Is It Really Spring?

I know I’m not the only one complaining about being sick of the neverending cold snap we’ve been having. My only consolation is that the rest of Canada and many parts of the U.S. are suffering just as much…share the misery, I say!

The weather has been a great incentive to stay inside, drink hot tea and play with paper. I made about a dozen books and a few boxes last week, which all went to nathalie-roze & co to sell in her boutique. Aside from the stack of record books and boxes mentioned in one of my last posts, I made these three journals from pages of old books:

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I made one of them with LPs, and I love how it turned out. I thought the LPs might be too heavy as covers, but they’re just fine. This is a great way for me to recuperate the LPs I’ve broken while trying to make the record journals.

I spent all day Friday preparing for a workshop I was teaching the next day at Urban Scrapyard. The project was the accordion box as seen in previous posts. It’s a really great project, but has required so much doing and redoing and tweaking to get it just right. And THEN I had to prepare the class notes; this project was a real bugger to try to put down on paper. Some of the instructions were very difficult to describe in words, and I really struggled. My anal retentiveness and leanings toward OCD certainly didn’t help! To help me through these hard times, I listened to archived podcasts of This American Life while working. Five hours of This American Life. Yup. I should send Ira Glass a personal thank you note for helping me maintain my sanity. Or not.

Anyway, with a combination of written instructions and detailed diagrams, I think I finally got it right. During Saturday’s class, I was extremely happy to notice that most of the students just followed their notes without any problems, so I guess the instructions were useful. They were thrilled with the finished project, and a few of them said they’d be rushing over to the art supply store to buy chipboard for more accordion boxes. Yay – what a reward after everything this project has put me through!

Here’s the accordion box I made during that class – for some reason I just couldn’t get the angle or the lighting or the colours right, but you get the idea.

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With this workshop done, I finally had some time to work on some new personal projects. I’ve been wanting to make a prong fastener notebook, inspired by the one in Donna Downey‘s book Decorative Journals. Oh my – I see Chapters/Indigo has 24% off on her books. It looks like I may now have to order the other books in her collection!

Anyway, back to the notebook:

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The pocket on the left is made from large paint chips. I love the removable pages, and I have another idea I want to explore with this book structure. As well as several more ideas for new books. More on that later…

I have lots to do today; must get a haircut and go shopping for some office attire for tomorrow’s start at the new job. Yay!

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I Made Soap!

I’ve had a love of handmade soap for many years now – I love the smell, the texture, and the fact that it’s great for my sensitive yet problem skin. This afternoon I participated in a soap-making workshop and loved it. Several years ago, I bought a book on soap-making but the instructions seemed too complicated and overwhelming, so I never attempted any of the recipes. But now…I think I may have a new hobby (with great gift-giving potential). Just as when I took a bookbinding class a few years ago, it has given me the confidence to attempt it on my own now that I understand the materials and the technique a little better. I made tea tree oil and lemongrass scented soap and my hands still smell nice from the essential oils we used…yummy. The hard part is letting it cure for a few weeks before I can start using it.

I’ve also confirmed what workshop project I’ll be teaching next month at nathalie-roze & co., although the dates have yet to be confirmed. It will be a CD case made of record sleeve covers. Very hip AND utilitarian. I can’t wait – I’ll upload some pictures of the project soon.

I’ve filled all the book orders and confirmed a few workshops, but still need to work on a few new workshop project ideas. I think I’ll take tonight to recuperate and get a fresh start tomorrow, when I’m rested.

Here’s a list of things I’m enjoying at the moment:
Listening to… This American Life podcast. I only started listening to it a few weeks ago but I’m hooked. I love the way they set up a story and you never know where it’s going to go…Brilliant.
ReadingMary Engelbreit’s Home Companion (the Feb/Mar issue has story on business tips from creative women). Creative Home (the Spring 2007 issue that features Alicia Paulson’s dreamy studio). Country Home (Feb 2007 issue on organizing and decluttering).
Making… Handmade books. Developing workshop projects.
Loving… Hot baths on cold nights. Chai tea. Connecting with creative souls (online and in person). Learning. Playing with paper.

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.