Waterside Fiber Art

My good friend Denise, and her pal Norma, have started a craft business called "Waterside Fiber Art." They make gorgeous and whimsical textile art like the ice cream cone that you see above - which is my personal favorite. The business began as a way to use scraps from quilting and rag rug hooking, and has grown from there.

With Denise having her roots here in Nova Scotia, and Norma being from South Africa, many of the designs are inspired by the sea. All are absolutely lovely! Right now, their works are available at Pictou Lodge here in Nova Scotia, or by contacting watersidefiberart@yahoo.com. Welcome to the craft business club girls - I wish you much well deserved success!


Makeshift Photo Studio

I was sitting on the couch this morning, eating my brekkie when I noticed that it wasn't your typical grey Nova Scotia winter's day - there was actually some light coming through the window. I have been wanting to take some photos of my books for a website I'm creating, so I sprung into action. Well, sprung might not be the right word, I kind of waddled into action after eating a big fat cinnamon bun. Anyhow, I had a roll of paper upstairs in my studio that I rolled out over my dining room table and tucked behind some pictures hanging on the wall. I took a few snaps of some lemons lying around, and concluded that the shadows were too strong.

So, I waited an hour or two while working in my studio. When the noon day canon went off (yes, there really is a noon day canon - one of the advantages of living in Halifax is that you know the correct time at least once a day) I tried again. And, it was much better.

I have this vision of the website being very clean and simple, with my books and albums popping out from a white background. The background read as very white on my camera, but has a slight grey/blue tint on screen. I will have to research how to whiten the background in Photoshop. I have alot to learn about photograpy and digital imaging - but there are some great resources out there on the web. Alicia from Posie Gets Cozy wrote a great post a while back about how she takes her lovely photos.

I used her hint of putting my camera on a tripod, setting up the photo and then using the self timer to avoid any hint of camera shake. She also references this post over at the Switchboards on taking professional style photos which looks pretty good. I probably should have read that earlier.

I'd best get going. I took about 150 photos today that need to be colour corrected. I think that I'm going to be busy for a little while.


More links from the "Guest Blogger"

I have to hand it to Martin, he's been coming up with the links left, right and centre. First off, the beautiful Gharani Strok Filofax. Designed by Gharani Strok for the organized fashionista (which I am not - either organized or a fashionista - but I can dream) it comes with maps of Paris, London and New York, along with lists of great hangouts in those cities. What I love most though is the beautiful retro print. At 125 pounds, it's not cheap - but it's a lifetime investment, right? And do I need to mention to my guest blogger that my birthday is just around the corner?
The second link today is the flickr group Computers Behind Blogs, which offers a glimpse into the world of the blogger. From the photos posted right now, I would say that we could deduce that the blogger's world is well, a bit messy. I think that the blogs featured now are from the advertising/marketing bloggers. Perhaps a few crafters need to join the group and give the place an artistic touch.
Many thanks to my esteemed "guest blogger" and happy friday to you all!


Scarf in Progress

I've nearly finished my scarf. I did loads of knitting over the weekend, and I'm really impressed with how it's coming along. I think that I needed a simple project like this to rekindle my love of knitting. My grandmother how to knit when I was young, but I never made much progress with my skills beyond the basic knit and purl. She would just send me off with yarn and needles to keep me quiet - I'm sure that she's still got my little unfinished squares of garter stitch stowed away somewhere. I just love the quiet zen of knitting, it's really meditative for me - the sound of clicking needles and the mantra of knit, knit, purl, purl repeating in my head. So, now I'm off to make a cup of tea and finish off my scarf.


I can't sew a stitch...

...but I must have this book! It's as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.


I'm not worthy.

I'm not worthy is a phrase a friend of mine (hi Matt!) used to use when presented with something especially good, like a scrumptious creme brulee. He would look down balefully at said dessert and mutter "I'm not worthy" and then proceed to devour it. I feel kind of like that about the yarn I was knitting up my shrug with. It's really a really beautiful fine and silky alpaca but, unlike my friend and his creme brulee, I am not ready to devour it. I'm not worthy of this yarn. The shrug is a disaster. I've unravelled it so many times that the yarn is starting to split, and the results are so terrible, that I really wouldn't want to wear the finished product. I went down to Tangled Skeins yarn in Dartmouth this morning to pick out a new pattern to use up the yarn, and the lovely sales person said to me what I had been thinking for some time - maybe you are not ready to knit this yarn. She said that she had often saved up balls of yarn to knit in the future, when her skills matched her aspirations. So, I decided to do the same. She very kindly showed me through some pattern books, and I chose a very simple scarf and, after much deliberation, decided to knit it up in "Soho" yarn by Debbie Bliss. A lovely yarn too, but a much chunkier one that will be more forgiving of all my beginner mistakes.

