Coming soon to a mailbox near you

Finished mushroom dudes! I took the picture with them inside a pyrex bowl, which lit the shot pretty nicely. The white fuzz on the red isn't nearly so pronounced in person, though. I'm so excited to be done. They were awfully fun to make. The stems are a little bendy, although they bend right back into place and tend to stay there. I'm thinking about putting them in yogurt cups to ship.

The next series of mushroom people will be made with vintage buttons. I was puttering around at Stars and found a few bags of vintage buttons on sale. Just imagine, a couple of months ago, the only buttons I had in the house were ones that had fallen off clothing and were waiting to be sewed back on. Now I have a collection of buttons waiting to be made into cute things.

Calloo, callay!

I'm in for Crafty Wonderland next month, woo hoo! I will have lots of cute little things, pincushions, needle felted bits, and whatever else works its way out from the creative soup in the back of my brain between now and then. I'm pondering a blog special giveaway: the first five people who drop by my table at the event and mention reading my blog will get a special little gift bag. Hmmmm.

Keeping Busy

School has been a bit demanding this week, but I've still made the time to get some hands-on craft time. I'm loving buttons and embroidery! Two mushrooms for the swap, another button heart ornament, and pincushion number five, this one with a sweet little appliqued acorn, and teensy embroidered oak leaves. I'm going to finish the rest of the mushroom guys this weekend, and hopefully make another pincushion or two. I'm still waiting (patiently, I assure you) to hear back about next month's Crafty Wonderland, and in the meantime, it certainly doesn't hurt to make more things with an eye towards putting them on the table. Maybe I'll make extra mushrooms, or other anthropomorphized vegetables.

Bigger Mushroom

Here's the bigger mushroom that I talked about yesterday. He has cuter 4-hole buttons and a nose too. He feels nice and solid, and I know that someone will be happy to get him. Now to make some fungus brothers.

Popping Up All Over

I'm in the Handmade Mushroom Swap! My very first craft swap, I'm very excited. I'm making little anthropomorphized needle felted mushrooms with brad eyes and button spots. The first set is turning out to be too small, so I'm going to be putting this one in my Etsy store and making a set of bigger musrooms for the swap. Super cute!

Although I've been needle-felting for about six years, this may be the first time that I've set out to make nearly-identical items, production line style. It's a little hard, because I'm so impatient to see them become themselves and it seems like better process to complete each step for each one before moving on to the next. All the stems, then all the caps, etc.

I hope whoever gets these will be as excited about them as I am. Some of the pictures on the Flickr group are just amazing. People are so creative and wonderful. I think my very favorites are the mushroom babies shown here. It's almost impossible to pick a favorite, though, since they are all so cool. This one is absolutely adorable, too. And by sheer coincidence, Alison is in the swap too! She's doing stitched morels - yummy! We're going to do our own personal little swap, so I'm making an extra one for her. (bounces!) I'm getting my own morel!

It's All About Being In Process

I'm in the middle of quite a bit right now, so it's very nice to have something completed. Here is pincushion #4, with applique and button embellishment. To make the bitsy star, I used a tiny Japanese cookie cutter for the fat little starfish shape. The wool felt is vegetable dyed in two pretty shades of blue, and I used cream and icy blue cotton thread to stitch it all together, with a few french knots just 'cause I love making them.

In school, we've begun the process for the final project of the term in my studio design class. I'm working on sketches, writing a creative brief, and tomorrow I'll be making inspiration boards for my two or three best ideas. I'm having some challenges coming up with big ideas; nothing has really smacked me upside the head yet, saying "hey! me! this one!" Inspiration boards might help.

Alison showed me how to make button hearts! I haven't finished this one yet. The wire needs to be twisted to make a hanger, and I'm going to add a ribbon bow to make it even prettier. I know, Valentine's Day is over, but isn't every day a good day for little pink and pearly white buttons and hearts? I've got one more project in the works, but I'll post about that tomorrow.

Remembering Other Places

I grew up on the dry side of the Cascades. During the winter it snows from October to sometimes as late as March, with a bit of rain now and then, but nothing like the rains here in the valley. The air is dry. In the summer, it cools down quickly at night. That's one of the few things I miss about living in the high desert: the refreshing coolness of the evening, after a day of sun and heat. The contrasts. When I moved to the valley, a few months after turning eighteen, it took me a long time to realize how different the climate is here - after all, it was still Oregon, wasn't it? I noticed that there were many, many more trees on the hills surrounding Eugene and that it didn't snow nearly so much, but I missed the subtle difference in humidity. We may complain about humidity in the valley, but after visiting Pennsylvania and Japan, nope, it's not really all that humid here. Despite the fact that it rains for about nine months out of the year. Weird, eh?

