Saturday, October 31, 2009

Advertising 101

That's what I'm all about today, Halloween Day. Between the pumpkin carving, the sewing up of my youngest son's spooky costume, and the roasting of pumpkin seeds, guess what I did? I decided to place an ad on a favorite site to visit; Kelly Rae Roberts' blog page! There's my little ad spot up there. So, you can see that I am a true multi-tasker. One part of my mind is on the business at hand, and the other one is freeform planting (+ roasting ;o) seeds and dealing with irons in that fire. Aren't we women amazing?! Oh, the things we manage to do with our compartmentalizing minds! My husband just shakes his head!

Happy Halloween to you and yours! I'm sure you'll be multi tasking too, while you take your little ghosts and goblins around. Enjoy every minute :o)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

It's Good To Know

Do you know about Amy over at Pikaland?

Amy publishes the "Good To Know" zine, which is full of advice and inspiration from artists/illustrators/designers on creativity, business and life. The current issue is #6, and is all about the dreaded JEALOUSY and ENVY that somehow go along with being an artist. The questions Amy posed were:
Do you get jealous / envious when you view other people's work?
-Does it make you a better artist?
-How do you get over it?

Well, I sent in my thoughts on this touchy subject, and Amy added them to her publication. So, thank you, Amy! I really appreciate your including me. Lord only knows; it's something I've dealt with on a daily basis... or at least ever since I decided to make ART my profession.
I'm actually pretty good at being downright jealous when I see someone else's work that is just too good to be true (I look a bit like the girl on the right ;o) Well, that is, I think I USED to look like her. Now, at this stage in my life, I try to learn more about what makes me feel so jealous and insecure, which in turn inspires me to do better and work harder. Here are my thoughts, and what's been published in Good To Know #6:

"I do get a little jealous and envious when I see another artist's wonderful work. Mostly I think that situation inspires me. I find that I have to keep looking and studying what it is about the work that sends me off in this direction. Then I try to bring a little of their magic into my work as best as I can. Sometimes I make a trial "copy" of the work, and then see how this influences my future work. I love that these exercises force me to broaden my horizons, and push my boundaries in new directions."

Check out Amy's wonderful publication, especially if you're one to brood and stew about other people's talent. There are 39 artists sharing their refreshing and timely advice over 48 inspiring pages. And believe me; everything in there is definitely Good To Know!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wool: Sustainable, Warm + Breathable

I like wool. I really do. In fact, I'm pretty much in love with wool.

I love that it comes from wooly sheep in the form of a haircut. I love that the sheep locks are what're washed, combed and dyed for making into wool yarn, or wool roving. How can you resist this curly face?! (Lola looks like this right before she gets a haircut :o)

When I order a batch of dyed locks, they come with bits of the barnyard in them. (Love that too) First the cutie pies... then a hair trim... and the wool can end up like this...

I love the fact that you can change a wool sweater into felt by washing and drying it. And I love the fact that wool is sustainable. It is warm and cozy to wear. And it breathes, making it a wonderful all weather clothing choice. Wool is one of the most natural resources available to us.

Wooly Baby made these adorable bootlets. Ooh, I wish Wooly Baby would make some for ME! They looks so cute and cozy.

Here's one of my latest wooly creations. Made from recycled wool and cashmere sweater scraps, they are cozy lovables. I'm making lots of these "Wooly Baby Stuffs" to sell at Artisans' Alley.

Have a warm and wooly fall day!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Altered Couture; I'm In It!

It's so very exciting; all the publishing that's been happening!

I've barely recovered from the thrill of Haute Handbags, and now we have the Altered Couture article. It's another lovely spread, in a beautiful, high quality coffee table style magazine. I really feel blessed to have this opportunity come my way. Thank you all for your support, and good wishes, and for helping me find my way to where I am today. I'm sure it wouldn't have happened without THAT!

