Sunday, December 25, 2011

Pinwheel Bag

Merry Christmas to you today!  I just wanted to post photos of the most recent creation I made, a bag for a colleague of mine, who was assigned to me as who I should give a gift to (we all drew one name) at our office party.  I was inspired by a trip to the quilt store (that is often all it takes).  I saw a Christmas quilt with this pinwheel design.  They actually pop up  and out of the seams, and you have to iron them flat.  Kelly (my colleague) noted on her slip that she liked purple, pink, and blue, and so here is what resulted from the direction I had.

It is never interesting enough to line a bag with black, and it is easier to find your things when it isn't so dark in there, so here is the inside fabric!  Both the purple and the pink plaid were garage sale finds, and the pinwheels were made of 16 of my most favorite fabrics.

I wish you a lovely Christmas today.  I'll be traveling for the next two weeks, but when I'm back in January, I'll post my Christmas cards and anything else that "pops" up  (that was a hint) between now and then.

Thank you for a most excellent 2011,

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Toiletries/Wine Bag

10 years ago, I loved Pottery Barn stuff so much that I received their catalog regularly in the mail.  Of course, I could only afford about three things in their whole inventory, so one day I bought one of those three things.  Ladies and Gents, meet my toiletries bag!  As you can tell, I've taken it on every single trip since then.

It actually is meant to be a wine bag.  How it became a toiletries bag is a mystery to me.  Maybe I loved it so much (velveteen outside, silk lining) that I couldn't bring myself to gift it, so I thought of other uses?  Who knows.  Anyway, it is threadbare now and needs to become a fabric scrap.  So today, I made a new one!  Since it is meant to be a wine bag, I couldn't help but show the new one with a bottle of wine in it, but it will absolutely serve (hopefully for the next 10 years) as a toiletries bag.

The fabrics are both heavy duty IKEA fabrics.  I got the blue stuff on sale at $4 a yard, which seemed like a steal.  What's interesting about this is that I chose to make a bag exactly that size and shape again.  At some points over the last 10 years, I've thought that it is too narrow and deep for toiletries, and it is sometimes annoying for that reason (there is a limit to how much can fit in there).  However, I opted to go for the same design because the narrow-ness is actually helpful in keeping my toiletries from taking up too much space in my suitcase!  It is also without a zipper that could break, and it is easy to carry around when I'm in a space-not-my-own.  Plus, those annoying TSA regulations have made it so actually, all my stuff does actually fit in there.

My day today started off with a custom Etsy order for some bike bands with this new ribbon I got last weekend.  They will be a Christmas gift for a woman in Virginia who just got a new bike.  Her daughter says she has been frustrated that she hasn't been able to find these invaluable accessories anywhere, and of course, nothing as cute as this anyway.  (Ok, I threw that last bit in---the daughter didn't say that, or the word invaluable either.)

Today, my biggest task was finishing up making my Christmas cards.  You know I won't spoil the surprise here, but here is a little teaser of some of the parts.  I will of course post the final product after Christmas day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

And The Best Selling Item Was...

Advent calendars!  Hooray!  Out of the 11 I made for the season, I have sold a total of 9 this year.  So cool.  A close second was the bike bands.  If you are reading this and you didn't get a chance to buy this weekend, but you would LIKE to, please visit my etsy shop here.  (If you're in the Fort, I am very happy to rendezvous with you in town to avoid shipping costs.)

Excellent things about this fair:

  1. I was in a good location for customer visibility and light!  
  2. I had a cozy corner to set up a little table in, where I was able to work on a couple things to pass the time.  Indeed, I designed my Christmas card for this year!
  3. My product fit in with the theme of the fair: fine & funky.  Customers were hip, the kind of people who would go out Christmas shopping in Old Town Fort Collins (local) despite the fact that it had snowed 3 inches the night before and the temps were in the 20s-30s for the whole day.  Other sellers were great too, selling lots of interesting and very original things. No knitted coat-hanger covers.
  4. I made a new friend in art!  Jennifer owns Quay & Co, and she and I clearly have similar tastes!  She made the cold and the slower moments bearable.  Check out her excellent etsy shop!  (I particularly heart her camera straps.)
Things that were tough:
  1. I was right next to the door, first booth, and please note the outside temperatures I mentioned above.
  2. For having stood in a cold location for 12 hours, I didn't profit quite as much as I would have liked.  But, exposure is a big reason I was there, and I think lots more people know about me now.  Nice!
Here's a photo of what was directly across from me (aka what I looked at all day), the art of William Pilch.  His stuff is really dimensional and vibrant, and he is a character too.

