Arcadia Leaves Embroide...

FLEMISH 1894 - Spoon Br...


Small Xerographica Till...

Oatmeal, Milk and Honey...

15 Butterflies, Paper, ...

Infinity Scarf Several ...

Frosted Branches Earrin...


Natural History Collect...


Treasury tool by Red Row Studio.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Spotlight On: Jennifer of Poops

Yes, you read that right. Her shop name is "Poops."  I love people with a sense of humor.  I especially love knitters with a sense of humor.  And Jennifer is definitely one of them.  It is actually a craft I totally understand and appreciate as it's one I seasonally participate in myself (I only ever knit in cold weather), and my personal opinion is that all knitters undercharge, because the time and effort that goes into making each garment is just amazing.  She has not only some amazing items, but great knitting patterns, and an ability to make me laugh.

(And on a sidenote, please read all the way to the end of the interview for some special news about the April's Army charity). 

Tell us three things about yourself.
1. I think there is humor to be found in any and every situation, but only truly intelligent people can find it, and only geniuses know when to share it.
2. I'm from lovely, scenic central New Hampshire. I was born here, raised here, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die here. And that, my friend, is a good thing.
3. I sometimes do what the voices in my head tell me to do.  But don't tell anyone.
Knitting Pattern for Felted Wool Mittens

What’s your medium and how did you get into it?
I'm currently a Knitter. I started in with the sticks and string in 2004 after a friend and neighbor of mine died of cancer. She was Norwegian and was probably born holding knitting needles (which I imagine was quite painful for her mother) and did some of the most exquisite knitting I've seen to this day. When she got sick, I felt the swift and sudden urge to learn to knit and I'm glad I did. As sick as she was toward the end, whenever I'd see her she'd ask how my knitting was coming along and did I love to do it. She is my inspiration and my muse.

What’s your favorite thing you’ve made?
I don't really have a favorite. It's like choosing which child you like the best. My favorite thing to knit, for reason I can't explain, is mittens. I find making mittens relaxing.

From where do you take inspiration?
I love Norwegian knitting. Both the traditional style and the new, modern twists that designers put on them just amaze me.

Name one piece of art you wish you’d created and why?
It's not so much an "I wish I had" as it is "I wish to knit this someday" kind of thing. I've always felt that the day I can make a Norwegian ski team sweater is the day I'll consider myself an expert. I know there are other styles, other benchmarks of knitting success, but for me, that's what I want to make.

What are you doing when you’re not crafting?
Yarn shopping. No, but seriously folks, when I'm not crafting, I enjoy doing crossword puzzles. Really hard ones. If I look at the first five clues and I have no idea what the solutions might be, I'm a happy camper. I also write, though I seem to be inspired to do it only in fits and starts. Oh, and I also have three kids, so I might be paying attention to them, too. Maybe.

If you had to give up your medium and pursue another, what would it be and why?
I just learned to spin, so I think if I had to set the needles aside for awhile, I'd really go headlong into getting better at my yarn-making skills. And if I had to choose a hobby that's not fiber- related, I'd like to learn woodworking. Specifically furniture and cabinet-making. I love handmade furniture, and I've done some building that I've found very satisfying, so I think that kind of carpentry would be interesting to learn.
Handknit Lace White Baby Cardigan

Tell us about a time you were making something that came out better than expected and how it happened.
I was most pleased with my wedding gown. I had it made by a local seamstress, but I hand-embroidered fall flowers all around the neckline, from the shoulder seams, down the front and wrapping around the peplum of the jacket. I knew when I came up with the idea that it was a good one, but I was pretty impressed with how striking an effect it was when it was all done. It totally surpassed my expectations.

Who is one person living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your creations and why?
I would love to be featured as one of Oprah's favorite things. I bet I'd make sacks of cash from that kind of exposure.

How would you explain how to do what you do to an eight year old?
That depends. As a surface explanation to a simple question, as in "What are you doing, lady?" I tell them I'm knitting. I use a pair of pointed sticks called "needles" to turn yarn into mittens, sweaters, or whatever. Anything beyond that kind of turns into knitting lessons and I don't honestly know if I have the patience to teach an 8-year-old how to knit. I'm way better as a doer than a teacher.

What’s your favorite part of the process?
I think design is my favorite part. Ideas just come to me, and I love sorting through yarns to find just the right ones to make what's in my head a reality. I love being able to make an idea into a tangible item.

