An Incredible Visit, A Woolly New Book Class, and Summer Camps Posted!

Our Cloth Paper Scissors event went off gloriously and without a hitch.  We had an incredible time with the very wonderful and generous CPS magazine editors, Jeannine Stein and Barbara Delaney.  They brought an adorable make and take project; a faux plaster plus stitch technique that I am just itching to do again…And again… And again.  Here are some yummy, oh-so-textural examples:

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Everyone had a fabulous time and our humble studio became a magical place, buzzing with a joyful, creative din.  A steady stream of people came and went throughout the day.  There were door prizes, food and freebies too.  Oh how I wish we could do this again… Here’s hoping!

 

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I’ve also added a fun new class to my long list called Felted Sweater Books.  On Monday April 25th, from 6:00-8:30, come and stitch up this woolly beauty.  I’ll provide felted sweaters to choose from, along with waxed linen thread and wool felt for the lining. You’ll just need to bring paper.  You should have enough time to add a felt embellishment to the cover too!

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The spines are pretty rad, yes?

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And the soft, premium wool felt lining is a super sweet touch!

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Lastly, I’ve listed two weeks of summer camps!!!  These are half days, 9:00am to noon, and you can sign your kiddo up for just one day or for the full week.  See my class page for more details.

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Meet The Amazing Duo Behind Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine!!!

That’s right!!!  In-person, at The Painted Dog!!!!!!!!!!!!! (The art studio that I share with my dearest and most creative friend, Rebecca Sweek of Duncan’s Family Jewels).  We are both so absolutely THRILLED to announce this!  Jeannine Stein, Editor of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and author of Adventures in Bookbinding and Re-Bound, will be traveling from the Boston area, along with her Assistant Editor, and author of The Cloth Paper Scissors Book, Barbara Delaney, to visit our humble studio.

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They will be at The Dog on Saturday March 5th from 10am to 2pm.  They are bringing a darling make and take project too (A fun faux plaster technique done on a mini canvas) along with magazines and DVDs for door prizes!  Rebecca and I will provide yummy refreshments and we will have some of our awesome handmade wares for sale as well.

This is FREE and open to the public.  A must for local creative souls and Cloth Paper Scissors fans.  We hope to see you there!

 

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Waxy Stab-Bound Journals… Craft Publishing Royalty This Way Comes… And Sew Somerset Winner Announced!!

In all my varied creative endeavors, I always come home to book making, especially stab-bound books.  I try lots of different things, often winging off in strange or new directions, but I seem to circle back, like a vulture really, and devour book making.  I LOVE HAND MADE BOOKS.

I also have been thoroughly enamored with my very good friend’s waxed fabric creations lately.  Becky Sweek of Duncan’s Family Jewels has been waxing her own fabric for quite a while now.  She makes and sells amazing bags, with up-cycle belts for handles, like the one pictured below.

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Needless to say, I had to try waxing my own fabric, with book making in mind as an end result.  I quickly discovered that waxing is a two-step process, kind of stinky, and not super quick. In other words, it’s quite a production, literally.  However, the end result is a stiff, waxy, sturdy fabric with a built-in crinkled-look.  It’s nothing short of AWESOME STUFF.  My waxed fabric eventually turned into many glorious stab-bound books.  They have “hard” covers, with special cardstock inserts, and are filled with mixed media paper, ready to sell. (It’s going to be hard to part with them, especially the first one, directly below!)

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And then there’s the binding.  The doubled waxed linen thread in a cross-stitched formation is really quite dreamy.

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Now, as some of you already know, my fabric-waxing friend and I have opened up a little studio where she sews her bags and I teach a variety of art and craft classes for kids and adults.  We named our studio venture The Painted Dog (after our crazy love of dogs) and are happy to announce that a Painted Dog website is currently in the works, so stay tuned!

We are also ABSOLUTELY thrilled to announce a very exciting upcoming event at The Painted Dog; the visit of two very special ladies, Jeannine Stein (editor of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and author of Re-Bound and Adventures in Bookbinding) and Barbara Delaney (assistant editor of Cloth Paper Scissors magazine and author of The Cloth Paper Scissors Book: Techniques and Inspiration for Creating Mixed Media Art).

