Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Unsellables

Every crafter has one. The product that came out a little wonky. Or took twice as long as any other project. Or practically jumped out of your mind in frantic hours in the middle of the night, fueled by almost unnatural  crafting compulsion.

However they got here, every crafter has that one project they simply cannot let go. Perhaps its not their best work, but for whatever reason, it has been dubbed an Unsellable.

Marella DesignsFor me, it’s my Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs wreath, for its story.

When D (who we met in an earlier post and is, in fact, my Significant Other) was a small child, his mother, like countless other across the world, would make him a birthday cake every year. She would always top it with something he really loved at the time. One year it was Sesame Street characters, another it was dinosaurs. And one year it was Snow White and the Seven dwarfs.

I first saw the pieces in a home video of D when he was a little, maybe four or five. Now, I may be biased, but he was the epitome of adorable as a child-pretty blond hair, bright, excited blue eyes and a smile that could melt your heart! When he saw his birthday cake his happiness was almost tangible and my girly heart went tha-thump, tha-thump! And then, his mother said,

“You know, I still have all those little toys. Wouldn’t they be great in a wreath?”

Light bulb!

We scavenged around boxes of old toys until we found all eight pieces. I cleaned them off, repainted a few worn spots and they looked good as new. Never have I crafted a wreath with such care and patience-every piece had to be placed perfectly! Each supporting element was selected with more thought than I put into my SATs. Not only was I creating a wreath, I felt like I was connecting with D in a way I never could before-I got to touch a part of his childhood.

I have taken this wreath to side walk sales, but its always been hidden in the back. I have never been able to post it online. Every time I go to, something inside of me shouts “No!! Maybe tomorrow, but not yet!” Eventually I looked at it and said, “Nope. This wreath is mine!” Perhaps someday I will sell it, or pass it on to a friend. But for now, it has a place of honor in my home, and I smile every time I see it.

What is your Unsellable? What’s its story?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Inspiration: New York City

Where I come from, the first thing tourists flock to is the Mighty Columbia River. It’s large, its mighty, its historical, its…really really wet.

The second thing people flock to in my hometown is the highway, heading to Seattle or Portland.


Now, I’m all for small towns, especially when its your hometown. Small towns have a kind of charm nothing can replicate. I love the neighborhood barbecues and family-friendly block dance parties. And who doesn’t love running into your sixth grade teacher at the Mexican restaurant-you know, Taco del Familio-where she reminds you that your paper on President Clinton is very over due.

However, life goes on. You meet a guy, you fall in love, you move across the country and start a whole new life amongst millions of strangers who don’t care about overdue middle school papers. They do care, however, about what you wear and if you support the Yankees or Mets.

New York City is full of history, culture and beauty everywhere you look. I could ramble on and on about such structures as Trinity Church, The Chrysler Building, Central Park Zoo, Grand Central and even Time Square-all the famous structures you see in every movie set in the city. (Seriously. Ever notice how every apartment in a movie has a perfect view of the Empire State Building? That building gets around!)

However there’s so much beauty in small ways, too. Places tourists never think to notice. An old fashioned bronze mailbox in a corner of Grand Central. The sea green foam on the Staten Island Ferry. Rows of restored old brownstones on tree lined streets. Or seeing the face of the person you love most in the world as he comes out of his office building at the end of the day.

Ok, enough mushy! Sorry!

What I’ve learned from this city, in terms of my crafting and my art, is to always include the unexpected detail. Find a way to add tiny surprises and bits of charm-like simple peach beads and brown feathers on a sea shell wreath. Or tiny fairy charms amongst fall foliage and  acorns. It could be something as simple as a fun name for your product, such as a wreath of daisies called Daisie Mae!

It is great when a customer looks at your product falls in love and takes it home. Its an even better feeling when they return and say, “You know, that wreath has been hanging in my dining room for six months and I just now noticed that cute little charm on the left hand side! Its so sweet, I fell in love all over again!”
New York is like that. At first, you’re taken up by the major glitz, glam and lights! After a while, though, when the fascination begins to ebb and the romance fades away. But when you take a second glance and see all the tiny bits of charm, you fall in love all over again.

(Ahem and if you’d like to fall in love with a wreath, head over to my store! Lots to choose from, and more coming soon! And they’re all hand made in New York; hang a bit of the Big Apple in your home!)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Product Feature: The Claybourne: Medium Messenger Bag in Fresh Poppies by EchoLand Bags

I am very proud to present to you the first of my featured products! A featured product is an item that I did not make nor do I sell, but is so fabulous I simply must share.