Both evenings, we were serenaded with carols from some costumed carolers.  Here they are in my booth, singing Noel.

This week: I plan to work on Christmas cards and a new toiletries bag... for MYSELF!  (Amazing, I know.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fine & Funky This Week!

The Fine & Funky Craft Bazaar will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year at the Opera Galleria in Fort Collins, THIS WEEKEND!  And, yours truly will be there with a booth, joining an awesome group of artists for the first time.  I am pretty thrilled.  I've got lots of great things, including new framed collages and plenty of bike bands.  Come on down!

Friday night, 5-9pm
Saturday, 10am-6pm

North of Mountain Ave on College, west side of the street.  

The trunk show at Wadoo was a lot of fun (and mildly profitable).  Here are some photos of my set up, right next to the chocolate and champagne table across the hall.  I did manage to only have one glass, but those handmade chocolates made by the chocolatier down the street fresh that afternoon were really hard to resist.  I think all of us feasted on them for dinner!

See you this weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Trunk Show Prep & The Beckoning of Lovely

Here is a photo of the "booth" I hope to have at tomorrow's trunk show!  (Pardon the bookshelf and yellow framed art on the wall--they will not be part of the display!)

Any feedback?  

Come on out tomorrow night!  It is a private event but you're invited!  You'll need to either get a copy of the invitation (contact me for this) or RSVP by calling Amy at Wadoo at (970) 223-4012.

Last week was 11.11.11, and if you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may know already about The Beckoning of Lovely.  My friend Katie and I flew to Chicago to attend Friday's last BOL event with Katie's Chicago-native friend Lindsay.  The event was led by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who describes herself as "a person who likes to make things" and  truly has some inspiring ideas that validate the ordinary, simplicity, humanity, kindness and friendship.  The final BOL movie has been pulled from YouTube today, since it appears that she needs to tweak it, but perhaps that is for the best.  I'd love for you to see the video of the event last Friday that we attended, and I suspect that that, along with the adjusted movie, will be available in another month or so for you to see.  I will make sure you know about it!  

I am so glad that I attended. :)

Finally, I heard about something on the radio today that I want to share with you.  StoryCorps is a great organization advocating for people to share stories with one another, and in some cases, larger groups.  StoryCorps records people's stories as oral history.  They sponsor a project called The National Day of Listening.  This year, it is next Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving.  I think this is a great opportunity to be mindful of time spent with family and friends, and to really listen for people's stories.  If you'd like something fun to do next weekend, I suggest recording a few stories of your own!  The StoryCorps website has some great guidelines and a way to develop a good list of questions.  

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Trunk Show Coming Up!

As I said before, Christmas is upon us!  Well, upon me anyway.  I've been invited to participate in a Trunk Show on November 17th!  What is a trunk show? you ask.  I had to look it up for the proper definition.  Here's Wikipedia's version: a trunk show is a special sale in which vendors present merchandise directly to store personnel or select customers at a retail location or another unique venue. In many cases it allows store personnel to preview and/or purchase merchandise before it is made available to the public. It is particularly desirable to have the actual designer present at the event. Most small businesses do this to get more buys.

And so, time to prepare!! My friend Katie helped me organize my bike band supplies.  Here are all the components:

And voila!  Here are 29 newly made bike bands, made over the last couple days.  This photo is missing the ever-popular Giraffes, as I ran out of turquoise thread.  They, however, will be sold at the show!  Tonight I plan to trim all the threads while watching a movie.  Nice.

Also, advent calendars will be on sale, along with aprons and Christmas cards.  If you are interested in attending, let me know and I'll forward you the invitation!  It'll be from 4-8pm at Wadoo on College Avenue, across the street from Oak Street Plaza.

And here are the final three recipe cards I made for my friend Barbara's birthday advent (see last week's post):  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Speaking of Advent...