Every once in a while, something will remind me of those early days in Eugene - one of the best times of my life. I had a flash of it this morning, coming in from taking the recycling out to the curb. Something about the chill and the damp and the slight trace of woodsmoke on the air, and coming into the warm, dimly-lit kitchen, shrugging out of my hoodie and lunging for my cup of tea... I don't know why, but it brought on a sensory memory of a similar morning many years ago. Not one specific morning, but the general sense of the place and time I loved so much. They say you can't go home again and I know that this is true, but sometimes it's possible to duck in, just for a second, and know that it's still there, waiting for you to find a way to bridge that impossible gap and return at last.

Design Provides

There's so much cute stuff out there and so little time (so little room, so little money...). The other day, I was horribly tempted by "Happy Hermits" stationery by Apak. I saw it at Uwajimaya - wonderfully dangerous place, that store. I was drawn to the warm pretty colors, and cute, slightly sinister characters. They reminded me of the sort of thing I sketch in the margins of notebooks. Lately, I've been lusting after stationery in general, which is odd because I don't often write letters. Perhaps having nifty stationery would provide an excuse? I was standing in the store, asking myself who I'd write to, imagining how fun it would be to send letters written on this stationery, picturing the reactions of friends. In the end, I was fiscally responsible and walked away.

Instead of buying stationery (for now), I came home and made some of my own. The graphics are from a recent design piece I created for school. I really loved the palette of neutrals, for which I blame Alison (I used to think blue and gray and taupe sounded boring - what on earth was I thinking?). The next step is to get some envelopes from Art Media in the same colors and call it a set. Maybe transfer some of the houses and trees onto sticker paper - ooh, my own stickers!

I really enjoy playing with Illustrator - crisp, clean scalable graphics that look so cute when they are designed slightly askew. For the things I like to do, it's a better program than Photoshop. That said, one of my favorite things to do is to combine vector graphics with photography. The contrast makes me happy.

Sharing Inspiration: Carl Larsson

Carl and Karin Larsson
are high among my favorite artists and great personal inspirations. Long before the latest incarnation of the crafty life, they were living it to the fullest. While Carl's gorgeous paintings brought in the income, Karin not only painted, she was also an amazing textile artist and weaver. Some of her textiles were lightyears ahead of their time. In many ways, their entire lifestyle was incredibly modern - at a time when interior design tended towards the heavily ornate and visually cluttered, the Larsson's home was light and uncluttered. It was charmingly decorated with hand-crafted furnishings and marvelous little details, while retaining a visually clean look.

Reading Larsson's books "A Home" and "A Family" reminds me (now) of reading a wonderful art/craft blog, if that's not too irreverent. Carl's favorite subject for painting was his home and family, pursuing all the sweet activities that we crafty types like - picnics, parties, art activities, playing dress-up. Karin made all her own clothes, and she was also a fashion rebel: one of the pioneers of aesthetic dress. In all the pictures Carl painted of her, she always wears simple, beautiful, flowing dresses, and this at a time when women were expected to be heavily corseted and follow the trends towards ornate clothing.

The Larssons are often credited with being the creators of the Swedish style. I think that all you really have to do to "get that" is to look through a book or two of Larsson's paintings and then visit IKEA.

To-do lists are my friend

Here I am at the end of the day with only a couple of things left to do, and many things accomplished - one more thing as soon as I hit the "publish post" button. It snowed today; usually it makes me happy when it snows, but this winter all it does is make me grumpy. Grump, grump, grump. I concentrated on being productive and not moping about. Fortunately, I have pincushions to cheer me up. I am loving playing with wool felt in yummy, happy colors. These are pincushions 2 and 3. I'm already thinking about #4 - I think I will use the blue and applique it with stars. Stars are one of my favorite decorative motifs.

If it's still all wintry and gloomy out tomorrow, I'm going to do some baking. Chocolate cake, I think, with vanilla/pomegranate frosting for a little extra sweetness and pretty pinkness.


It's been a long time since I've been to Crafty Wonderland. That really needs to change. Today's visit was thoroughly enjoyable. Lots of amazingly cute stuff and talented people. Alison and I met there, walked around, enjoyed the sights. I found a great print!

It was difficult to choose too, let me tell you. In the end, I couldn't resist the sweet neighborhood in a bottle. The colors are so pretty and soft, and the theme so whimsical! This next one was the runner-up. I loved the colors and the execution of the jellyfish. In my opinion, it's very difficult to do jellyfish justice, since their appearance depends so much on light and translucence, and I think the artist succeeded completely:

One of the things I love about Crafty Wonderland is that you get to meet the artists, chat with them for a minute, get a sense of the person to whom you're giving your money and support. As I did this morning, I'd like you to meet Adrienne of Arcane Arts!

