Monday, April 30, 2007

My mom's got talent!

Jean Howard is basically a Badass.(check out our family holiday card) She sees something she wants, and just does it. No namby-pambying about. Here's my mom's painting for her dining room wall. This is 30" x 40".
Just for a little background--my mom is a dietician. Very scientific and logical thinking. She normally will not start an art project if I'm not on her case about it. She does tons of sewing and quilting, and--thank the heavens--delicious cooking, but not usually painting. Which is not to say she doesn't have talent. Obviously. I'm just impressed that she just whipped out the paints and went to it, and I wasn't even there for back-up! I shouldn't be surprised. She had 3 kids the hard way without any painkillers, and she puts up with my wiley dad every day for the last 30 years.

I had a fabulous weekend with some friends who ran the Country Music Marathon. I was there for support. No running for this girl. I that much more impressed that they did it because I NEVER would. After all the running, we had fun. I'll post that stuff tomorrow.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:18 AM :: (0) comments

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Peanut Butter and Monkeys

Welcome to a special edition of stitch rip and repeat... thats right special edition! Hello loyal Howardites, this is the one and only Jason, aka J-money, and for those of you who deal in the black market the J-train. I bring to you, and all who know you the greatness of my being, a special piece of art for those who follow the greatness that is my love. I call it the Flowery Dead... wow I am awesome I just came up with that right off the top of my head...

Ok. So a quick update: I high-jacked Beth's computer and somehow convinced her to allow me to have a special report since I graced her lovely blog with my art, thus the words you read now. Based on previous blog subject I came up with a picture to show my love that I can draw "girly" things and did a couple high kicks to get her to put it on here.

Hope you all enjoy, and if this is a success then maybe there will be more. Or if I get off my lazy bum, then maybe I will create my own blog...but most likely I will stay in front of my other love ( tv/xbox 360) and listen to Beth tell me how great she is.

Well that is all I have to say, about that...keep it greasy and peace be unto you all. p.s. If you're ever in the area of Russia town in the lower east side look for a guy named Ivan he can get you a wicked deal on blue markers imported from turkey...just let him know the J-train came through whoot-whoot!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:33 PM :: (4) comments

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Ah, true love.

A departure from my usual hearts and flowers.

Last night I printed my Barcelona city scape. But then I thought of my love, Jason, and the time I begged him to carve something. "Come on! It's so fun!" I don't know what gets into me. If he doesn't want to do somthing that I think is SO FUN, it just irks me. And the guy is a really talented artist. I wish I could draw half as well as he does. But alas, the talent sits untapped. He says he needs a better place to do artwork than his carpeted apartment. I think he's just wussing out. I hope he reads this blog, gets pissed that I said all this, and draws for weeks on end. We'll see.

All that said, I don't really "get" his subject matter: lots of zombies and comic book style heros. Hence the print here of his favorite zombie "Bill". What is with boys, anyway? Why don't they love flowers and leaves and pretty things? Ok, so maybe it's just my boy. But I come from girls (2 sisters) and I really don't get the whole ninja/zombie/vampire/superhero thing.

Anyway. I printed this zombie for Jason. Love is weird sometimes.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:37 AM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Quick! While the light's still good!

Finally, a cloudy day! I love cloudy days. Especially in the summer. They seem so cool and refreshing, and the green grass really pops out. You can open the windows to the house and let the pre-rain breeze blow in. Now if only I didn't have to go to work in my windowless office today where I have no idea if it's night or day. And after working nightside yesterday, I'm really confused. Oh well. I'll have to take a walk at lunch. Hope it doesn't rain.

The real reason I love the cloudy skies is it makes for MUCH better photos. Since I moved my worktable, and since the time change, the morning sun is just too hard for great pics in the AM.

I'm using some of the fabric I bought at City Quilter in NYC. A convenient 2 blocks from my training office, so I went after training on Friday. Everyone there was so cheerful and nice. Not like the grouchy ladies at my local quilt shop. I swear, you'd think they are punished by working in a fabric store. Last time I checked, no one quilts because they HAVE to. Why not be cheerful about it!

Oh! I wish I could win the lottery and open up a Purl Like like quilt store in East Nashville. We are in serious need of a store that carries Anna Maria's, Heather's, and Amy's fabrics. Less Country Classic, more Modern Classic. Any donors out there? Yeah, I guess I'll go buy that ticket now.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:39 AM :: (0) comments

Monday, April 23, 2007

Progress and production (s)

I carved my arm off this weekend. I actually tried to blame Jason for hitting me in the arm because it was sore. Then I remembered all the carving. Do you ever have one of those moments when you wish you still lived with your mom? No, I don't mean so she will cook a delicious and nutritious meal without any brain-crunching effort on your part, or the I-just-need-to-be-a-baby way. I mean the "Hey Mom! Hey Mom! Hey Mom!!!! Look what I made!!" way. I seriously considered e-mailing my mom this print and then calling her to check her e-mail and praise me for the brilliance of it. Then I realized, um, she's at work, and cannot be at my beck and call every moment of the day. (Plus, she reads this blog now regularly, and she'll see it soon enough).