Have yourself a woolie-wonderful day!
PS. I tried to link the pages so you could click on them and they'd get big enough to read. My skills in this department are sorely lacking, so you will just need to put on your most powerful readers. ;o) Oh, just go buy the copy, and then you can show it to all your friends!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Reason Not To Sleep

Two reasons actually. A dress and a necklace. Both good reasons, right?!
Here's the dress. It's one I saw while blog surfing. I check in at A Diary of a Sewing Fanatic's blog every so often. I just love people who are sewing fanatics! (I guess I'm one too) Carolyn was also inspired by this dress from Banana Republic. It's so interesting to see how my inspiration pans out compared to Carolyn's inspiration. You can't see mine yet, because, well, it's still in my HEAD, but I think it might begin popping out sometime today. I was about to put the women's vests on the back shelf for a while, but now that I've seen this dress, a new vest style is in the works. I'll post my progress here, so, if you're even a wee sewing fanatic, check back soon to see the progress. Also, if this dress inspires you, or keeps you up at night, well, I hope you'll have something to show for that too!

And this is the necklace. Marcia again. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Now you rob my sleep at night. Oh, what have you done to me, Marcia? The beads... it's the beads. I struggle and try to stop. Try to stay away, but the beads keep calling me back. The colors, the combinations, the possibilities galore. Okay, I'm about ready to throw in the towel and admit to the fact that I have become a beader. Yesterday, I was at, yet again, Lost Cities, and a woman came up to me to remark on my amazing earrings. Yes, I answered, I made them from a MARCIA design. But the good thing was that I made them also a little bit "Val". They are about 2/3 Marcia and 1/3 Val. So, that counts, right? I am proud of my beautiful earrings. I am making them by the bundle now. I can't stop. I'm figuring out how to put the bead colors together so they "pop" and "sing". It's not easy. It's involved making several designs, and cutting them up the minute they are done. Hate them. Pressing on, I'm learning what works. And soon, I will have a new photo to post. "Singing" earrings... has a nice ring to it, no?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Welcome New Friends

You are always welcome over here at our house!
I met so many new wonderful people yesterday at the Mission Hills Preschool Craft Fair. I appreciate all your comments and support for all things handmade (and wool), and I look forward to hopefully seeing you again very soon!

As promised, a mention of Artisans' Alley, which is a wonderful holiday Craft Fair that takes place on the first Saturday in December each year. The fair lasts from 9am until 3pm. I will hopefully be situated where I was last year, in the booth across from the entrance to the food area. In any case, let me know if you have questions that I can help answer. And, in the meantime, put the date on your calendar. You'll not want to miss Artisan's Alley. It's great fun, with great shopping, and will get you right into the holiday spirit. See you then!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Falling Into Fall

Hope this finds you in fine form, and enjoying a few leaves crunching under your feet.

Even though it seems unlikely in Southern California, we do have Fall. Like everywhere else, our days get shorter, and the nights get cooler. We enjoy lovely "Indian Summer" weather, which makes visitors ooh and ahh for days after arriving in our coastal town. It's the nicest time of the year here, and we love it very much.

Fresh for fall, a few Falling Leaves for you to enjoy in the form of scarves and wrist warmers, all made from refashioned felted wool, and adorned with lovely needle felted falling leaves.

Happy Fall :o)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hamish and the L.F.

That would be the Lady Friend...
Her name is Penelope, or Penny for short. She and Hamish have been thick as thieves.
They jetted off to Paris on Monday...
Later, I see that they are in Egypt!

Then today, I get this photo. They are in the desert visiting a Graveyard.
Will the fun never cease? All I know is they'd better be back in time for the Mission Hills Craft Fair on Saturday morning. Did you both hear that, Hamish and Penelope? No kidding around now. People want to meet you, so you'd better show up. Or ELSE!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Meet Hamish, My New Love

Hamish is as Hamish does. And whatever Hamish does is all-righty-right with me!

