Baby Break: Let's Stay Connected


I am going to take a brief maternity leave while I wait (as patiently as humanly possibly) for my second son to arrive. Today we are just days from his due date and I am trying to spend this time focused on my sweet family, my full studio, and any remaining moments in appreciation of the quiet I can still find for myself. Such anticipation. Such excitement. Such a very full heart.

I'm going to take a brief break from this beloved blog and plan to return here on Monday, April 20. Something tells me I'll have thoughts and inspirations and probably a stash of newborn baby photos to share. Don't be surprised if I pop in between now and then to tell you the sweet babe has finally arrived. Oh my. I have some fun workshops and book events lined up for late May and early June so I'll be sure to share the details when they're confirmed.

In the meantime, let's stay connected. You can join me here to receive big announcements, special offers, and seasonal updates of my studio happenings directly in your email inbox. I'll also keep posting intermittently on my new Facebook business page, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter as the inspiration strikes and my need to connect with the world takes over. 

As always, thank you for joining me in this space. I'll see you soon with a new babe in my arms. Wish me luck, friends!



Modern Quilts: Bold and Unconventional Patchwork

I'm endlessly inspired by modern quilt designers and their simultaneous deviation from, and reference to, traditional quilt patterns. I'm making a baby quilt for this soon-to-be baby boy of mine. I'm using a mix of new and upcycled fabrics, mostly though not exclusively Lotta Jansdotter fabric designs, and I'm keeping the palette very simple: Blue, white, and gray.

All the fabrics use a two-tone design of either bright blue and white or dark gray and white. Simple. But I'm looking to several sources for my design inspiration. Choosing the fabrics is always the fun part: The moment when the design starts to come to fruition but the possibilities are still endless. And texture, color, and composition abound!

Then I let the fabrics dictate the quilt design this time. I reviewed my quilt boards on Pinterest, I took a longer look at the quilt I made for my first son just three years ago, I swooned over the Quilts of Gee's Bend once more, and then I came across this gorgeous book, Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950- 2000.

I can't say enough good things about this book. It's SO good. It's filled with inspiring, unconventional quilt designs and wonderful interviews with leading textile artists and designers like Natalie Chanin. I keep going back to it again and again for added inspiration.

I've also been swooning over the latest interior design book by Mark & Sally Bailey, Imperfect Home. It speaks so clearly to my ongoing slow fashion project, Make Thrift Mend, and gives a boost of confidence to apply this slow design thinking to my home.

I have several of the Baileys' books, I love their sustainable and inspired approach to interior design, but this latest book is my absolute favorite. It embraces a wabi-sabi, handmade, imperfect approach to interior design and the results are bold and stunning. Their work is a constant inspiration for me in my studio.

So after spending some time with these two books I decided I wanted my quilt top to be bold, modern, and unconventional. I wanted it to somehow be in conversation with the quilt I made for my first son as they might someday share a room. But given my time constraints with my due date just two weeks away, I wanted it to be simple enough to finish soon. I also looked to Namoo Quilts and Carolyn Friedlander's quilts for modern inspiration.

Then I set some parameters: Same size as my first son's quilt (roughly 54" x 34"), complimentary colors to my son's, and like the first quilt I'd rely on a mostly horizontal composition of quilt strips. Then I let intuition take over and patched the fabrics together. I've sewn the quilt top together, selected the batting and backing, basted with pins, and now I'm deciding between machine quilting and hand stitching.The binding is always my favorite part: The final details before the quilt comes together and moves from my studio table to its rightful place in our home.

These moments of crafting and artmaking move my work forward. It doesn't matter if the work is for exhibition, publication, or for personal use in my home. It's the same. It's the moments when I'm able to look at the lineage of my craftsmanship; look for the deviations in concept or design; find a few modern mentors that inspire me to take new risks; but mostly I have to stay true to my original vision and while making the work get closer to what I had in mind.

I also ask a series of questions as I'm working: Does this feel right? Is this what I had in mind when I started? Can I make it simpler? Does it need all the parts? Am I gaining clarity? Does it look like me?

