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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Family Portrait

BB's drawing skills continue to improve, which is making our art time together more and more fun. She is figuring out some things about representation, and it's fascinating to see. I love watching her draw and hearing her explanations about what she is drawing.

Yesterday, she decided she wanted to draw a picture of her family. Here's the result:
Upper left (brown oval) is S -- Daddy. Lots of brown obscuring his facial features -- this denotes his beard. There are glasses in there, too, though it's hard to see them.

Center left (big orange oval with smaller purple ovals) is BB herself. Note the long yellow hair and green freckles. (She's not freckled, so I don't know where they came from, but she was clear in describing them as she dotted them in.) The purple ovals are her hair pretties and her ears.

Middle (yellow circle above blue lines, kind of hard to see) is Pop-Pop. She was careful to give him glasses as well, though he wasn't given any hair. We've been talking a lot lately about who is bald and who is not and why.

Upper right (blue circle with brown) is me. Mommy has lots of brown hair and purple hair pretties, in BB's representation. My nose is purple and placed more like a third eye, in the middle of my forehead, but hey, I'm OK with that. At least I'm smiling.

Lower right (purple circle with brown) is Giki. BB observed that she has shorter hair than I do. She, too, is smiling.

Far right (blue circle with yellow) is BJ. He doesn't have any ears (in fact, only BB and I are graced with such appendages). But he's smiling. (Actually, as you can see, all of us are smiling. This makes me very glad. My girl sees her family as a happy entity -- definitely a good thing!)

Only BB, S, and Pop-Pop have necks, which is interesting. At first I thought there was a frowny-face at the bottom, but I'm told that those humps at the bottom of the page are "parts of rainbows." (Drawing rainbows is a very popular activity with both BB and BJ these days.) Perhaps the blue lines (which I originally thought were eyes) are rain -- I'm not sure. I love it that she's so definitive about what she's drawing! And she was so excited to show this picture to S when he came home. Very sweet to see.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Upcoming Shows for Mama's Magic Studio

I'm delighted to announce that June will be a very busy month for Mama's Magic Studio! I'll be participating in two wonderful events.

On Saturday June 5th, from 10 am to 4 pm, I'll be at the Jazzy June Craft Sale at Knit-One-One in Berkeley. I'm especially excited about this event because I've been wanting to check out Knit-One-One for quite some time. I hear great stuff about it -- and it's particularly gratifying because I was personally invited to take part in the show! It's a great line-up of artists, too!

On Saturday June 12, I'll be at the SF Etsy Sampler -- the first-ever SF Etsy Team Trunk Show!

I'm the Team Leader for the SF Etsy Street Team, and I've been working hard alongside other team members to organize this "Tasty Trunk Show" -- hosted by The Artist Xchange Gallery in San Francisco.

Nibble on free refreshments while sampling the superb work of 20 talented Etsy artists from the San Francisco Bay Area. At the SF Etsy Sampler, you'll find an assortment of awesome art and irresistible handcrafts -- delectable jewelry, terrific textiles, fun accessories, beautiful home decor, fabulous fashions, and yummy bath and body treats.

There's something for every flavor in the SF Etsy Sampler: sweet, spicy, a little bit nutty, rich, dark, or thoroughly decadent.

Click here for more information about the show, and you can RSVP for The Sampler here at our Facebook event page.

If you're in the Bay Area, I hope you'll come to one (or both!) and say hi!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday Feature -- Handmade by Sandi

This week's featured Etsy artisan at Mama's Magic is also the Etsyblogger of the Month for May! Congrats to Sandi, who runs two great Etsy shops: Handmade by Sandi and Sandi's Stash.

It had been a while since I visited Sandi's shop, and I was pleased to see many new items -- particularly these Coffee Cozies! What a great idea! I thought this lemon yellow Coffee Cozy with flower was especially nice.

Enjoy the interview!

1. To which Etsy Teams do you belong?

Etsybloggers - of course
Etsytwitter Team
Hoarders Unite

2. Please tell me about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I love to make a little of a lot of things. I've always loved to work with yarn, and while I don't knit, I love to crochet. Making hats and scarves, I'd really like to try my hand at fingerless gloves too. But the crocheting led me to a new 'obsession' of felted bowls. I learned how to crochet from my mom when I was much younger! I also love to make earrings, and I love to sew as well.

3. Tell me two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I'm married to a wonderful guy, who adores me :D Between us with have 6 children and 10 grandchildren. We are both retired from the 'real' world and that allows me to have time to make things I love for my shops.

4. What inspires your creations?

other Etsy shops - I see such wonderful work that I want to try it myself. I look for patterns that I can try or ideas that I might want to incorporate in what I make.