Anyway! the point is that I'm so stinkin' proud of it! I was really worried that my smaller scratches for the architectural stuff weren't going to come through. Turns out, I should have done more!! It's of this plaza in Tarragona, Spain. I forget every time about the flipping of the image. Oh well. Lovely little town. I printed a few quick prints, but I need to get some better paper, and think about color, etc. before I go into serious production. Not too shabby, though, if I may say so.

I used my trusty little hand press and simple cheap Speedball carving tools and inks. It's pretty simple around here.

I also made--count 'em-- 4 whole bags this weekend inspired by bags I saw in my travels. Here is one. The shaving kit bag is my own design. After I made a zippered box bag from an Amy Butler pattern, and it took me 6 hours both times I did it, I did this in a mere 2, plus the 30 min. or so I spent sewing the lining in by hand while watching the CMT music videos awards.

I don't work until noon today, so I'm back to the cutting mat for more sewing happiness. Now if I could only bring myself to make several of the same bag, I would really be using my time wisely. We'll see.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:34 AM :: (3) comments

Friday, April 20, 2007

And I am now a Digital Girl

Move one over, my poor cracked sister iron. I know it's my fault that I dropped you. I'm truly sorry. But let's be honest, you and I never had a great love. There's a new girl in town, and she's all digital and whatnot. Back in your day, whoever heard of automatic shut off? You can hardly be expected to keep up. We really are living in a digital world, and I am now a digital girl. Do, doooo, do do do do dooo.

Cuz Kim was kindly gifted a fancy EUROsteam iron and went on shamelessly about how steamy she is with it. Scandalous! I told her that I was in the market for a new iron, and she told me I was not grown enough. How rude! But seriously, folks, I'm not grown enough. That baby is probably worth her lofty price tag, but I'm not allowed until i'm at least 30 years old.

My new love is a Black and Decker Digital Advantage, rated the Consumer Reports Best Buy. Purchased at Target for $40.

I'll let you know how we get on. I'm thinking it's going to be a steamy affair. Oh, and the new girl? to add insult to injury, she has MUCH shinier hair, er, plate than you, my old friend.

Have a great weekend!! If you are free on sunday, go out to the Lipstick Lounge in East Nashville. I'm all out of sorts, and so skipped the show this month, but I'll be visiting for sure. How luxurious to go to a craft show that I'm not in!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:28 AM :: (1) comments

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

I'm just a tag-a-long

I became somewhat obsessed by the Grandma's flower garden craze a month or so ago. I say "became" because I no longer feel the nagging urge to make more ridiculously tiny hexs. I made my piece and that's pretty much it for me. This project served it's purpose in being a great small take-a-long project for my long long, no-sleeping cross atlantic flights. And I spent at least an hour every night working on them while in Barcelona. And my mom even had to chip in some time, too.

I was inspired by the Craftzine link to Sunshine's site. She made it super easy. I didn't even have to read the destructions. There were plenty of pics to go around. Now I think there is even a flickr pool dedicated to the Flower Garden. Liesl from Disdressed posted this week about the torture of doing tons of work for such a small outcome.

The fact is, sometimes I like to really dig in and indulge my perfectionist, neurotic need to do really teeny tiny things. I love itty bitty things, as I believe I've mentioned before. Now I'm done. I feel no need to do any more of these. I scratched the itch, and that's all I need. I think I'll just paste it onto something else.

After I started doing these hexagons, I started seeing them everywhere. Here is a pice of tiles designed by Gaudi that were all over Spain. I really wanted to buy one, but I didn't want to haul it back.

I'm including another bad photo of the stinkin' birdcage. I just don't have the right spot to shoot it, I think.

p.s. See those handy little yellow scissors up there? Yeah, they made it through my carryon luggage at 7 different airports' security counters. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but I was happy not to use my fingernail clippers to cut things with.

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Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:42 AM :: (3) comments

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Spinning my wheels

I've been working like mad on a freelance design project this week. It's nice to have work, and I like designing, but it's hard. It's hard to try to please a client (even though this one is really great). Mostly it's my own fault. No matter what project I'm working on, there is a point where I'm up to my neck, there's no going back, and I feeel like I'm drowning. I hate everything I've ever designed, painted, sewn or crafted. Surely this person is mistaken in asking me to do something for them! In it's worst form, on my own projects, this attitude can banish a project to the top of my closet where it may or may not be picked up again. Usually, I have to sleep on it, and someone has to talk me down. Shout outs to all of you who have been called upon in this capacity. Oh, and chocolate usually helps. The artistic process that is. It really doesn't help my waist line.

