Saturday, April 3, 2010

Season Change.

The first pallet of Michigan's signature summer brew, Bell's Oberon, came rolling off the truck this week. We have been using the same Oberon sign for the last few years, so I decided to put together a new one.

I painted the sun and sky on black foam board and added the mosaic look with black paint on the end. Then I used a very technical combination of miscellaneous cut foam board pieces and hot glue to give the sign a 3/D look.

So I've had summer on the brain lately-- and for that reason I was shopping around this week for a vacation spot, and I booked the perfect place. Wilderness State Park is at the very top of the mitten, just to the left of the Straits of Mackinac. The park has miles of trails, a traditional campground and a handful of secluded beach-front cabins built by the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 30's.

The cabins were already booked through the summer-- with the exception of one, which still had a couple of nights open on the tail end of Labor Day Weekend. The cabins sleep anywhere from 4 people to bunkhouses for 20+ with hardwood floors, wood burning stoves, and lovely rustic furniture. Each one even has an outhouse and water supply-- considering we usually pop a tent in the middle of nowhere, this place is the Hilton in comparison.

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Perhaps the best part about this cabin is that its just a quarter mile east of this amazing stretch of archipelago leading out to Waugoshance Point and Lighthouse. The water is shallow enough to hike out to the Point, canoe or kayak.

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Plans make this rainy/windy spring Saturday much more bearable.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Tote it up!

I recently completed an artistic project that was neither a print or sign! Whenever I try something new I realize that I don't stretch my boundaries often enough and that when I do I have a total blast. This time around I dusted off my sewing supplies in honor of Sarie's first birthday. The project came right off Etsy-- its called a Discovery Tote. The gist here is that you have a flat space for imaginative play that folds up into itself for easy travel.

I used store-bought felt for the forest floor, trees, and little Sarie-- and an old shirt I have been holding on to for entirely way too long for the water. (A case of really cute but not flattering) The plush parts have batting in them-- I also stuffed some batting throughout the mat for that rolling hills look. When I sewed on the flannel back I added felt tabs. I finished it off with some chunky yarn strung through the tabs so you can....




I connected with this idea immediately because I loved Fisher Price Little People as a kid. LOVED. I have very fond and vivid memories of this Main Street set in particular.

I get a little weepy just looking at it.

One Fish, Two Fish

I forgot to bring my camera to any of my first classes-- and its a mistake I won't repeat again. The prints my students made were amazing and I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people.

Melissa of Over the Luna made this screen print. She started by saturating the entire canvas in a dreamy swirl of orange and yellow. Then she went in with blue on top-- the fish were blocked out with the adhesive stencil so the oranges from underneath came through. The complimentary colors really make this print pop!

I'm teaching Screen Print Panels again on Sunday, May 2nd. Save the date!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Very Blue Weekend

I taught my first round of screen printing courses at Blue House Ann Arbor this weekend! On Saturday we printed on t-shirts and tanktops using the oh-so DIY embroidery hoop method. This method is screen printing at its most basic-- use pantyhose, and old embroidery hoop, and some elmer's glue to create an image on your screen, then fill with ink and print! Results with this super-DIY process vary greatly, but is fun to experiment with nonetheless.

Today we covered two-color adhesive stencil screen prints (the same process I use for my own work) and we had a blast making eye-popping goldfish, serendipitous mushrooms, and a lovely flower in growing sequence.

All in all a very successful weekend! Thanks to everyone who popped in to learn printing--it was wonderful getting to meet and know you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sneak Peek: Handmade @ Blue House

Good morning, everyone! Tomorrow marks a very special day-- Blue House Ann Arbor is hosting its inaugural event, Handmade @ Blue House, an afternoon jam-packed with fantastic talent. We hope you'll stop in, check out this amazing new community space, and support your local economy. Has the lovely weather nipped you with a spring cleaning bug? There will be art work of every stripe, style and color palette to throw up on your walls or line your shelves! Are you looking to add a little zip to your wardrobe as we stroll into spring? Jewelry and handbags will be plentiful! From stationary to coasters and everything in between, this event features a wealth of diverse makers from across the entire Metro-Detroit area.

