Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Comfort of Ordinary Objects

There is something to be said for all the small things in our lives that we use everyday, that bring us comfort, offer order to our lives, that we rarely consider as being meaningful; the comfy chair we sink into after a long day at work, the plates we pull out of the cupboards as we prepare a meal, the stuff of our lives that serves us day in day out but that we don't ever consider as having any significant meaning, that is until it is gone, taken away. And what of those we share our lives with, our families, friends and neighbors? The mailman who delivers the mail, the friend down the street who always waves a hello, the person we don't even know who smiles as they wait in line at the bank and is humming a tune we quietly think we know. Insignificant moments that rarely cross our personal radar. Every life matters to someone, somewhere.
My heart goes out to all of those who have had thier lives shaken and destroyed by the storms that have ravaged Alabama and other neighboring states. Many, many special prayers to those who lost loved ones who can never be replaced. My heart goes out to all.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter Happy Day

Wishing all of you a joyous Easter and/or just a sweet day in general, if Easter really isn't your thing. Either way, it's a day to be celebrated just because you are here in the world and because you are valued. You matter. Remember that.

It is in that spirit that I am happily posting a shameful plug for some of my favorite art friends. This is the cover of the new, not even on the shelves yet, issue of Somerset Studio May/June issue. I am so super lucky that a small local stamp store always, always puts out the new issues whether or not it's time. I have been hanging by the ends of my toes waiting for this issue to be released and when I saw it, as I walked in the shop door yesterday afternoon, I made a bee line for it. The gal at the counter said 'wow, you knew just what you wanted' I replied, with a huge grin on my face, 'YUP'. I paid for it and tucked it under my arm. When I got home, I set it on my art table and walked away. It was my intention to save it to read with my morning coffee and that is just what I did. A HAPPY way to begin my day.

Oh my goodness this is such an amazing issue. It's kinda of like opening up a gift and you keep finding more and more the farther you get in to it. There is an awesome interview with Sabrina Ward Harrison, not to be missed and written by Christine Mason Miller. Then there is a beautiful interview with Erin Kenepp whose own work was influenced and inspired by Sabrina's work. Go a little deeper into the issue and you will find an awesome tutorial by Roben-Marie Smith, where she takes you on a walk through the creation of a bright and zippy art journal page. And that is just the tip of the paint brush; seriously, Another of my all time favorite artist's and one of the few I have actually had a chance to meet, you will find Brandie Butcher-Isley sharing her techniques. I've aleardy read much of this issue and keep wandering back to it just because it is so inspiring, because there is so much between the pages. Kudos to everyone in this issue and many high fives all around.
And I totally love these. Can you see the heart? Not planned, it baked that way. This is what we decided to make instead of coloring Easter eggs this year. I found these on Pinterest, which you can locate through my side bar link. Yummy!
Just looking at them makes me feel good.
Hello cupcake, you can't hide from me for very long!!!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Welcome House Garland
There is always a certain level of surprise that comes from working with leftovers. You know when you cook a casserole and you save the leftovers and they always seems to taste better the next day. Art leftovers hold the same quality. They always produce their own little bit of magic when they are used. That is how this 'welcome' garland came to be. I had leftover scraps from some muslin I had painted and have been cutting apart and using for pages in my journals. I had a stack of end cuts in a pile; a corner piece and a square were lying on my art table side by side; the perfect components for a tiny house. I sewed the pieces together and ta da, a string of them side by side, created the perfect little 'welcome' garland. I sewed the little houses on to a piece of scrappy ribbon created from all those tiny scraps of fabric, to hang them from. I added the letters with a fine point sharpie, added some detail with graphite; done.
I've also been working on 'the daily grind' journal which is getting very close to finished.
And a few of my favorite pages.
Fabric page with 'coffee cup' pocket created from a vintage doily.

Another 'coffee cup' pocket page from a vintage lace table runner.