5. How did you get involved with Etsy?

That's a really good question. In thinking back, I thought it would be a good way of getting more exposure for my website Sandi's T's - but it took off in a completely different direction, creating items that I don't sell on my website - as well as giving me a chance to work on things that I love without having to make them over and over again!

6. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Time! I'm a retired lady, and I never have enough time... I am constantly doing updates with my business website, and often don't have the time to make items for my shop, take pictures of them, or talk about them. And I love to write, so I'm always blogging.

7. What is your favorite item in your shop? Why is it your favorite?

That seems to change over time, but if I had to pick my favorite for right now, it would be this lacy shawl -- it was a new pattern, and I love the color and the way it came out. My dear friend Sharon was willing to model it for me.

8. What advice do you have for other folks selling or buying on Etsy?

Hang in there - it takes a lot of time to get noticed, and start selling. Read the emails that Etsy sends out, and join a group or two - groups are a great way to get exposure for your shop.

9. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy? (Please provide a link.)

YARN!! I have several Etsy shops that I buy yarn from:

10. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?

blog -
website -
twitter -
twitter -
facebook -

11. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about your shop or your work?

Yes, in honor of my birthday - which is in May - I'm having a HUGE BIRTHDAY BASH in my handmade shop - where everything is 50% off the purchase price! I want to make room for new items!!

Congrats again, Sandi -- and happy birthday!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Patio Garden

This round of the Etsyblogger carnival asks us to write about the growing season and our gardening plans. Since moving into the new apartment, I've found myself less nostalgic about the garden than I would have expected. Granted, we had some really nice growing seasons and some great veggies (not to mention strawberrries!) during the last eight years that we spent in our little house with the big back yard. But after seeing firsthand (several seasons in a row, now) just how quickly the weeds can put my best intentions to shame, I'm quite clear eyed at the moment about just how little time I actually had to spend in the garden. So I really don't miss it all that much. (Of course it helps a lot that we have a farmer's market in walking distance from the apartment!)

For the moment, I'm very content with the prospect of a little container garden on the patio. I plan to bring over the rest of the pots and grow a good selection of herbs -- right now, we have many of the pots over here and have planted a beautiful basil plant. I also have the plants that have -- amazingly -- survived nearly three months of neglect in the back yard of the old house. It took us that long to get them moved over! So that is a few scented geraniums and a bunch of succulents that I got for free off Craigslist several years ago. Talk about your hardy plants!

Plus there's a houseplant that I'm trying to revive with some sunshine (that's what BB likes to water best of all). All of this is just enough to keep things green on the patio -- and enough to keep the kids happy with helping to water everything. Here's BB, who is a wonderful assistant with her little watering can!

The Usual

It's been a lot of the usual fun family stuff around here lately...

Making brownies (and licking the batter from a spoon... no raw eggs here, Giki, so no worries. Nonfat brownie mix made with yogurt!)
Exploring the planets, including Pluto (with a little help from the Small Plastic Props department -- an essential element in every kid's imagination, is it not?)

Wearing Daddy's slippers (always a good time)

Going on wagon rides....
It's always nice to have somebody who will take turns pulling the wagon....

Developing excellent hiding skills (that's what he said he was doing with the umbrella and rain gear -- getting his camouflage. Working with the "if you can't see me I can't see you" theory of hide-and-seek, apparently)

Playing "The Bat And The Princess" (note the intense level of interaction between said Princess in her ballerina dress and Bat Boy... yet they insisted that Bat and Princess was the name of the game they were playing together)
"Bat" apparently consisted mostly of standing around, contemplating where he ought to fly to next:
"Princess" focused mostly on plucking daisies:

And so goes life with kids.... stay tuned for more of the usual wonderful stuff tomorrow!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lucky 13

Thirteen years ago today....
Happy Anniversary, my love!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Feature -- The Heated

This week's featured Etsy artist is a fellow SF Etsy member: Cristina of The Heated. I was absolutely delighted by this shop -- wisdom and wit in a shop that sells tea towels! (One more reason I LOVE ETSY.) Check out this tea towel Design Advice:

"Design Advice: Get Rid of Crap. Buy Things You'll Love Forever. Make Stuff."

Those are definitely words to live by!

And, even cooler, the quote is from Cristina's (and Jenny's) feature at Apartment Therapy -- I tell ya, if I had a decent towel rack to display such a great item, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

That's one of the things about the new apartment: a marked lack of towel racks. We're making do with free-standing racks that just wouldn't do this towel justice! Maybe I'll get it and frame it... hmmm....

While I ponder the possibilities, enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

The vast majority of items in my shop are screen-printed dish towels. I learned how to screen-print by reading a book about it and following the instructions that came with the screen-printing kit. There was a lot of cursing and soaking my kitchen floor in water along the way. I didn’t really feel like a true screen-printer until this past holiday season, when I finally got the basic processes down.

