Thursday, December 12, 2013

holiday hours

Thank you thank you thank you for a wonderful weekend at the Urban Craft Uprising. It is always such a special chance to share my recycled magic with new friends and old fans. I didn't get to do as much shopping as I had hoped since I was working my booth all by myself. But I did get to do some trades with my booth neighbors Formulary 55 and bird mafia.

I will be at the Bellingham Farmer's Market two more Saturdays 10am-3pm. This is the place to get hats!

You can also find my goods at the Handmade Holiday Bazaar  through Dec 24 at 205 Chestnut St (across from La Fiamma, next to that foot massage place.)

Stuffed animals can be hugged seven days a week, year round, at Little Tiger Toys.

and The Lucky Dumpster in Edison always as some treasures.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

make joy

This week I have been stepping into christmas and prepping for an awesome weekend at the Urban Craft Uprising.  It's dark so early that I haven't had any light to document, but today I finally captured a little of the magic.
Scraptastic wreaths made from sweater bits and braided tshirt hangers.


This year I finally figured out how to make pom poms from fabric. (thanks to my new favorite magazine sweet paul.) Here they are made from tshirts and strung as a garland. You will also find them on top of hats because that is silly and fun and luxurious when made of cashmere.

I spent some extra time with these sweet fellas and made a few more of these Ralph Superstar hats this week. Because ears get cold and it was my boy's birthday.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Know You Will Die, Hang Out in a Pool and Other Tips for Making BIG ART Projects from Clyde Petersen

I have been having a hard time falling asleep the last two nights thinking about Clyde Petersen's latest Kickstarter project. I am that excited about his story and the way he wants to tell it and that through the modern process of crowd funding it could actually be given voice. And we can all be stop action animation extras!

Please click below to watch the Kickstarter appeal. After you have donated, keep reading for my mini interview with the incredibly talented Clyde Petersen.

You have created work with other musicians and spoken word artists. How did you think illustrating other people's stories prepared you to tell your own? Do you think it will be easier, harder or just different to make such a personal narrative?
For the past 6 years I have been teaching youth the skills involved in animation. i have also been making music videos for many bands. I think in many ways it has prepped me for the long road of telling my story the way I want it to be told. I have a lot of tools in my imaginary tool belt. After helping other people for a while, I got to the point where I felt like I was ready to finally take on a big project. I would look at people making feature films and think, well they made a feature, why can't I?

I can't imagine starting a feature length animation.What tips do you have for someone with a huge dream project they are afraid to start? Basically, I would tell them, you're gonna die. Who knows when. You better start doing exactly what you want to be doing, ALL THE TIME. Not just after work, not just before work. Your art is your WORK. One of my friends who I really respect told me that a job is a JOB, Just over Broke. I like that. When I talk about work, I mean art. When I talk about my job, I mean my JOB. I think it is pretty important to say "being an artist is my job" or "doing _____ is my job." No one else can do exactly what you are going to do, or say it in the way you're going to. That is your gross value, right there. So taking that value and story and giving it some respect and time is really where it's at. Otherwise you will just help other people tell their stories your whole life.

What do you do when you feel stuck, scared, or bored in the middle of a project? 
I usually go lay around in the pool at the gym, go for a run, watch star trek: TNG, stare at the wall in a comfy chair, flip through an encyclopedia style book, skype a friend (I recommend this over a phone call because you can show your friend visual things and talk about why you are stuck,) read a Nate Powell graphic novel. Mostly I just space out and say to myself, "it's not happening right now, but that is fine because it will happen soon."

Do you do anything to celebrate the end of a project and acknowledge your hard work?
 OMG YES. I clean my room and change my clothes and do laundry. It's a real process to dredge out the used materials from a film. I have a home studio, it's my bedroom. It makes me a little bonkers, but it sure feels good to clean all the detritus out when a project is done. It's a little odd too, because often I make something and then it has to wait to be released into the music video system by record labels and PR companies. So it is not quite an instant feeling of success. When the movie goes out into the world, then it feels pretty good.

