Craftstravaganza 2016

Event: Craftstravaganza in St. Paul, MN

What I brought to Craftstravaganza 2016 in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds (Progress building) on this lovely 7th day in early May was my fiber art — wool felt flower necklaces, nuno felt fashion scarves made out of silk and wool, needle felted characters, a few pet beds and cat toys.

Virtualdistortion at Craftstravaganza 2016
Here I am at the beginning of the day, all set up and excited!

For weeks leading up to any show, I get all wrapped up in making more items and pricing them specially, building more booth display hardware and planning my setup, picking an outfit and making lists of all of the finer details that I wouldn’t want to overlook. As well as keeping up on all of my online custom orders! This time around, the main new thing that I did about a week before the show was design and build the copper racks (that connect to form an L shape) that you can see in my photos. They are over 5 feet tall so they hold my scarves beautifully! It all comes apart and packs away into a small amount of space which was just as important as the visual aesthetic to me. The two tall mannequins at the front corners of my booth are a new find that I am very excited about because I think they look so professional, AND I can order more — so I think I will. I’m very proud of the whole setup I have going right now!

Craftstravaganza 2016
The highlight of any show is talking to people that walk up to my booth. Kids are especially cute with my felted creatures 😉

My best friend was able to come along as my helper and we ended up really enjoying the day together. The art show was a bonus! Because she was there to help out, I got to sneak away from my booth and visit a few of the other artist’s booths which was fun. friends.booth

Overall it was an inspirational event and the whole day was beautiful. Thank you to everyone who helped make the event possible, those who showed up, and everyone who supports local artists!

Book Box In Progress

Crafting A Harry Potter Hollow Book Stack Box

Seven hardcover Harry Potter books – the entire series – get cut out by hand in order to create a hollow book stack box. Once they are cut out, before I glue them all together, I put on a couple layers of glue to each one, do further detail trimming and let them dry all the way. They sit around my studio like hollow shells for awhile and are actually kind of fun to play around with because they just don’t feel like books any more. They are something new already, even in this in-between stage. Book Box In Progress Once I am done playing with them, and am ready to get down to the business of gluing them together, I carefully align them and go to work gluing the stack together one by one. I make sure I keep it aligned as I go and add glue along the inside while it’s easy to reach. To dry, I press the books for hours using – you guessed it! – other heavy books, which I have plenty of.

I use simple hand tools: utility knife and #2 blades, a snap-off knife, glue that dries clear, and basic tools like a paint brush, pencil, and ruler.
Harry Potter Hollow Book Box Stack
Harry Potter Stack Hollow Book Wedding Card Box
To finish the massive book box I like to put decorative paper or a sheet of real cork in the bottom of the stash spot. Installing magnets in the cover and the ridge of the pages is also an option that I complete during the finishing stages. I add many layers of glue to the inside of the books so they are strong.

Wedding Card Box

One of the main ways these Harry Potter stack boxes have been used by customers so far is in their weddings, as a card box. At least initially. With such a large stash space this box can hold quite a variety of things!

There are a few tricks I have up my sleeve as to how I control my glue so it’s not all over the place and how I hold the books as I cut them, which I may share at a later date, but for now I’m thinking that I don’t need to geek out that far to keep you interested. It’s a process that I have developed and honed over 5 years. Gluing I am excited to share more through my blog about what I enjoy doing and what kind of process I go through to get there. I’m always very driven at the beginning of a project to reach the end of it but enjoy all of the time along the way. I hope you enjoyed this window into the Harry Potter 7 Book Stack Box Booksafe‘s creation!

Copper Octopus

Octopus Sculpture

Octopus Sculpture
Since around 2003 I have been tinkering with copper sculpture. My brother introduced me to it and neither one of us has set it down since we started. I must say that, while I know my work is pretty cool, my brother’s is amazing. He is my biggest inspiration!

Ready for a challenge, I set out to create something outside of my comfort zone during the summer of 2013. So I thought, what about fluid-looking legs? That would be something. So this octopus crawled out of my imagination once I poked at it with a stick. I remember sitting on the lawn in the shade, cutting and twisting up wire and thin sheet copper next to the garden during the day. To form the head of the octopus I wrapped sheet copper around an apple that fell off the tree. Never underestimate the objects around you when creating art, I sure don’t! I was able to destroy the apple to get it out, then I pounded the hollow sphere into a more octopus-head-like shape and punctured it to create eyes. In the evening I took it inside the shop and soldered it together.

These are some copper supplies that I commonly work with… hollow copper tube, thin sheet copper and a thicker sheet copper, and various gagues of copper wire.
Copper

The octopus was made completely out of copper wire and the thin version of sheet copper that I have. It’s so thin that I need to solder it carefully because if I apply too much heat for too long it will burn through. The following photo was taken while I was making another copper product I love to create – copper orchid pots – and not the octopus.

Soldering Copper

It’s on my list to take more photos and video while I work on copper creations in the future. You bet that another octopus is on the list. I already have two heads started and I look forward to streamlining the process of creating the legs. Maybe I’ll change their look a bit. Who knows. I try not to think about it too much — to let my heart and hands do the work.

Kate Spade journal handmade into a ring holder book box

It’s What’s Inside That Counts

Sure… “it’s what’s inside that counts”… especially when there is a wedding ring tucked inside a heart shaped cut out inside of a designer journal! This one of a kind custom creation just left my studio.