My friend Barbara is the first one I tried out the idea of a non-Christmas advent with, 9 years ago almost exactly.  Her birthday was a few months after we met, and we had a major interest in common: quilting.  This was exciting considering that in Germany, quilting as I know it is only done amongst a handful of people.  (Cotton quilting fabric that you can buy for $3 a yard here in the US is a minimum of $12-19 over there.)  I was also new in town and only had to work about 20 hours a week, so I had time on my hands to get creative.  And so I designed an advent calendar for the week leading up to her birthday.  It was the first time I remember designing something considerably complex, and it worked!!  It was really something.  I credit those two years in Germany as a time when I really took a step forward in becoming an artist, from art-for-fun to art-for-real.  

I actually managed to just put my hands on some photos!  I took these with my very old SLR camera in November 2002 (click on the photos for a close-up.):

Once you opened the door, there was actually a little pocket that a tiny gift could fit in in there.  And so that year, Barbara received not only this calendar, but a individually wrapped chocolate each day at school delivered by a person we knew in common (teacher or 8th grader or her husband), and a little trinket in each pocket.  It was a lot of fun.

The next year, I made an advent calendar for my Christmas card called "An Advent Calendar for the Rest of the Year."  One of the most complex cards I've made in bulk (not counting the pop-up card this year), only about 20 people got one of those, and to this day it is one of the highlights in my memory.  (Does anyone still have theirs?  If you do, can you scan it and send it my way?)

Nearly every year since 2002, I've given Barbara 7 things each year, and lucky for me, she has actually done the same!  I've given her jelly beans with inspiring quotes, sewing supplies, random trinkets, and cooking gadgets.  Last year I got 7 things for the bathroom (nail brush, nice soap, tub mat, lotion, hand towel), and one year she gave me one recipe a day to create a 7-course menu by the end.  (We also have a love of cooking in common!)

This year, I'm also sending her a recipe a day, but one with embellishments--a mini art piece in itself.  On weeknights, Germans generally eat a cold dinner of bread with stuff on it (meats, cheeses, veggies, spreads).  Well, I thought I'd send her recipes of various ways to spice up those weeknight meals.  She now has a recipe for a new spread or dip or salad to add to what they already eat for each weeknight leading up to her birthday.  Here are the first four cards:
I'll post the final three next week!  As a bonus for today's post, since you had to go so long without a post from me in October, I thought I'd include one of these recipes for you to spice up your own weeknight meal.  This is one of my very favorites:

Walnut Sauce (the one from the orange card--I know it is from a wonderful cookbook that I don't own, perhaps my friend Kyran can help me out with the citation?)

You'll need:
¾ cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
2-3 tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
boiling water

In a food processor, mix the walnuts, garlic and ¼ tsp salt until finely ground.  Slowly add oil while still mixing. Pour in a small amount of the boiling water to reach desired consistency.  Sauce thickens as it cools.  Season with pepper.  Yields about 1 cup.

Serve atop whole-wheat pasta topped with some micro greens and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Leftovers are also great spread on toast!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Advent Calendars

I'm sorry that I've been absent from my blog these last 3 weeks! All I've been doing is working on ten new advent calendars.  I just couldn't see that getting on just to tell you that that's all I've been doing would be very inspiring!  I thought I'd finally get back to you today to report that they are here.  When they're finished, they actually feel like they're worth all the effort, but making 10 in a row, assembly-line style doesn't show results till the very end--it was hard to not get bored and stay inspired. (Click on the photo for a closer-up view.)

If you're interested in buying one, please see my Etsy shop!  Believe me, they are even better in person. :)

As an artist, I'm already thinking Christmas!  It is a strange thing to prepare for such a thing in October.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My "Other" Life

You know I love being at my art table.  Love it.  Period.  And yet, my "other life" (like "the other woman") takes over sometimes.  I found myself having to look at my archives for something to post today, because it feels like it has been ages since I've made something significant enough to show you.  These are cards I made recently, but still, nothing this week.  Sigh!

The card above was made for a dear colleague on occasion of her retirement, and I have to say, it's one of my favorites of all the let's-combine-scraps-in the-right-order-to-make-something-aesthetically-pleasing cards I've made in this Denise Schmidt fashion.
I particularly like that I elaborated on the theme for this birthday card for my step-mom in the message I wrote inside.  Things like, "You deserve to stop that negative self-talk," "You deserve to eat an entire bowl of strawberries," and "You deserve to have kindness in your life."  

