Thursday, October 29, 2009

blurred vision

I have had a headache almost all day. I took Tylenol (won't take anything stronger, still a nursing mom!). It started when I was at the computer, so I shouldn't be doing this right now. I went to go get a bowl of cereal and a glass of water because I thought that would fix it. When I got back to the computer, I was having trouble with my vision. I thought it was just the computer screen, but I was in the middle of a task I really wanted to get done, so I pushed forward. It didn't get any worse, but it didn't get any better. I kept blinking and trying different things, but it was like there was a smear on one of the lenses of my glasses that (within itself) was wavering around.

My husband came home for lunch and brought me another snack and a coke; I thought the caffeine would help. I didn't really notice the vision issue for awhile, but the headache was still there.

The vision problem came back later on after my daughter woke up from her nap, it was getting pretty bad, so I walked over to my sister's house to distract myself from focusing on the issue. It went away again, but I still have a headache. I had something similar in high school once with a really bad migraine. It was the same eye and kind of the same spot, but farther into my peripheral vision and just a fuzzy round spot, not a arc of wavy vision. This time I wouldn't go so far as to say my headache was as bad as a migraine. I've had those enough to know the difference. Well, guess if there's blurred vision, it's likely a migraine, but just not as bad pain wise? Not entirely sure. Should I be worried or is this sometimes just a fluke? Haven't had headache/migraine issues for a while, and even when I did it wasn't that bad or something I couldn't usually deal with by eating something and going to sleep or putting ice on my neck.

Off to take a shower and try ice on my neck.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Costume Basic for Baby 12 easy steps!

This is a pattern that I created for my 10 month old (who is a little on the small side, but this would fit a wide range of sizes) daughter's Bride of Frankenstein Halloween costume using cloth diapers! She will be wearing a long sleeved white onesie, long white pants and white socks underneath. I have also made her a Bride hairdo hat to complete the look. This tutorial is for the white gown/robe/tunic portion of her costume. Click on the pictures for larger versions of these images!

You will need:
4 white cloth diapers (the kind everyone uses as burp cloths these days)
white thread
4 snaps
(sewing machine is preferable for a couple of steps*, but not necessary)

Steps 1-2
First, you lay out two of the diapers; then fold over the inside edges to the middle, away from each other.

Steps 3-4
Next, sandwich the top edges of the diapers together so that the open flaps of the foldover are on the inside. Sew all four layers together just to the width of the folded over section. This creates your first shoulder seam. You will repeat steps 1-3 on your other 2 diapers so that you have 2 halves of your costume.
This caption reads (other side of stitched edge) It shows you what the shoulder of your finished costume looks like when it's folded right side out.

Steps 5-7
Now, lay your costume halves wrong side out again. Bring the two long edges that were folded over in step 2 together to make a side seam *easier with a sewing machine; leaving space for an armhole. Again, do this for the other half of your costume as well.

Step 8
Now to start bringing your two halves together! First (a somewhat optional step - mostly for aesthetics, somewhat for fitting) accordion fold and stitch the top edge (the leftover part that was not sewn into your shoulder seam) of one of your front-of-the-costume pieces to create a gather at the neckline of the costume. Do so to the other half as well.

Steps 9-10
Next, bring the two long edges that form the front of your costume together and sew the entire length *easier with a sewing machine. The gathered edges should be at the top of the seam you are creating. You will then (another aesthetic step) fold over just the edge of your gathered section and stitch it down so that the serged edge doesn't show on the front of the costume.

Step 11
Check your costume. It is almost complete! 11a is what the front should look like; 11b is the back.

Step 12
On the back of your costume, there are two side pieces of cloth diaper that will overlap easily when you hold the garment by the shoulder seams. In order to finish the costume, you will need to sew 4 snaps (2 pieces to a snap = 8 sides to sew) so that they will serve to adequately close the back of the costume and keep it from falling open when your child bumbles around in it. You could do this step with velcro, ties, buttons, hooks and eyes, etc. Whatever your preference is will probably work just fine.

