Office Work

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Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.  ~Confucius

Seriously, have you gotten your subscription to Uppercase! Magazine, yet?  It’s one of my favorite things to discover in my mailbox!  This graphically rich, whimsical, and all-around cornucopia of all things art-related never fails to make me smile.  I’ve had such a blast responding to their calls for submission.  In issue #18, I was lucky enough to have a piece published in their Handsome Ransom feature. That one was so much fun to create!

This time, the challenge was a call for letterforms and alphabets made with office supplies.  I went out onto my back deck and took some photos of my three vintage staplers in configurations no one had ever imagined before!  The result was unique, and my submission was printed right up-front in the feature.  I love the challenges – they give me an excuse to flex my creative skills.  Thanks Uppercase!

notion004This recent issue is another visual feast. I love the artist profiles, the interesting feature stories, and of course, the snippets of creative and curious things to look at.

#19 cover previewHappy Reading and Happy Working!

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Handsome Ransom

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“The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.”
Muriel Rukeyser

One of my favorite magazines is UPPERCASE Magazine, a quarterly publication printed in Calgary.  I had the opportunity to meet editor / publisher / designer, Janine Vangool when I attended a conference in St. Paul two  years ago.  I fell in love with the eclectic mix of articles and photography, and I wait anxiously for it to arrive in my mailbox each season. It’s such a work of art, that I can’t bear to part with any of my issues, and I can’t imagine it not being on paper.  It just wouldn’t be the same in a digital format.  (There’s the traditionalist in me coming forward!)  Here is a brief description of UPPERCASE from their website:

UPPERCASE publishes books and magazines for the creative and curious: products that spark the imagination and inspire creativity…Our books profile up-and-coming artists or explore emerging trends in design and creativity….A playful exploration of creativity, an affinity for vintage ephemera, and a love of typography are some elements common to many of our publications.”
UPPERCASE-18-COVER-this-one
Last spring, I noticed a “call for participation”  – a challenge if you will- to submit something for their collage-themed issue.  They called it the “Handsome Ransom” project, and they wanted readers to come up with a creation using cut-up words and letters in a “ransom note” style.  I just couldn’t resist trying my hand at something fun like this.  After all, I’ve been a huge fan of collage over the years and have made a few found poems using cut words from magazines.  I’ve always found it very enjoyable, as it combines my love of words with visual creativity. (I also can’t resist a good challenge!)  So, I spent my spring break this year working on my “masterpiece.”  Imagine my surprise when I returned from vacation yesterday to find my issue of UPPERCASE waiting for me.  I eagerly thumbed through it and voila’, there it was, my version of a “Handsome Ransom.”  I used a page from a falling apart novel, and words from a vintage copy of the Saturday Evening Post to spread a message that I hold dear to my heart…  I hope you like it!
 
 
2013-07-22_0758A big thank you to Janine Vangool and UPPERCASE Magazine for printing my creation.  It was a ton of fun to make, and I hope others will enjoy it!  In the meantime, head over to the website at UPPERCASE, and subscribe to this inspiring and visually stimulating publication.  If you appreciate art, words, photography and interesting bits-and-pieces of this-and-that…. if you have an affinity for nostalgia and appreciate traditional ways of doing things… you will love UPPERCASE!
 
 
 

“Inspired Ideas” Spring Issue – It’s Here!

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No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.  ~Hal Borland

covernoshadowI loved working on the spring issue of Amy Powers’ Inspired Ideas.  Once again, I helped edit the articles and wrote several book reviews.  This issue includes several more book reviews for craft titles as well as three amazing fiction titles. This time I chose three novels with a flower “theme.”  All of them are very different, but very good!  Isn’t this the perfect time of year to settle in a sunny window and crack open a good book?bookclub

My favorite non-fiction book review this go-around was a fantastic little book by Lilla Rogers called I Just Like to Make Things.  This book is just a treasure-trove of advice and inspiration for those of us who want to maximize our creativity.  It’s especially for those who want to turn their creative passion into a career.  Pick up a copy soon.  You won’t be disappointed!lillarogersbookHowever, it’s really the crafts that make Amy’s publication so special.  Each unique craft idea is full of cheer and whimsy.  You’ll have a hard time deciding which project to try first!  To be honest, Amy’s bird nests are at the top of my list, as well as the sweet little Easter cloches designed by Ashlee Parkashleecloche2 nests

If you’re in the mood to bust some of the stashes in your craft closet, head on over and check out all of the great ideas in this issue.  It’s quite an amazing deal for so much loveliness!  Be sure to stop back by and let me know if you read one of the recommended books or whip up something special for spring!

Happy crafting and happy reading!

