Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I'm so proud of this! And so pissed about something else.

One small thing I've finished in the whirlwind past 3 weeks, and I really like it. I think it will be an item I'll make in production.

I'm totatlly stressed right now because my passport and application that I sent 2 weeks ago is lost in the mail. Has anyone had this happen to them? I priority-mailed it, and it just hasn't shown up at the passport office. I called the post office with the tracking number and they said I can't complain until it has been 14 days. Which is tomorrow. What am I supposed to do until then?? I'm totally panicked. I'm going to Barcelona at the end of march, and everyone else has a passport. If I have to pay the extra fees to expedite because mine got lost there is going to be a real problem. And what about the security issue? Did someone steal it and all my personal information? AHHHHHH!

okay, I really need to calm down. It's going to be a long long day at work and I can't be worjavascript:void(0)ried about this....Just like Scarlet O'Hara, I'll think about it tomorrow, when I can bitch out the people at the post office.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:08 AM :: (2) comments

Monday, January 29, 2007

I'm tired.

Sadly, the excitement is over. Saturday night was the Mid-South Regional Emmy awards for local television people. I was nominated for 2 Emmys, but was snubbed by the academy. :) It was a beautiful night and event, win or lose. The awards were held at the Nashville Symphony Center, which is way fancy. As much as I complain about my job, it's a pretty great thing that you can be honored in this way for doing your job well. Not to brag, but my station won 14 Emmys total including weather, writing, photography awards, and most important the News Excellence award, which is the "Best Picture" of the local news Emmys. And out competitor only got 2 emmys. We rule.

That said, my lack of blogging lately (I've been tryin', folks!) is due to the fact that my station is going HD. From the top down. New news set, new wiring, engineering, new ways to work, and my department--a new graphics package. Which means all the work we've done in 4 years has to be re-designed with the new designs in about 1 month. We're going on the air on Sunday after the Super Bowl. It's a sparkling, beautiful thing. If you live here in Nashville, you must watch.

Even if you don't have an HDTV, in which case you may not understand what a huge deal it is, our new set and new graphics will dazzle you. Here's a link to our station website if you're really interested. Anyway, all this is to say that I've been working 60 and 70 hour very stressful weeks at my real life job, so crafting time has been at a premium. Although, I try to do at least one small thing every day just to balance my mind. I've been playing with Shrinky-Dinks, and they are SO FUN!! I'll post them tomorrow.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:53 AM :: (1) comments

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Odds and Ends

I'm obsessed with Japanese quilting. They are almost traditional, but have these incredible design details and wacky but cool use of color. I found this flickr site with photos from the Tokyo Quilt Festival which just happened. Some day I'm going to it. For now, though, it's just the local shows with the grannies on Jazzie scooters**.

Would you believe that I sold that purse from yesterday? Crazy! An hour after I posted it, I got a call from a number I didn't recognize (ironically when I was driving to the fabric store) and it was Mel, who has bought a couple of other bags from me after the MamaMade open house. I was so flattered! It really made my day.

Also, I picked up the latest issue of CRAFT magazine which hit newsstands today. Seems pretty cool, but I haven't gotten to really delve into it yet.

**Not that I have a problem with Grannies, but man, oh man, those Jazzie scooters do not make you happy when they're running over your toes in a crowded quilt show!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 11:54 PM :: (0) comments

Back to Regularly Scheduled Nonsense

I couldn't believe how quickly this little bag came together. I've been thinking about it for a couple of weeks--and all that stewing helped me come up with the quickest and most successful pattern. Well, as usual, I have a couple of tweaks. I ususally make at least 4 or 5 prototypes before I'm totally satisfied with a pattern.

It took me forever to find the right trim stuff for the handle, but Joann really came through.

In other news, the list of vendors for the Revolution of Craft here in Nashville is up! I'm really impressed with some of the amazing artists who will be there. Go check it out! Here are a couple of samples:

From Lala Dex Press:

Fab jewelry from Freshie:

From Bobbie's Folk Art:

And so much more. And I promise, my booth will be the awesomest. But wouldn't it be cool if there were boothes even cooler than mine? Yes, I'll have to do some shopping of my own that day.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:23 AM :: (5) comments

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Let's all play along

I've been tagged by Kathleen to answer as honestly as possible the following really deep inquiry: state 6 weird things about yourself. So here goes. I've been thinking about it for a couple of days, because I didn't want to forget the importantly crazy stuff about myself.

