Saturday, March 31, 2012

A New Member of the Family

Last year, one of the bloggers I read regularly posted a poll about the features people do and do not like about the blogs they read.  At the top of the DO NOT LIKE list were "blogs that start playing music automatically" and "blogs that have lots of cat pictures."

Sorry, folks, but this blog post has cat pictures!
We added a new member to our family today when we adopted little Bartholomew from the Delaware County SPCA. 
Little Bartholomew and I before an afternoon nap on the couch.
Once we got it in our head that we wanted to adopt a kitten, we have been on a rampage to find one:  lots of trips to the SPCA and various pet stores with adoption programs.  Kittens are a little hard to come by this time of year.  (Apparently they are all born at once, and are about to spring on the world--fully adoptable--in about a week!)  But when we heard that the SPCA had two available kittens this morning after our MOPS Easter egg hunt, we rushed right over to meet them.

The girls had their first experience holding a kitten with little Gaga:
But we ultimately adopted her brother, originally called Yasmine (really?!):
Our youngest daughter was very insistent that we should name him "Mew," so my husband came up with Bartholomew--actually Sir Bartholemew--to accommodate Bayla's preferences and his own sense of the kitty's future grandeur.

We have a 15-year-old cat named Stella who has TRULY been with me through the thick and thin of life, and she is less than thrilled with the new addition.
But I took it as a good sign when she hid behind our ottoman to watch the girls playing with the new kitty, even though she growled low in her throat any time someone came by to give her attention.  (Except me; I was pleased that at least she didn't growl at me!)

It is such a joy to walk in the room and see little Bartholomew there, or to have him run circles around my neck, or to watch Katy run around the house with a piece of plastic cheese tied to a piece of yarn with the kitty running in hot pursuit.  I have to believe that Stella will come around to all this positive energy in the house.  At the very least, maybe she'll just leave the little kitty alone to make his own way in the world.
Now, if I can only teach Bartholomew not to walk across the keyboard while I'm trying to type!!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Inspirations for Art Journaling

If I were to count up all of the books, magazine articles, and blog posts I have read about art journaling, I'm pretty sure they would add up into the "zillions." 

In every source that I remember reading, the writer begins with strategies for addressing the blank page, usually by offering a series of techniques for creating background papers with paint, stencils, stamps, and ink. 

Leslie, over at Words of Me Project is offering a free eCourse that turns that structure on its head...with very effective results!

Each week of her course "Mind.Body.Soul," Leslie offers a focus word, such as "Believe," "Reach," and "Do."  She then gives us a writing assignment--a series of questions, usually, to answer in our journals.  No paint, no glitter, no doodles.  Just us and our thoughts and the words we can put them into. 
Then, when she moves on to an activity to get us messy and playing in our art journals, we have some great "fodder" for making our pages even more meaningful. 
I really respect this approach.  I have been journaling on and off since I was eight-years old, doing it "the old fashioned way," as I've come to see it--with words alone.  Only in the past year have I really focused on introducing art and images into my journaling, and while it is loads of creative fun, it can sometimes be tough to make the pages meaningful instead of just "pretty."
By beginning with thoughts and words, and then moving on to paint and imagery, it becomes much easier to ensure that there is beauty and meaning in my pages.
I have several books with wonderful and meaningful writing exercises that I think would make great starting points for art journal pages. 
If you are interested in using written inspiration in the creation of your art journal pages, I encourage you to check out Leslie's eCourse, as well as some of these titles:
What role does actual writing play in your art journaling practice?  How do you ensure that your pages are both meaningful and attractive (if, in fact, it is important to you that they are both)?  I would be curious to hear your thoughts in the comment section.

Just a quick side-note:  Whenever someone leaves a comment, I was hoping to reply with an individual email, to make my responses more personal.  After writing several email messages, I discovered that many of them were being sent off to "no-reply," which must be the equivalent of Blogging LaLa Land.  I obviously have to work the kinks out to make sure that my messages are being sent to actual accounts.  In the meantime, I apologize if you never heard from me!  Please know how much I value and enjoy every comment I receive.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Craft Show Report

Saturday marked my second craft show experience, at the Holy Cross Spring Craft Fair in Springfield, Pennsylvania, just ten minutes from my home.
My husband helped me set up my table the night before, and then took me out for dinner.  Now, that's what I call a supportive partner!  He also brought my little girls by to visit my table (you can see my daughter Katy in her purple rain jacket in the photo above).
For this show, I created a sign with my business name, Studio 791, using paint splattered stencils on a bulletin board.  One of my products is embellished clothespins with a length of hemp twine for creating inspiration boards like the one I have hanging above my work table in my craft room.  I found it very helpful to be able to point to this sign as an example of what the clothespin display looks like.  I didn't sell any sets at my November sale when I had nothing to demonstrate what they look like, but I did sell some of the sets this time around.  Some of my products require a little bit of explanation!
The Scrabble tile magnets were a big hit again this time around.  One of the women at the table next to me explained that there is an iPhone app called Words With Friends that is bringing back the popularity of Scrabble.  I had several people tell me that they play Words With Friends, and they thought the magnets made great gifts for the people they play with.  I just kind of smiled and nodded, figuring maybe "Words" was some new shorthand way of referring to Scrabble, but not really knowing what they were talking about.  I'm a little out of the iPhone loop!