Who or what is inspiring You right now? 
 I am really inspired by a million things all the time. Here is a list of things you should check out! Nate Powell
Amanda Kirkhuff
Jeffry Mitchell
Wynne Greenwood
Kimya Dawson
Aesop Rock
By Hook or By Crook
Boating with Clyde

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Sunday, November 03, 2013

wicked good halloween

I think the best halloween costumes are a mix of what you have, a few thrift store basics and some signature pieces, made, bought or borrowed that really sell the character.  It helps to have a dress up box, random fabric and cardboard around.

Franklin had his heart set on being Snow White and we were lucky to have a friend with a Disney dress just his size to borrow. I made the guys each one item: the cartoonishly proportioned dwarf belt and snow white's hair bow. For my wicked self I made a cardboard crown and modified a turtleneck. My cape is a wrap skirt from our dress up box and the flaming heart mirror usually hangs on our wall.

For the record, this was our first family costume. We put extra effort into it because we actually attended a wedding on Halloween. I have had costume fails through the years and Franklin flatly refused to wear the first costumes I made for us when he was younger. So don't get hung up on comparisons if you didn't coordinate fairytale magic with your crew this year. As Franklin reminded me, it's really just about the M&Ms.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

NOMAD (part two, travelling with child)

I've never been to Europe. Let alone for a month with a toddler and art supplies. So when Will Canepa and Jen Dranttel-Canepa went to Iceland for a month last year with their son Sam, I knew they were, a bit, well... how do you say crazy and courageous in Icelandic?
When I heard of NOMAD, their latest art/travel venture pulling a 15 ft travel trailer full of handcrafted awesomness across the country with Sam, now 2, I knew they were.
all photos courtesy of NOMAD

While catching up with Jen about NOMAD (click here for details on their October 13 appearance in Bellingham), I had to pick her brain about being an artist, world traveler and mama.

She has wanderlust tattooed on her wrist and the instinct was nurtured early by her own family.  When her dad was in the air force, travel was just part of the culture. They continued traveling for pleasure when he retired. She says, "it was always part of the flavor of our family."

when he's with us he's home

On traveling with a little fella, Jen said it is actually a great time to do it. Sam doesn't have the same connection to place that we do yet, so as long as they are together, he is at home.
  "It doesn't matter where we are. It's mom and dad and Sam, eating peanut butter sandwiches and singing Beach Boys. It's pretty much the same, you do your thing; nap time, listening to favorite songs on a CD, reading a favorite book, it's just in an exotic local where the people around us are speaking a different language."

pick one thing, then nap

This child paced routine actually helped them not over extend themselves in Iceland. They didn't party all night in Reykjavik and then try to walk 85 museums the next day. The pace was laid back and manageable. "When you travel with a kid, you pick your one thing to do that day, then you go home and take a nap."

make friends

Sam also served as a goodwill ambassador in a foreign country. "He would just walk up to ladies and smile with his one dimple. After he broke the ice we could ask people for what we needed: to take a photo of them or borrow an embroidery hoop. He makes friends everywhere."


 engaging and distilling 

And while they are taking care of each other, pointing out construction sites and cows and train tracks out the car window, they are also making art. I wondered how their different styles fit into the routine of traveling as a family.

Will is like Sam, engaging with people right away, going out for a container of milk and coming home with six hours of video footage of someone he met at the store chanting epic Icelandic poetry. He connects socially and takes photos or videos. That's the filmmaker in him, creating and documenting in the moment.

Jen also takes photographs and soaks in their environment. But it isn't until she has returned home that she can really distill the experience and make her best work. Many of the products she created for NOMAD are quite literally a distillation of scents and sights from all her travels.

And Sam, he isn't as inclined to sit and make art yet, being a busy boy. But he likes to paint and would play at the easel for hours during their Iceland residency. He loves playing in the NOMAD trailer and serves as a great product tester/inspiration for their children's line.