I really can't say enough great things about Tangled Skeins - they were really kind and patient with me and they have a little dog in there - how I love a shop with a dog! Anyhow, I digress. I plan to spend this weekend with my Mom and Nan in Truro, blissfully (pun intended) knitting this beautiful yarn into a scarf that will see me through this frigid winter. Hope you have a nice weekend planned too!


If Etsy existed in 1938....

I have to take back what I said about my man yesterday, for the second day in a row he has emailed me interesting links. The picture above is from "Money Making Hobbies" written in 1938 by A. Frederick Collins (via Get Rich Slowly). Perhaps if Etsy existed back then, it would have been populated with chic crepe paper berets, woven cellophane belts and button trees. The link is worth checking out - it's a bit of a laugh, and the Get Rich Slowly site has some good budget hints - like how to save money on books. Hope you enjoy!


How to be Creative

My husband works for an ad agency, and he does a lot of research on the internet. Really, a lot. He often sends me links and says "this is fantastic, you'll love it." Rarely is this the case, until today. He sent me a manifesto (you know something called a manifesto has to be good) called "How to be Creative" by a guy called Hugh MacLeod who writes a blog called gapingvoid and draws cartoons on the back of business cards. He also works in marketing/advertising and while many of his points are coming from this perspective, they are applicable to pretty much any endeavor, be it art, craft or business. A lot of the things he talks about are common sense - like work really hard, don't compare yourself to other people (I'm paraphrasing here) but I think that we all need to be reminded of these things from time to time. And, there are a lot of great insights. So, check out the manifesto (it's long, but definitely worthwhile) and check out the blog. And, did I mention it's funny? Enjoy, and get inspired.



I've been reading some posts on a few other blogs about "de-lurking" - kind of introducing yourself to blog readers, so I thought that I might do the same. My profile isn't incredibly informative, and although I talk about snippets of my life on the blog, I think that someone reading it wouldn't really know much about, well...me. So, here goes.
As you might be aware, I work full-time for a University, but I have a part-time business creating hand made books. I've been doing this for a couple of years now, and I really enjoy it. I live in Nova Scotia, which is where I was born, and spent many of my young years. When I was a young teen, we lived in Toronto for a few years where I met my friend Mishka, and gained an appreciation of alternative music, especially the Cure. We then moved back to Nova Scotia, where I completed high school and University - a BA with a major in International Development Studies (don't ask). I worked for a bit to save money, and then spent some time travelling around Europe, and doing a working holiday in London. That's where I met my Aussie husband. I spent 8 years living in Sydney with him, and we came back to live here in Nova Scotia around 3 years ago. That's a brief history, but some other stats are - I have 3 half-brothers and a half-sister (I'm the only child that my parents had together) and many nieces and nephews. I'm going to be 35 next month, but a lot of people think that I'm younger. I really like those people. As discussed ad nauseum in this blog, I have many loves, including travel, art, movies, reading, daschunds and red shoes. And, that's it, in a nutshell.
I've been showing lots of photos of my house lately, and this is one taken in my little storm porch. I guess I really should have included a photo of myself, but that's another thing about me - I hate having my photo taken. It was really tough for me to put a real photo in my profile. So, I'll leave you with a painting my mom gave me quite a few years ago when I was living in Australia to remind me of home. I don't really know much about the artist, but I love the colours and the way they look against the paint in the porch. Initially, I wanted to repaint this room, but it's begun to grow on me. A bit like this whole blogging thing...


A new addition

In keeping with my new year's resolution of making my house more comfortable, I'd like to introduce the newest addition to our living room - the TV cabinet. It replaces an old rickety cabinet that was twice the size and nearly falling down. The new cabinet was a bit of a bargain that I snapped up, and I think it's going to take some getting used to, but it does look much tidier than the old one. Not sure about the dark colour, but I'll live with it for a while and see. I could always paint it. And, I definitely need some prints or paintings behind it. All in all though, it will be great to have a cabinet that we can open without fear of it falling down!
In other news, I am very happy to report that I downloaded the first episode of the second season of Extras - currently offered for free on i tunes! Hurrah! I love Extras, and pretty much everything that Ricky Gervais does, although I'm not sure about those Flanimal things. It's great that the episodes will be available on i tunes, because we don't have HBO here in Nova Scotia. Anyhow, if you haven't seen any of Ricky Gervais' work, I would recommend that you check out the Office, or the podcasts, or Extras, which I am about to do right now!


My New Loves

I found some shoes tonight that I absolutely love. They are from a shop here in Halifax called "Fanatic Footwear" which is really great. They stock funky styles that you can't find anywhere else around in town, and they only carry a few pairs of each, so that not everyone is walking around wearing "your" shoes. These are one of those things I saw that I just had to have - I love everything about them, the colour, the detailing, the heel - it's not too high, and the soles are rubber - not that horrible slippery stuff. And, as you can see from the photo above, they blend in nicely with my decor. This means, I can swan around the house in them without fear of clashing!

