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>Where’s Your Brain At?

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For the past two weeks I have been participating in the Right Brainers in Business online video summit.  This course is offered by Jennifer Lee, author of the fantastic new book The Right Brain Business Plan.  Each day a different creative entrepreneur offered their insights and advice on ways for people who are more right brain oriented to overcome their stuck around creating a workable plan for their business.  The presenters have included the wonderful Danielle LaPorte, Tori Deaux and Goddess Leonie, and have inspired all of the participants to get their hands dirty and have fun while planning our various businesses.

One thing that I’ve been playing with in my head is taking my designs out into the world on a larger scale.  Licensing my work is one avenue I intend to explore this year. Another path I am looking into is to follow Natalie Chanin’s model, and supply work to the people in my community by offering them the opportunity to assemble pieces in their home.  I live in a rural area, without a lot of opportunity for traditional jobs, and I believe this could work.  I am especially excited about being able to help people who may not be able to take a job outside the home, either due to transportation restraints or because they are taking care of small children or ill relatives.  I also want to keep as much of the process local as possible.

Of course this all scares the pants off me.  After all, who am I to think so big?  But after spending time with Jennifer’s book and with the online community at the summit, I am ready to allow for the possibilities.

With that in mind, I created my first right brain business plan.  It’s an accordion book, which I made using a strip of Arches Cold Press watercolor paper, torn down to size.  I painted the background with acrylics and then silk screened and stamped on both sides.   Here is what I have so far:

right brain business plan 1

The whole plan.  I used images from magazines as well as color copies from some of my more traditional work to lay it out.  One of my role models is Mary Engelbreit, whose colorful, inspirational and whimsical images are licensed on products from fabric to puzzles and greeting cards, and I put an image of her at the beginning of the plan. 

right brain business plan 2

Jennifer talks about finding what values are important to you, and I keep realizing that “Fun” is something that is important to me.  I want to create objects that make people smile, even while going about every day chores such as shopping or working at their computer.  I also wanted to remind myself that it’s never too late to start, and that there will never be a shortage of ideas.  The crayons and markers represent the fun tools I can use in creating the designs.

right brain business plan 3

In order to see this vision through, I will need a team of people to help bring it about.  I included images of this in the middle of the plan, including one of a group of women sewing together and a sewing machine.  I hope for the business to grow, and also to have fun while growing it.

right brain business plan 4

Finally, how is the finished product going to get to the people who want it?   I love this image from a UPS ad, because packing and shipping generally freak me out.  Eventually someone else can be in charge of “expediting” (or is it “logistics”? I can’t keep the terms straight LOL), but this image reminds me that it still can be fun.  The best part of creating is the dialogue that happens when someone loves a piece and purchases it to take home with them, and these smiling faces remind me of that happy feeling.

There is a lot more content in the book and I will be sharing my process with you in the coming weeks and months.  The next step is to work on the details, which go on the back of the pages shown here.  I highly encourage you to look into getting a copy of The Right Brain Business Plan if this looks like a process that could work for you. 

And remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a prize pack of Kathy Cano-Murillo’s novels!

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>Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing

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Video trailer for Kathy Cano Murillo’s newest novel Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing

Kathy Cano Murillo, The Crafty Chica, has long been an inspiration to me, and many of us in the crafting community.  Her joyous can do spirit shines through everything she does, and I  love reading her tales of her crafty adventures.  It was only natural that she also turn her gift with words to ficition, and it was with great delight that I read her first novel Waking Up in the Land of Glitter when it was released last spring.   That story of friendship and crafting was so vivid and so inspirational that I was eager to read her second novel.

Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing also tells the tale of a group of women, and the friendships formed around a common goal.  Scarlet Santana is a young designer who worships the designer Daisy de la Flora, and who writes a crafty blog dedicated to Daisy and her style, both in creating artwork and creating a life.  When Scarlet wins an opportunity to study with Daisy’s nephew, the well-known Johnny Scissors, she decides to teach a class in her signature patternless sewing style to raise the funds for the trip to New York City.

