Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Wonder Of Sloths

In case I haven't mentioned it before, I teach kids how to do crafty things. That's the general gist of my day job, and it is pretty awesome. Right now a group of 6 year olds that I am teaching are learning about the rain forest. So to help in their quest for knowledge I made them a pair of sloths! Please meet Sadie and Baby Wondersloth! Aren't they adorable?

Did you know that in the rain forest, sloths move so slow that they actually have some types of plants and algae growing off of them, so they look like big green and brown mossy mammal plant masses? I specifically chose fabrics that I felt looked like perfect camouflage for two sloths in the rain forest. Their sweet faces are made of felt and hand embroidered. The rest of them is entirely machine sewn and they are currently loving their new home.

I purchased the pattern for them from Bit Of Whimsy Dolls. I was able to purchase the pattern on their website and then download it directly onto my computer to print out. It was my first time using a downloaded pattern like that, and it was so easy and fool proof that I think I need to do it more often! I have always been a little wary of download and print patterns, which seems crazy now in hindsight, but I am sure I will more than make up for lost time now that I have opened my eyes to their awesomeness.

In case you are wondering where the name of Wondersloth came from, it actually was given to her by the kids I made her for. There is a game that they normally play with a ball, that has a song that goes with it about passing around a "wonderball". Well, the kids took it upon themselves to change the words of the song to be about the sloths, so now Sadie and Baby are Wondersloths, and although they have no magical powers, they do only have three toes on each limb and they currently hold the title of "Best Sloths Ever". I guess we will see if they get any sort of competition for that title, but I kind of doubt it. ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

Happy 4th of July my fellow American readers! I hope that regardless of what country you are from you have had a restful weekend and are ready to tackle the rest of the week. I am currently recovering from my three day weekend which was filled with lots of craftiness and adventures. I promise to have more interesting things for you as the week goes on, but for now I will leave you with this reminder that you are never too old to play with sparklers!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Putting Summer Inside a Glass Container?

I made these sweet summery terrarium-esque votive holders the other day for the mantle in the living room at my parent's house. I used two identical vases that my mother had in the basement but never used. The sweet snail guy is from Indigo Twin on Etsy. The Moss is also from Etsy, from the wonderful Rebecca Welch. I highly recommend the products from both sellers. They were both super personable and their products are of the highest quality. I am sure I will be going back to both of them sometime soon for more miniatures and moss, especially if my new interest in greenery continues without incident.

I may be biased, but I think they just look so sweet. The candles in them are actually LED candles. While I am sure you could use real candles in them, I just didn't feel like risking it this close to real live plant material.

They were very easy to make too. The bottom layer is small pea pebbles which I procured from my local home improvement store. (Read: The Home Depot, my favourite art supply store...) The soil is regular old potting soil. There is a layer of potting charcoal to help keep away any mold or mildew, and then I carefully put some hand picked pieces of moss on top. The votive candles sit right on top, as does the wee snail.

When the moss needs to be watered, which really isn't that often, I just take the snail and candles out and give the moss a good sprinkling with water. After that I let the top of the moss air dry off a bit, and then I place the candles and snail back where they belong. Easy as pie.

I never knew it was possible to capture summer in a container like this, but when I see them on the mantle I am convinced that I at least caught some part of it. I am so smitten with them I think I might need to make myself a pair of my own to keep on either end of my large vanity dresser... hmm...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Renegade Craft Fair Brooklyn Recap!

O goodness how the time has flown by me! I can't believe it has taken me a whole week to tell you all about my trip to the Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn last Saturday! That was the big trip I was hinting to previously. I had never attended the craft fair before and decided that it was about time that I did. So I roped two friends into tagging along with me, bought seats on the Megabus from Philly to New York, and made sure my wallet was full of spending money.

Before heading into Brooklyn, we made a pit stop at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. I had been dying to see it after reading so many wonderful reviews of it online. The Met was packed, and we had to wait for 50 minutes in line to see the exhibit. It was definitely worth it though. It was an exceptional exhibition, and all of the pieces no matter how creepy or girly were just beautiful to see in person. There are so many things about them that are not captured well in photos, so even though I have seen photos of most of the pieces on display, I felt like I was seeing them all again for the first time there in the Met. Even the exhibit catalog was gorgeous. For $45 it was not in my budget for that day, as I had many other purchases planned, but it is now on my to buy list. It would make a wonderful addition to my collection of art books.