1) I've broken my arm 4 times-- all under the age of 14. Twice on a bike, once after tumbling down stairs, and once playing basketball against my will.

2) I often have only my thumbnail painted with nail polish because I like to try out various shades at the drug store before I buy it. Today's shade is Sally Hansen Salon: So much fawn. I love this polish--another color I bought a couple of weeks ago stayed on like glue--and I can NEVER get polish to stay on. 2 hours later, it's usually chipped. Not so with the Fawn. Also, I've always thought it would be a great job to be the person who names colors. "tea stain" "Brick dust" "swampwater"--these are all in my house!

3) My nose is always cold--even though the rest of my body is hot...my nose gets cold. Probalby because it turns up so severly at the very end.

4) I hate Thomas Kincaid. 'Nuf said.

5) I'm a full 5 feet 12 inches tall, and that's pretty weird for a girl. And I NEVER played basketball (see above about broken bones.)

6) There are certain words that I despise: panties, satchel (I know, weird for someone who makes bags) and moist.

I'm going to try to find 6 people to tag--how about Deb, Jenn, Angela, Laura, and Heather, and Freshie.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:14 PM :: (3) comments

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I'm now in working mode for the Nashville Craft Mafia's Revolution de Craft. Here are a few of the small $$ items. Incidentally, I can take them along with me and sew them pretty quickly.

Last night I had a crazy dream that there was some kind of attack happening here in Tennessee. My family was trying to flee, and I was running around making sure I had all the attachments to my SEWING MACHINE!! Holy crap. I guess that explains my priorities: my family and boyfriend first, sewing machine second. i wasn't even worried about my home, or work or anything else. I just knew if I had Wanda I would be ok.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:34 AM :: (4) comments

Monday, January 15, 2007

Christmas Gift Review #2

This is a post about the finished quilt, but I also wanted to mention my knee lift bar for my Bernina, Wanda. I love her, and now her ride has been pimped. The knee lift bar is supposed to speed up your sew-flow by 30%. I'm counting on that. Lifting the presser foot all the time was really bringing me down. Especially when sewing lots o' tiny little seams for bags, etc. Wait till you see all the gifts I'm going to review. You'll be green with envy. One at a time. And I'll prolly be more bragging than reviewing, but just you wait till the books portion of the show is posted. Just you wait.

Oh, and I wanted to post the most gross and weird shower game ever:

See, you chew a piece of bubble-gum, (it's supposed to be pink, not GI Joe green) spit it out on an index card, then sculpt it's rubbery gooiness with a toothpick. Now, I'm a master at Cranium's Sculptorades, but this was no Cranium game. After all the master pieces are completed, the momma-to-be comes back in the room and chooses her favorite. Actually, it was a quite hilarious game, despite my personal struggle with the rubberiness. It's simply impossible to sculpt when it keeps trying to return to it's lumpy state.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 11:59 PM :: (2) comments

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I guess it just runs in the family

See that woman posing like she's about ready to throw a discus? That's my mom. And that's a bag that she and my sister concocted this weekend while they're iced in. (don't miss the mid-missouri weather) I'm thinking of commissioning a few for my next show. I've got lots of ideas churning for the Nashville Craft Mafia Revolution of Craft coming up in March. It's going to be a rip-roaring crafty time!

I'm not sure what it is, but this is my favorite stage of show preparation: teh daydreaming. I'm working on a quite a few new items--I managed to eek out a few very sweet pincushions this weekend. Not as productive as I would prefer, but Jason has a new tv, and let me just say, it's hard to tear him away from it. Saturday Night Live in HD kicks ass! I never believed the hype until I saw it. You've got to run out and get an HDTV! I would if I had an extra $1000. Maybe I'll just have to really start cranking out the purses!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 10:33 PM :: (0) comments

Friday, January 12, 2007

My favorite gift to give

Here is a present I made for my lovely friend Arianne. I took a photo of her and her brothers and printed it on some rayon, and made a small art quilt. I made 3 of these quilts for friends who were graduation from college. I somehow have lost track of my photos of the other 2, but I know that they love them.