The women Scarlet meets in her class range from the high school students Stephanie and Jennifer, to young career-minded wife and mother Mary Theresa, to life-changing Olivia (pronounced “Oh Live Yah!”) and the mysterious Rosa.  Through the course of the class the women get to know each other and bond over their individual dreams and hopes.  They provide each other support and a cheering section for when things get overwhelming.  None of the women are the same at the end of the story as they were at the beginning, and all of them find that dreams don’t die, even when it appears all is lost.

I really enjoyed this novel, the depth of detail Kathy uses in describing each setting and character satisfies my desire for feeling like I’m part of the story.  Scarlet’s style, the design work of Daisy, the setting of Vega’s Vicious Vinyl and of course Nana Eleanor’s home all feel like real places.  Kathy also manages to  fit a lot of her “you can do this too” enthusiasm in through the use of blog posts written by Miss Scarlet, that have tips and techniques for living a fuller, more rich life.  Inspirational and entertaining, Miss Scarlet’s school is a place I would love to visit over and over again

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As part of the blog tour for Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing, I am pleased to present this post from Kathy herself.  As someone who admires Kathy’s ability to transition from the world of making visual art to the world of creating with words, I asked how she handles this sometimes challenging shift in creating, and how each medium can feed the other. This was her answer:

“They both are about translating imagination, but in different forms. I draw from the same pool of creativity – choosing a color story, the mood, a message and then creating a background and foundation, the focal point and the accents and embellishments. Often, while I’m working in the art room, I’ll listen to music that my characters like and think about their storylines. And when I finish a project, it feels good to switch over to writing, I’m excited and ready to type away! I love that with writing, there is no mess. However,  it’s much more difficult to redo a 90,000 manuscript that it is to make changes to an art piece!”

To celebrate the release of Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing, I am hosting a giveaway of Kathy’s novels.  One lucky winner will receive a copy of each novel, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter and Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing.  Just leave a comment below, and answer the question, what is your favorite craft supply?  I will pick the winners on Monday, March 14.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in giveaway, inspiration, play, review

 

>Step by Step

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Since becoming a Kreinik designer last fall I have worked on several pieces using their wonderful threads.  The pink shoe piece (Boogie Shoes), the coral reef (Octopus’ Garden) and generally playing and planning on what to do next (I really want to recreate Birds’ Eye View using the wonderful Kreinik braids) .

One piece which has been in process since early December was finally finished last week.  Sometimes it goes like that, where I start a piece and have a lot of excitement and desire to see the completed piece, but then something else equally as shiny and attractive comes along, and so the original piece patiently waits on the design wall for me to come back around to it. 

Last week I was avoiding working on another piece which was giving me trouble, so it was easy to pick this piece back up and put the finishing touches on it.

twelve step complete

Twelve Step, 2011,  54” H x 41.25” W  Hand-dyed cottons from Diane Eyerman , hand-painted and silkscreened twill, commercial cotton, Quilter’s Dream Green batting , thread from Kreinik and Madeira.  This piece will be on exhibit at the Parkersburg Art Center during the month of June 2011.

twelve step complete detail_picnik

In this detail you can see the sparkle from the Kreinik machine threads that I used for the swirl quilting and for the buckles on the shoes.  The fish are a design I made, turned into a Print Gocco silkscreen.

twelve step complete detail too_picnik

I liked how the figure and ground relationship changed with the different hues of blue.  This helped to accentuate the swimming feeling I wanted from this piece.

twelve step complete detail three_picnik

Another detail of the thread and the fish.  I loved how our fabrics worked so well together, even though they were created months and miles apart from each other.

In Wednesday’s post, I  am very excited to host *the* Crafty Chica, Kathy Cano Murillo, who will answer my question about how she changes gears between working on her wonderful art and writing her lively novels.  I will be reviewing her latest novel Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing and there will be a giveaway for two lucky readers! 

