paper + embroidery

Being busy doesn't necessarily mean my mind doesn't wander off every now and then. In fact, mental breaks, are one of the things that keep me going. I've had the idea of attempting to embroider on paper for quite some time. Yesterday, while the kids where having fun at a neighbor's house, I enjoyed working on this small piece.

The paper embroidery examples I've seen so far are either geometric or illustrative. I wanted to try something a bit more organic and abstract. I hope to be able to finish this so it's suitable for framing (I already have the spot for it) but I've also decided that I'm going to take my sweet time with it.

Friday Tidbits (haven't done these in a while!!)
These are two links that I posted on twitter but I think they're worthy of mentioning here:
- Beautiful paper trees by Yuken Teruya (via a kind email message)
- Wonderful paper work by Benja Harney - site and flickr (via InsideOut - another great place to visit)

Have a great weekend everyone!

an apology

Today was the day I was supposed to debut my new zine. I'm seriously disappointed and embarrassed that it didn't come to fruition. Everything was going along smoothly until my deadlines derailed me. I was completely overwhelmed and the zine paid the price.

I'm beating myself up for missing my self-imposed deadline but it just couldn't be helped. The thing that makes feel even worse is letting everyone else down: the artists I was to feature, those of you that answered my zine question, those of you that didn't but would've read it all anyway and the ladies that were willing to place their ads in the first issue. Yes, the ads were free but that doesn't make me feel any better. I truly appreciate the fact that they were all taking a leap of faith with my project and I let them down. Please take a few moments to visit and support some of the talented women that were willing to back me up.

Daisy Janie and Perideau Designs

Fin+Roe and Cottage Industrialist

City of Dionne and River Dog Prints

Sixth & Elm and Chalk Hill Studio

The interviews are still coming in due time and one at a time. The zine, at least for now, will have to sit on the shelf. I just have to do that to stay sane. I hope you all understand.

Now, back to my coffee and my slice of humble pie.

checking in

How is it that deadlines always seem to accumulate into one big pile? I'm in the middle of sorting out my pile this week. Between project deadlines, all sorts of other things and being with the kids it's a wonder my mind is still running fluidly. I'm going down the list and tackling one thing at a time. The only thing I can do, right?

During a break I forced upon myself, I decided to take the kids to the Museum of Fine Arts. They were upset with me because I didn't take them to the pool (like we haven't already been there dozens of times) but I told them a change of scenery would be fun. They didn't believe me. But once we got there and started walking around the exhibits (and walked through the cool underground tunnel above), D turned to me and said that my field trip idea was the best ever. Does a Mom know her kids or what?

I've got to get back to the grindstone but I wanted to let you know I hadn't fallen (or jumped) off of any cliff! See you soon.

Kanzashi in Bloom

I was very excited to receive Diane Gilleland's latest book, Kanzashi in Bloom. I listen to her CraftyPod podcast regularly and find so many inspiring ideas on her blog. I expected no less of her book. In all honestly, and Diane knows this, I'm not much of a flower-y person, but I was taken by her book immediately. It got the girly in my really going. The possible applications of these flowers are really unlimited. I have my eye set on making the Flower Power Pendant and my little C wants me to make her a Stretch and Bloom Headband stat!

With today's interview, included in Diane's blog tour, I am very happy to learn more about her and introduce her to those of you that may not be as familiar with her. So, here we go...

Your podcast, CraftyPod is all about making stuff. What are your earliest memories of making "stuff"?

I made things all the time as a child. My Mom was always wonderful about supplying me for any craft I showed interest in.

The very first thing I recall making was a Milk Truck Paper Box. (This was the full title I gave the project - apparently, developing my blogging muscles even then!) I took a cardboard shipping box and some notebook paper. I drew some wheels and milk bottles on the paper, cut them out, and then taped them all over the box. I was about five years old. I used it to store the papers I brought home from kindergarten. I'm thinking of making another one to store my business receipts!

You tackle different mediums and crafts. What types of crafts or techniques interest you the most? How do you decide what you will make next?

I'm really attracted to crafts that aren't being widely practiced, like wire crochet, or weaving, or plastic canvas. (By the way, have I mentioned my love of plastic canvas before?)

