medium /// art or craft?

nana akua’s grandmother

Have you seen these amazing things?!

Amazingly detailed, hand-embroidered Christmas ornaments? No, although they would be perfect on my tree! These are called temari balls. I had never heard of them before, so just in case they are new to you too, here’s a bit of Wikipedia info:

Temari are highly valued and cherished gifts, symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. Also, the brilliant colors and threads used are symbolic of wishing the recipient a brilliant and happy life. Becoming a temari artist in Japan today requires specific training, and one must be tested on one’s skills and technique before being acknowledged as a crafter of temari.

Traditionally, temari were often given to children from their parents on New Year’s Day. Inside the tightly wrapped layers of each ball, the mother would have placed a small piece of paper with a goodwill wish for her child. The child would never be told what wish his or her mother had made while making the ball.

Lovely. Beautiful on the outside, and so, so sweet on the inside. The temari balls featured in this post are the work of an 88 year old grandmother. Since the 1960s she has literally made hundreds and hundreds of them, and recently her granddaughter, Nana Akua, documented them – thank goodness!

{via Colossal}

i’m jealous (and proud) of jessica bell

Tape and paper and paint, oh my!

This is an exclusive preview of  Jessica Bell‘s brand new mixed media work! Ack – we’re so lucky! They are absolutely gorgeous… and I wish I could show you the scale because they’re HUGE {50″x43″}. Now, on top of being new, gorgeous, and huge, these are also the pieces that landed Jessica a spot as a finalist for Canada’s coveted RBC Prize this year. She, and fourteen other finalists, will have their work shown at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa this October, with the grand prize being awarded at a fancy gala on October 2nd. My fingers and toes are crossed for Jessica. She is an amazing artist {clearly}, and probably the sweetest person you’ll ever meet! Send her winning thoughts, ok? Ready? GO!

GIRL CRUSH philadelphia ♥

I’m not even sure where to begin. I had a girl crush on Shauna Alterio before I got to Philly last Thursday night… but then I met her {and her wonderful husband Stephen!}, and well, I am in complete awe of both of them. They literally are creative geniuses, and their home… my word, it’s like waking up in an artsy heaven! Have a look:

Yeah, I know! We spent Friday setting up for Saturday {and we may have found some time to go out for brunch, and then a delicious dinner in downtown Philly!}. I fell asleep in this gorgeous loft, and woke up bright and early – ready for another GIRL CRUSH to get underway! An amazing group of women arrived {along with a whole bunch of much-needed coffee and plates full of yummy pastries}, and then, the even more amazing conversation got started:

This is GIRL CRUSH No.5, and I am always still so moved by the conversation that springs up during our morning of creative block bashing exercises. There are definite themes that have come up at each event, but the most consistent thing is the open, honest, heart-felt words that each person openly shares. Without getting too mushy on you, it truly does warm my heart.

Ok, so after about five pots of coffee {thank you Stephen!}, it was time for a delicious catered lunch… and then, of course, onto the art!!! Oh. So. Many. Supplies!

Collages on found book covers! Love, love, love! What else do I love while making art? Yes… whoopie pies!

Sugar. An essential part of the art-making process. They were graciously donated by Coco Love {thank you!}… oh, and speaking of graciously donated things, the gift bags were so heavy, I could barely pick them up!!!

Thank you soooo much to our lovely sponsors:

decor : bhldn // gift bag : green marketgirls can tellmade by hankgiant dwarfseed house

Yes. It was an amazing event! My crush on Shauna has definitely grown, but she might have a little competition, living right under her very own roof:

{photo credit: all photos were taken by women at the event. The last two in the post were from Lisa, anything with a little ‘L’ in the bottom right corner was taken by Leslie, and everything else was shot by Shauna & Stephen. Thank you all!}

i’m jealous of briar mark

Yep, I could have done this on my Mac too… but I didn’t, and neither did Auckland based artist & designer Briar Mark. She hand-stitched it all. Hilarious, and an excellent statement on craft vs. technology. LOVE! Speaking of love, check out this time lapse video of her hard at work…

{via Jeannie Jeannie}

peachy, spiffy, and not at all pants*

Yes, that is exactly how you start talking after you’ve spent a lovely, inspiring, creative day with Tif Fussell {aka Dottie Angel}

Sigh. What an amazing day we had at GIRL CRUSH Seattle this past Saturday, and it all started right here:

I had never been to Assemble Gallery in Seattle before this weekend, and I absolutely loved it! Emily and Andie, the lovely ladies behind Assemble, were amazing and made sure that everything was just right! It was beyond perfect for an art workshop & tea party… so airy, so pretty, and filled with artwork, design objects, & stacks of gorgeous books… including Uppercase Magazine! Thank you so much to Janine from Uppercase for giving each of us the latest issue… so peachy {as Tif would say!} Once we had everything in just the right spot, it was time to say hello…

What an amazing group of women. Lots of locals, and a few that weren’t so local. People came from LA, Boston, and Vancouver! We spent the morning talking… and talking, and talking. I was completely in awe of the transparency, and willingness to share. Tif’s story of her creative journey was so inspiring, and I was totally caught up in the reasons each of the women gave for being there. Painters, photographers, writers, performers, knitters. What we had in common was a passion to create… not to mention a few niggly doubts about what/how we create that have been slowing us down… well, no more!

I have a set of artist block crushing exercises that we spend the morning working through, and I am quite sure that all of us came away from them slightly changed. {There are already a few posts out there if you’d like to see what I mean… Here, here, and here.} We laughed, we cried, and so of course, by mid-afternoon we all desperately needed this:

So good! We had a lovely lunch catered by Macrina Bakery, followed by an afternoon of Dottie Angel inspired deer-adorned treats by Trophy Cupcakes… and our vintage teacups were constantly filled by the generous folks next door at Caffe Vita! Again, I am totally overwhelmed by the generosity that went into making this event happen.

