Martha @ Michaels

A new Michaels craft shop opened down the road from my house last night, and I went to check it out. Much to my delight, they had the new Martha Stewart Craft line in stock. I had been looking forward to see what was on offer, and the verdict? Well, it’s mixed. Everything is beautiful, as you would expect, and also very pricey – this was to be expected as well. The range is mainly focused on papercrafts, with scrapbooking items, food packaging and craft kits. The things I loved about the products on offer were the colours – beautiful and muted. I bought a few spools of ribbon in colours I had been looking for – beautiful corals, teals and greys – all toned down a notch. Lovely! There were also lots of nice papers, cards and tags in these gorgeous colourways. Even the craft tools – scissors, rotary trimmers, punches, etc. – were in a lovely dove grey tone. A nice change from the bright orange tools you often see in other ranges.

The disappointments mainly had to do with price. She had some gorgeous linen storage boxes for ribbon that would hold about 6 – 8 spools, but at $24.95 each, I could never afford to switch my huge collection over. The craft kits would look very familiar to regular readers of the magazine – I had seen them all in previous issues, projects like the tissue paper flowers - an image of one I made is above - were packaged up in kits with the pieces pre-cut at a price of around $15. To assemble the materials you would need to do the project would cost much less, and having all the items pre-cut is taking away half the fun. But, I guess if you aren’t particularly crafty, or are short on time (and have lots of cash!) the kits could be an option.

To coincide with the new product range, Martha is launching a crafts website in May. You can register to be notified when it goes live, and to get regular updates. I, for one, have already signed up.


Vintage Button Swap

My swap partner Joan, of roseandpie emailed to let me know she received her package from the Vintage Button Swap. Now, I'm free to show you some images of the buttons I sent off to her. Above is a close-up of the outer package...

Here's what was inside - some spools of vintage ribbon, a little accordion book, a small bird, and of course - BUTTONS...
And, here is a close-up of the buttons that I sent. I hope that Joan likes them, and gets to use them in some projects. I expect to get her package any day now, and look forward to sharing some of those images with you.


Recent Work

I've been working on a few photo albums recently - I'm seeing a client on the weekend and promised to have a few new "spring-y" designs. Ok, the brown isn't especially spring-y, but I like it.
How much more spring-y can you get than pink cherry blossoms?
Maybe red and pink cherry blossoms on a blue sky? All the albums have very colourful pages inside too - robin's egg blue, fushia and red respectively. Now, I must "spring" into action and make more books. The puns just keep on comin' around here....


The Postman Only Rang Once

Ok - I'll start this off by saying that I think that is officially the corniest blog post title ever! But, I was quite thrilled to come home on one day last week and find that the postman had indeed rung once, and left many wonderful things.

First - my Print Gocco order! I haven't had a chance to unpack and use my Gocco yet, but I am so looking forward to giving it a go. And, I can't say enough about the speed and professionalism of etsy seller feltcafe, who I bought the gocco from. It took about a week after I placed the order for the Gocco to reach me from Japan, even though I asked for a number of additional supplies that feltcafe proprietor Liz had to go out and buy.

I had also ordered a few books and albums from Amazon, and a part of the order arrived last week. One book that arrived was "Flea Market Style" - something I've been wanting for absolute ages, but for some reason never bought. I'm so happy that I did though - flea market style is really my aesthetic, and the book is so inspirational. It will join my other fave home design books "Found Style" and "Canadian Country Style" on my shelves. I know that I will look through it again and again, and be inspired again and again.

The other book that I ordered was Barbara Gowdy's "Helpless." I have loved previous books by Barbara Gowdy, who explores and normalizes the darker side of human nature in many of her books and stories. I was first drawn to her after reading her book of short stories "we so seldom look on love" featuring stories about necrophilia, transexuality and siamese twins. She has an amazing way of getting inside people and making us understand them. The subject matter of "Helpless" is also confronting - but I am sure that it will make compelling reading.

Finally, but also most wonderfully and surprisingly - I got a package from Shona of lala dex press that included tapes of "Extras" - a show that I love but cannot watch here. I haven't watched them yet, but I am so looking forward to it. Thanks Shona - what a fantastic surprise!


