Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Create: Fa-la-la-la-la Fa-leece Hats for the Holidays

'Tis the season to break out hats and mittens and to start thinking about stocking stuffers and Christmas gifts!  This tutorial should help you cross a few of the nice people off your list.  Follow these easy directions below:

1.  Cut a rectangle of polar fleece approximately 1/2" bigger than head measurement by 16"-18" tall, depending on how long you like your fringe.  Don't worry, if it's too long you can always trim it later.

2.  Cut one 1" by 10" strip, set aside.

3.  Fold your fleece rectangle in half width-wise and stitch 1/2" seam allowance all the way from the top to the bottom of the hat lengthwise.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam.

4.  Turn the bottom edge up 2.5".  Pin in place, and stitch the edge down. I prefer to zig zag this as it allows for a bit of stretching where as a straight stitch may break when its pulled over the head.

5.  Bunch the top about 3-4" from the top of the hat.  Lay your 1" by 10" strip of fleece under the hat.  

6.  Tie the strip in a knot--double knot this.  

7.  Cut the top into fringes 1" wide.  Trim the strip to same length as the fringes.  Voila, your hat is finished.  Push the "easy" button. 

Repeat and share the hat love!

- Ahmelie

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Create: Brownies in a Jar

Brownies or cookies in a jar? Do I see a big question mark on your face? Yes, this is absolutely do-able, and fun as well! Adorable jars with decorative instructions are sure to be a huge hit. The secret behind it: mixing the dry brownie (or cookie) ingredients together and layering them alternately so their structures, colors and textures show beautifully in a glass jar, close the lid, add baking instructions and you have a truly lovely gift. You can get your child involved in measuring and packing each ingredient layer into the jar and choosing decorative fabric. Your kids will love putting these brownies in a jar together and giving them out as gifts! They make great thank you gifts for your kids’ teachers.

As a special treat for you, we are adding various different colored labels and tags for you to choose from so you can make these for many different occasions. Or go for a colorful mix-and-match of the different tags and labels. You can find the label and tag PDFs on our MHC Download page where they are available for free download.

Note: the pictures you see here show a pint size jar whereas the recipe is for a quart size jar. The pint size jar holds ca. a half recipe.

What you’ll need:
1 quart size mason jar, wide mouth
Fabric cut into 7 ¼ inch squares
Ribbon or twine, 18 inches

To fill each jar, you will need:
1¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups white sugar
⅔ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup butterscotch chips

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Take 1½ cups of this mixture and put it in the bottom of the mason jar. Be sure to firmly pack down this layer before adding the next layer.

3. Layer the white chocolate chips and then the butterscotch chips. Get most of the chips on the outside, touching the glass. Don’t worry about the middle because you won’t see that when the jars are finished.

4. Now, add the cocoa powder to the remaining flour-sugar mixture that is in your bowl. This is your final layer.

5. If you have space at the top of your jar, add more chocolate chips.

6. Screw the lid on your jar, cover with fabric and tie the fabric around the lid with ribbon or twine. Finally, attach tag or add label with the baking instructions so whoever receives these brownies in a jar, knows what to do with the mixture. To download or print the free Brownie Mix in Jar Labels and Tags, go to our MHC Download page.

Helpful tips:

  • Make sure you pack all the layers down really tight otherwise you may not fit all the ingredients. Press it down firmly with a utensil that has a wide flat bottom or use your fingers.
  • You can mix up the recipe: use your favorite nuts or use colored candies (such as M&Ms) instead of the chocolate and butterscotch chips. Remember that the more contrast you have with regards to the ingredients’ color and texture, the more each layer will stand out.
  • If you have space at the top of your jar, you can fill it with chopped nuts, such as pecans or walnuts or add extra chocolate chips!
  • Make sure your ingredients are not reaching their expiration date any time soon and these jars can be kept for up to 6 months. If you have nuts in the jars, then they need to be used within 3 months.
  • White sugar and flour seeps down into the other layers so it is best to keep these at the bottom and put candies and nuts above.
  • You can adapt this concept and use your favorite cookie or brownie recipe, just remember to include detailed instructions so the recipient knows how to put this special treat together.
  • If you pack the cocoa mixture into your jar in the bottom or the middle, be sure to carefully wipe out the inside of the jar above it with a dry paper towel so that the rest of the layers will show through the glass.
  • You can also give away the mixture along with a couple of squares of the baked product.