I also love to hybridize crafts - like embroidering on a greeting card, or mosaics with buttons. Basically, any craft idea that makes you stop a moment and see handmade in new ways.

When did you start your CraftyPod podcast and what motivates you to continue?

The first show was in May 2005. Can you believe the 100th show is coming up? I was really excited about podcasts when they first appeared on the scene, as I'm a huge fan of independent media. But back then, most podcasts were about tech.

Then one day, I discovered Knitcast, an interview show by Marie Irshad in the UK. And then I thought, "Why not do a podcast about crafts?!" I can still remember the chill that went down my spine.

I keep doing the show because I dearly love it. I've never made a dime from this project, but the conversations I get to have with creative people from all over are absolute gold to me.

As someone that is very immersed in the world of craft businesses, what would be your most important nugget of advice for a novice?

If you dream of being creative for a living, find a way to start doing something related to that business right now. There's no sense in waiting until the perfect moment. The internet gives us tools and access that we could have only dreamed of twenty years ago.

If you want to be a writer, start a blog. If you want to make things to sell, set up that Etsy store. If you want to be a craft-show host, get a video camera and make some podcasts.

If you just start, then you'll be able to move forward, learn, and grow. You'll get somewhere eventually. If you wait, all you'll do is wait. I had a cubicle job when I started podcasting. Everything I'm doing now stems from that small start.

Your new book is titled Kansazhi in Bloom. Can you explain a bit about Kanzashi and what it is?

Kanzashi are hair ornaments, and they originated in Japan around 1600. You can still see them today in the elaborate hairstyles Geisha wear.

The traditional process of making them in Japan is fairly exacting - you start with small squares of silk. Then, using tweezers, you fold these squares into petal shapes and set them in a pool of a special rice paste. The paste saturates the bottom edge of each petal. Then, you pick up each petal with the tweezers and carefully place it on a metal or plastic base until you've formed a flower.

In my book, I offer a simplified version of the craft - one that crafters of all skill levels can enjoy. The book shows you how to make basic flowers, and then offers a bunch of different projects you can make with them.

When and how did you first start making Kanzashi?

I found Kanzashi on the web - although sadly, I can't recall which website I first saw them on. There's a lot of information on the traditional Japanese process out there, and a few bloggers have offered tutorials. I also found a few Japanese craft books on the subject. All of this was probably sometime in 2006.

I started teaching classes in the simplified form of Kanzashi in 2007, and through those classes I learned a ton about how crafters of all skill levels approach this craft. My students really helped me refine my processes and develop new designs. Teaching is always a great way to grow your skills.

If you had to pick one of your favorite uses of a Kazashi flower, which would it be?

Ack! Well, if pressed, I suppose I'd have to go with the denim A-line skirt I made for the book. I made three Kanzashi from light and dark denims and attached them to snaps. Then, I snapped them to the front of the skirt. They look really fun - and they pop right off for laundering.

What kind of crafty project would you tackle if money and time where unlimited?

I would crochet a queen-size Babette blanket in a million shades of pink, orange, red, and purple. Just look at the amazing things in this Flickr pool!

• • •

If you'd like to learn more about Diane visit here sites here:
- CraftyPod (blog and podcast)
- Kanzashi in Bloom

Diane, thank you so much and congratulations!

summer treats

For those of you that blog, are you every plagued by having nothing interesting to say? That's where I'm at right now. I'd rather stay quiet than bore you to tears with a lame story about our summer routine. We're having fun—just not really blog-worthy/story-telling fun. The good news is that we're all ok.

A rare treat is that I've had some time to indulge in lots of reading. My night table is buried under stacks of all sorts of bound paper goodness. Before you start thinking that I'm on a scholarly quest, let me clarify that my reading materials are of a wide variety.

I've been flipping through magazines, some of my crafty books (partial collection in the photo—trying to keep it down!), business-y type books, self-helpish books and some mystery/espionage fiction books. Don't ask me what titles are included in that last category because I'm almost embarrassed to say them out loud. Kind of how I feel about my chick-flick movies. They're like a piece of chocolate one may sneak in during a momentary lapse in a diet—sooo good and for my knowledge only.

