Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Etsy Featured Shop - Cardwear

I know I haven't featured an Etsy shop in a little while. I've been looking for something different and creative to showcase. I came across Cardwear and decided it was the perfect shop for an interview because of how wonderfully unique the cards are on offer. I definitely suggest taking a minute to check out this shop and see if there's a card fit for a special occasion!
How did you get interested in paper crafts?
I started with scrapbooking, mostly in the form of gifts for other people (my poor children don't have very much in their books!). Originally I had a few fun stamps that came in handy and tons of stickers. There are so many fun and beautiful supplies for scrapbooking that it was easy to get sucked into the hobby. Occasionally I would make my own cards, but it was mostly for times when I forgot to purchase a card (like Grandparents' Day). I also bought a lot of supplies in the hopes of finding an appropriate use for it later.

What inspired you to use fabric on your card designs?
I actually used a Noah's Ark fabric when I made my oldest son's baby announcements, but I didn't start using fabric regularly for almost two years after that and that was really by accident! I usually send out cards to family and friends for every holiday. I love snail mail. It's so much fun to get something besides bills and junk mail! One Halloween I discovered that I hadn't ordered enough cards. I ran to the store looking for ideas to make my own cards and found some fabric I liked for $2.00 a yard. I picked up some matching orange rick rack and a pack of blank cards, then headed home.

After several attempts, I happened upon the design I use in a lot of my cards and finished it off by placing my son's picture (in his lion costume) on the front. Since I had so much fun, and really liked how the cards looked, I went back to the store the next day and bought a lot of Christmas fabric and coordinating ribbon. I took my sample cards to show my in-laws and my mother-in-law gave me a lot of her leftover fabric from quilting. For the past three years I have been making my own greeting cards to send and also packaging them for gifts.

Do you buy supplies with a specific card in mind, or do you get ideas from your stash?
A lot of my ideas come from my incredible stash. I have an amazing supply of beautiful quilting fabric and I am always willing to buy a yard of fabric (or even a fat quarter) if I think it will make a pretty card. There are some cards, like my Fruity Phrases line, where I went in search of a particular fabric. I was excited to finally find a watermelon print that is small enough for me to use. If someone wants a particular subject/design, I can usually find it. I also get inspired by different ribbons and trims. Several relatives have gone through their old sewing supplies and given me notions they no longer need. I am not much of a seamstress, but I have been able to use a lot of those trims and rick rack on my cards.

How do you come up with the cute phrases you use in your cards?
I have a very large collection of rubber stamps. As my fabric collection has grown, so has my stamp collection! But if I don't have a stamp, I will also hand write the phrase I need. I have made baby announcements for all three of my kids, as well as for some of my friends' babies. I really enjoy matching a phrase with a fabric. For my daughter's baby announcements, I used a lovely bee fabric and wrote “Have you heard the buzz?” on the outside of the card. For another announcement with frog fabric I added, “We're 'hoppy' to announce...”

Why do you love this card?
I find this card to be very elegant. I love the clean, crisp look of a card that is only black and white and I think that the pattern of the fabric used on this card is just beautiful. For me, this card makes me think of a pretty dress. I think I would love to have a dress made out of this fabric. I often feel like I am dressing up the cards that I make (which is where I came up with my name: Cardwear).

You also do concrete impressions. What is the process for that?
Lengthy. Equal portions of portland cement and tube sand are mixed together with water until it is the consistency of cookie dough. Wet tube sand is either mounded (for bowls) or smoothed to a flat service (for plates or ones to be hung). The leaf of choice (hosta, castor, morning glory, elephant, etc..) with good veining and a non-fuzzy underside, is then placed face down (underside face up)on the sand. A handful of medium is rolled into a ball (about the size of a meatball) and placed in the center of the leaf. It is gently pressed to no less than 1/4 inch in thickness. Another ball of medium is used, overlapping slightly what is already on the leaf, while petting back and smoothing out so you cannot see any joints. The process is repeated until the leaf is covered.

