Sep 282014

Last weekend I had the joy of gifting one of my dearest friends and her now-spouse with a framed handmade papercut for their wedding. Now I can reveal the full scene of where the sneaky bunnies from this post live!


Click to embiggen for more detail

Since I had plenty of time to work on it over the summer, this was my go-to project whenever I had a few minutes to craft at my desk. With longer cutting sessions I developed the infamous claw-hand, so I was pleased with myself for not procrastinating and being able to keep my sessions short.

I picked up the distressed gold-painted frame at Brooklyn Flea on the same outing where I found the teal frame for my embroidered hedgehog.


A few detail shots:


The design is by Bmore Papercuts, all cut out with an X-acto knife by me. I hand-lettered the central part of the design, which included the bizarre task of figuring out how to write a block ampersand backwards.


And a final shot of the piece, before I adhered it to the green backing (cover weight paper chosen from the many shades of green I picked up at Paper Presentation):


Here’s the card I made, photographed while sitting outside of Looking Glass Cafe in Carrboro, NC. It was lovely to visit my old stomping grounds the day before the wedding, and to get some work and play done at one of my favorite hometown spots.


We received some very touching handmade gifts for our wedding, including cross-stitched pieces and a sewn patchwork rendering of our wedding website (which had in turn been handcrafted by Charles). I felt so loved and special that people chose to make us gifts with their very hands, and so it felt natural to channel my love and creative energy into crafting this piece for Lauren and Ryland. Lauren’s sweet reaction to the gift couldn’t have been more gratifying.

Have you ever received or given any handmade wedding gifts?

Jul 202014

This past week I switched gears in my knitting projects. For a little while I was swatching peacock-inspired lace patterns for a summery cardigan. Now that project is on hold while I work up a piece for a PLANTS art show my friend is curating.

Here’s a little sneak preview of what will grow up to become an interactive tree toy, if all goes well:


I’m excited to design and make a project to contribute to an art exhibit. The short time frame is appealing: both motivating and a little terrifying, as I’ve gotta finish by the end of the month (yikes). I plan to write up and publish the pattern after the show.

Switching gears to kitchen craftings, wanna see some tasty pie?


Oh cherry cheesecake, your layers are beautiful and delicious.

My partner’s birthday was last week, and in continuing the tradition of making raw desserts for each other on special occasions, I prepared a raw cherry cheesecake. I mostly followed this recipe, while drawing some inspiration from this lemon cherry cheesecake as well.

Modifications from the first recipe: in the cherry pie layer, I used less coconut oil, added lemon juice, and substituted psyllium seed husk powder for xanthan gum since that’s what I had in the pantry.

As with most raw desserts, I store this cake in the freezer. Thaw for 15 minutes, add some sliced cherries, and devour.


In addition to enjoying the occasional raw dessert, we drink a lot of tea in this household. I stopped by the tea shop near my work, Harney & Sons SoHo, for some oolong to add to Charles’ birthday gift. The only label indicating the type of tea was on an ugly bar code, which I simply can’t abide. So I labelled the bag using a little hand-lettering technique I’ve been practicing.


Basically you make the downward stroke of each letter thicker. I’m still a total newbie at this, practicing by making names pretty on the envelopes I address at work. Skillshare has several hand-lettering classes I’d like to check out.


For the tea drinkers out there, this Dong Ding Oolong is delicious, and re-steeps well – I’m sipping on a third steeping right now and it still has a nice flavor.

One day when Charles went to make some of the tea, he looked at the bag and asked, “Is this someone’s handwriting?” When I smiled excitedly and said yes, he studied it again and said, “Wait, is it your handwriting? It looks really cool!” Oh sweet bonus reward of crafting praise, I never tire of you.

Jul 032014

These last several weeks I’ve been working on a couple papercut projects here and there, which I find makes for relaxing, brief crafty sessions in the evenings. Sessions where I lose myself in the project with intense focus, but not for too long or my fingers turn into clawhand (still haven’t perfected a looser knife grip, clearly). Cutting away each little section of paper is extremely satisfying, and I love seeing elements of the design slowly emerge. This tree was my practice sheet from the papercut class at Brooklyn Craft Company (previously), taught by Bmorepapercuts.


And here’s a sneak peak at the other papercut project. Bunnies!


I want to check out the Brooklyn Flea market in Fort Greene to pick up some frames, both for these papercuts and for an old embroidery project that needs a home.

