Thursday, April 30, 2009
by Designing Mom Erika
April is typically my busiest, craziest month of the year, as I prepare to exhibit at The National Stationery Show in May (stop by booth 3327 if you'll be there!). My days are practically scheduled to the minute, with design work, client graphic design projects, wedding invitation proofs, appointments with brides, conference calls with distributors and reps, running the daily "business" end of having a stationery line, preparing files for my licensing partners, adding customizable files to our website , keeping up with the Delphine-ephemera blog, and photographing new products as they roll off press. Not to mention many, many, many hours (and late nights) at the press, press-checking the new lines.
Especially at this time of year my work life spills over into the weekends. It is easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of work that has to be done. The way I deal with the insane amount of work is to make lists. A lot of them. I make a list of all the things that need to happen before going to the Stationery Show and set deadlines for each task (and, of course, delegate whenever possible). Then I go down the list and break each major task into steps. Take one simple thing, like mailing postcards to buyers. I work back from the show date and find the mailing date that they should go out. Then I schedule in a date to address the postcards and stamp them, a date to buy stamps, a date to order the postcards, and a date to design them.
Because it is scheduled on my calendar, I'm not freaking out in February about the postcards; I know it's scheduled for, say, April 20th, to address the postcards, and I don't stress about it before then. I live by the calendar. I use the same system to schedule in a little balance: I make sure to schedule in time alone with my son. I treat a playdate at the beach just like an appointment with a client. It goes on the calendar. By scheduling a specific time for a trip to the park, it doesn't get pushed off until "later" and it helps me make sure I'm spending enough time with him. I tell S what the plans are, and he's starting to learn time management himself this way. He often invites me outside to watch him play on the swingset. "You can bring your notebook, Mommy," he says. He's also learning about multi-tasking!
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I often walk through Pottery Barn Kids for inspiration when I can and I always pick up little ideas and things for my to-do lists. Usually, I snap a photo with my phone and download it to a little cyber to-do (to-make) list on my computer.
Here are some of my favorites.
2 - This mobile/chandelier has been in my to-make list for a while... ribbons, string, embroidery hoops and flower punches or stickers would be the ingredients and voila!
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
I finally did it - my own little Orla Kiely tote. I was so inspired by Becky and Jill's creations that I finally put my sewing skills to the test. It is hard to find time to sit down and sew but someone decided to take an extra long nap one day to help mommy out!
This is made from the reversible placemat that I got for $4.99. I plan on using it as a lunch tote or a little summer bag. It was super easy to make. Since the bag is reversible it did not need a lining - which is good because I am not a great sewer!
Here is a quick tutorial of how I made it: Choose what side you want inside and what side you want out. Fold with the future outside sides facing each other - in my case the flower side. Iron in the fold.
Since the placemat is already hemmed on all sides I used that as my guide. If you want a smaller bag you can sew in further - it's up to you! Sew both sides.
Turn your bag right side out...oooo you're almost done!
Now for the straps - I was lucky enough to have an old brown tote that I just cut the straps off of. You can buy cheap totes at any craft store or you can buy straps or webbing at a fabric store. Ribbon might work - but would probably not be too sturdy. You could also but a second placemat and make straps that match - it would look really cute with the inside fabric as the straps.
I used my seam ripper - hands down one of my most used sewing tools - to pull the hem out about two inches in from the edge of the bag. Do this for each strap and then stitch over where the strap is a couple of times. You don't want your bag to break in the middle of the mall and have all your unmentionables fall out - not that this has ever happened to me (blushing...).
Hey look - your bag is done and your daughter already wants to borrow it! Throw in your sunblock or sippy cup and hit the beach! Enjoy!
Monday, April 27, 2009
1. Mod Doll House
2. Melissa and Doug Contempo Doll House
3. Modular Doll House
4. Contempo Doll House
5. Fairy Tree House
6.Plan Toys Tree House
7. Leafy Tree House
8.Tree Blocks Wood House
10. Starter House
11. Willow Doll House
12. Turquoise Victorian
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
I started my collage and altered imagery career at 15. My breakthrough piece "Globe" was created using my father's garage paint, applied liberally to my bedroom wall. Sadly, it did not receive rave reviews. (I was so grounded!)
However, I continued to pursue my passion by altering everything from canvas and books, to furniture, and even report cards.
The Post-College Years:
Looking for adventure, I packed up and moved to an island in Mexico to open a coffee shop and dedicate more time to my art. Mexico is very near and dear to my heart because this is where Art and Philanthropy was born. It was during my time in Mexico that I became involved with the Women’s Co-op and a fabulous organization that would later come to be known as PEACE.
I'm back in Wisconsin, where I was raised, in a lovely home in the woods. I share my life with my husband and two sons, Giovanni and Matteo (my creative consultants, editors and muses).
When we moved to our new home, Giovanni was afraid to sleep alone in his new room. I pulled out any art supplies I had available (everything was still in boxes) and made him a "protector dinosaur".
