I Think I’m Ready…

It’s so sunny and peaceful in the house on this Christmas Eve morn. B. and his son are still in bed, so I have the whole place to myself, which is wonderful.

The past few days I’ve been scrambling to finish my shopping and crafting and I think I’m finally ready for the Big Day tomorrow. The gifts are all wrapped and under our small tree:
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I’ve also bought a few presents for myself. After last month’s nasty crafting accident during which I sliced my finger, I got to thinking much more about safety. I bought a Fiskar rotary cutter and an O’Lipfa ruler (it has a lip at one edge that clamps to the edge of the chipboard or whatever else you’re cutting, therefore making it more stable). I’m looking forward to trying these out:
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The books are thrift store finds; I’ll be ripping out the binding to use the pages in my handmade books. I like to choose colourful, informative books that have thicker paper for pages.

Friday I got a great package in the mail from my Swap-Bot partner Katrina. It was for the Holiday Stress Swap (we were supposed to send items that would make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable).
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My package from Katrina included some wrapping tape and gift tags, a skein of 100% alpaca wool from Peru, a box of minty truffles (my favourite!), gold and silver pipe cleaners, soft trouser socks, candy cane cocoa, handmade soap from Hawaii and some relaxing bath tea, which I can’t wait to try out! Thank you, Katrina!

I only discovered Swap-Bot about a month ago, but have since joined three swaps. They are highly addictive, so much fun to put together and even more fun to receive! I’ll definitely be joining more swaps in the new year.

I’d like to wish a safe and happy holiday season to everyone reading this, and best wishes in the new year!

Cheers all around!

Craft Fairs and Podcasts and Books, Oh My!

I came back from Saturday’s craft fair with a few gifts for my friends and family:
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I bought the candle for my mom from Lindsay’s Candles & Stuff . It’s cinnamon-bun scented, truly yummy. The leather guitar strap is for my little brother. The two items in the bottom right corner are soap, and if you look closely enough, you’ll notice they’re of animals…fornicating. Yes, that’s right. I think these are hilarious and bought several of them from Soap Scum, including polar bears for my partner B. My friend D. and I have a thing about giraffes so that soap is for him (I can’t wait to see his reaction).

I’ve just spent the past two hours watersanding a few carvings for B. My arm is about to fall off – it’s the same motion as scrubbing pots and pans. For two hours. Not exciting stuff, but I love listening to my various podcasts while working on the carvings.
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I’ve noticed something interesting about podcasts – do any of you feel like you have to listen to a podcast to the very end, even thought it’s not really that interesting? I was trying to figure this out; I think part of me is afraid of missing out on a gem of a moment or a really great tip during the podcast, so I listen to the whole darn thing. Another reason I listen is that I’m hoping the podcast will live up to its hype. I’m thinking of a particular podcast – I have greatly admired this podcaster’s work in the past and have even purchased several of her products. She is somewhat of a celebrity in the creativity/craft blogging world and everyone speaks very highly of her. However, her focus has shifted in the past few years and she’s no longer promoting her former vein of work and is now podcasting on a different craft-related subject. I was curious about her podcast because, like I said previously, I’ve admired her work in the past and I was also very curious to her what her voice sounded like. Turns out, I can’t stand her podcast! She produces it in conjunction with another girl and it seems like all they do is giggle hysterically and constantly refer to inside jokes during the one-hour+ show. I thought it might have just been that one episode, so I listened to another one and hated it just as much. Alas, it was with a heavy heart that I finally deleted her from my subscription list…

I have the same problem with books that I read. I’ll plough through a book even though I hate it just because someone recommended it to me or it’s a classic. Dr. Zhivago is the perfect example of this. I hated this book with a passion, and can’t understand why it’s considered a classic. The one good thing that came from reading it is at least I can cross it off my “Books to read before I die” list.

I finally worked on some handmade Christmas cards, based on the Claudine Hellmuth technique I referred to in the last post.
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Please excuse the blurry photo… The stocking is made from Shrink Art and the star on the tree is a brad, so there’s a 3-D element. I’m not sure I like these cards; something seems to be missing, although I can’t figure out what exactly. I should have started with a coloured background, and at this point I really don’t have the time or patience to start them over. I guess they’ll have to do for this year.

Slightly Panicked…

Is there really only 9 days before Christmas??? I haven’t even made my Xmas cards yet – yikes! Every year, I try to make my own cards, and at least I have an idea for this year’s cards, thanks to Claudine Hellmuth. She has a video demonstration on her blog showing how she does her whimsical collages. I think I may just attempt something similar and make Xmas postcards out of them. Here’s the video:

I finished the handmade books I was working on the other day. They look very pretty – I love the paper I used for the covers, and the mixed papers for the inside pages. I’m quite happy with them.
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Today I’m off to the Last Minute Craft Fair here in Toronto. I’m hoping to score some goodies for gifts (for myself and others). I really, really need to make a dent in my Christmas shopping, although I don’t plan on going anywhere near a mall today or tomorrow. As ironic as it may seem, I’m a special events coordinator who at one time organized events for 300,000 people, and yet I hate hate hate crowds. Especially crowds of people wandering aimlessly and confusedly with their small, tired children (in mega-sized strollers) in tow. It’s a surefire way to make ME cranky too.

