Out and about this holiday season, I was struck by how much the handmade movement has affected mainstream decor. Crafty is the new black, it seems to me! For instance, Target had these adorable, yarn-covered bird ornaments as part of their "Craft Collection" line.
My favorite decorations were at Anthropologie, though, where the displays & decor never disappoint. How cute is the fabric-covered, faux-taxidermy deer above, with his sprawling wooden antlers strewn with felt garlands & lights?! Love.
I love the way Anthro often uses props that anyone could make at home, like these felt circle cone trees. I always leave the store feeling inspired.
Clever use of balls of yarn to create a mountain of "snowballs!"
Detail of cutesy-crafty snowballs. I heart you, Anthropologie!
What were your favorite holiday decorations this year? See anything crafty?
Spotted this example of bad craft in a thrift store in Seattle last month. We should all keep this in mind when making handmade gifts this season. Perhaps this Bud-loving "artist" had one too many??? : )
So I've been working on something new & super-cute, if I may say so myself.
This little guy is waving hello - awww!
and I just love Mr. Green Wings on his mod background:
What do you think of my newest creations? I'm working on a couple of other animals, too, but the owls are all I have done so far. I'll have these little cuties for sale in our WonderCraft booth tonight at First Thursday on South Congress, tomorrow at The Bleet-Up & next week at Cherrywood Art Fair. Hope to see you at one of these craftabulous events!
Aren't mannequin parts fascinating? I like the way these look like severed hands, yet they are immaculately clean & shiny.
Hee hee hee heeee! I'll get you, my pretty! (and your little dog, too!)
This little cutie-pie wouldn't scare anyone!
All of these pics were taken on a recent fun-filled afternoon thrifting with my WonderCraft pals. I posted the full story on The WonderCraft's blog, and you can also check out more pics from the trip in my Scenic Austin Flickr set.
stuffed & waiting by my machine to be spiral-stitched for that adorable quilted effect! This is perhaps my favorite step of elephant-making.
and a stack of embroidered faces on what will become the elephants' bodies.
I love seeing the pieces at different stages & watching a batch of toys come together from a stack of parts. These polka-dotty elephants will soon be getting some national attention! Can't wait until I can tell you all about it!
I'm knee-deep in fabric & thread, trying to get a lot of stuff made in preparation for the holiday show season, but just had to share these magnificent mini hats from Harriet Rosebud. They're so stylishly detailed, it kinda makes me want to start a mini-hat collection! I came across them in my research for the turtle hats I'm working on.
This afternoon Patrick & I did some planning for new flower beds in our front yard. While we were out there we noticed how pretty the acorns looked on our deciduous Oak. They're pleasantly smooth & soft to the touch, too.
On the other side of the path leading to our front door is an amazing Magnolia grandiflora or Southern Magnolia. It looks lovely right now with all of its fruit.
Pretty, huh? It's all pink & fuzzy! Upon closer inspection, we noticed something else hanging on this tree in addition to the fruit...
If you're squeamish about bugs, you might want to stop here.
Still with me? Ready for a closer look? Okay, here goes...
Cicadas have left their shells all over this tree! Clinging to the branches...
and hanging from the undersides of leaves. They were positively all over the place. On every branch we saw more and more.
They reminded me of childhood summers at my grandparents' house in Ganado, in southeast Texas. My cousins & I would have contests to see who could collect the most cicada shells from the trees. Kinda like Easter egg hunting, except slightly disgusting. Their shells retain all of the little details of the insects that molted from them. I am simultaneously grossed out & fascinated by cicadas. How about you?
If you want to see lots more pics of cicadas, hear their song, & even watch time-lapse photography of a cicada molting (it's pretty darn cool!), check out the Wikipedia page on cicadas.
I've started a new thing in my work room that I'm calling my "Sunday basket." The idea is that I will keep an ongoing project in this basket: sewing, painting, a photo album - anything that I am working on purely for myself. Or it could be a gift for someone else, but it is most definitely just for fun & not for my business. The projects that are stowed in the basket will be my Sunday projects. I can spend all day on Sundays working on them if I want to - I'm giving myself permission to do that, and promising myself that I will refrain from doing anything work-related on Sundays. I can work on them whenever I feel like it of course, but knowing how busy my weeks are, I probably won't. But at least by saving Sundays for these personal projects I can realize some of those projects I keep telling myself I'll get around to "someday." Someday is today!!!!!!!
