Showing posts from July, 2010

Pretty embroidery for summer

A perfect sentiment as we head into this last weekend in July . . .
"Summer afternoon - summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language."  –Henry James

Summertime at the Vineyard (via postcard)

My mom-in-law sent us a beautiful cloth postcard from her vacation at Martha's Vineyard. I love the detailed stitching and the unique handmade feel. Wish I was there to enjoy the pie from Fiddlehead Farm!

The Green Forks Chicks notecards

The Green Forks Chicks, otherwise known as my mother and her college girlfriends, just got back from their annual summer trip to the Hamptons. The name, they say, was coined on their first Hamptons reunion when they discovered that the patina on the silver-plated utensils had acquired a green color due to some wet-weather conditions. The name stuck and every year these wonderful Ohio Wesleyan "chicks" gather in the name of the "green forks." This year my mom commissioned me to create notecards as a gift for her friends. I had so much fun drawing the chicks on what I would imagine a vacation in the Hamptons would look like between chicks and green forks. I think my favorites are the one with the wine bottle in the upper left corner and the one about to eat lobster in the lower right corner. I relate very well to those vacation activities!

The (watercolor) bull is still running!

I'm so excited that Bobbie Thomas, Style Editor for The Today Show, decided to feature my "DIY watercolor masterpiece" on her site! The Etsy blog announced a call for submissions last week and I jumped at the chance to be featured. It is a huge honor to be given a shout-out on her site. Bobbie is announcing and demonstrating her top DIY pick at 9:36am today on NBC's The Today Show.

I encourage everyone to give this project a try. I had my friends come over for a craft day in June and they had great success with watercolor stenciling. We made it a little easier by using sticky stencil paper but I am very fond of the masking tape effect from my original tutorial. Have fun with it and please feel free to email me photos of your finished work.

My watercolor tutorial has shown me so much love I can hardly believe it. I must thank my husband for the inspiration, as it was a Valentine's Day gift for him. The bull idea came from a character in his short story, Los Bandit…

How to Make Your Own Paper

I am excited to report that my paper-making adventure was a total success! The great news—it's not really that hard. It's actually pretty fun and a great activity for both kids and adults. The longest part of the process was building my own mold and deckle (see instructions below) but after that's done, the rest is a snap.

How to Make Your Own Paper

Materials used:

Mold and deckle (see instructions below)Paper slurry (see instructions below)Dish tub or similarly sized plastic bin filled with about 3 inches of warm water.4 small sheets of light-weight, absorbent fabric. Note: your paper will be textured if you use textured fabric. I used textured dishtowels but pillow cases or scraps of an old set of sheets would work really well for a smooth finish. Sponge

1. Dump the paper slurry into the dish tub. This is the stage where you can sprinkle flower petals, leaves, or other embellishments into the slurry.
2. Take the mold and deckle in your hands. The mold should be screen si…

Crafts for your weekend: Make Your Own Paper

This is really happening. I haven't made paper since my high school days as a camp councelor at the Holcomb Farm Summer Arts Camp in Granby, CT. I remember some of the steps and have supplemented my learning with a few online sources. I like the simple instructions I found here and of course here on Etsy.

My shopping list includes:
2 small, flat wooden framessmall wire screen to staple onto one of the framesveggie peelings (for color) and bleach (to whiten the newsprint)From my home I will need:
newspaper and other scrap papersstaple gunblenderdish tub a few clean, dry cloths
I don't have a clothes line so I am going to make due with the drying process by taking advantage of the hot hot sun that this weekend is supposed to bring. Wish me luck! On Monday I will post my results as well as photos from my paper-making adventure.

Favorite Book Cover of the Week: The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

I found this cover in a list of "favorite book covers of 2009" from the staff at WORD in Brooklyn, NY. Their selections were posted as part of series in the NYTimes Books blog. Check out the blog's related posts with votes from other Indie bookstores. When I clicked through to read more about The Children's Book I became entranced by the description and have officially added it to my reading list for the summer. Has anyone else read this? The summary alone gives me chills!

