Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Street Faire and New (OLD) Bags

Hi everyone, I'm officially vending in my first crafty street faire at the University of Oregon next week. Very exciting. Yey, Eugene Etsy Team!!! We are going to vend as a group, and be surrounded by import booths and food, so I imagine we'll be doing some educating about the benefits of handmade. Now my little policital mind is going, "Tick Tick Tick...." but imported items are handmade, just by someone else, who lives far away and isn't getting paid American wages. I'll need to do some thinking over this. Who wants to weigh in on this topic? Please feel free to share your 2Cents.

How about some photos?
These are my new market bags made of 100% recycled tshirts. They have one outside and one inside pocket. They will be offered at my Etsy store after the faire.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Gocco and Give-Away!

WE WANT YOU!.... to get in on this fun Give-Away. I'm treating some lucky winner to a free Coffee Cozy Club Membership. That means four free coffee cozies sent to your door. (See Coffee Cozy Club on my etsy for details). In celebration of my 200th sale on Etsy, anyone buying an item before my 210th sale gets in the drawing AND anyone who posts about the give-away on their blog and comments here, gets in the drawing. I'll be pulling one lucky name in the next few days, so get signed up!

What's going on in the studio over the weekend? I have learned to use my print gocco on fabric for a special project. Here I am burning a screen. Pow! The lights go off, instantly turning this clip art and font into a usable silk screen! Of course it took me days of research to make sure I was using the right combination of products, and a day to prepare the clip art, making that part not so "instant", but the rest of the process is so fast and fun.

This is how I use loose screen. I make a frame from duct tape making it all water-safe so it's very easy to wash right in the sink. I squeegie over the screen to make a print. (Screen on right, finished print on left). I'd love to hear from other artists who are doing something similar.

"It's good to be king" patches and tests of black on red and white ink on red. I was very impressed at how good the white came out. Bring on the t-shirts for printing!!!

I wasn't planning on having "It's good to be king" tshirts in my etsy shop, but if anyone needs one of these patches or on a T, let me know.

Happy Monday All!

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Grrlz Hen House

For those asking to see the Grrlz Hen House, this post is for you. If you haven't met the Grrlz yet, you may link over.

This is the view of the moon roof, so The Grrls get lots of light even with all our Oregon weather. The house has a roost for sleeping, a red warming lamp for sub freezing temps, and a thick bed of straw. They lay their eggs in a shared nest.

They have a small collection of hen art on the sides of their house. You know how hard it is to find images of hens without roosters? We can't have a rooster within city limits, but we can keep up to four hens. Amazingly, many adult friends ask how the Grrlz produce eggs without a rooster. Or suggest hens don't lay as well without a rooster.
Excuse me?!! Grrlz do NOT need a man around to get their job done! A rooster does nothing but make noise and hump hens. The Grrlz lead a perfectly peaceful, productive, and appropriately adventurous life without a rooster underfoot. (FYI, rooster fertilize eggs, but we don't need to eat fertilized eggs. I think the kids would go on egg strike if there was any possibility of hatching into PEEPS. Thanks to Tonia for the term.)

View of the chicken run, feeders and into the roost- no hens in sight because as soon as one opens the big door, they rush into the yard for bug chasing time! I designed this structure so it could be moved to a different location of the yard. The blue tarp can be used to batten down the hatches when it's stormy, or 1/2 uncover the run for lots of sun. We let the Grrlz out for awhile in the afternoons. They love their yard time, indeedy doo.

What are these?? Yes, hen napkins. As much as I adore the Grrlz, I don't want my house taken over by hen iconography. No. REally. However, shopping at the fabric store, I could not resist buying this fabric. It depicted our two hens so perfectly! We needed new spring napkins. It's cute how much the kids love something new and handmade like this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mascotts and Muses

There have been some questionable questions, imaginative inquiries, and mischievous mumblings about my mascots and muses. Therefore, I'll introduce a few to you (if only I could settle on a letter of the day......).

This is Toli, a one year old Chocolate Lab. He's Inspector 86 around here, and does a through job of sniffing up trouble.

Favorite song: "Toli, toli, you're a chocolate guacamole!"
Fav food: found-under-table food.
Fav art: shaped dog biscuits
Fav toy: it's a toss up between Squeeky-bouncie, and DogBedUnderTable
Alias: Sirius Brown, Chocolate Poo (only when he's bad), and Tollhouse, Toblerone

Quote of the day: "No, I have nothing in my mouth. There's nothing to see here, so if I hold perfectly still, I'm sure you'll move along (and let me chew this up in peace)."