I'm using this pattern for the Bride of Frankenstein, but it would work for many fun characters; such as Princess Leia, Gandalf, Mr. Spock from Star Trek IV, a ghost who didn't like to have their face covered...and that's just with it being white! You could throw it in the sink or washing machine with some fabric dye of your choice and the possibilities would be endless!!! :D*

The cloth diapers I used were ones with a pretty thick middle section. I preferred these as they created the big square shoulder that I was trying to achieve. You could use a less padded diaper if you wanted less of a shoulder pad effect.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

New items in Shoppe!

So, I'm starting to list my tiny embroidered ball earrings in my shoppe. This is my first foray into a wearable item and I'm pretty excited about it.
I have my sister, celenajustine to thank for the idea. When I first started embroidering ornaments, I wanted to experiment with all different sizes and bought some tiny styrofoam balls just to see what would happen. I made my first one and it was harder than I thought it would be! The smallness makes it more challenging to keep the base thread wrapping from slipping off while you wrap it and your hand cramps really bad from having to tightly hold such a little ball for a prolonged period.

My sister sees my frustrating effort, loves it, and, of course, states that she wants earrings. Aaargh. Of course my sister not only wants more, but she wants matching pairs to boot! But seriously, I think it's a neato idea. I've never seen anyone else who makes them. (Correct me if I'm wrong, please!) Plus, with how many amazing temari artists there are out there who make me look like a total amateur, it's nice to feel like I'm doing something unique with the technique.

I also have KatinkaPinka to thank in part for this new product coming together. I had already bought some earwires for my hypothetical earrings, but when I purchased some lovely felt ball earrings from dear Katinka, I knew that the kidney earwires were the way to go. I inspected them and asked her a few questions, she was wonderful as usual! So, with a little help from my friends, I am now an earring monger. Never thought that would happen. But then, I never thought I would do a lot of things I've done this year!

Also, finally put up a new banner in the shop. My sister hand carved herself a sign for a show we were planning on doing (though we didn't get accepted!) and, being the dominant twin, I told her to make me one too! She was actually kind enough and generous enough to do so. She's been too busy to finish the sanding, so it hasn't actually been stained yet, but I did some photo editing on it and I'm pretty happy with it; think it suits the look of my shoppe and could be a long term fixture! Thank you Celena!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Here comes Halloween!

I don't have much time these days to write nice posts, but thought I'd at least share some pics of some of what's keeping me busy!

As you may have guessed, I'm making my baby girl's first halloween costume; the Bride of Frankenstein. Here, you see my concept sketch, and my usage of my compost canister as a mannequin (it's the closest thing I have to her head circumference). I've had to buy a few things, it was supposed to be an easy peasy 1 2 3-sy kind of project, which I think it basically will be, but I've had to purchase a few more items than I originally thought. Isn't that always the way?
Dicey was very cooperative for her first fitting! Here, the hat is just basted together. It's made out of fleece. I plan on putting some lightweight plastic boning in the hat to help it keep its shape and adding ric rac chin straps to mimic the stitch lines on her throat. I couldn't find the skinny ric rac, so I bought the regular width, but am not sure I will be happy with it. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Guerilla Embroidery

So, my shoppe may have no sales, but my lovely mother-in-law has bought 4 of my Christmas ornaments and commissioned 5 more from me.

One of the 5 is a special request custom ball with a University of Texas theme. This was interesting for me, as I would have never chosen to do this theme on my own, but it was a fun challenge. It also necessitated some guerrilla style embroidery. I graduated from UT Austin in 2001 with a BA in Theatre/Dance and a concentration in costume design, so I dusted off the old school spirit and gave it a go.

Everyone is mystified by these balls I make, but the actual stitching technique is quite basic. Admittedly, you will have a better finished product with some needlework experience under your belt, but I really do think this craft is something anyone could learn. I taught myself from a book, after all. (There are temari artists out there who put me to shame, mind you, but I'm fairly proud of what I've been able to master in the short time I've been doing them - I made my first one for my daughter just before she was born, 9 months ago).

