Two of my sisters joined forces and created a stocking for Cubby’s Christmas surprises. Handmade from the scraps in my mothers collection of yarn, it is perfect. They altered the pattern so it would actually hold the goodies Santa would bring. It fits into my house of home mades perfectly.
Cubby’s favorite part is the toe. Santa always drops chocolate in the toe of the stocking. It has become an expectation; a hunt past the other goodies to the treats.
The packages below are the gifts to our love ones. I started wrapping in fabric long before Cubby came to be my sidekick.
It beautifies life.
It simplifies life.
In the years of practice I have found ways to simplify even the simple. I use to have a stash of Christmas fabrics. All folded up in a tub marked “Christmas” to be rolled out once a year. I would take each gift and fold the fabric around it. I would take a ribbon, also stored in the tub, and tie off the edges. They looked festive under our tree. But the best part about this system was the living room floor after the gifts were unwrapped.
Clean up was a breeze.
I just gathered the fabric up in a big swoop and tossed it into the tub. Then went back to celebrating the day. When it came time to take our decorations down around the house, I used the fabric for padding in the tub.
But when I moved into the tiny house, I realized that I had to make even the simple, simpler. …and visually I am so glad I did!
I now have a popcorn tin that holds all of our decorations for every holiday as well as all the fabric for wrapping gifts; any and all gifts.
This might be extreme for most, but it works for us. I traded in the loud Christmas fabrics and ribbons for white pillow cases and lace. I wish I had done this years ago. I just pop the present inside the case, twist and turn the extra fabric until it looks right and tie it off with lace. The best part is this “wrapping paper” can be used for all occasions, not just the winter holidays! No tape, no tags, no disappointment at the crummy craftsmanship of my paper wrapping skills.
So if you are one of those people who dreads wrapping (I have heard that complaint a lot this year) maybe this is the way to go.
It probably won’t work for this year because chances are you have already underwent the task of wrapping, but you could go out and find the pillow cases or fabric you want now, when the stores have everything marked down, and have it ready for next year. Or pick up a few pieces at the second hand store and have it stored with your holiday decorations, so next year you will surprise yourself at how easy and enjoyable wrapping can be!
Cheers to holiday surprises.
Cheers to simplifying the simple.
Cheers to a holiday without trash.
In the last few years I have become reacquainted with my former high school teacher, as a friend. I am so glad she is in my life. We share a passion for creating; a passion for living; a passion for diving deeper into life and exploring what it means to be a part of this world.
When I graduated from high school she gifted me a handmade ceramic mug. She made all of her senior Art students a piece of artwork to carry with them into the next stage of life.
After a decade of teaching myself, I continue to use my mug everyday. It is one of only two I own.
It is special.
It is handmade.
It reminds me that I to have the ability to inspire those around me.
It reminds me of her.
In the last week I have had several students and fellow teachers ask me about my mug. I love being able to tell them who made it for me.
Because you see, I still seek her out to run ideas by.
I still value her opinion.
I still have her in my life.
If not physically everyday, symbolically everyday at school and always by email.
Fellow artists need to stick together.
We benefit from sharing.
We grow by sharing.
We understand each other by sharing.
Cheers to supporting each other though this crazy thing we call life.
Bubbly, gentle, an infectious smile; the lady who cared for Cubby during the days when she was a toddler is a pure cup of joy. I was always in awe of her little family. They melded together so genuinely. Their was a calmness in their mornings, one that I began to look within for inspiration. Their was an ease to their life that made me relax as soon as I walked in their home.
I wanted so much to be able to stay with Cubby during the day.
To make memories and create magic.
I am assuming most working mothers, maybe fathers too, feel this way at least at some point in raising their children. For them, as well as me, it was not possible.
So what do you do when you can’t do it yourself? You find someone who will care about your child as though they were their own.
And that is who we found.
My favorite part was the activities and crafts they would do together. It helped ease my worries that Cubby wasn’t missing out. She was having fun, she was exploring, she was creating.
They remind me of the gal who overflows with patience, brought joy to our little one, and was one of the highlights of my day, everyday. We trusted her with our child and she taught her so much.
They very much deserve a spot in our home of hand-mades.
…and then to the next
…and the next
This is the condensed story of the project that ran circles around me this fall.
To make a long story short, I needed to take the table off the wall of my tiny house to make room for the new heating unit. The “new” table would be placed infront of the U shaped couch at the far end of the house.
Needless to say, this was an elaborate plan for a novice woodworker. A “Novice Woodworker” is in fact, to generous of a title for me. Maybe “Girl Who Likes To Cut Scrap Wood Into Pieces And Then Put Them Together Again…Sometimes” would be a more appropriate title.
What I mean by a project that keeps circling me is the fact that different versions of the table have been made, disassembled, and then remade…possible 152 times this fall.
I have a lot of holes to putty and sand.
I learned a lot.
Finally, it dawned on me that the goal was to simply have a table, handmade. This did not mean that it needed to be made from scratch. So I headed out to an antique/flea market warehouse to see what I could save and repurpose.
A couple little nips with the jigsaw and a little sandpaper here and there and it was already looking better. After a few coats of paint (of which I found in the back corner of my parent’s basement possibly from when we painted the barn 10 years ago) I attached the old table to the heartless old table and
I have a table.
…and it kinda looks good!
(Well, It better look at least “okay” because I am ready to scratch that job off my To Do List.)
I have a friend who is unbelievably hard on his jeans. He works, everyday, all day, and wears through jeans like no one I have ever known.
When he heard I was making toys and bags out of denim he started passing his jeans down to me so I could recreate the good sections into something new. This weekend, I turned a pair of his jeans into a bag for myself, in order to simplify my life and replace a store bought item with a handmade one.
