Sunday, November 14, 2010

100 Friends

I have this fantastic cousin (second cousin or 1st cousin once removed- does anyone know how that works?)named Marc Gold who just came to stay with me for the first time ever. It was probably the first time I have ever hung out with him without a whole family event going on and it was one of those moments where you realize that you have just made a connection that will have a really meaningful impact on your life. I could easily start telling stories about him and his life choices, and the multitude of funny things that he's experienced that were so funny and well told that I could probably re-tell them and they would still be funny. You might not know me, but that isn't my strong suit. I'm one of those people who accidentally tells the punchline before the joke. Anyway,I want everyone to know about his work and I hope you will follow the link to his website.

He is a world traveler and altruist. He is a one man show providing people in need with what he raises through his project called The 100 Friends Project For the past 22 years, he has been travelling to a wide variety of countries distributing funds for people who are in great need and some organizations that help them. Sometimes his work is pure charity- he will literally hand someone some cash to help them live through a winter, or he might buy someone a bike so she can get to school or work. Sometimes he sets people up with something that will give them more opportunities to better their situation or follow a dream. He pays the tuition for a poor village girl's education, or buys medicine that helps to save a life (sometimes that might only cost him a dollar- no kidding). He contributes a bigger sum annually to a place called the Center For Children's Happiness that helps the children who were living in the garbage dumps of Phnom Penh- he says he can see lives transformed in a short time. He builds schools, libraries, and community centers. He gives micro grants to folks so they can start businesses. He only asks for people to pay it forward and he has amazing stories about that aspect alone.

He raises money by holding fundraisers here in the States. I just held one for him last Friday, where he told stories and had a slideshow. He also has had some documentaries made on the work he is doing, which you can find on his website.

This man and his organization are the real deal. He raises money and gives the money out where he can. He is well connected and has a large network of people in many many communities that he can trust to help him decide where his money might do good work. I hope you find his work interesting and might give him a bit to help him do it. He has told me what $5 can actually do and it is astounding.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I recently finished up work on a feature for Family Fun about New Craft Products on the market and the gal who tests them for the mag- ME! Trying to get over my vanity (read: not in love with the pictures of me)I invite you all to check out the September issue and see the projects I created for the piece- there are some good ones! One thing I tested was the new Mod Podge Dimensional Magic, which is a 3D glaze that you use like resin, only it isn't toxic and tricky. I liked it a lot and made some rings for my sister-in-law and myself. Here's the tute. Easy and satisfying with great results!

What you'll need:
-ring blanks with a bezel (I actually got these at Michael's Crafts and they claim to be lead free, so...)
-embroidery thread and needle
-Mod Podge Dimensional Magic (in stores now, I believe)
-Mod podge

What to do:
1) Cut a piece of pretty fabric to fit into the bezel cup thingy.

2) Stitch your initial or a design on it with contrasting embroidery thread.
3) Use mod podge to stick the fabric to the bezel. It should fit snuggly and have no wrinkles.

4) Rig something up so you can make your ring stand up and have a flat top. This is important for the next step. You also will need to leave the ring to dry without moving it for a few hours, so be sure it's in a good place out of direct sun and dust.
5) With the application tip of the Dimensional Magic pointing down, fill the bezel. To avoid making bubbles, try to make a continuous stream. Fill to top of bezel so it domes slightly. If there are bubbles, wet your finger and touch it to the bubble. It should pop.

6) After the gluey stuff is dry (a few hours) you may need to apply another thin layer as the stuff sometimes sinks when it dries.

A book!

Enough with the hints and announcements of big news to be announced! Enough, already! I am so very excited to tell everyone that I have been offered (and you better believe I have accepted) a book deal from the fantastic Storey Publishing. Do check out all of the great books they have published because if you are here, then you probably lean towards the kind of lifestyle that Storey publishes books about- DIY and the love of making stuff. When I looked through the shelves in their office I realized that my husband and I have tons of books they have published- from animal care and carpentry to food and crafting. They are a creative bunch with a keen vision and I really couldn't be happier to be working with them. They are located in the MassMoca complex so going to meet with them means a visit to an excellent museum in the hills of Western Mass. It isn't that I don't love going to NYC, but I do love the less hectic drive and destination of North Adams on most days.