- Tali

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Finds: Warm & Woolly Hats

Winter never looked so cool in these sweet hats for children! My mother always said, "Don't forget your hat".  "Ah, Mom," I would whine. Well, we have come a long way baby, with these adorable hats for kids! What child would not want to wear these super cute finds? I wish I was a kid again so I could wear them myself. These unique designs are full of eco friendly fabrics and even fun pattern pdf's for the crafy mom. So, encourage your children, and keep them warm and woolly this season, with these cool hats for kids. 

1. Baby Lion Pixie Hood by Crafting Adventures
2. The Ile Parisienne by Toque Beauties (stormlove15)
3. Anthropologie Inspired Headband by askcher
4. Green Royal Crown by World of Whimm
5. Crochet Sock Monkey Hat by Sugar and Spice Crochet
6. Monte Moose Beanie by BumbleFuzz Kids
7. Crochet Triceratops Hat Pattern by Micah Makes
8. Apple Hat by Your Mom Designs
9. Fleece Owl Hat by Little Sprout Baby

- Tanja
  Inspiring Design Studio

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top 7 Tips For Shopping Online

For a long time I've thought I should write up a list of tips/common mistakes that I see online shoppers make. Since it seems like all the commercials and news reports are Christmas shopping happy already  (sheesh it's barely November) I thought this would be a good time for that. From my years operating a pretty busy Etsy shop I've seen same issues over and over. I know I wouldn't have thought about some of these things when I was just a shopper so I hope that these are helpful to some of you.
  1. READ THE WHOLE LISTING I know that some descriptions are long. You can skim them, but make your eyes look at all the words. A good listing will give you an idea about sizing, shipping times and more. When shopping online reading the words and looking at all the pictures is the same as picking up the product and looking at the details or trying something on. One time I bought a notebook and didn't read the whole listing so I didn't realize until it arrived that it was much smaller than I was envisioning but when I go back to the listing sure enough it had measurements. As a seller I get customers emailing me all the time wondering about shipping time frames when my listings all have that information in them.
  2. VERIFY THE TIME FRAME, SIZING AND OTHER DETAILS BEFORE ORDERING hopefully all these details will be included in the listing. If not check the policies or announcements section of the store (etsy has both of these, most other online retailers have something similar). If you don't see these details message the seller BEFORE you place your order. I've got my shipping info in each listing and in my policies but a few times a week I've get messages asking if an item has shipped (often 1-2 weeks earlier than the scheduled ship date). I also get panicked messages about upcoming events customers need the item for, I try my best to accommodate them when I can, which a lot of times means me rearranging my schedule. But if I had been asked before the order was place I could probably have done it faster and with less stress for both of us. But what usually happens is a week or more passes and the person needs it in the next few days so if they're lucky I have to drop everything and they usually have to pay express shipping or if I'm too swamped I have to say sorry. Even if you're not shopping for an event or your event is quite a bit out, if the time frame isn't clear ask. Try to think of questions you have BEFORE you order and if you don't find the answer ask.
  3. USE REAL CONTACT INFORMATION I know a lot of people use a junk email address that they never check for online transactions but as a seller I want to beg you not to do this. For most of my orders people have to tell me what size they want. They forget all the time. I have to email multiple people each week to ask what size they want. Some never respond I'm assuming because they don't check their messages. On etsy there is a conversation/message system. If you use etsy you should have your convos forwarded to an email address you use or make a point to check your convos. When there's info missing I send a convo, if I don't here back I send an email. And a week later if I don't hear I do it again, if I remember. This Halloween I had three customers who ordered costumes that didn't include sizes and never responded to my messages so they didn't get costumes and I had to cancel their orders. One emailed me 2 days before Halloween asking where the costume was. I had already canceled the order since I couldn't even start making it because I didn't know what size to make it. One time I ordered a kitchen gadget that I wanted really bad and fast. They ended up emailing me to tell me it was out of stock and they were canceling my order (totally lame right?) but if I used a junk email I'd have been stuck waiting and wondering for a long time.
  4. INCLUDE NECESSARY INFORMATION related to the tip above, if you get to pick certain details (like size, color, etc.) make sure you include it. On etsy there's the spot to do that is in the notes section when you check out. And for goodness sake please make sure your address is correct and if on etsy that your etsy and paypal addresses are the same. If you forget some info or notice that an incorrect address is there message the seller right away with the correct information and if they don't respond follow up in case they have missed the message or in case the message go put in their spam folder.
  5.  CHOOSE FROM THE OPTIONS AVAILABLE so this may sound like a weird one but I get a lot of orders for sizes I don't carry. Either too big or ambiguous. In bottoms I sell 6-12 months and 12-24 months so when people write 12 months I'm not sure which they want and I have to email and hope they'll reply. I imagine with other option based orders similar problems can arise. Look at the options and wordings included in the listing and pick one of them. If you actually want an option not obviously describe (for example a different color or different size) ask before ordering.
  6. INCLUDE ANY RELEVANT DATE  I recommend including the date you need the item by (if there is a date) even if it's after the time line stated. Emergencies pop up and especially with the smaller shops like on etsy, the shop owners usually do everything so if something comes up they don't have someone to cover 'her shift'. If you've included that you need it by a certain time you'll probably be given priority. I know plenty of people who feel comfortable using online shopping last minute but I personally don't advise it, things happen, people are human, and the post office makes mistakes. Unless you're willing to pay a whopping 18$ for express shipping plan ahead.
  7. ASK QUESTIONS Finally feel free to send a message if you have a question. But before you do that please please please read all the info. Read the listing description fully, the policies, the shop announcements, if you have a confirmation email read that and anything else you can find. Most sellers are happy to help but if they've done a good job with the listings and other literature your question may already be answered there. I spend hours (yes hours) every day responding to messages. It'll save both of you time. But there are plenty of times when you just need to ask so whether you just a little anxious and need a personal confirmation, you have questions about possible customizations, are hoping to make a certain deadline or anything else ask away.
Well I hope that helps and if you have any of your own helpful tips I'd love you to share them in the comments section. Happy shopping.

