Monthly Archives: September 2011

Artist Interview + Free Download

I remember seeing these amazing book sculptures by Lisa Occhipinti a while back – they were everywhere in the blogosphere, and I loved them. So I was delighted she emailed me recently to let me know about a new book she authored called, “The Repurposed Library.” In it are 33 projects to transform books into works of art. She is generously offering a project as a free PDF download from her book (located at the end of this post) and she even agreed to answer a few of my questions. I hope you enjoy!

1. What is your background and how did you get started doing book sculpture? I have a degree in fine art and taught college art for many years, while always maintaining studio practices. I am painter first and foremost and have always loved books since I was a child.  My book work began with studying traditional handmade binding techniques at the School of the Musuem of Fine Arts, Boston. I started to merge the processes in my painting with the structure of books by making artists books. This in turn led me to where I am now: transforming books. It is essential to me to maintain the integrity of their forms while venerating their attributes. Where others may see a stain on a cover, I see a story.

2. What is one challenge you’ve overcome as an artist? I have learned not to take criticism too seriously. It is a large task, putting your work, which is highly personal, out into the world and accessible to opinion.  But if you’re going to commit to art professionally you have to detach and continue to believe in what you do.

3. What does art mean to you? Art is a means of communication. The forms and processes are a physical platform which allow me to convey to the outer world what I think and feel is beautiful and important. As I am working art is the inner dialogue I have with myself, where I explore the things I think about. Whatever I make is a bridge between outer and inner. And when someone sees my work and is moved by it that is success.

Thank you Lisa! It was wonderful hearing from you. Readers, you can Download the free PDF here to make your own sewing box out of a book!

Easy Fabric Flowers

I know, there are a million fabric flower tutorials and DIY’s for making fabric flowers. Well, here is a million and one. :) And this one is probably the easiest one out there. If you can cut circles, you can do this project.

Here is what you need: fabric, fabric stiffener, hot glue gun, scissors

Here is what you do.

Step 1: Cut out different size circles out of fabric. I used different objects to trace the different size circles onto the fabric.

Step 2: Coat all your circles with fabric stiffener. Allow to dry.

Step 3: Cut a slit mid-way into your circle. You may also at this point wish to scallop the edges of your circle to create a look more like a petal, or trim away any frayed edges that were created when applying the stiffener.

Step4: Overlap the two cut edges that were created when you cut the slit and dab hot glue in the center to hold in place. This will create a dimensional cone shape.

Step 5: Starting with the largest size and working your way to the center of the flower, layer the different sizes and dab hot glue in the center to build your flower.

Now you can use these for pins, hair accessories, bags, pretty much anything. I used mine for a yarn wreath to hang on my front door. Let me know if you make it, and leave a comment with any questions!

DIY 3-D Letters from Paper

Months ago I happened upon this font on dafont.com called Punched Out. It’s a free download for a set of cut-out layouts with which you can build 3-D, pixel style letters.

Just cut along the solid lines, fold along the dotted lines, put some glue on the shaded flaps, stick them together and that’s it.

I printed each letter individually on 8.5 x 11 paper. For the letter “I”, I modified it a bit so it didn’t have the handlebars at the top and bottom of the letter. I also printed out the letters in light grayscale, just enough so you could see the lines, but they wouldn’t stand out once the letter is completed. You could add your own color or pattern to them in Photoshop or Illustrator to customize them.

They make great props, and would be a cheap easy solution for a party or event. Just keep in mind, they are a bit time consuming, so you might not want to tackle a word like, Honorificabilitudinitatibus. :)

Do What You Love: Giveaway!

At this point in my life, I would give up most anything to do what I am passionate about. It hasn’t always been the case for me as I’ve journeyed through the traps of consumerism, comparison, and a load of insecurities.

I recently met a lady that has embarked on her own journey of giving up what’s comfortable to do what she loves.

Coni is a graphic designer living in Barcelona. After working with diverse designers for many years she started her own journey creating and printing her own designs. Each print is completely handmade and screenprinted herself – it’s the type of work that makes your hands hurt…yet yields alot of joy.

I recently asked Coni to describe in a sentence or two what it means to her to do what you love. Her was her answer:

Doing what you love is not always easy. It’s a lifestyle choice, and as in every election, you must win and lose something, but it’s really satisfying if you finally do it. And there’s always the possibility to “love what you do”… (if you can’t do what you love).

Coni is generously giving away to one lucky reader a copy of her “Do What You Love / Love What You Do” print.

To enter: Just leave a comment below describing what it is you most love to do – and I hope this inspires you a bit to do it (if you aren’t already). A winner will be picked randomly one week from today, September 26th. Good luck!

