Thursday, January 28, 2010

I think I'm living proof that women are great multi-taskers...

Wow, this week has been crazy! Work has kept me running, running, running! There are so many things going on, let's see if I can remember everything I wanted to share.

First things first...I noticed yesterday that people from Brazil, Vietnam, India, and Dubai have visited my blog! Whee! Yes, I understand they probably just stumbled on it and won't be back...but still! Hey, I'm just excited that anyone actually reads all my online chatter. :)

Let's see, as for my current projects...I'm still working on the tote bag. The step I'm on right now is the slowest part because it involves the Dremel and sewing (but so far I think it's turning out well). I need to have it done after this weekend for the crafting competition so at least I'll be done yammering on about it!

I also have another opportunity that I am VERY excited about. I recently recalled that when I was a kid, I wanted to illustrate children's books when I grew up. I volunteered to bind a children's story that was written by a young relative. Since it is very short (about a page), I will need to lengthen it out and include illustrations. It will be a surprise gift for her (I think...details still need to be worked out) and I'm hoping she'll enjoy it. And I'll get a chance to do something that I've wanted to, and to see how much I enjoy it! I used to make coloring contests for neighborhood kids but I never actually sketched out a children's book.

My aunt's church hymnal is proceeding VERY slowly (I seem to be putting "very" in caps quite often in this post). I have the signatures guarded and folded, I just need to start marking and sewing. I'll probably try to finish that up once this tote bag is completed. Here's a photo (indoor lighting, sorry!) of some of the guarded pages.

I have a few other projects in the works that I'll give you photographic teases of once I'm farther along. A canvas piece, maybe a jewelry piece, and possibly some sewing? I'm really pleased that I have a sewing machine on hand! (Don't worry, I'll probably mention that in the next ten to fifteen posts) I also just agreed to take part in a college fundraiser so I'll be doing a little bookbinding (hopefully) at some point this year for some more Texas people. I really do enjoy making pretty books and art for people to appreciate, especially when you are binding something so meaningful to them. I almost wish I could see them when they open it!

Winter is also back here in Pittsburgh (we had a nice little reprieve for a while) so I'm fantasizing about spring and summer vacations, working in the yard, and all those outdoor festivals! <---- LOVE the craft ones. Here's hoping I can make our yard as pretty as some of my art.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Recycled Tote Bag

Tonight I just want to post a brief update on my recycled tote bag. Tomorrow (unless I'm feeling less chatty/exhausted from work) I will post a little more about the changes to my blog, some classes I'm interested in, and some other project photos.

I've been trying hard to motivate myself in this dreary month to get some projects finished. The nice thing about the recycled tote bag project is that it's due by February! It's a project competition posted by Craftster and if I want to be in the running, well then I have to have it finished at the end of this weekend. I'll post it for sale on Etsy afterward and depending on how successfully it turns out, I may make some more.

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (not many, I know), I recently posted that I had a great idea for my bag. I'm not going to post the exact details yet, but I'll post two pictures as hints. I knew what I was planning on using for my materials but while I was working on it the other day, I glanced at a piece of the bag and a really great idea popped into my head! I had to IMMEDIATELY find my sketchbook and figure out the logistics. I think it's doable (doable as in, it looks cute AND it's a functional tote bag) but considering that I haven't used a sewing machine in years (it's so much faster than hand-sewing though!), it might be sloppier than intended. And for those of you wondering, no I didn't buy a new machine (I actually have one but something is wrong with it); I borrowed my sister-in-law's. :) Thanks Julie! Anyway, back to the bag. I'm really hoping that no one else has the exact same idea and frankly I've been a little worried to Google it. I'll have to before I post it (I don't want to plagiarize), but I'm going to wait until I finish mine. I don't want to see someone else's and have that unintentionally influence the one I'm making. I know, I'm being so mysterious! Well, my bookbinding coworkers/friends will love it! Check out the photos and ignore my stray threads. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A new book to devour...

This week I feel like I have a bunch of little things to say, so you might get a bunch of little posts! I like to break up the text with at least one photo, so hopefully I'll be able to put something up that goes along with the topic. Right now, I'm exhausted from snowtubing all afternoon and once I'm done vegging on the couch with Hubby (and playing Mario on the Wii), I am going to head upstairs and pick up where I left off on a new book. :) I just had to share my thoughts on this one because it's about a freelance bookbinder (!) who can also see ghosts (!) and is trying to solve a mystery involving an illuminated manuscript (!). Seriously, how much better could this book get?? It's called The Book of Illumination: A Novel from the Ghost Files by Mary Ann Winkowski and Maureen Foley. I also just noticed on Amazon (in their section of Frequently Bought Together) that I also own one of the ones frequently bought but I would never have connected the two. Hm. Anyway, I am about halfway through the book and so far I have been nerdily excited over the references to bookbinding, the North Bennett St School, and to art/book and paper conservation schools. I am a little disappointed with how much the authors focus on the protagonist's personal life vs. interacting with ghosts (it seems to be a very minor part of the book thus far) but I'm hoping it will pick up a little towards the end of the book. I need to share this book with my bookbinding chums! (Yes, I used the word chums)