After the Met, we quickly skidaddled to Brooklyn, despite the fact that it was starting to rain. By the time we got off of the subway the rain had turned from a mist into an outright downpour, and we had to quickly duck inside a store in order to keep from getting completely soaked. When we finally made it to the craft fair, everything was damp, and some vendors who had enough of the rain were starting to pack up and leave. We had our work cut out for us though, with almost 300 vendors in attendance, we got right down to shopping! At one of the booths, there was a lovely lady doing 60-second watercolor portraits. Unfortunately, I was so smitten with mine that I did not think to grab a business card, and I have had no luck finding a website or anything for her on the Renegade Craft Fair vendor list. All I know is that for $1 she did a cute portrait and that her name is Sally. I wish I could tell you more or direct you to more of her work, but unfortunately, the above scan of the portrait is all I've got.

I bought four blank peg dolls from Goose Grease. I have been wanting to get a few to paint various textile designs on. I think it would be sweet, having a little textile doll family. Of course, they have been put on the always growing list of projects to complete. They are so adorable though, that I will probably get around to using them sooner rather than later.

I had to restrain myself from buying one of every wooden blank that they had. They have all sorts of sizes of peg dolls, nesting dolls, yo-yos, etc. It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the possibilities you think of when looking at all the blank forms just waiting to be something wonderful.

I bought this ever so adorable monster stuffie from Let's Be Friends. I was walking by the booth and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw him and his brethren piled in a suitcase, begging to be taken to new homes. I have never bought a hand made stuffed animal before. Not because I have anything against them, I've certainly seen many an adorable hand made stuffie. I just never know where I would put them or have them hang out in my house. I don't have kids, and I wouldn't want my dogs to think it was a new toy for them, so I normally just pass by the stuffies without giving them much thought. This guy I had to take home with me though. He now lives on my bookshelf, but I am hoping that once I finish making over my work space that he can live amongst some floor pillows and keep me company while I make stuff. I think he would like that.

I had to grab a fat quarter of this fun yellow cross mark fabric from Workroom Social. I am still not sure what I am going to make with it, but I think whatever I make I will probably use this along with one of the fabrics I got from Sara Lee Parker Textiles at the Art Star Craft Bazaar. I think the color and feel of the fabrics would go well together.

I justify my obsession with buying fun, unique fabrics by telling myself that even if I am not sure what I am going to do with them when I buy them, that since they never go bad I can just keep them until inspiration strikes. It's not weird that I like to sort through my stash sometimes and just feel the fabrics and admire the patterns sometimes, right?

These sweet little houses are from The Oak Leaves, and are destined to have a new home in a terrarium at some point in the near future. I have been swooning over their miniature cities for awhile now, and I took my sweet time choosing which ones were going to come home with me. I chose a church for an Ireland themed terrarium, and I just thought the other barns and houses were precious. Once I get my act together and amass the rest of the terrarium supplies I need, they will have a new home and I will probably find myself just staring into their miniature world when I get antsy and wish I were traveling.

Last but not least I gave in and finally got a kit from Chez Sucre Chez. I have been wanting their Puppy Love kit, but unfortunately it seems they do not make it anymore. It isn't a big loss though, because their other kits are also adorable and I would be happy to make any of them. I settled on this heart and arrows kit for now, and will probably grab another one the next time I see them. It is so wonderfully packaged and the instructions seem to be fool proof, which is good news for me as I am quite the novice when it comes to cross stitch!

It was a long and full day, and I am sure you won't be surprised when I tell you that we all passed out on the bus ride home. It was worth it though. I am excited about my goodies and cannot wait to use them and show you all what I have made with them. There isn't another craft fair in my schedule for awhile, either as a vendor or a buyer, but I definitely think that this trip will tide me over for awhile!

Silk Scarf Giveaway!

I am putting together a big post that will be full of some juicy craft fair fun from this weekend, but you will have to wait to read it until tomorrow! For now, you can console yourselves by visiting Amy over at A Whim Of Mine. She has written a lovely review of my hand dyed silk scarves, and is giving one away to one lucky reader!

Here is a photo of the scarf that is up for grabs. So what are you waiting for? Go check out her super cute blog and enter! Many thanks to Amy for the fabulous write up and for taking the time to take such lovely photos of my scarves. I can barely contain my excitement for Friday to see who the winner will be!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Real Live Proof That I'm A Winner!

After a hot and sticky week, the past few days have been gorgeous with a cool breeze and just enough warmth to let you know that summer is here. Today was no exception, and I was more than happy to have the beautiful weather, seeing as I was vending at the Media Fine Arts and Crafts Fair! I don't think my tent's pride ever fully recovered after having to endure all that rain during Art Star, so I'm sure even my tent was glad to stand in the sunshine and cool breeze.

