paper on painted wood

paper pyramid

I allowed myself about an hour of playing time, to stand back a bit from other projects, and this is what I ended up with.

Many of you have asked me (in the survey) how it is that I come up with ideas, so I thought this would be a good example to use and write about. Well, it turns out that in this case, I honestly don't know. It just kind of happened. I just knew it was going to work. I planned it out in my head for a bit, didn't sketch, jumped on the computer and out it came.

Yes—boo hiss! That explanation doesn't do you any bit of good, does it? But sometimes that's just how it goes.

Incidentally, I wanted this to be in a shadow box but I didn't have a white frame on hand. So, I used one of those cheap wood/mirrors from Ikea that I had tucked away, literally for a few years. I painted it white and covered the mirror with the paper. I like the added texture of the wood—something to keep in mind for future projects.

Totally unrelated but...

This sort of reminds me of when a friend, who was single at the time, asked me how she'd know when a guy she was interested in was the one. She wanted to know how I knew my Mr. was the one.

I said, "You'll just know."

A few years later she was in a relationship with someone who is now her husband—and she reminded me of our conversation. She said that I was right. "You do just know."

I think something similar happens when you're creating or designing something. When it's right, when the ideas are flowing, when you aren't forcing anything (key!), it just shows up... the one. Sometimes you just have to set aside all preconceived ideas, jump in and see what turns out.

So, what are you going to jump into over the weekend? I have a lot of writing to do—of the tutorial kind. Stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

• • •

“When we engage in what we are naturally suited to do, our work takes on the quality of play and it is play that stimulates creativity.” – Linda Naiman

paper pyramid

I wasn't planning on offering this for sale... but I had a very friendly plead (thank you!). So, the SVG file for this piece can be ordered in my shop here. Thanks!

green + simple

I don't know what it is about birthday parties, but they always throw me for a loop. Part of the reason is that I leave a lot of the work for the last minute, so this year I decided that I would keep things simple and it helped a lot. D's birthday party was this past weekend because we couldn't have it any sooner. But it went well—really well.

eleven

The stationery
These are the invitations, thank you card (he still needs to fill them out!) and label for the treat bags. Like I said—simple. If you're ever in need of a quick set this is a really easy one to do. Just change the colors and age accordingly and you're done.

The cake
D is at that funny age where some things are just not cool anymore and cute doesn't cut it. Since we're obviously going through a Lego phase it was easy to go in that direction. The actual idea of the design was both D's and mine. I'm not quite sure who said it first but I do know that someone yelled out "What if the whole cake is one big Lego block?" Perfect! It was green because the baker recommended we go with either that color or beige (eww). He said the darker colors would make the icing bitter. Funny thing... I designed the stationery before even thinking about the cake—even the color worked out. I know it doesn't look terribly appetizing but the icing was remarkably light and the fact that it was the tres leches cake that we always get for birthdays didn't hurt.

Phew. One child's party down, one to go.

eleven

Yes, that is a Juan Valdez t-shirt. A friend that just visited from Colombia got it for him and he decided to wear it that day. Our kids are not coffee drinkers, of course, but they sure love the smell of brewing coffee.

And.. just writing that last sentence has me craving a cup of java right now!

5 simple things to do when you're creatively stuck

triangles
  1. Step away from the computer. Computer programs are tools not fountains of inspiration. Staying away from the internet allows time to find inspiration elsewhere.
  2. Pick up a good ol' pencil and paper—remember those? Sketch and play and don't work on your current project. In my case, picking up the Xacto works just as well (see photo).
  3. Go to a museum, a park or a bookstore and just walk around. They all offer so much food for thought.
  4. Enjoy your life. Do something that isn't related to your art.
  5. Get a good nights sleep. This may sound silly but the reality is that if you're depleted you won't get very far. If your body is asking for rest, give in.
I'm sure we can all add to our repertoire and our creativity tool box. So, what are your favorite or most effective ways to beat the creativity blues? Anyone willing to share?

• • •

This isn't exactly part of my The Basics posts but I just had the thought that knowing how to use tools and techniques is just as necessary as knowing what to do when we need to step away from them.