Much to my delight, and coinciding with my current reading frenzy, I got a beautiful book in the mail called The Handy Book of Artistic Printing. It narrates one of the forgotten episodes in American design and printing history, when intricate borders and embellishments where in high demand. There are over 150 examples of century old printed ephemera, that were researched by the authors, who happen to be graphic designers themselves. I'll admit that I don't typically read historic themed books but I couldn't put this one down. There was so much to look at and a lot interesting information to feed my knowledge craving neurons.

Alternating with the reading, I've had to tackle some late-night work too. I sneak in a movie to keep me company. An added treat is when Mr. Z stays awake during one of my girly selections. Last night for example, we were totally engrossed in watching Sense and Sensibility. I know all the scenes by heart and it still entertains the heck out of me. I just think that Jane Austen was a genius.

By the way, does anyone have any good book recommendations? I wouldn't mind expanding on my repertoire and I think my night stand can handle it.

And yes, I did notice that while I have nothing to say I managed to squeeze out a post out of nowhere. Ha!

the countdown begins

My book, Home, Paper, Scissors: Decorative Paper Accessories for the Home will be published one month from today! I can't believe that the day is almost here. The photo below is another little sneak peek. Pre-orders can be made here.

I've been alternating between wrapping up some projects and taking the kids to the pool and other activities. Today we're headed out to the dog show and a family get together. It's been an active summer on the work front but a lazy/slow one with the family—a nice balance.

I hope you all have an awesome weekend!

happiness in the unexpected

Last week I was having one of those days where I mentally beat myself up (for the nth time) about how I simply don't manage to keep up with the house. My work was complete, but the house was a wreck. So, what did Mr. Z do? He comes home, on that same day (not knowing what I was going through), with "just because" flowers for me and for little C and chocolate for all of us. He could not have timed his sweet gesture any better. The flowers are still opening beautifully.

This morning, as I was battling with getting my mojo back (I'd lost it somehow), I got the sweetest email from a friend that simply made my morning. She snapped me out of it. Just like that.

Small acts of kindness can mean so much. Many times we will never truly know the great impact it can have on someone's day.

Speaking of which... Why don't we join Melissa of Operation Nice to celebrate her one year anniversary on Wednesday? Congratulations Mel... You rock!

the fate of crafty synergy

I've been thinking about this for a long time and I finally feel comfortable enough with my decision, to make a formal announcement. Crafty Synergy will no longer be updated. As it is, I haven't updated it in a while. A long while. I loved working on CS and I thank every single person that participated. Thank you, thank you! The blog wouldn't have existed without you.

The plan is to move forward. My original idea will continue, but in a different format—a PDF zine. The spirit of the zine will be the same (the promotion of artists and crafters) but the plan is to take everything a few steps further. I'm very excited about this new direction.

After going back and forth many times, I've also decided that I will be offering reasonable advertising opportunities to small business owners, that sell handmade goods, who are interested in reaching a broader audience. I realize that the first group of brave people that are willing to take a chance on this project deserve a break so I will offer FREE 1/4 page advertising to the first 10 people (EDIT - all free spots already taken!) that email me and reduced rates for anyone else that is interested. If you are willing to jump in with me for the inagural issue, email me at {info at alittlehut dot com} for more details. The first issue will be published on July 30th.

I have another opportunity for those that would like to participate in a different way. Each month I will be posing a question for readers to answer. If you are so inclined I'd like you to email me your answer {info at alittlehut dot com}. Use "Zine Question" as your email subject and include your name and city/location with your answer. Do not post your reply in this post—email me, please! I can't wait to read all your answers. The rest of you will be able to read them in the first issue of the zine.

The question for this month is:
What is your biggest incentive to make something by hand?

By the way, the zine will not be called Crafty Synergy. It's a very simple name that I will unveil on the publishing date. I can't wait!


There are times that I feel so accomplished and fulfilled with my work. This week has been one of those times. I worked on a new corporate identity for an interior designer and I'm quite happy with the way it turned out. I'm finishing up a couple of other challenging projects and an interesting one came in today. It's been non-stop around here.

I've also been busy on the A Little Hut front. My shop has been updated with some gift tags and tealight covers that match the flats that made their debut recently. The tealight covers almost didn't make the cut. I'm not sure why I kept going back and forth with them, but they stayed.