Of course, now I want to make a bigger quilt for our bed. I want to finish a vintage quilt top I found years ago and have stashed in my blanket chest. And someday, I'd like to dye my own fabric and make a Flying Geese quilt too. It's my favorite traditional quilt design. But for now, I'm just hoping to finish sewing this baby quilt before our tiny human arrives. Time is the main concern these days. Did I mention, I'm due in less than two weeks?!?



Our Home Tour and Feathering the Nest

At 36 weeks pregnant I have now officially started nesting. That's right: The urge to move furniture, wash baby clothes, and stack diapers is now fully upon me. This weekend I finished my last public events before my due date and something instantly triggered my brain to begin feathering the nest.

And this is a very good thing because I was starting to worry if this instinct was going to kick in at all with this second baby. With my first son I was dreaming up nursery colors as soon as I knew I was pregnant. Okay, maybe I was even dreaming about his baby quilt before I was pregnant. I confess.

With this second baby, I am just glad to have a few boxes of hand-me-down baby clothes, a co-sleeper at the ready, and a car seat on top of the dryer waiting to be installed. (I could already write a novel about the differences in approaching the birth of my first child versus my second--but I will spare you the details and just talk about the pretty parts like feathering the proverbial urban nest.)

A few months ago I was asked to send photos of my home to a book editor and so I spent an afternoon tidying the house and snapping some images. As I start to organize one corner of our small bedroom for the nursery area I am happy to have these images of our tidy apartment because I know the newborn baby storm is about to hit our beloved homestead in just a few weeks.

You know: The impossible piles of laundry, stacks of dishes, and random necessary baby goods all misplaced in a sleep deprived haze while the happy hormones of new parent love coat all the chaos in a rosy gaze of "who cares" until we start to put the pieces back together again. Oh, the piles. Oh, the swirl of exhaustion and wonderment. Oh, the anticipation of it all.

But for now I get to organize baby clothes, dream up a baby quilt, and still tuck my three-year-old's toys neatly back onto the tiny toy shelf while some order remains. People are often shocked that I share a 1.5 bedroom apartment with my family of three, soon-to-be four. Having lived in Brooklyn and now Oakland for more than a decade it's not that uncommon to raise a family in a very small space (particularly if that space is rent controlled and in a lovely neighborhood) but that's not to say it isn't also a challenge.

What's my secret? Determination. Like anything else, I find that my determination to stay in this apartment is what makes it work. We don't accrue large unnecessary toys, we keep our shared living space as orderly as parently possible while trying to maintain a sense of humor, and we regularly sell, trade, and donate household goods as we outgrow them.

Don't be fooled: I still dream of a farmhouse and a barn converted into art studios someday but for now? Our 650 square feet of urban bliss is just fine. The tiny house movement also adds inspiration to my small apartment on a regular basis.

I've reorganized my Pinterest boards and I'm seeking inspiration for what I've learned is called a "corner nursery". That's right, a corner nursery is a nice way of saying that the parents' bedroom will double as a nursery until the little one is ready for a room of his own.

I'm also finding so much inspiration that I'm pinning on Nursery Decor, Kids Rooms, and my Quilt boards as I design a quilt for this tiny human. It's funny, now somehow my son's bedroom (our converted walk-in closet) seems like a huge space for a nursery as I move our bedroom furniture around in a puzzle to make the co-sleeper and another dresser fit inside. Oh, perspective.

I still can't believe that I'll have another child in just about four weeks but at least now my nesting instincts have kicked in and it actually looks like a baby will join our home in the very near future. This is not yet an organized or pretty prediction of the human that is yet to come but at least the basics can be located in a moment's notice. Well, except for the diapers.

We still don't have one newborn diaper in our midst but I think I can remedy that in four weeks time. Let's be honest, first I want to design the quilt and then I'll tend to the diapers. Priorities, right?



Goodie Bags, Celebrations, and Past Lives

I think I was one of Santa's workshop elves in a past life. That's feasible, right? Whether I'm preparing for a craft fair, wrapping holiday gifts, or making goodie bags I'm pretty sure that at some point in a past life I probably wore a striped shirt, red knickers, and shiny suspenders. Probably that pointy hat and those adorable felt shoes too. Maybe I should add another tag to my bio: Artist, writer, crafter, former elf. Hmm... okay, maybe not.