- Marissa
  Rae Gun

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Winter 2011 Issue out now!

October has come to a close, and with it, some of us have already seen our first snowfall – a reminder that Winter soon will be here.  Before we know it, we will be bundling up in scarves and hats, cozying up by the fire at night, and enjoying all of the special celebrations that this season brings.

Here at MHC, we are excited to kick off the season as we present our Winter 2011 issue! Enjoy fun tutorials for Christmas crafts, tips for expanding your child's winter wardrobe, a Holiday Gift Guide with handmade gifts for every budget, inspiring interviews, delicious recipes, and much, much more.  So grab a mug of hot cocoa, then simply click on the cover below to get a taste of the wonders of Winter!

Your feedback and ideas are always welcome...send us an email, chat with us on facebook, or just post a comment right here!

Wishing you a warm and joyful Winter,

The Staff at Modern Handmade Child

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Finds: Halloween Costumes

Don't stress!  It's not too late to find the best costume for your little one to model this Halloween.  There are some really creative handmade options to meet your last minute need.  I've rounded up my favorites to get you started.  Trick or Treat!

1. Bow Tie and Vest Onesie by The Cuddle Corner 
2. Bunny Rabbit Baby Onesie Costume by Lil Creatures 
3. Bird Costume by Creations 4 Children 
4. California Boy Costume by Bebeloo 
5. Candy Corn Tutu by Happy Cakes Creations 
6. Luxury Max Where the Wild Things Are Costume by Katesy 
7. Superhero Cape, Mask and Cuff Costume by Woodfrock 
8. Bee Tutu Costume by Trinitys Tutus 
9. Chicken Costume by Devine Creations 67 
10. Knight Costume by Vintage Duck 
11. Apple Tutu Costume by Made by Lindsay 
12. Smurfette Inspired Tutu Costume by Sweetheart Tutus

- Kari
  little mr. moo

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Finds: Woodland Animals

Who is cute, furry and lives in the trees?  Woodland Animals!  You can see them frolicking in the falling leaves.  You can also find them on some super cute merchandise!  Here are my furry favorites to keep you and you little one feeling warm year round.