One random thing you think people should know.
I believe in all things in moderation, especially moderation.

Your shop address/facebook/Twitter/blog/website. Etc.
I blog semi-regularly at www.askpoopsplease.wordpress.com and I sell things at www.poops.etsy.com. I'm working on transferring my inventory from Etsy to EvenBadgers over the course of the summer as my listing expire, and my new shop will bewww.evenbadgers.com/poops. I don't tweet, and my Facebook shop page is currently both sad and pathetic.

Handknit Strawberry Wool Baby Hat

If you could have any superpower what would it be and why?
Hmm. That's a tough one. All superpowers seem to come with a burden of some sort, don't they? I think I'd like the power to blink from one place to another instantly. I could be here one minute, at the yarn shop in the wool section the next, then home before the toddler looked up from his Legos. That'd be awesome.

Okay, folks, happy Memorial Day, and happy re-opening of the April's Army team shop as well!  If you've been paying any attention at all, you know I'm a member of this lovely team, which has a collective shop which opens for one week once a month.  During that week, everything sold goes to support a different cause or charity.  This week we are helping Katey and Ron, who lost everything in a fire, even their pet rabbit (you can read more about their plight here).  If you wan't to help, there are three ways you can assist.  You can either go to back to page I just linked, scroll to the bottom and donate via Paypal; or you can go to Katey's Etsy store Chickatey and buy something or you can visit the April's Army collective shop and buy something from one of the many wonderful sellers who have contributed (including me!) and know you're doing something great for a couple who really could use the help. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Luna Moth Card and Print

Okay, okay.  I know I said I wasn't going to blog on weekends, but I'm really, really proud of the way this one turned out.

So, I used to see luna moths all the time as a teen, when I was delivering papers with my mom.  In all honesty, they scared the crap out of me.  I mean, you come around the corner on a dark morning when the world is almost too quite, and suddenly you're face to face with this moth the size of your head perched on a wall.  In my little universe, things weren't supposed to be that big.  Being oversized like that was reserved for mutated things in horror movies, like ants and fifty foot women.

Well, I haven't delivered papers in a decade and probably haven't seen a luna moth in as long (probably merely because I'm no longer wandering darkened hallways in the wee hours of the morning).   Then, a few nights ago, I was standing at my back door, having just turned off the porch light when I saw one flutter out of the darkness for just a moment before disappearing into it again. Just for a moment, but long enough for me to realize how pretty they are (at least when they're not perched on walls, scaring young girls) and I knew I had to design a print of one.

So I drew it out and carved it up, and of course, printed it in green and this is how it came out.

Luna Moth Original Linocut
I think it turned out lovely, but being carved into a larger block than I usually work with (5 x 7 inches instead of 4 x 6) I couldn't print it on the front of a card as well....unless I printed it on the back, too.  I took a few tries, but I managed to get it just so the wings wrapped evenly around the front and back of a card.

Luna Moth Wraparound Linocut Card
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, so much so that I am considering carving another version, perhaps of a butterfly this time.

Okay, now I'll go enjoy my weekend.  You do the same.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Stuff I Love: Trees

Yeah, yeah.  Not a very creative title today, I know, but I'm feeling kind of tired.  The long and short of it is here is some cool handmade awesomeness and art, straight from Etsy.  All of these things come from my favorites list.

This first one is a painted Victorian style silhouette, with trees inside from the shop, theblackbirdsings, which is the art of Natasha Newton.  I love this simply because it combines two thing I love to put in my art, clean lines and, well, trees.  If an original painting is a bit out of your price range, she also carries lots of other beautiful smaller things from moleskines to postcards.

Silhouette of a Lady with Branches

I adore TheHauntedHollowTree's prints, especially her trees.  They are so fitting to the name of her shop and are done very uniquely with the art of pyrography (woodburning).  The art is serene, subtle, dark and so absolutely elegant.

The Companions Signed Print
Okay, so this next one merely has a tree as the logo, However, Julia and her husband, at BelleTerre are not only local soapmakers (which makes me happy), but they make amazing, completely natural soaps while trying as hard as humanly possible to be totally green and organic in doing it (which should make you happy).  Eventually, I will stop buying their soap when I get good at making my own, but I hope all of you, who love natural soap like I do, will try a bar of theirs.