How to Achieve Bokeh With Photoshop

I was recently contacted by Easy Canvas Prints to see if I’d like to try out their wrapped canvases for photos and art. I took them up on the offer and decided to print this photograph I took in my parent’s backyard that I manipulated to achieve the popular and beautiful bokeh effect.

The checkout process was super easy and within days I received my canvas. Unfortunately, I think there was some damage during shipping because my canvas showed up a bit wonky. But, they were great at sending out a replacement – I was very happy with their speedy and polite customer service. The process is really simple:

  1. Choose a size – they have 10×8, 8×8, 20×16, 24×36 and a custom size option.
  2. Upload your image
  3. Select a border – you can choose from a wide spectrum of colored borders, mirror wrap, or image wrap (I picked a black border)
  4. You can also choose from a black and white or sepia color effect, if you aren’t able to do that on your own

Right now, they are offering 25% off your order and free shipping, so an 11×14 canvas with standard options would cost you a little over $46.

I’m very happy with my canvas, it will make a great gift for my parents. And I’ll keep the messed up one for myself. :) Order one for yourself here!

If you are curious about how I did the photo, I’ll explain what I did to achieve the dramatic blurred effect without using a camera or additional equipment. All you need is Photoshop!

Step 1: Apply a filter to your photo. I love night-fate’s actions for Photoshop. I used the #3 action in this set – it’s available as a free download.

Step 2: Make sure and flatten your image at this point then duplicate your photo layer. Then go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply a level of blur that you like.

Step 3: Next select the eraser tool and pick a big brush with the softest edge you can get. In the brush settings, make sure the hardness is set to 0%. Take the brush and erase the parts of the blurred image that you want to give more focus – in the case of my photo, I erased the area of the vines and the door.

That’s it! I love this effect, it adds so much drama and depth to the most drab of photos. I hope you’ll give it a try and if you run into any questions/problems, just ask in the comments below!

Passionate Creation: Whimsy & Spice

I love talented husband and wife duos in business. Not everyone can do it, but the few I know that do, really knock it out of the park. So is the case with Jenna and Mark of Whimsy & Spice, Brooklyn Confectioners. Jenna is behind the design/branding, Mark is the creator/maker of the sweets. They have their brand image down pat and their entire line of handmade confections is beautifully created. Jenna was so gracious to answer a few of my questions. If you don’t already, give her blog a read – it’s beautifully written and curated with tons of gorgeous photos.


lemongrass marshmallows

1. First, tell us a bit about you and your husband and your backgrounds.
I’m an Art Director/Designer and freelance for design firms, agencies and tech start ups. Mark used to work as a restaurant Pastry Chef before we opened our business. He still does some consulting for restaurants here in NYC.

2. As artists and entrepreneurs, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
We value flexibility in our lives immensely and we’ve worked hard to build a life that can support and sustain that. It’s really the only way we’ve been able to work full time and balance childcare for our kids, despite weathering instability and ups and downs in income. Our kids are also an obvious motivation factor. We’re not only responsible for ourselves, but also for these amazing little people. It keeps your life goals in focus.

3. What are you most passionate achieving with your artform?
I’m very into photography and that’s the way I’ve been enjoying creativity at the moment. It’s very satisfying right now and that could be because I do it only for myself and not as my job, which design is. I also find it challenging as I still have much to learn technically, but I’m very interested in telling stories with my photographs, so I don’t let myself get too bogged down by that stuff. The most important thing for me is to keep shooting.

4. With both of your backgrounds, how did you find your niche of making confections?
I don’t do any of the baking – Mark handles all of that for the business and he’s been cooking all his life, professionally for 16 years. He began focusing on pastries mid-career after he discovered that he liked the precision of baking and he apprenticed under a few pastry chefs before becoming one himself. Incorporating different spices into cookies and baked goods is a natural extension to the way he approached desserts when he was working in restaurants.


kitchen conversions print

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
For a business like ours, the kitchen is the heart of the company. We cobbled together commercial kitchen space to bake our products for the first 2 years and it was often stressful and hectic. It wasn’t until last Fall that we found our permanent space. Not only is it exactly what we’ve been looking for, but it’s shared with a handful of other amazing food businesses like ours.

Our main obstacle at the moment is figuring out how to grow without burning out. I think we’ve got a good balance going most of the year, aside from the holidays which is crazy time, but we know that we need to kick it up very soon and expand if we want to see the company grow beyond what we are today. Still, it’s hard to commit to any big leaps and I actually find this phase more challenging than starting up the business itself.

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
Art is a form of expression that shouldn’t be judged or graded – this coming from someone who did go to art school where art was judged and graded. I realize we live in a world where everything that you share with the world is reviewed and critiqued and sometimes it can be harsh, but if the piece has meaning for you, then that’s all that matters.