Tuesday, June 26, 2007

big brother monkey

just as cute

Well it was only a matter of time before I gave the tiny monkey a big brother. After making another of the mascots from the Cute Book, the kidnapper, I was so frustrated with the tiny dimensions I ran to the copy machine with the monkey pattern. I enlarged the pattern 205% and grabbed an old dark brown corduroy skirt I had no use for:

little monkey supervises

So, the new monkey is a lot bigger than the original, but still pretty small - I'd say he's no bigger than 5 inches tall...

look how much bigger!

Here he is with a felt face in progress, and a page from the Cute Book. I again left off the forehead wrinkles, because I love how much wonkier he looks without them:

big monkey with his Cute Book counterpart

Also, I chose blue thread again to stitch the face to the body - I like how it contrasts instead of blending in. I used pinking shears to cut a thin strip of corduroy I embroidered and added buttons to, to make a "scarf".

Here are the 2 monkeys in all their glory:

big monkey and little monkey are friends

Other things that have been going on... I had to put down the Juarez book I've been reading for a day. I can't describe how disappointing and saddening it is to read about these young women and think of the mothers and families they left behind. And the feeling of powerlessness you feel when you see the larger picture of corruption and violence. I actually had nightmares last night - one where I woke up saying "help" and another where a doll's head spoke to me in a really creepy way... so maybe tonight, more cheery crafts and less of this book, which I do intend to finish.

Friday, June 22, 2007

arrival of the Cute Book...

addicted to rounded corners

A couple of weeks ago I was at the local Urban Outfitters, trying to decide if poorly sewn 2 for 25 dollar striped t-shirts were a good deal when my boyfriend held up this book, and I dropped everything and succumbed to the cuteness. If I'd had it my way, the Cute Book would have been mine there and then, but he appealed to my cheapness by saying "It's gotta be cheaper online." So I headed to Amazon, snapped it up for a whole 2 dollars less, and finally on Wednesday, it was mine.

My favorite, hands down, is probably the monkey. I stitched mine without forehead wrinkles, he looks just as serious. Although if things work out and I find fleecy looking fabric, the sheep will dethrone him. They're so easy to make, especially the monkey since his body is all one piece. But I will admit that crafting tiny critters is tricky - if you don't cut things exactly right they can look wildly different from the pictures in the book...


I also discovered Picnik recently, which resulted in a whole lot of rounded corners on my pictures. There are lots of cool features in there, probably the only one they're missing is the ability to add text layers on your photos, but I'm sure that will come in time... It's really easy to spit your finished product over into your Flickr stream, too.

I found myself doing a lot of fun and unnecessary goofing around, including creating an album cover, in case my stuffed creatures ever want to make music:

the critters album cover

In any case, all this helped cheer me up and take my mind off more serious reading I've been doing lately on the murders in Juarez. Years ago I watched a documentary called Senorita Extraviada about the rampant killings and violence against women in Juarez, Mexico. It amazes and saddens me that very little has changed and women and young girls still go missing every day. It also makes me think about the sad girl I stitched a few months ago (finished pics very soon, I promise) - I wasn't thinking about Juarez when I stitched it, but oddly, the words apply so well to how I feel about the violence there...

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Renegade Craft Fair

Yep, Renegade Craft Fair was this weekend, and somehow, I was there both days. It was ridiculously hot, humid, and sticky, but I drank lots of cold water and stuck it out for the cuteness. And oh, was there cuteness:

seen and loved at the Renegade Craft Fair

Sadly, I didn't buy that little guy (made by the talented Meena Kim), but I did vow to be less of a cheapskate this year and actually buy stuff. I found lots of gorgeous letterpress stationery at the Sesame Letterpress booth:

letterpress loveliness

And the cutest hedgehog fabric + velcro wallet at the Seamripper booth:
my sweet wallet

If you're not totally convinced yet, just have a look inside!
look at the inside!

Look at that retro polka dot fabric!!! It was love at first sight, and my biggest Renegade purchase at a whopping 15 bucks. :) It's the perfect size and feels so light and trim in my hands.

Lastly, check out this sweet little notepad I purchased from M. Patrizio:
sweet m. patrizio notepad

Now on to an embarassing observation on craft fairs... Am I the only one that feels weird trying to chat with blogger-crafters? I feel like such a stalker, because I know so much about their lives and the things they make, and they know nothing about me! So even though I vowed that this year I'd be chatty, there I go again, buying my M. Patrizio notepad with a goofy grin on my face and saying nothing. Zippo. Nada. Over at the Black Apple booth, while I'm nabbing a free "Black Apple" pin, how did things go? Internal conversation: "Hey Emily, I feel like I know you so well - just wanted to tell you your stuff is gorgeous and SO inspiring!" External conversation: Blink, blink. Goofy smile. Turn tail and run... Um, am I the only goofball that has these attacks of celebrity blogger shyness?

Friday, June 15, 2007

books, words, and libraries

books and martinis...

I have always loved libraries. In that respect, I see myself a little bit like Borges, who went so far as to work in a library... What I love about Borges is his absolute reverence for the written word, and the way he creates these wonderful encyclopedic tales that are layers of fantasy and reality.

As a kid, I always hung around libraries, and have vivid memories of each one. Books to me were as precious as loved ones - I woke up to pull one from under my pillow, I ate with my books, took walks with my books, and usually fell asleep reading books. To this day, if you want to really move me, it has to be with words, there's no other way. Words to me are beautiful mysteries that make life worthwhile...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

bird and animal obsession

little bird from a bird book

Yes, I'm a bird nerd. I don't remember the names of every bird I see, but I am obsessed with them. Pretty much any bird or animal rocks my world. I'm posting this in an effort to ease into Illustration Friday, which I'm also fascinated with. Okay, it's not Friday, this doesn't fit the theme, and I drew it a year ago. Like I said, I'm easing into the habit of drawing again...

