Monday, March 31, 2008

Urban Chicken Adventures

It is difficult to take a candid shot of the Girlz because whenever they see me, they come running! I do love this "Charlies Angels" shot of the Girlz: Star, the tall white one, the brains of the crime fighting, bug destroying duo, and Lacey, the black girl with soul, bravest and chattiest of the two. Together they make up the "Urban Chicken Assault Team!" Today's target? You'll never guess, but right after this photo was taken, they found a snake sunning itself along the base of the house! Star quickly sounded the alarm, "Ba-bock!", and jumped out of the way, as Lacey dashed in for the attack! "Take THAT and THAT!" she grunted, Mrs Piggy kung fu style. (Although it sounded more like, "aaawwww!.....bok!..bok!"). Star, quite frightened, let Lacey do all the beak and leg work. Lacey pecked the snake, dodged for safety's sake, (peck and weave, Baby! Peck and weave!), bawked at it, jabbed it, flipped it over, pecked..... The poor garter snake didn't have a clue what hit him. He tried to quietly slither a way into taller grass, and Lacey grabbed him by the tail and yanked him back out for a second beating! Poor wee snake! I could have actually stood back and caught all this on film, but I was busy gently defending the poor thing. It was fascinating to see the Girlz reactions, however. And Lacey instinctively treating it as though it were poisonous. I think she would have killed it, if I hadn't held her back. What a fierce girl! If you haven't been properly introduced, go back to the post "Introductions: Girlz and Boys".

Sunday, March 30, 2008


This piratica coffee serving set is laiden with hand stitching. One lucky pirate will drag it off to her ship! Destined to be OOAK like my other coffee pot cozies, and comes with two coasters (see my etsy shop for more details). Working with recycled sweaters is fun-warm and wonderfully dense to stitch into.

Oh and folks are asking about the bones. I have a basket of old old old pelican bones from my art grandma's house, and they occasionally make it into one of the photo sessions.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gocco Rock-O!

The OTHER package that arrived was from Think Ink. Supplies for my Print Gocco! Think Ink's website isn't pretty, but they have great supplies, were very good at answering my questions, AND they have a brand new Gocco manual out!!! I highly recommend it for new gocco users. It's a full size book written by a woman who's used this system of printing since the 80's. It's loaded with information, easy to follow, and nicely organized. (Much much easier than trying to learn from the manual the Gocco comes with.)

I mainly plan to use Print Gocco for fabric printing, but my first project is on paper: hand printed Bliss Monkey Studio envelopes! I wrote out my master envelope with a carbon pen, zapped the image into a screen with the gocco, inked it up and printed a whole batch of envelopes. My next 100 coffee cozy customers will receive their cuffs in these new art mailers! A BIG thank you to all my etsy customers, fans, dear ones who heart my shop, and have returned again to shop. I love creating and mailing beautiful things right from my home to yours. Thank you!

Bounty, birthday or pirate booty?

Check out the surprise goodies I found on MY porch this afternoon!!!
Now AdoptACritter has been teasing me about knitting something for my 4-4 birthday, so I wasn't too surprised to see a package from her, but two packages and one so heavy??? The kids were all excited and helped me carry them inside.
Open! Open! Fake fur, fabrics, notions, beads, printable fabric........ is this the monster collaboration we were planning? Mmmm...... look at all the fun stuff....the kids loved the "Keeping a Nature Journal" book.. patterns for kimono and sewing machine cozy....and the socks! They are so cute. I was so touched she'd send me fun socks! Now I wonder if the socks are to make sock monsters with! ??? AdoptACritter will have to "comment" to tell us.

Now see the little gold box on top of the pile? That came in the separate envelope. It's this sweet snap shut treasure box. So special. You are the sweetest friend! Thank you!!!!!

Mother's Day Gift Guide

Thanks to my buddy Mosey , in Belfast (that's Maine not Ireland, as I quickly learned), for telling me one of my cozies is in the Etsy Mother's Day Gift Guide! Nice. I took a screen shot (see earlier post of mine so you, too, can learn how to do this handy screen shot thing) to show ya. Bliss Monkey Studio pink and orange elephant love French Press Cozy, with matching coasters. All made out of recycled sweaters, felted thick. I love my French press, and esp love having my second cup kept warm by a decorative wool cozy.

