Rising and SHINING!

Hello friends!  Did you think I fell off the face of the planet?  Or better yet….went back to California?

Nope – I’m still here (although, I’d go back to California in a heartbeat!).  I’ve been wanting to blog….but I’ve been avoiding it because I can’t bring myself to finish my California series.  I only had 3 more spots to write about (Kings Canyon NP, Santa Cruz/Big Basin Redwood SP & Napa Valley)….but I just can’t.  I don’t have it in me.  You’ll just have to take my word that they were all amazing, but not more amazing than everything I’ve already shared – so don’t feel jipped :)

I’m back because I have some creative pieces/projects/concepts to share!  First on the list: #AmycreatesintheAM.  I had started reading a book on how getting up earlier can actually feel great & in turn make you a more successful person.  For those of you who don’t know me – I don’t quite “spring” out of bed.  In fact, it takes about a half hour of hitting the snooze button before I SLUMP out of bed. It is awful.

Early morning in my craft room

Rather – it WAS awful.  After reading 1/3 of the book, I realized that I needed something that would get me excited to get up in the morning.  The something?  Spending time in my craftroom everyday.  Crazy?  A little.  But, being creative is a WAY better motivator than going to work ever was.  Plus, it guarantees that I exercise my creative & artistic muscles everyday – whereas creativity is usually the first thing to fall off the priority list when I’m busy.

So – for about 3 weeks, I’ve been getting up early to create …and I love it!  It gets my creative juices flowing & fills me with the rewarding tingles of accomplishment before I even eat breakfast!

Get creative in the morningGet creative in the morning

Best of all, this early morning habit has lead to one of my favorite pieces yet.  I made a watercolor painting for one my elephant-loving friends, Janelle (this is the second handmade elephant I’ve given her :))

Watercolor elephant

I’m really happy with how this little guy turned out.  Not gonna lie, I was even a little tempted to keep him – but Janelle was so happy with him, it made it easier to part with.  I know he went to a good home :)

I’ve been sharing most of my projects on Instagram (under the hashtag #AmycreatesintheAM) but I’d like to share everything here.  I’ve also found that creating in the morning has also motivated me to make even MORE time for creativity in the evenings and on the weekends.  So, those projects will be shared here too.  Plus, I have some logos I’m working on for 2 people, and I CAN’T WAIT to share those here!!

I’m limited on time over the next couple of weeks, so I’m going to tryyyyyyy to just pop in, post some pics with a couple of words and keep it moving (a la my intended goal for my Sandblog this whole year).  We’ll see though.  I’ve attempted this before, but (…not to sound cliché…) the words get in the way :P  But I’ll try, because I miss my Sandblog!

Alright…well, we’re painting our bedroom this weekend, so off I go!  But I hope to be back soon :)

Taking the plunge…

I’m finally doing it.  I mentioned that I have a new obsession, and I’ve finally returned to disclose what it is.  Ladies and gentlemen (probably) more ladies, I am finally starting Project Life.  [Eeeeeeeee!!!]

I can no longer stand the thought of thousands of awesome family photos (and adorable Mischa pictures) being neglected deep inside our computer’s hard drive.

This isn’t new…I mentioned that I planned on doing this back in March of 2013.  As originally stated: I plan on doing a modified version. No need for weekly spreads… I just want to record memorable holidays & get togethers with family & friends…with a few pics of daily life peppered in.

And, of course, I’ll share my spreads on my Sandblog as I complete them.  Ta-daaaaa:

My 1st Project Life Spread

My 1st Project Life Spread

One of the biggest reasons it took me 2 years to finally get started is because I didn’t know where to start.  No exaggerating: I take 1000’s of pictures a year!  That was incredibly overwhelming.

Coincidentally, the Project Life bug re-bit me right after  Easter, which we had spent back home in NY, over a nice long weekend visiting my family.  So, I decided to start with the present and work both backward and forward.  There’s no race to catch up and no pressure to stay present.  I am determined to keep this as a fun and enjoyable hobby, NOT a second job.

My 1st Project Life Spread

Another hurdle that had existed in 2013 was album size.  Back then, pocket album inserts only came in 2 sizes: 6×8 [too small] & 12×12 [too ginormous!]  Finally 9×12 albums & pocket inserts exist – thank you Studio Calico!  9×12 is juuuuust right: small enough to fit on a shelf, but large enough to share more than 8 pictures per spread.

