Friday, February 29, 2008

flashback Friday: summer in Texas

Hello my loyal reading folks! Just thought I'd share a bit of sweetness from my past. I think it's web-safe enough to show this image online since no one really looks like they did at this time, circa 1982-ish. That's me in the pert little yellow dress on the side, there's my oldest brother standing up (who's a whopping 17 years my senior, but still manages to look the youngest) and another brother kneeling down holding my favorite kitten, albeit a bit gruffly (let me assure you no kittens were harmed in the making of this picture). In the center is my abuelita, smiling a sweet smile and noticeably absent is her ever-present Bible. And there's my beautiful Mami, caught off guard with a forced smile but let me assure you she's one of the most gorgeous women on earth.

I love how messily exposed this photo is, putting a mysterious gray veil over everything, that it was the middle of summer and you can tell by the overgrown lawn, the heavy leaves on the trees and patches of bare ground. I have so many happy memories of being a kid and just wandering around with my hair uncombed, scruffing up my pretty dresses climbing trees, riding bikes and skinning my knees. Just a brief summer memory on this cold, cold day in New York. Have a sweet weekend, all, and stay warm!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

two donkey embroideries; brief summaries of goings-on

donkey 2 donkey 1

I was so excited to finally finish these little guys yesterday - I was so unhappy with the colors I picked before that I almost didn't finish them. That's the wonder of having a blog, however - knowing I have someone to show my work to, however small the project is, really inspires me to finish. :) I ended up with shades of pink and brown, but I think they worked out well:
cute donkey
donkey closeup

My weekend was so-so - the best part was falling in love with the snow that fell on Friday. I did a bit of sketching on Thursday, but wasn't as happy with these. I think I am inspired, however, to keep up with this outline and watercolor technique:

On Saturday we stepped out for breakfast at a local diner - on the way back I snapped these babies up for $10 at the Urban Outfitters:

Yes, I'm sure they'd be super-easy to make, but sometimes I just have to bite the bullet and actually buy something... :)

Speaking of clothes, I thought I'd share a snap of my beloved shoes, which I've worn all winter (eschewing all logical fashion rules):

Hoping your weekend was a good one, and hoping against hope that the Oscars gets more interesting. Will there ever be a funny one? I'm just sooo glad none of those cheeseball songs from Enchanted won. There is justice in the universe, if only for that... :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

update on sketches

day 10 of 365 Sketch: today's painting

Here are today's lunchtime sketches. I used a Micron pen to do some quick outlines, then filled them in with my watercolors. I was in the rather boring staff cafeteria, with not much to look at, so I sketched a nearby trash can, red plastic chair, and sugar jar, then wrote underneath "everyday things of not much beauty." Oddly, I realized that after painting them, I did find beauty in their colors, lines, and everyday-ness. I also sketched a singular eye, then later an unrelated nose and mouth...

Then I sketched a female face near the words:
everyday things

Perhaps it's odd, but everytime I draw a female face from my imagination she looks sad or worried. I'm never sad or worried as I draw them, nor do I plan to make them sad or worried, but I do find beauty in their expressions... I really love this drawing, but her face isn't the most symmetrical or beautiful, so I enjoyed the unplanned irony of the words that sit next to her...

I wasn't a fan of yesterday's painting:
day 9 of 365 Sketch: yesterday's painting

I was in a crabby mood and I think that was reflected in these less than stellar efforts. :) Those two monkeys with hearts were a painting I was planning to give my boyfriend for Valentine's day but they never got past the sketch stage.

But I did enjoy this little chocolate-y brown monkey:
brown guy

Hope the cold weather is treating you well - it's freezing here! I'm getting rather tired of itchy tights, scratchy scarves, and skulking about in my wool coat, how about you? :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

several happy things and an award ceremony

donkey #2 donkey #1

First, here's the embroidery I've been promising above. As you can see, donkey #2 is in progress, and to tell the truth I'm not crazy happy with the colors I used on donkey #1... These little guys are from a vintage Vogart pattern (#133) - you can find the free pattern on my stitching friend Drewzel's blog: free donkey pattern

pearl craft center

My stitching friend also sent me on a photo assignment to Canal St. to photograph the decrepit craft store I blogged a few posts ago. So here it is, in all its glory, mouldering in the rear alley behind Pearl Paint: the Pearl Craft Center.

Don't let that fresh coat of exterior paint fool you - every building nearby is a creepy, graffiti-covered warehouse and the interior is delightfully dusty.

