Thursday, October 31, 2013

all i did was buy some pumpkins!

to decorate for halloween, i mean. seeing as it's our first holiday in the new house, i bought a few real pumpkins, as well as some of those little plastic candy-pail ones, that i'm going to light up with flameless candles this evening to direct our trick-or-treaters to the side door from which we plan to dispense our candy. i was feeling pretty excited about this, until the other day, when i happened to have a little extra time between appointments in lambertville, new jersey, and my friend and hairdresser phyllis suggested i stroll down union street to see some of the decorations.

lambertville has always gone all-out for halloween. in addition to the typical trick-or-treat festivities, there's a big parade the weekend before, and on halloween night most of union street is closed to cars, so the houses there go all out in decor!

and wow, is it ever impressive! the creativity of ideas really blew me away, and i just could not stop snapping away... as you can see, lol.

this particular stretch of union street is mostly residential, and there are a lot of grand victorian homes, which particularly lend themselves to this sort of thing.

a few businesses get in on it too, though.

by far my favorite is the dragan house, which is pretty famous, locally. mrs. dragan was the art teacher at the town's elementary school, and it's not uncommon to hear local teens and twenty-somethings speak with great excitement about a project they loved making, or a play for which they helped make scenery, or some special thing they did in second grade, which has not stopped feeling special ten or fifteen years down the road!

every single one of these figures... (of which i've captured only a pretty small fraction; maybe a tenth?) ...was hand made by mrs. dragan, from the ground up! she builds wire armatures and then covers them with the kind of plaster-n-bandage type of material from which casts for broken arms used to be made, in the olden days.

not only have i failed to capture the scale of this amazing display, i didn't even attempt to show the way the house's windows were painted to look as if there were dozens more characters inside.

even just that i was there during the day means you cannot tell that at night the whole thing is black-lit and luminous!

it's not surprising that this house was featured on a special episode of "four houses" but something that really does shock me is, apparently, it only took second place?! seriously??! i demand a recount!!! :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

speaking of sewing journals...

...a couple of weeks ago i mentioned that i'd been commissioned to make a whole bunch of them, which was pretty awesome! melissa and wendy of SEWN in mill valley, california, had seen the little mini ones in my etsy shop, and asked me to make ten of those for them; as well as ten bigger (5x7") sewing journals. i'd never made as many as that at one time, but i was up for the challenge! turns out, when you make it into an assembly line type of process, things move pretty fast. i glued up, trimmed, and put in order all the page blocks for the small journals first:

then i made the covers, and my awesome bindery assistant (aka lovely husband jeff, lol!) helped me make them into books:

want to guess the most important tool for making these? the bind-it-all is indispensable, obviously; and my xyron is very helpful, too. but the very first thing you need for this sort of project is a mortise mask in each of the sizes you'll be making.

basically it's just a frame. you cut a hole in a sheet of sturdy index stock, the size and shape you want your pages to be. this allows you to frame up what your image is going to be before you trim. believe me, this will save you time, headaches, and especially PAPER!!! :)

i'd made the small journals before (and since!) so they were quite straight-forward. i was a little worried about the bigger ones, but really, it's the exact same procedure. make and stack all the pages:

then add the covers and finishing touches et voila!

let's face it, i'm *NEVER* going to complain about being knee-deep in vintage sewing-related illustrations, because they are just tooooooooo much fun. but now, just for a change, i think i might make a few knitting journals! ♥♥♥

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

sew far, sew good!

this week at shopping our stash we promise to have you in stitches; or, rather, we want you to have us in stitches! ok, ok, we'll settle for just seeing some stitching, whether you assay the real thing (via machine or hand!) or bust out your favorite pen and hit us with the faux stitching... as little or as much as you like... anything goes; just make with the stitching and then c'mon over and link up. here's what i made:

(all illustrations come from vintage sewing books, patterns and magazines, mostly from the 1970's and 80's; alphabets: american crafts, heidi swap, recollections; spiral bindings: bind it all by zutter; ink: colorbox; labels: dymo)

every once in a while serendipity really serves up something cool, and this week was my turn for that. it just so happens that i was very nearly done making some more mini sewing journals for my etsy shop when i read this week's challenge, so i hurried and finished these babies! 

she's SEW lovely
they were somewhat inspired by the "brag books" of the 1970's, but whereas those were used to show off photos of children or grandchildren, i thought these would be perfect for keeping snaps of one's favorite sewing and needlework projects. my favorite part was thinking up sewing puns for the titles!

