Feeling creatively refreshed

Over the past year, the linenlaid&felt studio has been a busy place. I've been working on new projects, experimenting with new ideas, and learning new techniques. And while I've spent lots of time making, I've spent less time blogging. But I'm aiming to change that, because I just have so much to share. 

Embroidery sampler on handmade paper by Claudia Lee.

Embroidery sampler on handmade paper by Claudia Lee.

I teach several bookbinding classes and workshops each semester in Nashville, but I've also decided to take more classes myself. Over the past year, I've brushed up on my papermaking skills, tried my hand at making marbled paper, learned some traditional bookbinding techniques, and made handmade paper boxes

Each of these classes have helped to give me a new perspective on my work, and I plan to write about them all in more detail. But for now, I want to start off with the most recent workshop that I took. 

A work-in-progress: The handmade paper box I made during Claudia Lee's workshop.

A work-in-progress: The handmade paper box I made during Claudia Lee's workshop.

I recently spent a weekend with Claudia Lee learning to make an elaborate box out of handmade paper. Working with materials I use on a daily basis — handmade paper and waxed linen thread — I made something quite different. My box (once it's complete) will be a place to store all of my bookbinding tools, elaborately decorated with embroidery and collage. 

Despite an entire weekend of stitching, my handmade box is still a work in progress. But I truly enjoyed the process of selecting color schemes, creating small compositions on each panel, and hand-sewing detailed patterns. Each surface of the box (including the bottom and the inside), is embellished with some sort stitching or design. It's a time-intensive, detail-oriented, and tedious undertaking — which happens to be right up my alley. 

Handmade paper boxes by Claudia Lee.

Handmade paper boxes by Claudia Lee.

At the end of the workshop, I felt invigorated, inspired, and creatively refreshed. And really, what could be better than that?  

First craft show of the season

I woke up Monday morning to find an acceptance e-mail in my inbox for The Handmade Market.  I'm so excited to try out a new show, and I think this will be just the motivation I need to really kick my bookmaking into high gear.  Plus, this will be my first out-of-state show, and I'm looking forward to meet some new people and see some new artwork. 

The Handmade Market will take place on Saturday, April 23 in Raleigh, NC.  They have a round-up of the participating designers on their website, and it looks like I'll be in great company.  The show organizers are going to be putting together an artist spotlight series on their blog leading up to the event.  I can't wait to read more about the work of my fellow designers, and to meet them in person next month. 

Art (and dogs) in the Park

This weekend marked my very first craft fair, and overall it was a very enjoyable and successful experience. I met some great new people and saw some impressive work by other artists. One of the highlights was discovering that my booth was right next to those of Dolan Geiman's mother and sister, further adding to the list of coincidences mentioned in this post.

Leading up to the event, we were worried about the weather; it stormed on Friday night and there was a threat of rain for the weekend as well. But aside from a brief rain shower on Saturday afternoon (which caused us to quickly rearrange our booth by pushing all of the tables toward the center of the tent) and temperatures in the high 80's on Sunday, we really lucked out.

One of the great things about selling at the craft fair, as opposed to just selling online, was that I was able to get a sense of what products people seemed most drawn to as they were browsing in my booth. In addition to my handmade journals, photo albums, and wedding guest books, I was also selling handmade notecards, printmaking, photography, and my wine bottle gift bags made from shirt sleeves. I was surprised by how popular my prints were, especially "Swimming with the Jellies" (which is my favorite as well). Also, my wine gift bags were a huge seller on Saturday. I sold almost half of the bags I had in stock the first day, but not a single one the second day. In general, the words of wisdom I heard from a veteran craft fair seller rang true: people shop on Saturday and browse on Sunday.

We found out the day before the show that Art in the Park was a pet-friendly event, so we decided to bring our sweet brindle bullmastiff along. Riviera was a huge hit throughout the weekend, bringing tons of visitors to our booth. There were all sorts of dogs (and even one pet snake) in the park this weekend, from tiny puppies to huge great danes.