Loving the Library

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I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.  ~Jorge Luis Borges

Yes, I am a librarian, and love that I get to spend each day in “paradise.”  I found a little time to get crafty earlier this week, and I made a little desktop sign for my dear friend and colleague who just finished her master’s degree in library science. It was a lot of hard work, but now she is done!  I hope she will display this proudly and remember how lucky she is to work in the greatest profession in the world!

This craft project is seriously easy and you may remember my post from earlier this year when I made a similar one for a friend’s birthday.  Anyway, I took some recycled game pieces that I gathered from the thrift store and a little “tray” that came from a vintage game…. glued them with some E6000 glue…. and there you have it!

Happy crafting, and happy reading!  I hope you make time to visit your library TODAY!!

“The Art of Reading” with Mitzi Curi

The Art of Reading

“Our admiration of the antique is not admiration of the old, but of the natural.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I am so excited to introduce you to a wonderfully creative lady with an eye for all things vintage.  Her blogs showcase an endless array of time-worn treasures that take me back to yesteryear, and her ideas for using found objects in craft projects are simple and delightful! One of my favorite posts of Mitzi’s was a recent one in which she highlighted many of the trends and items that became popular in the 1970’s (a very inspiring decade!) I am a huge fan of antique malls and consignment shops.  When I don’t have time to go shopping in my real life, I can get a little “fix” by visiting Mitzi’s blog. She takes the most wonderful pictures of the best booths in the business!  I’m also anxious to try one of her recent craft projects…. Aren’t these decoupaged plates adorable?

And really, have you ever seen anything so cool and classy?  This amazing necklace is made from vintage wallpaper and can be found at her Etsy shop.  I love it!

Name:  Mitzi Curi

Blogs: www.mitzismiscellany.com  AND www.mitzimadeit.com

Etsy Shop:  www.mitziscollectibles.etsy.com

What creativity do you share with the world:  I’m an antique dealer specializing in affordable wares that can be used to add vintage style to home interiors.  I feel antiques are the ultimate way to “go green” and avoid buying poorly made furniture and home décor from the superstores.  I enjoy crafting with vintage materials and up-cycling pitiful old objects that might otherwise be thrown away.  My passion for my vintage world shines through in every blog post!

  •  Book OR e-reader? Books
  •  Buy OR lend from the library?  Buy
  • Hardcover OR paperback?  No preference.
  • One book at a time OR several?  Several.
  • Skip ahead and read the last page OR be patient and wait?  Be patient.
  • Bookmark or fold over the page corner?  Bookmark.
  • Abandon a bad book OR stick with it no matter what?  Abandon.  Time is precious around here!
  • Laugh OR cry?  Laugh!

How do you acquire the books you read?  Bookstore.

How do you choose the books you read?  Often through a book review in a newspaper or magazine.

Do you have a book that you love so much that you re-read it periodically?            I used to read Gone with the Wind nearly every spring.  I loved the romance of it, plus the historical aspect.

Do you have a childhood favorite?   Starting around third grade, I began reading biographies of famous women such as Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan.  I think these books inspired me because they told of women who overcame hardships and difficulties in their lives to become successful adults.

Who have been your reading role models, mentors, or companions over the years?  My whole family reads a lot, especially my brother, who also writes.  In fact, he is currently writing a book on art pottery that should be published within a year.

Do you have a favorite genre or genres?  I have always loved non-fiction, biographies and autobiographies.  I love learning about how people lived long ago.  It kind of fits with being an antique dealer.

Do you have a favorite author or authors?    Lady Antonia Fraser.  She’s written several books on “royals” that I’ve enjoyed, such as The Six Wives of Henry VIII.

Here are my top ten favorite books of all time:

  • Helen Keller:  A Life by Dorothy Hermann
  • In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  • The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
  •  The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Lady Antonia Fraser
  •  Edie by Jean Stein
  • No One Here Gets Out Alive by Jerry Hopkins and Danny Sugarman
  •  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  •  Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

How do you fit reading into your busy life?  It’s getting harder and harder the busier I get.  I find myself reading more magazines than books, I’m sorry to say!

Do you have any books that are special keepsakes?   If a book is given to me as a gift, I keep it forever.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I have actually read……. “Vox” by Nicholson Baker.

Reading is important to me because….It keeps your mind sharp, you can acquire new information, and it gives you something to talk about with others.

I love to display my books…. I display some of my older books in an antique “barrister’s bookcase”.

 If I could step into the setting of a book, and experience it first-hand, it would be…The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I love the era, the fashions, the decadence of the roaring twenties!

One of the most memorable characters I can recall is….Scarlet O’Hara, of course!

This is what I remember about learning to read…. I don’t remember learning to read, it seemed to just happen.  I feel bad for kids that struggle so much with reading.  It must be so frustrating!

Thank you Mitzi for sharing your reading “history” with us!

