Saturday, March 28, 2009

Inspiration: Owls

Here's a new feature I'll be blogging every so often. Inspiration. I'm inspired by the people I meet, the places I travel, the things I see. Each Inspiration Montage will feature a new theme, be it nature, music, belly buttons... This first Inspiration Montage just happens to be about a little something you've all seen featured on this site before: Owls!

1. Our Doormat: We picked this up from Target last summer on clearance. It definitely adds personality to our front door! I wonder what our neighbors think of us...

2. Plate: This decorative plate was a christmas present from my boyfriend's parents. It will work great in a future dining room as wall art when its not being used as a cheese platter!

3. Owl Key Covers: These are a hoot! Get it? A hoot? I picked these babies up at Urban Outfitters in Chicago on a recent trip. If only I had enough keys to use them all!

4. Coin Bank: Target was just a mine-field of owls last season. This gorgeous pewter bank was ordered online from Target's website. It's only about a foot tall, but it was shipped in a 3 ft. x 4 ft. box. What a waste of space!

5. Jewelry: I wear these necklaces when I'm hoping for good luck! The wooden disk on the left is made by an artist in Madison who sells her creations at the Farmers' Market and on Etsy. Check her out! They make great gifts. The pewter charm on the right I purchased in Germany at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin. It's one of my favorite places on earth.

6. Stamps: Hero Arts made these adorable stamps. Definitely expect a few card designs to include these cuties!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Softie: Martha Had a Little Lamb

Mary isn't the only one with a lamb these days. I made these fluffy sheep by following a pattern from Martha Stewart Living. It's a fabulous site for gift ideas, learning new techniques, or just for gaining fresh inspiration. After seeing some of the patterns and ideas on this site, I challenge myself to embellish and improve on them. I did that with the white lamb here. I used a polyester faux Sherpa Wool I found for ueber cheap in the remnant bin. You can't see it very well from any of these photos, but I used a light pink fleece to line its inner ears. I chose to make the other one out of purple polar fleece also found in the remnant bin for a very reasonably inexpensive price. A girl has got to do what she can to save money these days!

I especially like how the white, fluffy Sherpa Lamb turned out. I think it could make for a great baby shower or christening gift. I can even change the inner ear color to baby blue for a boy. I've also considered embroidering names and dates either on a scarf around the lambs neck or even directly onto the lamb itself if I can make it stand out well enough. These lambs could then become personalized for each child. I'm also looking into making lambs for charities. If any one knows of one that accepts handmade donations, give me a shout out! I'd be happy to craft a donation.
And I'll definitely be getting my fair share of practice on these little baa-baas since my aunt has commissioned me to make her seven of these little lambs for her students.
Stay tuned for photos of that flock coming soon!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Softie: Gone to the Dogs

Anyone with a love of canines will appreciate today's post. Both of these cute little guys were inspired by Japanese Mascot patterns that can be found all over the web and in Japanese books sold on Ebay and Etsy. A while back I fell into the very dangerous habit of purchasing fabric that struck a cord with me but that I didn't necessarily have a use for at the time. The lime and teal hues of these fabrics shout 1970's nostalgia, but there fun and quirky in a modern way. Meet "Bubbles" and "Frankie", two lovable canine companions whose vintage charm is worse than their bite!
Recognize those daisy button eyes on "Bubbles"? They are the same La Mode buttons I used on Pointy Kitty and Squiggles the Kitty. I love the versatility of their shape and the lime green color has been surprisingly versatile as well. This chubby canine was a holiday gift for my aunt. I wanted to experiment with stuffing techniques, so his head uses the bamboo Nature-fil I can't stop raving about, and his body is filled with rice. The rice gives "Bubbles" a bean-bag quality and he can be sculpted to sit in a variety of poses.

Where "Bubbles" the Dog is chubby and stout, "Frankie" the Wiener Dog is long and lean. The lime, teal, and mustard yellow of Frankie's fabric wouldn't work on just any pup. But Frankie's fresh attitude and linear profile really work the vintage color combination. Like "Ries" the Raccoon, I used safety-lock animal eyes and nose to create his face. And to add to the whimsy, I made Frankie a teal collar and used a sterling silver puppy paw charm as a dog tag.

