Wednesday, December 29, 2010

art is my compass

My Sketchbook is now on its way to the Brooklyn Art Library.

These are the words I will carry with me in the coming year. May you also find your center of happiness in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

the ornaments that inspired it all + etsy shop sale

These hand-stitched bear ornaments hung on my Christmas tree this year. I've cherished them ever since I was a little girl when my mom fashioned them out of an old coat lining. They also served as the inspiration for my eco-friendly wreath ornaments. Now that the holidays are over, I'm offering all remaining ornaments and balsam sachets in the shop at 50% off. Cheers and happy 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my sketchbook - final entry

My final sketch is now complete...and just in time as the deadline is fast approaching. The next time I see it in person will be June 2011 at the Form/Space Atelier gallery here in Seattle. There it can be viewed alongside 28,832 other Art House sketchbooks on tour.

This sketch pretty much sums up why I chose to participate. It's forced me to practice my craft, and in doing so, has reminded me just how much happier and hopeful I am when I'm creating art. Yes, most images are simple black and white doodles, but a gal has to start somewhere, right? Thank you dear Rikkianne for inspiring me to join you in this journey. xo!

In the coming days I look forward to continuing work on my first-in-a-very-long-time series of oil paintings. Cheers!

Friday, December 17, 2010

my sketchbook - no. 8

My youngest daughter attends a Japanese-immersion school. Lucky for us, we are exposed to the beauty of Japanese culture and traditions.

Quite often I find my oldest daughter curled up with a book or two or three. My sketchbook project wouldn't be complete without a nod to her obsession.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

weekend paper garland

Spent the morning with my girls cutting and stringing snowflakes made from the pages of a Chinese booklet I scored at Goodwill. Time well spent.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

you sentimental idiot by Rikkianne Van Kirk

Have you seen these incredible sketches + prints yet from the artist extraordinaire Rikkianne Van Kirk? You may know her from her highly successful eco-artisan shop of soft furnishings and accessories Chakra Pennywhistle that she now runs with her best friend Ursula Arnold.

Well, Rikkianne has hit yet another one out of the ballpark, this time with a new shop, You Sentimental Idiot, and 8x10 prints of her stunning sketches on antique diary pages. I've been following her sketchbook journal project for the past few months and I want a print of everything in her collection -- they are phenomenal!

"you sentimental idiot" in Rikkianne's own words:
You Sentimental Idiot is a project inspired by found materials that have a past. Antique diaries are the main medium. I hope to make the aged pages and forgotten words current with my illustrations. Some drawings are inspired by direct quotes from the diaries while others are what I imagine the writer would have seen. I create the works by drawing directly on top of the diary page with a Sharpie.

Do yourself a favor and head over to Rikkianne's print shop today. I'm confident you'll find something to gift to a friend, loved one, or even yourself. Cheers!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

my sketchbook - no. 7

A sketch of one of my all-time favorite photos of my daughters. They were definitely cookin' up some cheer (and a little trouble) in our kitchen on the prairies back in 2005.

Way too many computers occupy our home office....some of them don't even work!

I absolutely love participating in this sketchbook project.

Friday, November 12, 2010

poppytalk's 101 reasons to buy homemade

One of my favorite, go-to sources for design and creative inspiration is Poppytalk -- brought to you by the dynamic duo of Jan + Earl.

Thankfully they are continuing their conversation about handmade goods and why so many of us artisans do what we do. Jan and Earl asked artists, designers and shop keepers to submit thoughts on the subject and here are some of my favorite reasons: (click here for a link to Poppytalk's full article).

  • #46 -- When i buy handmade i am buying more than a product. i am supporting an artist who has put care, creativity and love into the product. i am supporting their vision. the product has such a personal history and story. Pamela Sherry,

  • 47. Buying handmade is win-win situation : You enrich your life with beautiful handmade goods, and you enable an artist to continue following their creative dreams. Stephanie Levy,

  • 71. Buying handmade shows our children that not everything in this world needs to be mass produced. It teaches them to love and appreciate the unique and the imperfect. And it inspires them to do their own creating as well. Jill Bent,

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

new in my etsy shop

Hello! It's been a few days since I last blogged about the time-intensive, yet highly rewarding process of making my eco wreath ornaments. Now I'd like to share with you a few eco pincushions and eco sachets that I've recently added to my collection....all handcrafted and hand sewn by me, with care.

My eco pincushions are unique in that they are larger than your average-sized pincushion, made from earth-friendly materials, and emit a soothing aromatic scent when pierced with needles and pins -- thanks to the surprise ingredient of lavender! Some even incorporate textiles I've dyed using natural colorants such as wine and coffee.

My eco sachets are highly fragrant -- just what they should be -- to fill your home with the special scent of balsam this holiday season. Hang one in from your mantel, a doorknob, or archway (in lieu of mistletoe). Each is filled with a generous amount of balsam fir needles and eco-friendly buckwheat hulls and includes a 7" 100% cotton twill tape loop for hanging. Some sachets are adorned with seasonal sayings while others showcase hand "drawn" designs (top stitched using my sewing machine).

I invite you to visit my Etsy shop -- perhaps you'll find a gem or two for the holidays.

Cheers, Mandy

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the making of my eco wreath holiday ornaments

I've had a ton of fun this past month block printing and sewing up a batch of these wreath-adorned "pillow" ornaments that are now available in my Etsy shop.

I followed in the footsteps of my mom's own merry ornament making back in the mid-70s using my stash of eco fabrics.