In an effort to lure you over to the Blue House tomorrow, here's a special sneak-peek of almost half of this event's vendors!

Elana Levine
Little Sister Designs
Vesonite, Peridot Green Eyes Necklace

This necklace, measuring about 18 1/2 inches long, has a sterling silver flattened oval/diamond link chain. The pendant, measuring about 1 inch long, starts with a tiny faceted rondelle of peridot that connects to a brushed sterling silver ring. More peridot rondelles have been wire wrapped along (and a few even dangle above) the top of the circle, creating an umbrella over a tiny, faceted briolette of vesonite, that dangles in the middle of the circle. The green eye...the spotlight. Two more peridot rondelles adorn either side of the sterling silver lobster clasp. All wire and headpins are sterling silver, as well. The length of this necklace can be resized upon request.

Terri Graham
Miss Mossy
Vintage Relish Set Live Moss Terrarium
Mid Century Relish Set serves as an unique live moss terrarium.

Sherri (Green) Carroll
sparklepants industries

8x10 print

each collage is made up of little tiny bits of hand torn papers (maps, book pages, etc...) and ephemera. quite a bit of my current stock of book pages date back to the 1890's!!!

Rania Khalil
gold necklace: 40$

Nicole Ray
Sloe Gin Fizz
Sub(tract) Housing
it's funny what a few subtractions can do to a home. This is a print of an original drawing that I digitally colored. Sized at 8"x10" for easy framing.

Kate Kehoe
Chicaloo Photography & More
Beer Depot Coasters

Karen Mitzel
Silk dyed Easter Egg Kit
$10 (at the Mar 20 show), $12.50 (online, includes shipping)
"A super-easy, eco-friendly, reusable, tidy and surprisingly fun kit to make beautifully decorated Easter eggs like the ones in the photos. Uses locally-sourced recycled silk ties! There will be a basket of eggs dyed using this kit at the show so you can see first-hand some of the astounding results! Featured twice in 2010 Etsy Finds daily emails, and sure to be a hit with your whole family!"

Jill N. Hamilton-Krawczyk
Barrel of Monkeys

Jackalope Pocket Mirror or Bottle Opener/Keychain
A colorful design featuring the ever elusive Jackalope. Measures 2.25 inches and is available in two options-- a pocket mirror or a bottle opener/keychain combo.

Jenni Beamer
TinkerDot Designs
'Dear Possibilties' 12x12 mixed media canvas
Handpainted gallery wrapped canvas using acrylics, paper and lots of attention to detail! The saying "Dear possibilities, I'm listening..." mixed with the color and detail will hopefully leave you feeling inspired and ready for the World!

Jennifer Ives
Polka Dot Belt Bag

The Polka Dot Belt Bag is made from a black, grey and yellow dot
fabric with a sturdy cotton grey lining. There are three interior
pockets and a magnetic snap closing.

Why it's special: The unique color combination of the big polka dots
catches attention. It's fun but classy. The black leather trim adds a
bit of an edge. Excellent for Spring and to spice up a black sundress.

12” Top opening from seam to seam
12” Tall
14” Wide across the bottom width
4” Deep
12.5” Drop on the shoulder strap

Jannie Ho
Chickengirl Design
Vroom Note Pad
50 sheets, 4" x 6" notepad with original illustration by Jannie Ho. Makes note taking alot more fun!

Courtney Fischer
Courtney Fischer Jewelry
Moss Cuff
Copper cuff with layers of mossy green patina

Christine Wilson
Christine's Beadworks (
Stanley Cup Redwings Beaded Bottle Cap Pendant
Made from a recycled Labatt's bottle cap, featuring the Redwings Stanley cup win in 1936, this beaded beauty can be worn as either a brooch or a pendant.

