Saturday, December 29, 2007

Handmade Christmas: Mix CD

I thought I'd go over a few of the gifts that I made for Christmas this year. I almost never document the things I make and although I almost can't believe this, I'm finding that I actually forget some of the things I've made for people. So this year I'm taking notes.

Todd and I made four mix CDs for some good friends of ours. They often say that they need some new music in their house. So these mixes were to share some of our favorite music. All four CDs had different types of music, I think. Or just a different tone for each, I guess.

It was really fun to pick the songs for the CDs, and listen to the new mixes about a million times to be sure that we picked the right songs. But even more fun was making the case to hold the CDs.

I looked online for a long time to find a simple paper case that could hold four CDs, but couldn't find one. So Todd and I talked for a while and came up with something that we really like.

First, the outside case. I didn't make this up at all. I followed the directions for the portfolio box from this book by Barbara Mauriello. (And by the way, I was lucky enough to take a four day book binding and box making workshop from Barbara and let me just tell you, she's awesome. I've been making books for a long time, and she had a lot to teach me. And it wasn't anything fancy. It was just very accurate and straight forward ways to do the most basic steps. I really learned so much. Anyway, her book is awesome. Buy it if you can.)

The sewing on the box was a little tricky, but I think it turned out okay.

Inside the portfolio is a 4 panel accordian. It's made of some medium weight chipboard and various heavy papers that I had. It was really fun to choose papers for this project. It was all about the weight and the colors. Also it was fun to do something totally without pattern. All the papers were solid colors. Plus they were random papers. One of them was even the cover of a Canson Biggie paper pad.

I made each panel individually, then joined them with hinges of handmade paper and Sobo glue. We printed album lists from iTunes and inserted them behind each of the CDs.

I pretty much want to make one of these for myself now, even though I mostly don't use CDs at all anymore, I just put them all onto the computer and onto my iPod. Maybe I'll just make one, fill it with blank CDs, and put it on display somewhere.

Maybe I'm lame.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Excellent Christmas Traditions Swap

Over a month ago I signed up for the Holiday Traditions Exchange at Montessori By Hand. It was a lot of fun to participate in and it helped me get into a holiday mood a little early.

I have to admit that I have been the worst swap partner in the history of the internet. I received my package from my excellent partner Kristin at Knit One Quilt Too almost two weeks ago and I haven't even posted about it. I am here to say now that is was a wonderful package and we were so lucky to receive it.

The ornament that she sent was a beautiful needlepoint snowman. We love it. Some strange light in this picture makes it look brownish there at the bottom, but it's not. It's perfect.

Everything was wrapped so beautifully, my kids almost couldn't wait for me to snap a picture.

Kristin sent a really fantastic hand knit and felted stocking that was filled with goodies. She also sent a recipe for Anise Drops which sound so delicious. Finally her daughter Chloe wrote such a nice description of their holiday traditions that she made me want to join in on the fun.

You can see that my kids were pretty excited about the package.

And here is what I sent. It's a mini quilt (more on that in a future post), a hand bound journal, a few simple sketchbooks, and an ATC kit (that's what's in the black box.) It was fun to put this together and even more fun to receive such a wonderful Christmas package. I could really tell that Kristin is an excellent crafts person and that her family is very close, especially during the holidays.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My New Job is Starting

I just got home from Back to School Night at the elementary school. It was my first official duty as a new visual arts specialist. I introduced myself and the new art program. It was pretty crazy but also pretty encouraging. The parents and kids and even the teachers all seem super excited. Which makes me feel more at ease. I'm really excited about this job and I hope it turns out to be a benefit not only to the kids that I'll be teaching, but also to myself and my family.

I have started a new blog, dedicated to my new job. Don't worry. I'm not quitting this blog. I'll go on posting here just as rarely as I ever have but I will probably post on the other one much more often. So if you're interested in what's going on, just pop over there.

Monday, June 04, 2007

A New Adventure

I haven't written in a LONG time, and I know that. And many many people have told me that. I just always feel so funny about posting with no pictures, and I'm sort of in a camera funk. I hope to get a new one soon, I hope.

Anyway, I am finally writing to say what I was so excited about a few months ago, the thing I couldn't talk about for fear of jinxing it. Well, I can finally talk about it, without fear: in August I will start a new job. I am going to be an elementary school art teacher!

I had to write a grant to get funding for the position, then once we received the grant, I had to wait for the official contract from the school district. But now I have both and I could not be more excited.

My degree is in art education, and I am certified to teach art K-12, but when I graduated six years ago, I sort of thought I wouldn't get the opportunity to teach art for twenty years, or never. But this chance just sort of fell into my lap. I wasn't even looking for a new job. I just got a phone call one Saturday from the teacher that I student taught with, asking if I'd be interested in this new position. I was sort of wary at first, not ready for such a major life change. But now I realize that I'm actually super ready for a change.

The best part is that every step of the way has seemed to sort of fall right into place. I even got to plan my own schedule, so that Todd and I can take turns with the kids, and even take Zoë to and from kindergarten every day.