1. Woodland Memory Game by The Woodlot
2. Woodland Children's Art by Andralynn Creative Designs 
3. Fox Mittens by Warm Yourself 
4. Woodland Wonderful with Tree Mobile by Hing Made 
5. Woodland Bunny Animal Bookend by Graphic Spaces 
6. Owl Waldorf Toy by Fairy Folk 
7. Organic Mustard Yellow Deer Shirt by A Little Lark 
8. Fox and His Boy Print by Oh Hello Dear  
9. Bear Illustrated Printed Plushies by Moon and Sparrow 
10. Woodland Masks Pack by Mahalo 
11. Woodland Fox PDF Pattern by Gingermelon
12. Royal Fox Infant Bodysuit by Eight Baby Legs 

- Kari
  little mr. moo

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Finds: Handmade Sweaters

I love sweaters.  Cozy, comfy, sweaters.  Whether they be a cardigan, pullover, or vest, sweaters are a very practical option for this time of year when most days the mornings are chilly, and by mid-afternoon it's warm and sunny.  But just because they are practical, they need not be boring.  From gorgeous hand knits, to one-of-a-kind upcycled's, these handmade sweaters will surely keep your little ones both warm and fashionable this Fall.

2.  Upcycled Toddler Zipper Sweater by Rachel's Recycled
3.  Chic baby girl wool sweater coat by Eva Handmade
4.  Boy's Classic 1950's Varisty Style Sweater by Katherine Rose Designs
5.  Knit Aran Cable Toddler Cardigan and Hat by Fashionable Kids
6.  Eidelweiss Upcycled Felted Wool Sweater by Gock's Frocks
7.  Baby Owl Vest by MOOII Handmade
8.  Chic Argyle Upcycled Baby Girl Cardigan by Tina B Designs
9.  Retro Green Cardigan by RC for Kids

- Shannon

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taste: Blended Iced Mocha

Making a blended iced mocha at home is easier than you may think.  And with the result being such a delicious and refreshing treat, why not give it a try?  For this recipe, you will need frozen coffee ice cubes, so if you are planning to make this for a specific time, be sure to start the night before to allow time for freezing the coffee. 

First make sweetened coffee ice cubes. Brew a large pot of strong coffee. Add a 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk and stir until well blended. 

Pour the mixture into ice cube trays (I needed 3 trays). Freeze overnight.

To make your blended drink: 

Set an ice cube tray on the counter for about 10 minutes. One tray makes about 2 servings. It’s helpful to lay some plastic wrap on the counter to invert the coffee cubes on. Put all the coffee cubes in the blender, add about 1 cup crushed ice, 1 cup milk and 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup. Blend to combine, adding more milk if needed to liquefy. Taste it, and add more chocolate if you wish. Pour into glasses, and top with whipped cream and chocolate syrup. 

For a variation, leave out the chocolate and add your favorite coffee syrup or caramel.

- Jen

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday Finds: Fresh Picked!

With Autumn quickly approaching and school back in session, it seems everyone has apples on their minds this time of year.  Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, McIntosh, Golden Delicious...there are so many varieties of apples to choose from, each with their own unique flavor.  Just like the real apples, these fresh picked handmade apples each have their own unique flavor, too.  Enjoy!

1.  Wool Apple Hat by My Market Stall
2.  Polka Dot Apple Set by Pumpkin Butter
3.  Rise and Shine Apple Orchard Wall Art by A Mother's Art
4.  An Apple a Day Layered Boutique Hair Bow by For the Love of Zebra
5.  Back to School Magnet Set by My Kangaroo
6.  Autumn Apples Bib by Old Chateau
7.  5 Little Apples Felt Wall Art by Twig and Bird
8.  A as in Apple Nursery Wall Art Print by Lindsay Brackeen
9.  Granny Smith Needle Felted Jingle Rattle by Niko and Nonnie
10.  Red Apple Dress by Evie and Liv
11.  Apple Tree Wooden Toy Play Set by Armadillo Dreams
12.  Vintage Chalkboard with Apple by Nonnie June

- Shannon

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Create: Quick and Easy Decorative Pillows

I wanted a lot of pillows to decorate my new sofas but I didn’t want to pay a lot for them — mostly because my tastes change often, and I wanted the flexibility of being able to take the pillow cases off and change them up. I saw this style of pillow case in one of my favorite big name high priced furniture catalogues and thought they would be easy enough for a beginning seamstress with limited patience like me.

They are pretty simple to make and you get a lot of bang for your buck. Each pillow case took me less than an hour, and I figure I got 9 new pillows for about $110.

