Friday, 31 October 2014

Crafty Ladies: Meet Aimee Ray

This week's Crafty Lady is Aimee Ray whose new book "Doodle Stitching: The Holiday Motif Collection" I was thrilled to be a part of! 

Aimee sells her work in her shop, Little Dear, and blogs about her creative projects and inspirations at Little Dear Tracks. Whether she's designing felt tutorials & embroidery patterns, making things from clay or customising dolls Aimee's creations are always completely adorable and quite magical. 


Hi! I’m Aimee, I’m the author of the “Doodle Stitching” series of hand embroidery books. I also sell my original craft and embroidery pattern PDFs and hand made goodies in my Etsy shop, and I do freelance illustration and design. I love to experiment and I’m interested in all things creative. If it’s artsy or crafty, chances are I’ve dabbled in it at some point.

I am lucky enough to be a full time crafter/artist, that is, when I’m not chasing around my almost-3 year old son. I live in NW Arkansas with him and my husband, Josh. We are a houseful of creative people, not to mention toy collectors, so it makes for an interesting environment to live and work in.


Recently I’ve been making… 

Things with acorns! Autumn is my favorite time of year and this year we live in a house with two huge oak trees, so our yard is full of fallen acorns. I’ve been harvesting and using them in my craft projects. Every year I make NŌMs with acorn hats (NŌMs are OOAK tiny clay gnome figures sold exclusively in my etsy shop, I’ve made well over 1000 now.)

I’ve also incorporated acorn caps into some felt jewelry embellished with embroidery and needle felting.

Another ongoing project I’ve been doing is the Free Art Project, something I conceived of as a way to send art and love out into the world. You can visit my website or blog to read more about it and request an original piece of art to be mailed to your door.

I’ve been working on…

My newest embroidery book, The Holiday Motif Collection, has just been released! (Thanks Laura, for your awesome projects!) I’m so excited to see it out in the world. It’s full of 100’s of embroidery motifs for holidays throughout the year, with a big emphasis on Christmas, plus lots of fun projects to sew. I’ve also just finished working on an iron-on transfer book containing a selection of embroidery patterns from all of my previous books. That one will be out next Spring.

Now I am gearing up to make Christmas presents and Christmas ornament NŌMs. It’s a very crafty time of year.


I’ve been blogging about…

Besides giving a sneak peek into my new book and doing giveaways, I’ve posted recently about my latest embroidery pattern, stitch details and a new color palette and every Friday I post an inspiration mosaic of awesome images I’ve collected online or been inspired by.

I’ve been reading…

I’m not an avid blog reader, but I’m rather addicted to Pinterest. I’m always so inspired by the craft projects I find on there, not to mention recipes I wish I had the time and energy to make.

I’ve been interested lately in weaving, gypsy flags and dreamcatchers. Just do a Pinterest search and you’ll find tons of amazing DIY inspiration for any of these! I’m storing them up for someday when I have time to play.

My favorite craft book I’ve seen this year has to be Craft-a-Doodle by Jenny Doh. (I’ve got a little project in there as well!) It is so much fun and full of inspiration, definitely one I will pick up again and again. It is great for any age, I would have absolutely LOVED it as a kid as well.

I’ve also read I Just Like To Make Things by Lilla Rogers, and also took her Make Art That Sells e-course earlier this year. It was incredibly inspiring and motivating, I highly recommend it to any artist who is ready to take the next step in developing their work.

While I craft, I’ve been watching…

I don’t watch a whole lot, but Doctor Who (new and old), Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and vintage Sesame Street episodes get aired quite a bit at our house. Lately we’re tapping into old horror movies after the little guy is in bed (we love the old Draculas with Christopher Lee!)

I listen to music more often while I work, I love The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, The Beatles, Cat Stevens, Air and Stan Getz to name a few. Radio Paradise or iTunes radio stations are frequently in rotation. My husband and I have very eclectic tastes in music and setting our huge music collection on shuffle always brings up random surprises.


Aimee’s 3 Top Tips for a Life You Love

1. Find something you love to do.

2. Do it every day.

3. Keep doing it and learning and sharing it as much as possible. When you love what you do, it shines through and others will want more and more of it!