So, you must be wondering, just what kind of book is this going to be? Well, I think it is the book most people who sew or dream of sewing want. It will have 101 projects that you can make in anywhere from 15 minutes to a day. So you can whip up a cool and creative gift right before heading to the party or you can set aside an afternoon or two to make something quite substantial- like a quilt or throw rug or a new fancy frock. On top of that great promise, what you make will be super original because I am going to explain how to embellish simple fabric and add interesting and unusual elements to really put you name on the piece. I love designer fabrics (so much) but I do feel like they limit how original you can make something. Of course, all of the projects can use whatever gorgeous fabric you want, I'll just show you how to transform cheap muslin and canvas and decorate other fabrics to make them stand up on their own.

So, I have been a busy gal- lots of first run sewing going on in the steamy studio. It is tricky to find time to post here, but I will be giving sneak peeks of projects that will be included in the book, and tutorials on extra projects that you might like.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

fortune cookies

Uh, it seems that someone working in a fortune cookie factory reads my blog. Really, I am so excited for every comment but when I google translate some of them, they are like this:
Can impart knowledge, wisdom can not. Each person must be his own.

and this:

Happiness is not everything, people have a responsibility.

They don't seem to actually relate at all to my crafting and posting and I do wonder what the story is. My daughter loves it anyway, though sometimes when I hit translate I hope it isn't porn (and it has been).

Monday, July 19, 2010


Our annual camping trip to Cape Cod with our dearest friends was last week and it was great. The amount of relief I felt when we pulled in to the same site we have been at for years now was nearly overwhelming. It's a spot where all the regular routine we can get mired down in vanishes (replaced by another routine, but the change is refreshing, indeed)and we can just smell the woods and the smoke and sing and eat and swim and laugh and debate and bike ride and scooter and wonder if today will be a day that we will successfully poop (tmi? sorry).

Food: Probably the biggest consideration when planning our trip and we have gotten it down to a science. Of course we eat out for the fried seafood need, but at the site we also eat seafood purchased at a nearby fish shop and cook it over the fire in foil packets- oh yum! But my favorite meal for it's decadence and ritual is Raclette night. Apparently there is a Raclette cheese shortage right now, so says the cheese girl at Whole Foods, so we brought Morbier this year instead and it was soooooooooooo good. We stick the wedge of cheese on a log next to the flames of the campfire and allow the fire side of it to melt.

Meanwhile, we boil new potatoes and set out little cornichon pickles and olives.

So, melted cheese all over the spuds with the sharp olive and cornichons and wine and we are truly happy campers- happy campers who anticipate the dreaded cheese ball that inevitably forms in our bellies. Totally worth it.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Market Produce Bags

We can buy just about anything we need for cheap, cheap, cheap- I know. But still, if you have to get in the car or have it sent in the mail and you have 20 minutes and some muslin, why not get off the computer and just make these? We all know it will be satisfying, and if your sewing machine is working well, it will be easy and fun. Ok, enough of my preaching, since if you are here, then you are the choir.

These muslin produce bags can be whipped up very fast, but if you want to spend an extra 5-10 minutes, you can also make them super cute by doing a little thread drawing.

Here's the tute:

What you'll need:
cotton string or ribbon

1) Cut a piece of muslin to your desired size. I made this bag big for bunches of chard and leeks. It measured 13" x 19".
2) Create the cord case (where the drawstring will be) by folding the top edge over a half inch and pressing.

3) Fold over again and make a case that is at least 1" wide and press with iron.

4) On the right side of one side of the bag, draw a design with chalk. Using a straight stitch, stitch the design on the bag. I went around the design 3 times so it really has a hand drawn look to it.

5) Fold bag so the right sides are together and sew up the 2 sides (one is a fold, which is intentional because it allows for an unbroken cord casing). I used the kind if stitch that is a combination of straight stitch and zig zag. It sews a seam and seals an edge so it won't fray. Look here:

6) Attach a safety pin to the end of your cord and push it through the casing. Knot the ends together. All done!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

the kids love to sew!