I've been having fun playing with wool this spring. Recycling sweaters, and dying wool roving for needle felting. Most of my pins and animals have sold except for one owl, who still needs a home. And the new french press cozies are still available. I'm due to make some new animals, and I'll be sure to take some photos to show you how it's done. Needle felting is a fun process. Mosey makes gorgeous, folk birds and clutches, out of upcycled wool- check out her etsy shop.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Joy joy

March is certainly cloud viewing month. We have a saying in Oregon: If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.

Long Legs McCormack here with Skymonkey enjoying the riverside trail. Mudslide Sydney climbing trees. Yep, all in a day's work to scamper down trails, track animals, climb all available low branches, bird watch, try out different sticks (and argue over them), get caught in a rainstorm and dash home to fling all clothing directly into the washer, and cozy up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa and a good read.


Need I remind you, this blog will continue to take a Spring Break from Bliss Monkey Studio time, and instead focus on March madness weather, paint, lack of gardening, soggy outdoor adventures and joyful family goodness?

With the weather being extremely DAMP and the strange DROP in temperatures, including intermittent snow flurries (after bulbs have bloomed outdoors etc), we content ourselves with indoor painting projects, game fests, and mayhem. BUT when the clouds part, we slap on our coats and dash outdoors to run, explore, breath deep! Get some fresh air before the next storm cloud rolls over. I love snapping photos when the sun is out. Alton Baker Park here....

Can you see the Osprey in the tree? We watched a nesting pair hunt today. These birds are impressive with a 5+foot wingspan.

The colorful building in our Science Factory, kid museum and planetarium, and all around cute landmark- great for rainy days and summer day camps.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Backyard Creatures

Mudslide Sydney holding the first spring snake. We love snakes, animals of all kinds really, and garden garter snakes are a favorite to be found right in our yard.

Everyone looking at the snake... gently gently..... then putting it back where we found it, right outside Bliss Monkey Studio.... not that I am getting any work done in THERE this week with all the painting and adventuring going on.

So have you guessed?

Where were we? Did we take our family dream trip to Thailand? India or Africa perhaps? No, but the Oregon Wildlife Safari was just the thing for the first day of Spring Break. It was a beautiful drive south, and we were lucky not to get rained on. Alice the Elephant was such a sweetie to walk us around, then stop and pose. While her trunk was up in the air for the big smile, I noticed her giving us a good sniff!! Who's up there? Smells like two nice kids and a happy mama. It's just plain magic to hang out with an elephant. There was only a blanket between us and her, up on her back, and the rail to hold onto. We could pet her as we walked and feel her muscles working. If you have never rode an elephant before, I advise setting out to make some new elephant friends, and ask for a ride. They are amazing and dear. (And always be thankful-I was probably the only person to thank Alice as we got off).

A close encounter with an Emu. Now please say it right: ee- mew. Not e-moo. My kids are half Australian and take their Aussie animals reverently. This emu took a liking to us. Perhaps it was the blueberry bagels being nibbled by LongLegs McCormack here? It reached right inside the car and we had to fight for the bagel's very life! He had a BIG red eye to peer at us with, and was eager to clack his beak on my hand a few times, trying to train me to feed him, the rascal.

American Bison giving herself a good hoof mud spa treatment. I snapped this shot at the beginning of a nice afternoon yawn.

Yack-a-ty-yack, and don't come back! Actually do, we will enchant you with our long, swinging woolen skirts. You crafty people will entertain fantasies of following us about all day, collecting tufts of our fur to spin exotic yak wool.

These fellas in the back were doing a long-skirted dance together, and butting horns with a resounding "CLACK!!! .... Clack!..." all in slow motion.

