Yearly Archives: 2011

Autumn Giveaway

Autumn is in full swing now. I’ve packed up my summer clothes and unloaded my big bulky sweaters from hiding. Maybe it was too soon though – we are still experiencing 70-80 degree temps. Everything is lush and green like it’s spring time again. You won’t hear me complaining, I love warm weather. I think a part of me goes into hibernation when it gets cold.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have a little giveaway to celebrate the season. Earlier this month I got an email from Helen from Frances + Francis. She designs the perfect elemental Autumnal card to send your greetings. She’s agreed to giveaway some cards to our winner.

You will also receive these simple but beautiful leather bangles in Autumn colors from the Adopt Shoppe.

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment describing what you love most about the fall season. A winner will be randomly selected one week from now, on Tuesday, November 1st.

AND, I promise I will be back soon with some brand new DIY posts. Happy Autumn!

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.

Passionate Creation: Something’s Hiding in Here

I’m pleased to share the next interview in the passionate creation series – with Shauna Alterio of Something’s Hiding in Here. She is half of the two part duo running a creation business, with their most recent popular craze being their Forage Bow Ties. I’ve been a fan for a long time, so I was thrilled to have the chance to ask some questions. Here you go!

1. First, tell us a bit about yourselves and your backgrounds.

we met in art school while studying for our BFA’s from the kansas city art institute. we both attended cranbrook academy of art for our MFA’s.

we’ve had quite a collection of jobs: prototype engineer, teacher, gallery director, environmental designer, merchandiser, museum proprietor, product designer, display director… the list goes on and on. a few years ago we began collaborating under the name “something’s hiding in here.”

2. As artists and entrepreneurs, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
we’re always excited to find out what our next unexpected project will be. that’s truly what inspires us – new experiences and working with new people from magazines to retailers to editors etc.

3. What are you most passionate about achieving with your art?
with each project we take on, we’re always looking to communicate our own point of view. we’re passionate about balancing aesthetics with clean construction and function.

4. With both of your arts backgrounds, how did you find your niche of designing handmade goods?
we’ve always collaborated on gifts for friends and started our business by accident. we had a booth the renegade craft fair to raise money for a new computer and ended up taking wholesale orders on our very first day.


Martha Stewart Living feature

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
accepting that we were running a business what the most difficult part. we spent years saying “this is not a business, this is for fun”. creating our own business model that fit our diverse goals was another breakthrough. we’re the only ones who can set the standard for our measurement of success.


Photos via Apartment Therapy

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
for us, art is a way to express our point of view and connect with other people.

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Thank you Shauna! It was great to pick your brain, and congrats on all your success!

Passionate Creation: Paloma’s Nest

We survived our move, and I’m ready to jump right into the swing of things with a great lineup of artist interviews on a topic that I’m really interested in right now. The intersection of art + passion, a place that surpasses the need for money or fame – a place where their is simply the passion to create. First up is Caroline from Paloma’s Nest. This husband and wife duo has been passionately creating their artform for about 4 years, and are such an inspiring set of artists. I hope you enjoy!


Photo credit – Carla Ten Eyck

1. Tell us about yourself and your background.
I am an artist/ designer/entrepreneur, born and raised in Mystic, Connecticut, now living in Austin, Texas. I began Paloma’s Nest in late 2007, and over the years it has blossomed into a family business that my husband (Jose, from Buenos Aires, Argentina) and I run together. We started as an online Etsy shop, and now sell our wares there as well as through palomasnest.com and our new brick & mortar locations in Austin and Chattanooga. I focus mainly on our ceramic and textile designs, while my husband is the woodworker. Paloma’s Nest is named after our daughter Paloma, who is almost 5 years old. “Paloma” means “dove” in Spanish.


Photo credit – Craig Paulson Photography

2. As an artist and entrepreneur, what gets you up every morning – what drives you?
The absolute privilege of living my dream everyday is what keeps me going. I see running a business and making a living from my art, with my husband by my side doing the same, as a great joy.

3. What are you most passionate achieving with your art form?
Creating pieces that will be passed on to future generations is what I am most passionate about. Just imagining a piece that we craft today being in the hands of someones great-great grandchild, years from now, is what drives me to create timeless designs that will look as elegant and pure in 100 years as they do today.

4. You create beautiful handmade “modern heirlooms” – how did you find your niche or have you always worked with ceramics?
I discovered ceramics while studying art and design in college, and was immediately drawn to the medium as a way to create tangible pieces that one could interact with in daily life. I have always been fascinated with the concept of heirlooms, and I have always collected antiques and vintage pieces. I am fascinated with pieces that hold their history, things that seem to have a story to tell. By working text into my designs, I am able to add an instant element of story telling- whether it is a clients’ love poem, or a piece commemorating a special day.

5. What are some obstacles you’ve overcome along the way?
Fear. I think anyone who has made the commitment to make a living from their art, or to be an entrepreneur of any kind, has to overcome an amount of emotional concern or self-doubt. Can we really do this? Will it work? Can we raise a family this way? Fear can be paralyzing, and a real hurdle in the creative process. For me, I try to balance this natural fear by keeping busy- always having a new project, developing new ideas. Action breeds action. This lifestyle is a leap of faith, but once you take that leap you never look back. We have no regrets!

6. Lastly, what does art mean to you?
“My art is my life. My life is my art.” – Henri Matisse

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Thank you so much Caroline for taking part in this series. I absolutely loved hearing from you. The best to you and all your endeavors…and your new little one on the way!

We’re Moving!

Hi friends! Just thought I’d let you all know that I’ll be taking some time off from blogging since we are moving a whopping 20 miles away towards downtown Oklahoma City. But short or long, the distance does not matter – moving is a lot of work – add on two undercover, anti-packing agents that are 1 and 2 years of age and you have a very crazy situation.

But, I have a tremendous lineup of artist interviews coming up that I’m so excited to share! Jenna from Whimsy + Spice, Jihan from Geronimo Balloon Troopers, Shauna from Something’s Hiding in Here, and Caroline from Paloma’s Nest all have agreed to share their passion filled artforms with us and why they do what they do.

So check back soon and if you think of me, please pray that we will survive this move with both the children (and ourselves) intact. :)