Thursday, November 29, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect...

Hello Dear Blog Readers!

How do you get to Carnegie Hall???

Practice, practice, PRACTICE!

I was hoping to list some of the new stab stitch books I made to sell last week, but when I began to take photographs, I noticed something wasn't quite right with the binding on the books:

One of the new stab stitch books (incorrectly!) made by yours truly...

I realized that I had not sewn the spines on them correctly! They were missing the over stitch that makes the binding look like a blanket stitch, like the binding on my first stab stitch book:

5 over stitches on the book spine to match the straight stitches that make up a proper stab stitch binding

It seems that I bound every book I cut this way!


I realized I would have to re-do every binding on every book I cut - the large ones and the small ones. It was a slight inconvenience, but it gave me a chance to do the bindings with threads I really wanted to use the first time around. I made a quick trip to my local Joann's to find some chunky embroidery threads I wanted to use for bindings that would match the papers I used. I wasn't able to find a charcoal thread that I used for the black floral covered book, but I found a lovely cream shade that looks much better:

I also found some natural colored hemp twine that I'm adding to my growing collection of book binding threads. I'm looking forward to using the hemp twine soon!

Since I had to spend time unbinding and rebinding the books, I have yet to properly photograph them to list on Etsy...but I took a quick group shot so you can get an idea of what the books look like:

A peek at the recent batch of stab stitch books I made, all using the same thread binding for uniformity

I can definitely say they are looking much better now that they are all properly bound...

I need to practice a new technique more than three times to insure its really in my head...and my hands!

Three little stab stitch books I made for practicing the new technique - guess I should have made more practice books!! ;)

In other news, I'm debating whether to participate in another boutique event. The cost is not very high and it's being held in a scrapbook store, which might be a better audience for my book arts.

If I do this boutique, I would have an opportunity to speak with the owner about teaching book binding workshops in her store, and she would be able to see my work while at the boutique so this would be the main objective. The second objective would be to sell enough goods to cover the booth fee this time around!

Sadly, my dear boyfriend pointed out that I have yet to make any money with my book arts, since I have not yet made any money at the previous events, with the exception of the summer event. I had to point out that I have only participated in three events and one of them was no cost for the space - I did make a few sales at that one, despite the awful heat!

I thought I would be able to make a few sales with my collage covered notebooks, but maybe I'm wrong in thinking that people want a journal for a gift during the holidays??

If I decide to participate in the boutique, I'll be sure to have a few other gift items on hand, made by me of course, like some jewelry, or some scarves!

If I do the boutique*, I'll let you know how it turned out, so stay tuned!

* - I do know that there is already a list of vendors for this event, so if you're in the area, stop by and check it out at Once Upon A Page in Burbank CA - I can tell you that it is a GREAT scrapbook store with lots of wonderful papers!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Learning Lessons From the Holiday Boutique

Hello Dear Blog Readers! I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend, if you are from the US, and I hope you enjoyed a great weekend for those of you reading from overseas. It was quite a busy holiday weekend for me, and mostly enjoyable.

I did have the holiday boutique last Saturday and I'm going to share a little bit about that today with pictures of my display area - it was a great location I had, in a beautiful home...

Here is my display with some holiday trimmings - my dear boyfriend helped me get set-up the night before. He thought the top of my shelving unit looked little bare since I had left my party hat at home by accident. He decided we would have to buy some holiday trimmings to spruce up my display and we found a bow and the sprays of nature to go with them...

My dear boyfriend was kind enough to buy these holiday trimmings - he is thoughtful!

I was lucky enough to have a spot right by the front door, right by a fabulous vintage chest of drawers!! I could not have asked for a better setting for my display, though in the end, I'm not sure it was a good idea -  more about that in a minute...

 A fabulous vintage chest of drawers was the backdrop for my display of goods...

The vintage chest of drawers provided great places to hang my holiday stockings and the hostess brought out a board to lay out more of my goods. One side had my smaller art books for exhibit and the other side showed my original art notebooks, along with some art note cards and handmade envelopes.

As you can see, it is a truly fabulous back drop to have, but as the day wore on, I began to think that my display actually BLENDED more with the settings, rather than standing out. When I first created my little display, it was for a small space and outdoors. I think the display works well in such a setting, but I realized that it blended and disappeared in this setting of vintage goods...

