Monday, November 7, 2011

from february to etsy

oops. been a long time. really long time. nobody will know that this entry exists, which is good because i have a fresh start. guess i need one of those now and then. i made some stuff this year. planned my handmade wedding, which was BEAUTIFUL and lovely! i'll post a few of my favorite pictures soon. i just finished some excellent thank you cards to send for wedding gifts, and i started a pretty scarf for myself yesterday. this year has been slipping by so quickly, and i am reminded to stop and appreciate how wonderful my life has become. we are still in our tiny apartment, my husband *beam* is still in school, and i am as busy as ever with hannah and house and sometimes art and music. still, i am pulled to feel some sense of completion or gather together the things that i have done, or do more and put everything together. make something real that i can look at and say "yeah. i'm doing something." so i've decided to go for the etsy business. the great thing about etsy is that you can be as small as you want and grow as fast as you can and it's okay. there is a fee to show your work for sale, but if i make enough each month to cover that, then i'm happy at the beginning. of course i have many grand ideas for how it could grow: beautiful pictures of the products, new camera someday, more advanced handmade production, marketing... etc.
for now, i will "go gather bones" as suggested my clarissa pinkola estes in 'women who run with the wolves' (great book!) which means i will pull together those ideas which have the most power for me, lead to the greatest passion, and execute.
etsy, here i come. one step at a time. :)

my handmade wedding cake

Thursday, February 24, 2011

community garden plot

(added pictures 2012 for last year's plot)

i don't have a picture for this yet, because i haven't planted anything yet. but on march 1, hannah and i are headed over to the parks and rec. dept. to try to secure our little family a little green square in the world. it is my vision that we will grow ourselves a handy little garden using the seeds that darrick obtained last year through seed savers exchange. right now he is sorting thousands of seeds from last years crop, and dividing them to be given away or saved in his seed bank...or given to me! my goal is to cut produce spending this year, at least as much as a first time gardener could expect to. i can see hannah and i digging around in the dirt , picking veggies, coming home and preparing fresh dishes together...from the land to her plate. good lesson that darrick started last year and that i intend to continue for many years...if i can get that darn plot. apparently they are quite popular, and hard to get. wish me luck!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

this handmade life

this entry falls under the category of "too busy to make things right now." but when i say too busy, i mean that i am at the park with my daughter, seeking those enriching experiences. (or i am chained to my computer each night sorting file after file after..)
reading a book right now called "radical homemaker," and yes, the title makes me almost too uncomfortable to share. i guess i don't really see myself as radical, but i do tend to agree with much of what the author argues. for example, i don't want to plug myself into the consumer culture because that is what most people do (and think we're supposed to do). i want to raise my child instead of working and putting her in daycare. i want to make stuff instead of buy it when i can. i want to cherish the moments that i am with my family and friends, because that is what makes people whole and connected. i want to belong to my community and help and be helped. i want to live in the country.
this is my own version of radical homemaking, but basically the premise is to return our focus on our homes, make it the core of our families, grow outward from there.
someday i will have my own home. with a porch. and a studio. and maybe even a homemade kiln. and a huge old barn with some animals in it. and crazy quilts on every bed. and... well, it will be just right. it will be the place where my family comes to be together and to know love.
for now, in these busy days pre-settled life, i will continue to take my daughter to the park, and watch her as she studies her reflection in the puddle. as she splashes, and pretends, and plays. this is how my handmade life is coming together (kind of like a crazy quilt).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

yoga/ art retreat

just wanted to share my creation from a wonderful experience. a group of maybe 20 women met in a cozy little space above a cool little store on main street, madison. we learned about chakras, the colors that represent them, and how they effect the body. then we did some great yoga poses that related to each chakra in some way. we did some guided meditation and from that chose a color to work with during the art therapy session. i chose yellow. i ended up with a lot of black (because that is what i see when i close my eyes), and some red too (because i need to balance my root chakra :)
or, i am very much looking forward to planting myself in my final home, where i can raise my family, branch out and make connections. the yellow is the solar plexis chakra, which has to do with confidence and personal power. these are things i wish to strengthen in myself as i move through this life. so the "roads" above indicate a direction towards my center, finding my core values, rooting, strengthening, etc. i had a blast at the retreat, and it was wonderful to be surrounded by so many beautiful women. and of course, I LOVE YOGA! someday i may be a yoga instructor myself :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

