Home Improvement

If you’ve been with me on this blog for many years, you might remember that I used to love home projects. I love ripping out carpet, painting walls, upholstering furniture,  I’ve even stripped and refinished original baseboards (although I can’t say I particularly loved that one). Even my three rentals that followed were lovingly decorated with lots of unique furniture and artwork. Having a home filled with pieces that bring me joy has always been important to me.

However, when I moved to Bermuda, minimalism became my new mantra. I was loading a crate onto a cargo ship headed for a tropical island, remember? Plus, we’ll probably only be here for a few years. So anything that couldn’t stand the humidity, that might break during the journey, or that added too much weight to my crate had to go. I sold all of my well-curated furniture, gave away a few special decor items, and put the rest in storage in my parents’ basement. Unfortunately, this made for starker surroundings than I would like. So I did a little soul searching a few months back, and investing my energy into a few small decor projects was one of the things I decided could be easily accomplished and make a big impact on how I feel about living here.

I’ve got a few bigger projects in the works, but right away I’ve added a few small decor pieces. I’ve brought a few things from home and bought a few things when I’ve been back in the states, but the things that make me the happiest are the pieces I’ve made!

12717958_1123524741020732_1256405991863931753_nFirst up, I got my ever-growing collection of embroidery hoops arranged and hung up in our guest bedroom. I love how they look grouped together and I’m sure will be adding to them consistently!

I also hung this pomegranate stunner solo in our kitchen. This hoop took hours and hours, so I wanted to give her a special spot—at least until she sells! Want her in your own home? Available here.

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The other project is one I’ve been thinking about for a little while now. At any given time, I have a fairly good stock of paper flowers in my studio, but I’ve never really made a bouquet just for me. One of the areas in our home I’ve really wanted to do something with is our upstairs landing. There’s a funny little nook that’s not really big enough to do anything with, but looks a bit odd when it’s empty.

I recently moved a side table there, and now I’m working on creating the perfect collection to top it, so of course this was the perfect place to create a bouquet just for me! I wanted a loose, free-form arrangement that looked natural, so I created these poppies with extra long stems and just a few small leaves.

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I’ve also been wanting to experiment with some new techniques for more botanically accurate flowers for a while now, so this was a great opportunity.

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I mastered the curly stamen effect, and on this bloom above experimented with a bit of hand-coloring in the center. wild_poppies_1364

I’ve also added the criss-crossing strips of contrasting colored paper, to give the pleated effect of the poppy center. In this bloom above, I also tried bleaching the centers of the petals, to varying success. It’s a technique I’ll try again with a more saturated paper!wild_poppies_1360

I’ve also seen other paper artists add a bit of confetti to the ends of their stamens to give the effect of pollen. I like how this turned out, although I really need to find a bright yellow paper for it to look real. wild_poppies_1365

After a few tries, I also created a poppy bud I like! Although now after looking at the arrangement again, I’m feeling like I should go upstairs and bend the bud down, as that’s more typical than facing up. Either way, I’m loving how these turned out and super excited about my latest addition to my home!

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A Reluctant Quilter

About a year and a half ago, I sent my mom a text that began “Hell has frozen over, I have a question about quilting….” Marge has always been a sewer—from her childhood Barbie outfits to both her and our clothes a few decades ago, not to mention countless projects around the house, prom dress hems and more. I’d be willing to bet my parents’ house has more than one quilt in every room. She was our 4-H leader for sewing and owned a sewing machine shop for a while as well, which I worked at part-time in high school.

So in short, I’ve always been a sewer as well. But, as I’m sure you can tell by now, I’m not much of a pattern-follower, so quilting didn’t appeal to me. But here’s the big secret, readers: quilt squares don’t have to follow a pattern.

When I got a hankering to start a quilt, I just started sewing triangles together. I knew the feel I wanted, so I picked up 8 fat quarters (which are quarter-yard pieces that are more square-shaped than long and skinny like they would be off a bolt of fabric) and cut angular pieces that I simply sewed together into interesting arrangements. Once I ironed them flat and trimmed each into a 6-inch square—voila! Quilt squares!

quilt_4436Now to assemble: I got 50 squares out of my fabric, but didn’t like the shape when I arranged them 5 wide by 10 tall. So, I nixed two of the squares and went with a 6 by 8 quilt. I wanted to use some fabric I already had for the strips between squares, so I did some math and figured out that I had enough fabric for 2.5″ strips. One more afternoon of sewing—assembly-line style—and I have my quilt top finished!

quilt_4439I still have to do the actual quilting of the blanket, but I’m waiting to buy batting in the U.S.—it’s just too expensive here. Either way, I’m excited to be in the home stretch!

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Keeping up with Bess the Press

Hello blog readers! I’ve been doing a bad job of keeping you up to date lately… a long post just seems intimidating these days! Please make sure you like us on facebook to stay in the loop: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bess-the-Press

A couple cool things are happening over on that other website: I tried my hand at live micro-blogging this weekend. I had a lot to print and thought it would be fun to give my followers a more real-time experience of what printing is like. Along the same line of thinking, I photographed the process and posted the pictures as well. I hope that explains a little more about the process of printing—don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions!

Among the things I made this weekend is a beautiful stationery set for a Madison woman named Masarah. She’s been a fan for more than a year now and it always nice to collaborate with someone who has an appreciation for what you do. Her cards were simple and elegant: with her name blind embossed using lead type. As always, don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re interested in a custom piece of your own!

Shadow Monograms

I’ve had these in the shop for a few weeks, but haven’t had a chance to post them here. I’m now offering custom monogram cards using my new wood shadow type!

The process is simple: choose your letter, choose your color and choose your quantity. A set would make a great gift, so keep them in mind for the person who has everything this holiday season!