Can't judge a book by it's cover

Penguin books has just released (well, around here anyway) a series of classic books with blank covers that you can decorate yourself. I think it's a great idea - I saw them at the bookstore and was struck with their lovely simplicity when blank. The titles include classics like Crime and Punishment, The Picture of Dorian Grey and The Brothers Grimm. My personal favorite of the lot is Emma, and the cover interpretation by Elisabeth Jobin that I found on the Penguin flickr page. It would be great fun to decorate a book, or to give one to a creative friend to have fun with. Penguin is inviting people to submit their designs to the gallery, which is pretty cool too. I just think it's wonderful that a company known for it's iconic cover designs - remember those great orange ones - is letting us have a go!


Lessons from a Painter's Studio

I recently picked up Pottery Barn Workspaces on sale at my local bookstore. It's a great book, full of inspiration. There are lots of artistic workspaces, and lots of different furnishings are used - not just things from Pottery Barn. Which is good, because there isn't one within a zillion miles from here. My favorite room in the whole book is in a section titled "Lessons from a Painter's Studio."
It's an amazing, light filled studio which is perfectly furnished and organized. Above is a detail shot of the worktable and all the artist's tools in an "old school" toolbox.

One of my favorite things is this work island in the middle of the studio. There is so much workspace on top, and so much storage underneath. The height is perfect for standing, or sitting on a stool.

This desk would be a great secondary workspace - I love the way that the top is clear so that you could store your supplies and inspiring images below, and have the whole top free for work.

My most favorite thing are these flat files. I dream of having flat files in my studio. I guess the reason that I'm revisiting this book now is that we are finally (!) going to begin work on my new space. Some of the inspiration is coming from this room and this book - and I will have flat paper storage! I really can't wait. Stay tuned for some photos in early - mid May.


Extreme Makeover, Puppy Edition

On the urging of the vet, I took Milo for a haircut. I was a bit reluctant, because I didn't want him to loose his "puppy" look yet - but I think the hair cut is great. It's still nice and puppyish, but now I can see his eyes. Actually, it's a little like a doggie version of the mullet - short and spiky on top and long in the back.


Shopping and Swapping

The weather has been miserable here the last couple of days, and so have I. I have had a terrible headache - but it's not all bad - being indoors has let me catch up on my blog reading, internet shopping and completing my vintage button swap package. That's a photo of the package going to Joan of roseandpie - hope she likes what's inside! The little suitcase that the package is sitting on is my husband's old school case from kindergarten. There is a little sticker inside that says "C'mon Aussie." It's very cute. But - I digress - I've finished telling you about the swapping part of my day - now the shopping part.

I'm quite excited to tell you that I've ordered a print gocco (!) from etsy seller felt cafe. As well as goccos and supplies, she sells her own wonderful felt creations and also Japanese craft books. It was all I could do not to order the book on needle felting featuring dogs. So cute! I am planning to make some cards and hope that the gocco will arrive from Japan in time for my holiday in a couple of weeks so that I can have a good play with it.

I also finally ordered a few books on Amazon that I've had my eye on for some time. And, I pre-ordered the new Feist (!) album. I love Feist, and I'm very excited that her new record is coming out. I saw her live last year, and she did a few songs that she was working on - absolutely amazing. I can't say enough about Feist and how much I love her - I think that she is a true artist. The album is released on May 1st - how many sleeps away is that?


This is what happened....

...this weekend and this week...

...I cut up lots of Japanese paper and made some books...I made hot cross buns from Austen's recipe (they were yummy - thanks Austen)...there was a giant snowstorm...I went to work...

...yeah, I know it's pretty dull...even Milo was bored.



I'm participating in the Shim + Sons Vintage Button Swap. I have resisted a lot of cool swaps lately because I don't have the time to shop and put things together, but I couldn't resist this one. I have a load of buttons in my house - the photo above is only a small sample of what I have. I got the buttons through an inheiritance - two older women that my mom knew passed on, and she got their buttons. Then, she gave the buttons to me. I'll say again - there are a lot of buttons. These women were raised in the depression, when everything was saved. If they discarded a worn shirt or jacket, they would cut the buttons off first. I am the lucky beneficiary of this thrift - to the tune of a few big jars and tubs full of buttons. Sometimes, I feel guilty about having all the buttons and not using them for something. But, maybe the best thing is to have a collection and appreciate their utilitarian beauty. At times, I will need one or two buttons for a project, or to replace the horrible button on a thrifted jacket. I love to pour the jars of buttons out on the floor and pick through them, discovering new treasures.

Sorry, I've just gone into this total blabbery stream of conciousness about buttons when I could have just said - "I like buttons - a lot."