DIY {Teacher Gifts}


Today is Stella's last day of Summer School. It is her last day of being in the 3-year old Moonbeam class. Craziness!

We wanted to make a little something for her teachers to show them how much we appreciated them this last year. I saw this post over on Ez's Creature Comforts blog which inspired me to decorate mugs as teacher gifts.

Since I'm a total slacker and sat on this project until yesterday afternoon, I didn't end up getting the Porcelaine markers that Ez suggested. Those need 24 hours of air-dry time before they can be baked and set. So I went with the Sharpie Oil Based paint pens that supposedly work on metal, pottery, wood, rubber, glass, plastic and stone. I was a little nervous about the toxicity of them, but they are AP certified and Xylene-free, so they should be okay.

I gave Stella the task of drawing on them first. The paint actually dries really quick, so there wasn't a whole lot of smearing happening. Once the mug met her satisfaction, I took over and supplemented her artwork with mine. 

I thought they turned out pretty nice! The colors were nice and bright and popped well on the white ceramic mugs. Stella had a lot of fun drawing on something besides paper. All-in-all, I'd say they were a success! Hopefully her teachers like them.

Have a great weekend!

I Can Scan!

Today is a good day. Why? Because I finally have a scanner that works. Hooray!

For the last 8 months I haven't had a functioning scanner. I've had one sitting on my desk, attached to a printer that I use, but the scanner decided to leave me high and dry a while ago.

Since then, I've been taking photos of my illustrations and emailing them to myself. Not a very precise method. And it meant a lot of clean-up work in Photoshop. I figured it was about time I got myself a new scanner.

Well, so far so good! I decided to use this little gouache painting of a coneflower for my test subject. I kept the page in the sketchbook to test the gutter shadow reducer. I think it did a phenomenal job! I did nothing to it in Photoshop besides crop it. I didn't touch the white background - that's how great it scanned in! This is going to change my world.

In case you're wondering, I ended up buying a Canon CanoScan 9000F scanner. There were a few others I was considering at a much higher price point, but this one got stellar reviews. Some of the features I was especially interested in were:

     • Built-in retouching
     • Gutter shadow reduction
     • The software works with my Mac OS X Lion

I'm pretty pumped! I feel like I have a lot more options for my analog illustration now that I have good scanning capabilities. I can't wait to test it out more!

Until next time,

Do you Draw Something?


Today I am officially back on the interwebs after a 2-week social media hiatus. Between traveling and having WAY too much to do, I figured I didn't need all of the distractions of Twitter...and Facebook...and the Bloggery.

And though I had more than enough work to keep me busy, I couldn't help myself from being distracted by a new creative addiction: Draw Something. Are you familiar with this App?

About a month ago, our family purchased our first iPad. Up until then, I couldn't justify buying one when we already have a laptop, an iMac and 2 smart phones. Why would we need a tablet? When I finally caved and we bought one, I still figured of everyone in the house, I would use it the least. And for about a week, that theory held true. Then I discovered how much nicer it was to read all of my favorite blogs on the tablet than my phone. And then my friend turned me on to Draw Something. Now I'm using the iPad the most. Funny how that happens...

It's a drawing game, kinda like Pictionary. But in addition to drawing, there are also word scrambles acting as additional clues. I was hooked. I love drawing and I love Jumble. This game was the best of both games! Plus I can play with my friends - how fun is that?

salad • wrinkles • karate • Jay Z • time out • tower • ruby • zombie • groom

The tools are pretty basic - the Brush/Eraser tool comes in only 4 weights and there are only 4 colors...unless you buy more...which you pay for with the coins you earn by drawing and guessing correctly.

