Monday, November 17, 2014

double washi on a dreary monday

Just popping in on a dreary, wet, cold, blarghy Monday morning to let you know about the final double washi deal of the year! Buy any Artsyville washi from now through this Saturday (November 22) and I'll double your order at no extra charge (and no extra shipping cost, even international). Good time to stock up for the holidaze!

For those of you who have so kindly written over the past few months, wondering where the hell I am,I am still here! :) I am on Instagram constantly -- it seems to have taken over as my daily blogging platform, because it is so easy and I am so lazy. Plus, I don't get bombed with spam over there. I don't want to let this space go, because it has been such a fun creative playground for me over the years (and I can get away with writing a lot more here) -- I've just got to find a way to make the blog work a little better for me. For starters I'm going to keep the comments off for a while here, but you can easily find me on Facebook and Instagram if you want to jump into the conversation about a particular post, project, or whatever. Happy Monday!


Monday, October 13, 2014

stuff it

After vanishing for four months you'd think I could find a more inviting title than Stuff It, and even more so because I'm about to unleash another backwards barrage of pictorial history on you. (If anyone comes here anymore, that is -- might I just be speaking to Artsyville ghosts?)

I'll risk continuing. And anyway, I'm not saying that you HAVE to stuff it, I am just saying that you CAN stuff it if you want to. I found these adorable smooth mason jars -- not the ones that have Ball embossed all over them. And then I found these cute daisy cutout lids. And then I decided to make Art Jars out of them. I have one version that is stuffed with Artsyville goodies and one version that is unstuffed so you can stuff it with your own stuff.

Here is where I show you that I wasn't a lazy ass this summer: 

I doodled up a few new creative prints, 

made a bunch of itty bitty word tiles (inchie prints)

that can be used for creative prompts, daily mantras, bookmarks, word games, hidden messages, reminders, motivators or however you want to use your words, 

Put together a bunch of little packets with tiny surprises for my orders, 

Created tiny-tiny-tiny-mini-mini-mini blank books (just an inch square)

And finished a fresh version of this one just in time for fall.

In full color. 

Enough with the shop; on to the house. This is the living-room-art-room and I'm kind of struggling with it right now. I cleaned it up for this picture, but it always seems like I am living in stacks of projects with no true functional system. I'm usually chopping paper on the floor or addressing envelopes on my keyboard. Must fix this.

Finally hung up my painting from Lisa, which had been sitting on the chair below for over a year. 

Planted a garden this year! The cherry tomatoes, despite the snappy temps, just keep going bonkers, along with the jalapenos which have turned fiery enough to power all of us to the moon. And the watermelons -- they might reach golf ball size before the first frost!

We're coming up on our Jerseyversary in a few weeks, and the last three years have been so mind boggling that every time I think I've seen it all, I realize that I haven't seen it all, as was the case a couple of weeks ago when a black bear got on the loose in our neighborhood and pulled up for a visit in our driveway. (Story here, if you're interested.)

We inherited horrible, dark, depressing, evil-spirited wallpaper in this room when we bought the house and I finally hit my limit. Ripped it out & repainted it in sea salt, caramel and chocolate. Now that I've successfully removed wallpaper, I've realized that I am now capable of doing anything. 

New curtains. We finally got a World Market in New Jersey. I have suffered so much these past three years without one. And yes those are balls of yarn in the background...

I had so many skeins of yarn that I didn't know what to do with them, so I rolled them all in balls & stuck 'em in a planter. 

Autumn means I'm back to crochet -- and I learned how to make a granny square!

 And these, whatever they are called!

 Oldest girl. At her sister's soccer game in her pajamas and a toddler hat, sewing an Olaf costume.

Two last things to share -- illustration projects-- and then I'll let you go :) The fall issue of Somerset Memories just hit the stands and I have an article/tutorial & drawing called House of Memories, which tells my tale as a chronic mover :)

And... 10 of my doodles are in the 2015 Today is Going to Be a Great Day! Page-a-Day calendar by Workman Publishing, and I'm still pinching myself! Here's a flash forward peek into the future. If you get the calendar (it's available in lots of bookstores, on Amazon, etc.) you'll probably recognize most of the pieces -- Make Time for Your Art, Star of Your Own Brightness, Something Calling, and a bunch of vintage Artsyville pieces make an appearance. I'm so excited and honored to be part of the calendar!

