A very good week <3

This past week I finally opened my booth at a local store called Prairie Child Design. PCD is an awesome store all about upcycling and features ONLY local creators/artists/crafters and the like!! It’s a huge honor to be included in this store!!

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It feels SO good working like this and moving forward in this way. I’ve been so excited to set a schedule (“Okay, I sew on these days, upload/edit photos on this day, take new things to the shop on this day, list things on Etsy on this day.”) and feel like this is all coming together. I feel that way now. It’s only the beginning, but this beginning feels amazing.

I have several commissions in the works right now (a bunting due by June, a hairbow holder I need to finish and ship out on Monday, another bunting due before October, a few other things), and new ideas are still coming to me. Like aprons! This weekend I’ve been planning and working on aprons to list on Etsy and go into PCD. I am LOVING making them too!!

Overall, I am such a happy camper. My cup runneth over!!

Mockingbird, Don’t Has An Etsy and I Love You. <3

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On May 1st, I took an incredible and exciting step forward: I officially opened my Etsy shop!!! I have 11 items for sale in it (a few pouches, a tote, a few dresses), but I’ll be adding to it as quickly as I create for it. I am SO happy to be at this point (another off the Bucket List!!), and looking forward to what’s ahead!!

The next day, May 2nd, I met with a local shop owner and showed her several of my pieces. Ultimately, we both decided I was a good fit for her store, and starting this week, I’ll set up a booth in her shop to start selling my stuff!!

Needless to say, these are all very good things going on in my life right now. I’m only at the beginning, but what a glorious beginning it is!! I am so incredibly blessed and looking forward to what’s ahead!!

Thank you all for the support, the love, and the encouragement. You people, man…I know the best humans. <3

Overcoming Creative Lack

After the first of the year, I had a tough time coming back to sewing and creating. Not for lack of want, but lack of time and ability. We had a difficult Winter that left me a bit dazed and emotionally drained. I know in my heart of hearts, this is the time to create beauty with my hands, for it is so good for my soul. But, as I am want to do, instead I filled my time with other things. Important things, mind you. But, other things.

One of these other things was my daughter’s bedroom. We live in a beautiful historic Craftsman Bungalow we’re in the process of fixing up. For now, we’re taking on small projects (new water heater, new blinds, new light fixtures, new appliances, new paint, new floors) but eventually we plan to do the big things (repair foundation, gut both bathrooms and kitchen, rebuild back deck, rebuild upstairs attic conversion). All through the month of March I focused on her room (the attic conversion) and it’s about 95% done.

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I still need to bring her refinished bed upstairs (it’s sooooo pretty!!), and make some sense of all her stuff, and hang pictures, but it’s coming along. Thankfully, the main bulk of it is done.

The other thing I did, was create this beautiful front door decor for my mother.

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Then, I started learning how to play the ukulele (something I’ve always wanted to do). So, I did. I now know a ton of covers, plus have much of my original songwriting I’ve had sitting around for years put to music, and in May I’ll be playing my first live show in Memphis. (HOLY wow it feels unreal saying that.)

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And, of course, I’ve been taking a TON of photos along the way, most of which you can find on my Instagram. Here are a few of my absolute favorites.

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And last, but certainly not least, I was featured over on TipsyLit.com during their Childrens Lit week and I shared a bit about my life as a (not yet published) childrens author/illustrator, and I also worked on one of my stories.

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So, maybe I was creative this Spring. Not as creative and productive as I would have liked, but maybe there are seasons for hyper creativity, and maybe there are seasons of rest and recovery. I feel like last Summer was a season of inspiration and self discovery, last Fall was a season of learning and planning, Winter was a season of challenge and difficulty, and this Spring is a season of rest and recovery.

Last year I wanted to be ready to launch my Etsy shop and open my booth at our local farmer’s market. I don’t see that happening this Spring. It’s disappointing, but a part of me feels like it’s not yet my time. Not for lack of hope, lack of determination, lack of want…but for lack of opportunity and time. And maybe lack of God’s blessing. I know He wants what’s best for me. And I know He wants me to use my gifts and abilities. So, I have to also know that when the time is right, it’s right. When it’s the season for that, it’s the season.

Until then, please bare with me. And thank you all for coming along for the ride as you have. I’m convinced I know the very best humans around. Each of you prove it to me every single day.

Special shout out to Emily at The Waiting, Stella who founded The Common Gentlewoman, and Anna of Anna’s Makeup Oasis . All of these women have been privy to my various projects (and some of my darkest and most difficult moments this past year), and have been nothing short of emotional cheerleaders. They each inspire me to be a better writer and better human, and they really don’t know how much their constant support has meant to me. If you don’t know these women, go acquaint yourself. You’ll be glad you did. (I really DO know the best humans.)

Thank you all for the love. May the rest of this season bring life and love abundance.

Loving Your Creative Influences

My ballerina cousin and I, several years ago.

My ballerina cousin and I, several years ago.