Quote of yesterday: "If you don't give me that rawhide chewie right now, I'm gonna start my OWN blog......"

This is Milly. She's been with me for about 6 years now, but only recently employed in the shipping department. Her job is to make sure each order goes out with a card. She also acts as creative consultant on all custom orders.

Favorite song: all 30's tunes, anything to do with the beach
Fav food: dollhouse tea
Fav art: sand castle sculpture, designer doll clothes
Fav toy: Tiny Teddy, and her art quilt sleeping bag
Alias: Beach Babe
Quote of the day: "Life is gorgeous, especially if one simply puts a little effort into their apparel, like wearing a Japanese fabric dress to work."

(I've made everyone in my house their own doll- each get new clothes on Winter Solstice. Please nobody tell her she's "just a doll". ok? )

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Teapot Sweaters-Happy Earth Day!

I'm celebrating Earth Day with an upcycled product line. I invented Teapot Sweaters. Made from all upcycled goods. I thrift wool sweaters and felt them until they become thick enough to stand up on their own. I then add decoration of bits and pieces from my grandmother's jewelry stash, and other fabric or felted wool. The teapot sweaters are large to fit any tea pot, or over a bowl of muffins or biscuits. I love dual purpose art items, and upcycling! Sweet. This one sold yesterday, but I have three more to that will be for sale in my Etsy store.

I know I've said this before, but I really enjoy working with the wool. It's soft, warm, sweet smelling, and fun to stitch into. Oh and the teapot sweaters come with two matching wool coasters.

If you are new here, please sign up for my 200th Etsy sale give-away on the previous post.

Earth day with big corporation???? Chevy is partnering with The Nature Conservancy to plant real trees as part of the campaign. Grab this growing tree widget to help spread awareness.When you click the "grab this" button, just click on the myspace icon for the embed code. It will still work.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

200th Etsy Sale Celebrations Give-Away!!!

To celebrate my upcoming 200th Etsy sale, I will be giving away a Bliss Coffee Cozy Secret Club membership! The winner will receive FOUR customized coffee/tea cozies sent right to their door over the next three months! It's so much fun.

I'm at 190 sales now, and when I hit 210, I'll pull a random name, so quick, get in on the contest!

Why is it called Secret Club? Just like my regular club membership, the winner gets to fill out my fun personality questionnaire (about their fav colors, coffee drink, etc,) and I will choose coffee cuffs based on your answers. Then the surprises will start arriving at your door. The first cuff comes right away (who likes to wait??), then one each month for three months. This will include one wrist and cuff style. It may include personalized art or original one of a kind cuffs. Who knows what designs, and surprises your answers will inspire!

How do you get in on the drawing? Be one of the next 20 sales at my etsy shop (that gets your name put in the hat once). OR post this give-away notice, on your blog and let me know you've done this by commenting on this post (that gets your name put in the hat once). Drawing will be on the day my sales go to 210. That's only 20 from now and will go quickly.

I love Etsy, love my Secret Club, and look forward to the drawing! Happy Sipping Everyone! Aly at Bliss MOnkey Studio

Cozy quality assurance worker: Inspector #86 on the job.

It takes a team to get these products out the door and into your hot and suffering, coffee holding hands, ya know!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Breakfast in Bed

And speaking of breakfast, I have to tell you this story. My day of birth was a Friday this year. That evening my five year old, Mudslide Sydney, came to me thoughtfully, "Mommy if I were you, I'd have breakfast in bed tomorrow morning. I will fix you a snack plate (his ideal meal) and Long-Legs (brother aged 8) will cook you scrambled eggs and make the coffee." I'm thrilled with this idea. I give Long Legs a coffee brewing review, and he informed me that he's not ready to make eggs by his unsupervised, eight year old self. But coffee sure.

The next morning, I try out sleeping in. I hear them talking and rattling around in the kitchen. Half hour later, there's a big shout. Apparently the puppy stood up against the counter and managed to EAT half of Mommy's special breakfast. Older son is ticked off. Younger son, very industrious, just remakes the sandwich.

Breakfast is served! Complete with card. It's artistically arranged into a smiley face with parsley eyes, and carrot teeth. Photo of breakfast in bed caused the cat to leap awkwardly away, and watery coffee to be spilled all over the bed, sogging my sandwich, which I then eat, calmly and very gratefully.

"Tastes better with coffee, doesn't it, Mommy?" Yes, of course!

I tell you honestly, it was everything breakfast in bed should be- complete with mishaps and rhythmic gymnastic ribbon dancing entertainment.