My 1st Project Life Spread

Unsurprisingly, my favorite part is adding embellishments to the photos.  It’s so fun!  I love enhancing the photos with stickers, cutouts, washi tape, enamel dots & fun paperclips:

My 1st Project Life Spread

My 1st Project Life Spread

I also like coming up with creative solutions for inconsequential “problems”.  For example: I ended up have 2 pictures that didn’t quite fit in the spreads, but I still wanted to include them. So, I added “Pull” tabs to them, and stuck them behind other pictures.  They’re not super noticeable, but it was a fun way to include them.

My 1st Project Life Spread

As expected…I love it.  I loved working on it, daydreaming about it when I couldn’t work on it, and now, flipping through these plastic pages of happy little moments.

This first spread took me maaaany nights.  I only did about an hour or so at a time, with my arch distraction the TV on and a million embellishment options fueling my indecisiveness.  I do think I’ll get quicker, but I also think I need to remember: Project Life isn’t meant to be a masterpiece.  No one will be examining to make sure everything is precisely parallel or perfectly color coordinated.  The purpose of this is to have an interesting way to share our memories as well as a good reason for me to keep in touch with my crafty side.

Thanks for stopping by :)

Creative Obsessions

I need to get something off my chest.  I’ve noticed a personal …characteristic? …habit?? …flaw???

Hand carved stamp leaves

Just a little eye candy before some babbling…

As you might’ve noticed ’round these parts, I tend to fall head over heels in love with a project. I’ll swear it’s my new favorite thing and envision spending the rest of my life honing that craft. Then, as quickly as I fall in love with it, I abruptly drop it by the wayside so that I can dive into a new creative endeavor.

Seriously – let’s look at this year alone, shall we?  I present to you, 2015’s Creative Obsessions:

  • Weaving! I made a wall weaving and a coaster, and shared plans to make a large wall hanging for our downstairs bathroom. Paul even made a large loom for me!  It sits, nails ready, but empty, because my obsession soon moved on to …
  • Embroidering Owls! I’ve only embroidered 3 so far (I still need to share the 3rd).
  • Paper Garland! I loooooved making it & still love to stare at it.  Right after I finished my first one, I envisioned making 20 more strands, and worried over where I’d put them all!  I even contemplated joining a craft show so I’d have a reason to make a million.  Nope…I just made the one.
  • Art Journaling! Oh boy…I couldn’t get enough of it!  I would scroll through Instagram and Pinterest just oogling over other people’s pages.  I journaled 4 pages, but I haven’t done any since my last (most favorite) one.
  • Blogging! Ah, this one is a roller coaster obsession for me.  Sometimes I’m super into it & I take pictures of everything, just in case I want to blog about it.  True to form, I get obsessive.  Other times, I go MIA…
  • Stamp Carving! Ha, perhaps specifically – leaf stamp carving!  Check out the print I made with my 2 hand carved stamps. This obsession is currently fizzling, although I do still have a couple of ideas that I’d like to carve…
Hand carved leaf stamps

The leaf on the bottom right is new. I quickly carved it an hour before sharing it at April’s Art Nite.

Whew!  That seems like a lot of “OMG THIS IS MY NEW FAVORITE THING TO DO EVER!” for just 4 months. And, I really can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing….or maybe just a thing.  Maybe it’s no big deal?  Maybe it makes me well rounded.  Is this a “me” thing or a “creative individual” thing?  I can’t tell.  Can you?

Nevertheless, I always reassure myself with this: as long as I’m doing something creative, and I’m enjoying it, it doesn’t matter what it is or how long I’ve been/will keep doing it.  Can I get an Amen??

And guess what friends…this post is just a teaser to share yet another new obsession.  This one is big, and it’s been years in the making.  The only thing is, this one is a commitment, so I really can’t/don’t want to/hope I don’t let it fizzle out.

What is it??? You’ll have to come back next week to find out :)  But since you’ve made it this far, here’s another picture:

Hand carved stamp print

Also…I’d love to hear from you.  Do you obsess over projects and then drop them?  Or do you pick something, stay in your lane and never look back?  Let me know!  Have a great weekend & Happy Spring!

Art Journal Mantras

I didn’t plan on it, but I couldn’t help myself – I took another swing at Art Journaling! (Click here to see my first swing :))

Art Journal

These pages were actually inspired by a seemingly endless search for inspiration. I noticed I was spending wasting too much time searching online for inspiration or art classes to take. But my searching wreaked of avoidance!  I realized I was just avoiding diving in and actually creating. And from that, 2 new mantras emerged to help fuel my creativity: “Just Draw, Create & Practice” and “Let your progress be your Inspiration”.