When I'm at the end of my life (hopefully I'll expire before my boobs go below my waist, although, if you know me, I'm in grave danger.) I'm going to look back on my life and be most proud of the friends I've made. There's just nothing like finding a kindred spirit. Someone who gets you without trying, someone who has been there for all the laughs (Arianne), someone who understands when you start philosophizing and using 50ยข words about the drama of your lastest crush (Julia), someone who has more raw artistic talent than should be allowed in another human, but who really gets the thrill of making cool stuff (Carrie) Someone who leaves you the such hilarious voicemail messages that you start laughing when you even see that he called (Mark).

I think my boyfriend doesn't really get my need to have more friends than I can keep up with. He once asked me how many favorite people fall under the category of "one of my most favorite people" let me tell you, there are at least 12 in my list of most favorite people. He's a guy who needs 2 friends and a girlfriend. Period. What's up with that?

I know we're all busy, and heaven knows I could have used the time writing this blog to actually e-mail these friends, but honestly the most important thing is to know that those friends are out there, to know that within 5 minutes of seeing each other after a long absence, you'll be right back where you left off, that's so crucial. It's what makes me most happy.


Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:32 AM :: (0) comments

Thursday, January 11, 2007

But, I don't FEEEL like it!!

Oh, I'm being a huge baby about my cold. I know it. But today, it clogged up my ear, and I just can't deal. The ear thing made me nauseous, so I had to leave work. I have a big big fear about public vomiting. What does this have to do with sewing, you ask? Well, I have a big deadline looming (self-imposed) to get this quilt done by Saturday, for the baby shower of a friend of mine. I told myself I was going to stop making presents for people because it's so hard to know what they will like. And I HATE to give them something they don't like, especially if I worked really hard on it. Or if they have no clue what a lovely gift it truly is. But this is pretty simple, and I'm dying to try out my new Knee Lift bar on my sewing machine, Wanda. My schedule is piecing and assembling tomorrow, quilting on Friday night, and binding on Saturday. Oh, I need to take a nap. I'm not sure how that's going to work out.

I took lots of my favorite brightly colored prints and a few of my not-so-favorite because you've got to use that stuff up sometime, right? and cut strip after strip after strip. And then sewed together strip after strip after strip. Wouldn't you know it that this morning the first thing I thought when I woke up (after, "Dammit! What is the matter with my &$%*)%$ing ear!! I'm so SICK of being SICK!! I am NEVER SICK! It's just not allowed!) was "Wow, it would have been really cool to have red, turquoise, and lime greens in different rows of strips. Too late, I had already sewn the multi colored rows. I can just see myself as an old woman surrouned by piles of strips sewn together. I keep thinking I should sew more and more to make my own sort of fabric--which will automatically add detail to whatever project I'm working on at the time.

Like I said, the deadline is this Sat. barring any major illness (please, oh, please, just let me get better!) So I'll be posting progress pics the rest of the week.

By the way, which do you like better, one is the original, and the other is what I did in photoshop to experiment with design without cutting my precious strips too much. Post it in the comment section!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 12:54 AM :: (2) comments

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Etsy Update!

Hey folks--you can now purchase the prints below from My ETSY SITE for a very affordable $8!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:57 AM :: (1) comments

Monday, January 08, 2007

XMas Gift Review #1

I guess I'm compensating for shirking my printmaking classes in school at the University of Missouri in Columbia. I took photography and used one of my fibers classes as a "printmaking in fibers" (the head of undergrad studies loved me. He also let me take a 3 hour calligraphy course taught by my graphic design teacher and count it as drawing.) Truth be told, now I really wish I had taken printmaking.

I drew out this little dogwood--which looks a little like a hibiscus. And carved the first outline. I mixed up some "ink" from acrylic paints. Not the greatest, but I just couldn't drag myself out to the art store yet again. After printing about 30 or so, I realized I hadn't been making registration marks. Oops! This is why the final prints are a little off, but I kind of like it. Not technically perfect, but lovely just the same.

See my little black press in that there picture? I got it from my sweet boyfriend for Christmas. It came from Utrecht, and was about $40. It only prints things 6" x8", but it's a whole lot better than the wooden spoon method. At least, I printed tons of these in a just a few hours.

What should I carve next? Hmm.. maybe I'll put a couple of the nicer ones up on Etsy. But not right now. It's all I can do to get a blog post out every couple of days. I have a cold that is kicking my butt, and a job that demands actual brain power (darn it!) I can't do links from Safari, but when I get home today, I'll try to make some links in this post. Hang in there with me!