Hamish, and a few of his friends, have made their sudden appearance in my studio this weekend. Hamish is pretty much full of attitude. He's come right out and stated that he's planning on being an Architect. And, he is planning to design a famous monument as grand as the Tour Eiffel (just wait and see). I have no control over Hamish. Once he appeared, he's quite taken over. Wow, no telling what the rest of this week will bring...

So, in my last post, I said I'd been taken over by aliens. (Um, well, that's what the beading was like!) It's taken me exactly 4 days, 3 hours and 26 minutes to feel like a human again. That is one sort of back pain I cannot possibly endure on an ongoing basis. Marcia, just how do you do it? I loved it, but I definitely do not like it. The side effects, that is.

In the interest of regaining my back's sanity, I moved in an entirely different direction. That's how things go 'round here. One day it's one thing and the next it's entirely something new. I can barely keep up... The sewing, needle felting, and stuffing have all come about because of Saturday's Mission Hills Community Preschool Craft Fair , which lasts from 9am til 12 noon. This is the 2nd annual Pumpkin Patch (yea!!)/ Fine Crafts fair, with a performance by Classics For Kids (love, love, LOVE them), a puppet show, and a kids area. How cute is that?!

I took one look at my overflowing sweater scrap bag, and out popped the 'Stuffs': Hamish, along with Toasty, and Little Miss Mommy Sassy-Pants. Like I said before; Wow, no telling what's in store for the rest of the week. So, the deal is, we invite you to come and meet Hamish and his friends this Saturday morning. Better get there early, cause one of those little kiddies might just have to sashay him home. And I hope they do, because I'd rather Hamish boss somebody else besides me... he's mightly bossy 'round here!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Blame It On Beading

... my pain, that is. It's my shoulders, my neck, and my poor, poor fingers; stiff and swollen after two entire days of beading. I also blame it on me for not stopping myself, but mostly on Marcia, aka Beading Guru and Friend-who's-teaching-me-beading. It started with our recent Girl's Weekend Retreat where we were to be knitting and beading both. Both. That means switching off. Well, did it happen? No, it did not. Not really. There were a few token knitting attempts. But it was the beading that stole the show. That's when the hurt began to set in.

Marcia just shows up with these INCREDIBLE IRRESISTIBLE beaded items she makes. That's when the ogling and eye-popping begin. Then we move into the questioning phase; Can WE make THAT? and, WE HAVE to have THAT! and finally, Will YOU show US how? (How can she resist us?!) What she has, we all want. It's that simple. She's our Guru. Our Beading Guru, and she's taking us places we never dreamed we'd ever go.
We are making Under The Mast. Guess what? It's new, not even in her brand new book. We were guinea pigs for Marcia that weekend, so she could work out the kinks of teaching this project for an upcoming class. I am so happy to say that I am NEARLY DONE with this gorgeous necklace. I can't wait to wear it. Besides that, I have been making a modified project from the book, Teracita Earrings. These are the items that have stiffened my poor fingers, because I'm making them in every colorway from my stash possible. I cannot stop myself, I'm possessed by the beads... sigh.
Lastly, along with everything else, I am beading felt. The felt is being shaped, and embellished with beads. Did I mention that felting is my one true love (practically!). Well, the beads are making a stand, and it's not pretty...

Okay, well, yes it is. Very pretty, and I like it. Come see me at the Mission Hills Preschool Craft Fair on Saturday morning, Oct. 17 from 9am -12 noon. I will have these lovelies for show and sale. If you like them, do get them now. I have promised myself I WILL NOT be a beader, and I WILL NOT be a jewelry maker. However, as a Felter, I will sometimes allow myself a foray into the jewelry world, but I promise you, it's NOT FOR LONG!

