Baby's Busy Book

The frog with the zipper mouth was the first page done and she loves zippers so much, I had to give it to her right away
Happy to say I haven't abandoned my New Year's resolution yet and here we are in May and I am  (nearly) done my first project. In an attempt to use up scraps of fabric and miscellaneous notions in quantities too small to do anything substantial with, I have made Heidi a Busy Book (or I have heard them called a Quiet Book). Inspired by Pinterest and a similar book I had when I was little, I wanted something that we take could to restaurants and doctor's offices to keep H occupied, now that she is a curious toddler. I tried to include her favourite things (buttons, zippers, buckles, horses and kangaroos to name a few). I hand drew the patterns on tracing paper, first. The biggest problem to solve was the cover, which if I were too do it again, I would make stiffer. I challenged myself to only use what I had on hand, save for some felt donations from friends and colleagues.  I also wanted to make the book entirely hand washable. The binder rings make it easy to take the pages out. I learned that the sewing and materials have to be very robust. She was very excited and ripped off the bumblebee's wings on the first prototype! Still a work in progress--I am working on four more pages and want to add more mane to the lion--- but here are some pics to see where I am at so far.

Foam letters are a fun surprise inside

Laying out the pieces before sewing them on

Putting the baby Joey in the Kangaroo's pouch is good dexterity practice! 
When she is older she can braid the lion's mane (A great use of a half skein of orange and brown yarn!)

She really loves buttons and she is learning to match the yellow button to the yellow flower etc..

New Year's Resolutions: Finishing Unfinished Projects in the Studio #konmari

I am one of those people that make resolutions and keep them. The key for me is choosing something that will sustain me. No fad diets or crazy notions, like giving up on coffee. I choose something achievable.

In 2015, I was motivated by D who was sick of waking up to a grumpy bear and so I vowed to become a morning person. I started by meeting my friend, Mary, one of those natural morning people, for a run before work at 6am. It was horrible, but I did it because guilt is stronger than circadian rhythm and I couldn't bear the thought of sleeping through my alarm clock and leaving her outside waiting for me. As winter fell, we found ourselves running in the dark through snow drifts and freezing our butts off. We were miserable. The end of our run often took us past the local gym, where inside they were wearing shorts and working out to top 40. The rest is history. Two years later we still meet at that gym and I have found other friends (who are also neighbours) and there are enough of us going that you know someone will be there, expecting you.

I haven't read Marie Kondo's book, but a lot of friends are doing the Konmari method and it is changing their lives. I am really good at getting rid of stuff that doesn't bring me joy (500 square feet for three people and a cat will do that to you), but what about the stuff that does make me happy? What am I supposed to do with it?! 2016's solution was upcycling and reuse...

2016, I had just had Heidi and was on maternity leave, spending long winter days cooped up in our tiny bungalow forced to confront the mounds of art and craft supplies sprinkled throughout the house and jammed into in my studio and spending way too much time on Pinterest.  I vowed to make 2016 the year of unfinished projects. I didn't buy one thing for a new project and instead slowly worked through what I had. I began by cleaning the studio and donating a lot of stuff that I didn't even really like (so much fabric!) and was never going to use again (craft sale display, anyone?)  I have a renewed love for sewing and knitting and although I didn't do much painting, I feel the desire to paint again, a feeling I haven't had since before I got pregnant. One thing is for sure, I don't think there will be any more quilts in my future. Kudos to you with the patience for all that piece work and kudos to D's Mom, who helped me bind mine. First, a look at what I accomplished this year:


 So many single skeins of yarn to use up. Thankfully baby clothes are small. So many toques and sweaters were made for my kid and every kid we know....

(Finally used those cute wooden cat buttons too!)

I had been hoarding this adorable pattern for felted bunny slippers. I put an old Merino sweater destined for the landfill through the drier a bunch of times and made three pairs of baby slippers (as seen modelled here by our friend's daughter Annabel).

Along the lines of saving single skeins of yarn, a major spring clean of the studio revealed several boxes of fabric, most of which was 2 metres or less, beautiful pieces of ribbon that weren't long enough to wrap a present, but turned out to be great for decorating baby clothes and bags of vintage buttons, too beautiful to get rid of, but  now finally have a home...

 This little yellow smocked shirt dress was made from one of her Godfather's dress shirts.

A sleep sack made from thick cotton with orange cat faces on it.

 I have had this blue vintage cowgirl print since college. Combined with a pair of Dad's old jeans, vintage gingham buttons and just enough cotton eyelet, Heidi has a Calgary Stampede dress for the next few summers.

Also too cute to throw out was this blue and red ladybug trim that found its way onto the waist band of a romper I made her this summer. I also used assorted scraps of fabric including this insect print that was too fun not to keep. 