  • pillow form (I used a 16 inch square form)
  • ½ to 1 yard of fabric, depending on the size of your pillow form (I used 100% cotton quilting fabric)
  • Large button (1½ - 2 inches)
  • 3 inches of 1/8 inch wide elastic
  • Sewing supplies (sewing machine, scissors, pins, thread, etc)


Step 1: Cut your fabric.

For the back piece: Add 1 inch to the size of your pillow form and cut a square. For example, if your pillow form is 16 inches square, cut your fabric 17 x 17 inches (you may need to add 2 inches if your pillow form is really thick).

For the front piece: Cut fabric the same width as the back (in our case, 17 inches). For the length you will start with the same measurement, but then add 3 inches of overlap for the closure plus a 1 inch seam allowance (so 21 inches total).

Divide your front piece: Cut a straight line across (width-wise) about where you think it should be divided. A little above halfway is what I did, it doesn’t need to be precise.

Step 2: Hem overlap on the front pieces.

Fold over ¼ inch of overlap edges and iron. Then fold over ¼ inch again and pin both pieces.

Prepare elastic. Make sure your elastic piece is long enough to slip over your button and tack it together (you’ll thank yourself when you go to sew it on).

Pin elastic loop to the top (shorter) piece. Move it down a little so you are only sewing through one piece of elastic at a time.

Now you can sew your hems.

Step 3: Sew front and back together.

Lay the back piece face up, and place the two top pieces face down on top of it, so that the right sides are facing. Be sure to place the hemmed overlap edges towards the center (they should overlap about 3 inches). Line the cut edges up at the sides and pin around the outside edge.

This is the fun part! Using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, sew around all 4 sides in one long seam.

Step 4: Finishing!

Trim your corners.

Turn your pillow cover right side out. Good job, you’re almost done!

Stick your pillow form inside your new pillow case and decide where the button should go. Take the pillow form out and sew the button on. Put the pillow form back in and enjoy your new pillow!

- Jen

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Create: Your Own Superpower Girl

Superheroine – Cut Paper Illustration

We all need some super powers once in a while ... this illustration is probably one of the cutest reminders ever. The reminder to stretch out our arms wiiiide to truly embrace our divine super powers! Because, see, we all carry them inside us already ... we just need a little reminder of this here and there. So, create your Superpower Girl and keep her in a prominent place for yourself, hang her in your child’s room or surprise someone else with a gift of super powers ... most of all, enjoy this tutorial!

You will find all the templates for this tutorial over on our
MHC Download page.

Your Superpower Tools:
* Supergirl templates A, B as well as the illustration
* paper – assorted colors, patterns & quality to your gusto:
e.g. cardstock, scrapbook paper, colored paper
* colored pencils
* paper shaper scissors (if at hand)
* scissors
* glue stick

Assembling Your Own Superpower Girl
1. Go to the
MHC Download page and download or print both template A and template B as well as the image. This image will help you line up your pieces while you glue everything together.

2. Gather up your tools and paper. Choose what colors you would like for the illustration. You need colors for the hair, skin, clothes, eyes, and background.

3. Put color paper UNDER the template. For instance, when cutting the hair, you want the color paper underneath the hair template part. Using scissors, cut through both the template and the color paper. Do this for every piece on both pages, saving all the color pieces, and discarding the template part.

Alternative: cut out the templates, place on your chosen piece of colored paper, trace around template and cut out along the outlines you have just drawn.

4. With your pieces cut, it is time to glue. It is like putting together a paper doll. Use a glue stick to glue each piece together. Again, use the image to help you line up where each piece goes. When you are done, you should have a paper girl fully clothed.

5. Use colored pencils to add eyelashes and other details.

6. Glue the paper girl onto a background: it can be a simple background or an elaborate scene. My format was 8 x 8 inches but you can choose a larger size. If the paper buckles from the glue, place the entire illustration under some heavy books (yep, it does the trick).

Congratulations! You completed your cut paper illustration! Feel free to re-design and embellish the girl and/or her clothes. You are welcome to make as many as illustrations as you want, however, please do not sell. This is for your own personal delight. If you want to show off your finished pieces, you are welcome to post here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cutpaper/.

If you would like to learn more about the artist behind this cute illustration ... take a peek into our current Autumn Issue for an interview with “Greenbeanbaby” Ellia Ana Hill (page 28) ... and be inspired by her sweet and gorgeous and oh, so lovely artwork.