Near the end of the drive through, we caught site of Alice the Elephant and her friend walking back to their roaming space together. Alice was holding her friend's tail. Why won't my dog let me hold his tail as we walk? It's so sweet.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

So while it's raining, what do we do with all this restless Spring energy ?? I hit the studio, getting caught up on projects for family and friends, and do my indoor painting projects! I love painting, and there's always some something that needs doing when you own your own house. We bought a year and a half ago and there's still some areas that didn't get painted by me.

Here's a baby blanket I just made for some sweet friends first baby. Hand embroidered monkey on the yellow side, print on the other, and metalic play banana accessory. :-)

April showers bring May flowers, but what about March??

The sun shone for a week here in Western Oregon, and we all got out our gardening tools, took stock of our seeds ......and I got a set of new raised garden beds (!!!).... followed by a week of LOW temperatures and rain rain rain. It's not the Oregon winters that are hard, it's the endless Spring showers! We get restless, but we can't complain, not really. We live in a gorgeous emerald valley, an hour from the sea, surrounded by hiking trails and fresh lakes.

Bliss Labels

Dear Coffee Cozy fans, now when you get your Bliss Monkey Studio cozy wares, they will have a lovely blue sky and cloud label stitched on the inside, and made by fellow etsian, Jennifer's Jewels.

The labels are exactly what I imagined! She did a great designing job and I recommend her work. I love having cotton labels to match my quilted cotton designs.

Friday, March 21, 2008

And the verdict is......

I've been eagerly awaiting Lark book's reply to my cozy submissions..... and the verdict is: They accepted one of my submissions! In their upcoming book "Pretty Little Cozies", I get to teach you how to make a coffee cozy using your favorite print charms. Yey!!!!!!

Signs of Easter in our house....

We take a walk to find some branches for the egg tree, and hang all our little hand decorated eggs. This year, we have carrot decorations we won at the Food For Lane County Garden's carrot pull!!!

This is a new treasure from my friend Tonia. A little ceramic Easter bunny house that lights up.

Now you can see the little light, the phone, the mailbox.... the house and pink bunny are removable. The kids just love it. Thanks, T.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

First day of Spring and a celebration of where we've been

Happy official first day of Spring!!! It's very clearly Spring here in Western Oregon, but up at Willamette Pass, it's still Winter. I visited the mountains recently, with my family, and saw the biggest snowfall we've had in years. It was an amazing white crystal world, powder soft and ready for our first time on skis. This is my ski bunny self portrait. Sorry you can't see the ears. Actually, I do happen to be wearing a warm, custom elf hoodie from ThingsNStuff that's green wool on the outside, lined with fleece, with a wee orange elephant needle felted on the outside. (I'll get a photo up about that) Really fun to have custom snow gear!!

The kids did great on their first ski adventure. The powder was not slippery, and our skis slid along the groomed trail. Five year old Mud Slide Sydney was in front of the group, going along excitedly pointing nature out to me. He'd fall down, and pop right back up. His seven year old brother, Long legs McCormack, seemed to fight his skis a little more. Due to the long skis, I couldn't do much to help them back up! I did fine, and had a GREAT time, but endured one good fall. I slipped off the trail and fell into a tree well. Have you been in the deep snow like that? Imagine me upside down in deep powder, butt first into the hollow, skis kicking and polls all tangled..... my five year old was standing there watching with great concern. He finally says, "Mommy, I just don't know HOW to help you." So true, Darling, now stand back while mommy gracefully walruses her way out....... I thrashed my way out eventually, with my backside packed with snow.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Arrrrrrrr! Pirate tableware!

Where else have ya seen pirate tableware? I got to thinkin'... what would lady pirates set their table with? Certainly, they would have some down time at sea, occasional marronings, or boring, no-wind-in-the-sales time with nothing but blue ocean on the horizon.... they would have done some piratical crafting. Fixin' up the the galley with some traditional crossbones and such.

Here's what came out of the studio today: pirate coasters. Made of recycled wool sweaters, felted, add some wool roving needle-felted on, and a big dose of rustic embroidery. Yes, they are actually flat when you get them off the fence from the photo session. They are naturally water proof, which makes for great coasters, and they look splendid pegged on the galley wall. Sail into port and stop by AlyTheRed's Bliss Monkey Studio on etsy to purchase these wares for yerself. Arrrrr!

