Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

And the winner is....

Commenter #9:  Dana!

You've won Richard Sheppard's gorgeous book!

Email me with your address, Dana, and it'll get sent right out to you!

You'll love it!

(Thanks again, Richard, for allowing me to share your beautiful work!)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Book Give-away!

I first met Richard Sheppard when I ventured out to my first urban sketchers' meet-up experience a few years ago. Richard is a local artist and urban sketcher whose work I'd seen in my local newspaper, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, and in Danny Gregory's book "An Illustrated Journey."  Richard's talent and his unique way with color captivated me right away, and I've enjoyed getting to know him and his art as we've continued to sketch together with the North Bay Urban Sketchers.

I'm happy to announce that Richard has just produced a beautiful book called "Impressions of Wine Country," and he's given me a signed copy to give away to a reader here!  So, leave a comment below between now and midnight on Sunday, December 20 if you want a chance to win it .  On Dec. 21 I'll use a random number generator to pick the winner and the book will be on its way to you in time for you to enjoy it somewhere around Christmas.  (No promises that you'll get it in time for Dec. 25.  Just sayin'.)

The book isn't just a wonderful collection of Richard's sketches.  (Which it is, of course.  Just studying the way he uses color makes this book worthwhile.)  But also, it's a great season-by-season tour through the wine country of Sonoma County.  There are bits about the history of California wine-making, information about grape growing and varietals, stories from various local vineyards.  So it's a book to read and savor -- with a glass of wine, perhaps.

 For us sketchers, there's even a bit of information about Richard's tools, paint choices and palette, and how to make a sketchbook like his.

It's a gorgeous book, whether you're an artist, wine lover, or California traveler.  And if you don't win this copy, you can order the book from

You can also see more of Richard's gorgeous work at his website, The Artist on the Road.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Just like potato chips...

This book-making thing is like eating potato chips.  I make one... (you can see the inside here)

 and I immediately want to make another.  (Inside views here.)

And along the way, I've collected so much fun paper and goodies to put in them that I realize that I have supplies to make more, so I do another.  (Inside views here.)

but that barely makes a dent in the Bin of Wonderful Paper Goodness, so I make yet another. (Inside views here.)

And as long as I'm cutting and punching and stacking, I might as well do another. (Inside views here.)

And then I discover yet another pack of delightfully charming Christmas paper, and I might as well use it now rather than wait another year.  (Inside views here).

 And next thing I know, I've got a satisfying stack of Christmas journals and every one is different.  They make me very happy. 

But really, I'm not going to use them all.  So all but the first inspiration book are up on my Etsy shop.  And it makes me happy to see them lined up there, too. 

Strangely, I still wanting to make more, and I haven't yet exhausted the stash of Christmas paper.

At least these are salt and calorie free. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

An Attack of the Fa La La's

So, this past weekend I'd planned to do a lot of sewing.  I'd cleared off the sewing table (how is it that random stuff accumulates there?!), I had a project in mind to finish, and I was ready to go.  But then I had a sudden attack of Christmas. Maybe it was the result of singing Christmas songs every week in preparation for our upcoming chorus concerts.  Maybe it was that I'd flipped on the TV and found myself in the middle of a sappy yet endearing holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel.

It started innocently enough.  I had the thought to play for a moment with a cool snowflake-making stamp I'd bought on sale recently.

And then I started pulling out and cutting paper.

Yes, it's stacked up on my sewing machine bed.  Don't those Christmas patterns look beautiful with my festive red Bernina?  And then there was more...

and more... 

I went into a happy and busy flurry of  cutting, trimming, punching, die cutting, pattern-mixing, stacking, and decorating.

And next thing you know, I had not just one Christmas book, but a whole bunch more just waiting to be bound together with my handy dandy ring binding machine. When I'm in a craft-flurry, I don't do things halfway.  I mean, why make one book when you could make six or seven or twelve?

 What will I do with them, you ask? When I get them all loaded up with goodies (tags and journaling cards and such) I'll list them on my Etsy shop.  In the next day or two or three.

There are a lot of fun things you can do with a Christmas book.  Have you heard of December Daily? Some years ago, creative blogger and designer Ali Edwards announced a project to record the fun of holiday preparations, day by day, through the month of December.  It's a way of creating a mini-scrapbook dedicated to family and festive preparations and holiday celebrations, all in one pretty book.  As I was making these books, I was thinking they'd be perfect for that sort of thing.