Be inspired by their Iceland adventure here.
Like NOMAD on Facebook to keep up with their current adventures.

And then pack a sandwich, your camera and an extra diaper in your bag and get out into the world. If you are anything like Jen, it will be the most natural thing in the world.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

NOMAD (part one, shopping)

Whether you are looking to feather your nest for autumn or planning a journey, NOMAD will inspire you to do it with style. 

All photos courtesy of NOMAD
NOMAD, the latest art and travel venture from  Will Canepa and Jen Dranttel-Canepa, will be parked at the Temple Bar October 13 from noon until late evening to quench the twin desires for adventure and home.

Will and Jen recently converted a 15 ft trailer into a mobile pop up shop. In addition to their own travel inspired products, Will and Jen have gathered a selection of goods from about 20 artists across the US. (moth and squirrel whales are part of their collection for classic kids.)

They drove NOMAD across the midwest to Chicago last month and are finally bringing it home to share with their Bellingham community for the first time. In addition to shopping in the trailer, the Temple Bar will be serving specials designed by Will and Jen. Experience happy hour all day, seasonal delights (like roasted apples with chantrelles and bacon) and a few flavors from the road.

When I talked with Jen last week I made her pick a few items to give us a flavor what is in the shop.

Favorite item created for NOMAD:
The fragrance collection.
Based on 4 cities, Jen blended essential oils in organic almond oil for concentrated scent. Each vial, suitable for men or women, comes packaged in a cloth bag with a photo of it's muse location for $35.

Savannah- what she's been wearing the most. vetiver, violet and tobacco notes
Nevada City- a perfect autumn spiciness. clove, cedar and saffron.
Reykjavik- goes on clean and cold with black pine and sea moss, then warms on your skin with lovely anise.
NoLa -the most feminine of this series. rose, wormwood and black tea.

Favorite item from another crafter:
Jen is most excited to bring the work of Peg and Awl to Bellingham. Sourcing heirloom quality and reclaimed materials,  Peg and Awl makes a charming range of dry goods. NOMAD features several waxed canvas bags and chalkboard tablets.

If you can't make it downtown October 13, NOMAD will be the artist in residence at the Temple Bar in December. Look forward to more unique shopping along with a fashion show, video installations from their travels and songs about leaving town and coming home.

Be sure to like NOMAD on Facebook so you can catch them when they roll into your neighborhood.

Friday, September 27, 2013

mutant family

Steeb's been organizing an amazing art show with over 45 artists making pieces about superheroes. He's become Super Coach, encouraging people to make awesome work. I've been his trusty side kick, making food, editing emails and letting him sleep in a little when he is at the studio until 4am. Along with all the artist wrangling, we made our own art for the show. Even franklin.

After almost four years of struggle with how to be a parent and an artist, it kind of feels like we are figuring it out. At least for a half an hour (that I documented!) we were a creative family all together making art in our studio, supporting each other and having fun.

Getting to this point has involved a lot of mutations. Letting go of what we should do and be and look like, how our schedules ought to run. It means our family doesn't look like the average family. (But honestly these days, what does an average family look like?) It means we work odd hours and don't travel or go on dates very often. We work weekends and always have some project in the living room as well as in the studio.

And the studio itself is hardly a retreat from family life, though Steeb and I create most of our work in solitude. When we need to, we pack snacks and trains and I will listen to scratchy stories on a fisher price record player if that buys me 5 more minutes of work with Franklin hanging out. There are glass jars that used to hold buttons and piles of buttons scattered in random corners. Piled everywhere are toys and dust bunnies and sketchbooks and black threads. And it suits me just fine.

I wouldn't necessarily recomend our choices to anyone else. But there is comfort in peeking into someone else's world. To see that there are so many wonderful ways to live a life, to see what is possible. Even with a family.