Cloth provides normal hand embroidery with a very regular and predictable "grid" to place your stitches in. Think warp and weft; you can place your stitch on one side of the thread or the other, giving you precise control over where your stitch appears in your design. This enables you to embroider anything, pretty much anywhere on the fabric and make it exactly the shape you want.

Temari embroidery is different.

After you wrap the ball with your base color thread (I use styrofoam balls, not the traditional and eco-friendly cloth scrap wad, I know I'm terrible!) you have an irregular, randomized network of thread going in all directions to cover a spherical surface. You are officially off the "grid" (*dork!*).

Typical temari designs are not affected much by these irregularities. You tuck your needle basically where you want it, but can push, pull or cover any error you make in stitch placement. It's a bit more of a nebulous process, more forgiving in many ways. In temari, you can pull stitches much tighter than you can with cloth, because you have a solid base, not a flexible piece of fabric. Your stitches are also more unpredictable though. You may put a stitch in and think it's going to show it's end point or origin point in a specific place, but when you pull through your next stitch, the nexus of thread may have mislead you, or have a gap, leaving your stitch shorter or longer than you intended. With regular temari embroidery, this is no big deal, you can make up for it on your next round of stitching more often than not.

Also, temari designs are just that; designs. They are not letters or numbers or curliques. They are flat sided shapes. When you put a stitch in, lay the thread across the ball and secure it with another stitch, you are creating a flat side to a shape. There are no circles, or curves. When you attempt to put such things into the design, this is when you need to employ guerilla embroidery tactics. On cloth (a grid) it's easy to be precise and make little stitches all in a row to create a curve. In a random nexus base, you lose that control, so you have to be more persistent and determined in order to get your design to look the way you intend it to.

I try to not do too many of these designs, but they are an interesting challenge, nonetheless!

I'm also including a little experimental ball design where I free handed some temari style presents. This was fun to do, don't know if I'll make any more though.

Saturday, October 3, 2009


One of my favorite things about working at the art school was being surrounded by art and artists and looking at all kinds of art everyday. I miss it. I am glad that there are places like Etsy and Blogspot and the internet in general to help make up for my loss, but it's not the same. I need to do more craft nights, but that is hard with everyone living far apart. I've decided to make sharing art with others a focus of my blogge.

Audrey Kawasaki is an artist whom I stumbled upon just poking around on the internet. I am in awe of her. I could pore over her website for hours and still want more. I lovelovelove that she includes her sketchbooks on her site. She is the main reason I started drawing on wood. Her work also helped me to feel validated in my penchant for drawing pretty ladies. I've never seen her work in person, but I can imagine that it is only more spectacular and haunting. I am on a mailing list. It is a life goal of mine to own a print of her work. She also has a live journal!

The rest of the artists featured are sellers on Etsy. Most I have hearted for years, some I have discovered very recently; all of them make me so proud to be an artist!

Marmeecraft: I love her folk art/victorian sensibility and her simultaneous use of whimsy, symbolism and cuteness. There's something so innocent, yet eerily wise about her aesthetic; I find it to be quite engaging. I also obviously respond to sister imagery; especially when it's mixed with lots of hair. (I have an identical twin sister, we, until very recently, had exceedingly long hair). It's just a bonus that she also draws pictures of cute woodland creatures! Blog too!

sheridesthelion: Ok, so not technically drawing/painting, but I don't think anyone should argue with me on this one. Sonia Romero is the only linocut artist I need. I was initially drawn to her work for the alphabet series, but continue to find everything she does to be artfully and masterfully made and with a really intriguing point of view. She also has a website.

TheBrilliantMagpie: The most wonderful collection of special ACEOs I've seen. Each one of Amy Abshier Reyes' sweet paintings is a story in and of itself; a petite window to another world with a lovely narrative teaser. Her work really invites you in to an interesting little world.

There's also a blog!

mystikaz: My newest find in this list, an artist named Karen A. Townsend (KAT). I just happened upon this shop very recently and was stunned by what I saw. I had to blow the pictures up to their largest just so that I could study them and convince myself they weren't digital/photo art. You have got to love portraiture with this kind of detail and realism; plus, who doesn't love Erroll Flynn?!

