Saturday, August 27, 2011

The First Picture of You

Today, or rather, yesterday (it's around 12:30 here and I've had an extremely busy day), I was featured on an amazing Italian blog called "The First Picture of You," by medusa1307.  Medusa's interviews are unique in that she asks the artist to tell their story visually, through pictures and photographs, as well as through words.  It was a challenge to choose the handful of images that would depict me, my background, my inspiration, and my work, but I think that I succeeded.  Medusa did an absolutely amazing job of putting everything together, and you can read the interview here:

I hope that you find it entertaining!  I definitely had fun doing it.  You can check out Medusa's own work at

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

You've Been Treasured

Sometimes I just like to put the crafting aside and put on my curator hat instead.  Creating Etsy treasuries is fun... I love looking through other people's listings and arranging them together in my own little collections.

Here are a couple of my recent treasuries... please check them out and give them some love!

First is my weekly STATTEAM treasury.  This week, I went with a back to school theme, and called my treasury "Book Learnin'."  Between finishing my library degree and knowing that school is starting for everyone else, I definitely have books on the brain...

Second is a treasury I did for no other reason than that I am LOVING the new Chanel Le Vernis fall nail color, "Peridot."  It's a beautiful, rich gold-green, and I am all about this color for the fall season...

And finally, here is my favorite.  This is my entry into the Time Travelers Team Halloween treasury contest, and it's entitled, "A Dark Night of the Soul."  We have a lot of wonderful artists on the team who happen to have something of a dark aesthetic (to say the least), so I decided to put my own love of surrealism to the test and come up with the most terrifyingly surreal treasury I could create using entirely items made by TTT members.  This is it...

I hope you enjoyed the eye candy!  Be back next time with something more substantive to say!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Adventures in Spinning: A Tale of Steampunk Yarn

Custom spinning... talk about pressure!  Someone has made a special request and is anxiously awaiting a beautiful, perfect skein of soft yarn spun precisely to their specifications.  Your creative freedom depends upon the extent to which they've decided to relinquish control over the design.  And then there's the giving away part... assuming you do attain perfection, you immediately have to package up your work of soft, fluffy art and ship it off into the great beyond.

I recently had the privilege of spinning for Boston-based jewelry designer and animal activist Claudia Bruno, who has become a great friend and mentor to me when it comes to jewelry design and metal collage.  Claudia and I hit on the idea of a steampunk art yarn while chatting on Etsy, and we both got really excited about the idea.  For me, the idea of spinning a steampunk yarn was fascinating, because it would involve spinning in hardware - Claudia and I discussed gears, watch parts, brass jewelry findings, and even pieces of barbed wire.  While I'd worked with a variety of different spin-ins in the past and thought I could use the same techniques, I knew that it would be a challenge to find exactly the right pieces of hardware that wouldn't be too heavy and that would fit through all of the orifices and hooks on my spinning wheel, but that would still give the yarn the beautiful steampunk look that we were trying to achieve.

I was lucky in that Claudia gave me almost one hundred percent creative freedom over the project.  The only things that we really decided on up front were that the yarn would be some shade of brown, with gold or bronze angelina sparkle, and that she would pick out the spin-ins from her own stash and mail them to me.  The first thing I did was search Etsy for the perfect spinning fiber, and I found it pretty quickly in a batt called "Sepia," from Unwind Yarn Company.  A little while after I received the fiber, a big bag of gears, beads, watch hands, and brass roses arrived in the mail.  Joy!  Only another spinner can imagine the excitement I felt when I looked at that stuff and pictured it in a skein of yarn.  A couple of weeks later, those gears and roses and watch hands and fiber had been transformed into a huge skein of remarkably plush and squishy steampunk yarn!

As for the process...

The first thing I did (after weeding out any pieces that wouldn't fit through the plying head of my spinning wheel) was to pull off small strips of fiber (about 1/2 thick and 3 inches long) and thread them through the metal pieces that had larger holes, such as the gears (you can see one of those in the picture above) and the watch hands (pictured below.)