Come see our mutant family October 4 at make.shift gallery for the opening of MUtants R Us.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

3 simple tricks to take good enough photos

I am pleased to announce I was just accepted into the winter Urban Craft Uprising in Seattle December 7 & 8. This is my seventh holiday show with them, but I never take it as a given that I will be chosen. I know there are a ton of talented crafters who apply every year. Amazing artists not only from around the northwest, but across the country apply to be a part of this indie craft fair.

Whether applying to craft fairs or trying to sell online, image is king. This was one of my photos I submitted. My photos aren't professional, but here are some tricks I've picked up along the way that make my pictures good enough to get into shows. 

1: natural light. I cannot regulate light super well inside, so I try to take most of my photos outside on a slightly overcast day.

2. neutral background. The worn wood of our shed adds nice texture without any distraction.

3. simple clothes that add to the story of the product. The denim gives a feeling of autumn and a classic, rustic vibe that I wanted to play up, without being more interesting than the hats.

bonus pointer for working with kids: Franklin is barefoot and wearing a batman cape during this photo shoot. By throwing the denim jacket on top, he has a unified look with Steeb and his commercial shirt/cape doesn't compete with the handmade element of the hats. He sometimes gets upset when I ask him to change his clothes for a photoshoot (or any reason, really) but by just adding something over his chosen outfit, we were both satisfied.

Deep gratitude to Steeb and Franklin for being my super models. And thanks to Marie Forleo and my B-School training for keeping me on my game. The B-School assignments helped me write some great answers to the brief essay questions that were a new part of the application.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013


Are you learning anything new this autumn? Or returning to a practice? Maybe with kids back in school you have an extra moment to do something that is just for you.
I'm doing all three. And reading books like crazy. Autumn makes me want to be a better person with regular schedules and healthy habits and growth. Even more than New Year's. I'm nerdy like that. But Back to school isn't always new denim and cute lunchboxes.

Back to school can be terrifying, like when my family moved to a new town just before 7th grade. awkward.
And back to school can be so inspiring, like the first semester I took a course on Sustainable Living and made awesome friends while planting garlic.
Back to school is just a moment that keeps returning, even when we aren't in school. We can choose what to do with that energy each autumn.

So Franklin had three days of preschool this week and I've been painting in my studio again for an upcoming group art show. About superheroes.

I decided to just do a regular old painting. No fabric on boards, no stitched portraits, no sewing a doll or a quilt for a gallery. No gimmicks. Just paint on wood. I was so nervous about my idea that I didn't even tell Steeb (who is organizing the whole show and my best friend even!) what I was working on until I had it started.

But you know, it's fall and back to school and return to learning, so I went for it. I realized that even as A Creative, I have huge creative blocks. I have sewn myself into a craft corner and a profitability mindset. I have a good time in my little corner mind you, but still...

Sometimes I need to just push paint around on wood and make something that is personal and a little vulnerable and maybe even awesome.

Come to Make.Shift gallery October 4 to see the rest of this painting. And another one with a chicken. Because I also remembered I really like painting chickens. And you will see how this boy with binoculars and a chicken have anything to do with comic book superheroes.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

application out take

Working on my Urban Craft Uprising application always means roping the guys into some back yard photo shoots. Franklin's rates have gone up from a handful of cheddar bunnies to 14 mini peanut butter cups in the past 3 years. Totally worth it though to get some images of the new Ralph Superstar hat. It is always a challenge to look at the pictures and decide what is actually a good photo of the product regardless of how much I like the people wearing it. So I thought I would put up one I like, but honestly doesn't show the details of the hat in a way that will win me any prizes.

Friday, August 09, 2013

I'm back at the farmer's market after a weekend with my family. Hope you are having some lovely summer adventures as well.

Friday, August 02, 2013

friends and family

It's here, the weekend when I am NOT at the Farmer's Market. It's sort of like a vacation. I might take a rest on the sand with these guys:
In the next three weeks I will be visiting friends and family, here and on the peninsula, back and forth squeezing in as much summer as possible around our day jobs.