Both my parents are creatives, as are my sister and brother. My brother is a writer and was the president of his slam poetry club in high school, as well as being a musician. My sister is a phenomenal artist and photographer and creates things on canvas and with her camera that both soothe and excite. My mother is a songwriter and is working on a few novels, when not gigging with my step-dad, a musician and journalist. One of my best friends is my cousin, who is a classically trained ballerina. My other best friend is an amazing guitar player and singer/songwriter. And we’ve all been involved in musical theater for most of our lives. This is the environment I grew up in. And I have only recently realized how blessed I am to have grown up this way.

Whenever I want to try something new, creatively speaking, I have several different sources to bounce ideas off of. I can trust these people who have influenced my creative development so much to give me the best advice and encouragement. It’s easy for me to assume my gifts are just inherently mine, but the truth is, I owe them as much to my genetics as I do the environment I was surrounded with in childhood.

Love your creative influences. Make sure you take time to thank those people in your life who’ve encouraged you or inspired you. Maybe they’re your friends and family, or maybe they’re strangers you’ve never met. Whoever they are, love them. Let them know you appreciate them. It’s good for your spirit, and it’s good for theirs too.

“Gah, you’re SUCH a hipster.”

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A few years ago a friend from High School commented on one of my paintings and said, “Wow, love this. So hipster.”

My heart sank. I remember the first time I heard the word, “hipster”, and unknowingly I asked the definition of it from a verifiable Hipster. He explained it in the simplest terms he could (for as a Hipster, he was unnecessarily condescending),Β  and then I queried him thus, “Oh…am I a hipster?” To which he responded, “Oh, no. Not at all. You’re not really…hip?”

Initially I thought this an insult, but in hindsight I appreciate his comment. “Oh, thank goodness, I’m not a Hipster, because apparently people hate Hipsters!” And in time I *too* came to hate Hipsters. Their population exploded a few years back and suddenly it was as if we were drowning in them; Nerdy Hipsters, Bro Hipsters, Political Hipsters, Music Hipsters, Art Hipsters, Fashion Hipsters, Punk Hipsters, Europe Hipsters, Theater Hipsters, the list goes on and on.

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But I felt smugly safe in my little world of “You’re not really…hip…” and felt immune to the ire of those who hated all that is hipster.

Until my high school friend’s innocent observation. “Your art looks like the kind of art Hipsters make and would probably like.” Oh, the chill that ran down my spine. In the years since, it seems I’ve only given Hipster Haters more ammunition to rebuke me. I sew using second-hand materials from locally owned thrift stores (HIPSTER!), I buy my fruits and veggies and other delicious things from our Farmers Market (HIPSTER!!!!!), my parents are folk/Americana musicians and I listen predominately to unsigned folk musicians, sometimes even on records (OH MY GOD HIPSTER), I bounce back and forth between vegetarian and eating a Paleo diet (HIPSTERHIPSTERHIPSTERHIPSTER), and I’m a Libertarian, and I homeschool, and I really actually do like foreign films (especially South Korean films…those people know how to make a dang movie).

By conventional definitions…I think I’m a Hipster.

But, how did this happen? How did I go from not being “hip” to being a Hipster? Where was the transition? What decisions did I make in life that led me down this dark and crooked path?

The thing is, I am who I am for a myriad of reasons, most of which have less to do with my most recent decisions and interests, and more to do with my raising, my childhood, and my family.

Today I homeschool because I too was homeschooled by my parents. I listen to folk music because it’s what I was raised on and it’s the kind of music my own parents create. I buy local as often as I can because several women in my family (including my mother) were small business owners who relied on people like me to keep their dreams afloat. I shop at thrift stores because I grew up “poor” and had to buy new school clothes at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army for several years in a row. At the time I was miserable, but today I appreciate being thrifty and I appreciate not feeding into our society, so focused on constant consumption. And frankly, in every area of my life there’s a reason I got to be this way and a reason for who I am.

So, what is a Hipster? And am I a Hipster? And does it matter what I am or what I am not, in the grand scheme of things?

For now, these are questions I can’t answer. You have to be the judge of that. But, the next time you tell me, “Gah, you’re such a hipster”, I’m just going to smile and reply, “I know.”

Autumn Bunting

I knew I wanted to make buntings because, frankly, buntings are awesome. For someone like me, and my decorating style, buntings are an absolute must. They’re whimsical, romantic, playful, and in my case, made from upcycled materials!

I started off with two t-shirts: one kind of an “Army” green, and another that was a burnt orange. I picked up this delightful chevron ribbon from a US seller on eBay (I know, not upcycled, but I have a hard time finding unused, second hand ribbon in the quantities I need). I built this bunting design completely around the ribbon.

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I started with a diamond cut out of cardboard for my pattern. I folded the large green shirt in half, and cut out the diamond, giving me 4 even pieces.

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Next, I folded them in half and pinned them, leaving a little over an inch open on one side so I could easily invert the triangle after sewing.

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I used a straight stitch for the flags because the jersey knit tends to pucker, and the straight stitch I used kept them from doing so.Β After sewing each flag, I lined them up, found I only need three of the green ones (I only had enough material for 2 orange flags), and set the 4th green flag aside for use in another project.

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Then it was time for the measuring and sewing of the ribbon! I folded the ribbon in half, ironed it, and nudged the tops of each flag into the crease before pinning them down and sewing.