I've been doing all of the above during the last few days (honestly, not too great on #1). Somehow all the planning for the new year and working on projects left me blank this week. But I'm very ready for next week!

I highly recommend tackling #4 for the weekend! Have a good one!

recycling project - wrapped hearts

wrapped heart

Cardboard boxes seem to accumulate very easily, so I keep trying to come up with ways to use them. To end my week of heart projects, this is a really quick and simple one that was inspired by my yarn gift tag.

At first, I used a heart that had a pointy bottom like my SVG heart files and it didn't work. Wrapping the yarn around the pointed part of the shape was difficult. The yarn was also overlapping too much and making the piece look bulky. The solution was to use a heart with curved vertexes.

Materials
- Yarn
- Cardboard
- Heart template (download here)

Cut out the template and trace it onto the cardboard. If your cardboard is thin and you'd like to make your heart sturdier, just cut out two hearts and glue them together. Wrap the yarn around the heart, making sure not to leave any gaps in between the yarn strands. Tie the loose ends and you're done!

If you're interested in making something bigger like a Valentine's Day wreath try using my 4th of July wreath idea. Instead of cutting two circles you'd cut out two hearts and follow the same steps in that project. Remember to use a curvier heart so that the wrapping is even and easier to do. I was going to make one until I discovered that no red t-shirts deserved such death-by-scissors just yet!
• • •

Thank you, thank you!
Thank you so much to the kind people behind the awesome blogs that have featured some of my work. I really appreciate all the support. Thank you to...
- Craft for featuring my basic tools post and my Valentine's Day printable set.
- CraftyPod for featuring my calendar and linking to my post from her Free/Sustainability post (interesting discussion/comments going on with all this)
- Baby Center for including one of my printables in their set of cool calendars.
- Make and Takes for featuring The Basics posts.
- Curbly for featuring my memo holder and gift tags.
Am I missing anyone else?

One more thing... I loved reading about Shane Power's work on Holly's (Decor8) blog and about his collaboration with WestElm. I love those new ceramics... totally me. Holly said that WestElm would be reading the comments for recommendations. I'm thrilled that they are in search of new talent and really trying to think out of the box. My recommendation is at comment #1—but I certainly wouldn't mind if it were me—wouldn't that just be the ultimate dream?

Have a great weekend!

your wish list

I can never say that I have nothing to blog about—at least not for a quite a while. Remember my survey? I've been meaning to report on that. I'd like to thank you all of you that have participated. The response that I've received so far, has exceed my expectations. If you're interested in filling it out (only 5 questions!) I'm still taking responses here.

I have read every single one of your comments and some of you have actually made me—ahem—swallow with a bit of difficulty, blush and smile ear-to-ear.

Below is a summary, in no particular order, of your answers to the last question (your wish list of subjects you'd like me to cover). Many of them overlapped, so I grouped similar responses in one line item. But, like I said, I read absolutely everything.
  1. Multi-layered collages
  2. Writing about the tradition of paper cutting in Mexico, Switzerland, Germany, Japan
  3. Projects involving paper folding that can be done with children
  4. Projects that do not need specialist tools
  5. Speedy projects as well as those that take longer
  6. DIY home and office organizers
  7. Advice on colors, graphics and text on a printed page
  8. Fabric projects
  9. Paper flowers
  10. Inspirations on projects to make that could translate into artwork for the walls.
  11. Notebooks
  12. Garlands
  13. Themed projects: Christmas, Halloween, etc
  14. Boxes
  15. Mix paper with felt, fabric, ceramic, wood, plastic bags, etc.
  16. How to make paper
  17. Organizing craft supplies, specially papers and tools
  18. Making decorative book/journal covers using stencils or other decorative items
  19. Recycled gift tags
  20. Favorite tools for a paper crafter (substitutes for those outside of US)
  21. Recycling and crafty with kids (groups of kids)
  22. Christmas or for any time gift ideas
  23. Reflection/process/challenge to grow artistic vision and expression (project from initial concept to finished project)
  24. How I developed my business
  25. Embroidery on paper
  26. Projects using different types of paper: crepe, vellum, etc.
  27. See projects in their setting- have they lasted/held up
  28. How to store paper and tools
  29. Workspace – how to set up a craft friendly area
  30. Projects around a color theme
  31. Ethnic or travel-inspired crafts
  32. Gift-wrapping ideas
  33. Gift tags
  34. Product reviews (glue, cutting mat, etc – simple things)
  35. Book-binding
  36. How to transport materials
  37. History of paper
  38. What paper for what mediums (ie watercolor paper)
  39. Photo galleries of things that inspire me
  40. Idea development from spark to finish with discards shown
  41. Custom envelopes for cards
  42. How to make time for crafting
  43. My style in other media: home decor, stenciling, aesthetics, etc.
  44. How did I get into crafting
  45. Paper craft ideas to decorate kids' rooms
  46. Paper lamps
I'd be too worried to guarantee that I'll cover every suggestion but I'll give it a fair shot. If I don't consider myself an expert in a particular topic, I'll approach it as a student and you'll see me fail or succeed. How does that sound?