told you SEW
the covers measure 4 x 3.5" and are made of chipboard wrapped with vintage book paper, and crowned with a fun vintage illustration. i've used my sewing machine to secure coordinating chipboard or foam letters to each cover. mostly as decoration, but in my experience, rigid letters on a rigid cover tend to want to pop off... and i hate to give 'em the chance to escape, lol! :)

SEW far, SEW good
each journal has twenty pages, the fronts of which are fun and funky sewing-themed illustrations, instructions, stitch diagrams, fabric swatches, vintage patterns, needlepoint charts, quilting blocks, or...well... if it's visual and sewing related, somewhere inside one of these you'll find at least a little bit of it!

SEW what
the back of each page is a patterned paper subtle enough to write over. my idea is that you could attach a photo to one side and use the reverse... or the facing page... to jot down the details of the project in question. i have a similar book for my amigurumi creations, and not only do i love looking back at all the fun creatures i've made, it's also practical, since i've noted what yarn and hook i've used, where i got the pattern, and anything different i did in the course of the project. that way, if i want to recreate anything at a later date, i'm all set. plus it gives me a real sense of accomplishment as the book fills up to see how many fun things i've made!

SEW what else is new
check out my etsy shop, just enough stuff for more details and additional pictures of each journal. meanwhile, why not head on over to SOS to see what my lovely teammates have done and acquire lots of lovely inspiration; remember, your project needn't have a sewing theme, you just need to include a bit of real or faux stitching!  ♥

Friday, October 25, 2013

it's beginning to look at lot like...


which means it must be the last week of october at *JINGLE BELLES* and we're asking for holiday cards which feature a creature. obviously most people will also think, "MONSTAS!!!" like i do; but if you're not quite as traditional, you can go out on a limb with santa, elves, reindeer, polar bears, penguins, cardinals or... well... any living creature you prefer.

(monsta: paperchase giftwrap; patterned paper: love elsie, my mind's eye, susan branch, doodlebug, echo park; glitter white cardstock; dcwv; glossy black cardstock: ranger; tape: martha stewart; labels: dymo; ink: colorbox; pen: sharpie;adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, 3m foam tape, scotch doublestick tape)
i have five or six favorite monsta jokes, and it's become a point of pride that i find a new way to imagine them each year. i'm pretty happy with this rendition, which is based on the current fetch a sketch, #61:

if you think this card is a little too silly, why not hop over to *JINGLE BELLES* where stephanie has created an awesome card that features the much more traditonal christmas sloth! (yes, i'm totally serious!) (and YES, you really have to see it for yourself!!!) :) :) :)

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

new york, bound

last week i showed off my favorite photos from our recent new york trip; now would you like to see what i've done with them? (hint: i made a travel book! surprise, lol!)

i didn't think i was going to make a travel book this time. honestly! i mean, i do go to new york fairly often, and i keep the "treasures" i acquire in my ordinary journal AND my new york theme book; so it sort of seems like at some point these things would become a bit redundant. but being as stephanie was here, and we were actually going to spend most of the week in the city, within about 15 minutes of arriving, i had labelled this an official vacation... for which one obviously needs to make a souvenir book. (obviously!) the fact that i hadn't made journaling pages in advance suddenly became an advantage when i realized it meant that i could just collect up all the bits and bobs, then use my bind-it-all to make a "real" book out of everything when i got home. so i did. :)

it also meant i could do some fun, silly things, like make a custom "title page" out of my favorite picture, with lots of different fonts:

i emailed myself some quick notes each night, so i'd remember everything. when i got home i used my vintage typewriter (and stickers and a few photos) to record our itinerary from each day:

so what else is inside? a little bit of everything, really. menus from our favorite restaurants--with some teeny tiny pics attached because, bein' cheap, i like to fill THE WHOLE PAGE of photo paper!

there are postcards and handouts and more photos (these are from the high line):

maps (both commercial and the google kind), plus the fortune from my favorite little temple in chinatown:

tickets and leaflets and museum brochures and even more photos:

i love that the bind-it-all lets you incorporate material of all different sizes... i like that you can see little hints of what's coming up next around the smaller pieces:

i especially like having a mix of wide and narrow, long and short, single items and collages.

i made sure to attach a few fun photos "upside down" to the backs of pages, too; thus when you flip the page you can see both "planes" at the same time.

