Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At the Christmas tree farm

In an effort to both avoid the shopping rush and utilize the spare hands lingering around the house post-Thanksgiving, my Mother uses Black Friday as the day to cut down her Christmas tree.  And since my mini tree usually comes from the not-so-scenic Home Depot parking deck, I took the opportunity to tag along and take some photos of my native land, while lending minimal help to actually finding and cutting a tree. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Glittery votive holiday candle holders

Who doesn't want to add a little sparkle to their holiday? The answer is no one.  These glitter covered candle holders are pretty enough to give to friends and family, but casual enough to give to that person who you aren't sure is getting you a gift, but if they do you don't want to be left with nothing for them.  Plus they're easy and quick to make!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

DIY Anthropologie-style paper trees

While in Anthropologie a few weeks ago I saw this paper pine tree among the holiday decor, and then went home and recreated my own version.  This cute, antique style tree makes a great decoration or gift and can be used through the entire winter.  Read on to see how to create your own.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A New Year's Wedding

In order to avoid Christmas overload, here's a New Year's wedding invitation.  I made these for some friends of mine who wanted a festive party feel to their invitations, since we'll be poppin' bubs and dancing 'til the world ends.

They were printed on pearl linen paper, which has a gorgeous shine and sparkle to it that unfortunately doesn't photograph well.  They were then mounted on black card stock and put into gold envelopes.  The bride even added some extra sparkle by adhering a few little jewels to the firework centers (not shown).  I'm really happy with they way they turned out and I can't wait to celebrate the big day!

The full set

Close up of invitation

Close up of RSVP

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Another card from Christmas past

Here's another card from '09, or maybe even '08, I can't really remember.  This one was designed in Illustrator and screen printed onto a bright white cardstock.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last year's holiday cards

Since I started this blog last February, I wasn't able to show the process of making my holiday card from 2010.  The design was created in Illustrator, carved into 2 linoleum blocks, and then hand printed.

Slight ink variations. Ah, the beauty of hand printing!

I usually like to go with some warm and fuzzy Christmas lyrics, but nothing that straight up says "Christmas" so that I can send it to my non-Christian friends.  For this year I'm thinking "Tidings of comfort and joy."  And of course I love type, so it'll be very type-centric.  

Suggestions?  Post them in the comments.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Crochet snowflakes are still cool

I'm coming out swinging into the Christmas season and kicking things off with a modern update to an old favorite, crochet snowflakes.

These cute, easy to make snowflakes probably conjure memories of your grandmother's Christmas tree, or that old lady neighbor who would give your family a little ornament as a thanks for putting up with another year of her crochetyness. But in spite of these associations, crochet snowflakes can be fun and fit into the modern home, free of doilies and those strawberry candies. 

I'm pretty new to crocheting (thanks, Pat for teaching me!), so this stuff is still new and fun for me to make.  To add a little twist, I've make a few different snowflakes and attached them together to make garland.  I won't get into the details of how to crochet, there are plenty of tutorials and videos out there, so I'm just going to tell you what I did to make my garland.  There are no less than a million snowflake patterns online so you could seriously do it up.  There's everything from super simple to pull-your-hair-out complex, and I've chosen pretty simple ones.  I'm making three different snowflakes, but the small ones are the same as one of the larger just with one less row, so it is really only two styles.  

Two different large, and one small. 

For the snowflake with the pointed tips in the center of the photo, I'm following this pattern.  For the other large snowflake and the small ones, I'm following this one, which has step by step images so it's great for a beginner.

For yarn I'm using Aunt Lydia's crochet thread size 3 in Iced Bamboo, which has a slight sparkle to it that unfortunately doesn't sparkle as much as I'd like, and a size E4 (3.5mm) J hook.  I want my chain to be pretty snowy so I'm making 4 of each large snowflake and 9 of each small for a total of 17 flakes.  A chain stitch (ch) will make the chain and the snowflakes get attached using a slip stitch (sl). 

Ready to be hung up

The pattern for stringing them goes like this:
Ch 40
*Slip stitch small snowflake, ch 20, sl large snowflake 1, ch 20, sl small snowflake, ch 20, sl large snowflake 2, ch20*
Repeat between * * 4 times
There should be one small snowflake left, sl it on and finish with ch40

Adorn your stairs if you have them

If you like, you can starch the snowflakes so they are stiff, but I prefer to let mine be soft.  They have a great vintage feel and look great draped on a railing or over a mirror (maybe in the bathroom?).  You can make the garland as long, short, big or small as you like by adjusting the number/type of snowflakes or the chain length. Or experiment with different colors and styles.  Plus, since it's not holiday specific, you can admire your creation all winter long!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Follow me on Pinterest!