Canal St. is always a madhouse, any time of day, any time of year - even on Monday when the weather was gray and dreary:

I didn't get a good, people-crowding-your-every-move photo, but trust me it's nuts. Not as nuts as Macy's but nutty, grimy, cheap and sketchy in its own right. Whenever I spend time in a place like this I need a day or so to decompress, to just sort of "un-people" myself. :)

Much earlier that morning, after gorging myself on a French pastry and grainy coffee, I decided to round out the debauchery by not taking a long walk. Instead I poked my head into Petco, which is never a good idea for a pet freak like myself. About a year ago, when the last of my 3 beloved bettas finally died after a slow, saddening decline I swore I'd never get a fish again, but there I was, staring at the bettas and the dwarf hamsters. And I emerged with this lovely lady, whom we will call "Maude":

I've decided she's twice as intelligent as any other fish I've had and I'm totally charmed.

You Make My Day Award
I received the "You Make My Day" Award from 3 people! Aww... shucks.

  • from Frizz, who blogs over at Frizzelstix and creates the most adorable illustrations and embroidery

  • from Sarah, of Life in Sarahland, who I recently worked with on a (cough) top-secret embroidery related project

  • Also, from the lovely lady at needled who has a wonderful, thoughtful blog with amazing knitting and crewel work, and can I say, she can really rock a knitted dress!

I hereby bestow unto the following 12 people the "You Make My Day" Award:

  • doe-c-doe - this new blogger has a super-delightful blog with beautiful photos and generous freebies of all kinds. A truly sweet person and wonderful blogger.

  • Stitchy Britches - she's clever with a needle and no slouch at puns and wit. Visit her blog, it's a fun place to be.

  • Minderjahr - I don't speak a spot of German so thank God there's an English version. Her sweet creations look lovely in any language, however.

  • Syko - Kajsa's work is so unique, sweet, and beautiful. I can't help but smile every time I see her blog.

  • WIP - Carol does it all - quilting, embroidery, sewing, home business, part-time work, full time mom, and she's witty, kind and generous. You rock, Carol.

  • Geninne's Art Blog - Geninne is such a talented artist and crafter - go check out her watercolors, they're incredible.

  • Softies Central - I've met Terry in the flesh and she's even sweeter in person. I'm in her debt for introducing me to some wonderful crafters and she's always featuring something cute and unusual on her blog.

  • Lindamade - Linda is a truly gorgeous person, fellow Texan, and has a unique, killer sense of fashion. And she knits a mean hat.

  • Wee Wonderfuls - Does this woman EVER stop creating? I know you've visited Hillary already today, but do it again - I'm sure that in half an hour's time she's managed to craft circles around all of us...

  • inside a black apple - Emily is so creative, innovative, beautiful and unique. Another woman who was endowed with infinite artistry and craftiness.

  • Carina's Craft Blog - there's always something, bright, colorful and amazing in Carina's world. You can cure some winter blahs this instant by visiting her.

  • Early Bird Special - Amy is a fellow Sublime Stitching devotee and a goddess of onesie embroidery. Be sure to visit her store if you know a tot in dire need of cuteness.

Random Acts of Kindness Award

Also, my stitchy friend Drewzel, (of the aforementioned Stitchy Britches and at Clever with a Needle) honored me with a Random Acts of Kindness Award. Jeepers.

So to the following 3 people I bestow the "Random Acts of Kindness" Award:

  • Sweet Bee's Vintage Finds - Rebekah has spent untold hours scanning vintage patterns which she offers up for free on her blog. Check out her blog, and pass on the good craft karma!

  • Old School Acres - Every time I visit this lady, she's giving away one of her amazing creations. I've always thought the highest form of art is made by artists who freely share their inspiration with the world.

  • Hodge Podge Farm - Cal not only has the cutest name (wouldn't you kill to be name Cal Patch?) she's also a wonderful seamstress, embroiderer and crafter who shares her skills teaching classes, being kind to other crafters and otherwise making this world a happier, craftier place.