The process is labor-intensive, but well worth the outcome.

my choice of eco-friendly fabics

I start by washing my fabrics because the laundering process makes them softer -- the design aesthetic I'm going for! My designs incorporate these earth-friendly and sustainable-crop fabrics (pictured above left to right):
  • hemp/soy (deep olive)
  • organic linen (beige)
  • hemp/organic cotton (ivory)

me hand stamping individual "Boxwood with Berries" wreath prints on ivory hemp/organic cotton

I then roll a coating of non-toxic water based ink onto the block print and hand stamp wreaths, one by one, across yards of fabric. I allow ample time for the ink to dry and then heat set the ink before cutting.

My five eco wreath ornament ink + fabric combinations

circles of wreath fabric panels just waiting to be transformed into my "pillow" ornaments

Next, I cut out circles of block printed fabric as well as ivory hemp/organic cotton that will become the back panel of every ornament. Cutting the ivory fabric reminded me of cutting out buttermilk biscuits - fantastic!

raw kapok fibers

The final part involves sewing two panels of fabric together using two rows of top stitching and then stuffing each ornament with environmentally-friendly premium kapok fibers to give each their "pillow" shape. I chose kapok for it's super resilient qualities, the fact that it is grown without the use of chemicals or herbicides, and how it is sustainably harvested from the kapok tree. A loop of hemp twine completes the design and makes for easy hanging. Ornaments are sold individually and also in a set (5).

I hope you've enjoyed this peek into my artisan process. Cheers and happy holidays!

complete set of "Boxwood with Berries" wreath eco holiday ornaments

Friday, October 29, 2010

open, please come in...

set of 5 "Boxwood with Berries" wreath eco holiday ornaments

I'm delighted to announce the opening of my Etsy shop. Here you'll find a variety of earth-friendly holiday ornaments, sachets and pincushions, all handmade by me with care. Please look around and post a comment below to tell me what you think. Thanks for your encouragement along the way. Cheers!

garnet boxwood wreath eco holiday ornament - ivory hemp/organic cotton

sable boxwood wreath eco holiday ornament - beige organic linen

fragrant balsam fir eco holiday sachet - peace

wine-stained eco pincushion with top stitching + lavender and kapok filling

Thursday, October 28, 2010

my sketchbook - no. 6

I picked up this wonderful pie tin this summer and just had to sketch it. Those tiny circles are holes in the pan.

I had fun doodling this. They're not necessarily flowers or stars or butterflies. I kinda like the way I colored some in and thickened the outlines on others.

I drew this at karate the other night. I'm glad I filled in a few of those "seeds".

I'm thinking of using some of my doodle patterns in some future oil paintings. Just thinking. Cheers, Mandy

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

relda jane

I've previously written about my great-grandmothers Relda and Velda and how they serve as inspiration for my artisan goods. Now I'd like to introduce you to someone incredibly dear to me, my siblings, and my daughters. This person is none other than my mom, Relda Jane. She is the reason I consider myself an artist.

Doesn't "Janie" look adorable in these photographs? Perhaps I'm a little biased, but this little girl from Colby, Kansas is an exceptional painter, potter and all-around artist who has shown me (and now my daughters) the joy of being lost in the creative process. She has also taught me the value of craftsmanship.

Some of my happiest childhood memories are watching my mom paint in the kitchen late at night. There stood the easel in the middle of the kitchen and there my mom "dancing" with her brushes. She looked so radiant! She seemed invincible when she was painting or drawing or sculpting or baking. I'm thrilled she's joining me in the sketchbook project and hope to share some of her more recent work here very soon.

Growing up, we didn't have much money for new toys or the latest fashions, but that never stopped mom from showing us just how beautiful handmade could be. Like the time when she transformed a lining from an old coat into merry little bear ornaments. It was magical to watch her! Those bears have become one of the family's most-coveted heirlooms.

The family included a very proud father, a doting mother, three boys, and three girls. Fuzzy bodies. Whimsical embroidered expressions. Matching outfits. And they all came to life by my mom's hands.

Each Christmas my brother, sister, and I would fight over who got to hang the ornaments on the tree. It became a tradition to "talk" to the bears and shift them around the tree on the days leading up to Christmas -- I'm not entirely sure why. We repeated this "ritual" well into our teens and adult years. We all have such fond memories of the holidays because of these bears and mom's ingenuity. Thank you mom!

I wanted to share this particular story because it serves as the inspiration for the "Boxwood with Berries" ornaments I'll be making and selling very very soon in my Etsy shop. I have a stash of eco textiles that I really should use up and wouldn't it be grand if, once I send these ornaments out into the world, they bring a similar joy to children as mom's bears did to me?

Here's a sneak peek at what's in store. Thanks for stopping by and watch for my shop's Grand Opening announcement.

A few things about my eco ornaments:
  • Just as my mother did, I will handcraft each ornament and do so in small batches to ensure a high level of craftsmanship.
  • The inks I will use to stamp my "Boxwood with Berries" wreath block print will be non-toxic.
  • I will stuff each with earth-friendly kapok fibers to give them shape and sew in a loop of hemp twine for hanging.
  • To achieve the weathered look I'm going for, I will intentionally leave the fabric edges naturally frayed after cutting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

my sketchbook - no. 5

Many hours have been spent waiting at karate. I'm extremely grateful to the dojo for teaching my daughters exceptional martial arts and leadership skills. And for giving me time to sketch.

Just a another doodle.

Discovering that repetition is relaxing sometimes....and that a spelling error in my sketchbook is stressful.