So, this summer I get to really spend my time thinking about what I'd like to teach. It seems that I'm going to have a lot of freedom. I can create the curriculum myself, as long as I tie it in to what the students are learning in their other subjects. It's a fun challenge and my mind is constantly working on it. I also get to come up with fun fundraisers, buy all the supplies, and design a few teacher in-service trainings about drawing, painting, and bookbinding. Oh, I can't wait!

Do any of you have any good ideas for art lessons for very young children? I find that I think of a lot that will be great for 8-11 year olds, but I need more ideas for the 5-7 crowd. Please, I'd love to hear what you've got.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Happy Birthday Mom!

I haven't written in a LONG time, I know. But my mind and time have both been filled to capacity with the thing that I cannot yet write about, for fear of jinxing big time.

But here and there I've still been able to do some decent making, I think. I recently received the Crafter's Companion and I think it's fantastic. There was one project inside that I've been wanting to make for months, ever since I saw the sneak peak of the projects.

It's this fabric box designed by Sarah Neuburger of The Small Object. You can see some good examples here and here.

So right away I made it. It was fun and easier than I thought. And I have all kinds of ideas for making more. Todd just built a new shelf system in my closet, which I LOVE. Not the premade wire kind. He designed and built a custom system just for me. And I can see a few of these working very nicely in there.

I especially like the drawstring top on this box. When you're just using it as a box, the top part lays down inside very nicely. And when you're ready to go, you can cinch up the top and it's a secure, portable bag. Very handy.

This one is going to my mother, for her birthday, late. Happy Birthday Mom! At least you can see what it is now.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Received: Miniswap

I just got the best best best miniswap package from Kirsten. As you can see from this picture, Ikey could hardly wait for me to snap one quick shot. He tore into EVERYTHING right after this was taken. Then it took me a full day to get everything back from the kids long enough to take photos of it all.

We just loved what Kirsten sent. It was all so perfectly suited for my children. Here are some (several) photos.

First, Kirsten sent lovely pouches for both kids. Zoë's had costume jewelry and Ike's held three little cars. He's been driving them in and out of the "garage" all day.

She made these placemats which are a really great idea. We use fabric placemats every day. It's Zoë's job to put them on the table. She's going to love using these. And notice that great fabric on Ike's. I love it.

She also sent these pillowcases which were so immediately loved that I HAD to put pillows into them right away. You can see another picture of Ikey's here. He just pats it and says "train train train."

And for me she sent a lovely little tissue holder. I've been meaning to make one of these for a long time. I'm really happy to have one now. And the fabric is wonderful.

She also sent some pretty little Richard Scarry buttons that are so cute--I don't know if I'll be able to share them with the kids.

To top it all off, she also sent stickers, a great thrifted book, some beautiful little paper dolls, a dance mix CD, and a Valentine making kit. She said that I spoiled her but I think she spoiled us just as much, if not more. We're loving everything and so so glad we signed up for this swap. Zoë's been asking me if we can do it again soon. She loves having new "computer friends."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mini Swap

I joined the miniswap over at MommyCoddle. This is my first ever swap and I was pretty excited and nervous about it. I am partnered with the fabulous Kirsten. It was so funny because we both live in the same state and it looks like we have a LOT in common. Like we went to the same school, same major, same professors, and many many shared interests. It was so cool to meet someone that I have so much in common with--that I never would have met without the swap.

Her kids were really easy to plan for. In fact, I had to totally restrain myself because I think I had too many ideas. Here's what I sent:

For 21 month old Monkey: Fabric balls with embroidered letters on them--I got the idea here and the pattern here.

For 4 year old Thomas who loves all things with wheels, I made a car playmat. It was influenced by one my mom made for my brother about 20 years ago. I just drew on canvas with crayons and permanent markers then iron and dried it on hot to set the wax. I bound it with bias tape and steam a seam. Easy peasy no sew project.

For 6 year old Princess who loves pink (and purple) and projects, I made a quilted sketchbook similar to these and a coordinating clutch similar to the ones I made at Christmastime.

I also included some mix cds of kids' music, a flower brooch, a lavender eye pillow and a collage kit (i.e. lots of scraps of paper.)

This swap was so much fun to do. I really loved making for someone else's children. I can't wait to mini swap again.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Todd really likes superheroes. This is a thing that I did not understand before we got married. Really, I didn't even know it. Maybe there were a few clues--he had an old ratty batman bath towel, a superman t-shirt. But that didn't seem at all out of the ordinary.

He's a writer and creative writing professor. I met him during his PhD. To me he was so smart. And literary. Like high horse smart. He knew everything and it seemed to me that he had some kind of "high tastes." And I liked him enough to marry him anyway.

Then soon after we were married a LOT of superhero/comic book movies started coming out. Some of them are not so good (the Hulk) some of them are wonderful (Batman Begins). To me it's been no big deal. But to Todd, it was a really big deal. It was like suddenly, somehow the stuff that he has always really loved is now okay to love publicly.

Plus he made a new friend, another professor in his department, who has a lot of toys in his office. Little lego guys and figurines. And now it was super okay to have superhero toys. So he has some. Gift giving was easy for a while--superhero toys and superhero books (of course the very literary superhero books.)