And to all of you I didn't mention, please be assured it is only impending carpal tunnel which keeps me from typing the names of every last one of you. Everyone who visits my blog, leaves a comment, sends an email - you all Make my Day!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Siegfried modifications, sleepy Sundays


It's been awhile since I visited Siegfried - his circular shape was tough to frame, so I decided to stick him in an embroidery hoop. The problem was... the 8 inch hoop (above) was a little too big, and the 7 inch frame was a little too small. :(

I used the 8 inch hoop and painted a dark brown circle all around Siegfried:

And I hated it! I played around, doodling and painting but felt very blah about all of it:

I ended up making a huge mess and poor Siegfried looked terrible! So I took a break, had some tea, and felt a bit sorry for myself. I switched Siegfried to the smaller hoop, cleaned my brushes and palette and painted all over the red:

The new color just felt right - I liked the red but over the past few weeks I got bored with it. And now I like it so much better! I even painted the hoop - it was a cold day and on our way home from Sunday brunch with my boyfriend's parents we chewed on peppermint candies and looked up at the tops of old buildings. So even Siegfried took on a peppermint tone:
Siegfried currently...

What do you think? I love him so far, and promise I am almost finished. :) It's cold, wet, and gloomy out, so we're spending the night in, relishing the fact that there's a holiday tomorrow. Sundays are my favorite days in New York - Sunday mornings, to be exact. The streets are so quiet, and so few people are ever out. There's a pensive, silent mood that falls over everything, and in those brief moments before 11 AM I feel like I'm in another town, a manageable town that is nothing like this big metropolis. I love my quiet walk to church, and how there are always people waiting tensely outside the nearby bookstore, just waiting for the very second the doors are unlocked.

The church is a huge, grand place, nothing like the tiny chapels I was raised in. I think back and remember how sparse, how white, how bare they were (I suppose ornament of any kind was viewed as an affront to God). The older I get, the more I feel I don't have to be in a specific place to encounter God, but grand places do inspire me. And there, just like most places I am the definition of "shy" - only 1 person knows my name, and I really like it that way - I chalk it up to having been a minister's kid the whole time I grew up. More than anything, back then, I wanted to just experience things on my own, to feel like I wasn't being watched or held to an impossible standard...

Anyway, here's the comfiest part of my sleepy Sunday-before-a-holiday evening:
sleepy slippers

I get the best presents for Christmas... I've been skulking about in these slippers ever since. :) Well, friends, may your night be peaceful, calm, and grand. I wish you happy sleepiness and a good holiday (if you have one) and you'll be seeing more embroidery soon!

p.s. Someone was curious about the name of my favorite decrepit craft store in Chinatown... it's the Pearl Paint Home and Craft store. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

clean dishes, dirty dishes, lazy day

dirty dishes clean dishes

Yes, you're right, that's actual embroidery on my embroidery blog! :) It's been awhile since I sat down for a real embroidery project, and after getting used to the instant gratification of drawing I kept asking myself, "Um, why do I like embroidery?" Nevertheless, I started off Sunday by cutting out a slew of little monkey-shaped heads and faces from fabric scraps, and choosing my favorites for the towel:

many faces

The monkey towel says "clean dishes" on one side and "dirty dishes" on the other - I thought it would be great to hang outside the dishwasher accordingly, since 90% of the time I'm too lazy to unload the clean dishes from the dishwasher... :)


I love days off. Like yesterday, a wonderfully unexpected holiday. I love to do as little as possible, watch a few old movies out of the corner of my eye while making myself breakfast and snacks. Yesterday it snowed lightly all day and I kept popping out of the apartment to run errands, but mostly it was to enjoy the snowfall. I went to the craft store to re-stock my favorite colors of floss and felt.

This particular craft store (there are sadly few in Manhattan) is in Chinatown, tucked away in a back alley behind an art supply. You would never know it was there unless someone told you. The buildings in the alley are old, grimey, and covered with graffiti. Like most sewing and craft stores in Manhattan it is dusty, decrepit, flourescent, and makes me feel like I'm standing in the Woolworth craft section in 1987. In short, I love it. :) To top it off, the same nice young man is always behind the register, always comments on my smile and always gives me a discount.

little spools

For no particular reason, I bought these cute little wooden spools and wound my embroidery floss around them. I love all of these colors, and they just seem to look nicer this way....

day 8 of Sketch 365: a girl

I've mostly been sketching every day - I'd say maybe every other day. Last week I didn't paint anything very interesting, and I really hated most of what I did on this page of my sketchbook. All except this tiny thumbnail above, which I love so much.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

featuring some cubicle wall art and your genius poems

I hate cubicles. My first (sort of) real job out of college I was so exited to have my very own desk, and it turned out to be... a cubicle. Words cannot express the waves of boredom and sadness that washed over me as I looked down to see gray carpet, a manila-colored plastic desk, a manila-colored computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, manila-colored cubicle walls, and when I opened up my big plastic-y desk drawer, voila! My very own manila file folders. No color anywhere. I thought I was being punished for being very bad.

all together

In the present day I still work in a cubicle. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of things I love about my job - the cubicle, however, is not one of them. So in a bored 15 minutes after the work of the day was done, this little monkey collage "appeared" on one of the cubicle walls. And it was not enough that the monkeys were cheeky, cute, and rainbow-colored, their little faces also seemed to beg for names.

