New Embroidery

Sorry guys, I’m officially out of clever puns for posts about embroidery at the moment. But I have been stitching furiously!

I think my stitcher’s block earlier this month stemmed from not having an image of the final product in my head before I began. So lately I’ve been creating free form designs—no drawing on the fabric before hand, no tracing a sketch. I’ve been experimenting with new stitches and techniques, all the while just adding whatever I feel like in the moment. I love the way they’ve turned out, expect more of these in the future! Of course, these are all available here.

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New Wood Type

Since my plate maker increased prices at the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to get creative with the plates I have and use more moveable type (something I’ve been wanting to do anyway!). I have lots of beautiful quotes on my to-do list, but I don’t have enough characters in my larger typefaces to print an entire quote. Thus, I’ve been on the hunt for complete sets of wood type for a few weeks.

I can’t tell you how frustrating the search is—90% of what I find is ridiculously expensive “curated” collections of a few characters pulled from full sets to spell “LOVE” or “FAMILY” so someone can set them on a shelf. Why anyone would ruin a priceless set of vintage wood type to make a knock-off of something found at Hobby Lobby is beyond me.

Imagine my relief when I found Virgin Wood Type, a company making brand new wood type for letterpress printing in western New York. The undertaking must be a labor (lots and lots of labor) of love for proprietor Bill and I can’t even explain how ecstatic I was to find his work! Watch how it’s done here. I just ordered a small set to try it out and I’ve already picked the first full font I’m planning to buy if all goes well. Stay tuned and if you can, support Virgin Wood Type!

Joel Robison

As an art director, I spend entire days looking at photos. For an average monthly issue, we shoot thousands and I sort through every single one. Needless to say, it takes more than a nice smile or a sunny day to make me pause on a shot. But when I stumbled across Joel Robison‘s imaginative work, I did just that.

My definition of art has always had to do with purpose and intention, so the fact that these are so well conceptualized, planned and executed speaks to me. Check out the selections I’ve included here, visit his shop for more and read what he has to say for himself below!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I create the work that I do because I feel that it best allows me to express my feelings, wants, dreams and ideas. Photography for me has grown into an opportunity to share how I see the world with the world around me.

When did you start taking pictures?
I started taking conceptual images about 3 years ago and I’ve learned everything pretty much on my own, through trial and error and just by experimenting. I do put a lot of pre-planning into my images and I’d say that majority of my photos have had at least an hours worth of planning or setup just to get everything the way I want it.

Post-production really depends on each image, my time frame usually ranges between an hour to three hours and I usually end up with something that is quite different than how it looked in camera :)

Where do you work? What type of environment stimulates your creativity?
Well, I have a “regular” job as an Educational Assistant working with students with various learning needs in a high school. I’m most inspired by nature and being outside in the forest or mountains really helps me to think and be creative, when I’m stuck indoors or in a big city for too long I start to feel like my creativity is depleting.

How has your work evolved?
My work has definitely changed and evolved in the past few years, I think in the past I didn’t do many images that depicted sadness or intense emotions, I’m comfortable doing so now. I’m more willing to try new things and keep developing my skill set now rather than depend on what I already know.

What is your greatest challenge?
Having patience when things don’t go my way. I get into a groove around photography and editing and when that gets broken or when I have to adjust it’s not always easy for me.

What inspires you?
The world that doesn’t actually exist inspires me. I love to create images of the impossible but make them look possible.

Tell us about your etsy business.
I started using Etsy a few years ago to sell mostly just little paintings and such and then I opened up my print shop last June after some requests to start selling prints. There’s always a learning curve and my first few prints didn’t ship so well so I had to re-ship them at my cost, I think now I’ve got it under control although I need to list items more frequently!

What advice do you have for new etsians?
Network and create treasuries, browse and favourite and see everything that there is on the website!

Where else can readers find your work?
my flickr www.flickr.com/photos/joel_r/
my facebook www.facebook.com/joelrobisonphotography
my blog joelrobisonphoto.wordpress.com

Gift Guide: It’s Wedding Season!

Despite the snow on the ground, wedding season must be nearly upon us—I just received my first pearlized envelope in the mail. So what’s a gracious guest to do? Start planning the gift now instead of grabbing whatever’s left on the registry on the way to the reception.

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: Many modern couple just want cash. It’s easy for you, it leaves them free to spend it on whatever they need. Rare is the bride and groom who don’t already live together and really need to stock a new home. I’m not saying don’t go out and get something to wrap up, but if you don’t? Hey, that’s ok. Get a nice card (ahem, we have a few suggestions), throw in some cash and call it a day.