When you're going to the dogs, you have to go all the way!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy Belated St. Patrick's Day!

This goes out to all the O'briens, O'Malleys, O'Donnells, to all the Killians, Murphys, and Kennedys... But especially to all the wee lads and lasses who claim honorary Irish heritage - be it for only one day of the year!
Here's the card I made for Jason this year. The flowers on the front of the card were salvaged from some scrap fabric. The clovers were taken from the same salvaged fabric and were originally five petalled flowers. I reworked them into the symbol of luck you see below!

Have a nip of Jameson in celebration of St. Pat and enjoy the luck of the Irish! Slainte!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Card Crazy II: Flower Power

With fickle Spring teasing us with its bright sunshine and warm weather, I was inspired to craft a few cards. These floral delights capture the bright essence of spring through a palette of fresh hues and mixed media. Once again I could not deny my affinity for ribbon, but I creatively used ribbon in different ways on each card: binding, dividing, and weaving. I love how inspiring nature can be!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Softie: Ries the Raccoon

This little guy has been my most ambitious softie to date! Inspired by my vino-loving uncle, this raccoon was hand-stitched using brown corduroy and a wine barrel printed calico. The abstract look of the wine barrels is subtle yet still discernable. It conveys the wine theme in a masculine manner yet does not overwhelm the imagination and detract from the whimsy of this playful raccoon. Safety-lock animal eyes and nose were used for that curious expression he seems to be making! I'm thrilled with the way the rings on the tail turned out. He's holding a cork from one of the random bottles of wine I've been known to enjoy on occasion.

It is well to remember that there are five reasons for drinking: the arrival of a friend; one's present or future thirst; the excellence of the wine; or any other reason.

- Latin Proverb

Anyone who knows me will recognize the similarities between his name "Ries" and the name of my favorite variety of wine, Riesling. I simply fell in love with its lush flavor while studying abroad in Germany. I was fortunate enough to participate in an internship at Pieper Vineyard while there in the spring of 2005. I've included some personal photos of this unique experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Crafty Quick Fix: Jewelry Organizer

One of the many inspiring ideas I've found while using the website Craftster proved to be an amazingly easy and amazingly helpful one! And pretty stylish too! Following a tutorial provided by ModCloth (follow link), I created this nifty way to organize, store, and display my jewelry. The frame is 15"x15" and was purchased for only $5 at TJ Maxx. I had to disassemble it and throw out the ugly safari themed art print that came with it, but the effort proved fruitful. The asian inspired brocade is from JoAnn's. It complements the gold and chestnut tones of the frame. Common pearl-headed pins keep the jewelry in place with the help of a polyester foam inset which the fabric and frame hold in place. It took under 15 minutes and under $15 to create.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Softie: Pointy Kitty and Squiggles the Kitty

Thanks to Hillary Lang at Wee Wonderfuls, I was able to make a charming gift for my goddaughter. Following her pattern for the Pointy Kitty, I used a bright and colorful pink calico fabric in a spring theme, with purple felt as accents. Lime green daisy-shaped buttons by La Mode made for whimsical cat eyes and complemented the accent colors of the calico fabric. A scrap of cream felt was used as a nose and embroidery floss in the same color to attach it.

As a variation to the Pointy Kitty pattern, I changed the shape of the accent felt pieces on my second creation. Using a scalloped edge instead of the triangular pointy one, I named this one Squiggles the Kitty (right). For Squiggles, a corduroy fabric (my fav!) in a patchwork theme of pinks, greens, browns, and yellows, made for an ideal choice, while magenta felt made up the scalloped patches on its head and torso. To thematically match Pointy Kitty, I used bright pink daisy-shaped La Mode buttons for the eyes and used a scrap of leftover purple felt for the nose.

Overall, this project proved successful and made for a great gift. I do however need to work on techniques for attaching the head of this frolicing feline. I haven't quite figured out a really clean and sightly way to do that yet. But practice makes perfect!

Ms. Lang's pattern can be found by following this link: Pointy Kitty