Just finished my second week of art camp, this week being "Super Crafty". It was a ton of fun and the kids were truly into the projects, which, of course, makes me easy and happy. The best day was Wednesday, when we did sewing projects. They were unstoppable and didn't even want to take our mid-morning popcorn break. They worked straight through until lunch time on the most adorable and varied collection of stuffies. Some finished more quickly and got busy on hair elastic decorations, bracelets, and even a hat made from a felted sweater that turned out beautifully.

If you are interested in knowing how to make the bracelets, head here- I developed and made these for Family Fun last year and they are so pretty and easy to do.

What you'll need:
felted wool sweaters
paper and pencils
embroidery thread and blunt needles (we used tapestry needles)

1) Draw your design on a piece of paper. I told them to keep everything simple and to avoid small arms and digits since they are tricky to sew and stuff by hand and still have them be the way you meant them to be. I encouraged them to think of their stuffies as really cute pillows. A couple kids chose to add felt arms and legs that weren't stuffed and they looked fantastic. Also, many kids tend to draw things that are smallish when given a regular sheet of paper. Encourage them to use at least half of the sheet- it just makes it easier.
2) Cut 2 pieces of wool that are a little bigger than the cut out pattern. Turn them so the right sides are together and pin the pattern to one side so it doesn't shift. Trace around the pattern with the chalk, remove the pattern piece, re-pin, and cut the pattern.
3) Remove the pins again and use felt and buttons to create the face and other details on one of the pieces- be sure to stitch them to the "right" side (the side you would wear out if wearing the sweater). If adding felt arms and legs, cut them out but don't stitch them on yet. When you sew up the stuffie, they will be sewn into the seam.
4) When you are ready to sew up the body, turn right sides together and pin in place. If you are adding arms and legs, sandwich them in place so they are facing in between the 2 "right" sides. The edges should touch the edges of the body so they will be stitched into the seam. Knot the end of the embroidery thread and use a running stitch all the way around the body, leaving a gap of a few inches for stuffing.
5) Turn right side out and stuff with fluffy filling- polyfill, wool, cotton balls. Stitch the hole up.

Next time, a whole week of sewing projects.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Printmaking- Part 2

Despite my planning and testing, the silk screens were not the most successful things in this printmaking camp so far. I bought cheap embroidery hoops and it was very tricky to get the fabric stretched tight enough. The girls seemed a little discouraged at first by the results but, I swear, they really began to embrace the imperfections and the feeling was contagious. Today we made stencils out of vinyl sheets and then the girls made furoshiki gift wrap on muslin. Now, this was successful and everyone had fun and loved the results.

And they made little cinch sacks too. Cute!

We also printed on muslin with hot beeswax this morning. I used my vinyl stencil to apply the wax and some of the girls used cookie cutters and the cake decorating tips to stamp the hot wax on. I think it worked, but we will see when it comes out of the dye bath tomorrow. The beeswax smelled so good simmering in the double boiler but the tips and cutters sure got hot.

At the end of the morning, one friend headed out the door to California with a pile of handmade postcards to send back this direction. Here are Ava's:

These were made by using the foam stamp cube we made on Monday.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Printmaking- Part 1

It was a good morning. I had 5 girls sitting at a table ready to go, and there is nothing like that. They were eager and willing to try new things. We started off by designing silk screens that they used drawing fluid to create. Each one was totally different from the others and they are all going to be super cool. Tomorrow we will apply screen filler and pull our first prints.
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We moved on from the silk screen to making foam stamp blocks. This was so much fun and I love what the girls did. Pretty much everyone stuck to a theme for their blocks- fruit, shapes, cute animals, etc.

This is what you'll need to make them:
- self-adhesive craft foam
-pencils and paper
-craft knives and scissors
-stamp pads

And, this is how you do it:

1) Design the stamps on paper, with a pencil. When you have something you like, press it pencil drawing to the foam and rub the back so it transfers onto the foam.
2) Cut out the shape with scissors or a craft knife.

3) Peel the paper backing and stick to the block. They stick really well.

4) Stamp away!