I can't tell you how excited I am to tackle this list. As you can see I've already scratched two items off—but this isn't to say that they can't be revisited.

So what do you think I should tackle next?

If I could only show you what I'm up to!

wip

more hearts

You're all going to think that I'm seriously into Valentine's Day—here I am with more hearts. I really have fun coming up with these projects but the holiday itself doesn't do much for me. The kids on the other hand can't wait for it to come—personally, I think it's their love for chocolate that gets them.

This a sample of a new set of SVG files for 6 different hearts and one card that are in my shop. I'm not selling these as PDFs simply because I can't see anyone having the patience or time (I don't have either!) to cut all these little shapes out by hand—but if anyone wants to tackle them feel free to order the SVG version and email me to send you a PDF.

ALittleHut-SVG-hearts1

Please don't take my initial comments the wrong way. I completely understand those of you that enjoy the day and celebrate it in all its sweet splendor, but Mr. Z is completely off the hook on the 14th. I prefer the flowers and treats that he sprinkles spontaneously throughout the year. I love it when he walks through the door with a sheepish smile and flowers in hand. That totally makes my day.

So what does it for you? V-day, the spontaneous any-day or both?

hearts

eleven

Yesterday was D's birthday. We celebrated over the weekend, and ate way too much cake, but I thought we still needed to sing and blow out candles on the official date. No one believed me that the cupcake could handle the 11 candles—but it did.

IMG_3207

He's in fifth grade, still wears his feelings on his sleeves, still loves hugs, enjoys reading (unless he's told to do so for homework), loves his Legos and soccer and he's half-way up my nose in height.

It goes by in the blink of an eye—I say that every year. But this time I was more keenly aware of it. I was up late working on a project and I realized it was around the time he was born (a little past 1am). I stopped, closed my eyes and really thought about everything that surrounded those first few minutes of his life eleven years ago. And wow. I still feel it all. I still remember it with the same warmth and excitement.

I hope I never forget.

Happy birthday my big D! :)

valentine's day printables

Valentine's Day is something that always sneaks up on me. This year I've vowed to make it a little more fun for the kids, so I am prepared.

I was hoping to have some crafty time with the kids, but yesterday was one of those days when you do a little bit of everything—run crucial errands (first communion outfit for C!), family get together (more of that today) and additional shopping—so no crafting. Hopefully today will be the day. This is what we will be using... a new Valentine's Day set.

valentine's day

Instead of creating a smaller set the way I've done in the past I wanted this to be a bit more substantial. I wanted the set to offer more creative possibilities with pieces that are multi-purpose.

valentine's day

The hearts that are used to put together the ornament can also be used for card making or scrapbooking. The small gift cards can be used as gift tags or as mini-valentine's day cards. And the black and white hearts below can be left as is or colored in with markers or colored pencils.

valentine's day

The Valentine's Day set is available on my site or at my Etsy shop.

Now off to do some cooking for our family get together!

the ball is rolling

Thank you to everyone that replied to yesterday's post. My mind just kept racing with questions and ideas as the comments were coming here, on Diane's post and on Twitter. I feel that there is a shift of sorts and we are on the cusp of it.

I thought that I'd be taking a risk by sticking out my neck a bit and sharing my thoughts but my word for the year (fearless) made me take the leap. I'm so glad that I decided to go for it and I couldn't be happier that your response has been of understanding and support.

