Cool Cat. Rattled Skull.

Wool felt & embroidery floss.

Several stitching projects are in hoops around my apartment these days, but I haven't been finishing anything. Lots of little sketches and ideas. More craft and less art, which feels a little strange. But it's all good.

Made this simple, wool felt, catnip LP for a cool cat I know named Vann. Looks a little more like a hockey puck than a record, but I wanted him to be able to bat it about. Word is, he does. This makes me happy because he is such a cool cat. And every girl loves a cool cat who plays by his own rules... as long he is lovable and purrs like a slightly drunk locomotive when scratched. And Vann does.

Records are on my mind these days.

I got caught in a tempest on Saturday night and was drenched in rain and stung by hail. Literally. Struck hard on the tender scalp. It felt like the universe was bullying me. I'm not proud to say it, but I felt sorry for myself.

But Spring is here. I rallied. Back to my embroidery hoops and stitching, peeps. Back to sketching, crazy ideas, and great conversations with wine and friends. And back to sunshine. I didn't work so hard to make my life what I want it to be only to be crushed by a storm. Besides, I love storms.


Felt Popsicle Plush Toys and Octo-Boxers, Oh my!

Surprisingly fun times on Saturday with Juline at the Maker Faire NC in Raleigh! Must admit, I haven’t been in a “making for sale” mode for a very long time, but I went to support Juline and OJ Designs. Juline sold her beautiful, spiral felt earrings and necklaces and her embroidered felt hair clips (both available on etsy.) Lucky me, she even made me a pair of felt drop earrings!
Spiral felt necklace, by Juline, OJ Designs
Maker Faire is a hands on event, not just a craft sale, so OJ Designs had a very popular button making table and, freakishly exciting for me, I got to teach kids how to make my simple Felt Popsicles Plushies! This was amazing!! The design is insanely basic, but walking kids (as young as 4) through the process of cutting, gluing, stitching, stuffing and assembling a smiling, google-eyed popsicle plushie was oddly energizing! (I’m not a kid person, I admit.)
They showed such focus, such determination! And they held needles and STITCHED with their chubby little fingers! I was teaching STITCHING! They’d look up at me, not believing they could do it, could stitch ALL THE WAY AROUND the edge. I untangled many a string. They stuffed their little plush toys with "cotton candy you can't eat." But in the end, they smiled with insane glee when they held up the little, smiling popsicle friend that they’d just created with their own two hands! SHAZAM! How inspiring and fun it was to walk them through that.
One little girl was very proud to say that she was taking sewing classes and had a sewing machine. Most of them had stitched before, but a few hadn’t. The six-year-old little girl who was with her parents all day at the booth behind ours held her popsicle all day. I even saw her kissing it late in the afternoon, as her eyes got heavy with sleep. How sweet and amazing is that?!
So, hell yeah, that was a surprisingly fun day. Who knew that I’d like teaching kids to make something so much? That I would find it inspiring? Not me, that’s for damn sure. I know that crafting with kids a a huge part of the crafting community, but for me... I’m an artist, not a teacher. I swear and make inappropriate comments, not suited for children (but I didn't yesterday!) Life is so freaking surprising and odd.
Making weirdly slow progress on the Octo-Boxers (I’m digging this new name for the boxers coined by a clever new person I've met online, but not yet in person.) But I’m still enjoying making them for my friend in Brooklyn. Just have to decide how inappropriately wacky I want them to be.
Other than that, just slowly, haltingly, trying to make it through each day, connect with friends, new and old, and embrace the moment. Stitch the moment. THANK YOU to everyone who has been so kind and supportive of me, both online and in 3D, as I stumble through this tumultuous time of change and uncertainty in my life. 

People are freaking awesome. Most of the time. Gaw.

Maker Faires are held all over the US, so check them out because there is likely one in your area.  It is a super cool event that describes itself as a celebration of  “Makers, Crafters, Inventors, Evil Geniuses, Scientists and Artists.” There were crafters AND robot fighting and hacking clubs (I didn’t know such things existed!) and all kinds of ways to get your geek on.  

Ode to Vinyl and Ode to Juline

2010 has ushered in the fabulous world of vinyl records back into my life!

Thanks to my wonderful friend Juline and the The Record exhibition at the Nasher Museum at Duke University, Rico and I have been reconnected with those funky, almost magical disks and the textural reality of music being produced by a needle gliding along spinning grooves of plastic.  Listening to music on our record player just feels so different than plugging our iPod into the sound system, you know?  It makes me regret getting rid of all of our albums when we lived in Chicago back in the 90s.  But there you go.

Juline is a creative whirling dervish and is constantly introducing me to new projects, artists and crafts.  I'm so lucky to have her in my life!  I remember meeting Juline at her office at the Nasher, where I'd come to record the audio guide for The Record exhibition, and she was playing vintage big band albums on a record player.  Remember album cover art? I pawed through the stacks of mid century albums in her office, marveling at the variety of images -- singers in leopard leotards, paper cuts of trombones and martinis. So many little works of art on cardboard album sleeves!

