Saturday, December 18, 2010

Personalize Your Cards

Maloney Home

I'm sharing a card I illustrated for my good friends, the Maloneys. They have a beautiful stucco home they trim with lights and this Christmas, Mother Nature provided plenty of snow to add to the ambience. I illustrated our home for our Christmas card a few years ago, and was commissioned by our neighbors to do their home for their Christmas cards. Then later that year when their home was destroyed by fire, they did a cheeky card and had me repeat the home illustration but this time it had smoke and flames coming out of their Bungalow windows.
Inside the text read "Merry Crispness."
Christmas card following year
Passolt Christmas card

It's fun to receive personal cards like these and I've been illustrating other cards for sale locally and in my Etsy shop.  Some I leave intentionally blank without a verse so the buyer can write their own heartfelt greeting.  We sent my Ginkgo wreath design that was blank inside and personally wrote a greeting in each one.  I believe a handwritten message is such a gift, especially in this email world. Your handwriting is an extension of who you are and it brings you closer to the person who reads it.  I hope you'll take the time to personalize your cards for your family and friends.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eucalyptus Fabric Apron

This is going to be a great surprise for my Mom.  I had an apron made for her using my own fabric design called Eucalyptus brown from Spoonflower, digital fabric printer who I send my designs to.  My favorite apronmaker on Etsy "Aprons and More' was up for the challenge of making it for her. I ordered a yard of the linen cotton canvas from Spoonflower and had it shipped to Aprons and More. The fabric was heavier than the fabric Katy is used to working on but my Mom makes pies with the Presbyterian Pie Ladies in Monticello, Iowa and needed something functional yet pretty.  As you can see, it turned out wonderful and has a matching potholder!  Katy put a recipe for 'Apple Delight' in the apron pocket.  Such a nice touch!

 A little about Katy....she has been sewing since she was a teenager.  She graduated college with a degree in Costume Design and grad school with Interior Design.  Five years ago she moved to take care of her Mom who has a rare cancer and is now her full-time caretaker.  Katy said she made a few aprons to sell at a friend's produce shop/cafe before discovering Etsy.  Aprons and More has been on Etsy for almost 2 years now and has racked up over 900 sales. I have ordered at least a couple aprons from her previous to having her do this custom one for me.  She does beautiful work and is a wonderful person.  Please check out her Etsy shop at   

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Handmade Family Art

I'm not the only creative person in my family.  There are my parents, sisters, grandparents and aunts who either sew, create floral arrangements, decorate interiors, knit, crochet and do woodworking.  I still have rag dolls my grandma Mabel made, a water color by Grandma Wilma, my Mom made me a fall wreath for my door, my sister Cathy sewed special stuffed bunnies for my son Taylor's baby room and on and on. I was just having a conversation with a friend who's Grandmother also sewed Barbie clothes for her doll when she couldn't afford to buy them in stores.   The wreath in the picture was made by my Aunt Doloris many years ago and it hangs in my entry way. I love the simplicity of design and the craftsmanship of the wood. It is beautiful, timeless and seeing it makes me think of her and my family who live in another state.  So if you can share your own gift of art with someone, or decorate your home with the art by relatives, it's a wonderful way to add meaningful stories to your decor.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My First Pillows

My first fabric project is complete. I ordered a yard of my White Rose Tan fabric from Spoonflower and commissioned Mary Littfin to make me two 16" pillow covers. Mary is also an Etsy seller and HandmadeMN teammate. Please check out the beautiful items she sews at her link below. Her craftsmanship is wonderful.  

I asked my friend Linda from West 44th St. Graphics if I might use her wonderful Arts & Crafts home for a backdrop for my pillows and she graciously said yes. I just love her chairs! Ok, I love her whole house.  My pillows turned out very well, and I like the idea of using pillow covers that can dress up old pillows I already have.  Beautiful and practical.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Upcoming fabric projects