Book Review: “Craft Activism” By Joan Tapper and photography by Gale Zucker

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“We make to provide.  We make to give.  We make to share.  We make because we love.  Making is marketable, it’s “green,” it’s local.  And when the fad passes, we will still be making.  Because making things by hand has never stopped, and it will never disappear.” –Craft Activism (Foreward.)

The increased popularity of handmade is touching all age and economic groups. Young and old… at home and abroad…  People are turning to craft to create beautiful and meaningful items.  For some, it’s a way to express themselves creatively, as well as connect with others.  However, for some, crafting is used to make statements and promote change within their communities.

Craft Activism pays a joyous tribute to this growing movement.  In this fantastic new book, many talented artists reflect on their passions, provide insight in what motivates them, and encourage others to find their creative voice.  Their message seems to be, “Take something you love to make, and let it touch others in a more meaningful way.”

This book will give you ideas, it will provide you with inspiration, and it will challenge you to try something new.  Why not use your talent to think a little more “green”, beautify your community, join a group of like-minded folks, pay tribute to your past or make a statement about what matters to you?

Get a copy of this book to find out a little more about:

  • Knit Bombing (or crochet!) … See an amazing bench-warmer pattern by the Jafagirls!
  • How to connect with the women of our past… After all, aprons and Granny Squares are back and here to stay!
  • Organize a craft night… Make a Bella Brooklyn house-dress (so cute with skinny jeans and boots!)
  • Get excited about helping a cause… and support the The Red Scarf Project.
  • Protect the earth… and make vibrant art from plastic bags.
  • Ravelry!… This is one great online hub of crafty-connectedness!

This is a book that I will be turning to again and again.  It perfectly honors the grassroots movement that has become a crafting revolution.  It provides a generous amount of practical ideas along with a dose of sentimental tribute to those who have paved the “crafty- highway” for us.

Check out the Craft Activism website at: http://www.craftactivism.com/

My New Love…

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“Words of comfort, skillfully administered, are the oldest therapy known to man.”
-Louis Nizer

The above quote is certainly true, but lately, the comfort I have been enjoying is that provided by my soft, cozy, warm new neck warmer!

Valentine’s Day is just a couple of days away, and all of the people I love the most are getting their own cuddly bit of comfort.  I have always wanted one of these, but just never broke down and bought one because I thought it would be easy to make.  So, I searched for some simple directions and liked the one on a cute blog called “Make It Do” (http://www.make-it-do.com/make-it/make-it-do-gift-cozy-bed-warmers/ )  I have been experimenting with the directions and trying different shapes as well.  The picture I am sharing is one I made for my best friend’s mom who has been in terrible pain from a shoulder injury and is anxiously awaiting her 17th birthday…on Feb. 29th.  (Actually, she’s in her 70’s! Since she’s a leap-year baby, she professes to be much younger than the rest of us who get to celebrate our birthday each year!) I hope this gift will bring her some therapeutic relief and that the cheerful fabric will bring a smile to her face.

I stopped at my favorite thrift store and picked up some really cute pajamas in soft flannels and pretty patterns.  I have been repurposing the fabric for my warmers, which makes me feel very thrifty.  Furthermore, the $13.00 I spent on the 50 pounds of feed-corn at a ranch-supply store is significantly less expensive than using rice from the grocery store and will be enough to keep me busy for quite awhile!

The bags are made out of 100 percent cotton and filled with whole feed corn. To enjoy the neck warmer, simply pop in the microwave for approximately 2-3 minutes depending on the strength of your microwave and delight in the way the corn holds the heat for such a nice, long time.

Here’s what I have planned for the rest of the day…. a cup of tea, a good book, a warm, cozy neck-warmer = I’m in LOVE!  Happy Valentine’s Day 2012!  Wishing you all much warmth and comfort.

Finding the Perfect Balance!

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Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.                 -Robert Fulghum

I wanted to whip-up a little birthday gift for my friend, and this is the perfect quick and easy handmade present!  I don’t know if it’s a by-product of being a former English teacher, a librarian, and of course, a lover of books, but I adore any project that uses letters and words. So, I’ve been collecting board games from the thrift store and using the pieces to make Scrabble tile message boards for the special people in my life.  Today, I met my dear friend for a birthday breakfast, and wanted to reminder her to cut-back, just say “no”, and quite simply make more time for herself!  (Good advice, wouldn’t you say?)  Just take a Scrabble tile holder and a little glue (I use E-6000) and admire your “instant message.”  Once you start, you will be thinking of all the important words you want to share!