So, No Gallery Walk tonight
No Farmer's Market August 3
Yes! back at the market August 10-Christmas.

I will be checking emails and sewing sporadically in the next three weeks. Seriously, everyone I say I will drop everything for to visit is coming through the northwest this month. Such love, such scheduling.

Friday, July 26, 2013

people make the event

So a few weeks ago we drove down to Seattle for the summer Urban Craft Uprising in a big cadillac, blasting Elton John and Macklemore at Franklin's request. I haven't attended a craft show as a shopper in a long time and was a little uncertain about not participating as a vendor. Would I feel disappointed or jealous or bored? It is easy to get burnt out on any type of business event, to feel like you've seen it all or the trends are tiring or to feel it is too competitive and all the magic is gone.

But I walked around and marveled at all the talent and creativity and all the wonderful people I have met through the years. Mostly I chatted with my bellingham craft crew, but I was tickled how many people were sort of friends now or at least friendly neighbors at past shows. Somehow not participating as a vendor helped me see the real community and connections I have made. 

Rachel, Spincycle Yarns

Carey Lane, poetic bowl maker and sock monkey maven

Angela, Humperdink hats

Tripper Dungan, trippy painter
Jessica and Arlo (and magical baby), slow loris shirts

And believe it or not, they are opening applications for the winter Urban Craft in just one week. I feel refreshed and inspired and ready to go another round.

Monday, July 15, 2013

urban craft uprising (what I bought)

1.zipper bag with bear from adrienne vita.
2.slow loris hoodie for steeb
3.postcards and little notebook from jillian nickell.
4.wooden gemstone ring by bristorium. so folk art fabulous!
5.fancy lollipops by this charming candy.
6.small top for franklin. (we have a sailboat and covered wagon from tweet toys already)
7.salt from beautiful briny sea. one is honey and salt and the other is called french picnic and I can't wait to use them both. fancy salt makes really simple foods feel really fancy. and these folk are soooo nice.

In my next post I'll talk about how fun it was to be a shopper, visit with my favorite vendors and ride around the city in a big cadillac.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

happy birthday to me and america

Taking the day off because not only is it a national holiday, it's my birthday. I was checking out one of my favorite blogs and saw this film is about a leather worker from the town where I was born. So perfect to share today. I love to watch these short videos about american craftspeople. Makes me feel very proud to be part of a longstanding tradition of independent makers.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just lion about doing nothing but getting inspired.

I've been pushing hard to make something more with my business. All spring I studied and researched and did homework into the night. I got tired. I got a little cranky. I got spring fever. 

I gave myself permission to relax. Do nothing. Read fiction and catch up on tv and magazines. Eat hotdogs for dinner with no sides. Color on the sidewalk for hours.

And then, in that bit of empty space I finally made in my head, an idea slipped in. 

Somewhere between hearing my dad was just awarded Lion of the Year by his club and my bus ride to the studio this morning I imagined these pins. Daddy lions. Dandy lions. Lion of the Summer. Bursts of color and pride. Perfect for all the Leos in your life. Ambassadors of sunshine.

They came together so easily today that I knew I must be doing something right.

So here's to summer,
may we all have less cranky pushing and more slipping into inspiration.

Pick up your own burst on lion power at the farmer's market this saturday.
Or shop etsy right this very minute.

Friday, June 21, 2013

personality goes a long way

I have never sewn a dog before. I'm not a dog person. I once wrote a short story called "dog kick girl." But when a special request came in for a pug for one of my favorite customers, I couldn't resist. Personality goes a long way. (in customers and in critters.)
I used the same pin tuck technique I use on whales to create the amazing forehead wrinkles for these dogs.
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in stitching hats I forget that making weird animals is a super creative and fun part of my business. I took a break from hats and just sewed critters all week. Hats may be the bread and butter of moth and squirrel, but animals are the personality. And personality goes a long way.