be mine

happy valentine's day! this year, hannah and i made place mats covered in clear contact paper. we took turns working on all three, working some, passing it on, working some, passing back, until all three were to our liking. they work well together. we had fun making them, and daddy loved them too. all in all a good day to love and be loved. (and i got a yoga mat...woohoo!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

the knitter

this is an illustration in progress. i really enjoy sitting around and drawing in my spare time, and i like knitting. the look on her face makes me think that she's thinking about something else, and is a really good knitter so she doesn't have to watch what she is doing. i strive for that level of ability. until then, i will just draw about it and enjoy the look on her face.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

dress up dress

this is a pretty little thing that i started with a pattern from making children's clothes by emma hardy. the bodice is reversible, essentially, which was a learning experience and quite exciting to make. the back is supposed to button down all the way, but i decided to close it instead. i sewed the 4 layers of tulle with a tie, then sewed it onto the dress. the skirt is made out of an old silk remnant in my stash, which gives it a decidedly luxurious feel.
it is kind of a makeshift dress, and i definitely have learned some things that i don't want to do again. but she likes to wear it as a ball gown and dance with the prince, even if it has a safetly pin in place of a button at present. i just need to hem it and add the button holes, and voila! it'll be my first fancy dress for my little bit.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

my glorious, expansive studio

today i bring studio. well, it's a little cramped now, but someday things will be different. a big open room with hardwood floors and windows and shelves galore! a place for everything! oh, how exciting. but for now, in our very tiny residence, my studio follows suit. i can find things pretty well, though i live in layers these days. so under a stack of these things, i find that thing. the challenge is remembering what is where, and how to place things vertically so as not to topple them too easily. i think of it as a chance to practice my organizational skills, really put 'em to the test. i have a lot of work ahead of me, but i must remember not to get too caught up in the cleaning and sorting, and really get down to the business of making. tonight, i'm gonna work on valentine's day stuff. so ta ta for now. off to find some paper!

Monday, February 7, 2011

freedom within

okay. here it is. that feeling coming over me that says "well. here is the blank page. here is the challenge. make something interesting happen here." and i look through my files and realize that i am not yet in the habit of documenting my handmades, and so i don't have any recent pictures of the things that i am sewing, or knitting, or crafting out of paper. and really, who wants to see a bunch of in-process projects anyway?
then it occurs to me to ask, "cheryl, what exactly IS 'handmade' to you?" seems i've kind of placed my work in a very tiny box labeled "acceptable for blog" and everything else that i make on a regular basis is not appropriate for this project. though i wonder, isn't my ART a very intrinsic form of 'handmade.' i mean really. i make it with my hand (the left one). it serves a purpose, if only to propel me closer to my ideal of cheryl-as-illustrator. generally, my reason for making art is to give it away, and also to nurture relationships. perhaps i should think awhile about what 'handmade' really means to me. it's more than a simple act, a movement of the hands for the purpose of creating a thing. it has momentum derived from the desire to share things with others...among other things.
this illustration is called "freedom within." i didn't know why i chose it initially, though now that i have been writing awhile i think it is rather appropriate. the reason i wanted to write a blog in the first place was so that i could begin to explore my motivations for making, not just simply document the 'stuff' that gets churned out. and in my first and introductory post, i said something about how my perspective of life is changing lately (although i guess it is always changing in various sized increments). i have freed myself somewhat to explore the nature of my choices, and in doing so i have opened up the possibility of understanding more clearly why i do the things i do. partly tied to a rejection of crass consumer culture, handmade also has a loftier connotation. for me, it is a way to connect to others, to use resources wisely, to feel that i am useful, and to bring joy to myself and my recipient.
so tonight, i'm flying out the cage. i'll keep making, moving forward, documenting...and we shall see where i land next february.
so poetic. hehe