 Personally, I've never managed to journal each day as it goes by... Instead, I tend to work in batches, doing a few days at a time after the fact, when I have the bits and bobs in hand and ideas about what I want to record.  But even doing it in my own sporadic fashion, I love wrapping up December with a book filled with notes and photos and images to remind me of the fun of the season. 

Even if you're not into that sort of scrapbooking, you could just fill them with your own holiday treasures, in your own style.  Favorite recipes.  Memories of Christmases past.  Photos.  Receipts.  Shopping and task lists.  The menu for Christmas dinner.

hmm, maybe a book like this would make a good Christmas gift for someone to use next Christmas.

If you want one and can't wait until they're up on my Etsy shop, email me! I can get one right out to you so you'll be ready to go with it by December 1! 

Meanwhile, I have to go try to find the table in my sewing -- ahem, I mean bookmaking -- room now!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Little of This, a Little of That

Well, goodness!  It looks like once again, time has gotten away from me and it's been ages since I've posted.  And what have I been up to, you ask?

Well, let's see.  A little knitting. (I'm having a grand old time making Lizard Ridge blocks for a very colorful afghan.)

A little sewing of selvedges for a selvedge-and-red-scraps quilt.  I'm obsessed with selvedges, in fact.

A little sketching.

A little book making.  This book, on a reading theme, will be making its way to my Etsy shop soon.

I thought that this might be the extent of my Halloween decorating.

It's hard to get into a proper autumn mood when it's still 95 and relentlessly sunny outside.   But yesterday I had a burst of fall spirit (maybe it was the orange toes) and got out a few items.  (Did you see Babes in Toyland as a kid?  I have my very own "Forest of No Return" tree.)

  A crow came to land on the top of my vintage birdcage.
And I now have an owl under glass on my mantel.  Don't worry, there's a hidden oxygen line into the dome so he can breathe.  That gourd can just hold its breath.

And then I had to put a few sparkly pumpkins on the dining room table.  Just because.

So that's what I've been doing.  And you? I hope you are awash in crisp cool days and beautiful fall leaves.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

I love my library


So you all know that I love to read. And that I read a lot. I read on my Kindle Paperwhite. I love that thing. I read hardback and paperback books. I love them, too. I love both formats, actually. The feel of a book in my hands, the smell of the paper, the experience of turning the pages -- yes, great. But the ease of the Kindle! Being able to carry 500 novels at any one time, all in one tiny 5x7" little case! Having a well-lit page in a dark bedroom, outside in the bright sunlight, in a dim car... Being able to hold the kindle and turn pages, all with one hand (I'm an expert at holding with my left hand and flipping pages with my left thumb while doing something else -- like eating -- with my right hand). Being able to highlight a word and get an instant definition. All of those are true, delightful conveniences that make my reading experiences even better. And I wholeheartedly agree with Stephen Fry:

But what I really wanted to say today is that I LOVE my library. Actually, I love all public libraries. The idea that there are shelves and shelves of books available to anyone in the community who wants to come in, get a card, and borrow them -- for FREE -- is downright astonishing when you think about it.


I have my mom to thank for showing us kids the value of the library. As kids, we went every two weeks to check out a stack of books. She gave us the freedom (within wide boundaries, I suppose) to choose whatever we wanted to read. As a result, the local public library has always been an anchor in my life. When I was in college and in law school, I used the local public library (which other student friends thought was weird) because it was a link to "regular life" outside of the insular campus world. When I've moved to a new town, finding the local library and getting a library card was always one of the very first things I did. It's an essential in my life.

I know that at any time I can stroll in, check out the new book shelf to see what's just arrived, check out the novels waiting to be shelved to see what others have been reading most recently -- and funnily enough, it has often happened that I'll pull a book off of that shelf, mention it to my sister, and she'll say that it was on that shelf because she'd just returned it! We have similar taste in books so that shouldn't surprise me any more, but it always delights me.


And here's another way I love using the library. I love that my library's catalog is available online, so I can search for books, request them to be brought from other libraries, and put them on hold when there's a waiting list.

I do try to support my local bookstores. And I can't resist buying from Amazon, especially when alerts me that a great ebook has just gone on sale for $1.99. But I'd be dead broke if I bought all of the books I read! So, often I'll read about a book somewhere -- a blog, a magazine, a friend -- and I'll go to Amazon and put in on my Amazon wishlist. Then, when I've got time and am sitting in front of the tv with my Ipad, I'll go through my Amazon wishlist, open my library catalog in another window, and see if I can find and reserve any of the wishlist books at the library. I'm usually not in any hurry to read any particular book at any particular time, so whenever it lands at the library and my name works up to the top of the list is fine with me. It's kind of the best of all worlds, really.