And this was a variation on a theme from the bat card I showed you a couple weeks ago.  It is more vibrant and contrasting when you look at it in person, but at least this photo gives you an idea of it.

My friend Brittany emailed me saying that Advent Calendars are "hot" this year.  That's what I've been working on in my limited art time these days, especially as the one I've got on Etsy has received hundreds of hits (people looking but not buying).  I definitely need to post more on there.

A small celebration: I sold the giraffe bike band to a stranger on Etsy last week!!!  Special thanks my new Sunnyvale, CA customer!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Long Time Coming

You may remember this excellent creature I made about a year and a half ago?

(Click here to return to the post about it, and to see the hilarious video we made!)

Well, it turned out to cost hundreds of dollars to ship abroad, so we saved it for the day that my niece would someday visit us here.  Well last week we presented it to her (she is now 4½) on day 1 of her visit, and she was delighted!  At first, she named it Helinka, and all of us shook our heads at where she came up with that name.  But a couple of days later, she declared it had a new name.  No idea how one would spell it in Spanish, but in English, here's my best attempt: Juvia.  Turns out Juvia is the name of a horse in a very popular horse story  at home (I suspect similar to Black Beauty here). Here is the very satisfied customer, riding Juvia with her best friend Teddy.

Inspired by the pillow I made a couple posts ago, here is another one, made with the leftovers from that one, and gray scraps from our newly-fabric-covered closet doors (in our bedroom). 

Today, I've otherwise been working on business stuff (possibly getting a marketing/PR intern in January??) and assembly line production.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Thank You Gift

As a thank you to the folks who participated in my 100th blog Etsy activity, I made these fun miniature collages and turned them into wall-hangings.  

What I liked the best is that they were all created (as is my style) from one larger collage, then cut up and embellished.  But this time with small collage things.  Each overall piece measures about 4½" square, so the collages are only about 2½" square.  In total I made twelve but the 12th one didn't get photographed.

This butterfly one was one of my very faves, so I thought I'd give you a chance to see it close up.  Remember to click on any image for a closer view (right-clicking and opening in a new tab helps to not navigate away from my site).

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More Things

Since I outgrew trick-or-treating, I haven't been a great fan of Halloween.  Scary things, hype, kids eating too much sugar, and the thought of older kids stealing little kids' candy have kind of rubbed the thrill away for me. However, other people LOVE Halloween, and The Eyes Have It is asking for more cards (yay!), and 'tis the season, I guess, for Halloween things.  So I miraculously got inspired today during an art date by this textured purple paper, and it reminded me of my favorite Halloween costume I had as a kid: a bat.  My mom made the costume.  I was so cute.  And so, I made this pretty cool two-tone card.

Another recent arting adventure has been with more of the watercolor-painted paper bags.  I made these lovely leaves, and think they are beautiful!

My cousin had a birthday this week, so I secretly sent her this creation I made from some brightly-colored scraps.  I am inspired by this project to try making an apron like the white ones on my Etsy, but with black instead of white.

Here it is in her house, and miraculously, it was meant to be together with that neat bird tray she has...

Friday, September 9, 2011

This Week

This week I've been working on some assembly line stuff:  First, I had an idea to make these tiny postage-stamp sized quilts.  I was going to put them on a card, but the one I did turned out so boring-looking.  So here they are.  What do you suggest I do with them?  They really are so cute.

Then, you've seen cards like this before, except the difference is in the colored paper-bag paper!  The backgrounds are paper bags that I painted with watercolor paint to get the desired colors, and they totally make the collages pop out more.  Sorry to say it, but this photo does not do these cards any justice. The one on the left is actually blue in color, rather than gray.

Cards such as these two will be available at The Eyes Have It in Fort Collins in just a matter of days!  Come on by to buy one!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Next 100

Sorry to keep you waiting over the last week, loyal readers! (Pesky day job getting in the way of creative time.)  I've been working hard on getting my surprise giveaways finished and sent out to those of you who left a comment on my 100th blog post.  I didn't want to post those photos just yet, so I thought I'd show you these neat little cards I made up in a quick minute today.  They are just leftover bits of collage that I had from previous projects, and leftover white watercolor paper from making my sister's wedding invitations, and voila!  10 handmade note cards in a jiffy.  Perfect for a little tiny hello or thank you or love note.