Juline's felt record necklaces (modeled at the beginning of this post by yours truly) are exactly my kind of whimsical, playful jewlery!  Check out the embroidered centers of the necklaces.

Aren't they the coolest things?

I swear that I'm I'm not trying to hawk OJ Designs merchandise, but Juline's necklaces are available in our etsy shop, if you're interested! (In October, Juline and I started OJ Designs, a little craft company featuring our work.  In 2011, we hope to participate in more craft fairs and expand our etsy shop, which is very thin right now.)

A little more about Juline and her amazing creativity... this year she has brought so much into my life!  She inspired me start my hand sewn hexagon quilt project when she showed me her gorgeous quilt.  Juline is driven as well as crafty -- she finished her quilt with amazing speed, including the hand quilting.  My quilt top is ever so slowly coming together and she has already started on more hand sewn hexagon quilt designs.

She taught me how to make pzyanky eggs (a traditional Ukranian craft involving wax, dye and eggs) a few weeks after she learned how to made them herself, and then went on to make 40 of her beautiful eggs as a unique gift to commemorate the 40th wedding anniversary for her parents. This woman is a crafting goldmine and she is so generous with her friends, teaching us how to make new things and pushing and inspiring us to attempt what we never thought we could do! What a jewel she is.

Back to the vinyl... The Record exhibition is still at the Nasher until Feb. 6, 2011.  If you're in NC, I strongly encourage you to check it out.  Get out there and see this show!

My favorite pieces are by the artist Dario Robleto who used old Billie Holiday records to create buttons for vintage shirts.  You can read more about this alchemical and amazing project here on the Nasher web site.

"Turntable," by Fatimah Tuggar

And yes, that is my surprisingly sexy voice on the audio guide that you can download here.  (Scroll to the bottom of this page to click on the link.)  Once again, this is the work of the insanely talented Juline who edited the audio guide and managed to make me sound so hot!

Go vinyl!  Keep spinning us all around in 2011!

String Thing Ornament Swap-O-Rama!!

String Thing, the fabulous fiber arts group founded by my amazing friend Rebecca, had our Third Annual Holiday Ornament Swap today.  WOW!  I shouldn't be surprised, but I was just freaking floored by the creativity and generosity of all 11 crafters.

This was my second year organizing the swap and, as always, I was inspired by the variety of crafts represented and the quality of the ornaments themselves.  We had pzyanky eggs, basket-woven stars, Swedish paper stars, beaded and embroidered felties, crocheted pieces, knitted plush, colorful paper spheres, embellished glass balls, needlefelted woodland cameos, tatted snowflakes and, of course, my own felt ninjas.

Without further ado, in no particular order, take a look at these amazing ornaments!  (Warning, light is a little low, sorry!)

Kay made these gorgeous, needlefelted animal cameos.  I confess that when I saw the little rabbit, I knew that I had to have it for myself!  Her husband says the bunny looks a little angry and drunk, but that is right up my alley!  I only wish you could see the detail on these better, because they are just lovely.

Juline made pzyanky eggs!  I can't believe that she only learned this craft a few weeks ago, because her designs are just stunning.  She held a little workshop at her house on Thursday night, and I think I'm hooked. But it will take me a loooong time before I can ever make anything as lovely as Juline's eggs.

And here are some felties.  Sarah's happy gingerbread men!  These all have adorable fabric scraps on the back, which I failed to photograph.  Just looking at them makes me smile.

Lesley made snuggly acorns, which is actually part of (I believe) German holiday tradition.  (Forgive me if I got this wrong.)

And here are my String Thing Ninjas.  I think they look vaguely like zombies.

We saw some gorgeous paper crafts represented.  Naomi made these elegant Swedish stars.

And Monique made these fabulous paper orbs or spheres.  I'm not sure what the name of the tradition is for these pieces, but they are so cool!

And then we have knitted and crocheted ornaments.  Rebecca made these almost Victorian snowflakes.

And Sandy covered red balls with delicate iridescent knitted lace.  So pretty!

In addition to the Swedish Stars, Naomi TATTED snowflakes! I wish I got better photos of these, because they are so intricate and almost fragile looking.  Naomi had a mini tatting workshop a few years ago, and I have to confess that tatting is just beyond my stringy ability.  I don't know how she does it!

And Teresa made these beautiful wicker stars!  I desperately want one... hint, hint.

And finally, Kate, someone that I'm just starting to get to know, just blew me away with these amazing Angry Coal plushies!!  This is so TOTALLY up my alley, I just cannot believe it.  They are made from acrylic mohair yarn (allergy free) and have these fantastic expressions and eyebrows.  My coal man is going to be out all year.  I totally adore him!  (Sorry for the blurry photo.)

I can't tell you how happy and inspired I am by all of these crafters.  The thing is, most folks made these ornaments in something outside of their normal medium, and they are still just so wonderful.  I can't even begin to tell you about the beautiful things they knit and crochet... the lace, the fair isle mittens, the double knitted Chaos Theory scarf, the sweaters and hats.  I mean, they all make just BEAUTIFUL pieces.  There are several spinners in the group.  You should see their sumptuous yarns.  And they design knitwear and crochet patterns like you wouldn't believe.  And that is not to mention the sewing and quilting some of them do.  I'm just floored by the talent and creative energy of everyone in this group.  My favorite part of our Sunday morning get togethers (aside from laughing my butt off at all of our crazy conversations) is seeing what everyone is working on.