GIVEAWAY: Print-at-home wine label for new moms

‘Tis the season for babies! I have over 5 friends and relatives who either just gave birth or are about to welcome their little one into the world. Inspired by my recent trip to the Finger Lakes Region (wine country), I crafted a print-at-home wine label for all of you moms out there. This is a spin on the “Mommy’s Time Out” wine brand that we all know and love. With this print-at-home label, you can turn any wine bottle into a gift for mom. Simply print, cut, and seal with tape. It will fit as a sleeve around a standard (750ml) wine bottle. I am offering a PDF of the label as a FREE DOWNLOAD to all of my followers! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Friend Connect (see right column for all) and I will send you the link. Leave a comment below to remind me that you are already a follower or to let me know you’ve become a follower. Thanks and enjoy!

South African Art

As we toured the hills of rural South Africa last month, we made sure to stop and enjoy the amazing views. We also did a bit of shopping! Below are photos of a painting that we purchased from the women pictured in the above photo.

Christmas in July

It’s time to start preparing my winter inventory on Etsy and that means it’s Christmas in July. While hopping around Hammondsport, NY on my family vacation last week, I struck "paper ephemera” gold at the Mossy Bank Mercantile Co-op. My sister and I found so many gorgeous old postcards — perfect for the Christmas holiday season. My plan is to scan and clean them up in Photoshop before printing pretty cards to sell in my store. One of the great things about these old cards is that the copyright has expired. I can print (and sell) as many as I want and in whatever form (mugs, cards, magnets) I choose! Ran also found some paper treasures, including old maps of Africa, North Carolina, and Mexico. We will use them as framed art in our home and scan them for various travel videos and scrapbooks.

Mossy Bank Mercantile Co-op
Antiques & Collectibles
57 Shethar Street
PO Box 641
Hammondsport, NY 14840

Will's first gallery show

My nephew and I hosted our very first gallery show together. Our opening reception was held last night in the basement of our rental house. "The Water Artists" received rave reviews! The show will be up through the end of the week.
The Secret Waterfall at the Gorge (also known as the Secret of the Pirate Treasure) The artist, with his very supportive younger brother.

Finger Painting at the Finger Lakes

I've taken a little break from The Lettered Set while I vacation with my family at Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes region. This place is gorgeous and I promise I'm not working too hard. I just wanted to share some of the lovely painting crafts that my nephews and I have been working on. I forgot how fun it was to paint rocks! The key to painting rocks, by the way, is to start with a white "primer" layer. The colors show up much more vibrantly that way.

Mi Adidas - design your own Adidas!

Looking for the perfectly personalized pair of sneakers? Design your own sambas at Or, for the soccer/football player, design your own shoes for the pitch. I couldn't decide between the purple with navy, off-white, and periwinkle accents or the green with periwinkle and slate. Thoughts?

Casa Papel: Beautiful Paper in Philadelphia

While wandering around Northern Liberties this weekend I gleefully happened upon a wonderful local resource for beautiful paper and invitations: Casa Papel. It was hard to step away from the beautifully embroidered paper - so I took some pictures! In addition to excellent paper stock, they also provide graphic design services for customized invitations. Great news for my fellow designers out there - they also print and assemble stationery based on the clients' design work. Casa Papel is located at 804 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123.

Makarapas: the quieter craft of the World Cup

Sports Illustrated just published a fun article called World Cup Makarapas: The Anti-Vuvuzela. Makarapa means "helmet" in the South African language of Fanakalo. Because there are 11 official languages in South Africa,  Fanakalo was a developed as a universal language for miners. The Makarapa (worn by my husband and me above) began with a South African man named Alfred Baloyi. The below quote from Baloyi is an excerpt from Grant Wahl's article in Sports Illustrated. A photo of the artist is also below.
“In 1979, I was at the stadium when somebody threw a bottle and hit someone on the head,” Baloyi told me. “At the time I was working at the city council of Pretoria. They gave me a helmet, and I drew my favorite player on it. Then from there we did more things to make the makarapa. When the people liked it, I made more.”
Okay so stadium violence aside (and thank goodness for the development of the plastic beer bottle), it's very inspiring that this man turned his craft …