Sunday, June 22, 2014
Makes sense to do two posts for the same thing, right? Seeing double isn't always a bad thing ;) It is a gorgeous day here in North Jersey with all the windows and doors open. The screen doors are firmly shut, though, because a squirrel got on the loose in the mudroom earlier this week and I learned my lesson. It is a perfect tape packing day & you should see my living room. Some people use theirs for furniture; I use mine for washi tape. It looks like a factory in here. A very happy factory. So many of my orders have come through referrals through friends, customers and fellow artists. I am so grateful for the support -- every post, mention, tweet and share has helped out my little tape line enormously and I am hard at work on getting the new designs production-ready. The double washi deal goes through tomorrow in both shops: artsyville and etsy.
I'll be back later this week with a roundup of some of awesome new art and craft books. Happy Sunday!
Saturday, June 21, 2014
Friday, May 16, 2014
Spring has taken its sweet old time here in North Jersey. Each time I've stopped to praise a stunning day or blooming shrub, the weather has gone back into the crapper & threatened to take the foliage with it. I can't complain; winter was such a joy thief here that I am grateful for every drop of pollen & sneeze that spring dishes out.
This week it was time to get the Artsyville front porch in order. I blasted the pollen off the furniture, freshened up the chairs with new pillows, replaced the rotted out rug,
found these lantern lights that I had to have,
and now it's all ready for naptime.
And I sneaked away to DC for a weekend!
I spent a morning at Politics & Prose, my favorite bookstore, and bought two books which I easily could have gotten back home, but I don't think that way. I try to do most of my pleasure buying out of town so that I have an experience & memory to attach to it.
(You know I went inside the Peeps store.)
The girls and I went on a Girl Scout trip to the Catskills, where the only things in bloom were the grass & dandelions. It amazed me that just a few hours north the trees were still bare even though the temps were fairly mild. We did all those things that one does at camp: canoeing, archery, hiking, sopping wet hayrides, flying squirrel, fighting over who got to sleep in the top bunks (the kids), fighting over who had to sleep in the top bunks (the adults), sneaking bottles of wine into the grownup quarters, etc.
The camp had a terrific arts & crafts room (the tie-dyed t-shirts spell out "be creative") where I found out that my candle making skills really suck.
On our way to and from the camp I was totally taken with the painted signs I kept seeing on the sides of barns & other buildings. We had no internet service where we were, so I had to wait until we got home to check it out -- and it turns out it is a community-wide Barn Quilts project. There are 75 in total and there are three self-guided tours around the south Catskills to find them all. I'm thinking summer day trip!
This year I'm doing our landscaping & gardening, which is really very funny because I can't garden my way out of a pot. But one must start somewhere, so I am starting with these two pots right here. We just had a colossal load of mulch dumped in the driveway, which looks and smells as unsavory as it sounds, and I figure if I don't know what to do in a particular area I'll just throw a bunch of mulch on it & call it done.
The surprise of my week was that the the surprise balls shot out the door! I didn't know what the reaction would be, if there was one, but I like to try new things and at the very least I knew I could send them out as gifts if they were total duds in the shop. They are super time consuming so I can only make a few each day. Each part of the process is like a project in itself: handmaking the goodies inside, sourcing other tiny little things, sorting out all of the pieces into bags, cutting the crepe paper & separating it into piles, spacing out the trinkets and coaxing the evolving shape into a sphere (my first few looked like alien planets), fiddling with the ribbons and the tags and the gift wrappings... you can easily envision the state of my studio, I am sure :)
The good part is that the surprise balls are really a joy to put together, and I find myself thinking about the recipient when I am arranging the pieces and wrapping the layers around and around. It's fun to imagine their experience when they unwind the paper & find their tiny treasures along the way.
I custom made these two surprise balls for a friend, who is giving them to two children going through a tough time right now. I stuffed lots of happy kiddie goodies in these: smiley face buttons, bubbles, marbles, dice, candy, stickers, erasers, etc... I hope they lift the kids' spirits a bit.
And hot off the Artsyville press... a new doodle that sums up my life as neatly as it can for the moment. Now a print & magnet in the shop.
Off to the National Stationery Show in New York on Monday (just attending, not exhibiting) and can't wait! I had a great time last year and can't wait to catch up with my artist pals. I will try to get some decent pics and report back later in the week! Happy weekend!