There are tons of things I've wanted to sew for myself (I envision a whole new wardrobe of skirts, tops & dresses) & I'll even go so far as to buy the patterns & fabric, but then I have a really hard time completing them. And then there all of those cute little one-day projects I always see in my Craft newsletter, like making bags from vintage pillowcases. I have a beautiful vintage pillowcase I thrifted about a year ago for just such a project waiting patiently on the shelf of my linen closet. Lots of other stuff I've been wanting to do just for fun, too, like collage a wall of my work room or go to more art galleries & museums, but I always seem to find myself swamped with work for my various small businesses. But I'm learning lately that in order to stay happy & inspired I really need to make an effort to carve out time for these things that I want to do, even though I always have a list a mile long of the things I "should" do. So here it is, typed out & posted to the interwebs for all the world to see: I'm taking back my Sundays!
More about what's currently in my basket in a future post...
Have you heard of Yarn Harvest? It's Austin's own recycled yarn company, making beautiful yarn from second-hand sweaters! What a creative & eco-friendly manufacturing model. Here's what Yarn Harvest has to say about its nontraditional method:
"By finding a new use for a second-hand, locally-abundant resource, we are able to keep our costs low and our manufacturing local. By not having to make new wool, we are able to reduce the carbon footprint and negative impacts on the environment that making new wool causes. And by getting involved in the wonderful world of knitting, crocheting, and crafting in general, we know that what we make is both quality and a good value."
We [WonderCraft gals] love what Yarn Harvest is up to, and we're partnering with them to bring you Eastside Knit Night this November during the East Austin Studio Tour! On Tuesday, 11/16 from 5:30-9pm, you'll be able to hang out with creative knitters & crocheters, learn something new & share your skills at this fantabulous knitty party we're hosting at Starving Art Studios. There will be knit-tastic giveaways, the debut of Yarn Harvest's latest & greatest products & more! Mark your calendars & stay tuned for more details about this fun event.
Knitters & crocheters: Would you like to teach others your technique? We're looking for a few talented folks who want to share their mad skillz at this event. You'd be able to sell your handmade yarn-y creations as well. If interested, please drop us a line at getcrafty[at]thewondercraft[dot]com!
Greg, the friendly guy behind Yarn Harvest, shows off his goods.
A couple of weeks ago, we went camping with friends at Krause Springs, which is about 30 miles west of Austin. It's a wonderful spot with a spring-fed swimming hole & a beautiful garden with humongous wind chimes in the towering oaks. These are some of my favorite pics I took. If you want to see more images from the amazing gardens, check out my Krause Springs Flickr set.
This crazy cat was made for my friend who's having a baby girl. They're doing the nursery in an Alice in Wonderland theme. I was quite happy with how it turned out, this being the most ambitious applique project I've done to date!
And below is my most recently completed fabric sculpture. You may recall my post about the beginnings of this piece called, "Art Waiting to Happen." Well this is what happened:
So I just finished my first embroidery piece using a Sublime Stitching pattern - yay! I am so happy with how it turned out. I really enjoyed working with this pattern and saw it as a fun design challenge. I taught myself a couple of new stitches from The Embroidery Stitch Bible (a must-have reference book if you like embroidery!) and geeked out at the craft store picking out tons of new embroidery floss in beautiful colors.
The pattern I used is from the lovely Roaring Twenties set if you'd like to get it for yourself. It's super-cute! These stitched examples here are from Sublime Stitching.
What I love about these brilliant patterns is how easy they are to customize. They're just a guideline for the picture, but the colors & variety of stitches used are totally up to you. You could give a group of people the same pattern to work with & each one would come up with a different, equally awesome, finished piece. Compare & contrast my flapper girl with the one at left - quite different! They've added a beauty mark; I've added eyebrows & fill-in stitches to the feather. We've used very different color palettes, and I used a paisley fabric scrap that I happened to have hanging around.