Here are the blocks they made and some of the things they did with them:

And, this afternoon, my 5 year old sat right down and got busy too.

Sunday, June 13, 2010


Since my kids are now out of school, it is officially summer around here. I think it is going to mean something a little different this summer, as my work projects have increased 10 fold, but we will be getting a great start tomorrow when I begin teaching an art camp in my barn for some fantastic kids. There are 2 weeks planned- Printmaking this week and a Super Crafty free for all next week. My oldest girl will be attending both, which makes this the best possible thing for me to be doing, and my young feller will be dropping by with his babysitter to have a go with the projects too. We are starting with making silk screens tomorrow and moving on to stamp carving, monoprinting, foam stamp making, stenciling, and sun printing- and applying them all sorts of ways. I think it will be a blast.

And, because they are the picture of summer, I will show you a pair of flip flops I dolled up for Ava for graduation night- the older half of her class was graduating (thank God she isn't leaving elementary school just yet)! I made them to match the dress I made for her, but I don't have a decent picture of it (the dress)so I will post it some other time.

They are made by simply wrapping strips of jersey cotton around gluey flip flop straps. I made the flower by cutting out squares and petal shapes and layer them with the size graduating from small to large, sewed it so it puckered up, then sewed it to the shoe. Really, it took 10 minutes and they were more comfortable and cute than before.

I know I have not been posting lately but I do plan to post all about the upcoming art camp projects- so do stop by soon.


Monday, May 17, 2010

the gals wanted skirts

I am so happy to say that Twist was super fun and successful for me. It seems like everyone wanted a new skirt for the warm weather and, well, WOW, how fun is it to see folks walk away with something I made? I've been thinking about which direction to go lately with the whole making clothes thing, and though I'm still not sure, I do know that selling to retail stores seems to make zero sense for someone like me. First, I can't see how I could charge enough to make any money at all, and second, you miss out on what I just described above. I like to talk to people and see them loving something I made. Is that vanity? Probably- and I admit it. But it's more than that too, though I can't quite name it. Now, I just need to decide how many shows I want to do and if I can spend the time needed to build up inventory when I have so many other projects going that require a lot. I'm open to anyone's thoughts. See, I just want more comments- because I'm vain!

Anyhoo, I had a new set-up at Twist which was a vast improvement to the last time, but still needs some tweaking. I decided to make a sign after hearing that it would cost $100 to have one printed! Yea, right. A roll of freezer paper, the font from my business cards (and blog banner), some canvas and some paint was all it required and it was done in an hour or so. A good reminder that i should assume I can make it first, then head further out in the world if I need help. This is what I did:

1) I printed full page letters in my font.
2) I traced said letters onto a long piece of freezer paper so they spelled out "one golden apple".
3) I cut letters out of freezer paper with a craft knife.
4) I ironed freezer paper to white canvas.
5) I applied paint where those cut letters were stuck, let it dry, and peeled off the freezer paper. Perfect!
6) I painted my logo with a paintbrush and freezer paper stenciled the apple on the tree.
7) I machine stitched around the periphery in a meandering sort of way, as I am wont to do.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

time to sew

Although I have been sort of insane with preparations for Twist, I have loved sewing late into the night and for so many hours at a time. I actually find it easier to find inspiration with both hours of making things behind me and with the promise of more hours to come. I never find it boring, though sometimes I make stupid mistakes when I get a bit sleepy- really stupid mistakes. I had a few nights of only a few hours of sleep in a row and was very impressed with myself for feeling pretty ok, and then last night my body flipped me the bird and I slept for no less than 12 hours! Any parents out there remember the last time they did that? Me neither. Then I went to band practice tonight and my voice was super rough, though not in that good Lucinda Williams way, and I thought that maybe I'm really not as young as I perceive myself to be (because I'm not) and that I better take care or things will easily head south (as some things may have done already, if you know what I mean).

In short, I love having time to sew or make anything. It has been so sunny and hot and there is a mockingbird who sings through the night, and the flowers on the autumn olive are so sweet smelling, as are the lilacs, and things are looking pretty dang bright. I have good news to share with you next week. I know I keep saying there is news a-coming, but I can almost announce it now, so just letting you know that I can almost tell you something helps me manage my unabashed excitement.