That’s right! On March 5th (with a snow date of March 12th), from 10am-2pm these gals (craft publishing royalty, really!) will grace our humble studio.  They will have crafty shenanigans in tow too; i.e. make and takes and possibly giveaways or door prizes.  Becky and I will provide yummy refreshments and have our handmade wares for sale as well.  So if you happen to be in the area and are a Cloth Paper Scissors fan, be sure not to miss it!!  It’s gonna be a hoot! (Okay, shameless plug I admit, but I simply couldn’t resist adding the Cloth Paper Scissors PAGES picture below.  It’s no coincidence that my felted books don the COVER!!!)

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Lastly, (oh how I do love this part) I get to announce a lucky winner of the latest Sew Somerset magazine bundled with a hand made book and some other artsy stuff.  All your comments were lovely, touching really.  The New Year landmark is a peaceful time for hope, positive change, redirection and renewal.  May every New Year be filled with just that!  I wish I could give a magazine to all of you. But alas, I must choose just one person. So, I  put all 9 names in a hat and picked a winner.  Pretend there’s a drumroll… And the winner is….

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KAREN!!!  Congrats Karen Zaller!  You won!! YAY!!!!

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Simply email me your address at arusse71@maine.edu and enjoy your goodies!!!  You will LOVE this magazine I promise!!!!  And I hope that your new year is much less painful.  Thank you everyone for playing!

 

 

 

 

 

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Stampington Sponsored Giveaway: Win the Latest Sew Somerset Magazine and Start the New Year Off Creatively!

Sewing combined with art journaling and/or artist book making is one of my greatest creative passions.  I love to incorporate machine or hand stitching somehow on my journal or book pages. Stitches often add an extra element of visual interest and can replace glue when using them to hold a collage in place.

Which is why I’m simply delighted to kick off the impending new year with a Stampington sponsored giveaway of the latest Sew Somerset magazine (Winter 2016).  For this giveaway, I’ll also throw in one of my little handmade books as well as a few other artsy trinkets!

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Sew Somerset isn’t just about combining stitching with art journaling or artist book making though.  This issue is filled with inspiration spanning the definition of sewing.  From scrappy dolls to machine embroidery, and from stitched thank you cards to embellished baby shoes, this issue will leave you drooling.  And then there are the books… Stitchy books…  Awesome books…  Mixed media books…  Oh how I just LOVE artists’ books…

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I’m happy that my sweetly stitched photo books (pictured above) made it into this issue.  However, my favorite project to grace these pages is the playing card miniature book by Mary Walden.  I’m aching to make one of these little gems.

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The book is collaged with paper and fabric.  It’s machine and hand stitched.  It’s has some text and images. There’s paint involved.  And tulle.  It’s nothing short of amazing.  And the binding (pictured below) is simply out of this world!

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So how can you win this magazine and goodie bundle?  Well, I’ve been known to love words.  I’m on another wordy quest for 2016.  My goal is to to incorporate written or typed words in my art journals.  To be more journal-ish.  To have more meaningful, original thought processes, in the form of a few words, involved somehow on my journal pages.

So I dug up some monoprints that I made a while back and hauled out my vintage typewriter.  I typed on them.  Thoughts recorded in the moment.  Somehow I will incorporate them into a journal page.  Either the typed-on print will be the book page itself or I will cut and collage them in place, likely with machine stitching.

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So to enter the contest, simply comment with a few words of your own. They can be thoughts in the moment.  They can be New Year’s resolution-related.  They can be anything you want.  Funny, silly, sad. Happy, encouraging, hopeful.  They can be abstract and have no real meaning.  One thing they will be though is typed onto a 2016 journal page, somehow, in the near future.  I’ll draw a lucky winner in a couple of weeks and announce my findings in the next post!  I hope to hear from you!!!

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Pink Ribbons and Corporate Malignancies

There has been a recent occurrence here in my small corner of the world.  A bit of change.  Also a big calendar landmark passed.  One that I do not particularly like.  One that makes me feel yucky feelings.

The occurrence?  I resigned from my job as an education coordinator at my local Joann Fabric and Crafts.  I managed a little classroom within the store for 3 and a half years.  It was the “perfect” job.  Part time, while the kids were in school, where I could be very creative, and teach a myriad of art and craft classes.