I've read several books about women pirates. Really fascinating! The trouble for historians is lack of real documentation on these wild women. They often passed as men to survive life at sea. Some caught women pirates were used as examples by the government, who made up a history worse in crimes than anyone could possibly accomplish in one lifetime. Or their lives weren't documented at all. Most of what we "know" about female pirates is pure fantasy. Have a little fun with it!

Monday, March 17, 2008

I've been TAGGED- the big SEVEN

I was tagged by dear Adopt-a-Critter, and now must tell you seven random, unusual things about myself and tag seven others......

1) I cry whenever I hear bagpipes. I'm Irish, but I don't think that's it. I've been to Ireland twice and am pretty sure bagpipes are Scottish. Ullean pipes are very Irish.

2) Occasionally I don suit and tie, draw on a mustache, and lip-sync for charity events. Boy drag is sooooo much fun. I recommend it.

3) I've been a professional body piercer, sub-professional phlebotomist, and professional costumer. All of which involve different types of needles and working closely with people.

4) I believe in the Law of Attraction. What we focus on, brings more into our lives. We manifest positive change in our life by knowing and stating we want, focusing positive thoughts on it, and taking direct daily action. Yet, figuring out EXACTLY what we want is harder than it sounds!

5) I really love pet rats. They are so cute and smart and FUN!!!

6) I was once a costumer for a Disney film. One summer the Disney crew came to town. A friend was working on the film and I hopped over to help out. They stuck me in a wardrobe trailer full of middle school kids 70's clothes designed for FALL. A line of 100 kids showed up at the door, all with measurement papers in hand, and I had to outfit each one asap! They were to be the background kids in a gym scene. The first-time extras actresses were attempting to make demands such as, "I dont look good in purple", "But this will make me too hot", and get this one, "But this is sooo 70's". ?? It was a wild and fun few weeks work-12 hour days, temporary union affiliation, AND have you ever had a ride with the Teamsters (professional drivers)? Wow!

7) My claim to fame? I've never eaten a Twinkie.

Happy Holy Shamrock Day

This is my funny Irish self-portrait. I thrifted an assortment of these great old buttons, and even a matching mug with same image and words. I'm super happy about that because my last Irish Day Celebration mug was recently broken.

Bring on the Guinness..... no, wait, already did that YESTERDAY.

Happy Irish Day to all artists and crafts people!!!! Here's the traditional Irish blessing from me to you:

May the crafts rise up to meet you, and may your road be sewn with sequins and orderly stitches. May the sun shine in your studio windows (but not blindingly- what sort of blessing would THAT be??!) and your art supplies be plentiful. May you see the wisdom of your ways, and keep making art depicting it!! Shamrock-out.

Sneak Peek!

"When Life Gives You Lemons, Make ART" is the name of this fabric jewelry necklace I made last month. You get a sneak peek here - sshhhhhh- because I am now writing a how-to for an upcoming Lark Book. A great chance to design something unique, and get paid to teach.

They originally contacted with an invite to be part of their "Pretty Little Cozies" book due out next year. (See how Etsy is good to us? You never know WHO is shopping!!! Bring it on, Martha Stewart!!). Soooooo, I'm nervously awaiting a response about the two cozy projects I just sent in today. I will let you know when I hear back from them. In the meantime, I will enjoy your "waiting" company.

Introductions: Girlz and Boys

Etsy customers ask about The Girlz so much, I promised to include them in the Bliss Monkey Studio Blog. After all, they are a big part of studio life.

Top photo: Mr. Long-Legs-MacCormack (aka Son #1) holding Star. Star is our star egg layer. She can lay big, white double yolk eggs, and often makes "extra extra large" which are impossible to close in the egg carton. She is tall, cute, and always squints one eye shut when you pick her up.