As I've said before (and will say over and over again), it's so good to be able to support a fellow local artist. In this economy, we've got to stick together and help each other.

Drat! It's cute!

I can't find my camera (that's the drat). This is making updates a bit more difficult than I'd like. However, the camera on my laptop is working just fine, so here, update (this is the cute)!

Pincushions really fit my current mood and schedule, being swift and sweet. This is a larger one (in progress) than the previous two, with an appliqued cupcake. And for the first time in my life, I've actually been able to make french knots! Every time I've tried them before, they failed. This time, I got all determined and, I don't know, tried harder. Got it on the second try! I'm quite happy that it did - french knot sugar sprinkles are darling - and making me crave cupcakes.

I'm multi-tasking like mad tonight. Pincushion, look for camera, pincushion, look for camera, look for paper knife, think about finishing tote bag, pincushion, mutter about camera. Tomorrow, I'm going to drop by Crafty Wonderland, the cute and crafty center of the Portland universe.


I just realized that I had comments for the blog on a very restrictive setting - I'd been wondering why there weren't more comments and hoping it wasn't because I'm boring. ;-) Setting fixed, anyone can comment, and I absolutely welcome you all to chime in.

My Tea-Cozy Hat

This is a great example of a project that took a left turn. One of my favorite sweaters accidentally went through the washer and drier - tragedy! I loved the green wool too much to simply sigh (or cry) and put it in the goodwill bag. I decided to try to recycle it. My kitchen gear lacked a tea cozy, and I thought my poor shrunken sweater would serve the purpose.

Alison had a tea party that weekend, and we always hang out and do crafty work, so I brought it to be my project. I deliberately felted a thrifted sweater for the applique, measured (one of) my tea kettles and stitched the pieces together. I used a needle felting tool to attach the applique. At this point, high on sweet black tea and sugar cookies, I got silly and put it on my head. Everyone went "ooh". I ran to a mirror and went "ooh" myself. We decided it HAD to be a hat - my tea kettle could continue to go bare. Alison made the tassels, we stitched them on, and BAM, cutest hat ever. Just having it to wear makes winter a little happier.

I <3 felt!

You can do such sweet little things with wool felt. I've spent the last two days home with an icky cold, so to do something productive, I made a pincushion! It's about 2" tall and similarly wide. It reminds me of a little cake - someday, I'm going to learn how to make and work with fondant, and when I do, I'll make a little petit four just like this pincushion. It's all hand sewn, with appliqued, embroidered felt leaves, and stuffed with wool fleece.

I used to love embroidery when I was little. When I was nine or ten, I'd embroider on kleenex using sewing thread - little houses and flowers. Sadly, I wasn't given any encouragement, so the desire to really learn how to do it faded away, and I didn't have the resources to pursue it on my own. Later, when I started sewing, I decided I didn't like embroidery after all - too time consuming and fiddly. I'm beginning to reconsider now, especially when there are so many little projects to do that would go fast and be so sweet and pleasing. I'm really happy with this pincushion , even if I do have a recurring desire to nibble on it.

Something in the Air

What is it about Olympia? Some of the best artists I know live there. My friend Alison lived there until a couple of years ago; now she lives here, and very glad we are about it, too. Nikki McClure (high on my list of "artists I'd like to meet" list) is also from that area. And my friend Bill Dawson lives near Olympia. He's an amazing artist, and I'd like to share some of his work with you.

Medieval re-enactment is one of my hobbies, has been for years. Bill was one of the people in that world that I met very early on. He's always been a good friend and has always encouraged people like me to pursue whatever facets of art interest us. His multidisciplinary level of achievement is just so inspiring to me. This is one of my favorites that he's done, a Santa Lucia crown. I've tried it on; it is SO pretty. This one piece has many different metalworking techniques, blended together to make something really, really special.

In addition to his other talents, Bill is a gifted teacher. He has some classes coming up soon, in Portland and Seattle, and I think he has a couple of spots left open. Here's the class schedule. If you want to learn some serious metalworking, he's one of the best.

Three Month Calendar

Just a quick calendar for January/February/March for you to print out, if you'd like. The next one will be up around the end of March. This is the first time I've put something together specifically to put it online for anyone who would like to use it, so any feedback you have would be very much appreciated. Thanks and enjoy!

One more thing about Friday

Ok, I don't want to sound like a total fangirl, but there was one more thing from Friday that Amy shared with us field trippers, an ad for Eco-Motion:

The talented Ms. Ruppel did the illustration (that's her on the green scooter!) and another local studio animated it. The very sweet singing voice is local girl, Laura Gibson. It is, as we say around here, so cute that you'll puke a rainbow. Which is a good thing.