I then spun a super bulky weight, thick and thin single, feathering in the strips of fiber with the metal pieces attached.  I spun this directly onto the plying head of my Lendrum DT, because the orifice and hooks are considerably bigger than on the regular one.

Once I had my single, I wound it off so that I could use the bobbin a second time, and then I used gold metallic sewing thread and threaded all of the smaller pieces (that is, the brass roses and very small brass beads) onto that.  I thread plied this with the single, allowing the occasional beehive to form, and not worrying too much about uniformity (this is art yarn, after all.)

The result was, in my opinion, spectacular.  Not to praise myself too much, but the results far exceeded my expectations when it came to this yarn.  I have to admit that there was a part of me that was afraid that this project would turn out to be a massacre... that the metal parts would be too heavy, or the thread plying would go haywire, and I would have to Claudia that I had ruined her yarn.  In the end, however, it was a wonderful challenge and a joy to spin.

I am so glad that I took on this project, and that Claudia allowed me the privilege of spinning for her.  I will definitely be working with watch hands again - in fact, I already have some on special order - and I'm still very much intrigued by the idea of that barbed wire...

So, our tale of steampunk yarn ends with success and the yarn's safe arrival in Boston.  Until next time...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Halloween - I am so ready!

...because I have a purple felted Halloween witch hat!

OK, honestly, how cute is that?  I knitted this as a test knit for Cyn, the knitwear designer at  She has the pattern available for sale, as well as at least one ready to wear witch hat.  And the quilting patterns are to die for - I already bought the Samhain pattern, and am planning to buy the Yule one later on.

The hat pattern calls for Lamb's Pride Bulky, but I used KnitPicks Wool of the Andes Bulky with great success.  I've felted with both brands before, and while I generally like LP for felted bags, I think that the KP worked especially well for the hat, since it felted more slowly, giving me more control over the felting process, and formed a sturdier felted fabric than I have usually experienced with LP.

Speaking of Halloween, I recently posted these earrings for sale in my Etsy shop:

Aren't they cute?  You may or may not know this, but tomorrow (Wednesday, August 17) is Black Cat Appreciation Day.  Black cats have the lowest rate of adoption in the U.S. because of the superstitious and totally false belief that they bring bad luck.  They are less than half as likely to be adopted than cats of any other color.  In other countries, however, black cats are believed to bring GOOD luck!  As someone who happens to be owned by two black cats, I can safely say that black cats bring the best luck ever.  That's why I've decided that between now and midnight tomorrow night, $5.00 from each sale of these black cat lace earrings will be donated to the Black Cat Rescue in Boston, MA.  I have already raised $10.00 and would love to raise a lot more.  So please consider purchasing this listing and supporting this cause that is so near and dear to my heart!  >^.^<

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I have recently been giving a lot of thought to designing "collections."  By this I mean designing a series of items that aren't spontaneous one-offs, but rather a cohesive group with a unifying look, theme, and inspiration that is at least partially planned out ahead of time and that can be summarized and explained by the designer.

I'm not sure that I have many coherent thoughts on the matter so far, except that designing collections is hard.  Over the summer, I received a suggestion to organize my shop by collections, but the fact is that my pieces were too eclectic and I was unable to shoehorn them into categories.  So, while those existing pieces will remain in the shop (which is currently organized by medium... for example, "metal collage," "beaded," "knitted," etc.), designing a cohesive fall collection has been high on my list.

The problem is that it can be hard to design a collection without feeling restricted by the theme and look upon which you've decided.  What if you have an idea that doesn't fit in?  What if you start working and the concept changes and evolves?  What are the benefits and drawbacks to designing in this way?  Are you limiting your creativity?  Are you limiting your customer base?

For my readers (I think I'm up to 26 now... yay!), I'm curious... have you ever designed a "collection" before?  If not, would you try it, or would you find it to be too restrictive?  If you do design in collections, what are the benefits?  What is your process like, how do you choose a theme, and how do you handle changes during the creative process?