The water I use in my home comes from a natural spring. I fill my 33 gallon water tank every other week using a garden hose. Because the water travels though a hose and sits in a plastic tank, I opt to use it only for washing dishes, hands and eventually for showers when I get the bathroom fully running. The water we drink is brought up from my parents house and stored in glass bottles. This might be frivolous, maybe even pointless, but I like doing it this way. To make life easier, I carry the bottles in a grocery bag to and from the big house every three days.
In my attempt to have everything in my home handmade, I set out to recreate the bag I carry my water bottles in, out of something a little more meaningful and beautiful than a reusable canvas shopping bag. I personally hate carrying anything around with a store’s name plastered on it.
Being a walking advertisement, is not my goal in life.
I choose to make the bag from the parts of his pants that were not worn out. The inside is lined with lace that had once been used to adorn a window.
Soft and rough, playful and tough.
Cheers to handmade.
Cheers to beauty in the contrast.
Cheers to friends who support your crazy projects.
I’ll let you in on a little secret.Making produce bags chill me out.
When I am upset, I make produce bags.
When I am frustrated that my body can’t move as fast as my mind, I make produce bags.
When it rains, I make produce bags.
I give them as gifts for friends.
I give them as gifts to strangers.
I give them as gifts to myself.
They can hold produce from the store, obviously.
They can also hold bread from the bakery.
They can hold cookies from the cookie store.
They can hold a handful of odds and ends.
When I realize that I have to much to carry from the car to the house in one trip, they come to the rescue.
They can hold toys.
They can hold crayons.
They can hold special rocks and leaves gathered on hikes.
The best part about my handmade, reusable produce bags, is at the end of the day, you can just throw them in the washing machine.
Then they are ready for the next adventure.
Slowly, I have been replacing all of my belongings with handmade items. Either made by me or a local artist. At the very least, handmade in the United States.
I have been tossing this idea around for over a decade. I remember being in high school, contemplating how long it would take me to remake everything myself. What I had not realized at the time, was the process could be accelerated if I first minimized my needs. Now, the vision of handmade objects surrounding me throughout my daily life, has started to become a reality one object at a time.
Including other artist’s work in the objects that surround me, has helped me create relationships with the other makers I have had a chance to crosses paths with. It gives every object a story and a personality to go with it. While striving to live in the moment, I have realized that objects trigger memories. When an object holds a memory it grants it with a level of value. When you value an object, you take better care of it.
This is the case with my washcloths.
As an object usually overlooked and rarely ever appreciated, the washcloth is one of the last objects we think to value. I use mine multiple times a day, washing breakfast dishes, wiping up spills and cleaning out the back of the refrigerator. Since they receive so much use, I find I need to replace it with a fresh one everyday. I let it dry on the indoor clothes line at night and toss it into the laundry bag in the morning.
The lovely thing about my washcloths is they remind me of my friend and colleague. Over lunch one day, she shared that she was learning to knit and had an over abundance of washcloths from her days of practicing knitting and purling. Luckily, she was willing to share them with me! I have had them for years now and think of her often as I wash my oatmeal bowl in the morning.
Her sense of practicality.
Her willingness to say what needs to be said.
…is all held together one stitch and twist at a time.
The washcloths triggers a happy moment in my day, everyday.
To wash my face in the morning and evening, I have made several reusable cotton washcloths. I made them from the scraps of one of my cotton dresses in the Compostable Wardrobe Series. I used pinking shears when cutting them out so the edges don’t unravel and sewed the sides up with 100% cotton thread.
Then they do eventually wear out, I will be able to compost them safely without toxins from the fiber or dye contaminating the soil.
When living tiny, this makes a big difference.
Also, they take up nearly no room at all in the washing machine every week.
I did not realized how convenient zippers and elastic are until after I set up the “rules” for my Compostable Wardrobe series. Because neither will biodegrade, I can not include them in my articles of handmade clothing. At first this seemed limiting but slowly I am finding ways to create without their presents.
For example, I chose to use 100% organic jersey cotton for the summer dresses because the fiber stretches. The dress can be put on with ease and avoids looking like I am wearing a big formless sheet. The cotton also keeps my body cool during the humid summers.
Leaving it the off white of the organic cotton, was not an option due to my skin tone and to feeling uncomfortable wearing white-ish colors. My friend Sam and I, first tried dying the dress in red cabbage because cabbage was in season when I completed the dress. Apparently cotton and cabbage do not care for each other. In fact, I have found that cotton does not care much for any natural dyes.
I did not want to use walnut ink again, so we purchased indigo dye. Indigo is a plant native to Japan and used for natural dying. I originally wanted to use only natural, local dyes, harvested myself, for this series but I made an exception with this piece.
Because I have to keep the patterns very simple, I have started looking for pieces of antique lace to spice the outfits up. They are 100% cotton and dye similarly to the organic, jersey cotton of the dress. Both pieces will biodegrade together when the dress has completely worn out.
Until then, I’ll wear my simple, little indigo dress because it reminds me of the ocean.
The ocean is powerful.
The ocean relaxes me.
The ocean can not be controlled.
The ocean is predictable, yet complex.
The ocean always makes me feel at home in the world.
Photos by Debra Eby.
The Challenge to Create 30 Toys in 30 Days, The No-Trash Project, Tiny House, Trash-Free Holidays, Trash-Free Little Ones
A little bed for a little girl.
And lacy stuff
I found the bed for a dollar at a garage sale. I spent a weekend gluing and clamping the pieces together. Then I painted the frame and started sewing together the mattress and pillows. The fabric is left overs from the drapes my mom rescued from the dumpster and of course it is stuffed with fabric scraps. The little bits of lace were rescued somehow, somewhere and have been stored in my mom’s sewing room, way to long. I think it adds just the right amount of charm.