Stop by the farmer's market tomorrow to see a few new faces and to stock up on baby whales.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

goodbye esther.

I call this hat style the esther amelia (part Esther Williams swim fabulous, part Amelia Earhart aviator adventure, 100% bold lady fun.)
After I had named these hats I rented a bunch of Esther Williams swim musicals from the library. Not ground breaking cinema exactly but she brought something fresh and radiant to the Hollywood formula. Really lovely to watch her swim/dance with such strength and grace and the fashion was fantastic. 

She passed away June 6, at the athletic age of 91. 

Thank you for the inspiration, Ms.Williams, I'm sure you are diving from rainbows above us now.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

ditch the tie, give a hat this father's day

We gave my dad plenty of neckties. Now he's retired. He never wears them. Yet it remains this stock image for father's day gifts, cards and clever crafts.

Is the necktie really a meaningful motif for Father's Day anymore?

Shifting gender roles and economics mean both parents are likely working. And while most fathers I know do still work outside the home, few wear ties.  For those who do, is giving them a piece of their work uniform really a way to celebrate a bond with their children?

Going to a job to pay bills is not the most fun or rewarding part of parenthood. The modern dad is more than just a guy who puts on a tie and goes to work. Therefore,

I declare the hat should be the new clothing symbol of father's day.
Steeb and Andy: two dads not at work, wearing hats.
Whether a fedora or a baseball cap, these days wearing a hat usually symbolizes being OFF work and (potentially) spending quality time with your kids. For yard work or fishing, going out to a concert or just hanging out with a frosty beverage, most guys have a go-to hat they put on when the work day is done. If the tie is what men wear to leave their children for the office, then the hat is what they wear to come back home. The hat is what they wear when they are most themselves, most relaxed and most connected.

If your dad's a guy who appreciates one of a kind American made goods, consider giving these styles from moth and squirrel this year instead of a necktie to celebrate the whole man:

The Harlow.

This hat was designed for my friend Harlow Friday (read this old post about how awesome he is.)

The Harlow hat is classic and masculine. I wear one myself, but it really is the one I make for the gents. When the right guy tries on the right one it is like he has owned it forever. I've just made some in wool tweeds as well as the popular cotton plaid.

Harlow Friday offers this tip for working dads: Always go to work when you are sick so you can use your sick days for your real life.

Summer Weight Johnny Cap.

If your dad likes cycling or camping, the classic cotton johnny cap would be a great one to toss in the bag for adventures. Keeps a little sun and sweat out of his eyes, tames wild hairs or protects the scalp. Made from reclaimed t-shirts, it is breathable and machine washable. I just stitched up some larger men's sizes. This one with the bass fishing image is just waiting to be someone's Father's Day gift. seriously.

Pick up a hat this Saturday at the Bellingham Farmer's market to get it in the mail in time,
Take a day trip to Edison with your old man and try one on at the Lucky Dumpster,
Or be your own father figure and get a hat for yourself.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Simplify your life by giving this same gift three times this month.

Just when you are ready to relax and enjoy a few potluck cocktail picnic barbeques, you realize some of these events are actually stressful. Not only do you need to figure out an appropriate dish to bring for each situation (gluten free? vegan? peanut allergy?only grown in a 25 mile radius?) and how to dress (quirky fancy? overcast? bonfire? by the water in the evening?) you might also need to bring A GIFT.

To help you simplify the gift giving part of your life, I have just stitched up a fresh batch of key rings.