My friend Carrie made this incredible print. She only made 2 of them, and I basically commanded her to give me one of the prints. I love it so much!!

Posted by Beth Howard @ 9:22 AM :: (3) comments

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Printing Your Very Own Fabric

Here's a little lesson for you. Happy New Year!!

Since a very young age, I've been drawn to creating things in production.Call it my German heritage--must make more crafts! and more efficiently!! Also, given my love of labor-intensive craft, economical originality, and my stubborn desire for fabric of my own design, naturally, I'm drawn to printing my own fabric. Here is a small tutorial on how to make super simple stamps and print a little style of your own pattern.

First, design and create a stamp. I love to use the fun foam (you know, it's a sheet 1/8 inch thick and comes in hideous colors and shapes) that you can get at Wal-Mart or Michael's, or your generic craft superstore. I especially like the kind with adhesive on the back. Usually this comes in white or black, is 8.5" x 11", and costs less than $1. (what a deal!) You can make MANY stamps from this. This stuff cuts really well with an exacto knife, or with regular scissors. Just depends on how detailed you want to get.

Next, stick this to a stamp block. I love the plexiglass scraps from Home Depot, but you could use anything flat and the right size. Wood, plastic lids, etc. If you don't get the sticky back foam, get some super glue and stick your stamps on. If you use plexi, and your stamp is fairly big, you can bend it a little which helps to make a clean mark.
It should look like this in the end:

Time now for the dye recipe.
I get most of my dyes from Dharma Trading. They're nice, priced well, and have a great selection of stuff. Plus, their website makes things pretty simple and they have great instructions and recipes. I use Procion MX Dyes (you don't need a lot, the smallest container might be $3 or something)

Here is the official thickened dye supply list:
Procion dyes
Urea (small round, inexpensive pellets)
Soda Ash (powdered stuff)
Cotton, Rayon, Linen, or otherwise organic fabric. (note: polyester will break your heart when it comes to dying. steer clear!)
Warm water
Sodium Alginate Thickener ( powdered seaweed or something like it. at any rate, it's organic)

Mix one recipe of the following for each desired color:

1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon Soda Ash
a dash of Urea ( 1/4 tsp or so)
1/2 teaspoon of dye (more if you want darker, less if lighter)

After you've mixed these solutions together, you can start to add the Alginate thickener. Add just a little at a time. Seriously, very little. It will continue to thicken for up to 2 hours. Just keep stirring vigorously. It should be about the consistency of pudding.

Now you're ready to stamp your fabric! Stretch your piece of fabric using pins or tape--the tighter the better, but honestly, I usually just iron the piece first and skip the stretching.

UPDATE!! I forgot to include how I get the ink on the fabric!
I use a sponge brush--the cheap kind. I load the stamp with dye or ink, not too much or too little--you'll just have to experiment. I re-ink after every imprint. You'll get a groove and get things moving. If you make a really big stamp on plexi or other plastic, it's best to bend it a little to get a solid impression. You can try either organized stamping patterning or my favorite--random! Yes! The more random the better!

Let the fabric stand overnight before rinsing--if you've got a lot of dye, rinse in you kitchen sink in cold water, then hot, and throw it in the washer for a final rinse.

You may also use these stamps with fabric ink, which leaves a smal texture on the fabric, but always gives you a clear print.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 8:22 AM :: (20) comments

Monday, January 01, 2007

Holiday in Review

First, the weirdest gift of the year: my boyfriend gave my college-dorm-living sister 2 hermit crabs. My mom was totally grossed out, but Lauren seems to like them. They don't do a whole lot, but they do like to come out and play when you pick them up.
As you can see here, even Lauren is a little freaked out.

We made a small batch of sugar cookies--just enough to satisfy the urge, but not enough to get tired of them. My sisters have declared lime yellow-green to be my "signature color". See Steel Magnolias, my favorite movie. Who doesn't love Dolly Parton and copious amounts of wedding nonsense?

And we went for an ATV ride (a John Deere Gator to be exact) around my granparent's farm along the Mississippi north of St. Louis. I love the views from there. I'm feeling a piece of artwork coming on....

I'm going to post a list of my most fab gifts of the year--but not today.

Posted by Beth Howard @ 11:46 AM :: (1) comments