Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Life in a Nutshell: Handy Who?

We're having the trim our our house painted this week. I'm giddy with anticipation!

Instead of staying on the house, the paint (a very ugly color to begin with) was flaking into our flower gardens, deck and yard. I will permit some level of "lived-in-ness" to my house (more than most would be comfortabale with, quite likely), but peeling paint just screams of future home repairs and other horrors. So we got a few quotes and chose someone we know will do a great job for a great price, John of Ting Painters, LLC.

During the extensive prep work for such a job, John discovered that some of the boards at the junction of our sunroom addition to the main house needed to be replaced. Since they are professional painters but not responsible for our rotted boards, someone had to replace them. Now, you probably know I'm not shy around power tools, but I was glad that my husband had cut the first couple boards while I looked on, so the next day when we discovered more that needed to be replaced, I was able to do all by myself... and it looks great!

But now, after a delicious dinner of sushi by myself (my wonderful mother-in-law was watching the kids today and my husband stayed over there with them for dinner), I am dirty and tired and I want to play with my new serger. That's right... TheJuneBride has a new serger! It has been a very productive day! Review to come once I figure it all out :) Good night everyone!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Feature Friday: Blue Sky Pottery

Deb Babcock is the woman behind Blue Sky Pottery. Formerly a resident of Michigan, Deb currently works from her studio in Steam Boat Springs, Colorado. She makes a variety of beautiful hand-thrown and handbuilt items, from decorative pieces to platters and rice bowls.

Deb writes in her Etsy profile:

I have studied under such renowned potters as Clary Illian, Meira Mathison, Sylvie Granitelli, Julia Galloway, Bonnie Seeman, Sarah Jaeger, and Sandi Pierantozzi. From each of these wonderful artists, I take away a new technique or way of creating that I then incorporate into my own pottery voice. I am a founding member of the Steamboat Clay Artisans and work with this group on an annual Soup Bowl Supper fundraiser, a holiday sale, summer farmer's market, and educational programs. I was honored last year to be asked to submit my work which is featured in Best Of America Pottery and Woodworking Artists & Artisans Vol.1 by Kennedy Publishing. And recently (April 2009) I was one of the speakers at the national clay conference in Phoenix talking about online selling.

As you can see, I'm not the only one who thinks very highly of Deb's work. I met her through a series of Etsy conversations surrounding a front page feature and, though I can't remember all the details of who was featured or when, I do know that her sweet disposition left a lasting impression and I have found myself poking around her shop more often than I should admit. I have always loved pottery and I very much enjoy finding high quality handmade genius in the world of ceremics. And that is exactly what Deb does best.

Thanks to Deb for being willing to let me use her lovely images for this post. Her shop is chock full of more lovely giftables (and keepables, for that matter) so go have a look!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Off the Shelf: Ready for Anything

I'm not sure how or why I decided to pick up this book at the library, but I'm glad I did. David Allen's Ready for Anything is a book aimed at corporate executives and stay at home moms alike, a conglomeration of mini-tutorials on how to make the most of your brain and the organizational methods that support it through whatever life throws at you.

I am a creative type... not so much a natural organizer. I am not good about regularly maintaining the organizational systems I have created to keep family and business running smoothly. As evidence, I cite the facts that I clean for company and organize receipts when I'm about to do taxes. I'm managing now though I find my lax methods going down like a sinking ship as life gets more complicated and the business is growing. I'd like to nip this problem in the bud before it undercuts my personal goals and overall success. I'm led to believe that David Allen's style of productivity might be the trick to getting on track. He had previously written a book titled Getting Things Done whose enthusiastic reviewers indicate includes more of a formal plan for doing just that, and that is now on my reading list.

There's a lot of lofty talk in this book about clearing your head (onto paper) and your desk (into functional systems) to make room for creative thought, but that's the whole point, now isn't it? I think it is a worthwhile read even if you only take away a few generalities about how to be better prepared to take advantage of whatever comes your way whenever it happens. The quotes spattered through the book are interesting but distracting, and not all 52 of his items will necessarily apply to everyone. But if you can into his thick writing style, there's a lot of good stuff to get you thinking about how to make yourself more efficient and less stressed about the unknowable future. I give this book a B+ for content and an A for its clear descriptions of why each point is necessary to the plan, and I'm hoping that a read of Getting Things Done provides a more clearcut plan to implement these ideas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Get Crafty: Faux TTV Photography

I have been just loving the variety of photography styles that can be found on Etsy, and the TTV format is really interesting to me lately. A TTV ("through the viewfinder") image is made just as you would think... throught the viewfinder of a camera. To do this one would make a physical assembly that would hold a digital camera the correct distance away from the large viewfinder of an older camera, and take a digital image using the viewfinder as a frame. The degree of color and filth present in and on the viewfinder adds interesting detail to the photo, and these unique traits give each camera its own TTV look.