This journal will be available for adoption in my Etsy shop very soon.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wonderland Garland and The Art of Zen Sewing

Wonderland Garland

Yesterday afternoon I found myself a bit listless. I had lots of hours ahead of me which I could fill with creative play but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do; lots of stuff to work on but everything I tried to sink myself into, fought me. I felt completely uninspired. I was unsettled, unfocused and at odds with myself. Time for a little bit of what I like to call 'zen' sewing.

The definition of 'zen' 

 as found on is:A school of Mahayana Buddhism that asserts that enlightenment can be attained through meditation, self-contemplation, and intuition.

I have never been able to meditate in the traditional fashion. I am just too easily distracted. I've tried it at home, in quiet places, outside but I am far too curious. Does not matter if I try to close my eyes; focus on my breathing, take a quiet journey inward. Ha! My mind wanders to all the things I want to do, all the things I should be doing, I hear the twitter of a bird, a car rolling by and I want to go look. I am too much like a little kid in the world. I gotta see, hear, watch, listen. So for me trying to meditate is like me trying to 'not' breathe. I just can't do it.

I have found a way I can meditate, slow my breathing, drift, follow my intution and free my mind by sitting down at the sewing machine and just stitching. Of course, the whole point of mediation is to quiet the mind, so obviously sewing a complex pattern or working on a sewing project that requires my real attention won't work, however simple sewing, small repeated motions is very much like a person who sits or kneels and takes that deep breath in and out and going inward. I do the same thing while sewing, by simply grabbing up my bin of scraps, sitting down at my machine, I sew scraps of fabric together; pick up a scrap, lay it down, stitch, and repeat for as long as I wish. I've found I can do this for hours and can close out the world. Everything falls away. I am sure there are those creative souls who find the same experience while knitting, crocheting, doing embroidery and other pursuits that is attained through the calmness that can be found in the repetition of small movements.

The other ephinany I've had, is that while I sit and 'zen' sew it often leads me to ponder life, how the scraps of my own life have been sewn together, moments, events, challenges, what I wish for my life to be and to evolve into, how they are all connected by a thin and fragile tendril of 'thread' all those parts of me that allow me to continue to put one foot in front of the other and move forward, rather than backwards, all these thoughts ebb and flow and I drift to the calmness that lives in my 'center'. How many times in my life have events pulled that thread so tight; almost to the point of breaking but does not. And of course, sometimes the thread does break and then I have to sew my life back together again, hopefully with a few extra stitches just to make sure it all stays together.

So that is how I spent a few hours yesterday afternoon and what came out of that time was what I am calling 'wonderland garland'. Strips of fabric sewn to cotton twill. It just looks fun and magical when it hangs; an afternoon spent in the 'wonderland' that lives in my head. I could have created dozens of these, but eventually the kids came home from school and my 'mediation' time had come to a close. One of the simple gifts that 'sewing' allows, is that regardless if I sit down at my sewing machine to sew just because I want to, or because I need to calm myself and take a 'zen' moment is that it is all completely guilt free. I'm being creative and giving myself time to breathe and exhale to.

What do you do to bring calmness to your day?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sun Sand Sea Journal

Custom Journal for Melanie
I finished this journal today. It's all wrapped up and ready to head back to the U.K.
A few more page peeks before I pack it up for mailing.

Fabric page with hand dyed canvas heart which provides a place to tuck something special.

A blank primed muslin page; stitching provides a unique surface and space to add written thoughts.
Close up. I used a bit of hand dyed fabric for added texture on this page.
Fabric photo transfer pocket page.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Tweets 'Fresh Cut' Journal

Ready for adoption in my Etsy shop.
I had so much fun creating this today, gathering stuff for the pail, lightly collaging some of the pages, binding it all together and then sewing the cover.
Easter is fast approaching wouldn't this make just the sweetest treat for yourself or for that person who wants to begin to journal but just does not know where to begin. Here are more page peeks.
6" tall by 4.5 wide wire bound journal with removable fabric cover.  24 pages
Tin pail filled with goodies including 2 plus yards scrappy sewn fabric garland; use as ribbon, adorn something special in your home, or cut it apart for use in your journal or other art. There are papers, buttons, flowers, tags and more suprises.