Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Saying Goodbye to my Beautiful Mom

My adorable mom passed away on Monday night.  We knew it was coming, but saying a final goodbye is so hard.  I look at her pictures through the years, and remember such a vital, compassionate, spunky, kind, funny woman...and am so thankful for her and for all the wonderful memories.  I'm heading to Lincoln, NE for her funeral, and to see my three sisters again.  The last time we were all together, was almost exactly a year ago, when my sweet dad died.  I'm 'busy', tying up loose ends here before I go, but feel like I'm in a fog. 
My, how we both changed!

She was on this earth for 96 years, 2 months, and 22 days.  I was so blessed to have her as my Mom.
This was my last visit with her, a year ago, after my Dad's funeral.     My precious mom.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Shameless Plug: Go Get this BAG!

One of my clients, for whom I do design and illustration work, manufactures the BEST recycled shopping totes out there in the marketplace.
Most of the work I do for this company is marketing: I design display signage, hang tags, sales catalogs, and the like, and occasionally will do the actual surface design for a bag. 
The problem is, a particular image won't get printed until my client gets a purchase commitment from the retail outlets that carry her product (mainly Fred Meyer stores here in the Northwest, and Kroger affiliates nationwide).  She presents mock-ups of many designs each season, and for some reason, I have the hardest time having my designs "connect" with the buyers (there is also a big turnover of personnel in the buying field, so establishing a rapport with one doesn't hold any guarantees for future sales).  Generally, they go for designs that are 'safe': appeal-to-the-masses, nothing too 'out-there'--and I think my stuff is too wacky or something(???).  It can be sooo frustrating, because all the designs I submit (after countless hours developing and completing each) are "on spec", meaning I don't get paid unless they sell, and only then do I earn a small (tiny, actually) percentage of the order.
Several YEARS ago (I think it was 2009 or 10) I came up with this "Flowers in Bloom" design, with a mixture of whimsical line art and collaged images (in fact, I did a whole series in this style, about 5 total).  My client loved it, we collaborated on color choices, and then she tried her darned-est to sell the dang thing--for years, faithfully hauling it to another season's presentation, always having it ignored in favor of other designs.
I've kept the mock-up on display because even if it never sold, at least I loved it. Many of you who have taken classes in my studio have seen it hanging here for years!

But she never gave up on it, and FINALLY it sold about 6 months ago, and it is just NOW in the stores for the Spring season!!!

Here's my bag, FINALLY inside my local Fred Meyer store, alongside other designs.
Here's a little background about this awesome tote-bag company:  The owner started her business quite a few years ago, before reusable totes were so ubiquitous, before 'eco-friendly' was such a catch phrase, and before many grocery stores started banning thin plastic bags (at least they're out-lawed here in eco-centric Oregon).

She found factories that used super-strength, multiple layers of poly fiber (made from recycled water bottles) in their manufacturing process.  She also designed the large tote bag to have several handy inner pockets sewn in, to hold bottles, newspapers, cell phones, et cetera.  Love that!

To test the strength of the tote bag, one of the guys that works for her GOT INSIDE one of them, and two other employees each grabbed a handle and could lift all 175 pounds of him with ease and no sign of stress on the fibers.  You've seen the ones at Trader Joe's or even at Joanne's or T.J. Maxx--but they are single-ply el cheapo-s.  Even the ones in gift shops, with cool funky designs manufactured by Blue Q, are also the single-ply, poorly constructed el cheapo-s--but with a hefty price tag (about $18.95 for their 'designer' shopping tote).  My client's company offers hundreds of different designs and several bag styles, at EXTREMELY reasonable prices---seriously, Patty Reed Insta-Totes are a great product!!  Go to their website (a direct link to my design is HERE) and check it out, or head over to your local Kroger Affiliate or Fred Meyer store and pick up a few! In the stores, they are almost always on sale, for about $4 each, and they will be the best shopping tote you will ever buy.  I have so many--I keep several in each of my family's cars for grocery shopping.  I can load them up with SO MUCH, they're easy to carry into the house, and they'll last forever.  I also use them for quick weekend trips to the beach, throwing clothes into one, books and projects in another.  They are great to use in closets, too, for organizing.  Also, they are awesome as gift bags, giving the recipient a little extra gift to put to use afterwards.  (See, I told you I do marketing for this company!!  But I do fully endorse her products:-))