I will need to create a new display for my book arts that ENHANCES the books and mail art being sold

Collage cover notebooks and mail art note cards with hand made envelopes from old book pages

People did get interested about my mail art note cards with hand made envelopes made from pages of a craft book on making wreaths, but I did not get any sales. I did however, get some interest from a fellow wanting some special cards and envelopes for an annual family event that will take place next year. He was especially interested after looking through one of my art journals that I brought to display...

But I did notice that the small table I brought to exhibit some of my art books for viewing, was a bit short for him and he had to kneel to be able to look through my art book more closely:

 A sweet but short table for display - maybe too short! =-\

Despite having to kneel to view my work, he did express a lot of enthusiasm for my work! I hope to hear from him soon and work on what promises to be a fun project

Make sure my display is easy for all people to access and view my work

As I mentioned in previous posts, I worked on making some new books using the stab stitch method I recently learned. I did not get very many books made but I did have two sizes in large and small since I was told that the neighborhood children often come by to buy gifts for their mothers, which meant some small budgets. The new books fit nicely in the drawer of the table I used for my display:

New stab stitch books in large and small sizes for large and small budgets

But once again, I think these books got a little lost in the display and you couldn't really see the pretty covers of them stacked in this little drawer.

Be sure all items are displayed to show them off to their best advantage

I planned on completing a batch of small handmade books to sell before setting up my space, but then I thought it might be better to complete them on site as an "artist demonstration", which prompted an idea to pack a portable art kit to start more covers for my small notebooks. I'm glad I did because it not only provided something for me to do through the day, but it actually DID spark interest from my fellow vendors, one of whom was knitting during the day, demonstrating how she makes the neck warmers she was selling. I was not alone in getting interest in my work and the process of making it!

I began with 5 finished booklets and ended with 7 more booklets, as well as 6 new covers started!

Work on your craft while at the craft fair - it provides a great show and an opportunity to educate and inform people of the skill and detail that goes into your product

***   ***   ***

I am sorry to report that I did not make a single sale, though some of the vendors did express some interest in buying the collage cover notebooks and my small handmade notebooks and there is a possible order on the horizon. In the meantime, I have listed some of the newer collage cover notebooks for sale in my Etsy shop and I will be sure to start listing the smaller booklets this week. 

I have to admit, I am not really very good at this Black Friday - Cyber Monday thing as evidenced by this comment left at a blog last year. The concept of "cashing in on the holidays" really does not sit well with me, but the objectives for participating in the holiday boutique was not just to make sales and get interest in my work and shop...

The hostess of the event, whom I met at the Studio City event, spoke to me of a creative art group that she hosts bi-monthly, and she also mentioned getting me in touch with some local girl scout troops so I can continue teaching book binding workshops. The hostess, named Lupe, enthusiastically shared much of her creative work with me (which I LOVED!), as well as the work she creates in her group. One of the pieces on display in her kitchen was published in the book "Mixed Media Doll Houses"! Lupe is also a Life Coach and you can see her pictured on the left at her website. I am excited to join the creative group since it is more about mixed media and collage, and Lupe informed me that it is a collaborative group, which is something that I have been thinking about and wanting more of...I just wasn't sure how it would take shape, but it appears to be taking shape now!

I might be participating in another craft boutique event this Saturday, but I am still waiting to hear if there is room, not to mention finding out what the fee to participate will cost me. I certainly have some objectives in mind if I do participate and I will share that here when I receive the final word...though I have not made any money to speak of at the past two events, I do believe they have yielded some benefits and stepping stones to better opportunities in the future and that is something!

Thank you for stopping by my blog and reading about my adventures as a vendor - I'll post pictures of the new stab stitch books soon, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Surprise Find at the Antiques Mart

Hello Dear Blog Readers and thank you for the birthday wishes you all sent my way! I had a lot of fun celebrating all weekend with my dear boyfriend.

Now, I had hoped to spend my actual birthday at the Huntington Library, walking among the gardens and strolling through the galleries and the Science building, but it was not meant to be...