But wait! There's more! My library uses a site called Overdrive that allows me to borrow ebooks and download to my kindle! It's astonishing and easy. The library lends the book for 2 weeks, and once that time is done, the book is deactivated. You can electronically return it sooner than that, too, which then allows you to borrow another.

There are just no end to the ways the library makes me happy.


Friday, September 04, 2015

From the bookshelf

Since I'm catching up on blogging, I figured I should catch you up on what I've been reading.  I tend to read lighter fare in the summer -- so I've read a good assortment of cozy mysteries, girlfriends-at-the-beach novels, and thrillers.  But I've read some unexpectedly great novels, so I thought I'd share the ones I especially liked.

"Go Set a Watchman" by Harper Lee is first on my list.  I have to confess that I was apprehensive, after comments I'd read suggesting that a lot of early readers were surprised at the portrayal of Atticus Finch.  But I didn't expect how much I'd love this.  I listened to this in audiobook format on a roadtrip, and I loved Reese Witherspoon's reading.  The story follows Scout, now grown up Jean Louise, on a trip home from her working life in New York City.  She's seeing her family and town through grown-up eyes, and the contrast between her childhood illusions and the grown-up reality she sees are the focus of the novel.  So Atticus? He came across as a real man of his place and time. Harper Lee's writing was gorgeous, too.

The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell was a surprise.  I've read other novels by her, and they were good (in an ordinary sort of way.)  This one, though, told a complex family story in a fascinating way.  The story focused on the Bird family, mainly as the oldest daughter and her daughter come home to clean out the family home after their mother's death.  The mother, it develops, became a hoarder as she got older. So the family's story is told moving back and forth in time, to show how a quirky but functional loving family became disfunctional in various ways.  It could have been a grim story, but it wasn't.  It showed the characters as multi-dimensional, likeable - and there were a lot of surprises along the way.  This is definitely an unusual story, but one I enjoyed a lot.

And here's what I'm reading now: The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl. I love books about books, and this one gets good reviews and I was delighted when I found it on the new book shelf at the library.  It uses first-person narration, too, which I especially like.  So far it's a story in a story -- narrator starts, then introduces an acquaintance who begins telling him a story, so narration shifts to the friend's point of view.  And it tells the tale of a mysterious "bookaneer": a thief who, because of the loose copyright laws in the 1800's, could steal an international manuscript and then sell it to a publisher in another country, out from under the author.  So far, it's good and the concept is fascinating.  I'll let you know what I think.

Have you read anything good lately? 

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Garden Souvenirs

Yep, I'm still making jumbly journals, and I just finished another one.  I started this in July, but then I went off on vacation, and then had to get some work taken care of when I returned, so I only just finished it this week.  It's on a floral theme, and I really enjoyed using beautiful floral paper.

You can see the whole book here:


The journal, and others, are for sale on my Etsy shop.  And I'm already well into the next one... 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Artistic Inspiration & Appreciation

I was very flattered when I was contacted recently by the folks at Patience Brewster  to ask if I would be interested in participating in a series of artist appreciation posts on their blog. I'm sure you know Patience Brewster's artwork, even if you don't recognize her name. She creates the most whimsical creatures, both on paper and in sculptural form.  You've undoubtedly seen her card, figures, and ornaments -- they are very charming.  Oh, how I love that moose figure!  And the pearl girl mermaid ornament!  And the Christmas black lab!  I've given the ornaments as gifts occasionally and I have several myself, and one is more adorable than the next.

In any event, the fact that Patience Brewster has asked me as an artist about my artistic inspirations brought me up short.  I forget to think about myself as an artist -- I tend to see myself as someone who plays and creates and makes for the love of making and exploring.  I guess that's an artist!  

I have been inspired by a lot of different artists.  But as I was thinking about this post, and thinking about the art I make, I realized that I tend to work in three main areas these days (quilting, sketching, book making).  So I want to highlight several people who have taught me and given me tremendous inspiration in those three areas.  

First, quilting.  I have been deeply influenced by the work of Freddy Moran and Kaffe Fassett.  And yes, they have their similarities, even though their bodies of 
work are quite different. 

