Monday, December 23, 2013

Collectable Christmas Pins

Because I don't shop at the mall very often, I wasn't aware of this last year until it was too late. JCPenney gave away little 1" Christmas pinback buttons as promotional items. Each button had a code on the back to use for future purchases. My mom, being the collector she is, picked up a few every time she went to Penneys, and she was nice enough to give them to me (shown below). Apparently there are 50 in the complete set, which I only know because I checked to see if people are selling them on eBay (and they are, of course!). I don't know if they're actually worth anything...I just thought they were cute. Too bad they didn't continue the promotion this year, or I might have wandered into the store!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

TBT: 50 Quick & Easy Bazaar Best Sellers!

Included in the September, 1980, issue of Better Homes and Gardens was a section featuring 50 craft items you could make to give as gifts or sell at craft bazaars. Remember when they were called "Bazaars"?! I thought it would be fun to reminisce about what our moms were all making over 30 years ago: Bandanna Babies, Veneer Tree Dazzlers, "Hand" Bags, Country-Style Key Rack... Some might even be popular today, like the Loveable Fabric Doll, Crayon Caddy Apron, Needlepoint Door Signs, and the Piece of Cake Pincushions (awesome!)... I'll let you be the judge! Do you think all of these items we're making for Etsy today will look this groovy 30+ years from now?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Alphabet 100 Project

I just love this project by Christopher Rouleau: Hand-draw 100 versions of each letter in the alphabet, in both upper- and lowercase, take one week to work on each, and you've completed the project in exactly one year!

You can view his complete gallery on his website, and also download your own BLANK Alphabet 100 pages to do the exercise yourself, by clicking here! I'm starting January 1, 2014, and will post my weekly results. How about you?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

TBT: Cross-Stitched Stockings

From the "Homespun Crafts" article in the December, 1982, issue of Better Homes and Gardens comes these cross-stitched stockings. Now, if you can get past the early-'80s pirate shirt and the kountry d├ęcor, the stockings are actually really cool! I've included the original instructions, which you can download here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Three and the Moon: Early Work by Illustrator Boris Artzybasheff

During a recent thrift excursion, for some unknown reason I picked a book from the shelf and boy was I glad I did! You see, the library-bound cover was nothing spectacular, so who knows why I was drawn to it.

But as soon as I saw what was inside, the book was in my cart. And I haven't read any of the stories, yet, because I can't stop looking at the striking illustrations! The book is Three and the Moon: Legendary Stories of Old Brittany, Normandy, and Provence by Jacques Dorey, illustrated by Boris Artzybasheff, and published in 1929.

Later in his career, Mr. Artzybasheff moved on to produce more detailed illustrations of three-dimensional, often surreal and grotesquely anthropomorphic objects. He also illustrated several Time, Life, and Fortune magazine covers.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TBT: Rhinestones, Crisscrossing

On a recent thrifting excursion, I found another '80s issue of Brigitte, Germany's answer to Seventeen magazine. This one, from August of 1984, included a fun idea for embellishing a collared shirt with sequins and beads. I love the geometric pattern in which they were applied, and the contrast of the almost computer circuit-board look on the plaid flannel. Now all I need are some high-waisted jeans and I'm set! I quickly did a translation of the text using Google Translate:

Also sporting checked blouses can embellish with shiny beads, sequins and stones: Here they were arranged graphically. Material of mine.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's a Paint-By-Number Christmas!

Inspired by my collecting obsession with vintage paint-by-number paintings, I decided to go the "original" DIY route with this week's Spoonflower contest entry.

The assignment this week: create a festive tree that can be printed on one yard of fabric. My one yard features a 24" x 30" tree painting in a vintage frame, along with seven ornaments you can paint yourself (using the color key provided, or using your own colors), then cut out and attach to the tree! One yard of Linen-Cotton Canvas actually has an additional 12 inches, so the extra space includes more unfinished ornaments, as well as seven finished ones. I plan to adapt this to a wall decal, too, once the contest is over. Might be a fun way to decorate a child's room for Christmas!

What do you think? Wanna vote? Click here! Thank you!

Detail of the unfinished ornaments:

Detail of the finished ornaments, using the color key provided:

And a mockup of a decorated tree!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Have I Been Validated or Violated?

Just when I thought I was starting to lose touch with what was trending, or on the verge of trending, someone comes along and copies my work. Does this make me feel validated or violated? Flattered or flattened? I go back and forth. I had hoped to never write about this, but here I am. And in this case, it's not some faceless, untouchable entity in China, but someone whose work ~I~ admire. Granted it's not a complete rip-off--copied exactly, no holds barred--but every time I look at it I see my idea, and that doesn't make it easier to deal with. I have heard some people say you only have to change a design by 30% to make it your own, but where is the appreciation for the other 70% that was kept the same?

I'm not going to add images to this post for comparison. Chances are if you follow my work, you also follow theirs, and maybe you'll notice the resemblance...have the feeling you've "seen that somewhere before"--same basic layout idea, multiple motifs lifted directly from my original, and the exact same colors. I have been in this business professionally for over 20 years, so I know this happens a lot, and it has happened to me before, though in other realms of design. And I'm not going to be all high-and-mighty and claim to never have been inspired by existing artwork (just as everything in the world inspires me). I know there's a fine line between copying someone's idea and borrowing someone else's style to make something of your own. My design has been floating around out there for two years, so perhaps I should just think mine was ahead of its time! And maybe if you saw the two designs you'd think I was overreacting, but if it bothers me, as the creator of the original, isn't that what matters?

Maybe I should be flattered this person liked the idea so much they wanted to use it. Maybe I'm just bitter because this person has much more exposure than I do and therefore will get all the credit. Did this person think I wouldn't notice or care about the extreme similarity? Maybe they didn't care. The crazy thing is, had they asked, I would have been excited to let them use my design, or I would have created something similar specifically tailored to their no cost...for a credit line.