I am making goodie bags for this weekend's book events! Two different bags for two different events. At the book signing on Saturday at Bella Vita from 3-5pm I'll be offering free goodie bags to the first ten people to buy a book. These bags will contain most of the materials needed to make the Pretty Paper Garland project from my book, The Paper Playhouse.

The paper garlands are a good place for adults or kids to begin when making the projects in the book. And they only require a handful of materials and, well, most of the materials are rather pretty so I made these pretty packages for the first ten buyers on Saturday afternoon. Plus, it was fun to assemble!

The second set of gift bags are for The Paper Playhouse Craft Party at Handcraft Studio School on Sunday afternoon. I'm so excited for this event! This set includes an assortment of upcycled pretty papers, postcards, washi tape, pink felt hearts, felt balls, and other paper flotsam and jetsam. I think of this one more like an inspiration packet--meant to fuel the imagination when making any of the projects in the book.

Plus, again, it was just plain fun to assemble these bags with the book in mind. Folks who attend the craft party also receive a free copy of the book so I like to think they walk away with the whole kit and caboodle. Caboodle, is that a real word? I digress.

Oh, friends. I am so excited to share these book events with my local Oakland community. I hope you'll join me on Saturday or Sunday for a signed book, goodie bag, special snack, and some papery inspiration. This Sunday is my last public event before my due date in early March. That doesn't seem possible but, somehow, it's true.

Have a great week.


PS--Thank you to those of you who have purchased my book through my Etsy shop. I've finally restocked the shelves and will also have extra copies with me this weekend. Thank you!


Fun News: Book Signing & A Craft Party!


I'm so excited to announce that I've scheduled two upcoming book events in the East Bay for my new book, The Paper Playhouse. On Saturday, February 7 from 3-5pm I'll be signing books at the adorable women & children's boutique, Bella Vita, at their new location at 5511 College Avenue in Oakland--less than one block from the Rockridge BART.

This is one of my absolute favorite independent shops in Oakland and I'm thrilled to co-host this event in their beautiful space. I'll have books to buy, you can bring your books for me to sign, and I'll also have goodie bags for the first ten books sold. I'll bring a few original projects from the books too so folks can see the projects in-person. Drop by just to say hello if you're in the neighborhood--I'd love to see you.

I'll also be co-hosting a craft party on Sunday, February 8 from 2-4:30pm at the wonderful and welcoming Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville. I'm SO excited about this craft party. We'll make two projects from the book, we'll talk about sourcing and using up-cycled paper materials to make art, I'll answer any questions about the book, and each registered participant will also receive one signed copy of the book and a goodie bag filled with creative inspiration. This feels like such a wonderful way to celebrate the launch of my book and I'm thrilled that Handcraft Studio offered to host. This craft party is open to adults and kids over age 8. More details on the Handcraft website.

Oh my goodness--book launches and craft parties? Is this really happening now? It's been so wonderful to see some images of my book in fellow artists and parents houses and hands. Such a dream come true to watch the book make its way through the world and to hear feedback on how creative families are using the projects to make crafts. One mother even emailed to tell me that she couldn't get her little girl to bed the night the book arrived because she was so excited to make the projects the next morning. That might just be my favorite email ever. Of all time.

But it's a special level of excitement to host events that share the book with my local San Francisco Bay Area community. These are the only two book events currently scheduled until after May when I resurface from a brief maternity leave. So please join me if you can, my friends, I would be so honored to share these afternoons with you and my new book. 



Workshops, Events, and Save-the-Dates


There are some fun dates coming up on my studio calendar and I want to share them with you. I'll be teaching two workshops in the next few weeks: Fundraising for Artists at the Kala Art Institute on Saturday, January 31 and Sashiko Mending at Handcraft Studio School on Sunday, January 25. (Unfortunately, the Sashiko Mending class is already sold out but I'll be teaching another this summer AND I'll be adding Sashiko mending kits to my Etsy shop in just a few weeks--stay tuned! The Sashiko classes fill up very quickly, so it's best to join my mailing list to be first in line.)

