Friday, November 20, 2015

What's Happenin', Hot Stuff?

This is just a small, prettily arranged pile of what is actually taking over my life right now. I'm basically just floating in a sea of crafty flotsam and jetsam. Really though, I've stabbed myself more times than I can count, and I'm pretty sure I have a permanent hunch in my back from leaning over my desk. BUT! New things are coming soon. :)

What are you guys up to this weekend? I've been busy working on a few side projects lately, one of which was to shoot family portraits for some folks, and I'm trying to finish up editing today. I have much respect for people who do this all the time because going through and editing hundreds or thousands of photos takes sooooo much time, at least if you're going to do it right. That's one of the many reasons why photography is better as a side gig for me.

Actually, now that I think about it, every project I take on is very time consuming, like see-you-in-a-few-months kind of time consuming. One of these days, I'll figure out how to be one of those people who does things quick and easy. Are you one of those people? Share your secrets, please. :)

We are also going to Glenstone tomorrow, which I'm really excited about. It's actually not great timing with everything else we have going on this weekend, but I made the reservation months ago, and I'm not giving up our spots! Glenstone is a modern art museum in Potomac, Md. that's only open Wed. to Sat., and they only allow a certain number of people in at a time. Reservations are required, and you can probably imagine that weekends fill up fast, which is the reason we've never been before. Photography isn't allowed inside, but I'll probably post about it anyway if the show is good.

What are you guys up to this weekend? Oh also, if anyone has any good suggestions for shows to stream while I'm sewing I'd greatly appreciate it! I've been re-watching old shows like Buffy for the millionth, possibly billionth, time. And I'm not saying there can ever be too much Buffy, but you know, I'd love to get into a new show also. I feel like it helps me get into a rhythm when I'm working, and I can challenge myself to try and finish one ornament in the time it takes to watch one episode. For the record, that has never happened, everything I make takes too long, but it's something to shoot for.

Hope everyone has a cozy and crafty weekend! xo, Mary

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Shop Update!

Here are a few notebook sets I've added to the shop! I've been experimenting with hand-carving lino blocks and rubber stamps for a while and ultimately decided on combining printed images with hand-drawn and painted details. So each notebook is still one-of-a-kind!

I have been wanting to do notebook sets for about as long as I've been making notebooks, and I finally got around to it! Better late than never. :)

More notebooks are on the way. I'm trying to get as many finished, photographed, and listed as possible because I know people like to give them as Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. I can't believe it's almost time for Christmas shopping!

Speaking of Christmas, I've been a busy bee sewing up lots and lots of colorful ornaments, which I'll share soon.

Holiday crafting is in full swing around these parts, and I couldn't be happier about it.
xo, Mary

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I took these photos at the end of the summer; I can't remember where we were coming from, but we passed through Chinatown on the way to the metro one warm evening. This area is now largely dominated by the Verizon center and teeming with the type of sports bars/chain restaurants that typically surround stadiums, but there are still a few architectural nods to the neighborhood's history, and I've always thought that the gate is pretty fantastic. I hope they never take it down.

This area has changed significantly since we moved to DC in the late 90s, and I wonder what it will be like 20 years from now. DC is an odd place in that so much of the cityscape remains unchanged, at least on the surface. Facades are largely protected by historic preservation laws, and neighborhood streets are still lined with the same rowhouses that have stood for many generations. But the character of neighborhoods is changing all the time. And there has been a push in recent years to lift the height restriction in the city (no building can be taller than 110 feet, I think, due to a law that was passed 100 years ago). When you have so many people in a town that was built to accommodate a much smaller population, you have problems with infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing (there is none) and trouble attracting companies and businesses, just to name a few.

It reminds me of a program Peter and I watched on Nova last week called "Making North America." (They've just aired the first of a three-part series.) It's all about how the continent was formed from a geological perspective, and how it's still changing all the time. It was super fascinating to see how mountains were formed and other landmarks took shape, but the overarching theme I took away from the show is that no landscape is permanent. They talked about how the coastline of California is changing due to the San Andreas fault, and joked that due to the shifting masses of land, one day Los Angeles will be right up next to San Francisco, and two cities that don't like each other very much will be neighbors. It's only moving at a rate of about 2 inches a year, so that will take some time, but still, two inches a year! That's a lot if you think about it.