The landmark?  Yesterday marked 18 years since I lost my mother to breast cancer.  I stand with the minority on breast cancer: there is absolutely NOTHING pink about that disease.  The pink ribbon is a light, fluffy, cute and total misrepresentation of a disease that disfigures and ravages bodies from the inside out. It should be a blood-stained cadaver purple ribbon.  Pink means dainty, flowery, feminine. Lipstick. Love. Valentine’s Day. Candy. Frosting.  I say SCREW THAT.  You will never catch me wearing a pink ribbon.

Why resign? Well, I was told by my former employer that I had to make a choice.  Either I completely stop trying to get my humble teaching studio off the ground, or I could resign from selling Joann classes as a Joann employee.  It was a conflict of interest and I was in breach of my contract.  I understood the reasoning.  It was clear.  My interests were conflicting.  The choice was pretty instantly obvious.  I couldn’t give up on my little humble stu-stu-studio dream.

So I milked it and worked a couple more shifts, claiming I was uncertain of what to do, and then I quit.  My boss gave me some very kind words of encouragement as she took my keys, cut up my employee discount card, and escorted me out of the building.  For a week or so I was in limbo; feeling pretty weird about it.  I brooded over writing some scathing words about Joann here on my blog.  About how they treat their staff poorly by paying them peanuts, regularly cutting payroll hours, often running an entire shift with only two employees on the floor, and giving those employees 8 cent yearly raises, or no yearly raise at all because they’ve reached the maximum pay rate of $10.50 an hour…after years of dedicated service…  About the corporate mindset pushing profits at any human or environmental cost… About that mailbox coupon assault being so gimmicky and cheesy…  About the rotating seasonal influx of made-in-China crap, that might decorate a table top for a month, and then end up broken in a landfill…  There is so much bad mouthing that I could do, right?  I think we all kind of know about how these entities operate.  It’s not much different with any other corporate retail chain.  Right?

So, my devil’s advocate is screaming, whose fault is it anyway???  That these chains exist and treat their people with such disregard for basic human rights like a living wage or an annual cost-of-living increase?  Well, we live in a free-ish market society right?  So those wonderful employees that came to be my friends and that I miss dearly, they could seek better employment elsewhere right?  Maybe.  I guess.  But then more people would take their place and it would go on and on.  So who else can we blame?  I think I know.  I think I figured it out.  It’s me.  And it’s you.  And it’s all of us.  I bought googley eyes there today.  I did.  I used a gimmicky coupon too.  I’m feeding this beast with my $2.78 purchase.  I buy other things there too.  They carry some very good brand names.  Clover, Tsukineko, Olfa…I could go on and on.  I am so sorry.  I really am.

From a total different angle, a complete flip-side of this seemingly crappy coin, I am quite grateful for the experience Joann Fabrics and Crafts offered me.  I learned some very important, downright invaluable, classroom managerial skills and was able teach hundreds of classes.  I can confidently say, that there exists no home sewing machine anywhere on the face of this Earth that I cannot thread correctly.  And that, for me, is very empowering.  I am being 100% serious.

Now, about my mother.  She loved making Christmas tree ornaments.  It was her thing.  Just about every year around the holidays, she’d craft up some ornaments.  The last major act of my mother’s life was something so touching that I will remember it clearly for the rest of my days.  I feel compelled to share.

When she was sick and dying, around the end of November 1997, we got a Christmas tree.  Over the next two weeks, she proceeded to fill it with handmade felt ornaments.  Stockings, stars, and angels.  They were all hand-stitched with embroidery floss.  They had sequins and beads and other stitched on embellishments.  They were beautiful. One of a kind little works of hanging fabric art. She strung about 20 feet of popcorn garland too.

My mother knew, as we all did around that time, that she wouldn’t make it to see Christmas.  My mother’s last act of her life was ensuring that her only child had a Christmas tree made with love for the holidays.  When her very last hand made ornament was hung on this tree, my mother had finally lost her eyesight and couldn’t actually see her masterpiece.  She never regained her eyesight and died a few days later.  A painful, disfigured, non-pink, metastasized-breast-cancer death.  I’m quite sure too that she had purchased a lot of the supplies for the ornaments from Joann Fabric and Crafts.

 

 

 

 

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