My creative process is still evolving. I used to draw all the time but that’s taken a back-seat to all the other things I have going on. I’m never without my notebook so if I have an idea, I can sketch it out and come back to it later. Photoshop has become more and more important to me over the past two years.

2. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

The Heated is also the name of my band. Well, ok, it’s really just me playing guitar and singing, which is not really a band. My point is, I play music as The Heated. Also, I’ve been learning about woodworking through a class at CCSF for the last two years and have plans to include some items in my shop within the next few months. Also, I’m gay-married to Jenny from ciuccio so that’s some gossip right there. (Small world! Mama's Magic interviewed ciuccio last month -- you can read Jenny's feature here.)

3. What inspires your creations?

Clearly, I’m inspired by nature and I love a sense of humor. My friend Nicole Martin (who designed Party Bird and Ratbird) keeps this awesome notebook of her stuff that I’m endlessly jealous of. So, I guess you could say that my friends inspire me too.

4. How did you get involved with Etsy?

My wife was hugely instrumental in getting me involved with Etsy. She’s been able to lead me through the ropes, which has made it so much easier for me. (Thank you, Jenny!)

5. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

Having the time to work on new designs. On top of all that I do (band, screen printing and woodworking), I have a full time job. I have four designs right now and I’ve been doing this for two years. A fifth is on the way. It’s less “birds” and more words so we’ll see how that goes over.

6. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

Bending wood. Inlay. Printing in more than one color.

7. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

For a while I was having a problem with printing my owl design. I had mastered burning screens, spreading emulsion and gotten most of my systems down but I just couldn’t print that damn owl right! I figured it out by researching it multiple times and finally hitting on the solution, which was that my towels were slipping. An easy fix (adhesive on the press!) but once I got that down, I felt that I was truly a screen printer.

8. Where else can we find out more about you and/or your creations?


Thursday, May 13, 2010

More Painting

BJ's turn at the easel this time, painting the zones of the ocean.

Beach, (yellow), Tidepool (orange) and Sunlit Zone (blue):
More of the Sunlit Zone:
The Twilight Zone (green):
He went on to include the midnight zone, but I got pulled away by BB before I could get a picture of that or the final project. I'll try to update when the camera is charged back up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Let's Go Fly A Kite....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I had a lovely, low-key Mother's Day yesterday. The day started when S told me I should stay in bed and read while he and the kids finished my "surprise" -- BJ insisted that I needed breakfast in bed.

S did most of the work, at BJ's direction. It was an impressive job -- I'm not elaborate with my breakfast preferences, but I am quite specific about them. Apparently my boys have been paying attention! Because they got everything right: a steaming mug of Irish Breakfat tea (my preferred way to start the day), a small glass of orange juice, and cold cereal (Frosted Mini-Wheats, which are actually his favorite but I enjoy them as well. These days I've been eating a lot of Kashi, so it was a nice change.) BJ selected some ripe cherries for me -- "Purple ones, because that's your favorite color!" And note the paper flower that BJ made for me. Because no breakfast tray is complete without flowers! I'm told it's a tulip.

After breakfast, I had hoped to do something fun outdoors as a family, but it was raining pretty hard so we cancelled those plans. Instead, I spent a bunch of time on the phone trying to arrange the details of our summer trip back east to visit my family. Not exactly a luxurious way to spend a chunk of Mother's Day -- nothing that involves being on hold with an airline would qualify as "luxurious," I believe, though heaven knows the total cost of the tickets for all of us should count as a luxury purchase. But it is quite satisfying to have it taken care of, and I appreciated the kid-free time to attend to such details.

I opened my gifts, which were very nice. Last week, I'd picked out a big, summery tote bag for myself as a gift from the kids -- it was pink, BB's favorite color, and the fabric print was a fish design, which BJ is all in favor of at the moment, so they both approved. S gave me a gorgeous handcrafted mug for my tea, a very appropriate card, and a book about the abolition of the slave trade: Bury the Chains. No, it was not a symbolic commentary on the correlations between motherhood and slavery; it was a thoughtful nod towards the fact that Mommy Does Indeed Have A Brain And Interests Beyond The Kids. (While slavery isn't quite on my list of top ten topics of interest, I am indeed intrigued by the history -- we'd also re-watched Amazing Grace recently, which was an apt reminder of how fascinating that historical period can be.)

During naptime, I took some time for myself to go shopping and run a few errands. Wish I'd been able to find a pair of summer sandals that I liked, but ah well. Was nice to be in my own head for a while.