I know this is a long post, but I'm still flying from today and seeing all of the work my buddies created.  Makes this work week infinitely easier to get through.  The beige, RTP cube will have a much happier woman slaving away in corporate hell!

If you're on ravelry, come check out the Durham String Thing group so you can see more of their work.

Hot damn.

Belligerent Ninjas from Hell & More Alien Creeps

These little pugilists don't know if they are good guys or bad guys.  They just know that they like to fight!

Meet BAM, POW and KA-POW, three wool/rayon felt ninjas. I had a lot of fun making them.  They are  very lightly padded.  Their eyes are embroidered and they sport cartoon captions that I made from art shrink plastic.

I also finished four more Alien Creeps. I've listed one in my etsy shop at

I don't know why I can't seem to make anything that is friendly and cute any more. Just a phase I'm going through, I guess.

I didn't wind up going to the Vega Arts Market today to sell my work.  I'm in a more homebody mode and I'm enjoying making things for friends and family.  I have so many Christmas presents yet to finish making!!

The Alien Creeps are really growing on me.

Tomorrow I'll post some updated photos of my German Do Not Enter sign.  The stitching on that piece is so involved... I love the methodical process of the fill embroidery.  Thousands of stitches, thousands of moments.

Making felties, new and old

My alien ornaments have been surprisingly popular. I've sold or had special requests for the ones I made, so now I'm making a few more for the craft fair at Vega Metals in Durham that I'm hoping to attend this weekend.

Rico says that when he sees them in piles like this, with arms and legs strewn about, he is reminded of an alien autopsy.  We're going to work on a series of Area 51-themed ornaments (and other mid-century alien) soon.  I like the idea of little alien pieces. He recommended that I make an alien with a post-vivisection scar on its chest.  Love that idea!!

I'm also playing around with a new feltie for my String Thing Ornament Swap.  Here is a first pass at the cut felt.

It usually takes me several tries before I'm satisfied with a design, so we'll see how these ultimately wind up looking.  Can you tell what they are going to be?

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and my birthday. I'm headed to my parents' for a combo celebration.  So I'm going to try to spend several hours today working away in my little workshop.

I head back to work next week after several weeks of medical leave.  I'm very nervous about it.  Among other, more personal medical concerns, I'm worried about keeping up my creative mojo in that thankless, very uncreative corporate work environment.  Have to keep carving out time to make things or I'll go quite nuts!

No radioactive material in these felties

Since I was a wee lass in New York City, I was always attracted to radiation signs and fallout shelter signs.  In fact, until I was an adult, I honestly thought that the fallout shelter symbol was an official symbol of the NYC public school system, because it seemed like every PS had this oddly comforting sign attached to the brick face.  Embarrassing, but true.

I often wear an embroidered radiation symbol button/brooch that I made and I'm working on a series of radiation and other hazard symbol embroidered pillows, so why not bring these happy little guys to my world of felt holiday ornaments?
I think that these are perfect for when elves and candy canes don’t fit your edgy holiday mood. I'm starting a collection of not-quite-right Christmas decorations.

I made these from a wool/rayon blend felt and embroidered them with a questionable “Ho” on each propeller, which sounds a little nastier then I'd intended. They are very lightly padded with quilt batting dangle from a string of black ric rac.

I like ornaments that acknowledge the darker side of Christmas... the alcoholic grandma, the brother-in-law with a secret, second family, the burned, inedible ham, the extra Valium a girl has to take to face her mother's magnifying glass... that kind of thing.

(My grandmothers had other problems, trust me, but they didn't drink, and they are long dead. As far as I know, my only brother-in-law has just the one family and I don't eat mammals, but you get the idea!)

UPDATED: These are now listed at my new etsy shop that I started with the hugely talented Juline,!

Also, OJ Designs will be at the craft market at the Durham Farmers' Market on Saturday, Nov. 13th.


The Evolution of Christmas Aliens!!

Been playing around with wool/rayon felt, making a new set of holiday ornaments. These Christmas Aliens make me oddly happy.

Here is a little about their design...

It started as a very rough, random sketch in my sketchbook.

I made the first one with very similar proportions to the drawing, but I didn't like it. It looked too misshapen to me somehow.

So I redesigned the head and eyes to make them much larger and cuter.  I added a bow for the girl alien. I liked the way that these turned out.  Very cutesy and sweet aliens.

Although I really like these sweet aliens, my original intention was something more sinister and creepy, so I made the eyes a little smaller and less cute, embroidered humorless mouths and made them silver collars with red buttons.

Now these guys are the menacing aliens I'd originally intended!  I will continue to make sweet aliens and explore threatening aliens and various colors of wool/rayon felt and with various collars and accessories. I'm thinking purple and blue aliens, among others.

Next up: Create a radiation sign felt ornament!  My obsession with the radiation sign will not allow me to work on anything else until I at least make an attempt.