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in art quilt, persistence, shoe

 

>From Start to Finish

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Sometimes art takes a long time to be created.  I drew this bird of paradise twenty years ago while finishing my undergraduate degree.  It is soft pastel on Mi-Tientes paper.  I still can remember the piles of pastel dust that formed on the easel as I worked.  Having a toddler at the time, I was concerned about her safety, and so the pastels went away.

bird of paradise drawing one

Two months ago, while cleaning in the studio, I came across the original drawing, as well as some photographs I’d taken of it at the time.  Since I’ve been working with machine embroidery on photo transfer, I decided to revisit the image.

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I printed out the picture onto Avery transfer paper, after flipping it in my paint program so that it was a mirror image.  I ironed it onto some white twill that I got at Dharma Trading Company, and backed that with several sheets of interfacing designed for machine embroidery.  Here you can see the piece in process.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

The piece, stitching complete.

 bird of paradise I detail two

A detail of the stitching.  You really can see the bird in the flower in this segment. 

I chose to finish this piece differently than the small water tower pieces, and chose some fabric from my stash to sew borders onto the piece.  Then  I stretched that over a 12” x 14” pre-stretched canvas I bought at Dick Blick.  I preferred to use a pre-stretched canvas because the fabric on the piece would be protected from any acids in the stretcher bars.  If I used plain stretcher bars I would seal them first.

 bird of paradise I

The finished piece, available in my Etsy shop

I once told a friend that time is never wasted making something we love.  This certainly was true for this piece.  Even though I never exhibited the original, it still makes me happy to see it and has inspired several pieces over the years.

 

>Tutorial : Our (Green)House

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Last year I made a set of house collages using materials at hand rather than going out and buying new supplies.  Granted, I spent many of the years between 2000-2006 making many “Mr. Toad” (wild ride) trips to Columbus to acquire supplies, so my studio is as well stocked as a small art supply store, but I didn’t look any further than the recycling bin for the base of this project.  (One admission: the frames and spray adhesive needed to be purchased new, and I had to make color copies of my family photos to do this project).

To make your own house collage, you will need:

1 cereal box, emptied and flattened

Gesso and acrylic paint (the $0.89 bottles work just as well as the fancy art store brands for this project)

Paint brushes, water cups, rags for cleanup, putty knife

Template (see sidebar or download the house template here)

XActo, or other craft knife

Scrapbook paper, preferably solid or tone on tone (12” x 12” sheet, plus smaller pieces of other paper, or pre-paint your own paper )

Color copies of family photos, landscapes, whatever catches your eye.  You can also get some great images for collage at ArtChix Studio .

Found objects (I’ve used things like bottle caps, doily pieces, embroidered appliques and small rubber animals)

Acrylic gel medium

Rubber stamps, stencils, bubble wrap, sequin waste, anything that will make a repeating pattern on your base

Dollar store picture frame (with glass) approximately 8” x 10”

Spray adhesive

Pencil or other marking tool, masking tape

1.  First, paint your flattened cereal box with the gesso, letting each side dry completely before adding the first coat of paint.  Let each layer dry, adding texture and details using rubber stamps, stencils, or sequin waste.  I paint both sides on my cereal boxes, using different colors on each side so I have more choices when creating my design.  Waiting for the pieces to dry takes patience, but end result of the funky layers makes the process worth it.  Don’t worry if some of the original cereal box ends up showing through, that just contributes to the charm of the project (or maybe the Lucky Charm; sorry, couldn’t resist).

house collage paint and embellish

2. When you are happy with the way your cereal box looks, trace the house template onto it, and cut out, using the craft knife or a sturdy pair of scissors.

3.  Cut a smaller triangle out of the opposite color/side of the cereal box, and place in the gable, for contrast.

house collage choosing elements

Here you can see the various images I could choose from.  I love making copies of old artwork and resizing the image to fit these little collages.  It really expands my options.

4.  Choose your images and arrange them onto the house.  When you get an arrangement that pleases you, glue the components down using the acrylic medium.  I press larger pieces down using a heavy object such as a big jar of acrylic medium or fabric paint.  Let dry.

house collage arranging elements

Here I chose a piece of paper I had painted last summer using a fish design that I turned into a silkscreen.

house collage gluing the elements

Gluing the elements using the gel medium and the putty knife.

house collage with embellishments

I found some commercial embroidered appliques to add to the image.  I really like how it appears that my daughter is studying her garden.