There are the highlights back through August... I'd retreat further, but this is already enough of a visual avalanche that you are probably ready to tell *me* to stuff it. You wouldn't be in the wrong... but that's just how things roll around here. As always, if you made it to the end, you deserve a prize!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

seeing double

Makes sense to do two posts for the same thing, right? Seeing double isn't always a bad thing ;)  It is a gorgeous day here in North Jersey with all the windows and doors open. The screen doors are firmly shut, though, because a squirrel got on the loose in the mudroom earlier this week and I learned my lesson. It is a perfect tape packing day & you should see my living room. Some people use theirs for furniture; I use mine for washi tape. It looks like a factory in here. A very happy factory. So many of my orders have come through referrals through friends, customers and fellow artists. I am so grateful for the support -- every post, mention, tweet and share has helped out my little tape line enormously and I am hard at work on getting the new designs production-ready. The double washi deal goes through tomorrow in both shops: artsyville and etsy.

I'll be back later this week with a roundup of some of awesome new art and craft books. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

artsyville washi tape is back!

It's official! :) Washi tape has returned to Artsyville and I'm kicking off the back-in-stock party with a Double Washi Weekend! From now through Monday I'll double all Artsyville washi orders at no extra charge. You can find it in both shops -- at and on Etsy. Happy taping!

Friday, May 16, 2014

spring to the rescue

Spring has taken its sweet old time here in North Jersey. Each time I've stopped to praise a stunning day or blooming shrub, the weather has gone back into the crapper & threatened to take the foliage with it. I can't complain; winter was such a joy thief here that I am grateful for every drop of pollen & sneeze that spring dishes out.

This week it was time to get the Artsyville front porch in order. I blasted the pollen off the furniture, freshened up the chairs with new pillows, replaced the rotted out rug, 

found these lantern lights that I had to have,

and now it's all ready for naptime.

And I sneaked away to DC for a weekend!

I spent a morning at Politics & Prose, my favorite bookstore, and bought two books which I easily could have gotten back home, but I don't think that way. I try to do most of my pleasure buying out of town so that I have an experience & memory to attach to it. 

(You know I went inside the Peeps store.)

The girls and I went on a Girl Scout trip to the Catskills, where the only things in bloom were the grass & dandelions. It amazed me that just a few hours north the trees were still bare even though the temps were fairly mild. We did all those things that one does at camp: canoeing, archery, hiking, sopping wet hayrides, flying squirrel, fighting over who got to sleep in the top bunks (the kids), fighting over who had to sleep in the top bunks (the adults), sneaking bottles of wine into the grownup quarters, etc.

The camp had a terrific arts & crafts room (the tie-dyed t-shirts spell out "be creative") where I found out that my candle making skills really suck.

On our way to and from the camp I was totally taken with the painted signs I kept seeing on the sides of barns & other buildings. We had no internet service where we were, so I had to wait until we got home to check it out -- and it turns out it is a community-wide Barn Quilts project. There are 75 in total and there are three self-guided tours around the south Catskills to find them all. I'm thinking summer day trip!

This year I'm doing our landscaping & gardening, which is really very funny because I can't garden my way out of a pot. But one must start somewhere, so I am starting with these two pots right here. We just had a colossal load of mulch dumped in the driveway, which looks and smells as unsavory as it sounds, and I figure if I don't know what to do in a particular area I'll just throw a bunch of mulch on it & call it done.

The surprise of my week was that the the surprise balls shot out the door! I didn't know what the reaction would be, if there was one, but I like to try new things and at the very least I knew I could send them out as gifts if they were total duds in the shop. They are super time consuming so I can only make a few each day. Each part of the process is like a project in itself: handmaking the goodies inside, sourcing other tiny little things, sorting out all of the pieces into bags, cutting the crepe paper & separating it into piles, spacing out the trinkets and coaxing the evolving shape into a sphere (my first few looked like alien planets), fiddling with the ribbons and the tags and the gift wrappings... you can easily envision the state of my studio, I am sure :)

The good part is that the surprise balls are really a joy to put together, and I find myself thinking about the recipient when I am arranging the pieces and wrapping the layers around and around. It's fun to imagine their experience when they unwind the paper & find their tiny treasures along the way.

I custom made these two surprise balls for a friend, who is giving them to two children going through a tough time right now. I stuffed lots of happy kiddie goodies in these: smiley face buttons, bubbles, marbles, dice, candy, stickers, erasers, etc... I hope they lift the kids' spirits a bit.

Great news on the Artsyville washi tape front... it will be back in stock soon! We did another small production run on the original six designs and they left China on May 4! Depending on how things go on the container ship, the shipment should arrive in New York anywhere between 4 weeks and never. Most likely it will be mid-June or maybe early July when it clears customs & reaches our doorstep.