Amanda Schott
dang argyle
London Calling Bag
A charming bag, made of vintage lime green fabric, and features a vintage tea towel as its focal point. Yowza! Poppy colors in a perfect size to hold all your dang goods this Spring.

You'll find a wealth of information at this event too-- whether you're interested in learning a new skill, looking for a place to make or connect, or are shopping around for events to add to your social calendar, you'll find it all on Saturday.

See you there!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My favorite project of all

Oh, little blog-- where did the weeks go?
Strap yourself in, I have lots of ground to make up for!

I have long maintained a love/hate relationship with living in a four-season climate—meaning I hate it in the winter, am over the moon for the first days of spring, take full advantage of the summer, and mourn with the changing trees in fall.

This time around winter has been crazy busy-- normally this season drags by in the snowy north, filled with cold mornings scraping the car windows, white knuckle drives to work, and daily musings about why on earth I live here. I'm happy to say that this time around, winter was a complete blur. I hardly noticed the snow, and barely had time to miss the sun until I realized last week that it was suddenly beginning to make appearances!

My busy winter has everything with do with my work—I haven’t been printing until very recently, but have had a plethora of other lovely projects come my way. As many of you know, I have started working with Blue House Ann Arbor-- a sublime handmade studio created by an amazing woman named Siobhan Lyle. Blue House's mission is to be a sort of one stop shop for local artists and crafters. Siobhan re-imagined a graceful old home on Main Street, turning it into a place to create, gather, shop and learn. I have been fortunate enough to have a part in almost all of those ends-- I have been doing some signs for the studio, am selling my work in the shop and at its inaugural event: Handmade at Blue House, and, best of all-- I get to teach.

At the risk of sounding a little hippie dippie, I will say the act the printmaking-- the many, many steps that lead from start to finish, keep me sane. There's been a lot of attention paid lately to flow -- the art of being so fully immersed in one's work that focus, joy and concentration is at an all time high. It’s almost like meditation in a way, but with the focus on your work instead of yourself. I find this flow in printing constantly-- it’s a way of making that is simply set up, through the act of being process driven, physical, repetitive, and problem solving in nature, for this level of absorption to take place.

There are lots of reasons why I fell in love with printmaking and enjoy teaching it. Flow is central. Printing is also unique in that its history is just as much trade and craft as it is fine art. It operates within a set of rules, uses a wide and enticing variety of tools and materials, and follows a sequence. As someone who has always struggled to say “this piece of art is done” I love printing because it decides for me. You make decisions early in the process and live with them at the end—that resonates much more clearly with my personality. In fact, I have kind of brought that process over to anything I make. If I make a sign I draw out four or five plans first, making all of the choices—color, font, text size, before I start. By making all of my choices right away, I reconcile my imagination with my somewhat Type A personality.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you find yourself in a creative slump, or think you’re not that creative to start, give printmaking a try. If you’re in the area, consider giving it a try with me. :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Oh yeah--

I also have a day job! Here's some signs celebrating early 2010 holidays.

The manliest sign I've ever made. I have no idea what those X's and O's mean-- I just copied them from a Google search. This sign is so busy it drives me nuts, but after making painstaking grass for fifty years last week I was somewhat forced into commitment.

The girliest sign I've ever made, and by far the most pink I've used... ever. On anything. I did have a blast making the feathers though.

A metallic and dolphin gray cardstock "disco ball" -- part of our New Year's display. This took approximately 55 large hot glue sticks.

An icy-toned board that accompanied said disco ball. The '5' is 40 feet high (almost)

These are all from the last few weeks-- we don't celebrate holidays annoyingly early like most grocery stores-- we don't have the space!