It began to rain the night before and my dear boyfriend did not exactly relish the idea of traipsing about in the mud, so Plan B was put into effect: A trip to the Agoura Antiques Mart!

My dear boyfriend and I made a trip out there last month where we learned that this is not just one antiques mart but a whole string of antique and gift shops in one big complex! Needless to say, we did not get through all the shops on our first visit so a second trip was in order and this took place on my birthday.

One of my favorite shops is called Bungalow and I found a few little items I decided to bring home with me, like patterned hand made paper, and some sweet handkerchiefs...

However, the big surprise was found in the Agoura Antiques Mart:

During our first trip through the Agoura Antiques Mart, my dear boyfriend spied an old iron book press priced at $110, but it was missing the top piece (the part that flattens the books!) and had quite a bit of rust on it...this press was part of a Halloween display! He began to ask me some questions about iron book presses, but these items are quite costly starting at $250 for one in good condition and they are also costly to ship due to the weight of the iron. I have thought about purchasing a book press for awhile, but the cost has been too prohibitive for me at this time.

At the mart, I went looking for the rusty iron book press, but it was nowhere to be seen. As we continued our stroll through the mart on this second trip, I spied this little wood press. There was a tag attached to it labeling it as a "Flower Press"*, but this looked very much like a book press to me!

It was also labeled with the price of "$28"!!!

My dear boyfriend bought this as a gift for me to use in my book binding work - I think it will work great for the small booklets I make often...

...and it will be MUCH easier to use than piling up my large heavy books to flatten them out!

And of course, I am working on a new batch of these small booklets for the upcoming Holiday Boutique I'll be selling at on Saturday, so this sweet little press has come at a very good time for me!

I'll share some images of the new booklets after Thanksgiving, so be sure to stay tuned!

Many thanks to all of you who come to visit and read about my adventures in Creativity - I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday where ever you are!

* - The flower presses I linked to come in different designs, though a book press is always made the same way, but in iron

Saturday, November 17, 2012

One Year Ago Today...

One year ago today, I received a pretty cool gift that I did not share here on the blog...

I got an i-Pad =-)

I don't why I didn't share this, but I guess I was pretty bowled over about getting it! I was also spending A LOT of time learning how to use it...

I have been working with using a schedule to keep myself on track for the work and projects I do, but I admit, sometimes I slip and don't use a schedule at all. When this happens, though, I do find I don't get as much work done as I'd like to...

I have also learned how to use it for fun, such as getting cool science apps*, including one that made the Curiousity landing a really great interactive event for me and my dear boyfriend!

It was a great gift and one year later, it is DEFINITELY a gift that keeps on giving! I will be sure to share more about it in the months to come, so stay tuned =-)

* - Bet you didn't have me pegged as a science geek, did you??!? ;)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Binding with Wendy - Stab Stitch Book

Hello Dear Blog Readers! I'm back to share one more book I made recently in a workshop lead by book binding instructor Wendy Poma, who teaches these wonderful workshops at Glendale Community College.

I gave you a sneak peek at this last book, but here is the peek again for you:

3 Gift Books Workshop
Stab Stitch Binding

I was excited at the prospect of learning the stab stitch technique for book binding. It is a pretty way to bind books and a great way to show off lovely colored threads, such as hand dyed linen threads which I have purchased,* but I have yet to use in my book binding. After learning this technique, though, I will certainly be using them in the future!

I chose a lovely mulberry paper with a cherry blossom motif and found a pair of cream card stock covers that would be used to fortify the paper covers for my book. It was a wide but short sheet of paper, so there was not much room for playing with the design, but I figured out a way to lay out the card stock to make the most of this beautifully designed paper:

Once the paper was ready to work with, Wendy instructed us on hole-punching through all the layers in preparation for the stitching...

Clipping all layers together to insure all holes punched were properly aligned for stitching the binding

Once we had punched the necessary holes for stitching, we measured out the embroidery floss, doubled it and proceeded to start stitching. This is where I encountered a problem...

I thought my hole punches were large enough to accommodate the needle and thread until it turned out we had to pass through the same hole at least three times!

This made for some difficulty as I tried to move my needle, with doubled floss (essentially, 12 strands of thread!), through the hole one last pass-through...and it got STUCK!!