Now on to the more three-dimensional presents! (This is a gift guide after all.) First up: Registries are there for a reason! Believe it or not, nobody wants the $5 set of fish-shaped serving bowls you found at TJ Maxx (true story). Choose something from the couple’s registry, then find a way to make it more fun. Do they want a wok? Fill it with hoisin, soy sauce, rice noodles and a cookbook. Did they register for always-exciting new flatware? Package them up with a napkin and funky napkin ring for each place setting. A box of plates can come wrapped in a tablecloth. You get the idea.

If—and this is a big if—you know the couple really, really well, you may [pause for dramatic effect]… go off registry.

Make sure you’re gift is something they couldn’t register for—maybe something completely custom like the “Story of Us” wall hanging above, or a product handmade by a local artisan, like any of the cast iron pans shaped like Midwestern states below.

Another great option? Find something the couple can do together. Fund a date night (a gift card to their favorite restaurant or wine bar and concert tickets ought to do the trick), give vouchers for a cooking class or start a new hobby (beer or wine-making kit anyone?).

Best friends with the bride?  Give her something truly special: a custom fashion illustration of her dress. Local artist Jen Thompson of Illustrate the Dress created this beauty below (modeled by Miss Mollie Busby on her wedding day).

Whatever you give, do so with love and know that your presence on the dance floor well past 11pm means just as much—if not more—than whatever you set on the gift table 5 hours prior. Happy wedding season!

Old New Again

It’s no secret I have a slight fascination with typography. My collection is constantly being added to and a steady stream of new work from Old New Again is doing nothing to help curb its growth. I first fell in love with the ampersand above: a well-design letterform—YES!—painted and distressed wood—YES!—oh, and proprietors Liz & Rick are from Wisconsin—YAY!

Liz took a moment to share a little bit about the pieces they make, the lifestyle they live and what it’s like to have an etsy business as your livelihood. Enjoy!

Tell us about your work—why do you create what you do?
I’ve always loved wood and that sort of old primitive look, but wanted something “fresher”… so I came up with our style. Rick lost his job a few years ago, so it all just sorta worked out beautifully! Now it is our only source of income, and we are so blessed!

How did you learn your craft? Tell us about your process—start to finish.
I grew up in an art family. My dad has been a full-time artist since I was a child. My uncle taught college art. My brothers are both artists. So I can’t really say when it started, because I never remember it starting. It was there from the start.

Where do you work? What type of environment stimulates your creativity?
We have a workshop that’s about 7 miles away, in the country. While it’s lovely to work there in the summer, it is very cold in the winter (it’s heated, but it’s a big place so it isn’t the warmest). And in the winter there’s no natural light (in the summer we open the huge overhead door).

I do all of my computer work and shipping in our basement. Some day I would love to have a great big shop with lots of light year-round, where Rick can do his “dirty” work (cutting, sanding, staining and varnishing) and I could have a separate area to do my work.

How has your work evolved?
I try to watch trends and see what I can tweak. My biggest challenge is finding time to do new items. We are so busy that I don’t get as much time as I’d like to do new things.

What inspires you?
Everything! I love color and texture. I am constantly thinking in these terms. When I go to the pet store and see an amazing little hamster with the most beautiful brown and white fur… I think WOW I LOVE THAT BROWN!

What’s your favorite piece or use and why?
I adore our long skinny 6 hook shelves! We have them all over, as our house is pretty small and we have two children (Molly is 17… not a child anymore and Samantha is 9). I am all about functional pieces that look great and help me keep things organized.


Tell us about your start on etsy and any beginner mistakes.
I found etsy from an amazing artist, Jenn (www.noodleandlou.etsy.com). We got to know each other on ebay when we were selling our ACEOs. Beginner mistakes: hmmm…. that’s hard to say, because all the mistakes are just sort of stepping stones. Sounds cliche, but it’s so true.

What advice do you have for new etsians?
My advice would be to focus more and not try to try too many different things at once. My second bit of advice would be to initially spend 90% of your time on getting your pictures right and making sure they fit in well in treasuries.

Where can readers find your work?
We are exclusively on etsy! ♥

Threadbare

My embroidery obsession is waning. I don’t think I’ll ever give it up, but I’m not producing with the intensity I was a few weeks ago. However I have found a few great sources for supplies I thought I’d share with you! First up, I found a craft supply store—Lynn’s—that’s not only locally owned, but it also has a better selection than any chain store in my area. Lynn’s has complete collections from three or four different embroidery floss brands, plus framing supplies, paints, paper, specialty writing utensils and many other odds and ends that are often difficult to find—including the mini easel pictured below, which is a great way to display smaller embroidery hoops!

Before I stumbled across a local venue, I turned to the internet. I ordered bulk hoops from Create for Less so I don’t have to run to the store every time I finish a piece. I purchased three different sizes and I’m excited for the variety they offer!