So, after I finished my insanely delicious cupcake, it was time to lick the butter-cream icing off of Bambi’s hooves, and get to work!

Oh my word – I could have snipped, and glued, and painted until midnight! After a morning filled with amazing conversation, things went very quiet, very quickly. We listened to La Vie en Rose, and collaged like there was no tomorrow. It was heaven… and just like that it was over. I have to say, I felt a little sad to say goodbye to all of the beautiful women who I now call “friend”… oh well, at least we have Twitter!

Thank you so much to everyone involved in GIRL CRUSH Seattle… and to my lovely friend Tif ~ you truly are peachy, spiffy, and not at all ‘pants’ xo

ps. GIRL CRUSH Portland is only a few weeks away… if you’d like to come and spend a creative Saturday with me and Lisa Golightly {aka Kiki & Polly} you can sign up right here! If you’re thinking about it, please do come… we can’t make these events happen without you!

*Pants: adjective; British slang. Not good; total crap; nonsense; rubbish; bad; used quite a bit by the lovely Tif Fussell!


These photographs were all taken by the ladies at the event… what talent! Thanks to Andie, Sandra, and Melanie xo

i’m jealous of nicola ginzel

Um… yeah. It’s pretty much impossible not to be jealous of New York based artist Nicola Ginzel. As you can see, she turns mundane, and in some cases, discarded items into precious works of art through the painstaking application of embroidery thread, a little paint, and the occasional bit of gold leaf.  Yep, anyone that can make an old paper cup {not to mention a piece of toilet paper} look this beautiful, is definitely right up there on my list of “soul-crushers”.

{Nicola is part of a two-man show that opens tonight in New York, at Heskin Contemporary. The other artist is Jazmin Berakha… who I also happen to love! Thanks to Kate at Art Hound for the head’s up on the opening.}

i’m jealous of dottie angel

Oh, how I would love to spend Christmas in the cozy, and unbelievably sweet, cottage of Dottie Angel {aka a displaced Brit living near Seattle named Tif}. Seriously, how can one person be this creatively crafty? A handmade Christmas tree covered in buttons, thread, and knitted garlands? Are you kidding me?! Ok, ok, Christmas isn’t about being jealous. It’s about love, and joy, and… oh, who am I kidding?! I’m totally jealous. She’s beyond amazing!

{If you want to know & see more about the life that Dottie Angel leads in her mossy shed, you can pick up “The Suitcase Series Volume Two : Dottie Angel” that Uppercase Gallery will be releasing in the summer of 2011. This is actually on my Christmas Wish List… I’m hoping Santa puts in a pre-order for me!}

i’m jealous of ruan hoffmann

Dishware or art? I’m going with ‘art’, because even though it would be hilarious to serve a piece of chocolate cake on that guy’s forehead, I just don’t think I could bring myself to do something like that to the beautiful work of Pretoria based artist Ruan Hoffmann. No – I think I’ll just hang these on the wall, and skip dessert tonight thank you very much.

{Thanks to Louis for sending Ruan’s work my way!}

i’m jealous of samantha cotterill

These handmade pages by American artist Samantha Cotterill {aka mummysam} make me want to dust off the old sewing machine and roll out the bobbin thread… except that I haven’t even thought about sewing since I was forced to make a pair of Bermuda shorts in ninth grade Home Ec. Hm, maybe I’ll just covet these instead. Yes… much better plan.

{Now that I have you in a sewing kind of mood, come on over to sfgirlbybay and see the newest addition to ‘the house that jealousy built‘…}

september 11th ~ 12th

Brian Downey is a curator at The Arts Company in Nashville. Not only does he have an amazing eye for art, he’s also ridiculously nice. We ‘met’ when he made a comment {a ridiculously nice comment, of course} on one of my posts about a year ago. Just so you know, whenever someone makes a comment, nice or not, I go and check out their site, and that’s how I found Brian’s very inspiring blog – Art, Design and Home. It was so inspiring in fact, that I ended up stealing writing about a bunch of his featured artists {don’t worry, I gave him credit… I promise!} Anyway, here is yet another fantastic artist that Brian discovered before I did:


I’m jealous of Emily Eibel

I’m jealous of Emily Eibel.  As someone who took every studio art class I possibly could in college, I was constantly creating—pottery, sculpture, printmaking, even jewelry.  I’m not sure any of it was that good, and I can tell you with utmost certainty…it was nothing that anyone would ever be jealous of.  I was practically laughed out of my “Drawing I” class, so I have an enormous appreciation for someone who can put pencil to paper and create something that makes me take note and say, “Wow!”  Emily Eibel is one of those artists.  Not only does Emily create unique and quirky illustrations, she takes the process one step further by creating amazing, hand-stitched illustrations, and I have to say… I am in love.

These embroidered creations are sometimes disturbing, but always engaging.  These little gems would speak to anyone with a love of craft, which is one of the reasons I love them so much. Some of the most amazing works of art are the ones that combine fine art and craft, and Emily does this to perfection.  Her work is a more contemporary version of Miriam Schapiro’s “femmages” of the late 70’s, but with a simple style and a distinctly darker point of view.  I have only recently discovered Emily’s work, but I know I will be a fan for life.  How could I not?  She has quite a way with a needle and thread.  If only I had taken that darn embroidery class in college.


Yes. My thought exactly! Why, oh why, have I never learned to embroider?! Thanks for stopping by Brian… and for being so ridiculously nice ; )

ps. Brian’s latest show, Inspired ~ featuring Julianna Swaney and Jonn Welles Bartlett, is on now until September 25th