Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Quick Craft: Patchwork Card

Last night I was in serious need of crafting. It's been too long since I had free time to quilt, and since I didn't get home from work or eat dinner until close to 8, I decided to do an almost-instant gratification craft. Two of my lovely friends, Karen and Arin, just signed a lease on a bigger store in town, so I'm going to help them celebrate tonight. I made them this card—which I realize is a bit of a risk since selling and making cards is what they do for a living (and also sorry if either of you read this and see the picture before I actually give it to you!)—but I think it captures the spirit of Ephemera, their shop. It's simply fabric scraps adhered to a blank card with Mod Podge (because I continue to be inspired by Amy over at Mod Podge Rocks!). Then I embroidered "congrats" and a little heart on top. Nice to be able to give them a handmade-by-me card and also to feel a sense of crafting accomplishment on a weeknight.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Instant Heirloom (With a Giveaway!): Galit Barak

Galit has generously offered up a $30 gift credit at her etsy shop! I am completely enamored with her work and her story, and I hope that you'll read more about her and enter to win. Scroll to the bottom of the post for details!

Galit Barak

Where do you live? I live in a small town called Karkur in Israel. I have lived in Israel all of my life, I can't imagine myself living anywhere else. I love the people, the cities and villages, and the best thing here is the variety of landscapes and traveling you can do here.

Tell me a little bit about what you make and how you started making it?
Since childhood I enjoy creating and crafting, I love to draw, paint, photograph, knit, crochet and exploring new materials and techniques. While I served in the army as a soldiers tour guide in Jerusalem I tried crocheting with simple brass wires, and loved the result, once I gained more experience, I began using Sterling silver and gold filled wires to create my jewelry. Most of the items I create are crochet, I like round shapes the compliment the body. In 2 weeks I'm starting my B.Design degree in Jewelry Design in Shenkar collage in Tel Aviv.

For someone who hasn't seen your work, how would you describe your style? Very unique, elegant, delicate, lace like, floating jewelry pieces.

Do you sell most of your work locally or do you have a large customer base outside of Israel?
The truth is I sell most of my jewelry in my Etsy shop. I don't like to go to the regular fairs here, but we do have some local fairs dedicated to art and craft, which are great. I love to meet people, hear their opinions on my work and of course make a few face-to-face sales.

What's the handmade movement like where you live- have you seen it grow over the past few years like it has in the states? My town known for a large community of artist, which founded a unique, once a year, cross county fair, that is made, published and run by us. Alona, a very dear friend of mine is the reason why I opened my shop. She is an amazing jewelry designer and you can see her work here. Our artist community is ever growing.

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way? I always drew and paint and learned fine art in high school, but in the crochet wire jewelry field, I am a self-taught. I cannot wait to start my metal smithing courses in college!

Where do you find your inspiration? I love round and wavy shapes, and I find inspiration in nature, and geometry.

Is this your full time work? I just finished my work as au pair for 3 adorable kids, and I'm planning to fully support my self trough my etsy shop when I'll be a full time student.

What's the best part of your day?
I love it when I have a sale, I love it when it's from a person in a country I haven't send to yet, I love it when I'm on the front page and I like to go to the postal office and get over seas goods, but most of all, I love to kick back, relax, talk to my boyfriend, and sleep well. Soon we are moving in together. I'm so excited!

What's a favorite item that you've made or that you're working on? My favorite items is my Moebius Bangle, it's in a shape of a Moebius ring. It's very simple looking, but very impressive in the same time, and you can play with it, fold it and roll it - so much fun!

What do you hope customers experience when they purchase your work? The first thing is to feel the jewelry compliment themselves, feel confidence and feel good about them selves. I often get feedback from customers who say they receive lots of good comments from friend and family, attracts a lot of attention from people whom they don't know. The best part is when a customer come back to my shop for a second round because then I'm sure she or he are satisfied with the piece.