Images from Sarah Burton's first collection for Alexander McQueen, Spring 2011.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


As you can probably guess from my previous blog posts, I am someone who really likes to be surrounded by art.  I have a collector's mentality when it comes to beautiful things... I want them in my possession, and on display, and if they happen to be rare or unusual, then all the better.

When I was an attorney, collecting art (and other stuff) was no big deal.  I was never rich, but I made enough to get by and to spend some money on the things that I felt were important.  When I made the decision to stop practicing law, I knew I'd have to give a lot of things up.  Unfortunately, there's a huge difference between giving up fancy highlights and Chanel nail polish (ok, maybe I didn't give that up so much as space out my purchases a little more) and having to give up a hobby or a creative pursuit.

That's why I was really excited when I discovered ACEOs.  ACEOs are these little cards, the size of baseball cards, that artists make and then trade with each other or sell for a couple of dollars in places like Etsy.  Here's the official definition from the Etsy ACEO Street Team:

ACEO stands for "Art Cards, Editions and Originals". They are 3.5 x 2.5 inches 6.4 x 8.9 cms - the size of a trading card. They can be created using any medium.

Art Cards were originally traded between artists. While artists were happily trading cards, the general public was left out in the cold, having no Art Cards to trade. A group of artists realized this, and quickly made their cards available for sale! Artists from all over the world are creating, and selling these little works of art in different mediums and subject matter. You can use ACEO's as traditional art and hang them on the wall in frames, or you can place them in an album for a unique coffee table book. Extremely collectible art, you can't stop at just one!

At first, I didn't really see the point of ACEOs - what was I going to do with all these tiny trading cards?  Then I bought one... just one... and I was hooked.  Not only are they cute when framed and hung on the wall in big bunches, but the key thing that I realized was that with ACEOs, I could have any art that I wanted.  It was like shopping at Target instead of Prada, and the only potential obstacle was the artists' willingness or unwillingness to produce their artwork in ACEO size.

After collecting for a couple of months, I couldn't resist - I had to try my hand at making my own.  I did some mixed media collages first, and then decided to return to a favorite medium of my high school years... oil pastels.  I hit upon the idea of incorporating my own handspun yarn, and the "Art of Yarn" series was born!

So when a fellow Time Traveler, agentofchaos, suggested a team ACEO swap, I jumped on the project.  Agent held signups and then put all of our names into a random number generator.  We each sent out three ACEOs, and got three back in the mail.  Although everyone's ACEOs totally rocked, I really did score in that the three ACEOs I received were from artists whose work I really admire and would probably have bought eventually anyway:  poppydreamz, kuhlwhip, and amth13.

From left to right: Poppy's card, Amth's card, and two cards from Kuhl.

Amth's card is entitled "The Moon" and it came with a wonderful message: "The moon encourages us to listen to our intuition and pay attention to our dreams."  Now how did you know, Amth, exactly which inspirational message I needed to hear at this moment?  :)

I encourage everyone to visit these three artists' fabulous shops, and to explore the possibility of ACEO collecting.  If you need some suggestions, here are three more shops that have a wide selection of amazing ACEOs from which to choose, as well as excellent customer service:

If you want to try making your own ACEOs, you can cut your own blanks out of cardstock, or purchase blanks in a variety of paper types at art supply stores or in general craft stores like Michael's.

Please comment and let me know if you're already an ACEO collector, have recently discovered them or made some of your own, or if ACEOs are entirely new to you.  I'd love to hear how others collect and display these awesome little works of art!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

NaNo Fail

I'm supposed to be doing NaNoWriMo right now.

For anyone who doesn't know, NaNoWriMo stands for "National Novel Writing Month." It happens every November, and the goal is to write an entire novel in one month. It's pretty popular... there's even a website through which you can arrange local meetups and chat with other writers about your ideas. It's a big crazy writing party, basically... at least, from what I've heard. I tried to do it in 2008, and wrote about 15,000 words of a crappy vampire novel before I got totally overwhelmed and quit. Every year since then, I've promised myself that I would participate again, and every year something (Christmas knitting? Final exams?) has happened to prevent me from doing so.