The Fundraising for Artists class is my only public professional arts practice class scheduled for 2015! So join me if you are interested. There are a few private classes scheduled for the summer but no other public classes as of yet. So if you're interested in talking grantwriting, Kickstarter campaigns, fundraising, project budgets, artist statements, work samples, and all the ins and outs of receiving grants and awards then come join me on January 31. Kala is a wonderful art institution in Berkeley, CA and I'm thrilled to be teaching with them again.

I'm also still lining up some book events for the first two weeks of February so stay tuned for the official news. (Psst... save the dates of February 7 in the afternoon for a book signing in Oakland and February 8 from 2-4:30 for a super special book party class in Emeryville! There's also a chance that Feb 15 might be another book event in the Bay Area but all of this is still unofficial until all the details are confirmed and I can publicly announce. Just save-the-dates for now, especially Feb 7 and Feb 8. So excited to share this book with my local Bay Area community!)

Lastly, I'm thrilled to be teaching in these first few months of the year before I welcome this new baby into the world in early March. I'll be offering classes online and in-person again after June 1 but will only be working from home and taking some quiet time with this new baby from March 1- June 1 so my classes and events will be scarce for a few months. I must admit, instead of teaching and organizing art events I plan to spend this spring falling madly and completely in love with a new human.



My Book Launch & A Special Giveaway!

My new book, The Paper Playhouse: Awesome Art Projects for Kids Using Paper, Boxes, and Books, is officially out in the world as of January 1st. Hooray! To celebrate its official launch I'm hosting a giveaway. That's right, I'm giving one book away. I'm hosting this giveaway here on my blog and over on my Instagram account so you can enter twice--once here in the comment section and once over on Instagram.

I'm coordinating this giveaway celebration with a handful of the contributors from the gallery section of the book--a selection of super talented women artists working with paper, boxes, or books that have generously shared their inspiring work in my book pages. If you follow some of these contributors you'll also get a chance to win a copy through their blogs or Instagram feeds, so be sure to check these ladies out. They are truly amazing, every one of them, and I'm honored to share their work with my readers.

How do you enter to win? Good question. On this blog simply:

1. Leave a comment on this post to be entered to win. One winner will be selected next Monday, January 19, 2015 by noon Pacific Time. I'll announce the winner on this blog post and on the IG post so be sure to check back next Monday to see if you won.

That's it! You're entered. One more detail: For shipping reasons the winner will need to provide a valid mailing address in the US, Canada, or the UK. Apologies to my international friends and readers as international shipping costs are just too prohibitive for my publisher. Thanks for understanding.

To enter on Instagram:

1. Follow my IG account.
2. Leave a comment on the giveaway photo and tag a friend who might also be interested.

That's it! You're entered. If you follow the guidelines and enter on this post and on IG you will be entered twice. Double the luck. One winner will be chosen from the entries on this blog post and on the IG giveaway post. Again, the winner will need to provide a valid mailing address in the US, Canada, or the UK.

I'll be announcing some exciting book events soon--they'll be in the Bay Area in the beginning of February and I'm very excited. Stay tuned. To celebrate this giveaway with the contributors I wanted to share a few sneak peeks into the gallery section in today's images. The gallery was one of my favorite parts of coordinating the book. I love these artists so much and it was wonderful to curate their work in these pages. I've tagged the contributors on this Instagram post so check out their feeds for endless inspiration. And keep an eye on their accounts for additional book giveaways in January or February.

Happy New Year, friends! Be sure to enter before 9am next Monday. My book is finally out in the world--what joy.



New Year, New Baby: Motherhood, Bravery, and Embrace

Happy New Year, my dear friends--

Do you want to know my biggest secret about 2015? We're expecting another baby boy on March 7! My goodness, yes. These photos are from our recent trip to Point Reyes just after Christmas. Another baby boy will enter our lives sometime in the early spring and we are over-the-moon excited to welcome this little life. Another boy. Two boys. Double the trains and trucks and trips to the playground. But, of course, I'm going to teach these little boys to knit and bake and sew when they are old enough too. My goodness, two little magical boys.