Today’s featured product is this amazingly cute bag by EchoLand Bags!
This sweet bag crosses over the body, which is great added security for New York! I love the light green color because it makes this perfect for spring and summer. But what I adore most are the adorable fresh poppies!

Ever since I was a little girl watching The Wizard of Oz, I have had an odd love of these little flowers. I remember the Wicked Witch of the West cackling that “Poppies! Poppies will put them to sleep,” and wishing a field of pretty poppies would spring up around me. Admittedly, I did not quite understand the whole ‘Forever Sleep’ part of her evil plan-I just thought they were pretty, and that was good enough for me!

This bag takes all I loved from my childhood and fast-forwards it to my grown up tastes, minus the doping side effects! It’s win-win!

You can find this bag over at click!
While you’re there, check out my store too! Everyone loves online shopping!

Inspiration: Nature

I love nature.

I’d love it more if it was screened in with a roof, wall-to-wall carpeting and central heat and air.

Okay, I love to LOOK at nature.

 But that’s all I really need to inspire my designs.

I enjoy the different textures contrasting against each other-the crystal smooth water on the rough sandy beach, the silky leaves against the scratchy tree bark. I appreciate the differences in dimensions-the tiny, delicate baby bird at the base of the sturdy, sky scraping cedars. I am always in awe of its presence. No matter where you are in the world, there is nature-forested mountains, wide open plains and trees that grow in Brooklyn. And I delight from the sheer number lists one can form describing nature!

But what I absolutely love about nature is how it never subscribes to rules. As humans, we set up boundaries and standards, trying to gain control over all that is around us. Yet nature will not be curtailed. How many times has a zebra worn white after Labor Day? And has a seed ever submitted permit forms before taking root? Sure, we try. We weed our gardens, deforest lands, pollute the air, and I’ve even heard of people dying their poodles! But we will never succeed. Nature was here first, and will remain long after we’re gone due to its resilience and giant F-U attitude.

Ok, I hear you-how does this tie in to crafting? The cliche answer is to notice the wonderful dichotomies surrounding us and embrace them in our work. Which is great, and I highly recommend it. But my point of the day is to adopt nature’s F-U attitude, create what you love and have no cares to the contrary! Love black and brown? Who cares if the fashionistas call faux pas? Think dandelions will make kick ass bracelets? Go for it!

Unlike nature, our time on this planet is limited. So we need to love what we craft, and craft what we love, while we still have the time.

What dichotomies do you love? What do you love to craft/do? How does nature inspire you, in any way?

A Few of My Favorite Things

While I do enjoy rain drops on roses and whiskers on kittens, wet flowers don’t rank high on my list of favorites. And D is highly allergic to cats, so kittens with or without whiskers are out of the question.
I must be completely honest with you-the following list doesn’t comprise my entire area of interests. I enjoy things outside of crafting such as baseball, movies, classic literature, puppies, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Nevertheless, these ARE some of my favorite things for one of my favorite activities. And since this is my blog, I will tell you why!

1. Birds
Craft birds add an element of realistic nature without the creepy aspect of taxidermy. In my opinion, dead animals are not art. They are food for omnivores. Craft birds are brightly colored, come in different sizes and if you listen really carefully after hitting your head against the freezer door, they sing! It’s like having a tiny feathered friend, right on your wall! Essentially, they make me happy and I like to put happy things in my designs.

2. Bells

Jingle bells. Jangle bells. Liberty bells. Silver bells. School bells. Glockenspiels! The tingly sound of all sorts of bells are like the sweet sound of laughing angels, usually warning of some sort of impending disaster or alerting people of your demands. Tingle sounds, angels, disasters, demands-all wonderful things for life and wreaths!

3. Sea Shells

I must tell you a secret-I do not really enjoy the beach. To be fair, the only beaches I have been to are the Oregon beach (very cold, buggy and sandy) and Coney Island (very cold, buggy and sandy). In all, one could say they are not my favorite places on Earth. But I DO enjoy sea shells-the natural colors and patterns are gorgeous, and playing with natural elements is a fun challenge, all for the low price of $3.99 at my local craft store. So, I can have the beauty of shells and avoid the cold, buggy and sandy mess all together!