Friday, May 9, 2014
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Monday, April 28, 2014
My fixation with making mini things continues -- this time making tiny felt & fabric pillows. I named them wish pillows because that was simply what came to mind first. Each one is about an inch and a half square, fits neatly into the palm of one's hand and looks like a little piece that might be open to listening to a wish or maybe two.
Now it's time for the Right Brain Way Giveaway winner. Well, did you have to make it so hard for me? It took all day to decide who was going to get the book. I went through every entry. Twice. Three times. More. I lost count. I was able to identify in some way with all of the responses; each one hit me in a different emotional spot. Every answer, except for the spammer, would have been worthy of receiving it. In the end, I picked "Always trying" by Jen Niles. I was really taken by her explanation of why she chose those words, and I felt it was such a universal (and helpful) piece of advice. Thank you everyone, and please know that I was really inspired by all of your entries. If you are just stumbling onto this post, I recommend backing up one and reading through them.
Back to the wish pillows -- these go with the little word tiles that I showed a few posts ago, the ones that have an ultimate purpose that I have not yet revealed ;-) I've also made tiny notebooks, carnival tickets Artsyville-style, mini stickers, and other bitty things I haven't shown yet. Within a few days I'll bring it all together!
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
If only Jennifer Lee had been in my life in the 90s! I was whiling away my days in a full time MBA program, both ambitious and bored. I wanted desperately to break out of the traditional corporate life & onto my own creative career path, but I did not have the understanding or discipline in my emotional toolbox to know what that even meant at the time. Ideas were whizzing around my right brain on roller skates with no interest in being tamed, while the left half was just doing everything it could to hang on to the curriculum and the structure I needed to get through the program. Neither side of my brain would trust the other, which meant there was either an ongoing battle between the worlds or the doors were simply glued shut. One day I was so overwhelmed by the struggle that I panicked in the middle of a finance class, grabbed my things and made a dramatic bolt for the door, bringing the class to a halt because I had so much baggage in my hands that I couldn't even get that door open and the professor had to let me out. There just weren't many resources, let alone support, to help me make sense of it all.
I finished my degree and tootled back into the corporate clutches to pay off my graduate school loans, and went through the motions until I hit my limit, jumped full time into my art, and spent a lot of time trying to broker the peace treaty between the left and the right. It took me years to find a comfort level doodling my way toward this new career (I didn't even want to call it a career for a while), and it took even longer to work up the nerve to launch my art into a business. I am thrilled with my choice but I have to admit that I still struggle severely with left-right woes. Every single day. Some days fifty things hit me all at once and all I can manage is to pivot in a large circle and get nothing done. It's frustrating. I can cope with it & get back on track more easily than I used to, though -- partially from experience and partially because there are now, thankfully, resources and support that didn't exist before.
Jennifer's first book, The Right Brain Business Plan, was a gift to my bookshelf and my daily life. Her writing helped me to get out my dreams on paper, clarify my goals, prioritize my plans and to look at my business in a holistic sense instead of compartmentalizing it all. Also, on a personal note, it made me feel like I wasn't a lone freak. I realized there was actually a community out there who struggled with the same things. I was even more anxious to get her new book, Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way: Sustainable Success for the Creative Entrepreneur (published by New World Library with beautiful illustrations once again by Kate Prentiss). While her last book was about the planning, this one is all about the doing. The doing is usually where it all falls apart for me, and I need the help!
In the publisher's words: Building Your Business The Right-Brain Way "combines solid business expertise with a right-brain perspective that inspires creativity and innovation. Jennifer Lee’s fresh, empowering approach emphasizes taking action and continually improving to achieve extraordinary long-term results. Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way offers real-world-tested techniques that can benefit all sorts of businesses, whether you’re a sole proprietor running a coaching practice, a crafter looking to license products, a wellness professional with a team of employees, or any creative soul making a meaningful difference with your work."
What I love most about Jennifer's new book is that she trusts the right brain to take the driver's seat in her approach to developing a successful creative business. Her book is methodical and easy to follow, but not one bit of it is dry or posed as an unbreakable rule. Her writing is entertaining and rewarding to read -- and her words are totally actionable. Each chapter is full of tips, prods, checklists, questions, colorful work(play)sheets, action accelerators, reflections, confidence builders, right-brain boosters, left-brain chill pills, suggestions on cultivating connections, ideas on how to identify your creative gifts, cultivate your message and package your product/service offerings, and personal anecdotes from other creative entrepreneurs. I loved reading their stories, identifying with obstacles they faced, appreciating the sacrifices they made, learning from their experiences, and celebrating their successes.