2017 The resolution to finish unfinished projects was so successful and so motivating that I am extending it to 2017, but this time listing some of what I hope to achieve, so that I don't get sidetracked by other things:

  • finally put all my photographs from when I lived and taught in Taiwan into a scrapbook, 
  • scan old family photos and sort and scan the bag of negatives and slides that I have taking up precious closet space (this may have to be outsourced. Does that count?!), 
  • more baby clothes for Heidi made out of more scrap fabric
  • cloth napkins and tablecloths made out of al that fabric I have been saving for just this purpose
  • more knitting made out of all those single skeins...lots of striped things!
  • a painting for every blank canvas in my studio (ambitious!)
  • a felt quiet book for Heidi (vintage buttons on every page...)
Wish me luck...! Happy New Year and may 2017 be a time of kindness and renewal. xo

When You Love Someone, You Make Them An Antelope Mask

My friend Natalie and I have been through thick and thin together. She has been my voice of reason when I couldn't think clearly for myself. She literally saved my life once, I am certain.  She is the friend who reminds me to let loose and have fun, especially now that I am a Mom. So many private jokes, so many battle stories, so many good times.
We met over a decade ago when she and I were educators at the Glenbow Museum. We delivered programs to school kids using the various art pieces and cultural artifacts in the museum's vast and wild collection. One particular program for kindergarteners took place in the West African gallery and required us to tell the fable of the antelope, explaining how in West African culture masks are used to help tell stories. We'd have to wear the painted wood antelope mask and jump around, make braying sounds, clip, get the picture. A the end of every shift, the antelope would return to its storage shelf near our offices so the next educator on duty could find it for their next program.


A colleague of ours never, ever remembered to return the mask and so it often spent its night on the gallery floor, probably becoming alive like Night at the Museum. (Which for the record is a movie that is nothing at all like what it is like to work at a museum. For the truth on that, you should probably go here.) Nat and I got sick of this guy's laziness and so one day, we bombarded his desk with passive-aggressive post-it notes. On each one were a cartoon of the antelope crying and shaking in fear for being left alone in the gallery all night long. Needless to say, he remembered to put it away after that and the antelope masks became a little symbol for us of our early days in museums and education.

We've both moved onto to different things in our careers, but our friendship has stayed the course. We were lucky enough to work together as consultants for a travelling art program and, most recently heading up the education team at the National Music Centre. Natalie just accepted an incredible job as the Director of Education and Outreach for the Scottsdale Cultural Council, moving back home to the United States. I gave her a great reference and then cried because I knew she'd get the job and I would have to say goodbye. I will so miss having her nearby to do random errands with, make arts and crafts with and to drink gin with, to listen to old-skool hip hop with, to troll thrift stores and to watch the Young and the Restless.

So what do you do when you love someone? You make them a papier-mâché West-African inspired antelope mask...

Cereal box top makes a good plinth. Classic balloon armature with rolled paper horns and cardboard ears.
Tape. A lot of tape.
Detail shot: wrapped string for texture and egg carton eyes. Very pro technique.
Mâché the shit out of that antelope.

Once dry, paint white with gesso
Seek out some pattern inspiration: Pinterest
Ready for her new office...

Vintage, Mid Century Inspired Nursery

It all started at a neighbourhood store when I spotted the lions and tigers crib set by Pixel Organics  and thought to myself "if I ever have a baby..." Fast forward ten years and I have never forgotten that gorgeous pattern. I took a chance on a google search for "lion and tiger crib set" which suprisingly led me to it– only to find the manufacturer is defunct. A Kijiji ad appeared and I took a chance. Turns out a lovely woman in Toronto had bought the crib set and never used it and she shipped it to me! And so the nursery began.

The bedding came with a bumper and a bedskirt, two things I knew I would never use and so I pulled them apart, re-purposing the fabric to make curtains, change table covers and fitted sheets. Surprisingly easy to do if you have basic sewing skills and way less expensive then buying them at the store. The nursery is a cozy, little room with a few awkward nooks and crannies that we made the best of with shelving and a mid century modern dresser as a change table. The stuffed animals, for the most part, were mine as a child. I had a 1920's alphabet book that I took apart and framed.  I was blessed by my girlfriends who threw me a baby shower where everyone brought a children's book and I love seeing them on display. My colleagues pitched in and bought our beautiful standing giraffe who will guard the baby as it sleeps. Friends have gifted us some beautiful and thoughtful things including vintage Paddington bear prints and a mid-century modern Scandinavian growth chart. A homemade quilt from my sister-in-law is waiting for us to snuggle up on the chair and read together all winter long.

Paint: "Vanilla Ice Cream" by Benjamin Moore
Giraffe: Melissa and Doug
Whale: Boolah Baguette
Papier Mache bear wall mount: MaryMake
Frames and Shelves: IKEA RIBBA

Little Paintings for Little Spaces

Working on some small still life paintings for an upcoming New Craft Coalition show! 


The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief - But the pain of grief is only a shadow when compared with the pain of never risking love. - Hilary Stanton Zunin

Isaiah 11:6-9 

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.