5. Measure the inside perimeter of your picture frame.  Cut a piece from the 12” x 12” scrapbook paper to fit the area.  Don’t worry if it’s a little larger than your measurement.  It’s easier to trim excess paper than make a piece that is too small fit correctly.

6. Mask off the frame using the masking tape.  Clean the glass in the frame and let dry.  Then spray the glass with the adhesive and stick  the scrapbook paper in place, using a bone folder or old gift card to smooth out any bubbles.  If there is too much paper, try sliding the excess under the edges of the frame with the gift card, then trim any leftover.  Let dry.

7.  Using a putty knife, slather the back of the house with a layer of gel medium (I use  Golden’s Extra Heavy Gel on my pieces.  It’s very thick and stays where I put it).  You will have some ooze, so put a lighter coat near the edges than in the middle.

8.  Place the house, gel side down, centered on the scrapbook paper in the picture frame.  Weigh down with heavy jars as needed.  Let dry.

house collage pressing the collage

 

9. Remove weights and voila!  Hang your beautiful collage in its new home.

house collage on the frame too

This is a great way to make a simple piece of artwork for your home or office.  Use copies of pecial photos and give as gifts.  The possibilities are endless.  To see some of the work I’ve made using this method, look at my Etsy shop.  Have fun!

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2011 in collage, house, ideas, inspiration, mixed media, play, tutorial

 

>When I Wrote This

>I was listening to the Traveling Wilburys a lot when I took these.  And reading Heyden Hererra’s biography of Frida Kahlo.  So, on a chilly March day, with nothing to do with a bored toddler and a few props from the local Woolworth’s, some photos were born.
deva birthday 2011 two
Here I took a full shot of Deva, wrapped in a simple lace scarf with kitschy fake flowers in her hair.  I was really into the idea of shrines and altarpieces at the time.
deva birthday 2011 one
I added another lace scarf and a length of gold lame to this one.  She was a very patient model, and took direction so well.
deva birthday 2011 four
Here I felt a little funny about doing all these Catholic images (my husband is Jewish), so I wrapped her in his tallis.  My mother-in-law said she looked like a little old lady in this one.
deva birthday 2011 three
And my favorite, with real gerbera daisies from Kroger’s. 
There is a website where people re-create childhood photos of themselves.  Today (February 20th) my favorite model turns 25.  I wonder if she’d be up to a re-shoot?

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2011 in family, flowers, play

 

>Friday Flowers

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One subject which often appears in artwork is the humble flower.  From the old Dutch masters to Georgia O’Keeffe and more, many artists have  chosen to recreate flowers in paint, clay and fabric.

Over the past twenty years I have created many floral pieces as well.  here is a small sampling.

anthurium painting one

 Anthurium 1989  Acrylic on canvas.  30” x 40”

flowers for keiko 72 full

Flowers for Keiko 2004  7” x 9”  Machine embroidery, machine quilted.

Flowers for Angie 72 full

Flowers for Angie 2006  24” x 18”  Hand quilted, machine quilted, embellished with beads, sequins and mirrors.

20100226_09

Tulip Time 2010 6” x 6”  Machine applique.

August 2002 full view

August 2002 Journal Quilt Project, handmade felt, machine embroidery, 3D appliques, shisha mirror embroidery.

hollyhock page for fabric

Hollyhock Journal Page 2009  11” x 8.5”  India ink, watercolor, paint pen and found quote

floral medley complete

Floral Medley 2010  24” x 40” Applique, found objects, machine embroidery, machine quilted.

bird of paradise drawing two

Bird of Paradise 1989 22” x 30”  Dry pastel on paper.  This image is reversed from the original so that I could make a photo transfer with it.

bird of paradise embroidery 1

Bird of Paradise II (Study in Orange and Green) 2011 8.5” x 11” Machine embroidery on cotton twill. 

No matter how many times I revisit floral imagery, I always find something new to marvel at.  Do you have any favorite subjects that you return to again and again?

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2011 in art quilt, flowers, machine embroidery