Happy beading! And as far as for me... wish me happy kneading out the kinks from my shoulders and back...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Felted Ball Tutorial(s)

I will forewarn you that I don't understand a thing she says. But the pictures and idea come across really well. So, if you are "dyeing" to know how to make a felt ball for jewelry or for anything else, turn down your sound and watch the video. About the "dyeing" part, well, that's a whole different tutorial, and will have to be addressed on a different day. :o)

Okay, if you need translation, go on to this next video. Warning: you will notice the woman lets the water run for more than 6 minutes. Since we are in drought conditions, I don't recommend letting your water run the entire time you are working on the ball. Try to get a bowl of hot and cold water, and move between hot and cold in this fashion. Sheesh, I guess there's no such thing as a water shortages in Europe (or wherever she's from)...

I was going to add a third video. It's in Japanese with an English translator, but there are bathroom activities happening in the background which could gross some people out. I'll spare you that one, but can let you know where to find it if you're curious!

Happy felting!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thanks to Trish

So, are you getting excited, curious, jealous (just kidding!), or maybe a little of all three!?!
The newness you are seeing around here is due to none other than Tricia Shiel of StreetDesigns and StreetCards. Trish is an oh-so-talented graphic designer, and she really shines in the World of Whimsy department. Trish is from London, but she used to live here in San Diego, and that is when she met my husband, Greg, and quickly got mixed up with our lot of friends. It was a sad day one May when she packed up her bits and bags, and her 1967 right-hand-drive cherry Porsche, and returned to her homeland. We still see Trish regularly, as she can't stay away, and joins our group whenever there's something too fun to pass up. She's a true gem, and we miss Trishie so much over here!

So, when Miss Heartless Etsy Designer closed up her shop and delivered her dose of negativity my way, I found a way to remedy the situation by hiring Trish. And, look at me now! An entirely new logo package, with a brand spankin' NEW Website that's so professional, yet whimsical too. Trish managed to capture my business model perfectly, and the nice thing is that she told me she had so much fun while she was at it. I couldn't be happier! And, really, you have to admit the site is full of whimsy and fun. It is actually still a work in progress, so if you keep checking back, you'll see small changes taking place here and there. And, guess what?! The site is going to be animated by Flash! (Okay, I don't really know what that's all about, but it sure sounds fun!)

So, if you're in the market for a web designer, give Trish a holler. Don't let the fact that she's in London scare you off. We managed to iChat and email every day, so the time difference didn't matter a bit. Don't worry about phone calls, because iChatting doesn't cost a dime. You simply must heed my advice, and forego cheap labor. Remember; pay peanuts, get monkeys. Pay a bit more, and get the best quality that you never knew would come your way.

So, thanks Trish. It just couldn't be any better! :o)

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Preview of Cuteness to Come

Yep, here's a glimpse! Oooh, it's very exciting...

So, do you remember the "Etsy, I'm Not On Sale" post? The one where I spilled my guts about the etsy designer who refused to sell me rights to my logo design? Well, doesn't every bad situation have a silver lining.... because now I have a brand new logo, and all sorts of goodies to go along with it!
Wow, it's just like Halloween night 'round here with a fresh new batch of sweets!!

Now, I'm supposed to keep part of my excitement a secret, but it's OH SO HARD TO DO! But, for now, you can see my new banner on my blog, and there's a new banner in my etsy shop too. And, stay tuned for the next part of the Big Unveil, coming very soon!

And as for these cutie pillows, well, they are in my etsy shop too. But they are in my BM (that's Brick + Mortar) shops as well... that's shopS, did you notice? For one is at Austin's Gallery in Coronado, and the other is at Hello Bluebird,
way out in Pennsylvania. I'm bi-coastal, and
that's kinda cool...

All righty, so there's my excitement for the day. Now I must get on with the truly important stuff, and that's bodywork. For today's the day for that. The chiropractor and the massage therapist will nudge, knead, and beat the knots from my over needlefelted shoulders and upper back. Then it's on to teacher conferences, and kid duty. These cutes here are what keep me sane, I tell you :o)