A few weeks ago I took a macramé class with Renata Abbade in a beautiful, sun filled studio. It was the first day in New York that really felt like spring to me, so it was wonderful to gather with people and learn something new. I loved learning the knots and a little bit about the history and meaning of them too. We finished half the piece in class and I worked on it a bit last night. I'm almost finished and excited to see it all done, and hanging with plants nestled inside.

I'm excited to make more macrame pieces. It feels nostalgic to me, since I remember my mom teaching me how to do it when I was little. We worked on a wall hanging piece together that I'm sure is in a box somewhere. Now that I've had learned a bit more I'm looking forward to making a lot more and giving them away as gifts.

This class was such a treat to myself. I'm on a learning kick and taking a guitar class too!

Have you ever done macramé? I'm curious if you use patterns or just make it up as you go? We learned three knots and I'd love to beef up my knot game and make some more varied pieces.  And are there any macrame mavens I should be following? 

Bright & Colorful Dyed Flowers

Dyeing easter eggs is such a nostalgic memory from my childhood. Sometimes my cousins would come over and we would use one of those box kits with a white crayon, colorful tablets to dip in water and stickers. We'd get dye all over our hands and write our names on our eggs.  It was so much fun! Now, I can't even remember the last time I dyed eggs.  Since I don't buy eggs anymore I wanted to think of a new take on the dyed easter egg, and thought of dyeing flowers fun colors.

 I bought some white roses, daisies and chrysanthemums from my local florist (they have the best cactus!) and used a generous amount of food dye (neon, fall, and standard) to color the water. These dyes were given to me when a friend was moving out of the country over 6 years ago and I've never used them until now.

The flowers almost immediately started to change colors. You can see the slightest hint of color in the picture above. The purple neon dye (second to the right) didn't work.  After a few hours most of the flowers were already brightly colored, but not the purple. Even after I switched the water and the flowers didn't want to absorb dye. So avoid purples. The roses seemed to be the most receptive to the dye.

The picture above is after only an hour of dyeing, and below is how they looked after dyeing overnight. So bright & colorful!!

So happy with how poppy the colors turned out. My favorite colors have to be the neon green, which looks chartreuse, and the orange rose.

This is so easy and fun & would be a great project to do with kids, too. Let me know if you give this a try!

What the heck? Is this a lobster?

Beware! There may be a wild stowaway in your order. Lately, just for the heck of it I've been adding these miniatures to my packages.  

When I mail out orders, I get excited thinking about someone receiving my package. I know how much I love snail mail & getting packages, so I always try to make mine beautiful and fun. 

Hoping these lil' guys make people smile. I'm also laughing thinking of someone opening their order and being like, "What the heck? Is this a lobster?" 

Get in on the funs! Use code LIONSTIGERSBEARS for 10% of order this week :)

Kind of extra excited for this latest batch to be received!

p.s. all this mini talk has got me pinning all the cute little things.

Happy Sting Spring!

IT'S THE SPRING EQUINOX! It's spring today! Well, kinda. It's supposed to snow here in NY today, but officially it's the first day of spring and I can't be more ready for it.

I had this itch to photograph the cats jumping on a bright backdrop, like jumping for joy 'cause it's spring, but they were so confused about the whole thing.  There was no jumping, but there was a whole lot of awkward. Saved the best for last, so make sure you check out the last beauty :/ Can't say I'm disappointed though. I love these dumb dumbs so much. 

Enjoy some gratuitous silly cat pics of Bastian, Bug, Banjo and not pictured but hiding behind the paper, Bullet.

AND.... the best for last. Never mind me, it's all about Bastian's goonie face. What a idiot!

We all wish you a happy (kinda) spring friends!

p.s for more pics of my crew check out #catscratchcrew on insta!

Cyanotype love!

When I saw the google doodle today honoring badass botanist and early photographer Anna Atkins I had to share these placemats I made using the very same cyanotype technique she used over 150 years ago to document algae. I love that this early photographic process is almost exactly the same as when it was invented and still widely used today. It makes such beautiful Prussian blue hues. 

For a collaboration with Design*Sponge I was making sun print place cards. So, while I was at it why not make play with cyanotype on fabric? It was fall and then leaves were perfect. I love the way they turned out. Subtle purple leaf shapes, and undulating blues.

If you want to give cyanotypes a go you can try a sun print kit, or Lumi Inkodye, which works a lot like cyanotypes, but comes in lots of great colors!

Tips for writing a great love letter

Since 2009 I've been helping people share their love and surprise their partners and friends with typed letters. I offer a unique service, a Message in a Bottle Letter Service, where I type up text provided onto a small sheet of paper with a vintage typewriter, seal it with a bit of wax, place the tiny letter in a corked glass bottle, and then mail it directly to the recipient. I even have a mobile booth!

I've typed hundreds and hundred of letters, in several different languages, and have sent them all around the world. These letters have delivered all kinds of good news like marriage proposals, wedding vows, happy birthdays, secret crushes, and old fashioned undying love. There's a lot of love out there.  Really, I have proof- so many love letters!