i deliberately attached some of my photos to transparency scraps so they would "float" in the book. but this see-through page is actually the trimmed down vellum bag in which my purchases from kinokuniya were packed:

yes, i saved the chopstick wrappers from the sushi place. but only because they were especially pretty chopstick wrappers, lol!

finally, another big photo for the back cover, with a little side view of all the pages in the book:

want to know my favorite thing about this project?! i get to KEEP IT! (yay!)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

knock, knock!

who's there?
boo who?

that was my favorite joke in kindergarten; and for better or for worse, i think you will agree it is equally funny today as it was in 1969, lol. :)

i have to confess that in the last few years i've not been particularly interested in halloween. as apartment dwellers who did not get trick-or-treaters, it was sort of a non-holiday for us. but having bought the house this year, we're on a street with quite a few children, and on a corner lot that borders another fairly large family neighborhood, and suddenly it seems like we might be having a real halloween, and i'm kind of excited about that!

so when this week's shopping our stash challenge asked me to make something either orange and black OR halloween-related, i decided to do BOTH:

(ingredients used on all eight cards, as well as i can remember: patterned paper: ki memories, bo bunny, scrapworks, cosmo cricket, basic grey, 7 gypsies, making memories, gcd, love elsie, creative imaginations + some scraps too small to identify, lol; eye brads: oriental trading, i think; ribbon: michaels; ink: colorbox; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, scotch gluestick, 3m foam tape)
we love getting photos of the nieces and nephews dressed in their costumes, but we don't actually get to see them on the day; and i know they all ♥LOVE♥ getting mail, so i thought it might be fun to make them each a halloween card. as you know, i'm not a happy mass-producer, so as usual, i went for a "similar, but not the same" strategy. this not only makes it more fun to do, but also lets me use up loads of smaller scraps, rather than constantly cutting into big sheets of paper; and hey, there's a reason they asked me to come and hang out at SOS, right?! ;)

in addition to getting mail, i think kids really like to get things that are personalized. because let's face it the first word ANY child can recognize in print is their name, right? i used broderbund's print shop to print greetings for all on clear labels that could be stuck inside each card. since i didn't have enough BIG letter stickers or dies to create the oversized "BOO" i wanted for the front of the cards, i also printed out the word a couple of times to use as a template, which i stapled to 3 or 4 layers of black and white patterned paper scraps, so that my hand-cutting was reduced considerably.

yeah, it still took a little while, but at the end of an evening, when there's still 20 minutes left of tv-watching, and i'm too tired to start anything new, jobs like fussy-cutting or hand-stitching are the perfect time-filler. 

something else i didn't quite have enough of were the fabulous eye brads that i think came from oriental trading some time ago. when i ran out, i just punched circles from the leftover patterned papers and layered them together. again, this is a great argument for non-identical mass-production; i feel like there are enough other variations between the cards that there's not an a-team and a b-team. here are ALL the cards, together, ready to be mailed:

we accomplished our other goal of seasonal readiness this weekend, that of buying pumpkins to decorate. it turns out that lovely husband jeff has strong views on halloween decor (who knew?!) and in his mind, a house without decorated pumpkins is not a house which will be patronized by small be-costumed persons. in my own mind, having a light on and a variety of non-sugarless candy on offer is probably sufficient; but i'm game for trying out a bit of squash painting, and i think these three will serve admirably. if not, you are all invited over for pumpkin muffins next week, darlings! :)

somewhere you are invited right now is shopping our stash where there is an amazingly inspiring variety of projects in orange and black OR halloween-theme OR both await your delight! ♥

Friday, October 18, 2013

in the pink

i like making pink cards all year round, for almost any occasion, but i confess that my two absolute favorite pink cards of the year are the ones i make in october when we celebrate pink christmas at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥, for the benefit of susan g. komen.  i think i can pretty much guarantee that if you make a card with us this week, it will be one of your own favorites, if only because stephanie and i are each donating $2 per card to that worthy organization; you just need to link up with us at this post! let me make it clear that you don't have to go nearly as pink as i've done here... you just need a little pink to be clearly visible on your brand new holiday card to qualify. here's my card:
(re-sized and re-tinted vintage ornaments illustration from ideals magazine, printed on kodak premium high gloss photo paper; patterned paper: ki memories, my mind's eye, echo park; cardstock: core'dinations; tag: pink paislee; chipboard letters: american crafts; sparkly snowflake stickers: martha stewart; brads: oriental trading; trim: october afternoon; scraps of ribbon and doily from my stash; ink: colorbox; adhesives: staples brand gluetape runner, sewing machine)
it's *VERY* pink, indeed, isn't it? and quite layery, as well... but ♥YOURS♥ doesn't have to be either of those things! i did a little digi-magic this week because, having found the PERFECT vintage centerpiece for my card, it just wasn't going to work as it was. want to see why?