Bah humbug.

Art and Obsessions

I spent a few hours this morning watersanding my partner B.’s sleeping polar bear carving.
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He’s a full-time artist and mostly does stone carving, although he paints as well. This past year I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to take a break from the corporate world, thanks to B.’s support (financial and otherwise). I’ve become an artist’s assistant of sorts, helping him organize his carving studio, print business cards, and finish his carvings. When he’s done carving a piece, he’s sand it quickly with rough sandpaper. That’s where I come in: I sand it with various grades of sandpaper in water, then scrub the piece clean. Pop it into the over, brush on melted wax and polish it. Depending on the size and complexity of the piece, it can take me anywhere from 1 hour to 6 hours to complete the process. Although sanding isn’t exactly a fun or exciting activity, it’s been extremely rewarding for me to better understand the creative process of a talented artist. Even though I don’t consider myself to have an artistic eye, I now can often recognize when a carving is “off”, either proportion-wise, or if it’s poorly carved by another artist.

One of my obsessions is making handmade books – last night alone I worked on 6 books. I cut and covered the covers and bound the book blocks.
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All I need to do now is glue everything together and they’re done!

Something I’ve recently discovered and quickly become obsessed with is podcasts, particularly craft- and music-related ones. I’ve subscribed to so many of them it’s hard to keep up, but I try to listen to as many as possible whenever I can. I love listening to the CraftSanity podcast while working on projects; it’s terribly inspiring to listen to such a wide gamut of craft artisans and entrepreneurs talk about their experiences and give advice on leading a crafty life. When I’m in need of a bit of humour, I’ll listen to the Quirky Nomads podcast. Their Quirky Quiz podcasts are so freaking hilarious, I can’t stop giggling the whole time I listen to them!

I’ve also discovered many indie music websites and podcasts over the past several months. It never ceases to amaze me how much talent is out there that never gets “discovered” or get radio airplay. In some ways, I prefer to discover these hidden gems myself and share them only with those people whom I know will appreciate them. It’s our little secret…

Many firsts…

I’ve had many things on my to-do list for some time now: create a blog, start selling my handmade books, set up an Etsy shop, create a Flickr account. But I always made excuses: not enough time, too tired, it seemed too complicated, wah, wah, wah.

I finally kicked myself in the butt and decided to register for my very first craft fair, something I’d been putting off for way too long. Just over a week ago, I was a vendor at the Pedal to the Metal show in Toronto. I wanted to start with something small and not too intimidating, and this turned out to be the perfect setting for a newbie like me.

Some of the handmade books I sold:
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I made just under $200 during the 5-hour show. Not terrible, but I won’t be retiring anytime soon. I mainly wanted to gauge interest in my books and see if my prices were realistic. People certainly showed interest in my books, especially the record books, but many of the attendees were art students, and therefore broke.

I’m so happy I decided to participate in this craft fair – it gave me the confidence I needed to take part in more and to meet like-minded crafty people. And of course, one thing led to another…

About two weeks ago, as I was preparing for the fair, I stopped at a local scrapbooking shop to buy some paper for my handmade books. Now I’m not really into scrapbooking myself, mostly because I don’t have kids and not much of a life anyway, but I love many of the papers and embellishments that are sold in scrapbooking stores. I was telling the store manager that I planned to make books with the papers I was purchasing, and now she wants me to give a bookbinding class in her store! I was thrilled, as teaching bookbinding classes is something else I’ve been wanting to try, but never had the confidence to do so. So I rushed home and developed a few samples of books her customers could make. Looks like they will be booking a few classes starting next January and we’ll see how it goes from there.

So now that I’ve pushed myself to try these new things (and gotten such positive results from them), my motivation and creativity are at an all-time high! Watch out, Martha!

Finally Joined The Blogging World…

I often feel like I’m the only person on the planet who doesn’t own a blog…well, no more. I finally decided to just jump in and DO IT. So here we go…

One of the reasons I’ve wanted to create a blog is I’ve been extremely inspired by all the crafty bloggers who share their projects on the Web. There’s so much inspiration out there, and I’m hoping to contribute to it myself. I mostly do bookbinding (hence the blog name), but not the boring, traditional stuff. I love using recycled materials such as vinyl records, paint chips, used books, etc. I’ll be posting pictures of my creations just as soon as I figure out how.

It’s hard to believe it’s less than two weeks to Christmas, and I haven’t even begun my gift-making nor my shopping. Ugh. My usual crafting blitz has been seriously limited due to a craft-related injury (I cut my finger quite badly a few weeks ago – needed stitches and everything). It’s amazing how much you appreciate something as seemingly unimportant as a finger when you can’t use it!

It’s been hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit, partly because the weather has been so mild here in Southwestern Ontario. There isn’t any snow on the ground, so it doesn’t feel Christmassy just yet… Also, I’m working from home for the first time, so I haven’t been part of the spirit that usually goes around in an office environment. No Christmas office parties for me this year, sadly (yes, I’m one of those who enjoys them. Most of the time.). Yes, I’m a dork, but I actually liked most of the people I worked with in the corporate world. We actually enjoyed each other’s company and had a great time together.

I seriously need to start working on some projects. More to come soon…