Second photo: Sir Mudslide Sydney (aka Son #2), holding Lacey. She's the Siamese of hens, always making noise, loudly announcing each morning's egg, and responding to anything we say to her. She lays demure brown eggs, which sometimes have freckles and sometimes are solid brown. She is very sweet and has the softest feathers.

The Girlz roost in their little yellow hen house, decorated with art, and enjoy their chicken run. Afternoons will find them pacing at the door, impatiently waiting for their yard time. They enjoy such endeavors as: dirt bath in the GOOD DIRT up against the back of the studio, sneaking into the fenced herb garden and quietly scratching up the tender budding things trying to grow, tapping at the sliding glass door until someone comes out to give them Chicken Crack (cracked corn and wheat= highly addictive stuff), and comically running to us when we call. Stay tuned for The Girlz updates and a future art contest.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What's in a name? Coffee Cozy philosophy...

This is my latest coffee cozy design.......It's named "Soul Garden". If your soul was a garden, what would it look like? What's growing there? Do you have a secret garden? Or is it light and open? Do you have an exotic set of flowering vegetables, heirloom melons, or is it all sunflowers? Is it a community garden, or a quiet set of raised beds in a sunny spot?

You can ponder your own soul garden while you drink your next cup of coffee. Better yet, you can draw a map of your soul garden including the childhood part of the garden, the pathways leading to the current garden, any side winding paths and sections, and future plans. Totally coffee house art therapy. I'm ready to set up shop!

Kinda philosophical for a coffee cuff, but that's what came up while I was sewing this. What's in a name? How does what we name our products, and the story behind them influence buyers? Some artists don't like to name their works. They want the person who gives the work a home to put their own spin, interpretation and ideas on it. Lots of people have great stories behind their plush toys, artworks, and goods. I don't plan it out in a calculated way. As I'm sewing, names and stories and puns (sorry about that) often come up. My cuffs and quilts and monsters just talk to me! I can't help it if I tried.

What do you think?

Dachshund Stampeed

My Oregon joke list referenced "sun breaks". This photo illustrates that perfectly! A break in the clouds and rain, and the sun rushes out dramatically. Sometimes part of the sky continues to be rather black.

I was so glad to have my camera in the car. Doesn't this look like a leaping dachshund??!

Friday, March 14, 2008

How to save a shot of your screen

How very cool! How to save a "shot" of your screen. Clearly I'm easily excitable.

But can you READ this post? Kinda squinty? Sorry. Well if you can make out the words, you too can learn to save screen shots to preserve cool things you find online, to save those great moments when you find your art in a surprising place. Oooo, la la!

Craft photography

I love making my art and crafts, I love selling them, and I love the photography. It's challenging to simply show the product, when I want to be artistic and play. I usually start with a few clear shots of the product. Nice and close. Show front and back. THEN I get to make a little set for the product.

My "set" space is a window shelf in the studio. I lay out fabric and background. If you look closely in some of shots, you can see handmade paper that was created by my grandmother twenty years ago. It's textural and beautiful. I can use it under the product, or to defuse light against the window.

I love to photograph my coffee cozies outside in the backyard. I feature whatevers blooming, the holly tree, the herb bed, the grass, and for "rough pirate cuffs" I stick them right on the weathered wood of the fence. And I swear my cuffs sell better when the photo was taken on a sunny day. Feel sorry for me- remember, I live in Oregon!

Here's two spankin' new items about to go into my etsy shop. I'm enjoying some steampunk action, with background sets, old coins, treasure chest, leather glove, and pelican bones (that are about 50 years old).

The top photo is another of my new key chain cozies to keep your coffee shop punch cards, coins, and coffee cozy. But instead of taking a clear shot, this is my play photo. You won't see these "artsy" shots as the first product photo on it's etsy page, but I hope they are interesting enough for people to click on for further views.

Cheers, me mates!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Etsy Article!

The Register Guard of Eugene, Oregon ran this large and wonderful article about the Eugene Etsy Street Team. They featured a print artist, fiber/clothing artist, and beadworker. I was really thrilled with all the photos, length of story, and of course that it was all about etsy!!! Yey!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oregon jokes

Q: How many Oregonians does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: Five. One to change the bulb and four more to chase off the Californians who have come up to relate to the experience.