I'm a little late in discovering Pinterest, but it's the best creative inspiration/idea sharing/visual smorgasbord/time killing website I've come across in a long time.  Needless to say I'm into it pretty hard.  For those of you unfamiliar, Pinterest is a "virtual pinboard" where you can stick any image you like onto your boards and view what others have posted.  Pins get categorized under every imaginable topic.  It's basically a great way to capture any sites you'd like to bookmark in one convenient and aesthetically pleasing location.

I'll be "pinning" some of my latest creations along with things I'd like to make and general pretty and creative stuff.  I will not be posting pictures of cute animals and probably not shoes.  Follow me at

It's been one doozy of a month at my normal job, but things have started to slow down a bit as we head towards 2012.  I'm hoping to post more frequently and overwhelm you with holiday crafts.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall Palettes

It's finally starting to cool down here in the Northeast and we're finally getting to experience my favorite thing about fall: the colors.  So while at a garden center this weekend (ok, it was really a pumpkin patch), I found myself lost in a sea of mums, the flower that flanks everybody's doorway.  It was a beautiful sight, and an inspiration for seasonal 2 color palettes.

The first picture, they almost look like heads of cauliflower.

The palette, warm and comforting shades.

Squashes and cranberries

This image is a little sharper and lighter.

As a result, the palette is a little cooler and brighter. 

Crisp and cheery
You can incorporate all the shades of the season into your wardrobe, decorating, and cooking!  Once November hits, things start to get depressing, so get out and enjoy all the beautiful Fall colors while you can!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween is approaching

A few years ago I made these Halloween cards and recently came across them in the closet while switching out my summer clothes. They are collaged out of patterned scrapbook paper, as I am surprisingly not into scrapbooking but I love those big tear off books of paper. Maybe this year I'll actually send them!

Monday, October 10, 2011

P is for Peacock

It's also for Paige, the adorable little daughter of my best friend.  I've been busy the last 2 weeks making a gift for her Christening in Colorado this past weekend.  And of course I couldn't ruin the surprise by posting it.

I knew I wanted to give her very personal gift, and though I don't really think of myself as an illustrator, a cute and whimsical illustration was definitely the way to go.  After looking at most of the peacock creations that google images has to offer and drawing a dozen different versions, I finally liked this guy:

After recreating him with pastels didn't work (there was too much detail for how soft and big they are) I turned to watercolor and got this one.  

The art deco inspired "P" was created from scratch in Adobe Illustrator, but something just didn't feel right about the colors.  A lot of this had to do with the blue being so dark and my trying to get away with using drawing paper, which just could not hold up to the minimal amount of water I was using.  A quick look at Kobayashi's Book of Colors and I ended up sticking a little closer to peacock colors, but of course with some pink thrown in there.  

It's framed in Ikea's white RIBBA shadow box frame, because the shadow box gives it some depth and presence and nobody seems to sell square frames except Ikea.  Here is is in Paige's pink room.

I was so happy when her parents liked it (she just blew some spit bubbles), and they've asked me to do her other two initials, S and O, for Christmas!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

All About Downtown Festival pics

There were some great and unusual crafts at the All About Downtown Street Fair.  I was able to snap some photos of a few of my favorites and I'm sad I wasn't able to take more.  This only shows a small portion of all the artists, so apologies to the vendors who were missed!

Stylish reusable tote bags from Bag The Habit.  They fold up into adorable zipper pouches.

Little clay monsters fromTimid Monsters.  Each one is different and they can live in little jar habitats.  

Channel some 80s video game style with prints and matching stuffed animals from Fluffy Goodness (they have a fun website too!).


Printed gift tags from Sophia Design Shoppe.

Graphic skull pillows and "powered by veggies" tee by Ula Nice, plus Healing Herbs tea towel (I adore tea towels).

And lastely, Damaged Wear showing some local pride!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Upcoming craft fairs in Jersey City

If you live in Jersey City, NJ you know that one thing the town can't seem to get enough of is street fairs. At times these events are just an excuse to blast remixes of Gasolina under the guise of honoring a Saint or nationality.  But often times, the vibrant and active local art community will put on a great street fair.  You can always expect really unique handmade indie crafts, live music, and tasty snacks from local food trucks.  There are two such festivals right around the corner.

Coming up this Saturday, September 17th, is the first annual All About Downtown Street Festival.  Move info is available on their facebook page.