This was my first year attending the Media fair as both a vendor and a buyer. I don't normally take a chance like that on a craft fair without at least attending it as a spectator first, but I had heard so many good things about the Media fair that I decided to give it a whirl. They closed down all of State Street and filled it with lovely vendors, delicious smelling foods, and of course, all the boutiques had their doors open wide to invite buyers in.

The vendors seemed a bit sparse for such a large craft fair, but I think some decided to not show for fear of rain. As a consequence there was lots of space to roam about and for people to sit and enjoy the atmosphere without feeling like they were just being jostled from booth to booth by the crowd. I doubt anyone was complaining about that.

All in all I would say it was a successful craft fair. I was happy to see many of my favorite items find new homes and I always enjoy seeing new vendors and products. I behaved myself and did not purchase anything from any vendors today (even though I wanted to!) because I am saving for a super special field trip next Saturday. I will tell you more about the adventure I have planned later. ;) For now I will leave you with this photo of me taken just after the fair ended.

I won first prize in the fiber category and received a big beautiful blue ribbon. Clearly this sort of situation calls for a double thumbs up and much excitement. I haven't participated in a craft fair before that has been juried like this on the day of, so this was a really fun surprise. I was still just excited that I had been chosen to participate in the craft fair, let alone told that I had some of the best items there! I promise to try to not let it go to my head. ;)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

It's Far Too Hot To Blog...

Apologies my readers, it has been crazy hot the past few days, and while I had some fun activities and posts planned, I obviously have not gotten around to doing any of them. Hopefully with a thunderstorm tonight the heat will break and then we can get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Until then, here is a video of Mieze and Biene rolling about on the porch after a walk this weekend. It was so hot we had to cut the walk short because they kept laying down in shady patches on other people's lawns. Poor pups! As soon as I opened the front door all they could do was flop about on the floor. They wouldn't even let me take off their leashes! I can't say I blame them, summer is my least favourite season because of the heat, and if rolling around on the ground made me feel better about it I probably would do it too.

If you are wondering where their fabulous collars and leashes are from, I got them on Etsy from the wonderful Pugs 2 Persians. If you have a cat or dog in need of some fancy threads I recommend her wholeheartedly. The quality is excellent, and I would know with my two little beasts talent of beating up everything they come in contact with!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Curse of the Black Thumb

Fact: I have a track record of killing every plant I come in contact with.

Back in March, I bought four lovely succulent plants at the Philadelphia Flower Show. I was determined to break my killing streak and prove that I could keep a plant alive just like any other normal person. Since March, I have been too afraid to move the plants from the containers they came in. I was worried that just touching them the wrong way would result in their spontaneous combustion. I'm only moderately joking, but I don't have a green thumb, I have more of a black thumb.

After months of reading up on what it takes to properly replant and keep a succulent alive, as well as gathering all the necessary materials, I finally put on my big girl pants and decided that today was the day for replanting. I had the four plants that I managed to keep alive for the past several months which is a feat in and of itself. There were a few times where I was a bit worried, but they all have pulled through like champs. I bought these three containers from Three Potato Four here in Philly. It is one of my favourite shops, and I am sure you will see other finds of mine from there in the future. If you are in the area and ever have a chance to attend one of their Barn Sales, GO. You can thank me later.

I bought some pea pebbles to put on the bottom of the containers for drainage, and some potting soil specifically for cacti and succulents. As soon as I finished setting up a workspace for myself in the porch, I dove in. I lost a few pieces off of one of the small green ones. (How bad is that, I don't even know what type of succulents they are...) I took a deep breath though and told myself that one or two "leaves" lost weren't going to kill it.

The whole process went fairly quickly and painlessly. I did everything exactly as all the instructional videos, step by step photos and tutorials on the internet told me. Once the plants were safely in their new planters and none of them showed any signs of wanting to die immediately I breathed a sigh of relief. I would like to think that they enjoy their new spaces. There is room to stretch out their roots, and lots of nutritious new dirt to explore.

Maybe I am being a bit too sentimental about it. I am just excited I not only kept my plants alive for three months, but that I also replanted them into beautiful new containers without incident. Trust me, when it comes to me and plants, there is ALWAYS room for incidents. I wonder if this means I am finally starting to break my plant killing cycle... One can hope!