And if you buy MY design, you will help send my daughter to college this fall........well, maybe you will help me pay for ONE textbook?!?!
Okay, my shameless plug is now over!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

My Giveaway Winners

A couple of weeks ago, I had a little giveaway.  To refresh your memory, one of the things in my package of goodies was a lace charm, and the two winners could choose which one they wanted out of the selection, below:
Laurie, whose blog is Indulge Your Shelf, was the first place winner, and she chose charm #3, the white Venice lace.  She wrote the nicest post about the all the little gifts she received, and you can read about it HERE.  Laurie loves vintage textiles and buttons, and lots of other crafts, and takes such great photos.  She is a doll, and someday, I'm going to meet up with her at a workshop or an art retreat...I hope!

The second place winner was Tanya, whose blog is Bead and Needle. She chose charm #5, the vintage French Beading Lace.  She also wrote a sweet post about her win, HERE, and I have grown to LOVE that girl through many subsequent emails back and forth!  She blogs about travel, music, needlework projects, making jewelry, and also loves antique buttons, like Laurie.  Tanya also 'shared the love' and sent ME some wonderful treats, which I hope to post about later.  To quote Tanya, she ROCKS!!

Besides connecting with these two darling people, the 'Grow Your Blog' party was such a fun way to get to know lots more of you out there who are kindred spirits.  I am just so tickled to have met you, and even more honored that you've become followers of my little blog!

And now, a shameless plug: The remaining three lace charms are now listed in my Etsy shop, if any of you are interested:
Happy Presidents' Day!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love Love Love!!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!
I'm hoping for chocolates!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Making Little Boxes

When I sell a piece of my jewelry on Etsy or elsewhere, I send it off in a cute little pouch-box.   People who have received one often say they like the box almost as much as the necklace! So I thought I'd show you how I make these little customized pouches.  Please click photos to see all the details more clearly.

You know how many Etsy sellers like to send along little "extras" and goodies to their customers?--well, my little handmade box is the little something "extra", since it consists of a little more of my artwork.  It also is an example of how I cannot throw anything away.  You see, I make these out of discarded cardboard, like old cereal boxes, shipping envelopes, tissue boxes, etc.  If I'm getting ready to toss out something that has a large, flat expanse of cardboard, instead it goes in my "I can use that someday" pile.   Here in Oregon, it seems we recycle everything anyway; I just take it another, personal, step further.

side note: I took a photo of my stack of flattened Cheerios and Kleenex boxes...but it was a little embarrassing, and hoarder-esque (it's' really not that big of a stack. Really.)  

ANYway, I've always liked these pouch-style boxes, even have a stack of new ones I bought at a paper store.  But I wanted to cover them with my own paper, and it was just easier to do that if they were completely flat, so I started making my own.  Here's how I do it:

Find a template pattern for the box: You can find this template and many others online for the shape.  My box ends up about 4" tall; if I need a bigger one, I just enlarge the template on my photocopier.  

Making my own decorative paper: For this project, I wanted custom-designed paper (but you can also use pretty scrapbook paper, printed digital designs you have made, or many other choices).  I made a simple black and white collage with clip-art images and my store logo.  I traced the box template onto this collage.  Then I just started doodling in the white spaces with a very fine Micron pen.  I worked quickly and was going for a loose, very random sketch-y style, adding little written notes, flowers, dots, etc.  I liked the whimsical doodles juxtaposed with the classic engraved images.  After the doodling was complete, I cut out the box shape along my traced outline---and this became my "master".
A collage of clip-art images, then doodles added, then cut into the box template shape.
Next, I put this cutout shape on my photocopier's glass, and ran off a bunch of copies onto brown butcher paper.  (I found a huge roll of butcher paper for next to nothing at Goodwill, and I cut up sheets from it to feed into my photocopier.  I'll be using that roll for years...)