It took me a little practice, but I finally figured out a method of working with these primitive tools.  And now I can't get enough! It's getting to the point that I have to start limiting myself to 3 games per sitting, otherwise I swear I could spend hours drawing.

skydive • sunburn • gangster • canoe • messy • widow • beehive • salsa • game boy

Do you play? What do you think? Sure, it has it's quirks, but for the most part, I really enjoy it. And I am finding it's really challenging me creatively. Not only do I have to render these drawings without referencing another image, but I have to do it with a very limited "canvas". Plus I have to keep in mind someone needs to GUESS what I'm drawing. So is simplicity the key? Or lots of details? Finding that balance is key.

bling • slam dunk • steak • hotdog • ninja • leopard • uranus • lava lamp • strike

As I'm finishing this post I am retracting my aforementioned statement that I gave up social media for 2 weeks - Draw Something IS social media, isn't it? Eh. Since I'm drawing it's still considered "work", right?  :-)

If you're interested, I'd love to play with you, too! My handle is emilybluestar. 

Hit me up!

Renegade Chicago Lovelies


How was your weekend. Ours was wonderful. We traveled to Chicago for some IKEA and Renegade action. This was our first trip to IKEA since moving to the new house, so I needed some shelving to help me organize my office/studio. Plus some key accessories for around the house. Can you say red shag rug? Woo hoo!

Anyways, as always, Renegade was a blast. The sun was hot, but that didn't stop the throngs of people from some quality shopping! I didn't go too crazy this year, but I have to say - there were a LOT of very tempting booths.

This is what I took home with me:
- A set of Thank You cards from Yellow Owl Workshop
- A handful of cards from the awesome Tad Carpenter and Vahalla Studios 
- A necklace from cursive design
- A Wooden Wonder Loop Troupe from The Small Object

I didn't have much of a plan going in, but I was hoping to pick up a necklace from Cursive Design. I've been eyeballing Sarah's wares for a while now, but I really wanted to see it in person. Boy, was her jewelry beautiful! I picked out a pretty party necklace made out of wood, lace and glass. Isn't it fabulous?

Now hopefully I can keep Stella from yoinking on it...

Some of my other favorites were
- Moss terrariums from Twig
- Embroidered garland and mobiles from Specks & Keepings
- Rad necktie wallets from prix-prix
- Hand-dyed pillows from Prozan McGlinn 
- Prints from Little Things Studio
- Notebooks from Make My Notebook

I love Renegade!

Home Ec - Bib (and Purl SoHo!)

Hello! I'm back from fabulous New York City, but unfortunately my to-do list is miles long and the blog posts aren't taking priority. I figured I'd do a quick Home Ec update to prove I'm still alive.

Here's the next project on the Home Ec list - the quilted bib. This was a quick one, but I really enjoyed it. These will make nice baby gifts, because they're fast and make good use of fabric scraps. The new skill we learned was applying bias tape. I love how the tape finishes the edges and gives another hit of color. I think the tape was supposed to be wider than what I ended up buying, but I like the proportion of it to the relatively small bib. Though it was quite the challenge keeping it even on both sides and only having a 1/8" seam allowance! 

A quick note about NYC - I ended up visiting Purl SoHo, and it definitely lived up to the hype! I didn't have a plan before I went, so I just got really overwhelmed and wanted everything. The yarns were gorgeous, but it was the fabric selection that blew my mind. They had a whole wall of Liberty of London fabric! I don't think I've ever actually seen any real LoL fabric, and it was absolutely gorgeous. It was so soft, and the level of detail in the patterns was crazy! Someday, I'll do a project with LoL fabric. I will. I did buy a whole bunch of amazing fat quarters and fabric scraps, and a fun piece of bike-themed Kokka Fabric for my laptop case Home Ec project. I think I have a new love...FABRIC!

Purl SoHo fabric (Liberty of London is on the right)

The Kokka fabric I bought for a future project
Everyone have a great weekend! I'm hoping to play a little catch up with my L-O-N-G to-do list.



Renegade Chicago

Happy Monday! (Though I guess it's almost over.)

This past weekend I got the opportunity to go check out the Renegade Craft Fair in Chicago. Yup, this is the Renegade that I applied for a few months ago, but didn't get in. I was a bit dejected at the time, but it all worked out in the long run because I got to go SHOP instead!

The forecast looked a bit sketchy to start off the fair, but by late afternoon, the sun was shining and we were peeling off layer after layer. I was secretly hoping that the chance of rain would keep the crowds at bay, but that didn't happen - people were out in droves! I guess that is a good indication of what a success this fair is.