Come to Twist! Buy something pretty. Oh, and have a look at another reason why Spring is so completely fabulous. You saw them last year, these morels from under our old trees. They are so photogenic that here they are again this year. Again, we ate them on toasts with herbed goat cheese and I could have cried they were so good.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spring Twist Fair

I have simply been too busy to blog about anything, but I do want everyone around to remember that next weekend, May 7-8 is the Twist Fair and I will be showing and selling there. I sure hope you will come on by and say hello. Skirts were the most popular item last time, so I have focused on them- besides, everyone wants a new skirt in the spring- but I will have some dresses, table runners, and other bits and bobs too. I'll try to post a few teasers. xo

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

spring flower table runner

Now that I have allowed fusible webbing into my sewing life, I really can just throw the pins out- never liked them anyway. Nothing ever stayed in position and I always pricked my finger. I hate pricking my finger so much that I'd rather have blood drawn from my veins any day over having my finger pricked. But, Wonder Under, my fusible webbing of choice, helped me make this pretty appliqued table runner lickety split- sans blood, sweat, or tears.

I fused the "wonder under" to the back of some fabric, drew flowers on the paper side of the "wonder under", cut them out, then pressed them onto my linen with a hot iron. From there, sewing with my feed dog down, I was able to free motion scribble around the edge of the fabric without the flower annoyingly changing position. It was fun, fast, and I am in love with the results. I'm going to make a bunch of these for Twist.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

umbrella skirt

Ah, what a gorgeous day we had. After the kids gorged themselves on Easter basket loot, they ran around (and around) and I got a chance to do a little sewing. And this is one of the things I made. The fabric came from a blousey tunic I purchased at the Salvation Army recently. It is a drapey jersey in a great color with little dots that reminded me of raindrops. I haven't made any new silk screens lately, and though I was tempted to just cut something from freezer paper, I decided to use the last of my drawing fluid to make this image of an umbrella- perfect for the raindrops, right?

I'm not posting a tutorial, but if you are interested in learning how to make a similar skirt and a silkscreen using the drawing fluid method, look at this post, and these for directions on both the skirt making and the silk screen methods. Both are really easy and very satisfying- really, very!

Here is a closer look, or, another angle:

This will be going to TWIST.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

a new direction

Ah, spring. What is it about being able to smell the earth that makes me feel like anything is possible? Well, just in time, because I'm ready to dive deeper into things I really love to do and I'd rather have that "anything is possible" feeling than trepidation- uh, duh! So, here it is: I'm in my studio, I have the TWIST Fair to look forward to, a very large project is on the brink of actually existing (it will rock my world but mum is the word right now, and no, it is not a new baby), and I'm just generally feeling like tidying up my career path. Family Fun provides me with loads of space and opportunity to develop kid's crafts so I think it is time to treat One Golden Apple here as my home for sharing my sewing inspiration, projects , and products. Maybe a kid's craft will be thrown into the mix now and then. Sometimes they are too much fun not to share.

Enter the spring green wool jersey dress with a little touch of smocking on the front.

I am dying of how pretty this fabric is. It is a lightweight jersey- soft, soft, soft- and that green! I don't know where this dress is headed. It might go to my Etsy shop, or Twist, or maybe live in my own closet. I've been branching out from my beloved jersey, however, and my "New Line" of skirts and dresses will include some crisp stretch poplin, stretch lawn, and printed woven fabrics. Stay tuned. As I start to step up production and documentation, this is where you'll be able to hear about it and see it. There will still be tutorials and maybe even a giveaway soon.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

the (almost) unbearable lightness of skiing

I went skiing. I had an epiphany of sorts as my legs burned and I skied through it. Even for those of you who know me, you might not know what a huge part of my life skiing filled when I was growing up. Since leaving home, skiing has been infrequent and since living in Ireland and then here on the East Coast, 12 years passed with only one small minute on the slopes when Ava was 4 (and I brought Jonny to the top of the mountain for the view and then he actually stopped talking to me for a couple days since he wasn't actually ready for it- being his first ever time skiing). My bad.