How to Cook "Over Easy" Eggs Without Flipping

Good Morning! This is my coffee counter just as it appeared mid-coffee prep 1/2 hour ago. The jug makes the hot water, the french press brews the coffee, the bunny mug and milk wait their turns.... and kid snacks supervise on the counter.

Can you believe my kids enjoy a crunchy seaweed snack? Yep! They fight over them.

My eight year old needle-felted THIS french press cozy for me, with two matching coasters. Mushroom forest. I just love it. I collect bunny mugs.

So here's my question. Would you like to learn how to make perfect "fried" eggs without flipping them? If you like your eggs "over easy" so you don't break the yolk, why risk it? Just steam the top done following this handy tutorial.

These eggs came from The Girlz. The lovely brown one is Racy Lacey's egg and the huge white one comes from Star. Her eggs are a different size each day, sometimes two yolks inside!

Get your toast or muffins toasting before you start the cooking. You need a good frying pan and a lid that fits it. If you don't have a lid, you can use a plate, but remember it will get hot with no handle, so plan ahead. Heat your pan to med, warm a little butter or oil, then turn it down a bit before you put the eggs in.

Sizzle!! Carefully crack the eggs in. Turn right to the sink holding the lid upside down to capture 2T (aprox) of water and pour it right into the pan. Put the lid on the pan to steam the eggs. This will cook the whites entirely, thus avoiding the whole flip it but don't break it procedure.

Steamy, steamy, steamy.... it's ok to peek and see if they are done. I like to poke mine to test the whites. Takes just a few minutes. Get your toast and plate ready. Take them out when the yolks are just as you like them. Soft? 1/2 solid? mmmmm..... in my case, to commemorate my Papa Fred who always cooked me an "egg ona muffin" when I was little.... it's muffins.

Breakfast served on my childhood patio picnic table, with salt and pepper cows, bunny mug full of fresh coffee, and the comics. Can you tell it was my one sleep in, no company morning? No human company that is. There's the puppy and the Girlz and two kitties. Now, when I finish my eggs and there's just a little of the comics to read, I make jam toast with Quince jam.

Bon Apetit! And please tell me how the cooking goes when you try my method.

In other NEWS:

Eugene weather report: Nasty! It was a blazing 82 degrees last Sunday, and we were all HOT, and now it's dropped back to 34 degrees last night, with rain and brief HAIL showers! Crazy, no? Brrrr! I was sewing with wrist cozies on last night.

Bliss Monkey Studio report: today's forecast is Classic Blue and Classic Pink cozies followed by some fun with the print gocco.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sidewalk Art in Eugene

I love to be surprised by city artwork! We found these in the Blair and 8th neighborhood, after eating dinner at the famous Laughing Planet and heading to Sweet Life for dessert. New sidewalk art!!!! These beauties are strewn all up and down the area, and some blocks celebrate landmark businesses, like the music store on the corner. Can you see the one with directions?
I love Eugene.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Letterboxing as art?

Is Letterboxing art? Let's talk about it. But first, it's 2 oclock. Yes, tea time. Would you like a cuppa with me? I'm really hooked on having a few Marie Lu dipping biscuits with my tea these days. It's just Irish Breakfast today, I'm afraid, nothing exotic. But it's a nice standard.

Finally, conditions were right to find our first Letterboxing series of the spring. The sun came out, the kids had the day off of school, and we printed out the clues to an eight box, book themed series, called Dead Poets Society, all in a park we have hardly explored. Grabbed our kit, and our puppy and off we went!

Letterboxing always gets me into new parks, hiking new trails, climbing mountains because it's beautiful, and fun, AND there's an art reward at the end. I mean I love to be out in nature, and pretty much ALL artists spend a lot of time in the studio and probably need more exercise. Is it the artist in me or the pirate in me that loves a little adventure that leads to art booty?

Here's the trail scouts, Mudslide Sydney and Long Leggs McCormack honing in on a hidden letter box. We've followed the clues to the "giant mossy rock laying against twins" and searched the right side. Careful, don't let anyone see what you are doing! Letterboxing is kinda secret........ there it is! We found it! ......Nice. The person who produced these letter boxes did a great job camouflaging them with tape and keeping the contents secure from moisture.
What is inside a letterbox? Can you see? There is a hand-carved stamp based on the theme, and a sign in book. To collect the art, you simply ink the new stamp and stamp it into your own book. You make an original stamp with words or symbols to represent you, and stamp it into the box's sign in notebook, and can add the date and write a little note. Some of the stamps are simple renderings, some are amazing! Then you put everything back, and move onto the next box, if you are lucky to be in a park with a series. Most boxes are singles. They can have all sorts of themes to them. Some clues are riddles and hard to puzzle out. Some are simple directions. Sometimes the book inside the box is a beautiful, hand bound miniature. They are fun to read through before you stamp your own stamp. People travel from all over to letter box in Eugene. And honestly, when I'm traveling, I look up letterboxes in the area in case I get the chance to visit them. I've made my own boxes and posted the clues as wel, but you should only do that in your own area because you have to monitor the boxes to make sure contents are safe, and the book hasn't gotten full. Occasionally, nature changes a site and you may need to find new locations. Always hide boxes right on the trails so people aren't encouraged to trample all over in search of things. You know the "stay on the trail" rules.