And hot off the Artsyville press... a new doodle that sums up my life as neatly as it can for the moment. Now a print & magnet in the shop. 

Off to the National Stationery Show in New York on Monday (just attending, not exhibiting) and can't wait! I had a great time last year and can't wait to catch up with my artist pals. I will try to get some decent pics and report back later in the week! Happy weekend!

♥ Aimee

Friday, May 9, 2014


the surprise balls are in the shop! they are $18 each, and you'll find them in the goodie box section. I put 30 in the shop this morning and there are still 19 up for grabs. any questions -- let me know at have a great weekend!! aimee

Thursday, May 1, 2014

surprise balls

Here's the reason for all of the tiny things I've been posting: I’m making surprise balls! I loved opening these as a kid, and since grownups deserve happy surprises too, I’ve re-imagined them Artsyville-style. I'm handing out a bunch as gifts, and I'll put a few in the shop on Monday, too. If you've never opened one before, it's a blast! Starting from the outside, you'll peel away layers of crepe paper, and as you unwind your way to the middle you'll discover a happy, uplifting parade of tiny things -- a mix of handmade Artsyville goodies, inspirational handlettered messages, and other colorful little itty bitty trinkets, trifles, whatchamacallits, doodads, etc. First one is done & now it's time to make more balls!

Monday, April 28, 2014

wish pillows and a winner

My fixation with making mini things continues -- this time making tiny felt & fabric pillows. I named them wish pillows because that was simply what came to mind first. Each one is about an inch and a half square, fits neatly into the palm of one's hand and looks like a little piece that might be open to listening to a wish or maybe two.

Now it's time for the Right Brain Way Giveaway winner. Well, did you have to make it so hard for me? It took all day to decide who was going to get the book. I went through every entry. Twice. Three times. More. I lost count. I was able to identify in some way with all of the responses; each one hit me in a different emotional spot. Every answer, except for the spammer, would have been worthy of receiving it. In the end, I picked "Always trying" by Jen Niles. I was really taken by her explanation of why she chose those words, and I felt it was such a universal (and helpful) piece of advice. Thank you everyone, and please know that I was really inspired by all of your entries. If you are just stumbling onto this post, I recommend backing up one and reading through them.

Back to the wish pillows -- these go with the little word tiles that I showed a few posts ago, the ones that have an ultimate purpose that I have not yet revealed ;-) I've also made tiny notebooks, carnival tickets Artsyville-style, mini stickers, and other bitty things I haven't shown yet. Within a few days I'll bring it all together!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

the right-brain way {and a right-brain giveaway!}

If only Jennifer Lee had been in my life in the 90s! I was whiling away my days in a full time MBA program, both ambitious and bored. I wanted desperately to break out of the traditional corporate life & onto my own creative career path, but I did not have the understanding or discipline in my emotional toolbox to know what that even meant at the time. Ideas were whizzing around my right brain on roller skates with no interest in being tamed, while the left half was just doing everything it could to hang on to the curriculum and the structure I needed to get through the program. Neither side of my brain would trust the other, which meant there was either an ongoing battle between the worlds or the doors were simply glued shut. One day I was so overwhelmed by the struggle that I panicked in the middle of a finance class, grabbed my things and made a dramatic bolt for the door, bringing the class to a halt because I had so much baggage in my hands that I couldn't even get that door open and the professor had to let me out. There just weren't many resources, let alone support, to help me make sense of it all.

I finished my degree and tootled back into the corporate clutches to pay off my graduate school loans, and went through the motions until I hit my limit, jumped full time into my art, and spent a lot of time trying to broker the peace treaty between the left and the right. It took me years to find a comfort level doodling my way toward this new career (I didn't even want to call it a career for a while), and it took even longer to work up the nerve to launch my art into a business. I am thrilled with my choice but I have to admit that I still struggle severely with left-right woes. Every single day. Some days fifty things hit me all at once and all I can manage is to pivot in a large circle and get nothing done. It's frustrating. I can cope with it & get back on track more easily than I used to, though -- partially from experience and partially because there are now, thankfully, resources and support that didn't exist before.

Jennifer's first book, The Right Brain Business Plan, was a gift to my bookshelf and my daily life. Her writing helped me to get out my dreams on paper, clarify my goals, prioritize my plans and to look at my business in a holistic sense instead of compartmentalizing it all. Also, on a personal note, it made me feel like I wasn't a lone freak. I realized there was actually a community out there who struggled with the same things. I was even more anxious to get her new book, Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way: Sustainable Success for the Creative Entrepreneur (published by New World Library with beautiful illustrations once again by Kate Prentiss). While her last book was about the planning, this one is all about the doing. The doing is usually where it all falls apart for me, and I need the help!