This closeup shows a bit of the cute stiching detail and the little flower, sigh. They are made by a company called Biviel, who don't seem to have a website, but I think you can find them here and there. Now, I must be off to get better aquainted with my new loves. Cheerio!


Let them eat (fried) cake

Maybe it's because I'm reading a Marie Antoinette biography, but last night I stumbled on a great, quick dessert - fried cake. I know that it sounds like one of those white trash, Elvis kind of dishes, but it's really, really good. We had a guest for dinner, and I didn't have time to bake a dessert from scratch, so I picked up a plain, un-iced pound cake at the grocery store. They also had some organic raspberries on special, so I got those as well. When it came time for dessert, I cut the cake into slices, buttered it on both sides and fried it in a non-stick pan. When the butter melts, the cake browns and all the sugars kind of caramelize. Yum. I served the cake with the organic raspberries (to which I had added a bit of sugar, so they would be all lovely and macerated), and just to be extra decadent, whipped cream and ice cream. Double yum.

Sorry there are no photos, but we all ate it too fast!


Day of Rest?

Today officially marks the end of my bookmaking holiday. It's been great, but now it's time to get back to work and my first task is tackling this messy studio. Over Christmas, I was just chucking everything book/craft related in here on the floor and it's created quite a mess. I think that I've actually now outgrown this studio. The big new cutter I got a few months ago is stored in the guest bedroom next door, and everytime I need to do some cutting I have to run over there. So, I've decided to move the whole studio over to the guest room. I've come up with some ideas for simple and economical paper storage and worktables and enlisted Martin to build them.

I'm looking forward to a new beginning in the new room. It signifies the fact that my business is growing, and that's a good thing. But for now, I've got a day of cleaning, tidying and taking stock ahead of me.


Great Bookbinding & Letterpress Blogs

I kind of always lament the fact that there don't seem to be many bookbinding blogs out there - it's always great to read and see what other people who do your craft are up to - but tonight, I stumbled on some great ones:

Kirin Notebook - bookbinding, pattern design and jewellery making - amazing work by Lara from Melbourne.
Freshly Blended - a talented bookbinder shares her work and inspiration. The list of links in her sidebar is amazing - look forward to exploring them all!
Rag & Bone - blog of a bindery in Rhode Island that explores printing and book arts. Lovely jubbley!
lala dex press - last but definitely not least, Shona does great bookbinding work using vintage fabrics in gorgeous colours. She also produces a range of "hand made letterpress delights" - wonderful and whimsical cards and stationery. I especially like the Sparkle Monkey. (: I also love reading her blog because we share many other interests including a love of Cary Grant, flea markets and food!

And, since printing and bookbinding go together like peanut butter and honey - here are some letterpress links:

Adventures in Letterpress - great blog for someone like me who is interested in letterpress, but doesn't know where to start. Erin is a beginner too, and it's great to see someone jumping straight in and learning from scratch.

i love letterpress - a list of letterpress studios and resources, along with posts on happenings in the printing world.

I'm sure that by checking out the links on some of these great blogs, I'll find many more talented bookbinders and spend another night in front of the computer that should have been productively spent in the studio, making books like the one above. But, it's all good - there's always tomorrow!


Just one more night...

Of kitty slippers....

Of knitting...

Of drinking tea and reading books. Just one more night, and then it's back to the studio - I promise...


A Smashing New Year's Eve

We had a quiet, but good, New Year's Eve. We stayed in, had dinner and watched "After the Thin Man." Actually, I didn't quite make it to the end of the movie, or midnight for that matter, but I still enjoyed our evening. Dinner was quite good, if I do say so myself - we had Portobella Mushrooms, roasted with garlic leek and thyme in a cream sauce, pear and rocket salad, "smashed" potatoes and for dessert there were lemon tarts with raspberries.
I think that my favorite part of the dinner was the "smashed" potatoes. I read the recipe somewhere years ago, so I can't recall the source, but it's so simple and good. It goes something like this - boil potatoes with the skins on until tender, put them on an oiled baking dish and squish down with potato masher (just enough to slightly flatten potato, but not mash it entirely), drizzle over olive oil, add salt, pepper and herbs of your choice and bake at 425 degrees for about 2o minutes. Remove from oven once crispy and delicious and scarf down immediately. Yum! I should have included some photos here, but the potatoes disappeared too quickly!
We have a nice New Year's day ahead, catching up with friends and some final "holiday" eating before all the resolutions begin. Happy 2007 to everyone!
Oh, and one last thing. The dinner last night was prepared using the flavour shaker, and it works! I think that even Martin, the skeptic, is coming around.