Anyway, if you can't tell I've been feeling pretty creativley frustrated--so many ideas, but not enough time to work on my art, and until this weekend my studio has been totally torn up, so no space. But all of this is getting better. This weekend Jason and I put up shelves and I cleaned, (May the Lord Bless and Keep IKEA) and last night I actually finished a project!

Wonder of all wonders! This little fabric birdcage is not of my own design, and I feel immensely guilty about it. I really want to make some of these and sell them, but I don't know if it's okay. I saw it in a couple of stores in New York. I really wouldn't want someone to take my brilliant idea and make and sell them. But maybe they're different enough that it's okay. Anyone have any opinions on this?

p.s. Sorry for the blurry photo. My photo mojo is off this week. Much like all of my other mojos. (Moji?) whatever. Is it Friday yet?

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:26 AM :: (5) comments

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Saturday in the City (part II)

After all the fun at Etsy Labs, we wandered around in DUMBO (down under the manhattan bridge overpass--it think) We had a deliciously caloric lunch at Bubby's and went on about our exploring.

Back on the island of Manhattan, we revisited Pearl River Mart--an extremely large and fun store of all kinds of Chinese imports. I bought some Chinese calligraphy stuff and a zen sand garden for my boyfriend, and some joss papers for myself. Oh, and they have the most beautiful dishware--I have a terrible weakness for pretty little bowls. I only bought 2!!

Then on to SoHo and the Purls--Purl is a knitting store on Sullivan street, and Purl Patchwork is its sister quilting store next door. Both are about as big as a shoe box, and incredibly charming. I've really been wanting to visit, because I read their blog quite a bit, and I really like what they're doing there. Bringing the charm back to quilting and knitting!

This is a handspun yarn made right in my own backyard! It's Ozark Handspun, made in Jefferson City, Missouri! And it is really great yarn. Next time I'm at home I'll have to try to check them out. All this knitting stuff kind of made me want to knit--but I'm still holding out!! No more new hobbies!!

I had so much fun and got SO much inspiration. I didn't even tell you guys about going to Kinokuniya--the best Japanese bookstore! I bought about 10 Japanese craft books. If you're not familiar with the wondeful world of Japanese craft books--look here. They are so beautiful and different and clean. And they're hard as hell to buy. You can't really get them online because all the sites are in JAPANESE! and they're no where to be found local bookstores. Maybe I'll take some photos and make a post out of them.

For now, I'm working at 2pm today, so I have the morning to clean (yeah right!) and work on some freelance--maybe after that I'll actually get some real crafting time!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:52 PM :: (1) comments

Etsy Labs!! (Saturday part I)

Saturday morning as promised. Kimmie and I set out from Jersey City to Brooklyn. The destination? Etsy Labs. For this small town girl the idea that you can meet people whom you read about all the time, and visit the fabulous places of the blogosphere live and in person, well, it just doesn't seem real. But anything is possible in the city! I love it there!

So this is Etsy Labs. We had no idea what to expect, but the reality is that they're just starting up, and it's a magical place. They have the Etsy offices there, and a huge space for studio work. For a mere $20 you can join for the month, go to the Labs, and do anything crafty you want, hang out with super cool people, and generally live out your crafty dreams!

Here is a green screen stage you can use in conjuction with they're digital editing software. You could put on your own weathercast!

They have a screen printing lab, a jewelry making lab, computers, scanners, and did I mention LOTS of sewing stuff. Nice sewing machines, irons, fabric and materials that have been donated by Etsy patrons.

This here in the fab green scarf is Cuz Kim. She was my navigator and run-around gal, and hostess for the weekend. She even offered up her husband to be my official bag toter! What a gal. And this is Anda in the red. She started out as an Etsy seller, and is their biggest cheerleader. We wandered in off the street and she gave us a deluxe tour--and she was so excited to be there and be part of etsy that she would occasionally bounce up and down while talking.

She even gave us a lesson about how to make fabric from recycled thin plastic bags!! She used them to make a pillow and tote bag. Check out her blog. She is the Etsy labs guru, or at least it seemed that way to us. She even gave us lunch suggestions! Hooray! People in New York are awesome!

After the heavenly labs, we went to Purl, and beyond--It was a great day! I'll post that in part II....stay tuned!!

(I wonder if I feel compelled to write teases at the end of my blog posts because I work in television. Or because I watch too much tv. I really write one at the end of each post, but most of the time I try to get rid of it. This isn't a television production!! But maybe one day!)

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:43 AM :: (0) comments

Saturday, April 07, 2007

NYC yeah you know me!