Back to the topic of animals, I really love talking animals:

I discovered the Onion way back when in Texas at a (cough) certain job. A wonderful co-worker showed me this cool site that (back then) looked like an official, reputable news source ok to read at work. Good Onion writers have come and gone, and with all the risque banner ads it's no longer so work-safe. But please read this article if you like talking animals. And let me know if you're like me and you almost peed from laughing so hard.

Monday, June 11, 2007

a few more things making me happy

under a kind tree
this small drawing, I did in the fall...

the smell of the rain, heavy gray skies
pierced through with the last blinding rays of evening light -

a book cover

this little bird, this bird, and this bird, too

also, this sweet face

when I grabbed dinner, that sweet, independent, walking-on-my-own feeling.
remembering all things are connected, somehow, some way...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

things currently making me happy

Hill Country restaurant

As you may or may not know, I'm originally from Texas. I think we all have a love/hate relationship with the the place that we're from, maybe even moreso when you're artsy. You at once feel very inspired and very held back by your hometown - I couldn't wait to get out of Texas and move on with my life. And yet, there are so many good things about home, things that will always make everywhere else a little less like home... Which brings me to Texas style barbecue.

I'm not a huge meat-eater, but when I find a good steak or brisket I can really throw it down, believe me. The minute I stepped in there, lots of happy Texas vibes just washed over me. Tons of wide open space, nobody bumping you at all, no plates, white sliced bread and a roll of paper towels at each table. It looks pricey, but you get to pick all your portions and it's priced by weight, so it's really only pricey if you do a full pig-out. :) We wandered downstairs which resulted in another internal "awww..." - it looked just like the inside of a dance hall, complete with long pine tables and some Hispanic woman in her 40's that was constantly either dancing in place, or dancing with her daughter. I did the dancing in place and was just filled with love for everything that's good about home... If you live in NY and miss Texas, check this place out.

sweetness from Eydie

Also making me happy? This super-sweet person I met through Flickr, Eydie. She makes some of the sweetest embroidery pieces I've seen, and totally surprised me by offering to mail some vintage transfers to me.

I received them on Friday in a big ol' box - people, there have to be over 50 transfer sheets! Blogging people are really the most generous people I've met anywhere. I'll be sharing online what she has shared with me, on my Vintage Transfer Finds blog. I'll try to scan at least 1 freebie per week in the weeks to come, and tag each one as her donation. :)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Random owl

Here's a little owl I worked on last weekend. I was searching for an easy craft to do a video tutorial of for a friend. It took me all morning and afternoon, shooting little clips on my camera, editing the clips together on my computer, and uploading the clip online...

what I worked on today... + under a white cloud = little owlet

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Frida, in parts

my Frida

So here's what had me so busy there was no time for pictures... Ok, I know she looks a bit cutesy for a Frida - it's hard to make something out of felt and have it not look cute, I've discovered, but I had fun with this project nevertheless.

One of my favorite things about felt is how easy it is to convert a simple 2D idea into (almost) 3D form. I also love how the process of crafting has become like drawing to me - I go into a zone that feels very quiet and meditative, and very little of what I do is thought out or planned. I just find myself doing and the entire craft seems to happen - it's very magical...


So, if you're wondering what this is about, I'm a part of an "exquisite corpse" project in which lots of artists send in handcrafted "parts" that are put together to make a final creature. If I understand correctly, everyone will get a creature of their own, with (I hope) at least one of the parts they made. The whole idea of "parts" made me think of Frida right away, because her life was so affected by her body, which seemed to have been shattered into parts at such an early age...

her back

planning Frida's leg

I did a lot of embroidery on these pieces, and was happy at how quickly it came together - it took me about 3 steady nights of sketching and stitching. I crafted the leg in two parts attached together with red string and buttons to signify when Frida's leg was amputated. It's something about her life that always made me sad to think of, that she died just a year after that happened, incomplete.

All this crafting has made me want to make a complete Frida doll of my own - yet I do find it hard to create for myself...

her heart

The minute I know a project is intended for someone else I go nuts with the details, taking lots of time and care. I think I get a bit sidetracked and uninspired when I just create for myself, though.

I do think my heart has improved from the version I did on the sad girl - I like how the colors and textures worked out on this one, and how quickly it went...

Friday, June 1, 2007

neck deep in projects

vintage children's clothing ad
vintage children's clothing ad

So, I am so neck deep in crafting I don't even have time to upload progress pics! :) Oh, the horror - because if I don't actually show you what I'm doing, I must not be crafting! ;) However, I do have time to conduct impromtpu research on embroidery and share a few little gems with you. Take this article I stumbled on yesterday - see if you can guess what year it was written:

At a women's college, a recent student survey revealed that the "average girl" is 17 and healthy and likes to knit. "A few years ago," remarks the manager of a needlework shop, "girls of that age thought knitting was something for their grandmothers."

Now, even 17 is knitting. Everyone is knitting, or crocheting, or doing needlepoint.

Have you guessed yet? Ok, try 1935! And we like to think we've re-invented knitting and crafting. All I did was change 1 word - instead of "composite girl" I said "average girl", because, uh - who says "composite" anyway? :) I love reading articles like this - they remind me that everything is cyclical, and what we thought was so uncool and "for grannies" becomes next generation's uber-cool. And we never really re-invent - we just adapt our crafts to reflect our changing ideals and interests...

And, boy am I happy I didn't live in the 30's... Then I would have had to wear this! And I thought PMS was bad. Can you imagine PMS + Nemoflex?!

Revenge of the NemoflexRead the entire article:

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