Each design is individually machine stitched on felt and backed with reclaimed leather. Sturdy yet supple, they make a classy gift:

for the graduate
 Leaving home for the first time, starting at a new office or just heading out into the world for new adventures, send them off with style or let them know they always have a way to come back home. Depending on how you present this one, it can be extremely poetic and sentimental or just a casual congrats for that co-worker or nephew who has finished studying.

for dad 
Nothing says Father's Day like leather and metal, something practical and sturdy that won't clutter up his zone. He'll think of you every day as he goes off to do whatever he does. (I'll have some more thoughts on father's day in my next post...)

for a guest you want to stay a little longer

Have a nice set of keys for summer visitors to make themselves at home. Or perhaps you want to make sure that special friend always has a place to park. (Did you like the movie Singles as much as I did in high school? If you missed this 90s romcom taking place in the Seattle music scene, just know that having a place to park was major romantic commitment innuendo...)Giving someone a key to your place really is a big deal, do it with some flair.

Buy a key ring or three at the market this weekend for $15 each and you will be ready with a remarkable little token for whatever situations June may bring.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

what you can learn from being blue in a parade (any rainbow would want you)

Every year Loving Space forms a human rainbow and walks in the Jr Ski-to-Sea parade. Our friend Olle invited us to be blue dragons with him. I feel like I've been saying No all the time lately to all the "good ideas" the boys come up with. But this one seemed reasonable and since Franklin will be starting preschool there soon I said "Yes."(actually I said something like," I don't have time to make any costumes, but we can wear some blue...")

But then I got nervous. Was I intruding on their special thing? Would we know enough other families? Would I remember their names? Would we be wearing the appropriate amount of blue? Would it be weird since Franklin doesn't actually go to school yet?  Would we have the right snacks? Was there a protocol?

Would they want us in their rainbow?

[Insert anytime you've felt that everyone else has it figured out, has the right credentials, knows everyone else in the room, has the right clothes to wear...]

I was half way hoping the event would be rained out just to avoid this imagined awkwardness. But mere weather cannot stop the insistence of young blue dragons. As I was zipping up my blue striped jumpsuit this phrase came to me:

why wouldn't they want me in their rainbow?!

I was a little shy at first. And then I had an awesome time waving and walking and being part of something really special. So that's my new personal pep talk phrase and you can use it too.  You can even imagine me in these surprisingly glamorous vertical stripes as I say it to you:

If you are willing to show up as yourself, with some spirit, any rainbow would want you.
 Show up.
 Let your color shine.

If you want to join my rainbow simply sign up for my monthly newsletter and shine on.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can you embrace plastic toys and still be a conscious parent?

I was going to write a post about Simplicity Parenting and how my classic moth and squirrel animals can fit so nicely into a natural nursery full of open ended play opportunities.

Then I looked around my actual house.

Then I saw this fabulous photo from Dosfamily that I joyfully copied above with Franklin (&Steeb's) toys.

And I knew there was a different story to write today.

I read Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne and was inspired.  To slow down and savor the rhythm of our days. To filter out the nasty world and protect childhood. To take a garbage bag to Franklin's toys, leaving only a few silk scarves, a hand carved gnome village and a clump of bees wax. If you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control, or generally frustrated with modern American parenting, Simplicity Parenting is a wonderful guide.

But I have to admit, I love clutter and collecting and the layers of life in all our stuff. There is something awesome about a mish mash of colorful characters all slightly different sizes, from different eras, none a complete set, making a weird diverse universe. I don't want to feel guilty about that.

I like toys. It's why I make them. If I had the skills and tools to make colorful plastic figures of my animals I probably would. But I have a sewing machine and a pile of cashmere. So I make what I make: fabulously huggable handcrafted critters with subtle personality and green sensibilities.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

tiger mother

Here's the piece Franklin and I submitted for MAKE.SHIFT gallery's collaborative kids/adults art show on Friday. We talked about making a tiger and drew some sketches. He isn't drawing figures yet, but was excited about doing stripes. So I had him do the surface design. Then he drew some circle-ish shapes for the face and body patterns. He also gave me direction like "it needs two legs on each side" which sounds obvious and a bit bossy, but is slightly different than my usual critters. So it really was a collaborative effort, different than either of us would have created on our own.