I hope that this will be a successful year of exploration for all of us that share the same dilemmas. If we put our heads together and come up with ideas I know we will find solutions.

Friday Tidbit
Along the lines of yesterday's conversation, here is an interesting article called: 5 rules for Mindful Creativity.

Have a great weekend!

PS. Guess what I'm getting ready for?

getting ready

there is a method to my madness

No photos and so long! You must think it's something serious. It is and it isn't.

I've been busy with projects (you'll see!), carving out some me/work-out time (finally!) and I've been really thinking about the future. The last of these is something which ironically has led me to writer's block. The thing is that talking about A Little Hut and it's future, gets tricky. But I didn't want to slap up a post for the sake of getting past my new year's message (which would've been tempting to do). I also wanted to be in the right frame of mind to be tactful, but honest, fact-oriented but human. So here I go.

Aside from anything that you'll read below, know that I love what I do—no doubt at all.

Sharing my creative ideas and coming up with new projects, patterns, and designs fascinates me—paid or unpaid. I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to work from home and I don't really see myself going back to work a 9-5 job (not that I really ever had one—I remember it more like 8 'till whenever it's done). The thing is that it would be nice, really nice, if what I do here were a little more fruitful in the paid category.

When I post free printables or tutorials, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate all the comments, emails and links that come along with them. But, quite honestly, all those fuzzy feelings I get don't help me contribute to our household income. It is as simple and as complicated as that.

It's a simple premise because our daily lives revolve around the routine of paying for services that we opt into. Why can't we find a way to shoot for the same in the craft world? And more to point—why can't that happen in the craft blogging world more often? Yes, there are many ways to monetize a blog. Sponsors, ads and the ever growing tip-jar idea are all options that I've been considering. But I still feel like I want to find another way. A way that involves a community driven effort to support the work that we see on a daily basis from so many amazing bloggers out there. There just has to be a better way.

It's a complicated issue because my online craft life has been mostly based on the fact that I offer a lot of my ideas for free. Yes, I have a shop, but here I'm talking about the blog—designing, crafting, writing and photographing—which all take up a lot of my work (paid) time.

Ok, so now what? Do I need to reinvent what I do or just tweak? That is what has consumed me for weeks.

For now, I'm going with a tweak—which is much better than the harsher idea I was entertaining last year. During the summer I was actually thinking of parting ways with A Little Hut for good (eek!).

What am I really saying? What's the bottom line?
  • I am staying. I simply love this space and everything and everyone in it.
  • The spirit of my work will stay the same whether I'm getting paid or not.
  • I want to focus my energies on ideas, on projects and in spreading the word about them but not always for free.
  • I will start to offer more paid goods and self-promotional posts but they won't be overbearing or constant and I won't be apologetic about them either (why is it that so many bloggers apologize for self-promotion?—a whole can of worms type post right there).
  • I will continue The Basics series. I hope you're enjoying them because I am.
  • I will offer a monthly newsletter that will be equal parts informative, promotional & inspirational—and short!
Basically, things won't really change a whole lot. The marketing efforts of my new work will just be more visible.

I felt the need to write this because I respect the time that you take to stop by, so I want to play fair and let you know what's going on. My hope is that this post will also help other craft bloggers that are trying to make a living off of the hard work involved in producing great content, that you are not alone.

I also wanted to let you know that that I really do put thought into this blog. I treat the quality of my ideas and how they will be more enjoyable to you as a reader, equally important. It's all a package deal and one that I hope to deliver a bit better in 2011.

I hope that you'll hang around a bit longer (like today!) to watch the year unfold.

xo
Patricia

PS - If you're still around and have a few minutes follow this series by Diane at CraftyPod—so fitting!

happy new year!

2011

I hope that everyone has a wonderful year!

If you'd like to send anyone a new year's message here is the file for the 11 card. I know... it doesn't quite look like numbers but that's what I like about it. It's subtle and you can use it at any time of the year and maybe add some weaved ribbon through it.

Downloads :: SVG file | PDF

You'll excuse me while I go back to some very laid back time with the family. It's been slow around here and I love it. I think we all needed it.

Happy 1.1.11!