I suppose the more designs I put out there, the more chances I will have to write about how they've been copied. Not that my work is so great that everyone would want to copy it all, but even one instance is too many.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I originally wrote this post last night, but after sleeping on it, I realize now that I am not so much angry anymore as I am surprised. Surprised that this particular person felt he/she needed to copy my work, and surprised about which design they chose to imitate! To be honest, it has never been a bestseller, nor did I think anyone had really taken notice of it. Apparently things are going on behind the scenes I'm not aware of!

Have you ever had this happen to you? If so, how did you feel? What did you do about it? Do you have any advice for me?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy New Year? But, it's Halloween!

Today is Halloween, which means there are less than 8 weeks until Christmas. It's time to start thinking seriously about the holidays: parties, gift-making, gift-giving, New Year's resolutions, all that stuff... Wait, New Year's? 2014...already??? There is an episode of "The Brady Bunch", the one where Greg moves his bedroom up to the attic, and Mike and Carol tell the rest of the kids they can each move up to the attic when the Brady kid just older goes away to college. At the end of the episode, Cindy is calculating on the kitchen chalkboard how long it will take for her to get to live up in the attic room, since she is the youngest. She tells Alice that it might as well be the year 2000 (!) before she's able to move to the coveted space. Every time I hear that, I can't believe the year 2000 has already passed...and 13 years ago no less. We've even supposedly partied like it's 1999 already, and back when I was a kid, 1999 was the FUTURE... What happened to all that time?!

Yes, 2014 is fast approaching, which means it's time again for the Spoonflower annual Tea Towel Calendar contest! This is my favorite contest, not just to design for and enter, but to see all the calendars other designers have created.

This year I was particularly drawn to colorful 1960s and '70s psychedelic and Pop Art, a la Peter Max, with its clean lines and hand-drawn look. Here are some of the images I frequently saw floating around Pinterest, which I tucked away for inspiration:

And here are a few screenshots of the work-in-progress:

Below is the final design I am entering this year. If you like it, please vote for it by going to the Spoonflower Fabric-of-the-Week Contest page.

All you need to do to vote is click on the Vote in This Week's Contest link on the right, then find my design and click on it (a green border will appear around the image). At the bottom of the page, click the Review My Votes button. When you have reviewed your votes, you can click Submit...and that's it! You can vote for multiple designs, too! Designs that make the Top Ten are automatically offered for sale on the Spoonflower site!

Thank you so much, and have a Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Candy Color Collages

Devour these sweet color collages by photographer Emily Blincoe. See the whole rainbow, super-huge, on her blog, These Woods. A penny candy lover's dream! I had forgotten about the Necco Banana Split and Primrose Black Taffy...*sigh*...but I still chew Black Jack, Clove, and Teaberry gum!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Sewing for All Seasons

There's a secret I've been dying to tell you about for over a year ("for all seasons"!), and today I can finally spill the beans!

Last summer, Susan Beal contacted me asking if she could include my Retro Tea Towel Calendar in her newest book. Could she include it?! Can I just tell you how hard it was to reply because I was shaking so crazily?! Susan is the author of one of my favorite crafty books, World of Geekcraft, and the idea of having my work included in one of her books was just mind-boggling.

This calendar was the first design I ever did for Spoonflower back in the Fall of 2010. I entered in the Tea Towel Calendar-themed Fabric-of-the-Week contest and it came in 2nd Place! Needless to say, I was hooked.

Since the book was scheduled to be published in the Fall of 2013, the calendar would need to be updated for 2014, so I dropped everything and jumped into changing all the dates and holidays for 2014 (sneaking a 2013 version in there for my Spoonflower shop, too, while I was at it). This all happened around the same time Spoonflower was introducing new color formulations, so I had to make sure the new version printed with the correct colors, and then whisked some of the printed calendar fabric off to Susan so she could do her magic.

Fifteen months later the book, Sewing for All Seasons is printed and available at all major retailers, and it's gorgeous. And I'm not just saying that because my fabric is in it. Every project is for something you can use and will want to make! I can't decide which one to do first. The design is beautiful, and, well, the book just feels good in your hands. Check Susan's blog frequently because she loves to do giveaways, and has a freebie or two in the works!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pencils? I'm On the Case!

Wow. It has been soooo long since I last posted. I have been on the down-low with social media lately because of two huge projects going on in the background. Of course I can't describe them in detail, but will post some sneak peeks on Facebook in the coming days.

Meanwhile, I put together a design for the latest Spoonflower contest. "What's this week's theme?" you ask. A Cut-and-Sew Pencil Case pattern, with all pieces and instructions to fit on a fat quarter. Yesterday when I clicked the Enter Contest button, I hadn't even considered making a pencil case for kids, but then saw a few other designers' entries, all of which are kidcentric. I guess I was a little selfish and designed something I thought I might use. Anyhoo--maybe it will still be a contender.

Because I haven't yet received the fabric, I actually sewed a sample using scraps of basic cotton from the swatch samplers Spoonflower has sent to me in the past. I'm glad I made the sample because I was able to check my instructions and made several changes before submitting the entry. I took some photographs of the plain white sample, then superimposed the pieces on top of the sample in Photoshop. This is a great way to hone one's Photoshop skills! So here is my design, as laid out on the fat quarter, and then in mockups. If you like it, I would LOVE your vote! You can vote for as many designs as you like by clicking here.

And by the way, the voting procedure has become much easier since the last time I entered a contest. All entries are now on one page, so after you select your faves, you only have to click one button at the bottom. Enjoy looking at all the entries...I know I will! And thanks in advance!

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