Here they are spread out like playing cards so you can see that they are actually very small.

For the title of this post, I thought that you may be interested in what lies in store for the Art By HLM blog.  I definitely plan to continue showing you what is going on in the studio on a weekly basis.  I would like to expand a little, and provide some tutorials (in video?) of how to make some great stuff.  I am really trying to increase my readership, and would love to hear ideas you may have for attaining that goal.  I hope to make the blog reading experience somewhat interactive, so you easily remember to come back often.  

Honestly, I'd love your ideas!  Post a comment below, or email me using the contact info to the right.

Now that school is back in full swing, I hope you'll start seeing me at least once a week now.  And, in case you missed the awesome article that was published about yours truly at Brittany's Best, please pay a visit and read all about it!  I'm famous!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Big One-O-O & One Last Giveaway!

That's right, friends!  Today marks not only the day that Art By HLM celebrates its 100th post, but also its 3rd year anniversary, and on the same day!  Wohoo!  Yeehaw!  Yippee!  (Imagine fireworks, if you don't mind.)

Three short years ago, I started this blog with some hesitation.  I had no idea what kind of a commitment it would be, or how much I might like it.  The fact that I've been posting regularly for three years is a testament to how valuable this tool and experience are to me.  Not only does the blog help me to be accountable and create more stuff more often (no excuses!), but I just love sharing my work each and every time with you.  If you're at all interested in a moment of nostalgia, you can read my first month's posts, from August '08, here

A friend asked me this week how I was going to celebrate.  I wondered, should I do something different? In the end, I don't think I will, with exception of a few ANNOUNCEMENTS (see below)!  But before that, let me show you one of my recent projects: a pillow.  This is not just any pillow, I tell you.  This little thing taught me two big lessons regarding piping (that yellow line around the edge) and buttons--specifically made just for this project!

My friend Haley & I made this excellent set of flags to hang in her little one's room.  She conceptualized and designed the whole thing--I just helped with the sewing.  You may recognize the fabric from the quilt project we did together here.  So as a gift, I wanted to make an accessory to the flags, and in doing so I tried out the new techniques on this pillow.  This side of the pillow reflects a similar design to the flags (in between the letters).

The piping is something I've never done before, and thank goodness my aunt (whose birthday is coincidentally today--HB Annie!) was visiting just during that week, who had done piping before.  She had some great tips, and reminded me that pins can be your best friend.  I really love how it turned out, and will do piping again for sure.

I made the buttons using two wooden buttons I already had, then put a fluff of batting over them before wrapping them in the yellow fabric and sewing them closed.

The pillow matches the flags (and the baby's room) brilliantly!  Hooray for a fun and unique baby gift!

Alright, onto the ANNOUNCEMENTS!
  1. Announcing the winner of the 99th post giveaway!  Tara, you are the one! Please email me indicating the one you like best in the photo, and the bike band is yours.  
  2. Announcing the OPENING OF MY ETSY SHOP!!!  I have actually had it for awhile, but in honor of this occasion, my 100th post, I have packed it with fun things for you to peruse.  Please come by soon and often for more that you can choose from.
  3. Announcing a feature article about me and my work on another blog!  Please pay a visit to Brittany's Best to read it and see what another great Fort Collins artist is doing in art and online.
  4. Finally, announcing my last giveaway for awhile!  There is only one way to win this one, and everyone who participates wins something!!  Please visit my Etsy Shop, then come back here and post a comment with what your favorite thing in the shop is.  If you do this, I will send you a hand-made surprise goodie, made specifically for this particular giveaway.  I won't show you what it is--I hope you're ok with being surprised.  But I'm sure that you will like it.  :)
Before signing off, I want to say thank you to everyone out there who follows my blog and appreciates my work.  It means so much to me that you are out there and that you care.  Here's to another fruitful and productive and meaningful next three years!

Thanks for everything,
Heather Matthews, aka HLM