Anyway, this idea of impermanence and environment is very much on my mind these days. And no, this ramble of mine is not a veiled attempt to hint that we're moving, just things I've been thinking about lately. It's all a bit unsettling and wonderful at the same time. xo, Mary

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

National Museum of Women in the Arts

National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Museum of Women in the Arts
National Museum of Women in the Arts
Cafe at National Museum of Women in the Arts

I found a folder full of photos I'd taken at the National Museum of Women in the Arts from last summer that I never posted. I'm actually not sure if I've ever posted about NMWA on this blog, which is just nuts. This museum is the only one of it's kind in the world, and it really is a special place to me.

Did I mention that the building is beautiful? I'm a bit obsessed with the gorgeous chandeliers, the intricate trimwork and moldings, and those dreamy arched windows.
The late-afternoon light in the great hall and mezzanine is heavenly.

But the art is really what matters here, and the truth is I would visit this collection if it were housed in a garage. There's a good mix of historical and contemporary artworks from women all over the world, and I'm always discovering new work I've never seen before. I particularly like to see portraits of women by women, and self-portraits of women artists in this collection. I did a huge research project almost 20 years ago (yikes!) on women as subjects of art versus women as objects of art in paintings in particular throughout history, and that project was heavy on my mind during this most recent visit.

I sometimes wonder if I should use this space to write more intellectually about art and design rather than "ooh pretty picture!" But then I think that anyone reading this right now who is interested in the cultural significance of how we depict ourselves and how others depict us has probably already studied and researched and discussed such topics at length, as I have. And maybe that's not why people read blogs anyway? I know I often turn to blogs for entertainment or escapism or inspiration or even just pretty pictures, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I guess I've been feeling a bit torn in general with what to post in this space lately, but that's a topic for another day. (I definitely mean to start showing my own work more regularly though, not just photography.)

**The paintings (top to bottom): Lady Reading by Lamplight by Minerva J. Chapman, 1898; Self-Portrait Dedicated to Leon Trotsky by Frida Kahlo, 1937; and Self-Portrait When Seventeen by Jane Fortescue Seymour Coleridge, 1842.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Changing Colors

I'd been waiting for a nice day to get out and photograph the changing leaves, but the weather and our schedules just didn't align this season. I knew if I kept waiting for the perfect photo op, we'd likely miss the changing colors altogether. So last weekend, I packed up my camera bag, and we headed out the door, despite the fact that it was cloudy and almost 5 pm before we got started. I don't think these are the best photos I've ever taken, but I'm glad to have a few photos to mark another beautiful October in our area.

This tendency I have to want to wait till "the timing is right" reminds me of a quote I read not so long ago by E. B. White: "A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper." How true! I need to take this advice to heart with regard to my art and illustration...and a lot of other things too.

I thought I'd share that quote here in case any of you also need reminding. I'm going to get started on a couple of things tonight that have been eating away at the back of my brain. Here's to a productive and fun weekend! :)
xo, Mary

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Decorating - On the Mantel

I don't usually do seasonal decorating...mostly because we have a very small house with no garage or basement, and there isn't a lot of room to store decorations. But this year, I decided to find a way to do it anyway because it makes us happy and adds so much warmth to the house as the days get chillier.

But because we don't have a lot of storage space, I gave myself a couple of rules. First, anything new I bought should be able to be repurposed or displayed in different rooms throughout the year. So even though I love it, nothing too specific to Halloween or Thanksgiving. My goal was too find things that felt "autumnal," especially when grouped together, but that could just as easily be displayed during other seasons. The second rule was to use as many things we already owned as I could, to save both space and money.

My theme was "vintage woodland cute" because of course it was. I'm such a sucker for woodland animals and pumpkins and foresty things this time of year. And that vintage crewel piece reminds me so much of my childhood; there were handmade pieces like that hanging in our house and all our friends' houses.

Now that I think about it, everything about autumn feels very nostalgic to me, with all the holiday traditions and the memories they inevitably evoke. Peter and I carved a pumpkin yesterday for the first time in years, and the smell of goopy pumpkin guts hit me so strong! It was a little gross but so much fun at the same time. :)

Have you done any fall decorating? Leave me a link in the comments. I want to see!
xo, Mary

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Flowers

How pretty are these flowers from Trader Joe's? And only $3.99 to boot. Also, these leaf candle holders from Crate and Barrel are new and so nice. The insides are brass, and when the flame gets a little lower, the punched leaves glow and give off an amber light.

It's so autumnal in here right now you guys. I'm burning pumpkin candles, and they smell amazing. I wish I could make these photos scratch and sniff!

Also, I don't know what got hold of me this year, but I went a little nuts on the decorating. I have a bunch of photos to share of all the cute stuff on the mantel. I'm currently trying to decide how many photos is too many photos. Oh geez.

Hope everyone is having an excellent Friday! The leaves are finally turning here, and it's beautiful outside. :)