So, meet Lily, Humbert, Edwin, Penelope, Auguste, and Stanhope:
lily humbert edwin
penelope auguste stanhope

Yes, I know Stanhope is strangest of all, being an all-green monkey he looks a bit Frankenstein-ish - and it doesn't help that I smeared his mouth while I was glueing him. So far Lily and Humbert are my favorites... :) Are any of you cursed to work in a cubicle? How do you make your spaces happy? :)

Onward to Poetry Homages...

Thank you everyone for humoring me with your poems, both good and bad! I must draw attention to the considerable talents of Jane, who writes of the felt kitty:

i heart those bright blue marbley cartoon kitty eyes.

and from Marilyn, who unabashedly rhymes as she says:

I'm also a horrible poet

And you know it

And Frizz, who honored me with a "make your day" poem - thanks! I'll be putting together a post on those who make my day soon! :)

Lisa shared a poem that was a favorite of a good friend of mine - thanks for bringing back a happy memory:

i think that i shall never see

A poem as lovely as a tree

Also, thank you Susie for proving to me I never thoroughly learned the English language! Can any of you say "unique New York" 3 times? I sure as heck can't! :)

And as for carrying one's cat on one's head in Manhattan, it totally makes sense now, thanks Deb. I still freak out when I see a cat on a leash. But not as much as I freaked out when I saw a bunny on a leash. People will put anything a leash in Manhattan... :) Have a good weekend, friends! According to that poll it looks like I have a date with some embroidery projects. Details soon! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

cat therapy, the way home, bad poem taggage

cat on a sofa

It's been awhile since you've seen a craft here, no? Well, here's one for you - the cute felt cat I sewed to cheer myself up. It's from a sweet Japanese (?) craft book my friend gave me for Christmas. I fell in love with the wonky-eyed cats and had to make one.

cute cat

Here's the cute/creepy kitty in my hand for scale. :) On my way home I saw the man who carries his cat on his head (I've seen 2 in New York) and this was the third time I'd seen this particular one. I was not in a great mood, I felt dreamy and bored, and looked at the sky and tops of buildings a lot, as if this might lift my mood.

While I was doing this, a short Hispanic man passed me on the right and said "you walk like..." and I conveniently, magically tuned out the rest thanks to my Ipod. I began to imagine all the kind and romantic things he most certainly did not say like "you walk like an angel, floating," or "you walk like you're dreaming of many serene things..." (Not that I think I walk like an angel or that I was thinking serene things - it just seemed like a nice thing to hear). Rather than what he most likely did say which was probably "you walk like a horse's ass." :)

There was a preponderance of tiny, fluffy dogs on the street, I almost thought they were on parade. :) I also wrote a bad poem while waiting in the subway, which I will now inflict on you:

At times I get angry with New York
for being so ugly and being so beautiful
for having, at every time and moment
so many ugly and beautiful things
so many different things, everywhere to be found
but never, it seems, that one thing
that one thing I'm always trying to find.

By the way, if you read this, you are tagged! I want to read one poem from all of you - in the comments or on your blog... :) It can be bad, it can be good, it can be something you wrote or just something you like.

Also, please continue to weigh in on what you want to see more of on this blog - I have a poll in sidebar. So far embroidery is in the clear lead... :)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

the snow when it is freshly falling

I prefer the snow

Yesterday was a bit hectic - I had a lot of work to do and no time to paint. The highlight of the day, however, was the morning when the air was deliciously damp and soft clumps of snow fell on me the entire way to work. When I first moved to New York I was under the mistaken impression that snow fell constantly - in reality it's quite rare - and so it's always majestic to me. And yet snow's no picnic when it turns into slush on the ground - as my little sketch says, I prefer the snow when it is freshly falling. :)

Day 6 of Sketch 365: with a little watercolor

Today I dotted this page with little pencil sketches I went over with watercolor. I wasn't sure what I was going to draw at first, until I wrote the following line at the top of the page:

I don't like

I'm really bad at eye contact, and I didn't even know it until late in high school when a teacher pointed it out to me. Since then I notice it a lot - I'm one of those people who looks down when they pass you in the street, or nervously adjusts their gloves in the elevator. When I have speeches to do or I'm meeting someone for the first time it's much easier - I just do the opposite of what feels natural - it's an odd, mind-over-matter process... I guess eye contact, to me, is a very intimate thing and I'd rather share it only with the people I'm closest to, only then does it feel right...