Sunday, February 6, 2011

dancing skirt

she kind of has a thing about me taking her picture these days, so i usually have to be sneeky. here, i am trying to capture her dancing skirt that i made from my old favorite dancing skirt. i loved it for ten years, then it was threadbare in the bum, so i had to send it to the scrap basket (you might notice that it shows up in her quilt, below, which was before i had the marvelous idea of breathing new life into it). i have to admit, i get a little giddy when she pulls it out of her drawer because SHE wants to wear it (heart *swell*) this is why i make stuff. maybe a tad bit selfish, but really i love to give these things away.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


hannah loves cinderella more than any other fairytale heroine right now. we read the book multiple times a day, she watches cinderella 2 (the video) once a day, and she dresses up as cinderella at the ball (in her old dorothy dress, plus the below mentioned crown and inside 'glass' slippers) often. we thought it would be good to have cinderella's day clothes available, depending on what part of the story she was needing to act out. we recently found the brown dress at goodwill, and while we were reading today i realized the potential of said purchase. she helped me sew the apron on the sewing machine, which she handled very well. it was a big girl moment, and she was proud. then we cut the handkerchief, tied it on, added a green shirt underneath, then tied on the apron. we cleaned a pair of old outside shoes to be converted into 'cinderella day clothes inside shoes' and voila! 'cinderella! go clean the kitchen floor!' (and she did). fun times.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

paper mache kitchen

this photo is terrible quality, i know. i use my phone camera for pictures, but someday i will upgrade to a truly magnificent camera. this paper mache kitchen is a long work in progress, started a year ago at least. still working on covering and painting, but luckily it is functional. it's just the right size when she's on her knees, and her babies are fed regularly from this very location. i made each element from recycled bulk cereal boxes, etc. covered them with junk mail newspaper, made a glue of flour, sugar, water and elmers, and covered them with craft paint that i already had. fun play kitchen for a grand total of: FREE! hooray. that's what it's all about :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

soulemama crown

okay, i'm ready to admit my genuine affection for one soulemama. i first discovered her by checking out a book in the library, 'handmade home.' a little later, i bought her other book at the bookstore of all places, 'the creative family,' and soon after discovered her blog. i have found so much inspiration from her musings and photos, and (dare i say) i enjoy checking in on a regular basis. in 'the creative family,' she provides a simple tutorial for the above crown, using wool felt. she uses it as a birthday crown for her kids, but hannah uses hers daily for princess, or glinda the good witch, or ballerina, or whoever else might be in need of a crown at that particular hour. i had previously made a papier mache crown painted gold, but it has not withstood the test of time. hannah loves this newer model, and i for-see it lasting far into the future, maybe to be joined by others.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

crazy quilt

this is hannah's quilt in progress. my mom made me a gorgeous crazy quilt a few years ago, and ever since i've wanted to make one for my daughter. i don't have a lot of fabric, so obviously this project is ideal. i'm using some of her old clothes, and mine, as well as a small swatch given to me by one of my sisters. that piece was the catalyst for this project because it looks like a tiny crazy quilt (it's in the very center).
i had hannah draw some of her people in some of the squares, and i embroidered them with black (age 2 1/2). my goal is to have it fit a twin sized bed by the time she grows out of her converted crib (which is probably soon!) current size: 28" x 24"

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

dorothy inside slippers

these are dorothy inside slippers that i made for hk because she's not allowed to wear her favorite sparlky red shoes inside. bonus for me: she actually likes them, and wears them. hooray! i made the pattern myself, using a pair of her shoes as the guide. the hole is JUST big enough to get her foot through, but hopefully they will stretch with multiple wearings.

still a new knitter

left hand knitting is the best :) just started a bear for my little one. practicing increases and decreases! soon i'll get really daring and do the fancy stitches.
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365 days

new year, new goals, new blog. hey, why not. 365 days of documenting my handmade life; things just finished, things in progress, things that inspire me to do more by hand. my perspective of life is changing lately. i do not want to rely on a cookie cutter culture in order to carve out my place in the world. i don't want to spend our hard earned money on things that i can make, things that i can breathe life into, things that are uniquely ours. since my goals are becoming a little more clear, i am curious to see what i will do when i allow myself to explore, and make, and document along the way. in 'blog world' (sorely lacking a better phrase), we are creating communities, and providing teaching tools, and offering inspiration to others of us out there who are looking for it. i hope that in a year, i will find myself embraced in a community of likeminded women who also find value in creating a life by hand. it is my life work, at this time, to gather ideas, to bring comfort and joy to my home life, and to clarify the values that i wish to pass on to my children. today is the beginning of a journey to greater awareness, and i travel on a handmade road.