Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Monogrammed Market Tote

Like every other mom with an eye for the environmental future, I seem to have unwittingly built up an armory of recyclable shopping bags well beyond my actual needs.  I have large ones, small ones, some made of recycled plastic bottles, some of vinyl, some of canvas.  While I do use one or two every day for everything from toys to groceries to diapers to a last-chance change of clothes and a few wipes while out on the road(essential, btw...), the fact is that if I was to fill up every one of my bags on a single trip I'd need a military convoy to carry everything home. No one needs that much stuff. But every mom needs a tote. So I'm looking to downsize my own collection and hand off some convenient carrying-capacity to a new mom in need.  This particular re-constituted tote I made for a friend of mine who just had her first baby boy 3 months ago (okay, okay, I run late...).  His name is Niko so I thought a big "N" would get him on the letter train early.  I dabbled with the idea of an animal that started with the letter "N", like maybe a newt or a narwhal, but I let Grippy choose which animal went on the bag instead. Obviously he chose an octopus. Who wouldn't?! O is so close to N, and so much more fun.  Fun and easy to draw, I found out, when I made one that had a tentacle wrapping around the "N"and curious button eyes for shoppers of all ages to have a giggle at.

What You'll Need:

  • Canvas bag 
  • A print fabric, and another plain one- small pieces will do.
  • Double sided interfacing
  • Iron
  • Scissors
  • Embroidery thread and needle
  • Sewing machine 
  • Buttons for the eyes

The final tote.

1.  The raw materials, fabric, double-sided interfacing, canvas bag.

1.  Back the fabric with double-sided interfacing by ironing on a low setting.

2.  Freehand or trace from a print out a jolly little octopus on back of the interfacing.  I found inspiration on the Papersource website.  Remember, he will be backwards when appliqued.

3.  Cut out your octopus.  Cut out a letter too.  You can either freehand the letter, or blow one up in a Word doc and trace it.

4.  Hand stitch the letter, and machine stitch the octopus to the canvas.  Hand sew button eyes on and you're set!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Dany's Something Blue

It's not like every every artistic challenge I take on isn't an adventure in and of itself friend Dany's wedding crown was a project that I was so totally excited to work on. Even more so than usual. See, this was payback time. Not only because Dany is such an amazing artist, and did an awesome job illustrating my two books- Beadalicious, and Just for the Frill of It, but on top of that she helped me make a beautiful handmade photo album for my wedding and, well, she's just an awesome girl who I love hanging out with. And I'm so supremely happy for her to finally have found a deserving match.  So for her wedding crown, I wanted to make something not only beautiful, but comfortable.  Dany is having a salsa-dancing wedding (how she and her hubby met) and I want her to be able to dance her little heart out without her head hurting from a harsh wire headband putting pounding pressure behind her ears (certainly not the good kind of accupressure). You can dance the night away with this little beauty without ever knowing it's there...(I'll know it, though :) )

The finished crown in all it's glory.

Dany working hard on co-designing the headband.  1.  We glued the crystals in place with fabric glue.

2. I then hand sewed the jewels to the leather.  Time consuming, yes.

3.  We added pearl flowers on 24 gauge wire.  I used a pin tool to make holes for the wire to pierce through to the back.

A close up of the wire work.

The pin tool piercing the leather to get the wire through to the other side makes it easier.

4.  I then ironed interfacing to the back of the leather to strengthen the whole piece and hide the wires and thread. 

5.  I cut around the design to make the headband into a pretty shape.

6.  I added an elastic to each end.  This will hide under Dany's hair.

Yay!  It's done! 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


The Incognito art gala was one of the more memorable events I've attended in a long time.  Even though I'm on a super-tight budget with the kids and only working part time I somehow, during the event, managed to catch art fever and purchase five beautiful works of art. Er, well, four beautiful ones anyway. One of them, Grippy chose, and I'm still not so sure...Anyway, the event. Great set-up.  In a single room at Bergamot Station, 600 works of art are put on display. Each of them 8x10", in rows all around the museum with numbers below them and signed on the back so you have no idea who the artist is.  They are all priced at $350.00.  There are quite a few known artists in the show, museum faves Ed Ruscha and John Baldessari being among the most famous of the artists in the show...point is you just have no idea whose art you are looking at, which is suppose to make you follow your heart and buy what you would like to see on your wall, not just buy someone famous' work of art for the sake of the name.  Of course, that doesn't stop anyone from trying to sniff out the luminaries of the art world.  Who wouldn't be proud to own their very own Ruscha?  Everyone's trying to grab a big name from the onslaught of anonymous art and it turns out, with Grippy's help, I just happened to catch a couple of them. Swinging by on the second day I nabbed an unclaimed original print by Devendra Banhart, who happens to be one of my favorite folk singers and a great artist in his own right! And look what else I found...
Alejandra Artigas "Have I Found a New Fragility?"