This year, the powers behind NaNo decided, quite rightly, that November was a pretty craptacular month to have to write a book. So, for people like me, they set up "Camp NaNoWriMo," to take place during the entire month of August. I got really excited about this, thinking I'd have plenty of time to write, and I contacted a friend and we agreed that we would both participate. Fast forward to yesterday, when I realized that it was three days into August, and I had never even signed up.

The sucky part is that I actually feel guilty about this, even though it will probably have absolutely no impact on my life. I could still start, of course, and try to make up for the lost time. I also have what I would consider to be more important things to do... job hunting, managing my Etsy shop, and bringing my cholesterol down, among others. But I feel like I'm letting myself down by not doing NaNo yet again. When will I get around to this? Will it become like the enormous stash closet of yarn that I will never knit up because it so far exceeds my life expectancy? Or the "to read" list that still includes unread titles from 18 years ago?


Anyway... I don't know what I'll be doing about that, but having gotten that vent out of the way, let me focus on a few things that I HAVE been doing.

First of all, the Glee Cast Knit Project seems to be a go. If you haven't visited the Rav group yet, then definitely check it out. It seems that one of the team leaders has been in touch with someone from the costume department and is photographing all of the items before sending them on. Whether or not my scarf ends up on the show, my dream is for Naya to tweet about it. Everyone should be following her at @NayaRivera on Twitter, because she's just fantastic.

From the scarf, I moved onto a couple of new projects. I'm actually knitting for MYSELF for a change. I'm working on an Amiga cardigan, the pattern for which can be found in the spring/summer issue of Knitty.  I'm also test knitting a really cute felted witch hat pattern for everywitchway on Etsy... check out their store to see the pattern, as well as a lot of adorable Pagan-esque quilting patterns (they will appeal to non-Pagans as well; for example, the "Samhain" pattern will easily fit in with anyone's Halloween decor.)  They have an awesome shop, and I'm excited to be trying out one of their patterns.

I've also been doing quite a lot of metal collage and assemblage work.  I'm probably going to do a post about metal collage at some point, but for now I'll just say that I've gotten some awesome things up in my shop, and am working on getting a few placed at a local gallery (because I really think that metal collage pieces look a lot more spectacular in person.)  Here are a few of my newer listings:

I sent in my contribution for the August Phat Fiber box, the theme of which is Bollywood.  To be honest, I wasn't nearly as into this theme as I was with the Art Nouveau one last month.  I'm not crazy about Bollywood, so I didn't take any particular film as inspiration; I just sort of conjured up some Bollywood type colorways and sent in a variety of samples:

Even though the theme wasn't really my thing, I am thoroughly enjoying these contributions.  I'm definitely going to continue with this... the September theme is "Enchanted Forest," which is a bit more appealing to me, so I'm already thinking over some potential colorways.

Finally, I am seriously gearing up for Halloween!  Though I appreciate the idyllic summer I've been having here in the countryside of Pennsylvania (last summer I was doing an internship in Boston and sleeping on the floor in an unfurnished apartment with no air conditioning), I always get antsy for Halloween around this time of year.  The Time Travelers Team on Etsy held a big surprise Halloween event on Monday night, and it was a raging success.  I think people are getting ready for fall, and I'm excited to start putting up more yarn and knitwear and other cold weather stuff, not to mention knit myself some fall sweaters.  What do you guys think... are you ready for fall?

And I wonder why I don't have time for NaNoWriMo!  This blog post probably has enough words to make up my daily installment and then some!  Ah, well, you can't please all of the people all of the time (or even yourself for that matter.)  Perhaps I'll start late, perhaps I'll wait until November, but either way, I can't say that I haven't been busy.  :)