1.) Post a comment here about why you'd like to win (I can think of someone in my life who has a birthday coming up that one of these necklaces would look amazing on!) by 12 am EST Sunday October 4th.
2.) Make sure to post with a user name so I can identify you, and email me at thingswemake at gmail dot com with your address if you'd like to be extra thorough with your entry.
3.) Bonus! Post a comment on another blog entry on my site and I'll enter you twice!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thai Pumpkin and Squash Soup

Even though it was still in the high 70s here all weekend, it's definitely feeling like fall and yesterday seemed like a perfect day for a pot of soup. (It also helped that Josh had two pumpkins and two squashes just asking to be put to good use!) We looked at a bunch of pumpkin recipes, trying to find one that didn't call for too many obscure ingredients and also that had spices we were interested in. I was excited that we settled on this one from 101cookbooks, though we omitted the pureeing because it just didn't seem necessary. It was so easy to put this together and the results were incredibly flavorful. I'll definitely be making this one again in the coming months.

Thai-spiced Pumpkin Soup
adapted from
serves 6

2 acorn squash, pumpkins, or other smallish winter squash
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1-6 teaspoons (I used about 4) red Thai curry paste
2 teaspoons fine grain sea salt (or to taste)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven racks in the middle.
2. Carefully cut each squash/pumpkin into halves (or quarters). Slather each piece of squash with butter, sprinkle generously with salt, place on a baking sheet skin sides down, and place in the oven. Roast for about an hour or until the squash is tender throughout.
3. When the pumpkin/squash are cool enough to handle scoop it into a large pot over medium high heat. Add the coconut milk and curry paste and bring to a simmer. Gently smash the squash with a wooden spoon. Add water a cup at a time until the soup is the consistency you prefer. Bring up to a simmer again and add the salt (and more curry paste if you like).

Friday, September 25, 2009

September Print of the Month

It's time for me to share my print of the month with you. I had a pretty hard time choosing this month, I think, because of the changing of the seasons. But after all of the traveling that I've done this past week, I feel like this image captures much of what I've been feeling—viewing the world through train, plane and car windows. It's by Alicia Bock, a very talented photographer who's Kindred screen saver I've been using for a few months now, and I'm going to get the 5x5 print to add to my collection. I'm heading home to Des Moines (yes, I've started calling Iowa "home" which is highly exciting to me!) today and I can't wait to settle back into life there. It's been so wonderful to spend time with my family and friends on the East Coast, but I'm seriously missing my kitchen...and my bed. Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Katherine's Bachelower, the Food (and Some Decorative Fabric Bunting!)

Being in New York where the cupcake craze started a few years ago can leave a girl feeling jaded about the dessert, but I've gotten back on board after making and eating these Red Velvet cupcakes over the weekend. They were really Virginia's contribution to the shower, but since I was in town, I helpfully volunteered to bake with her—she'll tell you this means that I did most of the work because I can't help but take over, I insist that she was busy doing other things and I was being helpful. You decide who to believe. We forgot to bring an electric mixer into the city, so we actually made these mostly using a fork to mix things together, which while labor intensive, created a fantastic result. I think that since the cocoa powder wasn't mixed in as uniformly as it would have been with a mixer, they actually tasted more chocolately. Plus the **recipe had a touch of cinnamon in the frosting, which was a nice touch.

We decorated the area where we had the shower with photo collages made by one of our friends who has a serious way with photoshop, and with these fabric banners that I made using scraps from my collection. They were super fast to sew together and I think they made the setting feel very festive. (Plus I happen to just love that fabric with the blue background, so I was happy to have another reason to use it.)

Virginia made a peach and tomato salad, Kate made Greek style deviled eggs with kalamata olives on top, Meghan made fried okra, I brought cheese, and we procured fried chicken and biscuits to round out the Southern food offerings.

I didn't have a chance to ask Kate what she put in the deviled eggs to make them Greek (other than the olives) but man they were tasty.

Virginia brought some mason jars left over from her wedding and filled them with flowers and the setting for the shower could not have been more perfect.

This is the roof deck of our friend Meridith's apartment which was just stunning (and came with a stellar view of Manhattan) and we were blessed with perfect weather.

**Red Velvet Cupcakes
Recipe from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Makes one dozen cupcakes, double recipe to make 2 9-inch layer cakes

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons red food coloring (I using a dash less)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Turn mixer to high and add the egg. Scrape down the bowl and beat until well incorporated.