From there, print*pattern*paper was born and is a happy, growing company. In addition to the work you see here, I’ve continued my work with PEACE and other grassroots organizations generating thousands of dollars for women and children.
Inspired by daily life, you will most likely find me trying to finish my next design. (Which won't happen until I find my scissors, which are under a pile of laundry - of course). I hope you enjoy your print*pattern*paper creation as much as I enjoyed creating it!
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The little dude created a piece of artwork in pre-school last year that I really loved. It's green and orange which happen to match the colors of our kitchen. The photos don't do it justice. i wanted to preserve this piece of artwork to display it over our eating bar area. I thought i'd share with you how we did it in case you'd like to do the same! please note that this can be done with any artwork and is a great alternative to framing a large piece of art like this one.
Here's the piece of artwork in question. as you can see it was done on really thin paper. Being that it was a watercolor type painting, it was very wrinkly. the one thing to keep in mind is that with thin paper like this, it will most likely get very wrinkly when applied to the canvas. If you're not ok with this, then this might not be the right solution for your piece of art. the nicer or thicker the paper, the less chance of wrinkling.
I started out by buying a canvas that would fit the particular painting. there wasn't a perfect size, but this one came pretty close. we only had to trim a small bit off the top of the artwork. (which was fine by me because his teachers wrote his name on the front of the painting! tsk, tsk!) I also bought mod podge (other glues/sealers will work as well), a small roller and tray. then we were ready to start.
One of the best things about this project is that it’s very simple to do, so it’s something the kids can join in on. it makes it more special when they see their artwork hanging, knowing that they helped.
Here's my son, Finley, rolling on the glue with his mini roller. You want to make sure you have a good thick layer of glue so it sticks well. once you have it covered in glue, lay the artwork down and press firmly. Try to press out any wrinkles or puckers to the best of your ability.
After the artwork was as smooth as possible, we flipped it over (lining the island with
or waxed paper first so that it wouldn't stick to the island) we loaded it up with magazines to ensure solid pressure. We left it like this overnight to make sure it was really dry.
Once it was thoroughly dry, we removed the magazines. next, we glued the sides and the back and wrapped the artwork around the canvas. (note: you don't have to do this. you could trim the artwork to the exact size of the canvas if you wish. you could also paint the sides a coordinating color.... If you choose this option i would suggest painting the sides before applying the artwork for a nice finished edge.)
When wrapping the paper around the canvas i folded the corners as if I was wrapping a present. We then flipped it over onto the parchment paper again so that the back was now facing down. This ensured that the artwork would not pull away from the back. again, we left it to dry overnight.
Because I felt the artwork was a little too small for the space on it’s own, I painted a large rectangle on the wall with a coordinating color that is found on the other side of our kitchen. When everything was completely dry, we hung it up over the bar. Voila!
Monday, April 20, 2009
My daughter's 1st birthday was this past weekend and for the last several weeks I've been itching to figure out how to get a cake made of her best friend, her favorite doll: BlaBla. BlaBla is actually the brand name of these gorgeous, hand-knit dolls and Grace's best pal is a girl owl with a striped skirt, named Prudence. However, Prudence is a hard name to pronounce for someone just learning how to talk, so we called her BlaBla when we handed Grace the doll for first time, and it just sorta stuck! Since that first night, Grace hasn't gone anywhere, or done anything without BlaBla by her side. When we put Grace down to sleep, we can hear her talking to BlaBla for the longest time, telling her all the highlights of the day and what she's hoping to dream about! Lately the talking has turned into singing... it's enough to melt your heart.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I have a weakness for patterns and a phobia of germs. So these pacifier clips by Lucca Bella are right up my alley. The clips have plastic teeth so they don't rip into clothing and will help keep your little one's pacifier from getting lost and soiled. They're having a sale right now and I picked up the puppy and frog versions.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I have a large growing pile of fabric scraps. I refuse to throw them away because I am sure they can be used for something. I have been seeing different types of interesting necklaces made of buttons, tulle, and fabric. Then, I figured why not make one out of my scraps...
I think it made my white shirt a little less boring. This was so quick and easy to make.
How to make a recycled scraps necklace (which is very similar to the straps on my braided tablecloth bag):
1. Take your scrap fabric, I cut a .5''-1'' snip and tear the rest of the fabric down for a nice frayed edge. Used 3 different fabrics for each strand.
2. Take 3 of the torn pieces and tie the ends together with a rubber band.
3. Braid the 3 pieces together and tie ends together with rubber band when done.
4. Repeat steps 2 & 3 for more strands. Remember you can make the strands any length you want, if run out of fabric, just weave more into the braid.
5. Once all the strands you want are braided, gather one end of each strand together and straight stitch together with sewing machine. Repeat for the other ends of the strands. Snip off any excess.
6. Gather ends of the necklace and sew together (snip excess) or a ribbon can be sewn at the ends to be able to tie the necklace closed, but I just sewed both ends together.