Maybe my profound experience on the mountain last week has more to do with who I am as a mama than the actual act of skiing, though I think it was probably a combo deal. First, there is nothing else that can duplicate the feeling of flying and that is what skiing , at it's best, feels like to me. Then, there was the small fact that I was skiing alone- no kids- with a dear friend who was my perfect ski mate and that was all I was meant to be doing. I had no other responsibilities. No other things pulling me in any way. I was free to ski. It actually felt like a retreat and I realized that I would take it over a spa ANY DAY!

The epiphany then? Simple. I need to ski more, or, find other ways to play that make me feel like a kid again- free and easy and strong. It sounds so easy, but I am a conflicted sort of person. I always want to be with my children and husband. I don't like to miss out and I love to be with them. I also really need a healthy dose of solitude for happiness but rarely get or take it. I could easily complain about the money, which is most certainly a factor (skiing can be expensive, we all know), but it has been more of an inability to find my own space to play so fully that is to blame.

This is a ramble, but the reason I decided to post these thoughts is because I did wonder- last Thursday as I rode up the lift with aching teeth from the cold wind hitting my permagrin- what do other dedicated mothers do to relax and recharge and get needed space from the beautiful intensity and demands of a family? What do you do?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

my studio...mine, mine, mine!

For all the reasons to feel fortunate in my life, the thing that is sort of unbelievable still and capturing my imagination most is my newly finished studio in the upstairs of the cider barn. I mean, someone pinch me! Space. Organization. Possibility. The crafting I do for Family Fun has always been at my kitchen table- which has been fine, but hard sometimes since it is in our shared space in our small home. When I brewed up the idea to begin teaching crafting and sewing classes in my dream space, my ridiculously handy man made it happen. The electrical and plumbing will go in soon and the biz will begin. For now, I have moved my supplies up there and have started organizing and scheming.

Are you wondering about the TV in the first shot? Ok, so the floor paint drying coincided with my perennial late winter panic attack about not moving my body enough. I got a dance exercise video out of the library, hauled the TV upstairs and danced for a half hour that first night. I am fully aware of what a dork I am. It was fun, just the same.

The other thing I am obsessing about this week is the beautiful fact that I am going skiing with my kick ass girlfriend Tanya. I skied A LOT as a kid in California, but have not found a way to reincorporate it back into my low budget life here on the East Coast. I have been longing for it- especially since the Olympics. I'm going tomorrow! Wooooooo! Tanya will kick my butt out there, I'm sure, but I don't care.

More pictures of the moved-in studio to come, plus a schedule of classes for kids and adults. Hope to see folks at my place soon!

Monday, February 22, 2010

sewn lampshade tutorial

Last year I tried to make a freezer paper stencil on a plain white lampshade I use in my living room. It didn't turn out well but I lived with it for a year- as you do- and today I finally changed it. Much better. And, of course, it was super easy and took less than an hour to make.

What you need:
-lampshade you are covering
-desired fabric (I used canvas)
-chalk pencil
-contrasting thread
-mod podge or spray adhesive

1) Using a chalk pencil, draw a line along the bottom edge of the lampshade, while rolling it along the fabric. I started at the seam in the lampshade and stopped when I got back to the seam. Make sense? Do the same with the top edge of the lampshade.

2) Cut out the shape. I cut the piece about a half inch bigger all around so I could roll the edges over the top and bottom of the lampshade easily.

I used a contrasting thread to stitch my design. If you've never tried free motion sewing, this is a great project to start with because it is small. Put up the feed dog on your machine and "draw" your design in thread.

3) I used Mod Podge to adhere the fabric to the lampshade, though I'm sure there are other things that would be suitable (spray adhesive?). I spread the mod podge all over the lampshade in a thin layer so it wouldn't seep through the fabric then positioned one edge of the fabric on the glue and began to press it in place.

4) After I got the fabric pressed all over the lampshade, I had to trim some extra fabric away to make it look pretty and finished. I then brushed more mod podge along the bottom and top edges and rolled the fabric around the edge and pressed. It stuck pretty fast and easy.