2. In a separate bowl mix together cocoa, vanilla and red food coloring to make a thick paste. Add to the batter, mixing thoroughly until completely combined. You may need to stop the mixer to scrape the bottom of the bowl, making sure that all the batter gets color.

3. Turn mixer to low and slowly add half of the buttermilk. Add half of the flour and mix until combined. Scrape the bowl and repeat the process with the remaining milk and flour. Beat on high until smooth.

4. Turn mixer to low and add baking soda and white vinegar. Turn to high and beat a few more minutes.

5. Spoon batter into a paper lined cupcake baking pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center cupcake comes out clean.

6. Let rest in the pan for 10 minutes, then place them of a cooling rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

2 1/3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, cold (I used room temperature)
scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Beat the powdered sugar, cinnamon, and butter together in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-slow speed until it comes together and is well mixed.

2. Add the cream cheese all at once and beat on medium to medium-high until incorporated.

3. Turn the mixer to medium-high and beat for 5 minutes, or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Do not over-beat as the frosting can quickly become runny.

Eat up!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Katherine's Bachelower, the Gifts

Over this past weekend, we bridesmaids threw a "bachelower" for our friend and bride-to-be come one month and a day from today, Katherine. It was a combination shower and bachelorette party in three parts: rooftop shower in Long Island City, dinner cruise around the island, karaoke back in Manhattan. I cannot take credit for much of the day—my co-hosts were amazingly organized and thorough party planners, for which I am so grateful—but I was more than happy to make a few contributions to the day that were portable enough for me to carry them from Iowa.

Above are hair clips that I made for Katherine to wear during the day so that everyone would know that she was the one getting married (which turned out not to matter so much since screaming "You're getting married!" was a popular thing to do). I picked up the supplies at Michaels, managed to get feathers all over my house, and was only finished with these when I had spray painted them with silver glitter. That was key.

You may remember the book that I made for Virginia for her scavenger hunt bridal shower, and if we go way back, you'll even remember the one that I made for my sister Katie last December when she got married. Making scrapbooks to give at bridal showers is a big tradition in my family and while the style of this one (and Virginia's) are very different from the ones my relatives make, the spirit of it is the same. We were making a lot of the food we served at the shower ourselves and much of it was southern in theme (Katherine is from Atlanta and is getting married in New Orleans), so the book was a combination of traditional scrapbooking, some notes from her bridesmaids and her mom, and pages with slots for recipes in the back.

Here's the cover that I made using her save the date postcard and paper from Jess Gonacha's 2009 calendar. (I actually told Jess I was going to use it for the book since I felt a little badly about cutting it up, but she was all in favor of my giving it a second life!)

This is the second page, images and words that speak to the couple, along with some purple rhinestones just because a little sparkle is always nice.

For the main part of the book, I sent around a questionaire for each of the bridesmaids to fill out. It included questions like "If Katherine was a flower, which one would she be? What's your favorite Katherine-ism?". Everyone did there's a little differently and it gave us the chance to talk about some of our favorite memories and traits of K, which was fun. And it made her cry. Which we also like since she does it so much when she's happy and is so good at it.

Check back tomorrow to see some of the food and decorations, and for the best red velvet cupcake recipe I've tried to date!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

And the Made-By-Me Tote Bag Winner Is...

Katie has been one of my most loyal readers and an excellent blog buddy over the past year and a half so it makes me very happy that she'll enjoying my bag (at least for a bit...see below). She blogs at Makingthishome and wrote this about her favorite summer memory:

"My favorite memory was earning a pilot's license. Sometimes I don't even think it's real.
If I'm the lucky winner, I would want to give this bag to a cousin who just had a baby girl. I suspect that was a favorite part of her summer no question!"

Katie, shoot me an email with your address and I'll send this off to you to enjoy next week (when I'm home from NYC). Thanks for entering everyone!