4. Holiday Ornaments
Who isn’t tired of the holiday pine wreaths with just pine cones and a big holiday red bow? Holiday ornaments add a festive touch to the holiday wreath, making the holiday so much more fun! Not quite as fun as Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanza. But holiday is very fun in a generic sense, too!
5. Charms
Charms are for more than just bracelets and necklaces. They are tiny, pretty things that enhance the beauty of whatever surrounds them. Which is why women enjoy them-tiny, pretty beauty enhancers rate above flowers and right below expensive champagne. Seeings how I am a woman by conventional definitions, I very much enjoy using them in my wreaths! And perhaps they make me a tiny bit prettier. They’d make you prettier, but I don’t think you could look any better!
When dogs bite and bees sting…well, my wreaths probably won’t help with either of those situations. But they will be beautiful on your walls, and hopefully bring you some happiness and become something you will love!! Get one with a bird, it will sing its love to you for years to come!

(And, you know, if you want to find something you will love, you should check out my store Take a look, adopt a wreath, share the love!)

Inspiration: Desperation

If you’re anything like me, one reason you enjoy crafting so much is because you enjoy shopping so much!
And my goodness, do I love shopping!

I love the seeing, exploring, touching, feeling-but most of all, I love the creativity it inspires! When I see a black and white bedspread, I begin planning how I will add pops of color through accent pillows to make my bedroom into a sanctuary. Or if I happen upon a hat (my personal guilty pleasure!), I immediately formulate the outfits I will create around it. (I also picture the stunning influence I will have upon society in my magnificent hats! Just you wait, I will bring them back ala Katherine Hepburn and be renowned world wide for my forward fashion-sense.)

As you may have guessed, crafting supplies are one of my weak spots. I can’t help it-I love pretty things! And I love taking one pretty thing and combing it with another pretty thing to create something new. Hopefully its something unique and beautiful that will bring joy to people.
So where does the desperation come into play?

Well, it’s not MY desperation I’m talking about. It’s my boyfriend, D. (Yes, we’re doing this. D’s desperation. Alliteration for the win!) You see, I have a lot of craft supplies. A. Lot. And it has spread all over the living room. And the hallway. And parts of the bedroom. The only reason it has yet to seep into the den is that we don’t have one.Every time he catches me perusing supplies online, he eyes the mountain of stuff and says “sweetie, don’t you already have raw materials?”

I can understand D’s desperation. I mean, this is New York and real estate space is at a prime. And a lot of our prime is taken up by craft supplies. So I do what I can to help-by crafting! The more I craft, the more the supplies disappears and the happier D is.

Until I inform him that I have ordered more supplies! I mean, really, how can I craft without supplies? And he can’t expect me to NOT craft, can he?

Tis the Season...?

It’s that time of year again! The thermometer is reaching up to triple digits, A/C’s are on full blast and the pools are flooded with children-yes, it’s time to focus on Christmas Crafts!

Wait, what?

This is one of my favorite crafting idiosyncrasies; in order to have enough stock for the Holiday season, you must work out of season. Given that I must be in the right frame of mind, this requires a bit of “environmental ingenuity” on my part. Lately I find myself running around my apartment singing Christmas Carols at full volume, watching Christmas or winter themed movies and starting my Christmas shopping. (The last one never sticks. I will finish all of my shopping by October, but inevitably am lured into shiny shops come the Holiday Season. On the other hand, I am the best gift-giver I know!)

For me, this is great! I absolutely love Christmas, Santa Claus, snowmen, candy canes and gingerbread men. Well. I love them in July. By the time the calendar catches up with me, I am more than ready to shove candy canes down Santa’s jolly throat while throwing burnt gingerbread men into my snowmen ala ninja stars.

Nevertheless, it is July, and I am in full Christmas mode!  And Halloween. That’s the other odd idiosyncrasy-your Holidays tend to run together. I do not know who’s grand idea it was to shove all the holidays together at the end of the year, but I’ll be you a jar full of buttons he was not a crafter! Just the other day I was trying to decide how best to combine spiders and penguins into a wreath. (Trust me, it just looked silly-there are no spiders at the South Pole!)

Personally, my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. No, not for the food (but, wow, I do love the food!!) I love the idea of dedicating a day to step away from the fast rat race called life and just be thankful for our friends, family and life-and all without any expectations from anyone! No kids screaming for candy, no “oh, what a great pair of socks…really!” or demands of flowers and chocolate. All you gotta do is show up and love the people you’re with-and order a pizza, cause really, it’s Mom’s Thanksgiving, too!