Another personal takeaway from this book is realizing that the chasm between the two halves of my brain is not really as wide as I so often (and histrionically) like to pretend. It's all in the attitude & finding the way for both sides of my brain to work in sync with the other to fulfill my own personal passion and mission. That (for me, anyway), is the key to building a successful (and sustainable) art business. Bolting from a finance lecture is not the way to do it.
If you need The Right-Brain Way (Right Away!), and I understand if you do, you'll find it at Amazon or New World Library.
If you'd like to play a giveaway game (you know I love to do those), I have one extra shiny copy sitting on my desk just waiting to be sent. Just answer me this (a question from page 40):
What would you tattoo across your chest?
I'll pick my favorite answer on Sunday, April 27!
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Cue up the beep beep beep of the Artsyville delivery truck! I'm backing up with yet another photo dump. (When I realize that it takes just as much time to batch the entire week into one post, I'll start posting daily again.)
Starting with a message of love & peace -- and the lettuce that sneaked into the middle -- for Passover. Thinking especially this year of our old friends in Overland Park (where my kids went to preschool) in the wake of Sunday's tragedy. I was relieved to find out that everyone we knew was OK, and so sad for the ones who weren't.
We had an early seder in Philadelphia with family...
But not before gobbling up the last of the breakfast yummies from my brother-in-law's bakery. (If you're in the Philadelphia area, it's Four Worlds Bakery on Woodland Avenue!)
It was 80 degrees that day, so absolutely popsicle-worthy that we popped over to the Lil' Pop Shop
& walked around the neighborhood. (I love West Philly!) Philadelphia is only about 90 miles south of us, but it feels like it's in a different climate zone -- all the flowering trees were in full bloom while ours in North Jersey have barely started.
So we've been making our own blooms and color mixes to help move spring along.
A week ago Sunday I hauled the girls all around NYC -- it was a stunning day & Mr. Artsyville was stumbling around Hong Kong fresh off a 16 hour flight, all bleary eyed & zombie like, so I thought we'd do the same thing on the other side of the earth. I made the kids walk. and walk. and walk. We hadn't been to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side yet & so we took the Victoria Confino tour. I thought it was terrific; my 11 year old thought it was interesting; my 7 year old just wanted to go to the gift shop. (which was also terrific.)
We ran into Marco's Art Mobile somewhere around Soho or Nolita -- one of those hazily defined areas where I'm always hesitant to say with certainty where I am.
Walked past this game of hoops at just the right moment :)
They each got a little hand treatment at Lush, too.
Good & tired kids. Just how I like 'em.
Mr. Artsyville brought back a load of sweets from 7-Eleven in Hong Kong, but curiously enough, upon closer inspections of the labels none of the goods were native items. I think stuff just goes through Hong Kong (our washi tape, for one); no products seem to originate from there. No matter. I love sweets from foreign shores no matter where. He went to the Hong Kong Ladies' Market (not what it sounds like) and bargained ferociously for those adorable chopsticks.
Drawings wrought by little hands keep appearing all around Artsyville....
and bigger hands too.
I'm working on a bunch of little wordy tiles...
...for a very specific purpose to be revealed whenever I can get around to finishing it.
As always, if you stuck with me through the end, congrats! You deserve a prize! Have a great week!
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Sucked into school projects! That's where I've been the past few weeks. The first was the evil science fair (nuff said), the second was the creation of an 18 foot burlap and felt banner that I thought was going to put me in my grave, and the last was a set of invitations for a fundraiser that (comparatively speaking) was a most light and airy prance through a spring meadow. Instead of designing a flat invitation, I decided to create a trifold piece that popped open & delivered the message like a little gift. It took a bit of fiddling around to figure out where I wanted the folds, but once that was done it went pretty quickly, and so I thought I'd share the process here in case anyone is interested. (Even though I made invitations, you could easily make any kind of card out of these -- birthday, photo, holiday, moving announcements, etc.)
*Basic 8.5x11 cardstock in various shades. I used 65# cover, and you can get some great shades at Michaels in packs of 50 for about $4 each. Sometimes $3.33 if you get there on a good day.