In other papercraft project news, I thought I did pretty well this year getting my father’s day gifts ready on time. Bakery treats purchased, gift card ready to go… Oh wait, it’s 9pm the night before I need to mail the package to get it to North Carolina by the weekend and I *totally forgot* about the card! And as I’ve mentioned, I have, shall we say, a hard time going with a storebought card instead. Enter my nighttime crafting station:


I aimed for speed here rather than fretting over an interesting design. I did fret long enough to discover I didn’t like the contrast of either apple green or sage on the purple chevron, and went with a deep inky hue instead. The Hebrew letter stamps spell out (wait for it) father.


I’m hoping to fit in lots of crafty time this long weekend, plus a long bike ride or two for my outdoor adventuring fix. Happy July!

May 182014

Ever since I realized I could make greeting cards myself, I’ve felt strange purchasing them. When I’m pressed for time, every once in a while I’ll buy a hand-crafted card. Despite the fact that I love supporting other crafters, I often feel guilty not doing it myself. The plight of DIY – we can’t make every single thing all of the time! Some days I recognize that and can let it go better than others.

I made a card for Mother’s Day using a sheet of my hand-marbled paper – my first project from this batch. I’m feeling quite precious about several of the sheets, and not ready to commit to a project (especially when there are so many options). As I looked through my small stack, the “second-pull” sheets called to me. Sometimes enough paint was left in the tray that I could pull another print, and the result was a subtle marbled pattern.

Those Hebrew alphabet stamps sure do come in handy

“Mom”: those Hebrew alphabet stamps sure do come in handy

The purple ink needed a little something extra to pop against the purple paper. Enter glitter glue! So glad I found my childhood glitter glue stash in my parents’ house and brought it back to Brooklyn.

Stamping tends to be my default medium for making greeting cards, along with the occasional collage element. I went to Paper Presentation for the first time over the winter…what an inspiring space! Definitely worth a visit if you have even the faintest interest in paper goods and crafts. I stopped by to shop for a notebook, and left with a few new stamps as well – both the oak tree and leaf below, shown on a card I made a few months ago.

Tree stamp, I want to use you on everything.

Tree stamp, I want to use you on everything.

My family has multiple birthdays in early February. While preparing a gift package for my brother this week, I thanked my winter self for having the foresight to make an extra card when I crafted that batch. Time crunch card crafting dilemma solved!

Up next, I’ll share the gift I made for my brother’s birthday – featuring watercolor and an interactive elephant.

Do you ever make your own greeting cards? What’s your medium of choice?

May 042014

My favorite Friday night activity is some variation on the following:

Crafty still life

Crafty still life

Candle lit, notebook out, and crafty supplies at the ready – a lovely way to end the week and start the weekend.

Rounding up where I’m at with my current crafty projects:

-I’m almost done cutting out interfacing for the Dorothy bag. Since moving to NYC and getting rid of our dining room table, I’ve yet to figure out a good setup for cutting fabric. Instead of continuing to avoid the bag project, I remembered that interfacing isn’t nearly as wide as fabric, and so less intimidating to cut. I made do on my cutting mat and sewing/crafty table, which is wonderfully long but not very deep – the 24″ axis of my mat hangs off on both sides. I picked up some heavy washers to act as pattern weights, and am digging this no-pin rotary cutting.

-My cross-stitch phone case is coming along nicely. I’m stitching daily on my commute, assuming I can get a seat or a good “standy-spot” – one where I can brace myself against the subway doors for balance and keep my hands free for stitching. Last weekend I was this far, sharing my work with a friend:



Now I’ve finished the fox face but for the eyes, and am on my third chevron stripe. I’ve decided to leave the black chevrons blank rather than stitching them, both to save time (ohman this grid is tiny), and for textural interest. My progress is going along faster now that I discovered I can cross stitch while watching a show (catching up on Mad Men season 5).

-In crafty dabbling news, I started an advanced papertcut project yesterday while volunteering at Brooklyn Craft Company. Some photos here. Our instructor, Annie of Bmorepapercuts, brought some of her amazing work to show us, including part of a huge piece – practically my height – cut out of Tyvek. My papercut is still very much in the early stages, since I spent lots of (too much) time customizing my design and getting the lettering right (you write it out backwards in this process). Also because I listened to my body and took frequent breaks when my hand/neck/back/shoulders starting aching. I need to learn a less claw-handed knife grip! The tip of my right index finger still feels vaguely tingly. I’m going to pick up a pack of exacto blades so I can continue this project at home.

I’ve been riding my newly-tuned-up bike more often, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in the botanic garden, most of my sweaters have been put away in exchange for shorter sleeves and the occasional bare legs, and spring looks like it’s finally here to stay. Happy May!