Q&A: Debra of Daylilies Creative

Name: Debra O’Connor
Location: Kitchener, Ontario

Tell me a little bit about what you do with your site?
I am a professional artist by training, and I spent the first 10 years of my career working behind my easel. Just a little over 2 years ago, I decided to step away from the easel and returned to school for an MA. It was amazing. I wanted to learn all I could about creativity: Why people are creative. How they are creative. Why creativity is important. Why some people are drawn to create so much more strongly than others. When I finished my MA, I knew that I wanted to help people be creative, whether it is getting people involved in doing the creative endeavours themselves, or enjoying someone else’s creative talents and skills. This was the basis for Daylilies. 

How would you describe your style?
The Daylilies site certainly does reflect a lot of who I am as an artist, but since the focus of the website is more about creativity than me as an artist, there isn’t one distinct style. I am always trying new projects or working with new materials or ambeing influenced by a new idea someone shares. The website is also growing, and as we grow, we will be featuring other artists and creative people who will bring their own creative inspiration to the conversation. Ideally, I would describe the site’s style as open, inviting, inspirational and creative

Did you have any mentors who impacted you along the way?
I actually had 2 professors from my undergraduate fine arts degree that taught me that art is a living, breathing thing that can be experienced anywhere – in a gallery, a home, a schoolyard, etc. One of these professors has continued to be a mentor over the past decade. More recently, my reader for my MA thesis was a wonderful influence in terms of the way she talked about creativity as being inclusive. There are a lot of ways humanity tries to confine our understanding of creativity, and this professor was quick to make sure that we always talked about creativity from a larger, more encompassing and inclusive perspective. 

What does creativity mean to you, and what does the creative process add to your day to day life?
Creativity is everything to me. I have a hard time separating creativity from anything in my life. I know that seems like a pat answer, but creativity is involved in so many little things. Every time I make a choice, there is an element of creative involvement. I can’t just look at creativity as what happens in my studio. From the way I style my hair in the mornings, the clothes I choose to wear, the accessories I choose for my house, the path I choose for my walk that day, what changes I make to the dinner recipe, it all seems to come down to an element of creativity in choice and expression. The work I do on specific creative projects are for me a more definitive expression of this overall creativity that I see in day-to-day life. That is why I find it very hard to believe if someone says that they aren’t creative. Surely there is something creative in everyone’s day or life – although sometimes you might just have to look harder to find it.

Where do you find your inspiration?
This is a tough question. I work hard to find my inspiration. Some days this is easier and some days it can be quite a difficult task. I am a huge believer in library books, and I usually carry at least 15 books home with me every week (not to mention magazines, cds, dvds, etc). I also indulge in browsing websites. I love to look at sites and groups that interest my friends and family. I have wonderfully creative friends and family, and keeping up with what they find fascinating keeps me busy and provides a lot of inspiration. And, the more I work on something, the more I have other ideas, and the more I want to see how this or that will work. Sometimes I find that this is the absolute best place for inspiration. And sometimes it is hard to leave the studio for that reason.

Is this your full time work?
Yes, and then some. But I love every minute of it.

What's the best part of your day?
The best part of my day is that moment when I realize that everything is quiet and I have time to ‘get lost’ in whatever I happen to be doing that day. Generally I can find an hour or two somewhere in my day when the noise and busy-ness of life tend to give way to those precious moments.

What's a favorite item that you've made or a project that you're excited about working on?
I was really quite shocked when the Vintage Scarf Tote Bag project led me to making a tote bag from a vintage hand towel. When the scarf bag turned out, I just couldn’t stop thinking about the vintage hand towel I had in my drawer, but I honestly wasn’t sure that a hand towel would make that great of a bag. I couldn’t have been more wrong! When I first started blogging, I had this strange desire to use smocking as part in a journal project. I was shocked then, too when the smocking turned out to be a very natural fit with journal making. I have a feeling that this same sort of phenomenon will happen again, and then whatever it is will turn out to be my next favourite project.

What do you hope others experience when they visit your site?
I hope that they will be inspired. I want the Daylilies site, and the blog to be all about creative possibilities. And I want my visitors to know that I really am interested in what they do. I believe that I am successful every time I can help someone be creative.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Very New York City Weekend

It's a pretty city, isn't it? I have decided that it's an excellent idea to come back to visit, see some of my favorite people, and spend three hours on a boat around the island on a warm September evening. This was part of my friend Katherine's "bachelower" (that's our witty combination of bachelorette and shower if you are confused), which I will tell you more about on Wednesday.