*Coordinating A2 envelopes. Paper Source has a good selection, though I get mine directly from French Paper. (If you are a paper hoarder, beware...French Paper is an easy place to go for a quick visit and then check out a few hundred dollars later.)
*Washi tape (of course!)
*1 inch paper circle punch
*A paper scorer or bone folder
*Glue dots or double stick tape
Pick your cardstock color. Each sheet will yield two pop-open cards.
Chop it in half lengthwise with a paper cutter. This will give you two pieces that are each 4.25" wide and 11" long.
Turn one piece sideways, pick your favorite washi tape & start unrolling. (Side note: for those who have been asking when I'll get my washi back in, we are running another small batch and if all goes well, it will be here within 6-8 weeks!!) I picked my Jolly Town design, as this was a fundraising invitation for two sweet little boys, and it seemed like a good fit :)
You'll want your washi to wrap all the way around the length of both sides -- 22 inches and some change. If you can manage it, lay it out & wrap the tape so that the ends of the washi meet in the middle or overlap slightly. Be prepared to squint and grunt a bit while you're trying to make the ends meet -- it's important to have the tape straight & aligned all the way around. (The side where the washi ends overlap will be the inside of your card -- you'll layer your message on top of the overlap so no one will see it.)
On the inside of the card (the side on which the washi ends have met/overlapped), score the left side at exactly 2.75", then do the same thing to the other side. It isn't totally necessary to have a paper scorer, but it makes the folding easier and it gives the piece a clean, polished look. This will leave you with an area in the middle that measures 4.25"x5.5" where you'll put your message. When you fold the sides together, they should meet precisely in the middle, unless they don't, which will inevitably happen if you are making a bunch. Laws of statistics prove that you will have at least a few screwups along the way, which I did, and then it is up to you to decide whether the gap or overlap is bad enough to warrant a do-over, or if the recipient really won't notice or care. Your call.
Now, for the center: pick another coordinating cardstock color (or use white) and handwrite or type your message, then affix it with double stick tape. I typed mine in Word and printed two to a page. I wanted a slight border around my inside messages, so I trimmed them down to 3.5"x5".
To seal the pop-open card, make circles from the cardstock with your paper punch, and secure it with a glue dot underneath each side. Alternatively, if you have a Xyron Creative Station (which I use), you can run a piece of cardstock through the permanent adhesive cartridge so it is already stickified when you punch the circles. For an extra little flair, doodle on the seal with a black pen.
Pair it up with a coordinating envelope and you're done! If you have leftover seals, you can also use those on the backside of the envelope.
I also made coordinating thank you notes that were super fast & easy (lower right). I cut the cardstock into 4.25"x5.5" pieces, shaped the corners with my trusty Lassco corner rounder, and then put one strip of washi on the front -- no wrap around on this one. To get a clean cut, I let the washi strips hang off the sides just slightly and then trimmed along the edge with scissors.
That's it! If you have any questions on the pop-open (or thank you cards) -- just ask!
Monday, March 31, 2014
I poured some color into the cup today & started a new doodling project! Last month, one very kind friend sent me a Starbucks gift card -- just because. Instead of mindlessly quaffing away the balance like I usually do, I am going to create a new piece to commemorate each dose of caffeination I get from that card (probably 12 in all). Not all will be coffee related, but this one seemed a fitting piece to kick off the project :) Hereby marking this as doodle number 1 of my #MakeEachCupCount project (and thank you to my friend who knows how much I count on coffee to fuel my creative endeavors).
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
My cut & paste hand soap bottle has a companion! It has held up so well against the elements that I decided to make a dish soap bottle with my collage scraps. For this one I used a Method dish soap bottle -- it is very sturdy, has a great shape, and is easy to cover. The only tricky part was the ridge at the top. Keeping the pieces tiny helped to get around the curve more easily. I sealed it with the magic craft potion (matte Mod Podge) and though I didn't keep track of the coats, it was probably around 6-7 coats. It was an easy crafty quickie and good clean fun!
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
lightning quick sale (just today, March 12 & tomorrow, March 13) to close out the listings. The unimaginatively named code MOVINGSALE will take 50% off my remaining Etsy baggage. After that I'll be tending shop full time at www.artsyville.com.
(I still love Etsy, of course, so I’ll keep the shop handy for my once-in-a-while handmade goodies and for de-stashing sales!)
(I still love Etsy, of course, so I’ll keep the shop handy for my once-in-a-while handmade goodies and for de-stashing sales!)