Speaking of work, my good friend and former coworker, Adam, is currently in the midst of an epic Great American RV tour with his lovely boyfriend, Joel. They're keeping a really amazing little blog of their journeys at The Bunny and the Burrow. If you're longing for a road trip, they're a great pair to live vicariously through.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Projects: Art Wall

The wonderful Katie Stephenson contacted me a few months ago about a project she was starting called Art Wall. I am a huge fan of cluster groupings of work in home design (I think its a fun way to add presence to your collection and to a room rather than a few pieces scattered around) so I was super excited. I had no idea what the finished site would look like, so when Art Wall went live in early November I was floored.

The home page-- illustrated by the super talented Jessica Gonacha Swift! I love Art Wall's tagline: Don't Decorate, Curate! --its so in the spirit of collecting meaningful original work.

In December, the Family Room went live, and my Mesas print was featured-- see it on the bottom left?

Clicking on each item takes you to an artist bio and a link to purchase!

Katie also runs a blog (this link will take you to an interview with moi) and and the site has lots of other features-- even an inspirational flickr group!

In the spirit of this project, I hope to be sharing some art walls in my place in the coming weeks (whenever the grouchy winter Michigan sky cooperates)

Thank you for the wonderful opportunity Katie! Speaking of opportunities, I have one to announce next week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Projects: Craft Hope

I feel as though I owe you, my three or four dwindling readers, an explanation for the fact that my blog posting performance has been slack as of late. The truth is that I have been participating in all sorts of wonderful projects this month. My plan is to share them with you over the course of the next week!

The first is Craft Hope. I came across a link to Craft Hope a few days after the first terrible images of Haiti started pouring in, so I set aside a few prints to donate. I really loved playing a small part in what started as a tiny seed of a project and grew in such an incredible and exponential way. As you're reading this you will be happy to know that Craft Hope has raised over $20,000 for Doctors Without Borders, and they are so flooded with generous donations that their team can barely keep up. All of this in less than a week. Can you believe that? I am stunned by the generosity of those who make and appreciate handmade-- and absolutely shocked that a simple Etsy site has done so much good.

The Craft Hope Etsy Shop is an ongoing project-- I hope that it will continue to raise record-breaking funds for medical care in Haiti long after the cameras have packed it in.

So that's numero uno. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Very Handmade Christmas 2009 Edition


There's this funny joke Jim Gaffigan does about when you catch onto something too late. In his version, he has just watched a movie that came out 5 years ago, and when he's like "whoa, I just saw (insert old movie here) and it blew my mind!" everyone else is over it and not excited. -- and he says "yeah, but I still want to talk about it!"

That might not have translated well, but its still how I feel about this super late Holiday post!

So you may remember last year when I scored big at the family Christmas when I was presented with one of my Grandfather's famed cutting boards? This year did not disappoint either. My mom had my name, and had been making this (and keeping it a secret from me) for the last few months:


This is a hook rug tapestry made from hand dyed wool strips looped through a the large kind of mesh/woven base-- I hardly know how to describe it myself, its that amazing. All I know is that from the moment I opened the box it looked like some kind of amazing heirloom folk-art relic, and that I can't stop looking at it long enough to know where to put it!

This particular pattern called to my mom a bit because she has three girls who left the nest. The birds in the image are carrying bittersweet.

I took handmade Christmas to a different level this year. Normally I have the time (sort of!) to make lots of stuff, but this year I gave away plenty of handmade gifts from others-- some towels made by Lish went off to my Grammie, a Vermont sugar shack print by Melanie for my Grandpa, amongst others. I ordered lots of t-shirts off Threadless that support amazing designers and some jewelry from fellow Etsians.

I received lots of handmade gifts too. Some earrings from Rag Trader from my sister, Lisa. An exquisite bowl from my other sister, Brooke -- carved by an artist in Austin from a solid piece of stone with snail fossils in it. (!)