The highlight of my day was a boy around the age of ten, who came by with his mother in the last couple hours of the show.  He looked at everything on my table with such close attention, and then waved his arm over one section of the display, telling his mom, "I love ALL of this!"  Then awhile later he came back by, and his mother told me that he had especially requested to return to my table.  He picked out items that were a little more expensive than his mother allowed, so we all worked together to put together a more reasonable purchase.  He had such enthusiasm and appreciation for the kinds of things I make!  I told him, "I appreciate your appreciation!" and I most certainly meant it; he gives me a memory to smile about for quite awhile!
I sent many emails to church friends and others, and was gratified to have so many of them stop by my table, and even make some purchases.  It's a lot of fun to look up and see a familiar face coming by!  Many, many people sweep by with barely a glance; they can just tell with peripheral vision that what I have to offer is not of interest to them.  It's not disheartening, exactly, because I understand that everyone has different taste, and some people come with very specific items in mind to buy.  But it makes those who take the time to stop by the table, and to look me right in the eye and say "hello" that much more valued!
A general view of the room as a whole
By far the most enjoyable part of the day was chatting with the women whose tables were around mine.  I first met Sharon, selling jewelry and purses behind me.  We were in very close quarters between our two tables, and I found her to be super-friendly and generous.
The two women next to me were a mother-daughter knitting team, Lois and Patty, selling adorable baby socks, hats, and sweaters, under the name Clerico Creations.  I really enjoyed chatting with them throughout the day, and they even gave me a "lead" about another potential craft show to look into for next month.
There were plenty of complaints that the foot traffic and sales were slow, and there have been some emails exchanged in the wake of the sale, with vendors suggesting that the depresssed economy might mean that craft sales will soon become a thing of the past.  I am just getting warmed up here, so I am hoping that is not the case!  I enjoyed myself and feel emboldened to continue on this craft show road I've started down. 

Many thanks to those of you who have supported me through this crafting adventure!  I hope that wherever you are, you will support the folks you see who are trying to add a little touch of homemade to our world.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Little Corner of My World

Remember when I shared with you back in January that I went shopping in Regina's Etsy store, Creative Kismet
In addition to wearing the beautiful pendant on a daily basis, I purchased a frame for her lovely art print, Give Thanks Every Single Day, and placed it in its intended location right next to the kitchen sink:
It is such an appropriate and peaceful reminder.  My four-year-old, Katy, came downstairs the morning after I hung it on the wall, noticed it immediately, and said, "Mommy, that new art is beautiful."
I never show too much of my home in my blog posts, other than the breakfast table where my girls do their crafting and a few peeks at my art room.  So here is a look at where my other creative magic happens!  Actually, not so creative since I always follow recipes to the "t," but I find the whole process of choosing recipes, buying and preparing ingredients, and getting the meal together for my husband to be a gratifying use of my time and creative energies.

Do you see the chimes hanging over the window?  I purchased those at an outdoor art fair many years ago, from a business called Tempest in a Teapot.  The chimes are made from silver utensils embellished with beads and hanging from a sugar bowl.  My husband chose the location for hanging it, and it has been such a great and fanciful addition to my cooking space!

I saw something kind of fun in Whole Living magazine this month (March 2012) that I wanted to share with you:  A Brooklyn designer and blogger named Jessi Arrington is apparently totally obsessed with rainbows.  So much so that she celebrated her 32nd birthday with a Rainbow Parade.  Her friends all came out, wearing one of the colors of the rainbow, and they marched down the street (in ROY G BIV order) behind Jessi to celebrate her special day.  She now throws Rainbow Parades for other people!  "There is something powerful and liberating about giving yourself permission to act on an idea simply because it brings you joy," she says.  How cool is that?

You can check out Jessi's blog at

Monday, March 19, 2012

What's New from Studio 791

Springtime is upon us, and this Saturday I will have a booth at the Holy Cross Spring Craft Fair, in Springfield, PA.

This is my second craft show, following my November "debut" at the Mom-Hosted Holiday Bazaar.  I will be displaying some of the same kinds of crafts for sale, such as the popular Scrabble tile magnets (with lots of fun, new word choices available!) and jumbo embellished clothespins (with new paper tape designs!), as well as some new items, including embellished mini-chalkboards and stationery sets. 