Here's a view of the view off of the back of the boat before the sun set. So we know that I'm royally happy in Iowa, and that my new lifestyle fits me so much more than the pace of living in the city every did. And I think that I what I loved so much about the boat was that we were able to enjoy the best of the city, but be somewhat apart from it in a more relaxed environment (I mean plus it was just plain fun!).

In addition to seeing some of my family over the weekend (and getting coffee from Joe and having an amazing bowl of cavatelli bolognese from Craft Bar), I also went to a Yoga for Peace event in Battery Park. The events were happening all over the world and while I know that doing 108 sun salutations won't directly stop violence or lead to world peace, it was a reminder just how good awareness—en mass—can feel. There were about 200 people in the park for the event and it was pretty close to where the ferries leave for tours of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, which meant there were a lot of tourists and loud noise in the area. But the live music and chanting evened it out and the process of doing the salutations was rather hypnotic. After a Saturday filled with enjoying my favorite friends, this was a few hours just for me and it reminded me again how lucky I am to be able to get a dose of the city every few weeks.

(I didn't take any photos during the mala, which would have been pretty amazing, but I thought it was more important to be in it, rather than stopping to observe!)

I hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Inspired Image: Mod Podge Amy

Hello, my name is Amy Anderson, also known as Mod Podge Amy in the blog world.

You can find me at Mod Podge Rocks!

This image comes from Flickr, MissKittyKat's photostream

It inspires me because it embraces controlled chaos. At first glance there is a lot going on - and there is - but then you can see that it all works together. That is my favorite kind of art. The photo also motivates me to create because it incorporates some of my favorite themes: florals, owls, patches and polka dots.

I particularly love the color choices. I am a bold, bright person and these shades are right up my alley.

It makes me feel safe and happy.

The 3 words it conjures up are cozy, colorful, retro.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Giveaway! Anna Maria Horner Good Folks, Plum Fabric, Tote Bag

It's about time for a giveaway!! Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while might recognize this as the first "real" bag that I ever made. I used my sewing machine, fusible webbing, and followed a pattern. It was a BIG day. That was months ago and I still can't bring myself to use it—I just like to look at it sitting in it's designated spot in my closet. Which I think is just sad and it's defeating the purpose of why I made it in the first place. SO...

I have decided to give it away. To pass it on to someone else who will enjoy all of it's pink splendor. I am a big fan of functional crafts, and this one happens to be just that—and pretty! And someone needs to start using it!

Here's how to enter:
1.) Post a comment that speaks to your favorite memory from this past summer. It can be anything** you want.
2.) Use your name or a user name (rather than anonymously) when commenting, or if you want to do it anonymously make sure you do this next step:
3.) Email me your name/user name (thingswemake [at] gmail [dot] com) and your mailing address to increase the chances that if you do win, I can contact you and get the bag to you. You can still win if you don't email me, but if, when I announce the winner, I don't hear from you for 48 hours, I will proceed to the runner up.
BONUS POINTS: if you post another comment around the site on a previous post, I will enter your name twice!

You need to do all three of these things by 12am Tuesday September 22 to have a chance to win. A free bag, handmade by moi, just for sharing a lovely memory? Sweet deal!

**Here's my favorite memory from the summer.
There was a moment during Virginia and Dan's wedding reception that V and I were on the backside of the tent, standing in the darkness, looking in at the candlelit party. She had her hands up at her mouth, giddy about how much fun everyone was having dancing, delighted at how much fun she was having, esctactic that it turned out the way she'd seen it in her head. It was a moment to stop, take it all in, sigh heavily, and appreciate that all of the effort and planning we'd done had paid off. In buckets and spades.

