A Brilliant Day!!

Today was such a great day on the art/design front, I can't believe it! First thing this morning, I met with one of my Ebay customers to hand off a package. While waiting for her at a coffee shop, I worked in my sketchbook - I don't get a chance very often to sit and draw for nothing other than fun, so that was nice. Then, to kill a little time between appointments, I spent a little time in Presents of Mind on Hawthorne. I haven't been in there for a few years, and I was just blown away by all the art/craft inspired items.

Next, I got to participate in one of the tremendously nice aspects to being a design student - field trip! And not just any field trip, a visit to the studio of the fabulously talented Amy Ruppel. Oh my gosh my golly, I don't even know where to begin. She was super sweet and friendly, and answered tons of our questions. She showed us her studio - I loved it! It's a long, narrow room filled with art and inspiration, with lots of organizational tools from IKEA (which I also love; who doesn't?). We learned so much, especially about things that haven't been discussed all that often in the classroom, such as independent selling, home office vs outside studio, how Amy got where she is, and copyright issues. Sorry about the blurry picture, I think my camera hates me, but this is a corner of Amy's studio.

After that, as if the day wasn't sweet enough, I went back up to Hawthorne for a while. There's a ceramics shop I read about a while back, and I'd been itching to go in and check it out. Now, I happen to love pottery and yesterday I dropped one of my favorite handmade milk cups. SAD PANDA! However, this created the excuse I needed to go look at pottery. My collection is to the point where my boyfriend makes fun of me when I pick up new pieces, so I either need to get rid of an old one or be prepared to hide the new one very well. I hated dropping the old one, but it was just about worth it to visit...

elsa + sam!

So much ooh-shiny! Everything in the store is made by hand, in North America and Europe. The high level of workmanship is evident in every piece. And the prices are really reasonable, especially considering the quality of the pottery. Right away, I was drawn to the work from Circa Ceramics, with its rich colors and detailed images. I decided that one of the small teacups would serve as a great replacement for yesterday's whoops moment. It was really hard to pick one. I liked all the colors, but was especially drawn to the green. Maybe because it was such a gray day here and the green reminded me that spring isn't too far away.

None of the green cups on this shelf had an image that really grabbed me and said "you will take me home!" When I asked Elsa (yup, I met the store's owner, how cool is that?) if there were any others, she showed me one sitting on the shelf near her desk. It had bumblebees! Instant squee. Here it is next to my calendar. It's really heavy and sturdy and fits perfectly between my two cupped hands. I love that I could get it from a local business and from American artists working by hand. In this economy, it's more important than ever to support local businesses, small businesses, and individual artists and crafters. Not just because I fit in those categories, either, but because such businesses are so vital for our communities. Each dollar spent at a local business circulates around the community many more times, doing good things, than a dollar spent at a large corporation. I really recommend dropping in to elsa + sam and taking a look around. Unfortunately, I had to run before Elsa and I finished chatting, but I will certainly be going back there again. Hopefully without dropping a piece of my existing collection.

All in all, a really brilliant day. Any day where I get to meet new and nifty people, learn more about the field of work that increasingly fills me with happy, and come home with a new piece of ceramics is a really, really good day.

Happy things in my sketchbook

Since Precious (how lucky am I to have a professor named Precious?) caught a glimpse of me doodling in class this morning, I figured I'd go ahead and share that page of my sketchbook with y'all. I think it's obvious that all the crafty blogs and ridiculously cute Japanese things I've been looking at lately are having an impact. My favorite is the either the pencil or the happy kleenex box.

Precious said I should turn it into stationery, which makes me all silly happy to contemplate.

Acorn Cottage

I am tremendously blessed with some very talented, generous, wonderful friends, who have guided and inspired my journey as an artist in many ways. One of the niftiest things about having my own blog now is that I get to share them with you. One of them is Alison Fine of Fine Artisanry.

We're talking serious Renaissance woman here. Alison does some of the most beautiful work you can imagine and in more areas than I can count this early in the morning. In addition to her wonderful cloisinee enameling, she does amazing metalwork, awesome stitchery, adorable whimsies, delicious cooking...I could go on and on and on. She and I barter back and forth rather often - she has some of my very best lampworked beads, I have a pair of her mistletoe earrings (my current favorites!), a pair of kitty earrings, and my SO has a spiffy Russian shirt that she custom sewed for us. She teaches enameling classes in her home studio, Acorn Cottage, so if you want to learn how to make the loveliest enameled jewelry of your own, I wholeheartedly recommend her as a teacher. She might even make you some lemon-poppyseed cakes in her little acorn cakepan and she'll definitely let you pet the sweetest akita dog in the world, Smokey.

Socks and LUV

Earlier this week, I made another pilgrimage to Sock Dreams. That place is PURE EVIL GOODNESS. I went in there for the first time last spring, mostly because of the amazing graphic design on their billboard, but also because I needed a pair of socks for a costume. For the most part, I am not a sock person. Sandals from sometime in late March/early April to as late in the fall as I can manage without freezing my tootsies off. Uggs as often as possible thereafter. Except for a couple of tie-dyed pairs, my socks were strictly utilitarian things: wool hiking socks, some ancient gold toes my mom bought for me years ago, and a few pairs of Maggie's organics. I had perhaps six pairs of the pointless things. Who knew that I would be unable to resist Sock Dreams' many charms? Who knew that I would become a sock lover? These are my latest happy little toe-and-heart warmers.