Kate Spade Journal Ring Book

It is a ring holder hollow book box that I created by hand using a blank Kate Spade journal. It was finished with black velvet, yellow ribbon and loose pages. The customer roamed the internet to find the journal and I did the rest.

The color and high quality feel of this ring holder book is my favorite part. Also, the fact that they can write their own love story in the loose pages!

Handmade Ring Holder Hollow Book Kate Spade Journal

Kate Spade Ring Book

Camera Gear Update : T5i

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I upgraded to a Canon T5i DSLR camera. My love for photography has been renewed a bit! I find myself shooting more freely. I look forward to shooting more product and life shots in more detail. I was struggling for the past year at least with my Rebel XTi because it was getting so old and used that the grip wore off, my best lens broke so I was using a zoom lens that lacked clarity and had an old filter stuck on it, and then finally the camera developed some dust spots inside that I could not easily clean out myself and I got really tired of editing dark blobs out of all of my photos. So I moved on and could not be happier with what I got for the money I spent. Did I mention that I can record HD video with it? I’ve already put up a clip demonstrating magnet closure in a hollow book box. I look forward to making more video clips, maybe some how-to videos, other creative video projects and publishing a lot more photos with this handy tool.

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Tool Love : Handmade Scissors

Last year, my best friend introduced me to these scissors. http://www.ernestwright.co.uk/

I thought they were really cool….

Then she bought me a pair as a special gift! I proudly own the paper cutting scissors.

Handmade Scissors For Cutting Paper

They go perfectly with my Etsy shop, as I cut a lot of paper for the bottom stash spot liners in my hollow book boxes, as well as thank you cards and shipping labels. I’m pretty good at keeping things for a long time and I’m for sure aiming to make these scissors be no exception to that. I’m making sure to only cut paper with them!

Handmade Scissors For Cutting Paper

Ring Holder Hollow Book Box Harry Potter

Handmade Hollow Ring Books

Harry Potter Ring Holder Book With Purple Ribbon - Handmade

Over the past few years, I have been making a few hollow book boxes designed to hold wedding engagement rings but this year I really expanded my line. It all started with a green book titled “Circle Of The Day”, but now I’ve added many surrounding the topic of love. And a few cult classics in there!

Unbreakable Vow Harry Potter Ring Proposal Hollow Book Box With Ribbon

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince – Cut to “The Unbreakable Vow” on Etsy

Making ring books is really fun because I get to search for interesting books to use and do a lot of custom orders. I love to focus on the fine details and deliver something that adds even more to an already astounding moment in other peoples lives. Check out some of my most popular ring holder hollow books, such as Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince which shows off the Unbreakable Vow chapter, or Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows that is cut to The Wedding chapter.

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows The Wedding Heart Cut Ring Holder Hollow Book - Handmade

Harry Potter Deathly Hallows The Wedding Heart Cut Ring Holder Hollow Book - Handmade     Harry Potter Deathly Hallows The Wedding Heart Cut Ring Holder Hollow Book - Handmade

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Cut to “The Wedding” on Etsy

The Book Of Love features my handmade heart shaped cut out that is very popular.

Heart Cut Out Hollow Book - Ring Holder for Engagement Proposal

Heart Cut Out Hollow Book - Ring Holder for Engagement Proposal

The Book Of Love With Heart Shape Cut Out on Etsy

All of my hollow books are handmade by me! I cut them by hand and then detail them until they are smooth, adding multiple layers of clear glue to the inside edge of the stash spot. A free-floating stash spot design is available for some books, otherwise I more often cut the back 1/2 inch or so of a book and glue that down, adding a decorative liner to the bottom of the stash spot. There are many custom options! Different books, cut shapes, loose pages or not left up front, stash spot liner papers, magnets added for secure closure, ribbons to tie rings to and many different colors to choose from.

Heart Cut Out Hollow Book - Ring Holder for Engagement Proposal

Custom Heart Cut Out Hollow Book

Can you tell I love making hollow ring books? ‘Cause…. I do.

A Fine Cup of Coffee

My Favorite Coffee

This coffee from The Organic Coffee Company is my latest favorite! Specifically the single-estate grown whole beans from Panama. I almost always make my coffee in a french press and drink it black, but sometimes I will make ‘bulletproof coffee’ where you combine freshly brewed coffee, organic unsalted butter and MCT oil in your blender and whiz it around on high for awhile, until it gets a bit frothy. Yum.

Coffee Cup

What’s in your cup?

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Lovin’ Summer

Cucumber

This summer has been spectacular so far! I can barely keep up with documenting the highlights of life in between all of the events, traveling, family time and working on my shop. Here are a few photos and tidbits I decided I must stop what I’m doing and share…

I love this duo … a nice rain cloud pouring out its contents and part of a rainbow. I have seen at least 6 rainbows and very bright sun dogs this summer since it has been so rainy in Minnesota.

Backyard Rain / Rainbow

Colorado supplied this lovely, bright sun dog. I love that state more each time I visit – this time I got to check out some southern areas around the San Juan mountains (Durango, Pagosa Springs) and stayed down in Farmington, NM. That mountain desert feeling is awesome.

Sundog in Colorado

Colorado

Colorado Pagosa Springs Overlook

I buried a pallet and planted lettuces in it – spinach, chard, arugula, romaine, and a few leaf varieties. It worked out well, I’d do it again. A big salad is on the menu tonight.

Sprouting Lettuces in Pallet Garden

Sprouting Lettuces

Garden

Lettuces

Shine on, sun. Shine on. Next weekend I’m going to see a huge fireworks show from a boat, on a lake. Boom!