- Tutorial & template by Ellia Ana Hill
  Greenbeanbaby Art

- with an Intro blurb by Nicole Passeier
  Magic Rainbow Dreaminx

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meet: Ellia of Greenbeanbaby Art

*Part 2 of the interview with Ellia of Greenbeanbaby Art.  Find Part 1 in our Autumn 2011 issue.*

mhc:  What are your personal challenges working from home with kids around?

ellia:  Oh well, working from home is utterly ideal, although it is not always as lovely. Since I’m at home, I still have to take the dog out when no one else is home. If the cats smell up the litterbox, I take a break to clean it. I am here the whole time so I see every dish not cleaned, every speck of dust, and with my intense need for cleanliness, it is hard to not take a break to “pick something up.” If I worked outside of the home, I wouldn’t see any of this or have to walk the dog, so at times, it can be frustrating. It also means that I am in these four walls OFTEN. Ramel works outside of the home so when he gets here, he wants to relax here. I, on the other hand, have spent all morning - all week - in the house, and want to go OUT. And if I want to work at a coffee shop, that means having money to buy the coffee and well, it’s less costly to be in my own little studio with my own brewed coffee. It also means that if the kids are sick or need me, I’m only an earshot away. Even though they can respect my time and space, it’s hard to not holler for me when something is missing and they need to know where it is. While having a flexible schedule is wonderful, at times it can be a challenge to go from MOM-mode to ART-mode back and forth.

mhc:  What are your personal joys working from home with kids around?

ellia:  Well, I can honestly say I rarely miss them! I rarely miss an event, a milestone, and I never need to pay for daycare of any sorts. I can take short breaks from my work to read to them or play a game with them. Working from home means, we can take snack breaks, we can stop at the store for something, we can spend time together WHILE I’m creating an illustration. We can do art together. They will grow up and never say “Mom wasn’t there” because goodness knows, I AM!!

mhc:  Do you often create with your kids as well? What do you create?

ellia:  You would think with two artists in the home, our kids would be elbows deep into paint. But in actuality, we don’t do art all the time. Isabella LOVES art though!! She is a HUGE fan of rocks so we have taken to collecting them and then painting them. Of course, when I say paint, I mean that we add googly eyes and paper and ribbon on top of the paint! We have a ton of rocks to paint this summer, but as of now, she has 39 ALREADY beautified! Diego is into comic books, so over the school year, we made a book together. It was for a contest but it was such a wonderful project to work together on. We plan to make a sequel this summer. Ramel and he also did their own comic book, too. So, we do things like that aside from the usual coloring, making cards for family members, and busting out the messy goodness of paint.

mhc:  Between you and me, what are your husband’s secrets to cover your back so you have the time and space to follow your passions?

ellia:  Oh, it’s no secret! He takes the kids out of the house as often as he can! We have a store called Target, in which we do most of our shopping. He will take them there to browse, eat “sugar pretzels” as my daughter says, and he’ll bring me back a Starbucks coffee from there to help me stay energized. Some days, he will take them to a budget movie or to the park or to his grandmother’s house. He’ll keep them out of the house as long as possible in order to keep the noise level down and give me a quiet space to work. Believe me, it helps!

mhc:  Any other tips for our readers on how to hold the space for their beloved artist? How can a family support and nourish their artist, i.e. you?

ellia:  Well, again, he understands what it’s like to need space and support as he is an artist. But for those who aren’t married to an artist, it helps to explain to them how important it is to have a corner in the house or a room for you to work in. You need it free from kids, pets and your other “duties”. It needs to be a place that is conducive for creating and therefore not interrupted by other aspects of your life. Your spouse needs to be supportive even if they don’t understand that creating is MORE than just “making pretty pictures”. This type of work requires you to situate yourself in a balanced mood to work, meaning it’s not a mindless sort of job. If your spouse respects YOU, then they will respect your space, your need for peace and work time, and they will respect even your work.

mhc:  Your husband is a creative soul, too. Do the two of you have any common creative projects brewing together?

ellia:  Not at this time. He is just getting into his own illustrations again, and my projects tend to take up the bulk of my work time. We both have dreams of doing books and such, yet, they are slightly different. I’m sure, one of these years, we will be able to do some projects together as we do WANT to!

mhc:  Artist Life & Schedules ... Can you be creative upon prompt,  i.e. when the schedule tells you ‘NOW is the time’?

