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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

shorpy finds

Sewing class, New York (circa 1925)

If you love looking at old photographs as much as I do, then you must visit Shorpy. I make frequent visits and here's what I found this morning. Click on the photos to see all the fantastic details.

Government printing office, Washington (Circa 1910)

There's so much to absorb in this photo. I'm particularly enamored with "Col. No.74": those subway tiles, the push-button switches, the cup on a chain and that sign - priceless!

Delicatessen room of the Edelweiss Cafe, Detroit (circa 1912).

The National cash register is spectacular, but it's the butcher paper and twine station that I really want.

Washday, Arizona (circa 1942)

Washday at the Camelback Farm Security Administration camp. The photo says so much.

(all images via Shorpy)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

several irons in the fire

staining hemp/organic cotton with coffee -- a staple in g-grandma Relda's kitchen no doubt

Mom recently asked if I'd been working on my first-in-a-very-long-time series of oil paintings. My reply was "yes" and that I'm "thrilled" with the final presentation that I have planned in the coming months. However, since oil paints take time to cure properly, I'm also working on a number of projects fitting for the holidays, brides and crafters alike. You could say that I have several irons in the fire...and I wouldn't have it any other way.

coffee and wine-stained hemp/organic cotton (ivory, unstained center)

coffee-stained hemp/silk charmeuse (ivory, unstained on right)

wine-stained hemp/silk charmeuse (ivory, unstained on left)

This week I've been experimenting with natural dyes, intentional fraying, and top stitching my stash of eco textiles (hemp/organic cotton, hemp/soy and hemp/silk charmeuse). I've absolutely fallen in love with the resulting colors that coffee and wine stains create and the patterns I'm coming up with...some tidy, others random and abstract. Oh I do hope you like! I've also been working with kapok, buckwheat hulls and 100% organic cotton twill tape. Stay tuned for my Etsy shop's grand opening announcement. In the meantime, I'm headed back to the studio and starting my search for an Etsy Success Holiday Boot Camp Buddy. Cheers!