Thursday, January 29, 2009

check me out

...and speaking of the CPSIA, this week's cover story in Albany's local alternative paper is all about it. And you'll never guess who's in the article! Read it here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

cpsia, common sense and my two cents

Today is the CPSIA blog-in and now that I'm one of the cool kids with a blog I feel obliged to participate. Check out the link above as well as the "save handmade" link on the sidebar of my blog for more information--I'm no expert and I'm not into the mass hysteria that has spread a lot of mis-information about this. I'm definitely not among the throngs of alarmists who are closing up shop, I would say I'm cautiously continuing with business as usual. I will vouch for the safety of my products but cannot afford to test (if it was even feasible--all of my books are one of a kind and would be destroyed during testing) or close up shop. I trust in the common sense of lawmakers and my understanding that this act is not intended for my ilk.

My heart goes out to retailers who really do have a lot on the line and am saddened to hear that our local handmade store, The Paper Sparrow, will no longer be carrying items for kids. I do understand that. I sell exclusively through Etsy and at craft shows but crafters who do a lot of wholesale to stores could also be in trouble. I'm a little annoyed that Etsy hasn't posted a policy regarding the sale of children's items without test certification, even in an "if/then" scenario. I'm not scared of some hastily thrown-together and unfair law that wasn't intended for my goods but I do follow Etsy's guidelines and will be kind of screwed if they decide to outlaw untested products for kids...which would be all of them. Logic says that won't happen, but sometimes logic doesn't prevail.
Here's what you can do to help logic along:
From the Handmade Toy Alliance
How You can Help: Please write to your United States Congress Person and Senator to request changes in the CPSIA to save handmade toys and children's products. Use our sample letter or write your own. You can find your Congress person here and Senator here.

I do have a fun alternative if the poo does hit the fan--xxx libris! This has been an idea of mine from the very beginning, subversive and x-rated versions of my kids' products, mainly books and quilts. This would certainly not be for the same clientelle and may turn some people off, and it would definitely be sold through a different shop. I also have lots of ideas for art quilts large and small, including cloth representations of these:

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

one of those days

I have this pact with myself that I will make something every day. It could be a crafty project, cooking a great meal/baking, creating order out of the madness of life with three pigpens. Today this is about all I can handle:
Yup, stuffing that little guy, already layered with much clothing, into a slightly-too-small snowsuit. Today's masterpiece.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Evens

I've been out of the loop with new music for a few months but recently unearthed these CDs and have fallen in love again. From the first time I heard Minor Threat at age 15 or so I've worshipped Ian MacKaye and, though I still love the hardcore, his new stuff is definitely more me-as-a-grown-up. The whole family went to see them a year or so ago in the basement of our local library and it was so amazing. Lyric was just a wee little thing and Tigerlily pranced and danced through the sitting crowd of hipsters. Mr. MacKaye thanked us for bringing our kids and I couldn't stop grinning.

Here's my latest creation, made while listening to The Evens:

:It's my submission for the Craft:/Singer Sewing with Nature contest. I hope it's good enough to win me a sewing machine!

Friday, January 23, 2009

a family affair

Here's another one for the history books:

A family book! I love this idea, which was totally conceived by the wonderful customer who ordered it. This is actually the second I've done for her and both, I think, turned out really well. It helps that her friends all seem very interesting and have lots of good hobbies.

Sorry for the lousy pictures. Not only is my camera broken (just one of a series of unfortunate events this month) but the light is awful today and I can't get this borrowed camera to take very good pictures, either. Oh, when will the camera fairy bring me an SLR?

BTW, Avenue Q was so so so so so so so so great. I wish I could afford to go again! If you have the means I highly recommend it. It is so choice.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Today, at long last, I will be seeing this:

:Our friends Jon and Krista turned us on to it a couple of years ago and we have the album but have never seen it. I'm SO excited! We're so lucky to finally have some real Broadway shows in the area, last year we saw Jesus Christ Superstar with the original Jesus (well, not that original) and Corey Glover from Living Colour as Judus, who ROCKED; even though we're technically pretty close to NYC it's always a huge expense to go (the train tickets alone are more than we can afford!). This was my Christmas gift to Skye (he gave me this). Technically I guess I got two gifts this year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

another one down

I haven't had a ton of time to work lately. I look forward to having much more time for work in the weeks to come once Skye cuts back on his work a bit and we focus on living creatively on less (including bartering, trading and really pushing the local currency idea we've both been really passionate about). Amazingly, in the spare moments here and there over the past few days I've created this:

:It's for the niece of our fantastic friend Katie and I'm so pleased with how it turned out. I had hoped to put a bit more detail into the Hawaiian flower but kind of ran out of steam after attaching its 18 individual fabric pieces. Here's a photo of the real thing:

:The little tendrils would have been fantastic, but so much work. Am I finally becoming realistic about what I can do in these books? Of course not--I'm totally regretting not putting in the extra effort. If I wasn't under a time constraint I definitely would have done it. Imagine what I'll come up with when I actually have time to work!

Lately I've been doing all of my handwork in front of this, on demand from Netflix. Belly laugh-inducing television is hard to come by (though there's always this)!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ich liebe Deutschland

My latest book: a German-themed name book for little Corinne!