ellia:  Well, if I have an actual project to work on, then, yes. Often, these projects have deadlines, directions, and specifics that make it easy to get in the groove of art. But to work on personal projects such as goodies for the Etsy shop, or my own children’s book then it’s a bit more difficult. With the Etsy shop, there are times when I feel like “why make anything when nothing is selling?” and with the book, it means working on something for FUTURE pay. While money is NOT what drives me to create, illustrating IS my profession, so to expect payment is not unrealistic. Working on personal projects means no money to be made at the moment. It means investing time and energy into a project you love, so that also means, I need to be in the mood to work on it. Having the kids all day or cleaning up zaps energy, so to work on prompt for a personal project is much harder. But again, if it’s a project for a client, it takes less mental preparation to get into the groove as everything is already laid out.
mhc:  What is your creative process? Do you follow some sort of routine?

ellia:  After the house is cleaned and organized, coffee is brewed. A nice huge mug of coffee means I am ready for art. I don’t listen to music often but Netflix is ALWAYS on. I can work to Eureka, Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Ghost Whisperer, Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, and plenty of other shows. In fact, because I watch these shows, I can look at a project and remember what I was watching and even how I felt about the project. It adds memory to the making! My actual illustration process requires sketching, finalizing, figuring out the colors, and then finding papers. I’d say the routine is simple. I must add that my hair is always fixed and I’m always dressed when I am working. I treat it like a job outside of the home and it helps to not feel TOO comfortable!

mhc:  What inspires you in your Life?

ellia:  Everything! I love television and cartoons. Superheroes with their super-drama. Cute children’s books and cute illustrations are inspiring. My kids, my past, my present are all inspirational. Good coffee, pretty papers, new glue, new furniture. Old movies, old books, toys, artists, and vintage cards. It’s never one thing that inspires me, it’s a multitude of loveliness!

mhc:  The way of an artist can be challenging, even lonely sometimes. What keeps you motivated? 

ellia:  All those things that inspire me? They are my motivation. Having encouraging friends and family, both in person and online, is motivating. And, as always, GOOD coffee keeps me motivated, too. However, I should be honest and say that having clients and projects keeps me forever motivated. What is an artist if they don’t have a project to work on? What is the point of creating if no one NEEDS or WANTS your creativity? Yes, it can be lonely at times but having a network online helps curve that loneliness. Taking a break from art curves the feelings of guilt, loneliness, and fatigue. I think artists these days can feel more inspired and less lonely with so many peope to connect to online that have the same goals, enjoyments, and profession as you. While Facebook can be a place of drama, I love using it as a tool to connect with other artists and people who appreciate art!

mhc:  What do you do to keep balanced? How do you nourish yourself?

ellia:  Oh, I think I might have answered this in the previous question. Keeping balanced can be tricky but it helps to take a break from art at times. I’ll play a game or go to the movies with my mom or a friend. I will watch something funny or go to bed early. Those days, I still feel a tad guilty for not working on art but it’s needed nonetheless. Ramel will bring me a cup of coffee, or he’ll make me a special dinner to keep me nourished both physically and mentally. Seeing how much he respects my time and art feels good and curves the guilt of being stowed away in my studio for hours on end. And it is often Ramel who reminds me to take a break to maintain the balance. He looks out for me.

mhc:  Artist Life & Organizing Materials ... All these beautiful papers, and pieces of paper, paper scraps ... just how do you keep them organized? How do you store your papers?

ellia:  I am meticulous with a capital M.

Single standard 12x12” papers: These are organized in shelves by color and pattern. I have 12 of these shelves.

Teeny scraps: These are organized by color and pattern as well. They are put into small clear bags and stored close to my desk. So for the scraps, I have a bag of plain green pieces, a bag of  patterned green pieces, and so forth. I try not to keep TOO small of scraps.

6x6” papers: Stored into one pile near my toys but close enough for reach. While it’s only one pile, it is also organized by color.

12x12” scrapbook pads: These pads are not organized in specific order but are merely stored neatly next to my studio. There are two piles. On top of the first pile, however, I put PLAIN single sheets of scrapbook paper which are often used for hair, skin tone, etc.

8.5x11” papers: These aren’t used as often but are also stored neatly nearby in a vintage metal shelf found at a rummage sale.