I feel so in tune with this new collection of graphic images. I think that's why I'm really thrilled with it. I'm also proud about the fact that this is the most environmentally friendly product I've ever made. ALL the paper is FSC certified and produced in a paper mill the uses hydrolic energy. I've also saved every single scrap of tiniest cut paper because I have plans for it too. No paper is going to waste.

Tomorrow will be time to catch up on the house chores that seem to magically pile up (le sigh). I'm trying to avoid wasting the weekend away on any of it.

Have a great weekend everyone!

runneth over

This is a complete set of tealight covers. They are all based on the designs of my latest series of flats.

The shadows created on the wall are rather interesting and the kids approved of them with an emphatic, "Cool!" I actually have them lit right now. There's just something so relaxing about candlelight.

I have several projects in the works and I'm trying to be a guilt free Mom, so I think the best will be for me to be absent for the rest of the week. The balancing act is one I have yet to perfect. I'll have some new things to show and announce when I get back. I hope that everyone has a wonderful week!

a lot of effort, a lot of love

Yesterday was a first. I made a summer dress for my little C. It's something I've been wanting to do for a very long time.

I let little C pick the fabric and the pattern. I knew it was going to be a lot of work and I wanted to be sure she'd wear it. She was going for pink and frilly but fortunately she stayed on the subdued side. It was really interesting to see her narrow down the choices for fabric. She immediately discarded that had "too many" of anything. We could've gone on a more extended hunt for the perfect fabric but time was of the essence. She was very excited and wanted me to start the dress right away. So did I. Little C isn't much of a dress person (just like her Mom at the same age), so I had to strike while the iron was hot.

I had a surprise flashback as I was gathering the skirt. It was something I hadn't thought about in so long. When I was little I had a yellow toy sewing machine. It was tiny, but it worked. I recalled, rather vividly, that one time I pulled on a thread and gathered the fabric by accident. It was an aha! moment. I immediately thought that that would be the best way to make a gathered skirt or dress for my dolls and I went for it. I don't remember what I made. However, I do remember having the presence of mind to baste/gather with a different thread color, so that it would be easier to pull it out once the permanent sewing was complete. I was about eight or nine.

The huge mistake I made may already be evident for those of you with a good eye. I was about to start the hemming, basically one step away from finishing, when I realized that I attached the skirt on upside down. @#$%!!! I was devastated. After a lot of back and forth, I decided to tell my little C what had happened, and let her decide what I should do. My sweet C told me she didn't care and she'd wear it as is. I could've just died. What a sweetheart. The imperfection makes me cringe, but I'm respecting her choice and in all honesty my back and patience level couldn't take any.more.sewing!

I got thanked with lots of kisses and hugs. Best of all my little C says she feels like a princess in her dress and she happily wore it to church today. Success.

happy 4th!

I hope everyone has a safe and relaxing weekend!

(Something I played around with today. It's inspired by my latest cards but mostly by this lamp, of which you'll see the full version soon).

simple and neutral

I don't know if many of you have noticed but my shop updates had come to a screeching halt. While I can blame a lot of things (summer?), the truth is that I took some time away to reconsider the direction I wanted to take.

As you know, I don't shy away from color, but I've been craving neutrals. I've also become more interested in stretching my simple tastes to the limit. How much is too far or too simple? What happens when there is no color or it's very minimal? Shapes become the main focus and that's where the challenge lies. That's what I think I'm trying to get at. The few things I've come up with so far, tune into this exploration and into my core preferences.

There are more things to come, but for now here are new die cut flat cards that I just uploaded to my site.

Weave and Crossroads - While flowers and leaves fascinate me, I'm also on the lookout of patterns and details left between them (weird?). The negative spaces I find, are what inspired these two cards.



Pods - I don't know why but I can't get away from these. They are also in a paper lamp tutorial that will be seeing the day of light in a few weeks and a fabric pattern I designed last year.

Now, to cool off with a tall glass of something ice cold. We just got back from the pool and I have no idea why I didn't take a bathing suit with me. Genius. I watched the kids and baked myself unwillingly (no shade anywhere). Yep. I had fun.