There was also a particularly memoriable picnic on a quilt, hanging clothes on a line for the first time in years, eating breakfast at the farmers market watching the city go by, a particularly stunning sunrise, crafting with loads of glitter with my new Des Moines friends, my first taste of fresh, locally made mozarella with homemade bread. It was a memorable summer, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Quick Craft: Initial Coasters, Two Ways

My sister Katie sent me these coasters over the weekend, which were part of the result of a recent crafting night she had with two of her girlfriends. One of her friends, Clare, had the idea to make coasters (I assume she needed some) and suggested felt. So along with their third friend Megan, the girls went to AC Moore, picked up supplies, and got to work.

They are super simple and kind of preppy (well, at least the initial ones!), which I like. Katie described them as "elementary school-esque" but I think they are pretty impressive. Each is backed with a piece of thin cork, which I assume had an adhesive on one side.

They reminded me of these coasters, which we made when I was back at the Hallmark magazine from glass tiles (that you can buy in bulk at home supply stores). We painted them with stencils and I rather like that they are so straight forward.

Each has four little plastic feet on them to keep them from scratching whatever surface they are on. And yes, while I know we are moving out of the humid season, we are moving into the season where little gifts come in very handy. Sets of either of these tied with a pretty ribbon would be a lovely hostess or housewarming gift. Just something to keep in mind!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Instant Heirloom: Brandy of Broken Hallelujah

It's been quite some time since I've posted an Instant Heirloom, so just to remind you, this designation means that the person below is reinterpreting traditional crafts in a modern, new way. Which is, I'd have to say, my favorite type of craft.

Name: Brandy
Website/Blog: Etsy studio,; Blog,
Online networks: Facebook page; Twitter:

Where do you live? I just moved to Wilmington, North Carolina about a month ago. I'm trying to earn my master's degree in marine biology and hope to begin the coursework next year.

Tell me a little bit about what you make and how you started making it? I make crochet accessories for women. I began crocheting because it was a craft I had done when I was much younger. And I saw some beautiful crochet items on the Craftster boards and was inspired to reteach myself. I liked doing more stylish crochet than just baby items, blankets, or dish towels. The Happy Hooker really inspired me to be more hip with my patterns and color choices.
For someone who hasn't seen your work, how would you describe your stye? I'd say feminine, colorful, a modern twist on a craft considered something grandma would do. But functional. And always fun!

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way? My mom always did a lot of crafty things with her hands. She mostly did work on jewelry, but she would sell them at booths. She's helped me a lot in finding new projects and designs. She helps me work out colors and is just all around a great inspiration. My sister also helps me out in giving honest opinions on my work, which I definitely appreciate.

How has your creative process changed as you've been able to increase your interaction with customers online? I definitely approach my items with a 'how will this be used in my customer's lives' and 'why would they want to use it'. I also try to be more creative with my color choices based on what is popular. And I always always strive for my work to look sturdy, well made, and worth the price.
Where do you find your inspiration? In the yarn. In the textures & colors of the yarn. I can go yarn shopping and have no idea what I plan to make, but by the time I'm done I have a few ideas spinning around my head all due to texture and color.

Is this your full time work? Right now it is. I used to be a full time student, but I recently graduated and am trying to get into a graduate program. It's proving difficult, so I am working on my business while I continue to try to get into school.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Weekend Recap: Renegade Craft Fair

Hello! As I mentioned on Friday, my weekend was all about my trip to the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. I was on duty for ReadyMade (yes, my job is awesome!), and have three extremely comprehensive blog posts on our site. So, please head over there to find out about the many talented people who grabbed my attention. That said, I promise you that I'll be sharing interviews and more in depth information about many them (like Amy of Red Raven Studios who makes the delightful porcelain buttons above) right here in the coming weeks!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Inspired Image: Amy of My Saturnalia

Hello my name is Amy Neill.
You can find me at
This image comes from artist Beth Weintraub I found her on the site
It inspires me because I love etchings and patterns and the way she works with color.
I particularly love the delicateness and texture of the piece.
It makes me feel like I need to do more collage. Explore deeper and reach higher...
3 words it conjures up are depth, movement, femininity.

Amy sells lovely photographs and mixed media collage in her etsy shop and I couldn't resist sharing a few images of hers with you here.