Book Review: “Decorate” by Holly Becker and Joanna Copestick

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“Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.”  Nate Berkus

Rooms That Tell a Story:

I have always been captivated by design books. Just like going on home tours, or glancing in an open window while driving by, reading books like Decorate lets me peer, if only briefly, into the world, and stories, of others.  Pick up this amazing new book and find yourself transported into some of the most visually interesting and inspiring rooms you have seen in a long while.  Decorate is a visual feast of the kinds of rooms we want to live-in today. The author, Holly Becker, is the creator of the enormously popular design website Decor8.  Gone are the matchy-match furniture groupings from the local furniture store.  Gone are the impersonal, super-modern, sterile rooms that represent “status”.  This book brings to our attention the inspirational designs of those who recognize our need to tell a story with our homes.

Here are  my “Take-Away’s” from the book:

Take-Away #1:  First of all, I love that the rooms look specifically “undecorated” and more amassed over time with meaningful objects.  I am in awe of the current trend toward purposeful mixing of patterns and layering textures.  In one room, a pastel floral watercolor painting hangs next to a mount of deer antlers; which is  flanked by a geometrically patterned, Victorian-inspired sofa; all of which is accompanied by a modern, clean-lined coffee table.  The message is:  There really are no rules!  A quote from the book that communicates this idea:  “Enjoy the hunt—it’s worth waiting for something special… and you’re bound to find other bits along the way.” – Emily Chalmers (inside cover)

Take Away #2:  How liberating it is that you can mix all of the following in a very beautiful and visually interesting room: architectural salvage, flea-market finds, family heirlooms, your daughter’s crayola drawing, high-end pieces mixed with thrift store finds…All of which embrace the patina of objects that have had a story.  “Decorating is an extension of your personal style.  Finding your decorating style depends on knowing what you love at a gut level.” –Carrie McCarthy, author

Take Away #3: From reading this book, I have determined that my style leans toward “Flea Market Style”  I absolutely swoon for things like clocks taken from warehouses, industrial metal shelving units, collections of vases and old advertising signs.  Love, love, love this section of the book!  I also identify with the section: “Eclectic Style.”   It is amazing to me that modern decorating will let you pair your parents’ cast-off lounge chairs (recovered, of course) from 1970 with a funky bohemian wall hanging and your grandmother’s needlepoint pillows.  Toss in some bright shiny metallic vases and anything else you have collected over the years and suddenly you have a room that sparks conversation!  This kind of decorating lets you tell a story and honor your past as well as your present.  Thank you, Holly Becker, for showing us that we can fill our rooms with affordable, sentimental items and that we don’t have to go to an expensive furniture store and buy an entire room at once!

Take Away #4:  If you’re reading this, perhaps you know I’m a huge fan of books.  For reading, for decorating, for crafts…. for everything.  Decorate is filled with pictures of rooms in many different styles, but something I notice is that most of the rooms contain BOOKS. On tables, piled high, stuffed on shelves… The message is clear, books are the staple that completes a room’s story!   On page 97,  I am inspired by the picture of books…. the combination of colors and the mood it inspires. It says,  “Vintage books with distinctive dust jackets are delightful objects in their own right, whether used for reading, displaying, or as sosurces of inspiration for decorating.”  I couldn’t agree more!

Without a doubt, I have been coveting this book since I got to hear Holly’s keynote at The Creative Connection Event in St. Paul. Her presentation was my favorite of the weekend, and when I returned from Minnesota, I blogged about my favorite quotes of the weekend; one of which was from Holly (You can check out this post here.)  All of her books were sold-out, so I was very disappointed that I couldn’t get a signed copy.  However,  at the end of the weekend, I had the opportunity to meet Holly, and she couldn’t have been more lovely and down-to-earth… just like her book!

Baby, It’s Cold Outside!

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And all your future lies beneath your hat.–John Oldham

Just a little crochet “show-and-tell” for a crisp, cold January day!  There have been LOTS of babies arriving in my circle lately, and I’ve been having so much fun whipping up hats for all of them.  There’s  nothing more rewarding than a baby hat…. it comes together quickly and looks so adorable on the recipient. I don’t know if they do it to be polite, but lately my parent-friends have been donning their little ones in my handmade originals.  So sweet!

These two are for sisters Anna and Ruby.  They are as precious as their names.

His-and-her bombers for big sister AnnaLynn and newborn brother Decland.

We’re still waiting for word that the latest boy baby to our school-family will arrive, but when he does, he’ll be sporting the right team colors – blue and green!

I wouldn’t know what to do without all of the generous creativity out on the Internet!  Here are the sources for the patterns I used:

Earflap Hat with Pom-Pom:  Neanners Shop. (http://neannersshop.blogspot.com/2010/10/ez-earflaps-pattern.html.)

Bomber Hat: http://www.etsy.com/listing/33857277/the-bomber-hat-pattern

Flowers:  http://crochet-mania.blogspot.com/2009/02/chain-5-join-round-1-10-sc-through-loop.html