When I returned to quilting in the early 1990's, Freddy introduced me to making traditional quilt blocks in very nontraditional ways.  She gave me the freedom to use as much color as I wanted, and then to add even more.  

She gave me (and a lot of others) the freedom to loosen up on precision, and to appreciate the personality of wonky shapes. 

She showed me, in quilt after quilt, how beautifully joy and fun can be expressed in fabric.

Kaffe Fassett, also, taught me a lot about how mixing color and pattern and scale can work to create a riot of color and texture as beautiful as any garden.  As Freddy does, Kaffe uses color and pattern with exuberance.  

I love how his quilts create such complexity even with simple shapes and simple structure. 

The world of sketching and painting is newer to me, but I am soaking up inspiration from all directions and learning a lot as I follow my favorite urban sketchers.  Several stand out.  First is Danny Gregory.  

His books, especially The Creative License, Everyday Matters, and An Illustrated Life, introduced me to sketching as a way of experiencing the world. 

 He's shown me and so many others that sketching and painting aren't about painstaking precision or perfection; they are about seeing and the process of translating what you see through your own artistic process.  It's drawing, and drawing, and drawing more -- even the most ordinary things -- that build skill, that cause you to see the world differently, and that create an artistic habit.

I've been a regular student in his online course, "Sketchbook Skool," which has helped me see that different artists do things differently, and that's okay!

Another sketch artist who inspires me greatly is Liz Steel, from Australia.  I took to Liz's story right away -- she trained and worked as an architect but eventually her passion for sketching and watercolor took her in directions she never imagined.  

I've learned a lot from following Liz's stream of sketches on Flickr, and I am inspired to try to get looser and paint the essence of something, rather than getting bogged down in the details.

Liz's sketches of food, her teacups, and her art supplies have taught me a lot, and I end up sketching food and dishes and art supplies often as well! 

 The other sketch artist whom I admire tremendously and study with intensity is Gay Kraeger.  She was a graphic designer before she began keeping watercolor sketchbooks, and her graphic design training shows in her work. 

She incorporates all of my favorite things in her sketchbook spreads -- beautiful images, a well-composed layout, and attractive typography and text.  I have learned so much from seeing the different ways she sets up a page. 

And in the world of book making, two artists immediately come to mind.  First is the woman who was my teacher and mentor for a number of years, Shereen LaPlantz.  

I'd been enthralled with her book "Cover to Cover," which had inspired me through showing innovative book structures, easy techniques, and so many beautiful photos.

When I moved back to Northern California and discovered that Shereen lived just a few hours a way, I was thrilled. That discovery led me into a 3-year master class on bookmaking with Shereen.  Along the way, I learned so much from Shereen about things beyond book-making -- how to embrace one's creativity, how to move past mistakes, how to be proud of one's own uniqueness, and eventually, even, how to accept a terminal illness with grace and dignity and a zest for living up until the very end.  I treasured my time with her and miss her.

The other artist who has inspired me in the book arena is Mary Ann Moss, of Los Angeles.  I first met Mary Ann through her blog Dispatch from LA, and I was drawn to her humor, her willingness to explore and just be silly with art, her happy and colorful artwork, and her love of reading and learning.  She's a woman after my own heart, she is.  But I was totally excited when I discovered her series of online classes that involve bookmaking -- Remains of the Day, Ticket to Venice (travel journaling), Full Tilt Boogie (visual journaling), and Sketchbookery (sketchbook making and painting).

Mary Ann reminded me that it's okay to sew on paper, and it set me off on a renewed book-making obsession that holds me enthralled even today.  She's inspired me to mix papers and junk mail and old stuff and photos and all sorts of ephemera  -- it's that permission to be free and creative and just bask in color and pattern and texture, with and on paper.  (Are you seeing a theme?  If Freddy Moran made books, I bet she'd make them like this.)

Mary Ann has changed the way I think of book making -- she's brought me back to it, actually, after many years away -- and she's freed me up to have fun making whatever sort of book I want, with whatever bits I have around, and to use them for whatever purpose -- most importantly, just for fun.

So there you have it -- the artists whose inspiration is affecting me most immediately these days.  

Thank you, Freddy, Kaffe, Danny, Liz, Gay, Shereen, and Mary Ann.  The work you've shared has become a part of me, and has affected everything I do. 

I'd love it if you'd share in a comment who inspires you!