Table of Contents
cover: Corinne
page 1: Castle Neuschwanstein
page 2: Oak
page 3: Rhine River
page 4: Ich Deutschland
page 5: Ninety-Nine Luftballons
page 6: Eastern Alps

Rocking the double N once again, this time with Nena instead of Nirvana. What German book would be complete without 99 Luftballons?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

works in progress

Well, the book's not done (sooo much embroidery in this one), but here's a closer look at one of the pages. That's Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, about 2" x 3".

If you haven't guessed this is a German-themed book. I used almost exclusively vintage calicos (like that awesome olive green), much of which was handed down to me from my German Great Grandmother. Seemed appropriate. I wanted to create a sort of bavarian/fairy tale feel for the book but couldn't really define what that meant so I just went to my (crazy-enormous) stash. After pulling piece after piece of vintage I decided to go with it.

I'll try to post more/better pictures tomorrow (with my pathetic--but red!--camera), including the finished product.

I also started on a submission to the Singer/Craft: Sewing with Nature contest that I'm pretty excited about. I could REALLY use that sewing machine!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

fill in the blanks

Here's what I did today:

It may be a bit of a mystery now but once the embroidery is done and it's all assembled I think this is going to be a pretty amazing book. Tune in tomorrow for the finished product!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

moi? mais, oui!

Every now and again I google myself. Admit it, so do you (and if not, you should!). Well, today I found Ex Libris featured on a pretty cool French pregnancy/parenting blog, Noeuf, which of course is in French! Amazingly, my 4 years of high school French allowed me to understand the post, including the part that says something like "these cloth books are just a pleasure for the eyes because, sadly, they aren't sold in France." I do, in fact, ship to France (my only international sale aside from Canada was in France) so I thought I should post a comment saying so, which, because I'm a dork, I did in French! All over France pregnant women and new mothers are chuckling over my ridiculous grammar and incorrect conjugation.

I was also featured on the blog Sunny Tuesday. Thanks, Jessica!

In other news, I updated my shop yesterday. I desperately needed to offer several different custom book options at different price points instead of lumping it all together and charging far too little for much of my work (loving what I do only goes so far...). So now there are several options that I hope will appeal to and work for everyone, and of course I'm always game to try something completely different! I will be working on some new ready made book options and a few more vintage fabric blankets and alphabet quilts, too. All of the ideas in my head are starting to hurt, I really need to get to work!

Because I have no relevant picture to post (I wish I knew how to do those screen-shot images--so much to learn...) I'll leave you with this:

Just an awesome drawing of our neighborhood that Tigerlily did about a year ago.

Monday, January 12, 2009

awesome customer + vintage fabric = true love forever!

I officially have the best customers ever.

My new friend Tracy ordered a really killer rock-themed book for her friend's baby. Here's an image from the book I made for her:

Yup, that's the Abbey Road album cover. Measuring about 3" x 3" this baby is a tiny little feat of amazing strength. The whole book turned out really great and I was thrilled to send it off to such an appreciative home. And then, to my delighted surprise, Tracy sent me a big box full of vintage fabric that once belonged to her grandmother!

A big ole pile of polyester double knit! Some may balk at this but I don't discriminate with vintage fabric, especially some that takes me back to my childhood of plaid polyester pants! I'm planning on making Lyric a pair of pants from that blue and grey plaid and Tigerlily an outfit of her design from the two coral fabrics. But there is a lot of fabric here so I started thinking of other things to do with it. Then it hit me--a rug! Rug-making has been high on my list of things to do and the polyester, super-strong and washable, is perfect for it. So I cut some of the fabric into strips and started crocheting (SO much faster than braiding):

:This will make a really sweet addition to my kids' play area and has inspired me to make a huge one out of some of my vintage wool fabric.

Thanks so much, Tracy!!

Friday, January 9, 2009

books about books

I was so excited to find these two on my doorstep today:

We rely heavily on our wonderful local libraries for the books in our lives but there are the select few books, usually reference, that I must have. These two are at the top of that list, and now they're mine!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ice ice baby

Today is a snow day. Or, more accurately, an ice day, because apparently our winters here in Albany consist only of ice.
Tigerlily's home from school and Lyric's home from his day at a friend's house and so my day of crafting is not to be. Luckily I was able to convince Skye to stay home as well, so I may be able to sneak some studio time in after all.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who cut the cheese?

I did!

One of my favorite customers asked if I could make her a mini swiss cheese quilt and of course I said yes! I love that my customers challenge me with things I never would have thought of on my own. This little beaut measures about 13" by 9" and was one of those "dive right in, don't think too much about it" projects. I mean, a hole in the middle of a quilt? Gasp! Had I thought about how I was going to do it I would have gotten all worked up and probably flubbed the whole thing. But now I'm thinking of other applications for holes in quilts. Doughnuts? Wheels? A ring? And certainly some amazing abstract possibilities there. I've been really wanting to spend some more time on art quilts and this little charmer (and my wonderful customer, Emily!) may have just inspired me to do it.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Point one: Start a blog

Well, all the other kids are doing it so why not me? I have a lot to learn and am currently in test mode so luckily no one knows about this right now.

First I'll see if I can make pictures appear....

...well, there I am, but not where I thought I would be--oh, I can totally move it around! Sweet!! Does it always take 5 minutes to upload a photo? I'll try again....

Alright, this ain't so hard. This, by the way, is a picture of the two very first cloth books I made about a year ago. They're the only two that have serged edges, which I now think looks so unfinished! Sorry Miriam and Josie!!

Okay, so a blog it is. Maybe this will encourage me to start writing again, for real!