In the afternoon, the weather had cleared enough to head outside for a bit. I have a tradition of taking a picture with the kids every Mother's Day, and that was the one thing I'd really asked for. Someday I'd love to do something more professional, but for this year I'm quite satisfied with this shot that S got:
It very much captures where we all are these days. Including the princesses and the stuffed snowman toy that BB insisted be part of the picture.

It's certainly better than the best one from last year, Mother's Day 2009:

Though clearly the weather was more cooperative....
Hunting for that picture got me started on a little stroll down memory lane, so I figured I might as well post the results:

Mother's Day 2008:

Mother's Day 2007:

My parents were visiting, so my dad gets credit for that nice family shot. He also got a nice pic of me and the kids with my own mom!

Mother's Day 2006:
Mother's Day 2005, my first year as a mom:

Ah, how far we've come in these 5 years.... my life is so much richer, so much more. Or, as S put it the other night, "Do you remember back before we had kids when we used to think we were busy? What were we thinking???"

We finished the day with takeout from Aqui's, a favorite restaurant, and then our weekly Family Movie Night -- and I got to pick the movie! So we introduced the kids to Yellow Submarine. All told, a very good day.

Happy (belated) Mother's Day to all the moms out there -- I hope you had a wonderful special day!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Friday Feature -- Pursuits of Happiness

This week's featured Etsy artist is fellow SF Etsy member Francene of Pursuits of Happiness. Her whole shop just makes me smile! I especially love this Farmer's Market Junkie T-shirt (which is also available as a tote bag):

And as a tote bag enthusiast, I just adore this crafty bag!
Enjoy the interview!

1. Please tell us about the items in your Etsy shop. What do you make? How did you learn your craft? What is involved in your creative process?

I create and carve my own designs into block stamps which I use to print on organic t-shirts. I have also created a few Xmas stocking as well and I am now offering tote bags as well.

I learned this craft simply through trial and error. I know I wanted to create designs and print them on textiles but I wanted to use a different printing technique other than silk screening or heat press. I have always been a great lover of block prints so I began to explore how they are made and I found a soft rubber-like material that allows me to quickly carve out my designs and ink them onto textiles. This material is primarily used for creating stamps for use on paper but I found they work quite well with fabric paint. My designs are not in anyway perfect or refined which is what wanted because it shows that they are made by a person and not a computer.

2. Tell us two (or more) other interesting things about you.

I work for an energy consulting company which requires me to be on the computer all day long. Last year I realized I was missing a creative outlet in my life that required me to work with my hands. I have also always wanted to start a business so I began to explore business ideas that would match my need of being creative and working with my hands and that how the idea for Pursuits of Happiness came to be. The name came from what I am trying to do in my own life and is the general theme for all the designs I create.

One of my favorite artists is Vermont block printing artist Mary Azarian and I absolutely love her work. Last year I visited a gallery that features her work and I bought several pieces that I have on my walls and I just love the theme of her pieces which is rural Vermont living.

3. What inspires your creations?

My designs are inspired by the simple yet wonderful things that bring people pleasure & fun such as bicycles, good food, gardening, or their favorite pet goat. I also include eco themes such as green building and preserving the planet. I started by making designs of bicycles because that is my husband’s passion and I could not find many t-shirt bike designs that he would like. It then it grew into making designs of things that I, my friends & family enjoy like farmer’s markets, cooking and animals.

4. What is your biggest challenge related to your Etsy shop?

I have so many designs that I cannot print them all on shirts for my site as it would eat up my blank shirt stock. At this point I make shirts only when they are ordered. The creative way I found around this was to print on colored paper that is similar to the t-shirts colors I offer. One fellow Etsy artist suggested I create at least 3 designs for the featured items which I thought was a great idea. Once I kick start my wholesale campaign and get some orders this will solve this problem.

5. What is your favorite item in your shop? Why is it your favorite?

Green Builder t-shirt featuring the 3 Little Pigs. I created this because I am a huge fan of the green building and I could not find any shirts with this theme.

6. If you had a gift certificate to Etsy for any one item you wanted, what would you buy?

Big Sleeping Grizzly Bear Bean Bag – I think this is a riot!

7. What crafting skill(s) do you wish you had or hope to learn someday?

I would like to learn woodblock printing.

8. What has been your biggest success and/or proudest moment since opening your Etsy shop?

My first day posting my designs I made a sale and this is what kick started me. I decided to post on Etsy because I am impressed with Etsy as a simple, cost effective place to showcase my designs because I did not have the time or knowledge to make a website, but I really did not expect to make many sales. I was not even ready for a sale and I had to quickly make tags, get shipping material, research shipping methods, etc all in about 4 hours. I got it all done and shipped the item the next morning and the customer loved it. This will always be my favorite day because it‘s what got me started.