I thought I would try to use the table top to get some leverage for moving the needle through the hole, but then the eye of my needle BROKE while stuck in the hole!!!

OH NO!!!

Luckily, Wendy had extra needles, but as I worked the remains of the broken needle out of the hole, and worked the floss out to re-thread the new needle, I began to fall behind in learning the stitch method =-\

Luckily for me, I am a quick learner and managed to get caught up before the rest of the class was halfway through the binding =-)

My completed stab stitch binding - it's not as difficult as I thought it might be, despite a broken needle!

Did I mention that Wendy was moving quickly through the three books to get them finished before the end of the workshop?? =-\

Did I mention that I was not the only person who broke a needle doing this binding?!?? =-O

Despite the mishaps, everyone completed this form of binding, along with the other two books, and all in the allotted time for the workshop...

My 3 Gift Books, completed in the workshop

After learning the new binding technique, I was eager to practice it at home, and so I did using up some scraps of manila card stock and scraps cut from papers used in other hand-bound books I've made. Here are the small practice books:

Three little stab stitch books - they measure approximately 1 1/2" by 5"

Binding these went quickly due to the size, but it was getting the practice that mattered

They are pretty small booklets, compared to the one I made in the workshop:

I mentioned I would share better images of my books in natural lighting, so here are some new photos I shot of my completed books:

Mulberry paper in the cherry blossom design with burgundy thread binding - calm and pretty!

The crimson and burgundy paper book with embellishment added to the cover of the book

The covers look quite different than what was completed in the workshop

A pocket is added to the inner cover - there are more pockets in the works for this book...

Medallion design cotton fabric cover, with neutral floss binding and satin ribbon tie closure

I love the colors of this fabric!

A second strand of floss tied with a knot at the other end of the spine to make the binding strong and balanced =-)

I had a lot of fun in the book binding workshop and I really loved learning the stab stitch technique, even if I did break a needle, though it wouldn't be the first time that has happened** and it won't be the last!

In the meantime, I'm making some more stab stitch booklets to sell at an upcoming in-home boutique event that will take place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. I am a busy gal these days preparing book art goods to sell, but I am making time to celebrate my birthday which is tomorrow! My dear boyfriend and I will go the movies, eat yummy food and have some much needed fun. 

I will share the goods I'm creating here in the days to come, so be sure to stay tuned!

* - I found lovely hand dyed linen threads at Hiromi Papers in Santa Monica

** - Usually I am breaking needles when sewing with fabric, not stitching books!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Binding with Wendy - Fabric Covered Book

Hello Dear Blog Readers! Today I'm going to share the process of making the second book I made in a book binding workshop with my book binding instructor, Wendy Poma.*

3 Gift Books Workshop
Book 2 - Fabric Covered Book

In my last post, I shared a sneak peek at the fabric I chose to work with in making my second book in Wendy's workshop. I loved the color and pattern of the fabric - it's so cheery! Here it is again:

Making this book is very similar to making a traditional bound book, only using fabric to cover the book board. The tricky thing about using fabric for your cover is that fabric can stretch, as anyone who sews can tell you. I can also tell you that sometimes, that is a good thing, since I stretched and manipulated the fabric I used to insure the grid lines were as straight and accurate as possible...and don't worry - I made sure to glue the covers onto the wrong side of the fabric so the right side would show!

YAY! The book covers are properly positioned and glued onto the fabric! After that, the rest was pretty easy, having done similar work in Wendy's workshops before...

The edges are turned over, glued down and a strip of fabric added to the inner spine - then the ribbon ties are put into place...

Inner end papers are glued down, covering the ribbon ties - this would make a great small portfolio to keep drawings and sketches in. Maybe I'll make a larger version of this for just that purpose!

The signature of blank paper is sewn into the spine with the embroidery floss, however, it seems I was supposed to use the floss DOUBLED, which I didn't do! I went back to sew the signature again with the floss and made the knot at the other end so I now have two small knots in my book...oh well! We learn as we go!

The next book we made would use the Stab Stitch method for binding and I was very excited about this since it's a technique I've been wanting to learn for awhile. Here's a sneak peek at the materials I used to make a stab stitch book...