Letterboxers like to have gatherings. There's debate about whether or not to show off your books (of collected stamps) because you might ruin the surprise or hunt for someone else. Perhaps if you shared stamps from far away? It's a tradition/game that started in England, after all, and has spread world wide! Perhaps I'm funny, but I prefer to keep letterboxing anonymous. You start recognising people's stamps, carving style, and notes in books after awhile, and I like the mystery involved. I don't want to put names to faces. I like to imagine everyone as an exotic, eccentric, magical, artist............. normally, I love meeting other artists, but sometimes it's just nice to keep a little mystery in life.

So is letterboxing art?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Good Morning Newses

Good Morning!!

This is me first thing this a.m. making coffee with my happy French Press covered in a cozy gift from Adopt-A-Critter, for my birthday. While known for her plush monsters, she's also a knitting fiend! It's cute and keeps my coffee warm till I'm ready to pour.

Speaking of birthdays, let me introduce you to my new helper, Tilda. She is the present I asked for and everyone went in on together. She is a photo printing/photocopy/scanner machine. Who could imagine the day we would have our own copymachines in our home? I can print newsletters and make copies of the kids drawings. I can print photos of archival quality instead of just looking at them online. I can prepare my art for use with the gocco machine. I'm so excited!!!!!

I have a lot to be happy about this week. First on the list is finishing my first art tutorial for Lark books. I designed a fabric jewelry project (based on my now-not-so-secret secret jewelry line humming along in the studio) called "If Life Gives YOu Lemons- Make ART!". I'm excited to be in my first book. The Art of Fabric Jewelry by Lark books is due out spring of 2009.

Second happiness is a coffee cuff reorder by one of my stores: In Other Words in Portland.

Third? The kids have the day off of school today, and the sun is finally out and due to STAY for the weekend. Grey skies and rain rain rain damp was really getting to me earlier this week. This coming from a very sturdy Oregonian is saying a lot! We are about to go letterboxing! I'm going to try to take the day off of Bliss Monkey Studio work, but I may not be able to resist. I love making my art, running my Etsy store, chatting with clients, and meeting so many wonderful makers and fans of handmade goodness! Plus, I'm up to the elbows in finishing a big batch of monster mitts because the world said we needed some fun spring wrist warmers.

Love you all!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

What is this? A pin cozy??!
Actually it's my studio's coaster. I had just gotten into working with felt, and experimenting with how much stitching to put on it. This is the very first coaster I made. What's funny, is how much I love it. I often come into my studio with a cup of tea and can't set it on the cardboard cutting table and don't want to leave a wet mark anywhere else. It's lovely to have a regular destination for the cup. Wool felt is naturally water proof so I don't need to worry about moisture. Wool felt is wonderful to work with, is all from recycled sweaters (ye haw!), and it turns out to be a GREAT place to temporarily stick my pins as I'm working along. I've heard that the natural lanolin in the wool is good for pins and needles, helping them glide through fabric easier. I like to think that's true.

And the bottom line is this: I love my coffee, love my afternoon tea (two o'clock- time to put the jug on!), having nice accessories, sharing with friends, and the ritual of it all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wear your coffee cozy!

I love making coffee cozies. They are a reusable cloth accessory that literally does save trees. They are joyful to look at. (Yes, I have an inner need to decorate and beautify the world). Tacitly, they are a little addicting. (Feedback given from friends). They make your cup unique so no one else picks it up by accident. And they are fun, thus giving you an extra ritual to enjoy with your daily cup. I've been making and selling them for almost two years now, and love it. One of my best coffee cozy moments was the discovery that I could make them dual functioning as coffee accessory and wrist art. Thus the launch of my "Wrist AND Coffee Cuff" line of cozies. They are lined with fleece, so soft and comfortable to wear. You can always have your cuff at the ready. I am fascinated with art objects that have more than one use.