I didn't take the Handmade Pledge this year or anything (and have to admit, I did include a sprinkle of Trader Joe's, Target, and Ann Arbor's super sweet fair trade warehouse Orchid Lane, into the mix, but I did give more handmade items this year than I have since I was 10 years old and didn't have any money of my own!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Holiday Show Recap: Part 2

So we loaded up the wagon last Friday and headed to the windy city for my very first Renegade Craft Fair. We stayed right downtown (at kitschy/cheap wonderland: the Ohio House) After immediately hitting the Michigan Ave. H&M (we forgot to bring hats, gloves, scarves etc) we were adequately warm and ready to hang out.

(looks cold, huh?)

My sister Lisa and her husband Brad came to town too, so we all went out on Friday and had some deep dish and beers-- we didn't Yelp it up before hand and ended up at the local racetrack betting bar, a beer cafeteria, and a hotel restaurant-- but had a great time nonetheless! Chris and I found increasingly better food and drink as the weekend wore on!

We got up bright and early on Saturday and headed for the show just a few minutes away in Wicker Park. Pulaski Park Fieldhouse is a beautiful old community building with Eastern European architectural details-- a wonderful place for a show!

Here's my table in the morning-- lots of natural sunlight in this venue!

I had a little time to shop on Sunday morning--this show had over one hundred and fifty vendors-- and my favorites were the printers, of course. I got plenty of loot, but my absolute favorites were concert posters from Spike Press. They were selling slightly irregular/botched hand screened posters for $5-- considering I really only hang the misprints of my own work up, I thought they'd fit right in!

picked up this poster for the National with super fun hanging clothes and lovely shades o'green!

and one for Rogue Wave with gold gates!
(photos from spike press' site on gigposters)

also picked up a little letterpress note card from Michelle at Ann Arbor's own Elevated Press (which I framed and stuck up on wall)

(photo: elevated press)

We took off for home on Monday, and I got right to work putting together the Etsy sale (going on now!-- Buy One Get One!) and have been cleaning and organizing my supplies and inventory since.

I have lots to blog about in the coming days and weeks-- a few local projects, an online feature, and plans rolling into next year. See you next time!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Holiday Show Recap: Part 1

I sold prints at two holiday craft shows this season, and had a blast at both!

First was Detroit Urban Craft Fair on November 21st. I have only one lousy camera phone shot from this show because it was absolute crafty madness from open to close. I sold so much work that I had to ask for backup frame delivery service to the venue, (thanks to my friend Ms. Going) where I framed woodcut prints at my table for the better part of the afternoon. I had purchased a batch of frames for DUCF and Renegade, and left at the end of the day with one frame from that entire batch.

My table was right between Phantom Limb's incredible paper goods:

(wouldn't these little library pockets make the best little cards to go with gifts?!)

and My Vintage Kitschen (lovely applique flour sack towels):

Both of these ladies will be at Holiday Crafternoon next weekend with a handful of other wonderful vendors-- if you're in the area and have some last minute shopping to attend to, I highly recommend you stop by!

Just prior to this show I decided to start taking credit cards, and while I don't have a system perfected for taking them yet (this is where I justify buying an iphone) I saw a huge leap in sales.
Handmade Detroit has really put indie art in Michigan on the map, and I'm so happy they gave me the opportunity to be a part of the community they've created this year.

Here's a video from the show!

Detroit Urban Craft Fair from Final Five Productions on Vimeo.

After DUCF I rushed back to work to prepare for the Thanksgiving Pilgrimager. Trader Joe's gets absolutely bananas this time of year-- in the art dept. we rush around like mad little elves to get signage and decor out for two flyers inside of three weeks! Here's my vestibule design for Thanksgiving, complete with a barely visible 8 yard burlap canopy!

I had so much fun arranging the table to look like a messy kitchen-- lots of vintage kitchen bits mixed in with baking and cooking products!

After Thanksgiving I got right to work on prints for Renegade Handmade. My most successful print of this group was a bird in a tree carried over from my woodcut edition. These all but vanished the first day of the show-- and I'm already planning to bring them back in the future!

Last Friday we packed the car to the gills and headed to Chicago for the Renegade Craft Fair Holiday Sale! Expect to hear all about it tomorrow!