ok yeah, so you'll have noticed the first problem, right away: it's GREEN! which, i totally could have incorporated into a much less pink card, but i liked the idea of the mezzotint look, i just wanted it to be shades of pink instead of green. the other problem was that this being a page from an old ideals magazine it's approximately 8x11, and thus quite large for a card... even one of mine, lol! plus the title of the poem (which i didn't want to use) was sticking up into the part of the illustation in which i was interested. luckily, there was ONE solution to all of these problems: scan the page into PSE, crop it, get rid of the text, and re-color using the various sliders for hue, tint, and saturation. when i was happy with the result, i printed it on photo paper... (filling in the rest of the sheet with some extra new york photos!) ...then i used this week's awesome retro sketch (#85) to design the layout of my card:

i'm also linking up with this week's simon says stamp wednesday challenge to make a christmas themed card or project. 

and now i cannot wait to see what ♥YOU♥ will make! why not go check out the readers' gallery and stephanie's card at ♥JINGLE BELLES♥ for some awesome inspiration? then be sure to link up with us before wednesday night so that we can count it... times $4... when we make our donation to susan g. komen! ♥♥♥

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

top ten* reasons last week ♥ROCKED♥ in a big, big way!

met me in new york for a few days of serious revelry. which is already hard to beat on the fun scale!!!

new york's architecture

never, ever, fails to amaze me; a fact of which anyone who's seen my instagram feed is surely already aware, lol. grand central was only a few blocks from our hotel... (the affinia shelburne) was the chrysler building, and the empire state. i've seen most of these iconic landmarks on a regular basis quite frequently for the past few years, yet i still never tire of 'em. i kind of hope i never do. :)

street art

this life-sized wall painting was on ludlow street, just below delancey. it's not a banksy, though there was one quite nearby. thematically, this sums up the week, but we saw so many amazing examples all over the city, it was almost overwhelming. in a GOOD way!

dim sum... and other extreme yumminess

this particular day featured lunch at the golden unicorn on east broadway, in chinatown, but basically every single meal we ate was glorious! from burgers and frozen custard at shake shack, to upscale indian fusion at devi, to the killer view and awesome goodies at the museum of art and design's restaurant, robert, we ate like queens the entire time!

the museum of the chinese in america is a little gem, generally, and this exhibit was one of our faves. this luscious anna sui dress would even make ME consider giving up jeans. 

chris burden has all five floors of the new museum to himself at the moment, and has really made good use of the space, with large-scale, thought-provoking, conceptual installations like this. 

photo ops EVERYWHERE you look

about the only thing better than stopping 1,000 times to take pictures en route to any new york city venue, is traveling with someone who never thinks that's weird or inconvenient. just one of the MANY things to love about stephanie!!! ♥

the artist-in-residence at the museum of art and design on the day we visited was the amazingly talented, inspiring and friendly xenobia; i suspect she makes most of the people she meets to want to crochet colorful, whimsical creations... or just watch while she does!

shopportunities galore!

two big favorites: the strand bookstore for funky used books and periodicals; kinokuniya for washi tape, maps, tiny neko cats, and other fabulous japanese goodies

yeah, it can be confusing, not to mention crowded; but you can pretty much get to anywhere in the city from anywhere in the city, for $2.50. and there's some rather awesome art to see on the trip, such as this gorgeous lichtenstein mural near the 42nd street shuttle.

crochet, crochet, crochet!

being on vacation means extra time to play with yarn; and being in new york city means you're only a short journey to union square's awesome lion brand yarn studio. so let's go!!!

daniel craig

although we did not encounter him-- not even cinematically-- being in the same city at the same time totally counts. totally.

nathan sawaya's amazing LEGO art, at discovery times square. one of the best art events i've ever attended. and yes, i'm completely serious. if you're going to be in new york before january 5th, you MUST go... with or without children! you can thank me later.

*or, strictly speaking, as it turns out, top thirteen reasons. what can i say, it was a REALLY good week; i probably could have done a "top 50", so just be glad i'm this restrained, darlings! :)