I consider what I"m doing, when I make the coffee cozies, is designing and quilting an art quilt, then cutting it up to become functional art. This is what makes them special and different from other cozies. (And I'm a big fan of other coffee cozy makers, but the way). That said, I'll tell you my inner secret........What I want to do "when I grow up" is be a gallery represented Art Quilt artist. (Somehow, I just can't call myself art quilter- perhaps I should shorten it to Quilt artist, but people just hear "quilt" and think traditional). I do make art quilts, but my love of functional art has taken precedence. The philosophical question is: does this define me as a crafter instead?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Myshkin's Ruby Warblers

Last night, I went out with friends to see Myshkin perform. I'd seen her once several years back, and have been listening to her CDs ever since. We are lucky to have her living and performing in Oregon. A poet, a treasure, a passionate gypsie of a singer. Her vocals make the hairs on my neck tingle, and I love the wild characters dancing through her song/stories. She often travels with a band, tho' performed solo last night-beautifully.
Her website offers this description:

Myshkin's Ruby Warblers is an ever-evolving crew of genius gamblers whose fort? range from tango to electronica, old time to modern classical to jazz, and each leave an imprint of their unique talents on the music. Myshkin plays an 80 year old martin tenor guitar, a vintage gibson six string, and a jumbo lowden acoustic. Her voice is her finest instrument though, and she wields it like a fortune teller, an acrobat, a hunter, a gift.

To get a sense of her style and range, click on Myshkin's free songs here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cloud busting

I've gotten addicted to cloud photography this spring. It's some funny reaction to watching the sky, all the crazy changing weather, sun and cold dips, nutty HAIL every other day...... When the sun comes out, the kids and I grab our great and dash out for some outdoor action. Not that Oregonians DON"T go outside in the rain. We don't actually melt, but if we are going to choose a time to hike it's nice to at least start during a sun break.

Here is my collection of dragon cloud photos.

See the two dragons chasing a wee sky snake about to be gobbled up on the left? The dragon on the right has a uni-horn, and wings outstretched behind, and a long tail. The dragon on the left is outstretched, going in for the bite.

This is my favorite. A gigantic cloud serpent dragon with it's tongue out!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Birthday Surprise

Today, for my birthday, Im donating 10" of my red hair to Locks of Love. It's a group that makes wigs for children whose medical issues caused them to loose their own hair. I thought some dear red head out there might really appreciate it. I'm so excited! These are self portraits of me in front of Bliss Monkey Studio.

No one knew I was getting a hair cut, let alone going for something so much shorter. Surprise! I just love it. My hair was so HEAVY!! I'm looking forward to light spring and summer doo. It's fun to pin back, wear down, tuck back, and put into pony tails (x2). Yey for short hair!!!

I want you to know: if you would like to donate your hair to Locks of Love, it's a good idea to first look at their website to see the guidelines. You must cut off a minimum 10" of healthy hair, which is why I went so short! Yeee haw!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Monster Mitt -itis and Letterboxing

After almost a week out of the studio, I'm so happy to be sewing, creating, designing, and posting new fun things for my etsy shop. A sold monster mitt, plus a special mitt order has got me in a monster mitt sewing frenzy. (Just so you know, that means fun, not stress!) I've got a few posted, and a few to finish, like Loch Ness Monster mitts. I am currently in love with Nessy themed things, so watch out for my upcoming gocco print Nessy coffee cozies.

I am really happy with the wrist warmer pattern I developed while driving courier in the wee early hours of the morning. The wrist warmers were essential for my hand happiness, and left my finger tips free to grip the steering wheel, write, etc. They are carefully designed and trimmed inside to be most comfortable, with a good and flexible fit.

Yesterday, after school, the kids came into the studio to design their own monster mitts. Mudslide made some dino mitts, in orange and yellow. Long Legs made a set in red and black, so fine, he didn't even take them off for bed! They trundled off to school wearing their new monster mitts, and I look forward to hearing the report when I pick them up. It's sunny and lovely and we'll be on a Letterboxing quest! Letterboxing, is so much fun. You get to go on a walk/hike, follow clues, find a secret hidden box, and collect the ART you find there, via stamping the hand cut stamp into your book. Click the link to see how to get started, and to look for letterboxes in your area. If I've managed to turn you on to letterboxing, please write and tell me. xoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ah-Ha! Caught him on Film!

Ha! Finally caught the squirrel on film! We bought our house a year and a half ago, and every single day, this little guy visits this spot on the old fence, rubs himself on it, takes a BITE of it then leaves. No one else has seen him but me- until now....... world expose!
(Looks like I need to wash the office window, sorry). I suppose he's marking territory, but why does he eat the fence? Does anyone know?