I hope that one of these images sparks a little bit of creativity in you and that you find some time to play with that over the weekend. I'm heading to Chicago to go to Renegade Craft Fair on behalf of ReadyMade (and to spend some time with my brother and hopefully eat at Rick Bayless' new restaurant!), but I'll be sure to report back about the highlights of the fair right here next week. Though if you're interested, I'll be blogging over the weekend (and tweeting! follow us!) at, so come on over and see what the Renegade fuss is all about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Q&A: Jess Gonacha

I am very excited to share today's Q&A with you. I've been a big fan of Jess's work for a long time and this year I've gotten to know her work pretty well through her calendar. (You can pre-order one for 2010 here!) I love her use of bright, bold patterns and colors and that everything she makes seems to have a positivity about it. Here's more from Jess:

Name: Jessica Gonacha Swift
Location: Just outside of Atlanta, GA, in the suburbs
Facebook page:
Twitter: (@jessgonacha)

Tell me a little bit about what you make and how you started making it? I make a variety of things-- paintings, illustrations, prints of paintings and illustrations, calendars, coasters, necklaces, repeating patterns... Basically I've just been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember, and I'm always looking for new surfaces to cover with my designs!

For someone who hasn't seen your work, how would you describe your style? My style is colorful, quirky, uplifting, a little bit whimsical, and happy, I think.

Did you have any teachers who became mentors along the way? Ummm, not really. When I was in art school I had a teacher who I loved, and we've sort-of kept in touch, but my education was very traditional for the most part, and my work has changed a lot since then. My main teacher these days is the blog world, I think. So I guess I have a whole bunch of mentors if I think about it that way!

How has your creative process changed as you've been able to increase your interaction with customers online? Or, if it hasn't changed, what does being on twitter and having an active etsy profile add to your creative process? I've started thinking more about products, I think, since I started selling work online. I try to make things that I would personally want to buy. I like interacting with people online and getting feedback about what I'm doing. Sometimes my customers will suggest things for me to make, which is great! I love getting input from other people, and knowing that people are out there looking at my work is very motivating.

Where do you find your inspiration? I find inspiration everywhere-- out walking in my neighborhood is when I get my best ideas, but I can also easily be inspired by books, movies, an interesting color combination somewhere (on a sign or a website,) interesting looking people, a pattern on a piece of clothing in a store, conversations.... it's endless!

Is this your full time work? Yes! I'm so grateful to say that it is.

What's the best part of your day? I really love breakfast time first thing in the morning. I make a smoothie and drink some coffee while checking my email, reading through my favorite blogs, and posting on my own blogs. I love the feeling of a fresh new day in front of me.

What's a favorite item that you've made or that you're working on? I'm pretty crazy about the necklaces I've been making the last few months, featuring my repeating patterns. They're all different, and I love looking at them hanging all together!

What do you hope customers experience when they purchase your work? I hope my work makes people happy. I think most of my work has an air of positivity and hope in it, so I hope people take that away when viewing it. Mostly I just want to make people smile and feel like they made the right choice in purchasing something from me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Office's Garden, A Tour

Last Friday I had the pleasure of meeting a few friends in the garden outside of my office at Meredith for lunch. The garden is only open to the public on Fridays, and it draws decent crowds (Meredith publishes Better Homes and Gardens, as well as Successful Farming, so it's grounds at meticulous!). Even though this was only my third time in the garden, I am fortunate that I can enjoy this lovely setting every day of the week as an employee.

I brought my camera with me to lunch since I realized that the flowers won't be in bloom that much longer and that I wouldn't have too much longer to share this incredible setting with you this season. Plus, when I first moved out here, my mom came for a brief visit and unsuccessfully tried to see the inside of the garden (it was locked up for the weekend). I figured she should see how pretty it is, even from a far!

There are very nice tables and chairs in the main central section of the garden, that are shaded by trees, making it a nice spot to relax even on a hot summer day.

That building in the background on the left is where I go to work every day. Pretty nice, right?

These roses were very nearly past their prime, but I love the color. And it was really fun to take a lot of photos with my new camera and not have any of them turn out blurry (as was the case with my former one)!