This year, along with my sister-in-law, Stephen, Stella and my bro-in-law came along too. It was awesome! Though, I don't think the other three got nearly as much shopping done as I did, since they were trying to keep the 2.5 year old corralled. Stella had a fine time, grooving to the tunes, petting the dogs and making friends with the locals.

Now to the fun part - my purchases! There were so many quality booths this year, and I was especially impressed with the variety of products. I never felt it was too heavy with one type of item. Clockwise, from the top left:

The Departure - print by Raw Toast Design
We're All Normal - print by The Little Friends of Printmaking
Weeee! - print by Nisee Made
E pendant necklace - by Lillian Crowe
The Baseball beanie - by BMC Handmade
Honeycomb necklace - by The Harbinger Co.

There were so many other wonderful products! Some of my other faves from the day were:

Pillow covers and textiles from Shapes & Colors
Cuddly stuffed animals from Sweater Toys
Felted earrings and handprinted pouches from Biggie 
Delicate necklaces from freshie & zero
My most favorite-ist pillows ever from PLYtextiles
Unique ceramics from Julie Guyot
Super fun shirts from umsteigen
Lovely stuffed animals from Skunkboy Creatures

I could go on and on...I wanted it all! Kudos to all the sellers - the work was fantastic and I was so ecstatic to get to meet some of my "friends" from twitter and the blogosphere. They're just as nice in person as they are on the Interweb!

Okay, back to sewing - I have to keep working so I have projects to show ya!

Iowa City Vacation


We finally made it back from our long weekend in Iowa City. Though it's nice to be back in our own beds, I have to say, I didn't want the weekend to end. For whatever reason, family time away from home is so much more special. I think it's because we don't have all the distractions of work, cleaning and honey-do lists - we actually get to spend quality time enjoying each other.

The University of Iowa is Stephen's alma mater, so we hit up a lot of his old haunts from back in the day. We had wonderful meals, met up with some old friends and went shopping. We stayed in a wonderful bed and breakfast called the Mission House and had some amazing meals and conversations with the innkeepers. Stella brought her bike and biked her little legs to and from the downtown. I had a run-in with a hermit crab (actually a cicada...not one of my most brilliant moments), we got stuck in several downpours and did I mention shopping?  Ah, it was fabulous.

 The Mission House Bed & Breakfast

I think I may have found my new favorite store. We were walking down the street when I noticed a cute little sign reading "Home Ec Workshop". Well, of course I have Home Ec on the brain with our online class coming up next week, so I noticed it right away. I just had no idea what amazing things I would find inside. My eyes must have bugged out of my head the moment we stepped in, because I was surrounded by the most glorious fabrics, notions and yarn - all in one place! I didn't even know where to start. Since the fam was with me, I knew I couldn't spend much time there, so I made myself leave. But from that moment on, I couldn't stop thinking about it.

 Home Ec Workshop

Well, I ended going back not once, but twice. In fact, the first time I went (sans the family), I actually ran, I was so excited. Me. Run. Ha! Yes, I ran my little TOMS shoes all the way back to the Home Ec Workshop. And I hung out. And looked at fabric. And gazed at the yarn. I knew I wanted some of the beautiful yarn, but I didn't have any projects in mind. So Codi, one of the awesome owners, helped me find a project, and I left with enough yarn to make hats and mittens for Stephen, Stella and I.

Codi was so cool, and we ended up hitting it off right away. Turns out she follows a lot of the blogs that I do, and was even familiar with the Home Ec online class that I'm taking! Finally I was able to gush about all the stuff I love with a real live person! 

Well, the next day, Stephen wanted coffee, so he suggested we go back to the Home Ec workshop. (Did I mention they have coffee and baked goods, too?) I warned him that if he allowed me to go in there again, I wouldn't be able to help myself from spending more money. He was apparently okay with that because we ended up there again, and I stayed true to my promise. This time I focused more on the notions, thinking I'd probably be needing some things for the online class. I ended up with some adorable polka-dotted oil cloth and some cotton webbing and bias tape. I can never find patterned stuff like this, so I felt I'd better stock up when I had the chance.