I've been contemplating my personal style lately. It's not the pure granola girl thing it was when I lived in Eugene. Being a believer in the whole "when in Rome" thing (with limits of course) I find that some of the stuff in my Eugene hippie wardrobe just doesn't work for Portland. Most of the time, I prefer not to stand out visually. Fortunately, with Portland being so quirky and well, weird, that's not a burden.

I love Scandinavian designers like Gudrun Sjoden who does all this beautiful, embellished, layered, amazing clothing in clean, soft Carl Larsson style colors and with playful prints that aren't fussy or overdone. There's a romantic, deconstructed Japanese style of clothing which I drool at over on Coton. My friend Ula used to describe my look as "moisture farmer" - pretty much an appropriate comment when said by/to a couple of SF/F geeks. I think I've found a better description, though, as well as a new favorite art/craft blog, and I'm totally going to yoink the term.

"Urban hobbit." Used by Amy at Angry Chicken to describe a seriously adorable pair of shoes. Another Portland girl! I love her blog and I love the term "urban hobbit" which pretty much describes the kind of stuff I've been wearing, especially since I've started picking out outfits for their tendency to show off my socks. Amy's blog is full of gorgeous photography, craft and cooking projects, and many other good things. I totally recommend checking it out.

Twice a week isn't going to be enough!

Ever since Sunday, I've been thinking of all kinds of things I want to post here and eagerly waiting for Wednesday so I could update StacySix when I said I would. I'm so excited about sharing this part of my life!

So, my just-for-fun project today was playing with shrinky plastic. When looking around for things to trace, I rediscovered a nifty clip art book, tucked away on a bottom shelf, that I picked up last year at Goodwill: a Dover book "Art Nouveau Designs in Color", c. 1974 (which reaffirms my faith in the goodness of stuff from the 70s).

When making my shrinky pendant/tag, I decided that I liked it better upside-down.

It isn't faded out at the bottom, that's just the light. I can't decide if I like the pen marks or not, but next time I'm going to use wider pens and try a smooth look. The texture is kind of neat.

I also put a couple of new felties in my Etsy store, please take a moment to check them out? Thanks!

Shout out for cottage industry!

Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
So says our brand-new American president, Barack Obama. It's probably tremendously silly of me, but it made me feel so included, so part of the day and part of Obama's vision for our country.


One of the reasons I decided to start my own art/craft blog is because of the many wonderful creative blogs that are such a pleasure and joy to read. One of my newest favorites is the wonderful Posie Gets Cozy. I've been devouring the archives for about a week now, and what a delicious read it is. Even better, the writer, Alicia Paulson is a local girl. Originally from Illinois, it's a pleasure to share Portland with someone so charming and crafty. The life she chronicles in words and photographs in on her blog is warm and welcoming, sweet without the sticky.

My curent plan is to update my own blog twice a week to start out. On Wednesdays, I'll post something about my own project work, and on the weekend, I'll share a link for a website that inspires me.

Pretty Felt!

Once winter term was finished and my school projects were safely out of the way, I had a burst of creative "ooh, must do hand crafts NOW!" energy. Much of that found its way into felt sculpture. This was one of the results. Its a little Russian doll, made from locally produced and dyed wool, hand-felted using a felting needle.

I learned how to felt about seven years ago from Ayala Talpai's wonderful book, The Felting Needle: From Factory to Fantasy. It's the most soothing of all crafts for me, the occasional stab in the finger notwithstanding, because it's so intuitive. I don't have to count, I don't have to follow a pattern, I can just sit and let the project take shape. Some pieces, like this one, surprise me with how cute they turn out to be. Others, well, they turn out to be learning experiences. Learning is good, right?

Even though I made her in the middle of the biggest snow storm that Portland has seen in decades, I loved the pale blue and purple for this piece instead of warm reds and greens. They just seemed to go with the snow and ice. I should have taken her outside and took a photo in the snow. I should take more pictures in general.


I'm taking a web design class this term, aka "Interactive Media" - here is my first web page, pulled together in about 15 minutes with the help of some very basic instruction in Dreamweaver:


I used tables, created a link, and placed images, including the page title. Simple, lots of room for improvement, but I'm still pleased as pink punch with it as a first effort.

Why here. Why now.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to go into graphic design, and here I am with a year left in school. It feels like it's time to be a bit more public with my craft and design work. Time to get used to exposing (heh heh) my work to the public. Frankly, I expect that one day, future employers will be reading this. I'm good with that. It's important that you know what you're getting.

It's an odd old thing, being in school at a far later age than I ever expected. The average age of college students keeps going up, so maybe someday this will be more normal. As it is, I'm looking at receiving my (second) piece o' paper about twenty years after graduating from high school. Aieee. Hopefully this degree will be more lucrative than the first one in anthropology. I bitch about having wasted time, money, etc., all the time, but deep down I do love that "useless" degree.

In many ways, I'm still feeling out the possibilities that life has to offer. There's so much to explore and learn and try. Finding a new craft, a new design style, a new opportunity...all of these are a bit like falling in love: the rush, the enthusiasm, the temporary obsession. And with craft and design, it's ok to have more than one at a time. Thank goodness.