Life feels full. Physically and emotionally. If you had told me three years ago when I left my day job that I'd be sitting here in the first week of the New Year sharing my news of a second baby boy, thrilled with the announcement of my very first book, and with a stack of studio opportunities on my desk, well, I wouldn't believe you. I just wouldn't believe you. Because I was too afraid to admit that these are the things I wanted most.

But motherhood has made me braver. It's made me focus. It's made me realize that time is finite and nobody is going to come along and tap my head with a magical wand and suddenly make my dreams shift to reality. That's up to me. With heaps of hard work and rigorous focus. That's my job. And it's my job to dare to try. Like it's my job to dare to parent in the way I find most satisfying. Big things that keep all parents up at night and little things like making sure my boys know how to sew. It's up to me. I'm growing into this new version of myself where I'm actually in charge of my own life and the homestead for my little boy/s. It's a wonder. I didn't think I had it in me but it turns out... I do.

This little love will certainly turn our worlds upside down. And it's only through the past three years of motherhood that I can actually understand that I actually can NOT understand exactly what this will mean. That's right. It's only through the process of parenting a tiny human and witnessing and experiencing the changes in my own life that I can be humble and honest enough to admit that I have no idea how we are going to do this again. I will be changed in ways I cannot anticipate or yet understand.

The night feedings, the limited daycare, the lack of boundaries in home and work, the two parent freelance artist schedules, the meals, the budget, the naps, the tiny apartment we call home--it will all be pushed to the edges and then we will find our way through again. Somehow it will all settle in the way that it should. In the way that we need it to. It will shape us and shift us and expand us and shatter us and humble us and humor us and ultimately inspire us in ways I cannot currently comprehend. This much I am certain. This much fills my heart with such a swell that it nearly brings me to tears each time I imagine it. We will grow. We will expand. We will let even more love inside.

So I'm working furiously during every nap, every preschool day, making to do lists and checking them twice, filling my schedule as much as possible before the middle of February when I'll suddenly be full term. And I'll be heavy with a new baby. And I'll be physically slow. And full of anticipation. Oh my goodness. Baby number two.

I can only dream of the way this will change my life. I can only fantasize about the ways I will be chiseled and shaped and the ways in which my familiar heart will soon give sway. Truthfully, I'm sure I'll initially long for these days when it was just the three of us. When my little one was finally potty trained and sleeping through the night and bounding into preschool with his other tiny friends. When it felt familiar and ordinary and predictable too.

When I had time to sit down and make a to-do list and create new projects, new classes, new publications. But the difference is that this time I know those newborn days are fleeting. They are limited. They are tender. They are vulnerable and new. They will subside to infant days and toddler days and I imagine these toddler days subside to school kid days and then I can't imagine much further than that. I tip my hat to all the mamas and papas with children much older than mine. Good grief, how do we let them grow? How can we do anything else? I'm convinced our hearts just swell and swell and swell again. Parenthood, it's fierce.

We can only know what we know and we can only act on so much calculation before instinct and heart begin to steer. I'm sure this new human will coil around my cells with all the magic and promise and newness and complete and utter love that only comes with a new child. Of course, there are things I sometimes miss about my life before I was a mother: Long and leisurely weekend mornings, fancy cocktails in nice restaurants, leather shoes with actual heels, or long and complicated conversations over slow dinners. But mostly, I just miss having time to waste.

But these are just things. They are fleeting. They are passing. They did not ever define me or alter me or motivate me from the very deepest inside out. I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything in the world. I'm not sure I even need to say that but it's worth stating. I wouldn't trade motherhood for anything. Nothing. I can't even imagine. As a friend said to me about her daughter, "I couldn't image my life without her from the moment she was born." So true. And I can only imagine how this feeling will intensify with two. And I welcome that shift with open arms. Excited, nervous, busy, art mama arms. But open arms, nonetheless.

Welcome, 2015, I'm ready to embrace you. In all the magical and mystifying and maddening ways humanly possible. That's my word for 2015: Embrace. It seems this embracing will begin with a new book, a new baby, and a new silhouette of gratitude. Do you have a word or a guide or a mantra for 2015? I find it much simpler than an entire resolution. One word, one thought, one focus to carry me all the 365 days through.

Happy New Year, friends. Thanks for sharing this time with me. I look forward to new adventures in 2015.