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And here’s the finished product!!

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This bunting is a little longer than a yard long. I cut two more pieces of ribbon to make sashes at the ends. This works because it covers the ends of the bunting itself, and allows for me to turn them into bows or knots if I want to.

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I used a zig-zag stitch and orange thread on the actual ribbon, because the orange was a perfect compliment to the chevron, and the zig-zag fit the look of it.

I LOVE this thing!!! I can’t wait to use it every Autum!!!

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Whimsical Display Rack

This board was left in our house when we moved into it and it wasn’t exactly “pretty”. It used to hang in the tiny hallway that separates the master bedroom, hall bathroom, and my husband’s office, and it really didn’t make any sense, PLUS it was ugly. So I tore that sucker down and it’s been sitting in a closet ever since.

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I knew I might paint it eventually, but I didn’t know exactly what to do with it. We didn’t need it and the look just made me want to yak. It wasn’t until I was thinking about having displays for my booth at the Farmer’s Market next year that it dawned on me: paint this icky thing and use it!

So that’s what I did.

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I started with removing the wooden dowels (just hammered in) and cleaning the whole thing to make sure it was free of any dust and debris. After that, I thought long and hard about what it was telling me, and every time I looked at it I saw browns, blues, and greens.

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I love swirls, so I tried to make it appear as if swirly, twisting branches had made their way all over the board. Next up, I added swirls of green, and eventually filled in with light blue, before “dotting” that blue with white and adding a darker blue “shadow” to give an appearance of sky, without being too obvious.

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The final board turned out awesome!! I love the balance of the colors, the swirls, and the feel it adds to this board. Plus, the look fits the shape!

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Next on the agenda: dowels! As mentioned above I’d removed all the dowels and set them aside.

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After looking at the dowels and turning them over carefully, I realized they look just like little mushrooms, and immediately an image came to mind! I started with a white base…

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And then added red tops and little spots. Adorable little mushroom dowels!!

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And after I put them back in…

Display10This board came right to life!!!! I can’t believe what a difference a little bit of paint looks! And choosing to turn the dowels into mushrooms was definitely the right direction! This would NOT have turned out so adorable had I not!!

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I’m so proud of my new display board!! I can’t wait to set it up at our local Farmer’s Market next year and hang all my pretties from it!!

The Invisible Artist

There’s a man in St. Louis who chooses to walk the streets and underpasses and back alleys and abandoned buildings of his city, all for the sake of photographing graffiti no one cares about seeing. These street artists aren’t famous. There aren’t any Banksy’s or Neck Faces, or Morely’s collected here; just the sweat and calloused hands and frozen fingers and dirty sleeves of normal men and women quietly screaming their visual poetry from a spray paint can. The St. Louis man captures these photographs from his smart phone and shares them on his Instagram, and if you ask him why he does it, he’ll shrug and say something about it feeling important to photograph the proof that these invisible artists once were there. And in his own way he too is an invisible artist, trying to share their stories for a crowd of only a few hundred that don’t even notice the beauty in the photos he’s conveying.

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The path to creativity isn’t always easy, but it’s much less easy when you’re creating and no one cares. The famous ones, the ones with contracts, and business meetings, and lofts in The City, and gallery openings, and quotas to meet are the lucky few who get immediate satisfaction from those around them when they produce a unique idea. Then there are those who will never be famous, or noticed, or recognized, or legitimate, and will pass from this world into the next, with attics full of paintings, and sculptures, and songs their grandchildren will peddle at yard sales and flea markets for less than $5, if that.

There’s an invisible artist in each of us: a person sitting in the corner of our souls pouring everything into creation, accepting the possibility that those creations will be cast aside by the Industry, if ever picked up at all. And we think we know the Industry, and we think we see the Industry in its dark, corner office, and large mahogany desk, with a cigar burning slowly, a tight suit, and glossy eyes. But I think instead the Industry is a tired woman with sore feet, tending over numerous children, trying to make ends meet, and having to say “no” to the homeless man that begs for work or someone who can take him to Phoenix, on the side of the interstate.

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And you might just one day be the Industry too, if time and circumstances provide you such opportunity. And despite your humble beginnings as a translucent waif, circling the edges of success, starving for its meat, you’ll take that blessed opportunity with two hands and both feet and you’ll find yourself turning away and pretending not to notice the other waifs now dancing around your circle, because you see now you just haven’t the time to give them a leg up.

I want you to remember one thing about your existence, though. I want you to recall one thought as you sit in your musky corners, churning out poetry, and theater, and music, and dance, and art, and even life: don’t forget to eat. Don’t starve your Invisible Artist. Don’t neglect your spirit of creativity, just because no one else believes it’s there. Feed your Invisible Artist the bread of Hope, nurse it with herbs of Faith, and carry it forward on legs of Resilience. See your Invisible Artist for who it is and love it dearly.

For if it dies invisible to the world, it matters not. Do not be invisible to yourself, and you’ll have lived a richer life than mountains of money and success could ever have given you. This is my hope for you. This is my hope for me. This is my hope for us all.

 

~ source