But after a while that sort of got boring. Maybe not for him, it's hard to tell. But boring for me. So this Christmas I tried to think of something I could MAKE that I knew he would like. And this is what I came up with: superhero pillows.

I looked online and through many of our books and found some great vintage logos and appliqued them onto dark blue french terry. I wanted them to look like someone's mother made them back in the sixties. I think I got it.
Now he's got the pillows in his office.

On a side note, Todd's superhero love isn't totally childish. He has written and presented two papers on the genre of superhero films at international conferences. So, he's keeping it grown up, I guess.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In My Head

I have lots of thoughts running through my head--that I can't really share here yet. But I can say that I'm excited and hopeful about a possible new opportunity and that my head is spinning with really great ideas. The kind of ideas that I haven't had in so long that I forgot I was capable of them. I'm happy to be thinking this way again.

On another note, the weekend we closed on our house and moved in, I found a piece of upholstery fabric that I felt expressed the mood I wanted for our interior. It had the right colors, and the right feel. But I couldn't figure out just what to make with it. So it has been sitting in my stash for four years. Then as soon as I saw this TV cozy, I knew it would be the perfect thing. Now, many months later, I've finally made it. And I love it. Here's a not so clear picture of it. I'll get some more straight on shots someday. It was fun to "draft" a pattern to fit our large and funky shaped TV. I still need to bind the bottom edge with brown bias binding, but again, I 'll do that someday, I'm sure.

Todd has also been busy. He and some friends/collegues from the university made a movie on Friday. It was for this film festival. They filmed outside for something like 5 hours, in 10 degree weather. Then it got dark and they had to reshoot everything, for continuity. It went much faster the second time. The film is only three minutes long and I think their finished product is fantastic. The best part of it for me was seeing how happy it made Todd to work on something like that. On the crew of 6, he was the writer. But he also helped with every other aspect along the way--and they shot it in our driveway. I just loved seeing him so excited to collaborate with other creative people on such a quick, invigorating project. I'll tell you the results as soon as we find out.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I Can't Believe It

I was picked as one of the winners in this month's Whiplash competition. I really can't believe it. I am so honored. I'm also very humbled. There were quite a few fantastic entries. In fact, I really didn't think I had a shot at winning. As I looked through the entries, I came up with a pretty long list of projects that I was sure would win. So, thank you thank you thank you. I can't believe it.

The prize is a copy of ‘The Crafters Companion’ edited by Anna Torborg and published by Snowbooks. I'm really excited about this. I have been wanting this book since I first heard about it. I can't wait to read it cover to cover and try every project in the book. I'll definitely review it once I have.

Thank you!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Colorful Clutches

Here are a few more of the purses that I made before Christmas. They are my own version of the very popular patchwork purses that have been all over the place recently. They are about 8"x6" and close with a snap.

I had such a fun time making these that I really had a hard time selling them. But fortunately I took a picture, and I have more of all the fabrics that I used. The only difficulty I'll have now is deciding which one to make for myself. Because who needs four patchwork clutches? Well, maybe I do.

On a side note, Todd and Zoë and I have started a picture a day project for 2007. We're posting them at Flickr each Saturday. So far so good. I hope we can keep it up. I can tell that we'll be able to see into each other's lives more, really see what catches our attention and what occupies our time.

Zoë is 4 and we got her a used digital camera on ebay for Christmas. She loves that it's not a toy camera, but a real, grown up camera. I'm excited to see her progress this year. I'm posting the links on the sidebar. Check us out each week.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

New Shoes for Christmas

We had a bit of a sock monkey Christmas at the Petersen house this year. I love the Moda sock monkey fabric so so much and decided to make the traditional Christmas PJs out of the brushed cotton (like fannel). Then I saw these slippers and I knew they would be a hit.

I made a pair of comfy wide-legged pants for Ike and freezer paper stenciled a monkey face onto a long sleeved white t-shirt. I made a hideously poufy-sleeved nightgown for Zoë (which she's sleeping in right now--and has been living in since Christmas) and I made both of them a pair of these slippers.

To make the slippers, I started with this wonderul pattern at Stardust Shoes. The pattern is designed for 6 month olds and my kids are 20 mos and 4 yrs. So I traced their feet (while they were sleeping) then added ease and seam allowance and modified the rest of the pattern pieces to fit. It was pretty simple, actually and quite forgiving. I think if I knew how long these slippers were going to take me, I might not have made them. It was a LOT of hand sewing (4 monkey heads, all hand sewn) and lots of late night TV watching. But I think it's worth it to see those little monkey feet walking all around the house! I am entering these slippers in this months' Whiplash in the gift category.

But the Christmas monkey love didn't end there. My mom also made sock monkeys for the kids, and clothing for the monkeys to wear. Plus she made them each a sock monkey pillowcase for them to store their PJs during the day.

On Christmas morning, right before they opened their presents I was a little worried that perhaps we overdid the monkey stuff. They might not even be INTO monkeys. But I was wrong. They LOVE the monkeys. We're all happy about that.