Lemongrass Shea All-Natural Handcrafted Soap

Finally, if there is one thing I love more than trees, it is my first morning cup of coffee.  I recently got a small espresso a machine with some of our wedding money and I start every day out with a latte and these mugs from marywibis would be the perfect size to hold one, with just a dollop of creamy froth peeking over the top.  (I also love that I, inadvertently, picked another North Carolina artists).

Set of Two Winter Mugs

This won't be the last of trees you see from my favorites, I'm sure.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday Spotlight On: Ally of Crooked Smile Creation

Just a few notes, first: I'm going to try to keep interviews to Mondays and Thursdays from here out, with Wednesdays being a bit about an artist I think and I'll try to make Fridays light and springy and fun for a good boost into the weekend.  I'm going to try to cut back on weekend posting, unless it's merely a nudge at something pretty or I really have an itch to write. 

Anyway, we're here to talk about Ally, another fellow April's Army team member, and a handbag maker.  I totally appreciate the art of sewing as it's never been something I could master.  I might be able to draw a fairly straight line, but I've never been able to sew one, with a machine or without.  Ally, however does not have that problem.  Her beautiful patchwork handbags prove that much.

Patchwork Purse

Tell us three things about yourself.
I live in Tampa Florida with my hubs, our dog and cat, plus a stray that's trying to adopt us.
I have a daughter who is an ICU nurse.  I'm proud of her, but don't know where she got the medical stuff from.  I pass out at the sight of a needle.
I lived abroad for a few years in the UK, which is where I got serious about sewing.

What's your medium and how did you get into it?
Sewing.  Hub's job took us to the UK for a few years.  I had lots of time on my hands, so I got serious about sewing while we were there.  One of my UK neighbors was a designer and seamstress of wedding dresses (very impressive), so that gave me a bit of a nudge to venture into something that I wanted to do.

What's your favorite thing you've made?
The Sweetheart Chocolate & Roses purse.  I designed that as I was sewing it, instead of sketching out the idea first, so it was just a lot of fun to play around and see it come together.

From where do you take inspiration?
Many places.  Everywhere I go, I'm looking at people's bags.  People probably think I'm a purse snatcher or stalker, but I am thinking of the design, how many pockets the bag has and how I'd improve on it, plus it's always interesting to match styles to people.

Name one piece of art you wish you'd created and why?
There are so many.  Every time I see an oil painting, I wish I was talented enough to do that.  I've tried, but I just don't have the touch for painting anything but a wall.  with a roller.  and even then, I get paint on the trim.

What are you doing when you're not crafting?
Gardening and taking care of my animals.  A recent mama cat has been coming around the house.  She was skin and bones when I first saw her, but she's getting healthier lately.  I tried to introduce her to my animals, but she doesn't like my cat.  She loves my dog though.

Sweetheart Chocolate and Roses Purse

If you had to give up your medium and pursue another, what would it be and why?
Wood working.  My father made furniture, little kids games, jewelry boxes and just neat little things.  I was always intrigued by what he came up with.  Every time I smell freshly cut wood, it takes me back.

Who is one person living or dead, famous or not, who you wish owned one of your creations and why?
Margaret Thatcher.  Although she had a specific type of bag she carried, and it wasn't made of fabric, she was a strong woman in a man's world and didn't compromise on her style.  I read that she left her bag on the table at a meeting and had to step out for something.  Someone remarked, "Why don't we start? The handbag is here"

How would you explain how to do what you do to an eight year old?
I would sit them at a sewing machine with some fabric and say, "What comes to mind?  OK, let's do that."  I have many things that are very similar in my Etsy shop, but there are many more in my sewing room that are just ideas that I haven't perfected yet.

What's your favorite part of the process?
Designing.  I have a notebook of ideas, but not enough time to do them all.

One random thing you think people should know.
I am the biggest techno-idiot you'll meet.  I'm not as bad as my mom, but I'm certainly not as good as my niece either.  I see things on blogs and websites and I wish I could do that.  Silly considering most of my office career time was in IT, just not web design.
If you could go anywhere in the world, at any era in time, for one week, where and when would you go and why?
France, around 1785,  I've always wanted to meet Marie Antoinette.  I don't speak French, though, so that could be a difficult encounter. 

Your shop address/Facebook/Twitter/blog/website, etc.
Twitter: @CrookdSmileCre8
Equally neglected website: http://crookedsmilecreations.com