A Few Words on Failure

I would like to say a few words on failure. But before you read my words, I present much better words by a far greater wordsmith than I:

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” -Winston Churchill

Well said, Mr Churchill, yet not so easily heeded. The only difference between the leader of a country and a struggling artist is the number of mouths depending on his success. And possibly death to millions. In a way, it is reassuring that failure can reach out from my craft box and wring his icy fingers on every rung of the ladder all the way to the top. At least I know I am not his only target, even if I seem to be one of his better friends!

However, retaining enthusiasm is not as easy as Mr Churchill claims. In fact, if you exam the above statement, you will notice ‘failure’ shows up twice as often as ‘enthusiasm.’ So one could argue that it is twice as easy to succumb to it.

Like everyone, I have had my tastes of failure. In fact, it hasn’t been so much a taste as a full blown meal. My most recent course occurred a few months ago. I submitted to a local art fair my beautifully gorgeous and elegant wreaths (available for your viewing-and, ahem, purchasing, if you like, at Surely, thought I, my neighbors will fall as in love with them as I, they will snatch them up and I will be sold out by noon! So much for lofty thoughts. Countless people stopped by my stall and ‘ooh’ed and ‘ahh’ed over my products. If compliments were dollar bills, I’d own 50 yard line season tickets to the NY Giants.

But not one sale.

I was ready to chuck it all. Every flower petal was cursed, each bead was destined for the dust bin. For weeks I refused to pick up my trusty glue gun, even to shoot away invisible monsters (blessedly they were all on vacation!). I told myself and all who’d listen that my creative “phase” was over, never to return again. Thankfully, my friends and family simply nodded their heads and tucked away my craft supplies. Eventually, of course, I started gingerly poking around and was crafting in full steam before I knew it.

So what brought me back to the creative side? My undying enthusiasm for success? Alas, Mr Churchill, it was not. It was an itch. A compulsion. An inner driving need. You see, creativity and crafting are as much a part of me as my spleen. I can’t help it! I wish I could ascribe to those lofty quotes by great people that say things such as “failure is only failure if you never try again!” or “your want to succeed must outweigh your fear of failure!”* But, in my case at the very least, failure does not matter, for neither does success. I can’t stop creating. I will always be striving for beauty in life, and no matter how often Mr Failure rings my doorbell, that will never stop!

* (While paraphrased from countless admirable people, I must give credit to Bill Cosby, Oscar Wilde, Michael Jordan and Abraham Lincoln, from whom I primarily borrowed.)

Why Wreaths?

The other day, my friend posed this question to me.

“Why do you make wreaths?”

In other words, why not bouquets if I must play with flowers? Why limit myself to boring hanging door decorations only seen by unwanted salesmen and mercenaries? Obviously, I disagree with this assessment.

 Yes a wreath can, and usually is, a cheap round thing hung on a boring door that falls down while you shlepp in groceries. However, I see them as something more.

When I was a little girl, my mother had a painting of a path leading into a garden. Benches with pillows sat under an arch with wisteria flowers hanging down. In the distance was a fountain. I would sit and stare at that painting, wishing I could enter that secret garden. I looked for my own white rabbit that would transport me into that wonderland, for I was sure it was the most wonderful place imaginable. As I grew older, I tried to create that same sense of wonder on my own through drawing and painting. Alas, my talent in this area is gloriously inadequate; if I had wanted to escape into a world of stick-men and paint blobs, I was well on my way!

So I hung up my paintbrushes and pencils. I switched to already made flowers and grapevine wreaths became my frame. Soon flowers alone were not enough-I began incorporating birds, acorns, leaves, butterflies. I then moved to charms, stuffed animals, ornaments, beads-anything! I was addicted! What was I addicted to? I had finally found a way to create a glimpse into another world. My wreaths are not mere decorations-they are art, and each one has a story attached to it. I have created fairies playing in the forest during the fall and butterflies flitting about a lush rose garden.

So I ask you-why does a wreath need to be limited to a door? The truth is, if it’s a great wreath, it doesn’t! They are great INSIDE your home-in the living room, a nursery, even the bathroom! And I challenge you this: rethink everything! Art is anything you find beauty in, so find a way to use it that you will appreciate everyday. So find something you love and put it on your wall (please, no children or pets!)

Mission Statement

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

I have created this blog to discuss inspiration with fellow crafters and artists. Sharing is more than welcome so please comment freely! The only bad thought is a thought not shared.

I believe the art a person creates comes from within them and is a true reflection of who they are. That said, here is my online store, where you can get a visual idea of who I am!

I invite all my fellow artists/crafters/makers/creators/what-have-yous to follow me and share their ideas and their stores!