YOU KNOW you are an Oregonian if........

* You've ever ordered a half caff/decaf, nonfat mocha grande with sugar-free cranberry whip (or you know what it is). (Yes!)

* The bride and groom registered at REI. (sport supply store)

* You are amazed at an accurate weather forecast.

* You know more than 10 words to describe a cup of coffee.

* You throw an aluminum can in the trash and feel guilty. (but then we'd take it to the recycling can, wouldn't we? Why waste time feeling just guilty?) :-)

* You use the words 'sun breaks' and know what it means. (Totally!)

* You never go camping without water-proof matches and ponchos. (Oh yea, I've been flooded out on more than one camping trip!)

* You know more people who own boats than air conditioners. (Yes! And the actual wood finish boats too!)

* You only honk your horn if collision is imminent and never for anything else. (We might be quacker backers but we aren't much for honking).

* You consider swimming an indoor sport. (yes! ha ha ha!)

* You consider something a "hill" (not a mountain) if it doesn't have snow on it or has not recently erupted, regardless of its altitude.

* You can't tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai food.(That simply isn't true! We have all those in Eugene and I am addicted to Thai and Korean)

Pink elephants?

OK does anyone want to psychoanalyse me? I have no idea why I'm suddenly making elephant themed things. I didn't realize it until today. And PINK elephants at that. And people are giving me elephant things, which I just LOVE by the way. I even have a little collection of elephant print fabric piled up to design into a new elephant coffee cozy. Anyone have a guess what this means?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What is a coffee COZY?

What is a COFFEE COZY and why do I use one? I also like to call them coffee cuffs. First off, let's save a little tree by passing by that cardboard cuff in the coffee shop.

But you want your hands to be comfortable over that blazing cup? Picky picky picky! Just kidding. Of course you do. We all do. Nothing is more comfortable than a handmade fabric (or yarn) coffee cozy. They insulate your hands from hot or cold beverages. Once you use one, you'll be hooked.

The third reason is, well, they are dang cute!!! Nothing is more stylin' than a handmade, decorated cozy, featuring your favorite stuffed monkey, hobby, your cat, favorite color, pirate fantasies, or a holiday cozy. Sitting at the table with your friends? You will NEVER ever loose track of your cup again.

Ok, so it's cool to save a tree, have happy hands, be stylin', and always be able to find which cup is mine, but where do I keep my coffee cuff? In your purse, your desk, your glove box, your backpack front pocket, or your keychain cozy keeper. See article below and my etsy shop for more details.

Why do I make and sell coffee cuffs?
I've been making and selling coffee cozies for a year and a half now, and I adore making them! I'm an art quilter, so there's that tactile process of choosing, and layering the fabric, quilting and texturizing and finishing with a fun zigzag, that I love. And each one is a little piece of art, that I name and ship out into the world. Fine art is wonderful, but I also have a deep love for functional art. An object that we use in our everyday life, that can be both beautiful, and helps preserve the environment is something to treasure. My coffee cuffs also fit same sized travel mugs.

Keychain Cozy - "Lemons"

Yes! Finally a way to keep your coffee cozy close at hand! It's a new invention of mine and just went up in my etsy store today. Coffee cuff, coin, card, keychain keeper.... didja get that? A wee keychain purse invented for storing your coffee shop goodies, but you can use for anything. What about keeping your rings safe when you work out at the gym? What else can you come up with?

When life gives you lemons..... quick make a cozy!!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Blackbirds

There they go! The last of my flock of blackbirds has flown to a customer across the country. I'm so glad the weather was nice today. She's promised to feed them a nutrious snack as soon as they arrive.


I'm standing under my blossoming plum tree with my eyes shut. The heady scent of the blooms is like a tea I want to consume by tiny warm sips. But the sound, the sound I hear is most riveting. BBZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz. The first spring honey bees have filled the air, busily visiting each blossom. I opened my eyes long enough to take a photograph.

Look closely......can you see the honey bee in the photo?