Next, I rough-cut around my butcher paper image, sprayed the back with adhesive (I love Super 77; it's a workhorse in my studio for many projects), and mounted it to the printed side of my recycled cardboard, using a brayer to burnish the paper firmly to the cardboard:
By covering the printed side of the recycled cardboard, the back side is left nice and clean for your upcycled project.  I have found that a used FedEx envelope, or something similar, is the perfect weight cardboard for these tiny boxes, since it is lightweight and flexible enough to bend along the curved folds.  (For larger pouches, you can use a slightly heavier cardboard, like a cereal box).  (Also note: you can eliminate this adhering-to-cardboard step all together if you're using a cardstock that is heavy enough for a pouch.  I just like mine to be a little sturdier than cardstock).
Next, I cut out along the box outline:
Notice the top box in the photo above has the addition of white highlights.  I just made simple doodles here and there with a white gel pen, to jazz it up a little.  This is why I love working with brown paper: white shows up so nicely, and is such a quick and easy way to add so much extra life to a simple black-and-white print.  Yes, I add this individually to each box, but it literally only takes a minute or two, and is worth the extra bit of time.  Plus it is so much fun to do! And no two turn out the same.
Next, I scored along all the fold lines, using a stylus ( you could use a dried-out ballpoint pen or similar):
 Then, I used double sided tape to adhere the side flap (it's important to go all the way to the top and bottom edges of the flap.  You could also use glue and clamp it together, but that takes longer):

And the box is done!  The white doodles on the left pouch, above,  were added with a white Prismacolor pencil.  I actually prefer using the pencil rather than the white gel pen (seen on the right, above)--it goes faster and I often have issues with gel pens not flowing and skipping, but I do like the fine line I can get with the pen.  Here's the back side:

So, there you have it.  A peek inside my crazy world where I make my own boxes out of trash!  It may seem like it takes an excessive amount of time to make each of these individually, but really it only takes a few minutes, especially if I am making a bunch at once.  It took me waaaaay longer just to write this 'great American novel' of a post!!

                                               Linking up with Debra at Common Ground:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How Lucky am I? I Won this Lace Journal...

I visited many new-to-me blogs
 during Vicki's blog party, and in the process, 
was entered into several giveaways.  
And I won a couple!!!  
That absolutely shocked me, because I never, ever win anything!

Yesterday, this beautiful hand-made lace journal arrived--
Do click to enlarge to see all the details:
It was lovingly made by Socrates, 
who has the blog Altered Meditations.   
A multi-layered collage of laces, fabrics, 
photo transfers, charms, fibers and more adorns the front cover.  
More lace, fabric and buttons make up the back cover:
Neat little pockets 
are found on both front and back inside covers:

Many of the blank inside pages 
are textured with paint and subtle stamping:
I'm not sure what I'll use this journal for....
I always have a couple going, for little sketches and ideas, 
as well as a diary of sorts.  
I'd like to use this one for something special, 
just not sure what yet.

I also plan to keep the cool tissue paper it was wrapped in 
( I can't throw anything away!!)
--those medallions would look so great 
layered into my angel paintings 
and the tissue + mod podge would make them transparent.  
Very cool:

 Thank you, wholeheartedly, to Socrates for this wonderful book.  
Go visit her blog and see her other luscious journals,
beading, and paintings!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Making Lace Charms

This is what the charms look like after being trimmed to fit the glass, and then wrapped in copper tape.  I wanted to make a nice variety, so there is a range of colors, lace types, and charm sizes to choose from.

And here are the finished charms (click to view larger):
I've written to the winner, Laurie, and wanted to post the picture here, in case it would be clearer for her to view on the blog.

I wonder which one she'll choose??

Friday, February 1, 2013

And the WINNER(s) of the Giveaway.......

Oh boy, this blog party was quite an event!  So many blogs to visit, so many visitors that came here!  I owe a big thank you to Vicki for organizing an event that brought so many of us together---what a very generous undertaking on her part!!!

This morning I put all 94 of your names in the hopper and randomly selected........

LAURIE at Indulge Your Shelf  as the winner of my main giveaway!!  Congrats, Laurie!

Since I was making a bunch of the lace charms, I decided to have a second drawing for a MINI-PRIZE, and the winner of that is TANYA from Bead and Needle!! After Laurie chooses her charm from the 5 I'm making, Tanya can choose her favorite from the remaining four.  I'll pop the rest of them into my Etsy shop.

I apologize to those of you who left wonderful, thoughtful comments to which I haven't yet responded---I still hope to connect back to you.  It got a little overwhelming!  I am THRILLED to have made new friendships and equally happy to have many of you as new followers. THANK YOU to everyone that stopped by! The door is always open---I hope you visit often!!