Apr 062014
Hand-marbled paper

Marbled paper from my session at Brooklyn Brainery taught by HappyGoCrafty

Last post I shared my first dabbles in learning paper marbling. What will I do with my marbled paper? I’ll use some for cards, and probably hold on to my favorites for a while. Maybe use a sheet as a background or matting for framing an embroidery project.

Searching for project inspiration, I came across decoupaged votive holders, cards, framed wall art, bookbinding, furniture(!), and more:


marbled paper boxes and envelopes (tutorial) by the Saturday Market Project

gift bag

marbled paper gift bag (tutorial) by Aunt Annie’s Crafts

Gorgeous paper weaving by Boombox Bindery

gorgeous paper weaving by Boombox Bindery

marbled paper lamp base

marbled paper lamp base by Elise Blaha Cripe

marbled paper table(!!) by Love Your Pad

marbled paper table(!!) by Love Your Pad

I also gathered a few web resources with detailed instructions, trouble shooting info, and marbling history:

  • Marbling Basics: A Step-by-Step Guide to Marbling Fabric by Dharma Trading Co. Even though it’s geared towards marbling fabric, this guide has lots of great info that would apply to paper as well, along with good trouble shooting tips.
  • When I mentioned my latest dabbling to marbling artist Katherine Radcliffe, she was very generous with her knowledge. Her website includes process shots and a brief history of marbling, along with images of her beautiful marbled work.
  • Marbled Paper Designs by BibliOdyssey provides an in-depth look at the history of marbling, tons of images showcasing different types of designs, and links for further exploration.

That’s probably it for my marbling dabbles for a while – at least until the end of May, when I’m hoping to orchestrate a group marbling playday.

Apr 012014

A few weeks ago I took a paper marbling class with a couple of friends at Brooklyn Brainery, a spot in my neighborhood that offers all kinds of classes, from hands-on crafts to lectures to walks where you learn how to identify trees (also super fun and recommended!).

I’ve dabbled in paper crafts over the years, making simple cards using stamps and collage. I was excited to add another paper technique to the craft arsenal, especially one that plays with pattern and color.

Hand-marbled paper

My favorite of the batch is a sheet of drooping curtains: turquoise, purple, blue, and black combed pattern

For the marbling process, essentially you need paint to float and spread on a thick liquid solution. After manipulating the paint to make the blobs and swirls characteristic of marbling, you lay a piece of paper on the surface of the water for a few seconds to pick up the paint.

We worked fast, both to avoid dreaded air bubbles and because class time was short (90 minutes). This speed was refreshing, as I often tend to agonize over details and trying to get something “just right”. Instead, I just played around and had a blast!

I’m hoping to organize a paper marbling get-together with some friends this summer. I record the process in detail here for anyone who’s curious, and to help jog my future self’s memory.

Sizing: Acrylic paint sinks in water, so the liquid solution needs to be thickened into “sizing” (or “size”). There are many methods to accomplish this, including using carrageenan and water or a base of shaving cream! We used methocellulose in the class. Mix up the sizing, a day in advance if necessary for the chosen method, and pour into a metal baking pan.

Paint: We used acrylic craft paints (Apple Barrel), watered down to the consistency of whole milk. Another marbling enthusiast I know loves Golden Opaque Airbrush Flow.

Using broom straw, plastic stir sticks, or another applicator, tap paint onto the sizing. Use as many colors as desired, with 3-6 recommended. If you stop here, you get a Turkish Stone design, which is the foundation for the marbling techniques we learned.


Turkish Stone pattern: classic paint spatter with veins, and the basis for most other designs

Patterns: Manipulating the colors was my favorite part! Drag combs, rakes, skewers, and other tools across the surface to create patterns. We learned the traditional Get-Gel pattern (literally forth and back, describing the path of your rake across the surface) and many variations.


You can create several concentric circles by tapping dots of paint onto the sizing with the blunt end of a skewer. With the pointy end, pull the four ‘corners’ of the circle into the center to create a clover, pull the rounded edges out into a point to create a flower, and so on. Check out this wacky psychedelic design! (Not my usual color palette. I think I applied some combination of my favored jewel tones, but pulling the paint with orange paper really changed the palette’s feel.)


Adding and manipulating concentric circles to the traditional paint spatter for psychedelic botanicals

Paper: In class we used construction paper, and the colored paper made the final results even more surprising. (The only marbling I did on white paper is the first Turkish Stone design above.) Bend the paper and gently lay it flat in the tray for a few seconds. Pull the sheet out onto a masonite board and squeegee the excess sizing off. Set aside to dry. When dry, store under heavy books to flatten.


Now what to do with all this marbled paper? I’ll share some project inspiration and more marbling resources next time around.