7. Voila! A nice way to make use of all your lovely scraps. Sorry if the directions get you a little lost, but it really is easy. I promise. You will have so much fun making them and figuring out other ways to do it. It will become you new addiction, trust me, it has already become mine...
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Just had to post a pic of Zane's beloved "Monkey Monk" in some very stylish clothes that Zane(a few days from being 6) helped make. Our neighbor Linda uses old socks to make doll clothes with her grandson and Zane was inspired to collect all of our holey socks and make clothes for Monkey Monk as well as all of his favorite dolls. I had to sew the pants with a few stitches, but Zane did all the cutting. This DIY project is "easy breezy lemon squeezy" as Zane would say.
Monday, April 13, 2009
My good friend Jihwon started a line of chic, eco-friendly shoebags called Shubis that I absolutely love and I was so happy she was willing to share a little bit about them and her life with her two adorable daughters, Sophia and Julia.
How did Shubis begin?
As young girls, my sister Soomean and I spent countless hours immersed in crafty and creative projects, and so it was a very natural progression to start a company together that continued these endeavors. My sister and I started Shubi with the passion to bring fashionable shoe bags to the mainstream. My sister, who lives in NYC, always carried an extra pair of shoes for commuting to and from work. She, like most city girls, would tote her shoes in flimsy, beat-up, plastic grocery bags because she could not find suitable shoe bags for travel. I had the same problem during my travels, and after a frustrating and fruitless search for fashionable shoe bags, we decided to create our own--and the Shubi was born.
Tell us a little about the "baby" shubis and why you created them.
The Lil' Shubi is a shoe bag that is perfect for toting your child's shoes anywhere. I created them because all too often, toddlers kick off their shoes, and parents end up tucking their dirty shoes in their or purse. The Lil' Shubi protects your child's shoes and at the same time, keeps your diaper bag or purse clean. Parents are not only using the Lil' Shubi to tote shoes but also finding the Lil' Shubi helpful for storing toys or other small baby products that often get burried in their diaper bag.
What have been the rewards and the challenges that came with starting this business?
My sister and I have so many ideas to expand the Shubi line, but our biggest challenge is not being able to devote as much time as we would like to expand the business. The biggest reward is bringing a creative idea to fruition. Throughout the years, my sister and I have had many conversations discussing various ideas/inventions, but Shubi is the first business idea that we have brought to reality.
What are you tips on balancing work/mom/play?
Like many working mothers, I always feel as if there are never enough hours in the day. So, I try to be realistic about what I can and cannot get done. Then, I prioritize what is most important in my life and make time in my schedule to incorporate those things.
What creative activities/projects do you do with your girls?
Julia is too young (only 6 months) for creative activities, but Sophia, who is nearly 3 years of age loves creative activities. One annual tradition that we started last Christmas is decorating a gingerbread house. Sophia had so much fun picking the colors of the house and deciding how to arrange the various decoratives, not to mention eating the candy during the process. We also read lots of books, and recently, sophia began creating and reciting her own stories from picture books. It's been very entertaining hearing stories from her perspective. Her latest endeavor has been making up her own whimsical lyrics to common and singing them to us.
How do you plan on incorporating creativity into your girls' lives?
is an attribute that everyone possesses. So, I hope to nurture their creativity by fostering a positive environment that allows them to be spontaneous, to explore, and to discover. When the girls get a little older, I would like to start art classes because they not only stimulate their creativity but also develop skills that extend beyond color, texture, and design.
Friday, April 10, 2009
I love Erika’s idea of starting a booklist and I couldn’t wait to contribute. My son isn’t old enough to sit still very long for books yet, but I sure enjoy reading them and admiring the children’s book illustration. One of my favorite books growing up is now a new favorite as a mom. As a child, I always loved the book, “The Snowy Day ”, written and illustrated by . Now when I read it as an adult, I realize what brilliant work Ezra Jack Keats did as an illustrator. I feel like a new fan of his work with a new appreciation. As children we just know what we like, but when we’re older we really appreciate all of the texture, color, technique, and even the fact that Keats was the first writer and illustrator to give an African American child a central part in children’s literature.
One of my stationery designer friends, Le Vu of Paper*Ink Studio , sent the most thoughtful gift when my son was born. She sent two board books featuring two classic (“The Snowy Day ” and “Whistle for Willie ”). So I have Le to thank for re-introducing me to these children’s classics. (Thanks, Le!) Having them in board book form is perfect because we all know that little ones at this age think books are teething toys (even Caldecott Award winning books!)
On a side note, I noticed on the Ezra Jack Keats website that his organization is trying to get “The Snowy Day” image on a postage stamp in honor of it’s 50th anniversary. They are collecting signatures for their letter to the Citizen’s Advisory Committee in efforts to convince them to honor this classic children’s book in this way. If you are so inclined you can click here for more details and to sign the letter. I personally would use those stamps all the time. It combines two things that I love: children's book illustration and sending old fashioned mail. What's not to love about that?