So now that I'm home, I'm trying to figure out if making a 2.5 hour trip to Iowa City specifically for this store is absolutely crazy. I think it probably is, but I loved it so much. In addition to the wonderful products, the store had a ton of personality, Codi was so great and even the customers were a happy, friendly bunch! All-in-all, it was a fabulous experience. 

How was your weekend?

Lake Mills Art Fair

One of the things I love about summer is all of the local art fairs. Last weekend was Art Fair on the Square in Madison, which is by far the largest in the area, but the small-town art fairs are just as fun. Plus, I can generally afford more at the smaller fairs... :)

Yesterday we headed over to Lake Mills, Wisconsin, for their art festival. I always enjoy this one because of location - it is set around the perimeter of the town square (actually more of a triangle), surrounded by big ol' shade trees (welcome relief for the 90+ degree temps) and accompanied by live music on the stage of the big gazebo. They even have a kids' art section where they could paint, build sculptures and get their faces painted. Stella got a flower painted on her cheek, and boy, was she a proud little girl!

A very talented artist, and a good friend of mine, Amanda, had a booth at the Art Festival. She was showing her paintings and mixed media pieces from her littlebird-art collection.I adore her style. First of all, many of her paintings feature birds (a favorite), but her sense of color and subtle collaging add depth and detail that I can't get enough of. I really wanted a painting, but just couldn't make a decision between two, so after getting Stephen's second opinion, we finally decided on a completely different painting - and I love it!

The painting on the left is what we finally decided to buy, and I think it's going to find a home in my office, so I can look at it ALL THE TIME. The moleskine on the right is for Stephen, a gocco print of an atomic owl. 

Today, to complete the local art fair tour, we're heading just a mile up the road to the Mount Horeb Art Fair. Hopefully I'll have more wares to show y'all soon!

Happy art,

Art Fair on the Square

This weekend is Art Fair on the Square in Madison, Wisconsin. It features over 450 artists who set up their booths around the capitol and showcase their wonderful work.

Every year we make a point of perusing the booths - there is a lot of talent out there, and it is great to get to see it all in one place. This year was no exception. We braved the heat (temps were hovering in the upper 80s), filled our bellies with shaved ice and cherry lemonade, and set out to explore the art.

We ended up taking home two items: Stephen purchased this great little upcycled journal from The Binding Bee and I bought myself this wonderful necklace from skosh design. Though the items themselves are awesome, the best part was getting to know the artists. They travel to Madison from all over the country and they are wonderful people! We were so happy to support them.

Some of my other favorites were: seven smooches, Dolan Geiman, anthony hansen and Photographs by Cali


JCrew Illustration#2

Phew! Thank goodness for Friday. This has been one crazy week. I don't think I've ever had so many projects / clients to juggle at one time - it has taken major multitasking and focus to pull off all these deadlines.

And even though Stephen has been gone for several days, and we miss him terribly, his absence does work in my favor. Usually I'm so torn when he's home in the evenings - all I want to do is hang out, watching movies, whatever. And even if we do settle down for a movie, I usually have a Fuzzy in my lap (not for snuggling...to sew, of course!). The rare occasion when I choose to forgo the sewing, my mind is constantly thinking about how I should be sewing. I just can't relax and enjoy myself! So, I guess my point is that when Stephen is gone, there is no temptation to hang out with him - and when I'm ultra busy, I get much more accomplished.

Even though the projects are piled high, I'm still trying to make time for my personal stuff. Here is my latest JCrew illustration #2 - page 006. This one was quite challenging because of the angle of her face. But it was also fun because of the flowing dress, the flowing hair, even the flowing limbs.

Today I received this adorable little screen print by Jane McDevitt
in the mail. What a way to brighten an otherwise grey and foggy day! Some day I'm actually going to frame and hang all the wonderful prints I've been collecting the last few years...

You can find more of her work at Maraid Design.

Have a great weekend!