8x8” papers: These are stored next to the former size. They are also stored in a vintage metal shelf found at a thrift store.

Giant papers that are over 21x36” long: These are stored in a giant portfolio in my closet. These aren’t used as often but are good for BIG projects.

Basically, I like to keep all my papers stored by size then color and pattern.

mhc:  Can you share a bit of your knowledge about papers, their qualities, which scissors for which project and any other useful tips when working with paper?

ellia:  Wow, this might take a whole other interview to explain but I’ll do my best to consolidate the answer. Personally, I use both the hot glue gun and a UHU brand glue stick for all my projects. Rubber cement, white glue, or even decoupage glue doesn’t work as well as the UHU glue stick. The hot glue gun can be tricky at times but it’s permanent and dries fast. With paper, I find that any scrapbook paper works well in illustrations. It doesn’t fade, and while it can buckle, some papers are thick and quite sturdy. Construction paper is the only paper I don’t EVER use. This sort of paper fades fast and rips easily. It’s great for kid projects but not for illustrations. As for scissors, I use a variety of sizes and shapes. I have scalloped edged scissors in 2 sizes which are always used to make a dress hem lacey. For eyes and other circle items for a project, I use hole punches of all sizes. These are incredibly handy and convenient.

As for tips on working with paper, patience is key. You don’t need a ton of glue and you don’t need perfection to work with paper. It’s about feeling relaxed and having fun with this sort of medium.

mhc:  Your dream project: If I had a magic wand and you were offered your ideal project, your absolute dream project at this very moment, what would it look like, what (and maybe who) would it encompass?

ellia:  Oh, I’d get a phonecall by a HUGE publishing company, telling me that they NEED my art. They’d set up a contract instantly and I’d be set to write and illustrate a series of children’s books. These books would be wanted by all the major bookstores and online sites. On top of that, I’d have a series of little toys to go with it, either dolls or PVC figures. Even moms and dads would want the toys for their own collection. And with all this going on, Amy Poelher would call me and tell me about a story she has brewing up. She’d ask if I could illustrate it, and she'd send me and the family to meet her. And the rest of my career would be set for life because,   by the end of it all, there would be a cartoon series and more toys to go with all my books!

mhc:  What are your dreams for the future of Greenbeanbaby Art?

ellia:  As I’ve stated earlier, I’d like to make a few jewelry items to sell. But even though I dream of writing and illustrating books, it won’t take a magic wand for that to happen. (Now, stumbling on a contract instantly and having Amy Poelher request my talents? Well, that is DREAMING). I do plan to illustrate a FEW children’s books. My goal is to write a few of them, too. In fact, I’ve already written a story and have laid out the type and sketched the character. It’s turning out lovely but only a couple of people have seen it as it’s a work in progress. Yes, getting published is one of my main goals!

mhc:  Your life’s philosophy:

ellia:  Embrace the love and encouragement of those around you who support you and your dreams. The world of art is filled with highs and lows, frustrations and unexpected circumstances. But it’s also filled with inspiration, creativity, accomplishments and lovely surprises. Having a good support system makes it ALL worthwhile!

mhc:  Your message for our creative readers, crafty souls, moms, solopreneurs:

ellia:  Don’t compare yourself with others. If you start an Etsy shop and see someone who sells 500 items monthly, you mustn’t think you are a failure because you sold only 1 item. Comparing yourself with others will CONSTANTLY make you feel like a failure. It took years to find a system that works for me and it may not work for someone else. Some people can work on art to a house full of loud kids. Some people can’t work at home at all! Some people can produce a million illustrations in the time it takes you to produce one. And if you compare your life to others, it just belittles you, your work, and in the end, you are frustrated. Finding inspiration and motivation is one thing, but comparing is a killer!

mhc:  And finally: what is the one question you’d love to hear from an interviewer but just never get asked?

ellia:  HAHAHA, I really don’t know! I’ve never been asked if I wanted a job! HAHA but seriously, every interview has been purely wonderful and full of amazing questions!

mhc:  Thank you so very much, Ellia, and Magic Rainbow Wishes to you!

*Don't forget!  Ellia is offering 40% off your purchase from her Etsy shop!  Use coupon code MHCLOVE at checkout to receive the discount.  Offer expires August 15, 2011.*

Stay tuned for a free download and tutorial from Ellia later this week!
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