Yesterday as I got off the muggy train a man played "a few of my favorite things" on the saxaphone and the boredom of the evening ride seemed to completely dissolve. Maybe that's what I was thinking of when I jotted this down...
I like

Or maybe I was thinking of the quiet-looking young man who ate a sandwich on a park bench this morning, completely surrounded by tiny sparrows. He had a slightly guilty look on his face, (though we didn't make eye contact) which let me know he'd been sneaking pieces of lettuce to them... :)

I've been meaning to ask - do you miss my crafts? I've been enjoying painting so much that I've let the embroidery and sewing take a backseat... but I do have a little something you may see soon! :) P.S. - I've added a poll in the sidebar because I'm curious about what you want to see more of... So, check off as many topics as you want, and I'll know what I should add soon! :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

a lunchtime painting and weekend craftiness

lunchtime painting: you are a poem

Here is Friday's lunchtime painting: You are a poem. It began as a tiny thumbnail the day before - being part of 365 Sketch has inspired me to paint a little something almost every day. On the left is a lovely snow monkey, on the right an amorous green monkey in a fuzzy hat who points to his particularly amorous message: "vous êtes une poème écrit sur la neige." To my French-speaking friends, am I saying something ridiulous? What I meant to say was "you are a poem written in the snow"...

One of my favorite things about my lunchtime paintings is the setup (odd, I know), but I love taking all my paint tubes out, one by one and lining them up carefully by color, pouring water into my cup, pulling out a few paper towels and starting with a pencil sketch. I also love putting all my things away very neatly, cleaning my brushes, wiping my paint tray - strangely I'm a very messy person but about this one thing I am very neat. People still eye me curiously but I mostly ignore them - things feel very vital while I draw and paint, my awareness seems much sharper and it's the perfect cure for any rainy day, which Friday most certainly was.

I bought a hot egg drop soup on the way home and exulted in the fact that it was pouring but I was warm and cozy, and one block away from home. I watched "La Vie en Rose" which I'd been wanting to see for awhile - Marion Cotillard was sad and dazzling. I love to watch long movies like this by myself so I don't feel guilty when my brain tunes out.

On Saturday I sat and drank coffee and basically wondered what to do next:
what's next...

day 5 of 365 sketch: fabric swatches

I lined up all the monkey paintings I've done so far, but didn't feel inspired. So I didn't do any painting Saturday, and instead did some procrastinating and tv-watching. Today was my most productive day this weekend - at church I had a brainstorm, and jotted a sketch on the back of a chinese takeout receipt.

I've been meaning to do the fabric swatches in hoops thing for months now, but I really suck at hanging things on walls. It's always too wonky or too boringly symmetrical. This sketch helped boost my confidence and I set to work trimming, stretching, and banging tacks into the wall (as quietly as possible).

on the wall

I arranged the fabric swatches around an antique photo my boyfriend bought on Ebay a few months ago - I liked having her surrounded by fabric so she could be my patron saint of craftiness... She's a tiny bit creepy, no?

The fabric, by the way, is all from my boyfriend's beautiful dress shirts. He routinely throws out his shirts if they get the tiniest of stains, (seriously, he sees things that are pinprick-size) so I recycle them and use them to make monkeys and other crafts. I like how they're all subdued plaids and stripes, so they don't look like "normal" crafty fabrics....

And lastly I just have to share with you my sister's monkey masterpiece:
my sister's masterpiece

I gave her my first monkey for Christmas, and she surprised me today with this awesome portrait. She's so talented, patient and amazing - I love how accurately she rendered Esteban, down to the tiny buttons on his scarf. Oddly, my favorite part is the paint bottle on the left - isn't it lovely? It's sketchy and detailed all at once. I'm sure that if it wasn't for her I would have never picked up a pencil - I love her more than words - thank you hermanita! :)