My apologies for the lighting in these photos - they were shot in a classroom using overhead lighting, with very little natural lighting. These images do not do much for the actual colors of the materials I was using in this workshop. I'll be sure to take some better shots of my new books in natural lighting so you can see the real color and beauty of the materials I worked with.

I'll share more about making the stab stitch book and some of the mishaps that occurred while making it in my next post, so stay tuned!

* - I forgot to add her contact info, which she was happy for me to do. If you are interested in taking a workshop with Wendy, you can email her at: wleepoma (at) msn (dot) com
You can also find her workshops in the Glendale Community College Community Services Online Catalog of Classes; be sure to search under the Arts/Crafts section =-)

Monday, November 12, 2012

Book Binding With Wendy - 3 Gift Books in 3 Posts!

Hello Dear Blog Readers! I want to share some more book binding I've done recently in a workshop...

Tools laid out and ready to work with for making 3 different styled books

A few weeks back, I shared a new book that I made in a workshop with my book binding instructor Wendy Poma. I was recently given the gift* of participating in another workshop with Wendy and, in the next few blog posts, I want to share my new books with you, along with some mistakes I made during the workshop.

3 Gift Books Workshop with Wendy Poma

Book One - Accordion Book
The workshop I participated in with Wendy was going to focus on making 3 4 hours! It's a lot to do, but all students were determined to get the books done. The first book was an accordion style book and Wendy had a great example for us to get inspired by:

Wendy's sample book with cut paper embellishments to decorate the various sections of the book

Wendy always has papers for us to choose from to make our own books and the choices are endless! It can be hard to decide, but I found a paper I really wanted to use for this book:

I chose a two color striped paper with lovely gold designs of paisleys and flowers in my favorite colors of burgundy and crimson red. It was a wonderful handmade paper that had a thick feel to it. However, this stripe pattern would prove to be my downfall right away!

I was so engrossed with trying to line up the stripe on the front and back cover that I neglected to remember that the paper was a one-sided design and I proceeded to glue one of the covers to the TOP OF THE PAPER:

DOH!! Where was my brain when I needed it most???!?!

I thought of removing the cover from the paper and putting it on the back properly, but I knew there was too much glue to remove from the paper surface without ruining it. So I left the cover where you see it above and made sure to place the other cover onto the wrong side of the paper so the design would show up properly:

 Right side and wrong side of paper make a pair of book covers =-\

This is how the covers for my accordion book now look, but I have plans to add some embellishments to the solid cover using left over scraps. I'll be sure to share the final results of that later.

Wendy then showed us how to glue papers together to create the folding that makes up the pages of this book and made note of how we would add our pockets to the pages, as well as informing us what side to use for adding pockets since one side of the book would have more 'pages' than the other side, as you might be able to see from this photo:

I really wanted the stripe of the paper to be the front cover, but that will mean the number of pages I have to work with will be less than the other side, but I may learn to be happy with the crimson cover after I add the embellishments to it...

With this accordion book completed, we moved on to the next book, a fabric covered book. Here is a sneak peek at the materials I used for it:

Bright and cheery orange medallions with neutral ribbon, thread and end papers

I'll be sharing the process for making this book in my next post, so stay tuned!

* - My birthday is coming up so I'm starting to receive some great gifts from friends!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Artisan Bazaar - Lessons Learned Through Challenges

Hello Dear Blog Readers! Thanks for stopping by to read up on my experiences in a recent artisan bazaar I participated in last weekend. I met some great fellow artists, made some great connections for future opportunities and enjoyed being in the general festivities. However, the day did not come without it's share of challenges and, of course, I learned a few lessons by working through those challenges...

Submitting Fees

Last year I participated in a different bazaar - this is because I am not a Costume Designer Guild member (the organization hosting the event), but I have a friend who is. She forgot to submit the fees last year, so she made a point to submit them for our participation in the bazaar this year...however she never got a response containing information we would need on the day of the event. I asked if I should send her my share of the table fee, but she wanted to wait until she heard back from the event organizers.

My friend made several calls to find out what happened and finally spoke with the organizer who told us she would have a table for us on the day of the event...

An example of some new small booklets I made for the bazaar...