I also just came across a post on my Twitter today from amlibraries about social media cards as the 2.0 Type of Business Card. You can read the blog post here. I find the idea to be an excellent one. I appreciate that libraries and cultural institutions have a presence on social networking sites, but really? Who wants to "connect" with an institution? I would much rather network with a specific person who responds to my questions and comments rather than an overreaching organization. In most cases anyway, one person is assigned to update the institutions social networking accounts and the users/patrons get to know who this person is, responding to them on a more personal level. Let's share the workload with others, eh? Everyone should know how to use FB at this point (and NEEDS to). It's a really great guest post on The 'M' Word: Marketing Ideas for Libraries and Nonprofits, you should check it out. (

And just to include a picture for you :), here's a photo of a necklace I created as a holiday gift. It was my first attempt at working with wire and really bending it, hammering it, etc. I had to choose an easy design because otherwise I knew it would look a little miserable. The receiver seemed to like it and that's all that matters to me!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hubby as Inspiration

Today we had a great deal of snow and hubby and I spent the day together since I didn't feel it would be safe to drive my usual 35-40 minute commute. I also had a bit of a sore throat so it seemed a wise decision. Naturally, while I could've been productive, especially in the craft department, I wasn't. But I found an unexpected source of inspiration in my hubby. As some of you know, he is in the computer programming field. Over the holidays, he recognized some skills that he hadn't used since college and decided to brush up on them. One way that he plans on doing this is by entering programming contests that are posted online. It forces him to create new code using....uh, things?....that he hasn't in quite a while and in the process, he could potentially win some prize money and gain some exposure.

While we were sitting here reading (me)/working on the computer (hubby) and listening to the Pogues station on Pandora, I realized that I should do something similar. I constantly wish I had "assignments" like in art class because it was far easier for me to be creative when I had some limitations. So of course I googled it (my fancy schmancy librarian education coming in good use!) and came across Craftster. What a great site! They have craft challenges about once a month it seems, which is a perfect timeline for me. The one due in February is a tote made of recycled materials. I'm going to have to scrounge the house for some ideas but I'm rather excited. Even if I decide not to participate in this challenge, there are many more to come. I enjoy having wonder I loved school.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Inspiration by Poe

So I'm finally showing off my book press! The photo isn't the best (my camera batteries were about to die) but you can see the basics. Hubby made it for me and all that's left is cutting some other woodblocks for different sizes. The edges of these in the photo need sanded a little bit. But I've already got a textblock in there! I'll also need to make a couple with brass edges for nipping, but these are good for now.

I also completed the monstrous text right before the holidays so I will share a few photos with you. I hope the recipient enjoys the final product. I chose a lovely blue cloth and although I wasn't able to sew real endbands on, I think it still looks nice. It matches my guest room too! I have another great pic of it with the bedspread material looking beautiful in the background. Maybe I'll put that up soon as well.

I've got about another hour to go "play" in my new art studio before thinking about bed (I am bound and determined to go to bed early tonight, much earlier than our usual 1 AM). I'm either going to brainstorm from some scrap paper and cloth or work on a few shadow portraits. We viewed the Poe exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art during the holidays and they were selling cute little shadow portraits in faux vintage frames in the gift shop. I wasn't about to pay as much as they wanted for something I could do myself, however. Especially when I can personalize it for our family! I'm very excited to find frames that I can doctor up to look more vintage than they really are. I also drooled over the woodcut print of the Raven by Val Lucas. So beautiful but I just couldn't afford to buy it. It would have looked amazing in my living room though! I saw it online before we visited and didn't realize they would be for sale at the museum. Don't pass it up if you get a chance to purchase one!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Another Year, Another Beginning

Well, I had hoped to write a little more often during the holiday break, especially since I got a new laptop (squee!). But of course all my plans were hectic and in my spare moments, I took naps. However, the new year has begun and although I don't believe in New Year Resolutions (only life resolutions), I'm eager for a fresh start with some time to create more art. I'll be posting pictures within the next few days, but I have my book press all ready, a new jewelry piece complete, and many blank canvases beckoning me.

I also suddenly have my remodeled attic back since our house guests have departed. I've already started moving my art supplies up there and need to start thinking about planning everything else. I'm excited to have the new space but not yet ready to put a lot of time into it since I'm still exhausted from the holidays. Maybe next weekend.

I'm a little bummed that the holidays are over. I love this time of year, even when the holiday drivers are driving ME nuts. It always seems like the only time of year when people are thinking about everyone else instead of themselves. People gripe and complain about all this shopping not being a part of Christmas or Hanukkah and I suppose I understand their point of view. But I don't see it as consumerism. I see it as people trying to please those they love but honoring them with a gift. So when I get annoyed at all the traffic, I just think about what they are trying to accomplish instead of how they are delaying me. They are trying to make someone else happy. And after Christmas Day, that feeling just seems to be gone. At least until next year.