Art Journal: Just Draw, Create & Practice

Left side: “Spend less free time looking for inspiration and just DRAW CREATE & PRACTICE” Right side: “Let your PROGRESS be your Inspiration”

Unlike my first Art Journal entry, I actually started this entry with a plan. I sketched out the 3 large words on the left and the path on the right. The words quickly disappeared under the first couple of layers of acrylic paint laid down by the gelli plate. Hrmph. So, I re-drew them in black marker…and then proceeded to obscure them under more paint. Hrmph.

This process was pretty frustrating – but at least I learned something from it: I can have a plan, but leave it as a plan. Then, just let it happen. That way I can avoid frustration, which only gets in the way of all the free-flowing, art-journaling fun.

Art Journal "Inspiration"

I especially love how my cloudy “Inspiration” came out :)

I’d like to finish by saying: there’s certainly nothing wrong with looking online (or anywhere) for inspiration, or wanting to improve your craft. But eventually you need to get out your sketchbook/embroidery/art journal/weaving/painting/anything and start inspiring yourself with all of the amazing things that you’re capable of doing!

And on that note, I hope I’m leaving you feeling a little more inspired.  Now – go get creating!!

Embroidered Owl #1

I’m excited to share a new project that I spontaneously dove into.  I was sitting in my craft room (waiting for my paper garland circles to dry) when I spotted some cute tea towels that I had bought with the intention of turning into a throw pillow.

The tea towels are covered in one of my favorite animals: owls!  Editor’s note: I realize owls are kind of “in” right now – but I would like the record to show that I started to appreciate them a solid 8 years ago.  

Now then, I was planning to quickly knock this project out by simply sewing up 3 edges, stuffing it with some leftover batting and BOOM, throw pillow!  But, I started to feel like that would just be too easy.  I wondered what I could do to be proud to say “I made that pillow!”

While I was pondering, I noticed that the owls on these towels are pretty whimsical.  They’re fun colors and have organic shapes in their bellies and flowers in their eyes.  And that was exactly what inspired me to embellish these owls with some hand embroidery!

Colorful, embroidered owl

I actually only became interested in hand embroidery this past summer after I saw this pin.  I was smitten by the clean lines and bright colors.  I also appreciated how designs could range from simple & fun to complex & beautiful.  I quickly started pinning all types of fun designs, and then bought this book by artist & blogger Aimee Ray.  Since then, I’ve only embroidered a couple of [not even blog worthy] practice pieces, so I’m excited to finally spend some quality time exploring and enjoying this new-to-me craft.

Colorful, embroidered owl

I hope to give each owl their own personality by trying a variety of stitches.  As I complete the owls, I’ll be sure to share them here :)  And, of course – I’m really looking forward to sharing when these owl-towels finally get reincarnated into some throw pillows!  I hope you enjoy following along with this project!

Have a happy Friday and a good weekend!

Still obsessed…

I am still obsessing over weavings.  I made another much smaller, but also more complicated weaving: a coaster for my mug at work.

Woven coaster

It’s a little tough to see in this picture…it’s the small rug beneath my mug :)

For those who don’t know me, I am a tea lover.  I usually start my day with 2 cups of flavored black tea from one of my favorite local shops: Cherie Anne’s.  Then, throughout my work day, I drink mug after mug of hot herbal tea.  See the owl cookie jar in the picture above?  It’s filled with tea bags.   Since I don’t like water, this is the best way to make sure I drink enough each day.

I purposely made this coaster with darker colors so that drips of tea will be less noticeable.  At first I wished I had used black for my warp yarn (the white yarn that I weaved the other colors through), but I’m starting to dig the little splash of white as well as the unplanned white fringe.

Woven coaster

I stuck to the plan I mentioned in my last weaving post – I only used 2 colors, and I tried making a shape.  As it turns out, making a shape was difficult!  Although, I probably wouldn’t be making this claim if I had started with an actual plan.

True story: I dove into this with no plan other than “I want to make a shape!”  I figured I would just do a diamond, but shortly after starting I decided to do a diagonal stripe instead.  Once I got the hang of the stripe (after MANY un-weavings), I changed it to a zig-zag.  I also wasted a lot of time (and patience) convinced that I could weave an entire row of 2 colors at once.  Not true.  I now accept that you weave your shape and then you fill in the other areas.  That’s not the “easy” way (although it is easy), it’s the right way.

I’m very happy with my new coaster.  I’m also happy that I now know how to weave shapes.   I think I’m officially ready to tackle our powder room wall hanging!  Now I just need to find the time…