If making a bowl, one last ball of medium is used to make a pedestal for it to sit on. If hanging, heavy wire is used to make a loop and placed on the leaf where you want it to hang from. The leaf needs to set for 12-24 hours to cure. Then it is flipped and left for the sun to bake it for a few hours. The leaf will dry and lift, making it easy to peel off. Then the leaf impression needs to continue curing for 5 days.

The leaf is sealed with an acrylic clear spray. Watered down acrylic paint is used to get the faux finish and the colors are layered on using a dry brush technique. Once the leaf has the desired coloring, it is resprayed with the acrylic clear spray.

Do you do impressions of things other than leaves?
I also have impressions of some flowers, like Rose of Sharons and Hibiscus. It is a very similar process. Each leaf or flower is only used once, so the pieces are truly unique. No two castings are ever the same.

What do you find interesting about this piece?
This hosta leaf casting is just beautiful. I really like how well the veining of the original leaf came through on the concrete impression. The coloring came from many layers of different paint colors. I like how the light catches those different colors and highlights different aspects of the leaf. This particular impression is also “flatter” than some of my other leaves, so it is more of a platter. Most of my hostas become bowls, so it's a more unique design as a platter.

What other crafts do you enjoy?
I also enjoy painting and cross-stitching, but both of them take a long time, which is something I rarely have with three little ones. I usually will do those for gifts. If possible, I prefer to make a gift for someone. I think it just makes the gift so much more meaningful. With the help of my mother-in-law, I made my mother a quilt for her 65th birthday. We incorporated family photographs into the quilt design, creating a photo memoir of my mother's life. So I guess I have taken up quilting, too!

You have many holiday inspired cards. Which holiday is your personal favorite?
Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. Of course, it has really changed for me now that I have children. I love decorating the house, making Christmas cookies, wrapping presents, and sending out Christmas cards (handmade, of course!). We always write a Christmas letter touching upon the highlights of the past year (mostly my husband's doing – he's the writer in the family). We try to find a fun way to do it. For example, in past letters we've written alternative lyrics to songs (such as “Status Quo” set to the music of “Let it Snow”) and parodies of children's books (Dr. Seuss inspired). Of course, now everyone expects a creative letter from us... Hopefully, we can keep up and not disappoint anyone!

Where else can we find out more about you?
I don't have a blog, but I am a part of the EtsyGreetings Team. We currently have a Winter Holiday Promotion featuring cards from many of the team members. I have a spot in "round 2". My cards are included Nov 8-14, 22-28 and Dec 6-12. The website link is:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Custom orders are fun!

A little while ago I was commissioned to custom knit a neck warmer. The colors were requested as purple and charcoal, so off I ran to the store to find yarn that would suit those needs.

A week or so later, after some creativity with how to put the colors together without striping them and deciding what knit stitches to use, here's what I came up with - modeled by the customer and with her permission to use this photo as a customer appreciation pic!

Custom orders can be a lot of fun - I've designed knit items and done banner design so far. I've got more in the works right now, and considering how much I love working with people to design for them, I hope more are on their way!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Accepted to Ravelry!

I should apologize for my absence over the last week or so - I was preparing for the annual craft fair at work. It's hard to man your own store and try to run the place at the same time so sales weren't everything I was hoping for, but I did make a little extra cash to spend over the weekend!

Now that I am back, I have to tell you that I was accepted to Ravelry as a beta testing member. For those of you who knit but haven't heard of this site, I can only suggest getting on the list to join asap (it only took a couple of weeks to get accepted after I signed up for the list)!

The site provides a comprehensive way to keep track of your projects, needles, yarn and patterns that you want to try. It also has a database of yarns, an easy search for projects (including the function to add ones you'd like to try to your queue), and forums to touch base with other yarn fiends. As if I don't have enough website addictions, this one is just another that I love and will spend far too much time messing around on. So, come join me. If you're already on there, my user name is organicstills - look me up. :)