Wanting to learn more about this and not having the appropriate equipment or time to invest in making my own authentic TTV images, I found a great tutorial using The Gimp (free photo editing software with quasi-Photoshop abilites) to duplicate this look digitally. Basically, you find a blank TTV image (look on Flickr for "blank TTV"... make sure you have permission to use the image before you download it!) and use it like a layer mask over the image you want to TTV-ify. Worked like a charm, quick and easy. Playing around with the various blank TTV images was fun because you can see the various different results you can get:

Now, I realize there is some animosity amongst serious photographers and amateurs alike regarding the artistic purity of authentic TTV and these so-called fakes. To that I say "eh". I care very little for the process when the results are really what makes an image memorable or not, and digital manipulation is an art all its own.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Off the Shelf: Generation T

While at my local library looking for general, interesting or educational material about fashion and sewing, I came across the book Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt by Megan Nicolay.

I'm not mean, really, but this book offends in every way. I didn't care for the pictures, the styles or the little add-in boxes of information that were seemingly included to fill space for this surprisingly weighty book. On the plus side, the directions were quite clear and Joe the plumber would have no problem following them, to be sure. The premise is that anyone with an old T-shirt or two, even folks with no sewing skills, can deconstruct, slash or otherwise alter the shirt into new stylish garments. Not so, say I. Maybe if the 80's had lasted 35 years, but it didn't and we are all glad of that. Unless you want to sport Wedding Singer-style, even one successful T-shirt alteration is one too many.

I give this book an F- for content (Amazon gave it 4 out of 5 stars over 151 reviews, but I'm going to have to cite a conspiracy theory to explain that) and a C for effort. It was a little contrived... put it back on the shelf.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Feature Friday: Paperhill

I've decided to start doing some feature posts of Etsy artists that have captured my admiration, and I can think of no one better to feature first than Susan of Paperhill.

I "met" Susan a few months ago and it's been fun getting to know her more since then. I was reading her beautiful blog and just had to ask for the recipe for a gorgeous loaf of artisan bread she had made, and she generously obliged. We've been friends ever since! It turns out she's a mom of 3 living somewhere in the state of New York. We have a lot in common in our personal lives, a fact that makes talking with her seem so easy. She's a wonderful person as well as being gifted with many creative talents. She sews, makes jewelry, and does paper crafts in addition to having a sublime eye for design and very artful presentation of her products. And she loves to frequent estate sales... a woman after my own heart. She inspires me on multiple levels, and I'm so happy to have found her.

Susan also has a second Etsy shop dedicated to authentic vintage fabrics and trims, Paperhill Fabrics. She keeps a very nice selection of gorgeous prints of varying weight cotton that could inspire and supply an army of Etsians. Just lovely.

I'm looking forward to featuring more brilliant artists in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading... now go check out Paperhill on Etsy! Happy Weekend!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Get Crafty: Scrapbooking Synergy

Not too long ago, I did a custom order for Shabby Pink Designs, an online scrapbooking site. They commissioned a number of flat-backed wool waterlilies to be used as part of one of their convenient page kits. Here is the finished page created by the kit:

I really enjoy doing custom orders and exploring new uses for my products. I am not a scrapbooker myself and would not have thought of this concept, so here is where creative customers really come in handy! I would be happy to make more of these should any of you savvy scrappers out there be interested in a similar embellishment. Check out Shabby Pink Designs for more unique kits!

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Life in a Nutshell: Anniversary Getaway

My husband and I finally "got away" ALONE for a weekend for the very first time since we've had kids. It was wonderful... we drove up to Mackinaw City and visited local areas of interest, including Mackinac Island. Despite being a Michigander born and raised, I had never been to the island myself and it was a real treat. It was the weekend of the lilac festival on the island as well as the Big Mac bike/run. And there was fudge! I now have a teeny tiny secret wish to get a big marble slab and try my hand at authentic fudge methods but, like many good things, I may have to wait for retirement for that one.

Here are some of the more scenic pictures I took during the weekend. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

TheJuneBride News: MICE @ The Market

Today was the semi-annual takeover of the Kerrytown Artisan Market, arranged by Kate of Chiclookate. This was my third market ever and my first solo market, but it went well despite ominous beginnings. It was supposed to rain and actually did rain nearby, but we never got any directly over the market and that was a stroke of luck because it would have been very unpleasant, despite the covered venue. It was chilly and windy at first but got sunnier and humid near the end. I was so excited about it that I forgot my lunch after trying to print a banner for my table immediately before leaving the house. But Kate was wonderful and brought bagels and I got some tea and free wireless internet from Sweetwaters in the Kerrytown building, so the time flew by. My neighbors were Cari from Brown Joey Designs and a woman from Detroit who does macrame but whose shop name I cannot for the life of me remember. Cari and I were bathroom buddies, minding each others tables as needed. Very nice girl... she made the day much more fun.

Here's my table:

I had a good time and enjoyed being out of the house, but I'm exhausted now from a long weekend and I think this week will have to be low key for recuperation purposes. Well, I can hope, can't I? Hope your weekend was lovely too!