Devendra Banhart Untitled

Eva Hyam Untitled

Alexander Kroll

Alejandro Artigas, Alexander Kroll,  and Eva Hyam are the other lesser known artists which made me open my wallet.  There was a second day too, the Incognito 2nd chance sale the day after, to which I brought both kids.  I let Grippy chose one piece.  About that...

He tried to make me get him three or four which I had to narrow down to one, it was between a turtle that was drawn around a cloud and a bunch of shapes, including a circle which glowed in the dark.  I chose that one so we could go into the closet with it and watch it glow- turns out it is an Eddie Ruscha!  Ed's son Eddie...which makes me the very proud owner of my very own Ruscha!

Eddie Ruscha

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Minibus Boutique, Paris

Paris is full of little boutiques, some more uniquely Parisian than others.  Last visit there, I found the most charming boutique right down the street from where I was staying. It's called Minibus and they specialize in vintage children's clothing and toys.  I was immediately struck by the array of vintage finds for children, and it occurred to me that a boutique like this would never exist in the U.S., be it from of fear of lead paint, flammable polyester clothing or other uniquely American phobias that keep us away from exposing our children to the norms of another era. It was such a delight seeing the adorable French children's clothing that I've only seen in the likes of the Red Balloon or other time-tested masterpieces of French movie-making genius.  Check out these adorable treasures that Minibus had to offer.

I'm not sure what is going on in this scene.  It seems a bit random, with a goat gingerly passing and the young man fishing, but you gotta love it.

These went in a toy-vending machine.  

Little tin toys are always full of charm.

Love the little outfits on these large-foreheaded dolls!

Colorful donkeys with contrasting ears.

If only I had a girl...

So colorful and bright.  High-chair designers take note.

Tres chic!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Cindy and Andrea's Wedding

These days I've gotten totally addicted to the Showtime series The Borgias, about the intrigues of the notorious 15th century Papal family.  Now, some people watch the show for the back-stabbing, the political underminings, the betrayals...not me. I watch it for one reason: Italy. You just gotta love it. And it's totally been making me nostalgic for Italy, in general,  and the Veneto region, in particular, where my best friend got married last fall.  It still feels like a dream that not long ago I packed up my 9 month old and a single backpack and left my then two-year-old and and equally helpless husband to fend for themselves for two weeks while I crossed the ocean to dive headlong into the world of proscuitto and prosecco.  An unexpected European adventure with my little James.  And what an adventure! The Italians were so kind and generous in helping me with James, waitresses and lovely grandmas generously offered to carry him while I ate and worked on wedding pre-production.  The Italians have a sense of humor and light-hearted exuberance that made the festivities so much fun at every turn.  Here are some of the highlights of my magical trip.

Me enjoying Ca' Marcello (where the reception was held) in all it's opulence of yesteryear.  Note the bride in the background about to put me to work. Mirror's never lie...that is one purposeful walk!

Duomo di Pieve di Soligo was the most beautiful cathedral.  An ideal place for a fairy tale wedding.

I managed to fit this pretty purple dress rolled up at the bottom of my backpack.  Notice the Japanese obes.  Cindy wanted the wedding to have a Japanese flair.

The bridal car.  A Fiat 500.  Could it get any more charmingly Italian?

A fingerprint tree with all the guests fingerprints and their names written next to them.   James was the tiniest print of them all.

The magical palace Ca' Marcello that is still run by the Marcello family that once ruled Venice.  

Here is James lounging in the palace library.  Notice the painting of the 17th century Marcello nobleman in the background who once summered here.

The bride and groom getting showered with rice and confetti.

They had to pop hundreds of balloons with the brides shoe to get in this little farm wagon to take them to the reception.  Now that's teamwork!
This would never be legal in the States, but in Italy, well...

A lovely little Japanese-Italian favor.

A mobile of 1,000 cranes that we erected in the lobby of Ca'Marcello.  A final  Japanese touch hand-carried by the bride from California.