I had a hard time deciding what to make for our house in my Spoonflower fabric samples.  I wanted my first project to look Arts & Crafts but contemporary, have the colors I like and the design be the right scale to the item.  Now after several different color tries and swatches, I have a version of my Rose pattern I like.  The photo shows the sample swatch on my dining room chair.  I ordered a yard in a linen cotton canvas and will drop off the fabric to a HandmadeMN seamstress this weekend to make into pillow covers. Her pillows are amazing! It's a busy time of year for her, but when they're done, I'll post a picture and share her Etsy shop address with you. I'm really looking forward to seeing how they will turn out.  I think this would work in a future rug design as well.  
And....don't tell my Mom, but I'm having an apron made for her in another fabric of mine called Eucalyptus brown for Christmas. Since the fabric is a bit pricey, I'm going with the apron without the added ruffle and flaps, but will have it made in a heavier fabric as she requested for making pies with the Presbyterian Pie Ladies in my hometown. Mom said she wants an apron that's functional and beautiful. She already has a couple aprons made by this second Etsy seamstress, so I know it will be wonderful craftsmanship.  I'll share her info with you when it's finished and I post a picture.

Check out how the bittersweet popped open!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Who's Who in American Arts & Crafts

For those of you who want to know more about the American Arts & Crafts Movement, I highly recommend attending a presentation by Kent Gebhard at Gabberts furniture store this Saturday, October 30th, 1pm-2pm. I heard it presented to the Twin Cities Bungalow Club last Spring and learned so much about how the movement developed and how the designers influenced each other. It's at the Galleria in Edina, MN and free. You can oooh and aaaah over Gabberts' Stickley furniture and rugs afterwards. Reservations are requested so here's the link if you're interested.

My blog could use a visual so here's a pic of my bittersweet I picked yesterday on the fence. It's lovely. I hope to use it for drawing a new design soon.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hand in Hand with Machines

An overload of Victorian ornate designs and a workforce in England being replaced by machines creating shoddy products sparked William Morris' movement in the mid 1800's. He wanted a return to quality handmade products using the nature around him for decorative themes. Well-known for his wallpapers, he took inspiration from his own garden for floral designs and made ink from vegetables. But by refusing to use machines, the time put into handmade pieces made them only affordable for the rich.

The American Arts & Crafts Movement took inspiration from the European movement and focused on clean simple design and quality workmanship but in contrast, did use machines for some production. That kept costs down to where the average person could afford to buy them. Two prominent figures were furniture maker Gustav Stickley and the Roycroft Community of artisans led by Elbert Hubbard.

I draw my inspiration from the Arts & Crafts ideals of simple beautiful designs with a little curvy Art Nouveau thrown in. Like Wm. Morris, I prefer to draw from native plants and flowers in the Midwest and try to grow my own when I can. My sister has contributed many wonderful perennials to my garden over the years, too. I gain more insight into the plant when I can look at it from all angles and it's a nice perk to have a vase of flowers in my studio.

Like the American Arts & Crafts Movement, I rely on today's technology to take my hand drawings and fill them in with color. I feel the computer is a tool that works much like silkscreening for building layers of flat rich colors. It offers flexibility to try different palettes like the earthy palettes used in the Arts & Crafts Movement and the versatility to transform the design into a repeating pattern for fabric and rugs.

Digital production also keeps costs down and allows artists like me to venture into the marketplace with my own cards, prints, fabric and rugs. But it all has to start with a handmade drawing first.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A New Beginning

Today my new website is being launched and I am so excited. It will launch my new and expanding business of my Arts & Crafts style illustrations on cards, prints, fabric and rugs. This is the most personal and rewarding art I have done in my long career as a freelance illustrator. With the help of my Etsy shop, my alliance with Rug Rats, Spoonflower and consignments with wonderful shops like The Linden Tree, I am a budding entrepreneur!

This blog will be an opportunity to share with you how to bring the Arts & Crafts Movement style into contemporary living. I admire the original pieces of textiles, ceramics, architecture and rugs from the movement, but I want to share how to bring pieces and ideas of the movement thru a contemporary interpretation with art and home decor. I hope to share my ideas with my designs and other artists with similar goals.

Secondly, I plan to emphasize the importance of handwritten notes. I feel strongly in this day of emails that we need to reach out and send a personal written message to friends and family. It's your handwriting that distinguishes you and feels so much more personal than helvetica type. Some of my prized possessions are handwritten notes, recipes and cards sent to me by friends and family no longer with me.

So here's to new beginnings. Let's get going!