I love the way I travel. I love to do all the little neighborhood-y and non touristy things. I want to go to a great restaurant where I might go if I lived there myself. In New York, though, there's so much to do, that a little (or a lot) of pre-trip research helps to narrow my range of options and i really need that.

One night after training was over I hopped the subway and went to SoHo to Kate's Paperie. The security guard yelled at me for taking this photo, but this firms my belief that it's better to beg fro forgiveness than ask permission. She would have had to wrestle that camera from my cold dead hands.

Then yesterday I was waiting on my cuz Kimmie to meet me, so I popped into a little cafe in Chelsea and got myself a treat. Banana cream pie cake or an oreo brownie? Hmm. I choose wrong. The BCP was like cement. I should have known better when I saw the dyed-green marachino cherry on top. Oh well, live and learn. While I sat there contemplating throwing out the BCP and spending another $2 on the oreo brownie, I saw a woman riding her bike uptown against traffic and the most bitterly cold wind. Not unusual, until I saw the source of her ungainly balance: she had the largest size bag of Kate's Paperie stuff on the handle bars and it was weighing down the left side of the bike. Oh the things we do for craft supplies!!

I'm apologizing right now for talking about things on this trip that I don't have pics of. It's freezing cold and windy, and sometimes I just don't want to take out the camera. Today we're exploring all over town, though, and I'll try to be good.

I'm going to try to talk my crafty cuz Kim into guest blogging--which would be a special gift for you guys! (Hey Kim! by the way, do you want to guest blog? Okay, great, I'll send you the passwords and stuff!)

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:07 AM :: (1) comments

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Crafts go international

I went to Barcelona, Spain with my parents and sisters. All crafty in their own right, but let's just say not interested in knitting stores. I found a great link from Craftster sending me around the city in a wild chase in the elusive non-siesta hours (from 12 to 5, it seemed)

This was a little weaving and textile shop in El Poble Espanyol, which is a little village of faux Spanish buildings (think Epcot) near the Olympic stuff on the west side of town. Apparently built in 1929 for a World Exhibition, it is chock full of little craft shops with local people running their studios and selling their wares. We absolutely loved it there!

It seemed as though every little street had a milion specialty shops. Forget Joann. There were little corridor stores carrying very specific items--a store for beads, a store for Indian silk, a store for shoe-making (something I really want to do, but I'm skurrred because it involves pretty precise stuff) and the most incredible--a store for bag making. Actually, 2!! and they were both on the main street between our apartment and Las Ramblas which is the heart of the town.

This was Barcelana--a fantasic yarn shop in the Gothic neighborhood--pretty close to the picasso museum. (which is a skip in my opinion--lots of early drawings, and a few recognizable paintings, but not the greatest collection in the world.) Anyway, lots of great yarn, too bad I'm refusing to learn yet another craft--especially to knit I REFUSE!!!

Check out this embroidery! The window shopping alone was outstanding. We didn't go to any fabric stores--although one craft shop did have quilting fabric--standard country charm cottons for $20 per yard!! Ouch! The exchange rate made everything really expensive, so I bought only what I absolutely couldn't live without.

I'm going to post the addresses for the stores I went to on Craftster soon. If anyone is going and wants them now, just let me know.

I'm in NYC for work--but went to Kate's Paperie last night after training was done--I'll try to post those pics tonight if my hotel's internet connection doesn't go down again!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 7:26 AM :: (2) comments

Monday, April 02, 2007

I'm back! If only for a little while.

Still out of sorts from all the travelling, I awoke at 4:30am today. My mind is totally spinning. I should have posted sooner, but I just needed to get my brain together after such a lovely, thrilling, relaxing, enlightening and overall fantastic vacation in Barcelona, Spain. Here is a link to my pictures worth more words than I have the energy to write. Does anyone else feel a minor meltdown when coming off vacation? It's such a let down! And I love my family to death. They're the funniest people I know. I think it's a Cosby kids syndrome thing: I had such a great family and childhood, I don't want to leave it. I want to stay at home with them. It's a great life!! But no, I have to live 400 miles away and be a grown up. It's just a shock to come back to home ownership, a throroughly trashed house (thanks to my studio upheaval last week) and a thousand projects in the works. I'm getting what I asked for!

I'll be writing this week about various experiences from the trip--crafty shopping, excursions, man vs. the machine, art and architecture, and more. Since I'm traveling again tomorrow, be patient. Let me just say that I now have more ideas than I have time for and I'm a little stressed about it.

I'm leaving again tomorrow afternoon for a training trip to NYC, although I'll be staying through the weekend and tooling around the city (Purl Patchwork, here I come!!) If anyone has ideas for me as to what I can cram into Saturday and Sunday, send them my way.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:08 AM :: (1) comments