- The next two sellers mentioned have obvious talent and style in the drawing department, but maybe should have been in a separate post about artists who work with paper in 3 dimensions. But, I'm doing the post now and I'm including them anyway. So what?

LittleRobot: I love the strangeness and obvious quality that I find in

Lindsey Carr's shop.* This is work that is so different than mine I cannot help but be attracted to it. (But I still get my long hair ladies mixed in!) I adore the jumping jack/art dolls and paper theatre. I am filled with fascinating questions when I look through these

items and I find that so exciting! There's also a blog!

*another shop that I feel the same way about is crankbunny. This shop, however, is closed for an important project at the time I am posting. The link still has interesting info and other sites where you can learn more about this seller.

A major motivating factor in my becoming an artist was simply loving things that other people created. I continue to be prodded along by what is out there and what speaks to me. I think it's magical that art makes artists make more art.

After sharing some of my inspirational artists (specifically for drawing/painting); I would LOVE it if any of my readers shared theirs. I also plan on doing additional posts for other artistic media.

Friday, October 2, 2009


I'm completely zen about not being accepted into Cherrywood Art Fair this year. It was going to be a big bite to take and be able to chew for me right now anyway.

I was not looking forward to an entire weekend of being stuck in a booth, not being able to take care of my little girl; not to mention the hours and hours of prep work that were going to have to go into getting the booth ready and my inventory up also taking time away from my little girl. Next year will be a try, try again year. Dorothy will be almost 2 yrs. old (better suited to a solo Dad weekend) and I should have much more stock to pull from so the prospect of being accepted won't be quite the Herculean effort that it was going to be for me this year.

It also makes sense that Cherrywood would have been inundated with amazing applicants this year. When I worked for the Dougherty Arts School, the economy being in a slump always meant we had lots of talented people looking for work, willing to take the pay cut of a city job. When I first applied to the Dougherty for a teaching position I was not accepted due to this very reason. Once I did get hired and worked my way up to the administrative level, I was able to see this flux firsthand and had to turn away artists I would have otherwise gladly hired. My biggest piece of advice to job hopefuls was to keep trying. I would tell them my story of how I was rejected multiple times as an applicant; first for the summer camp, then for the afterschool program, then for a summer teaching position, then for an administrative position. All these times had totally understandable reasons behind them that had virtually nothing to do with who I was or my worth as an employee. I was able to say all this as a Cultural & Arts Education Specialist and be an actual example of how patience and tenacity really could pay off eventually.

So, in short, I'm not taking the rejection personally, or as a discouraging message. I was just starting to get excited that I might be making minor headway in my Etsy shoppe, and I was really going to have to shift my efforts away from that focus and probably lose any momentum I may have gained recently (with starting to be more included in treasuries and picking up hearts along the way). I feel like I'm just about to hit my stride (maybe just a mini-stride) when it comes to the whole being-an-online presence/blogging/producing ball of wax that I've been wrestling with and am excited to continue working on that goal. I'm also happy to enter into this Christmas shopping season not being torn about what to list in my shoppe and what to reserve for the show.

I still have so much to learn and know I will be much more prepared for the work that goes into a craft show with another year under my business belt. I have really started cold and slow with the whole Etsy shoppe/business thing; having never done such a thing, and having a baby, thusly rarely being able to devote much time to it. I knew I would have to be patient, but I'm only now really starting to see that Etsy seems to be a venue (just like anything else in life, duh!) where you get out of it what you put in. Now that Dorothy is closing in on the 1 yr. mark and my life has graduated from survival mode to more of a routine; I really feel that I will be able to balance TCB for my shoppe and TLC for my daughter. (*Sorry for the dork moment!*)

I was looking forward to putting together a collaborative shop with my twin sister, celenajustine. I was also looking forward to getting some firsthand reactions and feedback from shoppers. However, it is only one show and it was only my first application. This coming year I will do some research into finding some other shows that we would be able to do and be ready to have more baskets to put more eggs into. This was just the beginning. I think we have a marketable aesthetic and am committed to pushing us both hard in 2010 so that we can go into the next Christmas season with glue guns blazing!