Right on it's heels is the annual Fourth Street Arts and Music Festival held on October 1st.  

The craft fair portion is hosted by Not Yo Mamma's Affairs as part of the JC Artist's Studio Tour.  More info at  Unfortunately, I'll be out of town for this one, but if you live in the area you don't want to miss it!

Know of any great craft fairs coming up?

Friday, September 9, 2011

A summary of woodcut printing

Below are the simplified steps to how the Octopus woodcut print was created.  Now you can view it in one place instead of navigating through a dozen different posts. By the way, after several proofs and buying lots of supplies, I finally got the hang of printing this piece.  I will still be posting a final, well photographed print as soon as I can transport the good paper home without it becoming rain soaked.  

Just to note, I've shifted to the term "woodcut" as opposed to "woodblock" because the former uses wood cut along the grain, and that is what I'm doing.  Nowadays the terms seem to be pretty interchangeable, but it's better to just be correct, right?

In summary, here is woodcut printing:

Whoop, there it is, the basics of woodcut printing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Instagram-esque photos, Pre-instagram

It's pretty likely that in the last couple of months your social news feeds have been swamped with camera phone photos that are square shaped, scratchy, and oversaturated. Apps like Instagram and Hipstomatic, which take that photo of your meal, your cat, or the view from your car and make them look retro, are insanely popular. I'll admit that the right photo can be very cool, and maybe I'm just bitter that I bought a Diana months before the craze hit. Just remember that these apps are based on something real, when there was excitement in waiting to see how pictures turned out, and a photo looked old, because it actually was.  

So here are a few photos taken long enough ago that it's considered cool and vintage, but not long enough ago to be black and white and creepy. I found these when my family sold their house last year, and I presume they were taken by my father, a former art student who still takes tons of pictures.

Mom, probably late '60s, epitomizing youth and beauty

Just a friendly squirrel.  This album dated April, 1972

The Florida Everglades (spring break whooo)

Mom ('72) likely stealing these oranges on a trip to Florida.  

Shark, he's friendly too

The store where these were developed is still open and is one of the few around that still develops film.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Inking and printing

It's been a while since carving was complete and you're probably wondering where the prints are.  Sorry for anticlimax, but I was really dragging my feet when it came to buying paper.  Maybe I just wasn't ready to part with the project.  Nonetheless, here is the final step: inking and printing.


  • Brayer — This is what rolls the ink on.  I'm using a Speedball 6" soft rubber brayer.  The size of the brayer should be proportional to the size of the block (I could actually use a bigger one), and make sure it's rubber, not foam.  
  • Inks — I like to use water based inks because they are easier to clean, but oil based inks work well too and don't dry as quickly.  I chose a dark blue for the water, and a light blue for the octopus.
  • Something to roll the ink on — These things include marble or granite, glass, or plexiglass.  I actually use the back of my cookie sheets.  It just needs to be something with a smooth, flat, non-porous surface.   
  • Baren — This is used to rub the paper and help transfer the ink.  It's a great tool to have, but the back of a wooden spoon is a good stand-in.   
  • Paper — Most papers will work for this type of printing so feel free to experiment.  I prefer to use something thick but a little soft, but I'm using cheaper paper until I get the print just the way I want it.  
Squirt some ink on the flat surface and the brayer over top, giving it a thick, even coat.  Don't glob it on, but don't be stingy either.

Roll it out

Roll the inked up brayer onto the block until it has an even layer of ink.  The block may still suck up some ink the first time so make sure it's completely coated.  It might take a couple tries.

I'll go in later and cut out some more off the areas where
I don't want the ink going

Lay the paper on top of the block, leaving enough room for a border.  Rub the baren in small circles with gentle pressure over entire surface.  If you skip this step the ink won't transfer, or do it half hearted the print will come out blotchy.  

Try to keep from saying "wax on, wax off."

Pull the paper up and let the ink dry completely.  Repeat with the second block on the same sheet of paper.

There are techniques to lining the blocks up correctly, but I don't always do things the proper way.  My technique simply involves trying to line up the corners and then eyeballing it.  Here's the final print!


It took a couple bad tries before this one came out.  At first I wasn't using enough ink, you really need to be generous with it.  The fact that it doesn't perfectly line up actually gives it a letterpress sort of feel.  I'm still going to work to get the ink to cover a little better because it's a bit splotchy, and I'll post the results when I get one I like.  Until the, here are some closeups showing the details.

Very pleased with the lettering. 

There he is.