If you want to make animals with me, get your name on the mailing list. One of these days I'm going to start teaching classes again and newsletter subscribers will be the first to know.

Monday, April 29, 2013

5 remarkable ways to give mom flowers that last

Flowers for mothers day is a no brainer. But what if you want to show your mom you love her all year long? When you think about all the diapers, dishes, and drama she has dealt with through the years, she probably deserves more than one day of blooms.

vest detail

Five remarkable ways to give your mama flowers this year

1. Flower CSA or subscription. So many farms with community supported agriculture programs offer bouquets as add ons in their crates and some farms specialize in flowers. Do a google search in your mom's area to see if you can hook her up with a weekly bouquet that is fresh, seasonal and shows off the beauty of her region.

2. Plant a flower garden together.  A window box or planter for her patio can be sweet for mom's with limited space.  If your mom is an established gardener, offer a day of weeding, a packet of interesting annuals or special variety of one of her favorites. Think outside the box and delight her with gorgeous edibles like herbs, beans, peas, or even grains.

I think its best to buy seeds from companies that specialize in your climate. Around here (as in down the street)I love Uprising Organics. Don't overlook your farmers market for growers who may offer seeds, starts and bulbs perfectly suited for her backyard.

3. Don't want to get dirt under your nails?  Go cyber blossoms.
Erin {Floret} april 23 arrangement from seasonal bouquet project
 I just fell in love with the seasonal bouquet project. It's a weekly blog kept by two farmers with an amazing sense of style on opposite coasts posting a bouquet they created with local flowers. Here's how to make it a gift: You and your mom each bookmark the blog and share which bouquet you liked best in a text, email or phone call each week. Stay connected and always have as a beautiful conversation starter.

4. Never too old to create art. I find myself sending Franklin's scribbles these days but not taking the time to make a sketch or watercolor myself. Wouldn't your mom be delighted to open an envelope bursting with tissue paper and glitter, stickers and paint. Recreate a favorite elementary school craft or use it as an excuse to have a creative playdate with whatever art supplies you have around the home or office.

5. A felt flower from moth and squirrel will last throughout the years. A pin is a great option for dressing up jackets, hats or bags. She can even just pin it to a bulletin board. Or if your mama has a bit more flair, flowers for the hair will make her feel super special.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

less guilt more delight this EarthDay

Steeb's mini garden project last summer didn't produce much other than joy.

 I make all my products from recycled materials. But I don't have any clever tips or tricks or crafts for you today. And I don't want you to feel guilty about wherever you are on the spectrum of environmentalism. It's not that I don't want us all to work together to make the world a better place to live for the next say, seven generations. I do. But I know that it has to be enjoyable if lifestyle choices are going to last longer than a new year's resolution.

Today I am offering a friendly reminder that often the thing that is better for the environment is also more delicious, more economical, more beautiful and more fun. So ride your bike because the lilac scented wind feels lovely through your hair this time of year. Plant a garden because it brings wonder and rhythm into your yard and fresh herbs make cocktail hour divine. Leave your car at home occasionally because it's cheaper than a gym membership or a therapist and you won't be stressed out circling for a parking spot. Buy a gift from moth and squirrel because cashmere, colorful cotton and one of a kind stitched designs will be cherished for years.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

recycled arts & resource expo friday-sunday

 I am excited to check out other artists working with a wide variety of recycled materials.  I will not be participating as moth and squirrel, but I will be down at the federal building on Sunday helping with the Bellingham Textile Project's community weaving. Come say hello, learn more about this new project and help us weave a rug.
For more info on the activities, exhibits and entertainment, visit the RARE site

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

for sandi

 when disaster rips a hole in your life, it may expose a tender hidden beauty
Shawl and expose is my piece from last year's winter commission art show. It is stitched from the pants I wore out grieving with random bits of silk underneath. This wasn't what I had planned to post today, but it is what I feel called to share. A little piece of how I process this crazy beautiful sometimes cruel journey. One stitch at a time.