In the publisher's words: Building Your Business The Right-Brain Way "combines solid business expertise with a right-brain perspective that inspires creativity and innovation. Jennifer Lee’s fresh, empowering approach emphasizes taking action and continually improving to achieve extraordinary long-term results. Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way offers real-world-tested techniques that can benefit all sorts of businesses, whether you’re a sole proprietor running a coaching practice, a crafter looking to license products, a wellness professional with a team of employees, or any creative soul making a meaningful difference with your work."

What I love most about Jennifer's new book is that she trusts the right brain to take the driver's seat in her approach to developing a successful creative business. Her book is methodical and easy to follow, but not one bit of it is dry or posed as an unbreakable rule. Her writing is entertaining and rewarding to read -- and her words are totally actionable. Each chapter is full of tips, prods, checklists, questions, colorful work(play)sheets, action accelerators, reflections, confidence builders, right-brain boosters, left-brain chill pills, suggestions on cultivating connections, ideas on how to identify your creative gifts, cultivate your message and package your product/service offerings, and personal anecdotes from other creative entrepreneurs. I loved reading their stories, identifying with obstacles they faced, appreciating the sacrifices they made, learning from their experiences, and celebrating their successes.

Another personal takeaway from this book is realizing that the chasm between the two halves of my brain is not really as wide as I so often (and histrionically) like to pretend. It's all in the attitude & finding the way for both sides of my brain to work in sync with the other to fulfill my own personal passion and mission. That (for me, anyway), is the key to building a successful (and sustainable) art business. Bolting from a finance lecture is not the way to do it.

If you need The Right-Brain Way (Right Away!), and I understand if you do, you'll find it at Amazon or New World Library

If you'd like to play a giveaway game (you know I love to do those), I have one extra shiny copy sitting on my desk just waiting to be sent. Just answer me this (a question from page 40):

What would you tattoo across your chest?

I'll pick my favorite answer on Sunday, April 27!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

love, lettuce, peace

Cue up the beep beep beep of the Artsyville delivery truck! I'm backing up with yet another photo dump. (When I realize that it takes just as much time to batch the entire week into one post, I'll start posting daily again.)

Starting with a message of love & peace -- and the lettuce that sneaked into the middle -- for Passover. Thinking especially this year of our old friends in Overland Park (where my kids went to preschool) in the wake of Sunday's tragedy. I was relieved to find out that everyone we knew was OK, and so sad for the ones who weren't.

We had an early seder in Philadelphia with family...

But not before gobbling up the last of the breakfast yummies from my brother-in-law's bakery.  (If you're in the Philadelphia area, it's Four Worlds Bakery on Woodland Avenue!)

It was 80 degrees that day, so absolutely popsicle-worthy that we popped over to the Lil' Pop Shop

& walked around the neighborhood. (I love West Philly!) Philadelphia is only about 90 miles south of us, but it feels like it's in a different climate zone -- all the flowering trees were in full bloom while ours in North Jersey have barely started.

So we've been making our own blooms and color mixes to help move spring along. 

A week ago Sunday I hauled the girls all around NYC -- it was a stunning day & Mr. Artsyville was stumbling around Hong Kong fresh off a 16 hour flight, all bleary eyed & zombie like, so I thought we'd do the same thing on the other side of the earth. I made the kids walk. and walk. and walk. We hadn't been to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side yet & so we took the Victoria Confino tour. I thought it was terrific; my 11 year old thought it was interesting; my 7 year old just wanted to go to the gift shop. (which was also terrific.) 

We ran into Marco's Art Mobile somewhere around Soho or Nolita -- one of those hazily defined areas where I'm always hesitant to say with certainty where I am.

Walked past this game of hoops at just the right moment :)

They each got a little hand treatment at Lush, too.

Good & tired kids. Just how I like 'em.

Mr. Artsyville brought back a load of sweets from 7-Eleven in Hong Kong, but curiously enough, upon closer inspections of the labels none of the goods were native items. I think stuff just goes through Hong Kong (our washi tape, for one); no products seem to originate from there. No matter. I love sweets from foreign shores no matter where. He went to the Hong Kong Ladies' Market (not what it sounds like) and bargained ferociously for those adorable chopsticks.

Drawings wrought by little hands keep appearing all around Artsyville....



and bigger hands too.

I'm working on a bunch of little wordy tiles...

...for a very specific purpose to be revealed whenever I can get around to finishing it.

As always, if you stuck with me through the end, congrats! You deserve a prize! Have a great week!