After reading all these love letters I've often thought about what makes a great one. There are some that sucker punch me with woozy good feelings, some have brought me to tears, and some I want to help revise just a little bit. I've condensed all this love letter know-how into a few helpful tips for all your future romantic communiques, because yes, Valentine's Day is coming up, but really everyday should be the 14th.

Just write. 
Writing is hard. It felt like pulling teeth to sit down and write this, even though I've been wanting to share this idea for awhile, knew what I wanted to say and was excited about it. I just needed time to organize my thoughts and for the words to find me. And they did. You'll find the words. Think about the person you're writing to, and then just write. Edit later.

Avoid Clichés.
I see this a lot. Stuff like, "You mean the world to me" and "I'd be nothing without you" can be heartfelt sentiments, but a little impersonal. We hear these statements so much they begin to lose their meaning. Try instead to be more specific about what's at the heart of these clichés. Why does your partner mean so much to you? What kind of everyday things do they do to bring joy to your life? For example, my boy friend always texts me a thoughtful, encouraging message before an important meeting. I could say something like, "You always show me you care. I feel loved and love you more for it."

Get personal. 
Avoiding clichés can be hard, because they kind of sum up, in a familiar easy way, how we feel. But details make any letter feel more authentic and special. Think of experiences you two have shared. Little moments can be powerful. What was it like when you first met? When did you realize that you were in love? What was your first date? What made you want to write in the first place?

Simple is best.
Sometimes we feel the need to really drive a point home. I get it, your like so in love. I see captivating love letters lose their steam by going on and on. You don't have to explain every loving feeling you have. In fact, some of the most powerful letters I've read are brief. They leave you with a few thoughts to pour over and relish.

Find the words else where.
If you're stuck, start with a quote. It can be a lyric from a song, a favorite line from a movie, or a beloved quote. Maybe your boo is a stargazer who would appreciate and smile at the inclusion of a Carl Sagan quote, or on your first date you heard this song and it's become important to you both. If you need help finding the words, these kinds of quotes can be super helpful prompts. Again, it's all about being personal here. Don't just google "love quotes".

Don't be shy. 
It doesn't have to be all flowery and mushy. Being romantic is about opening up and being vulnerable and that my friends is sexy! (Proven here by PJ Harvey.) When I first met my boo we were long distance. It was easier to share our lives in a letter, and it brought us closer. Nothing was better than coming home to a letter. We wrote, made mixes and talked on the phone about our letters. It was romantic and made the longing to be together unbearable.

I hope this inspires you to write a letter. The world does really need more snail mail. Just think about the last time you got a letter that wasn't junk mail or bills. It's a great feeling right? Share the love!

You can find my Letter Service here and a special Valentine's Day Letter Service Gift Box, with a custom initial necklace here.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Writing this first post of 2015 makes me think of cracking open a new sketchbook and feeling that excitement and anxiety of just starting. I like that feeling of beginning, but it can also be terrifying. Where do you start?  Every new year I want to press an imaginary reset button on myself, so while I'm home enjoying every bit of family and sun in California I've been thinking of ways I can keep motivated, start fresh and keep it up throughout the year.

Here are a few things that are pushing me in positive ways:
+ Trying daily planner pages from Day Designer. You can download a free planner page. I tried it out and like it.
+ What It Really Takes to be an Artist from MacArthur Genius Teresita Fernandez. Very real talk about making art.
+ I know that our environment influences our behavior, so I'm itching to get home and change up my space a bit, so maybe I can form better, more productive habits.
+ Incredibly honest and inspiring words to get you making - Molly Crabapple's 15 rules for creative success in the Internet age 

Any tips, links or things you guys are using? I'd love to hear!  Here's to 2015 being the best year yet!

T-shirt to Tank top DIY

I know it's almost winter here in NY, so what the heck am I talking about tank tops for? Well, they're pretty much a staple in my daily life throughout the year. I love to layer, and tank tops help keep me warm under copious amounts of clothes during colder months, or cool and comfortable in warmer months. I basically live in tank tops during summer or when I visit home in California. On any given day I'm probably wearing one!

I have a bunch of t-shirts that are too big for me, mostly band shirts that are for more dudely frames, like this Hexvessel shirt that was gifted to me because animals. (Jeremy saw them at Stella Natura & loved them!) Since I found this 1950's Singer on the street (yep, best trash score ever!) I've been sewing these shirts into perfectly fitting tank tops.

It's super easy and even if you don't have a super industrial machine you can stitch one up in under 30 mins.
1. First, using fabric scissors cut the sleeves off following the seams.
2. Turn the shirt inside out. Use a top that fits you well as a template. Center the template top over the shirt and use dressmakers chalk or regular chalk to mark the side seams and shoulder straps. I didn't worry too much on being perfect. I guesstimated and aimed for symmetry from side to side.
3. Cut the excess from the shoulders and pins the sides.
4. Sew along your chalk marks.
5. Cut the neckline. I just followed the seam. You can always cut more, but first try your shirt on. Adjust and cut more if needed/desired to even out the straps or neckline.
6. Stretch the arm holes and neck line a bit till they curl in. Best thing about jersey- no need to sew raw edges!
So that's it. From boxy boy shirt to perfect fit for me. Hope this gives you some ideas to update your old shirts! Let me know if you do!