Broken Limbs

One week before the bazaar was scheduled, my friend called me to tell me that she had a very bad fall and had dislocated/fractured her arm - OH NO!! She was hoping to move forward with doing the bazaar but I said we should play it by ear. I wasn't sure if I could participate in the bazaar on my own since the table was in my friends name and I'm not a member of the guild, something I should have asked about.

I called my friend throughout the week to see how she was doing and she was adamant about moving forward with doing the bazaar, with the help of her own dear boyfriend. I offered to help her with unloading and setting up, since my own book display would be a small one and quick to put together. I admired my friends determination to do this event, despite what turned out to be a broken arm =-(

I discovered a fun twist with wax resist techniques to create this booklet cover

Disorganized Organization

As I mentioned, my friend never got a response from the organizers of the bazaar about necessary info we would need for the event, such as our table number, and if we could use a tent (which we couldn't). My friend managed to speak with the main organizer of the event (after speaking with an assistant who was out of town and not very helpful!). The main organizer stated we would have a table and thought they saw my friends submission check arrive in the mail. On the actual day of the event, things were different:
  • The main organizer said she never saw my friends submission check!
  • There was no table and no umbrella, which was being used in lieu of tents for the outdoor event, on what became a summer day with 95 degree weather!
  • The main organizer was quite cranky due to the early hour and dealing with many vendors who had not bothered read all the information that had been sent to them. When I arrived at the event before my friend did, I greeted the organizer with a friendly good morning, briefly mentioned our table situation and when the organizer asked me to wait, I quietly stepped away from the bustle until my friend arrived to figure out the situation.
After some discussion, my friend managed to secure us a table and we then proceeded to set up her goods at our shared table. She was concerned about being seen with her broken arm among peers that could be work connections and concerned that she might not get costume work references from the event organizer due to the bru-ha-ha of getting a table for the day.

I felt badly about her concerns, but remembered that she had made a choice to be at the event and I did what I could to help so she was not exerting herself in anyway, such as figure out how to use some soft metal rods and a Styrofoam cooler she brought to set up a unique hat display for hats she was selling. She was very pleased with the results I came up with! Sadly, I did not get a picture of this creativity in action.

Later in the day, I reminded her that I had to give her my share of the costs of the table, but she refused to take it, insisting that she was very grateful for all my help. I did give her some mail art envelopes I made that she expressed interest in, since she had done a lot to get us the table, despite her broken arm injury.

Luckily, we eventually got an umbrella since there was an extra one and it came in handy since it was a HOT day!

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

After the event was over and I was resting at my dear boyfriends place, I sent my friend an email thanking her for all her efforts in getting us a table at the artisan bazaar. It really was a lot of work, during a week that had been quite stressful for her, due to her serious injury and I was very grateful for all her efforts, since I was not in a position to make the calls and speak with the organizer, as I am not a guild member, and the initial contacts were in my friends name.

Other booklets made using wax resist techniques, watercolor, inks and gel medium

The next day, I received a response from my friend, thanking me for all my help, and how glad she was that we managed to get through the day together; however, after going over her receipts for the day, she had not made much money and asked if I would send a check for my share of the table fee...

I sent her a response letting her know that I was sending my half of the table fee through my Paypal account.

But I must say that I was disappointed in this turn of events.

This artisan bazaar was certainly full of lessons to be learned and here is my summary: 

Lessons Learned
  • When money is being offered to you, DO NOT EVER REFUSE! This sends a message to the universe that you do not WELCOME the abundance it is offering to you and the Universe will continue to act accordingly
  • When others are being cranky, shower them with kindness (far easier said than done most times, I agree!), but it is not a license for YOU to respond with similar crankiness and, in retrospect, you will be remembered for having a good attitude
  • When others go back on their word, count to ten and honor original agreements - then use the example as a lesson how NOT TO ACT in the future with others, so you can move forward with integrity in all interactions
  • When others are mumbling/grumbling negative things about the actions they have taken, remember that it is THEIR STUFF and people ALWAYS have a choice to make a decision that is best for them (though whether they are ready to face the responsibility of that reality or not is another matter)

Thanks for stopping by to read my adventures! I'll be working toward an upcoming in-home boutique and sharing goods here, so stay tuned!