My husband Tony helped me to make this bulletin board that displayed my linenlaid&felt logo, and some other information about my business. In the upper left, there's a short bio about me, which includes a description of my study abroad experience in Cortona, Italy where I learned the art of book making. We also included samples of linen, laid, and felt paper textures, a guide to the different binding styles of the books that I make, and info about custom orders.

I would also like to mention that Tony was a huge help with the preparations for this event. He helped keep track of my inventory, ironed my tablecloths, packed up our cars, set up my tent and tables, kept me company in my booth the entire weekend, and so much more. I could not have done this show without him, and I am so thankful for all that he contributed.

While sitting at my booth throughout the weekend, I worked on binding several books together as a demonstration of my craft. I made several Japanese stab-bound photo albums and some Coptic-bound journals and wedding guest books.

During the past month I had been so busy getting ready for the craft fair that I hadn't added many new products to my Etsy shop, but I will be adding a whole bunch of new products in the upcoming week. Today I photographed some new books, notecards, and wine bottle gift bags, so as soon as I write the descriptions they'll be up.

I would love to hear what all of you think of my craft show set up. Since this is the first show I've done, we decided to keep it simple at first, but I'm sure there are things I can do to make it better next time around. Please feel free to leave your critiques and suggestions in the comments.

Art in the Park

My blog posts have been few and far between lately, mainly because I've been busy getting ready for linenlaid&felt's first craft fair. This weekend I will have a booth at Art in the Park in Staunton, VA. I will be selling my handmade journals, sketchbooks, photo albums, and guest books. I will also have a few woodblock prints and photos for sale, as well as handmade notecards and my wine bottle gift bags made from upcycled shirtsleeves.

If you'll be in the Valley this Memorial Day weekend, please stop by Gypsy Hill Park and say hello. I will be there, along with my husband (and dedicated business partner), on Saturday from 10-5 and Sunday from noon to 5.

Hearts for Haiti

A few weeks ago, I bought a gift on Etsy for my dear friend Diana. There is a group on Etsy called Hearts for Haiti, where different sellers can donate their handmade items and profits go toward earthquake relief. I figured my purchases from Hearts for Haiti would be the perfect gift for Diana since 1.) she is always very thoughtful and puts so much of her time and effort toward helping others and 2.) she enjoy handmade things. I love how she always shares in my excitement when I discover a new artist or crafter, and she also supports and encourages me with my own artwork.

The first item I picked out was a hand-knitted coffee/tea cup cozy, made by VeryCarey, that can be used at coffee shops instead of the cardboard variety on take-out cups. Diana and I made quite a few outings to local coffee shops during college, and since her mission trip to South Africa she's become a tea drinker as well. I wish we still lived in the same town; it would be so much fun to go to Jittery Joe's together with some matching kitted cozies.

The second gift was a handmade flower necklace made from fabric and beads. It was created by EverydayDiamonds, a pair of Canadian sisters who make fabric flowers in a rainbow of colors, as well as beautiful jewelry and accessories. I've been enamored with fabric flowers lately. I have several shirts and sweaters adorned with flowers, I sewed my own flowers to use in place of bows on my bridesmaid gifts in July, and I have been coveting the flower necklace my friend Elena received from her fashion-designing sister.

If you have a chance, I recommend visiting the Hearts for Haiti shop on Etsy. And thank you, VeryCarey and EverydayDiamonds, for participating in this helpful cause.

Roses and chocolates and doilies... Oh my!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

In honor of the holiday that embraces all things red and pink and frilly and girly, I decided to get a little crafty and make a few Valentine-themed books. While sorting through an old box of scrapbooking supplies, I found a few packs of doilies from Valentine crafting of years past. I found that the heart-shaped doilies, when cut down to size, actually worked pretty well for making covers of my mini accordion books. And an assortment of other red and pink textured papers helped to round out my set of romantic books.