You'll find Aimee's embroidery patterns, NŌMs and other creations over in her shop along with signed copies of her new book. You can keep up with what she's making by visiting her blog or following her on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Click here to read more posts in the Crafty Ladies series.

Please note: the Amazon links in this post are affiliate links.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Messy Making

This week I've been busy behind the scenes - working on some secret projects with a looming deadline.

Since I can't show you what I'm working on, I thought I'd share some snaps of the creative chaos happening in my studio right now...carefully cropped to hide the projects themselves, of course!

Top of this morning's To Do list = tidying up a bit so I've got space to do some more making :)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Book Review: Fresh Prints

Oh my goodness, I am such a bad blogger, you guys. I've got a whole stack of lovely craft books in my "to review" pile and I've not reviewed any of them! Tsk tsk. I am determined to be a better blogger and share all this crafty goodness with you all, so you'll be seeing a few reviews popping up over the coming weeks. I hope you'll find some new books that take your fancy :)

First up: Fresh Prints by Christine Leech. 

Fresh Prints is another beautiful book in Quadrille's "Simple Makes" series which (among other titles) also includes two other books by Christine which I reviewed last year: Felt Sew Good and Scissors, Paper, Craft.

This time round (as you have probably guessed from the title) the focus is on printing projects. Quadrille's books are always gorgeous, and Christine is such a talented, creative lady that I am quite, quite jealous of all her ace ideas... and let me tell you, this book does not disappoint. All the projects in this book are fresh and fun and creative and have been beautifully presented.

Fresh Prints is all about block printing - using different objects as printing blocks. The 25 projects are divided into chapters by technique: "printing with found objects" and "lazy lino prints", with a small final chapter of "other printing techniques".

The book begins with informative, helpful sections on the tools and equipment you'll need, how to mix colours, getting the right ink consistency, printing tips and a step by step guide to making and using a "lazy lino" block (a printing block made with foam sheets which are apparently cheaper and easier to work with than real lino blocks).

Then it's on to the projects, each with clear step by step instructions and photos. As with the previous books in this series I had great difficulty picking out just a few projects to snap and share with you guys!

I especially loved this gorgeous feather cushion...


... and this fun ricrac-printed scarf.

Tools used for printing include leaves, feathers, bottle caps, a potato masher, buttons, sweet potatoes, lace doilies, a rolling pin, a knitted sweater and cookie cutters... which are used with household bleach in one project to create these wonderful patterned towels: 

The book includes printing on things like greetings cards, notebooks, teatowels and cushions and t-shirts, plus more unusual surfaces like lampshades, shoes, and even an umbrella! So much fun.


There are templates provided for all the projects in the "lazy lino" section, and it's great to see that most of the templates are included at full size.

This is a really lovely book. If you're looking for complex projects or a comprehensive guide to different printing techniques then a book in a series called "Simple Makes" is, as you might imagine, probably not going to be the book for you! But if you've never tried printing before or you want some ideas for fun and accessible printing projects this would make a great addition to your bookshelf.

You could also put together a fab "introduction to printing" kit as a special gift for a friend or loved one this Christmas by combining this book with some of the ink and tools recommended by Christine.

Fresh Prints is published by Quadrille. RRP £12.99. It's available from Amazon UK, Amazon USA, The Book Depository and many other bookshops.

Please note: Quadrille sent me a free review copy of this book. The Amazon & Book depository links in this post are affiliate links.

Monday, 27 October 2014

More New Embroidery Stitches

My "learn some fun new embroidery stitches" project continues...

I spent a wonderfully relaxing evening last week working my way through some more of the stitches from The Needlecraft Stitch Directory. I'd really recommend this book if you're interested in learning some new stitches, I've found the step by step diagrams and instructions very clear and easy to follow.

I was quite excited to try some stitches that involved two different shades of thread:

Some of these were definitely more successful than others... but look how fancy they are! 

There are still lots more embroidery stitches in the book for me to try, but I think I'm going to have to set aside an afternoon or two to work on them as they're starting to get a bit too complicated for my slightly-sleepy-at-the-end-of-the-workday brain to cope with :)


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