Being a beginner at the whole embroidery thing though, I have a few questions for other stitchers out there:
How do you get rid of the hoop marks? Is there a trick to removing those? Or is it just a hazard of using thin fabric?
I steam ironed the bejeezus out of this fabric before framing it up, but the creases from the hoop are still faintly visible in the corners.
What's your favorite method for displaying your work? Do you typically frame a piece like this? Or do you just leave it in the hoop (eliminating the need to remove the hoop marks)?
I have seen this great Purl Bee tutorial for finishing a hoop piece, but haven't tried it yet. I'd love to learn more from those of you who've been embroidering for a while - please share your tips & tricks!
I recently visited the Matisse as Printmaker exhibit at The Blanton and fell in love. I hadn't set foot in this lovely little gem of a museum on The University of Texas campus since I was an art student at UT, and I'm really glad I've rediscovered it.
This collection of etchings, lino-cuts, lithographs & other prints by Henri Matisse was phenomenal! I've been a big admirer of his work since I first saw his Woman in a Purple Coat at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston on a high school field trip. Getting a long look at that wondrous painting up close & personal had a powerful effect on me and influenced my decision to pursue an art degree.
What has always astounded me about Matisse's work is his extremely adept handling of line. He had an uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject matter with a few perfectly placed, wonderfully expressive lines. Matisse's magical way with line holds true for all of his artwork, be it a seemingly simple painting of lemons in a bowl or one of his colorful paper collages, but I find it especially lovely in the portraits he drew.
His Young Woman Contemplating a Goldfish Bowl (below), one of a series of etchings of women gazing at goldfish in a bowl, really knocked me out. I love the little details: the curls of hair, the overlapped hands and the way the ladies' chins rest on them, and of course the shapes of the goldfish themselves, all suggested by a few carefully observed lines. These lines by Matisse never seem over-worked. He placed them confidently & gracefully, without regard to perfection, which imparts so much energy and expressive character to his work.
Unfortunately, the Matisse as Printmaker exhibit at The Blanton is now closed & will soon be heading up to Canada for a showing at the Art Gallery of Alberta. But The Blanton has tons more to offer! They have very impressive & renowned permanent collections as well as an ongoing variety of temporary exhibitions.
And get this, admission is free every Thursday! How great is that? Get on over to The Blanton & treat your eyes to some fabulous art! Find all the details on their Visit page.
Lots of great events going on during Austin Fashion Week, so I thought I'd share a few of our EtsyAustin teammates' events. There will be goody bags, special sales, raffles, delicious local drinks & eats and fashion galore! All of these parties sound like a lot of fun & a cool way to meet some of our talented local designers. Don't miss the fun!
Camille Jackson, the designer behind Diamonds & Guns by Action Jackson, will be throwing a retro-glam Pin-Ups & Pastries party at JR Salon on Sunday, 8/15. Cupcakes, cocktails, fabulous pin-up inspired fashion, plus an amazing gift basket to be raffled off! And I can't tell you how excited I am that my new lingerie boutique, Kuhmillion.com, is sponsoring Camille's event - it's gonna be marvelous!
Also on 8/15, join Merritt Gade for Shear Decadence at Salon Intuitions. There will be tons of delicious treats there, too, plus another awesome raffle and of course, Merritt Gade Fine Handmades. Come see Merritt's beautiful jewelry and bridal accessories in the mini runway show - it's sure to be stunning! Snag some Merritt Gade earrings at 20% off, a gift bag from local businesses, and don't forget to capture the fun of the evening in the Booth 66 photo booth!
As if all of this fun on Sunday weren't enough, you can keep the party going on Monday, too! On Monday evening, 8/16, Jetset to Style with fabulous handbag designer Anne Marie Beard. This one takes place at a shoe salon - be still my beating heart! Stella Says Go is the destination for an evening of fun with cocktails & nibbles from great local sponsors, gift bags for the first 25 & a fashion show. Plus, part of the proceeds will be donated to 1 House at a Time.
Know any more great Fashion Week parties we should all check out? Leave the deets or a link in the comments!