Because I am so excited about my new stationery sets, I thought I would give you a sneak-peek at them on my blog today!
I think I am so excited about the sets because they incorporate all of the objects and elements that I most enjoy in my art and crafting--mail art, tag art, bookmarks, maps, graphic number and letter elements, stitched paper, postage stamps, and recycled art.
Each "Colorful Journey" Stationery Set includes 6 "Journey" gift tags, which are shipping labels embellished with a piece of map and a sentiment created with a Dymo label maker.  The tags are tied together with red and white baker's twine.  Some have simple sentiments like "XOXO" or "Miss You."  Other fun sentiments are "On the Road Again" and "Happy Trails."  Each set contains three tags with blue Dymo tape and three tags with red Dymo tape.
The stationery sets also include an Airmail Envelope Notebook, a paper tape bookmark, and a stitched card with an envelope.  I wish that I had taken photos of the stitched cards, but you can look at this previous post to see the kind of stitched paper I used to make them.
Also, the sets include one of my handmade envelopes with a stamped card insert, as well as a red "To/From" label to use with the envelope.
Lots of fun, don't you think?

I also spruced up my business cards to better reflect the spirit of my business, Studio 791, by adding a shipping tag and ribbon.
If you find yourself in south-eastern Pennsylvania this weekend, I hope you will stop by my table between 9 am and 3 pm!  I will be sharing a full report, of course, in the week following.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Decorating Easter Eggs with Kids

On Wednesday, I shared with you the torn-paper eggs I made based on Kareann's beautiful paper project.  After making many, many eggs of my own, I decided to invite my kids to try the activity, too.

As usual, my 4-year-old daughter Katy jumped at the chance to try a new craft. 
My 3-year-old daughter Bayla, true to form, lost interest fast:
Look at that face...
pretty much sums up how she feels about
crafting most of the time!

Though she did make a snazzy St. Patrick's Day hat
in preschool, don't you think?
This is just to show that she DID perk up!
Katy followed all of the steps that I outlined in my previous post.  She used colorful construction paper for her paper strips, and glued them down onto white drawing paper.
I found a large egg outline on the internet, and she used it as her template to draw an egg shape on the back of her paper.
She cut out the egg outline she drew:
Then it was time to turn the egg over for the big reveal:
She made lots and lots of eggs to send to her relatives for Easter.
Instead of punching holes in the eggs for a piece of ribbon, she came up with her own strategy for displaying the eggs.  She cut a vertical slit from the bottom, and stuck the eggs onto drawer pulls around the family room.
It was not the most aesthetically-pleasing option, but I thought it was pretty clever nontheless.

I received a VERY aesthetically-pleasing Easter egg when I found a delightful RAK from Karenann in the mail:
Her eggs are quite a bit smaller than the ones I made, and crafted on top of a thin piece of cardboard.  She also included one of her awesome altered Rolodex cards, with a "cheer up" message that was helpful to me on that particular day!

Here is the other side of the Rolodex card:
So fun to have another "Karenann original" in my collection!

Enjoy a creative weekend!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Tis the Season...for an Easter Egg Tutorial!

I recently fell in love with some torn-paper/collaged eggs on Karenann's blog, and set to making my own version of her project.  Karenann told me that she would not mind if I share my process with you.  This is such a fun and easy way to make Easter cards and gift tags!
Now, you could just follow Karenann's directions:  Tear paper and glue it down.  Because that's really all there is to it!  But if you like to make a short story long, as I often do, you will enjoy the fact that I broke the project down into a multitude of steps for you!
Step 1:  Gather up your supplies:  decorative papers, white cardstock, scissors, pencil, glue stick, and something to use as a template for your eggs.  I found a 6-pack of foam eggs for $1 at the craft store, and they were just the size I wanted for my tags.
Step 2:  Tear lots and lots of paper into strips.  The bigger your egg, the wider your strips can be. 
My eggs had anywhere from four to six different papers on each one.  It was all chance--no measurement involved!

Step 3:  Strip by strip, apply glue stick to the back and adhere, overlapping, to the white cardstock.
Step 4:  Use your egg template to draw on the back of the white cardstock that now has paper strips glued to the front.
Step 5:  Cut out the eggs.
Step 6:  Turn them over for the "big reveal," since you won't know exactly how the various colored papers will fall on the eggs you cut out!
Step 7 (optional): 
Punch a hole at the top of the eggs, and add a ribbon to use them as a gift tag.  Smaller eggs can be made into little Easter tree ornaments.
(Okay, so maybe I got a little carried away.  But once you start making these, it's really hard to stop!  Ask Karenann; she found the same thing to be true!)

Stay tuned, because in my next post, I will share the torn-paper Easter eggs that my four-year-old made (a great craft project that can be adapted for kids!), AND share the egg that Karenann sent to me in the mail as a generous RAK!