Now I just need to find a good place to keep them. I watered them thoroughly after planting so they should survive when I inevitably forget to water them for two weeks. I think they will probably end up on my vanity dresser. They would bring some great color to it, and look really nice among the other items I have displayed there. Not to mention that it is conveniently placed next to a big window, so they will have all the sunshine they need.

So what do you think? Not bad for a first try at caring for a plant right? I'm thinking that my next project will be a terrarium. Terrariums share a lot of the same characteristics as succulents that I hope will allow me to be successful in keeping them alive a long time.
- They don't need to be watered all the time.
- They thrive when you ignore them and don't fuss over them too much.
- They travel well if you need to move.
- My dogs won't try and eat them.
- They grow slowly and don't need to be replanted often.
- They will survive the heat and the cold.

Looks like I might need to make another trip to Three Potato Four to find the perfect terrarium container.... Hmm...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My First Advertising Attempt

I just sent off the graphics for my first advertising space. How neat is that? I feel like a real business now. I don't plan on doing a ton of advertising at the moment, but when I see a place that looks like it would be a perfect fit how can I say no? You can check out my new fancy pants ads in the next issue of Spoon Zine coming out in June.

In the words of it's creator, Tina Jett:

"Spoon is a bi-monthly, digital zine project based on the little things that make life awesome: inspirations, experiences, and simplicity... a virtual pot pie of art, photography, food, travel, events, and life in general. The project will last for one year, beginning with Issue No. 1 (Dec/Jan 2011) and ending with Issue No. 6 (Oct/Nov 2011).

It is based upon the notion that...

  • the things that make us truly happy cost little or nothing
  • inspiration is everywhere
  • we should never take ourselves too seriously
  • there is beauty in the old
  • celebrating holidays, changing seasons, and life events remind us how we are all connected
  • we should never stop learning
  • we tend to get bogged down with too much excess, be it mass-produced and material goods, waste, drama, or action - simplify!"

Those are definitely sentiments I agree with and try to bring to every item I make. While I obviously hope that my first foray into advertising will turn out to be beneficial for me, I am just content to know that I have supported a creative endeavor like this and I am really excited to have been a part of it. So what are you waiting for? Go read the past issues of Spoon and get ready to read the newest one in a few short weeks!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A Weekend of Fairs and Fleas

I mean flea markets of course! It is that time of year when there is something fun happening every weekend. My weekend centered around soaking up all that the Trenton Ave Arts Festival and the Punk Rock Flea Market here in Philadelphia had to offer. It definitely felt like summer with a reprieve from all of this rain we have been having. Unfortunately, the sunshine did not continue into this week because today turned out to be rainy as well. I guess we will see what the rest of the week offers. Until more sunshine appears, I will just think back on my time spent out and about this weekend.

Picture perfect strawberries from Greensgrow Farms who had a booth set up at the festival. They were beautiful and delicious. The perfect art fair treat.

A print that was designed specifically with the Trenton Ave Arts Fest in mind by one of the printers from BYO Print Studio in Fishtown. At their both if you gave them $5 you could pull your own print from a variety of blocks they had pre-made for you! Inexpensive art that you can have a hand in making? Who can say no to that?

I bought these two handmade ceramic buttons from Miss Millie Ceramics. I thought they had a beautiful texture and color. I can't wait to figure out a project to use them on.

Earrings from Bijoux By Allison. I could not resist their bright colors and patterns. Very sweet and summery. Even her packaging is bright and fun, I heartily approve!

After an afternoon of excitement and some small purchases at the Trenton Avenue Fest I was thoroughly exhausted and almost decided against going to the Punk Rock Flea Market the next day. I was glad I ended up going though. I feel like I always find something good that was just waiting for me to find it. Like this milkglass cream and sugar set!

Aren't they lovely? I saved both of them from the depths of a flea market table for $1. Something so dainty and pretty deserves to have a new chance at being used again. I think they will make lovely pin cushions don't you?

I had to stop at the Yard Sale Press booth and use their $1 print vending machine. You know the sticker vending machines that some drugs stores, pizza places, bowling alleys, etc have in their lobbies? Well Yard Sale Press has one, and it is awesome. For $1 in quarters you can have your very own mini print. This is the one I ended up with. If I had more change I probably would have tried a couple more times because I think some of the prints would look great as a set. I guess I will just have to try my luck again next time I see them. For now this cat and dog print will keep me laughing though.

Hopefully next weekend is just as beautiful so that I can enjoy more time walking around craft fairs and flea markets. I suppose I shouldn't get too far ahead of myself seeing as it is only Monday and I am sure the rest of the week has some good weather and fun activities left in it still.