Thursday, January 29, 2009

crabcakes clothing

i can't believe it's already thursday, but it's taken me that long to pick myself up off the floor from the burst of responses from my last post. thank you all so much for stopping by and commenting. i doubt that ratty old t-shirt ever thought it would see the light of day again, let alone get air time anywhere, so it must be pretty happy right now. the truth is, these are easy to make. if you're interested in giving it a try, grab a white t-shirt and a laundry pen, and just start doodling, writing, journaling, whatevering on it. don't think about it too much. instead of planning the shirt as a whole, start with one small detail, and let it evolve bit by bit until you're finished.

there's more to come on journaling in a later post, but today my mind is on a different topic: the future of my good friend alix's fabulous children's clothing business, crabcakes, as well as the thousands of designers, artisans and craftspeople who manufacture children's products for sale on etsy, in small boutiques, and in craft fairs around the country.

on february 10, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) will require all children's products - books, toys, clothing, accessories, supplies, and so on - to undergo lead testing and obtain certification before it can be shipped legally. this could run up to several hundred dollars or more per item. this is not cost effective for anyone, doesn't guarantee an improvement in safety for children (as it is currently written), and will likely force many small businesses to close their doors. for more information on this act, check out this article in forbes or just google CPSIA and watch your browser explode. update: here's another article that describes how this law will affect you, whether you are a parent or not.

jennifer published an excellent article today in mothers of invention about alix's work and the work/life challenges she faces as a small business owner, including the most recent hurdle she'll have to jump if CPSIA goes into effect without an amendment to protect businesses like hers. alix is one of those resilient people who will be able to shift her design talents to women's clothing and accessories- i'm thinking she could create an entire industry out of those gorgeous fabric roses - but hopefully the bill will be changed in a way that will protect our children as well as the thousands of parents that make their living by creating children's products.

until february 10, it's not too late - you can still order from alix's one-of-a-kind children's line at alix [at]

UPDATE 1/31: excellent news!! the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission voted yesterday to grant a one year stay of testing for certain products, so for now, crabcakes clothing lives on!

Monday, January 26, 2009

the first artsyville journal

today i unearthed a piece of my past that i thought had been lost. when i was a teenager i made a series of t-shirts that i guess today would be called some form of a visual journal. i made this one in 1988, when i was 17. this shirt is my favorite of the bunch - not because of the drawings themselves, but because it is a snapshot of the curiosity i had at this age. i remember being hungry for culture and the outside world; i wanted to escape my little hoosier town to learn, explore, and travel. this shirt was clearly a fusion of things i saw in books, magazines, language, art, things people said, and my emotions at the time. it was my way of processing and trying to understand what was going on around me.

here is the front of the shirt. i made it with a combination of sharpies (which yellowed over time) and laundry pens (which did not).

this must have been taken from a klimt painting; i don't know which one.

how nice it would be to send a letter today for 25 cents.

i still love ice cream.

fascinated by something egyptian.

groucho marx!

somehow i knew that one day i would become one.

believe it or not i remember the reason for this silly doodle. i switched high schools twice, and one required me to take an extra semester of physical education to make up the credit. i had no choice but to enroll in advanced PE with the football team. the teacher didn't know what to do with us so he made us play euchre and sent us to a bowling alley every day for four months. by the end i was so sick of bowling i didn't ever want to touch another bowling ball. i had also reached my limit of ralph waldo emerson and his transcendentalism.

obviously VERY fed up with emerson.

this one was from the heart. i just wanted people to leave me alone.

full of questions and m&ms.

i think this is the guy from echo & the bunnymen. and the cookie cutter comment? apparently suburban sprawl bothered me even back then.

who knows? ;)

crayons still make me happy.

1988? makes me feel like a relic.

nothing but a TP tube for cover.

a little caged bird, wanting to fly.

and the back of the shirt.

now, back to reality. something really IS lost; artsygirl's glasses have mysteriously vanished. the first of many times, i'm sure!

Saturday, January 24, 2009


the question is, which ladder to take?... i see lots of temptations and deterrents here, but there's no way to really know what lurks above unless you pick one and give it a go... maybe there's something rotten waiting after that delicious sundae, like that iffy-looking person already paving the trail, or who knows, perhaps unexpected delights are in store once you're past that tough rung of nails. personally, i'd like to know who left that empty soda cup on ladder two. litterer.

speaking of unexpected delights, we had an unbelievable turnout last night for the opening of don't eat the art. lori and rachel, the owners of blue plate dinners, did a fabulous job with the media blitz, generous hospitality and excellent food. the crowd was a mix of good friends and lots of new faces. a big thanks to robin, the other artist in the show, and to all who came last night to support our art, community, and local businesses.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

politics and prose

on saturday i spent the afternoon at politics and prose, a fabulous little indie bookstore/coffeehouse in washington. it was good timing as i had just finished the master and margarita (a brilliant and hilarious dalliance with the diablo) and i was hungry for new mind food. i couldn't decide which was more fun, prowling the bookshelves or eavesdropping on the lively discussions around me. this gem now joins my list of independent bookish favorites: the raven here in lawrence; shakespeare & company in paris; lemuria in jackson, mississippi (which now, by the way, has a liquor license so you can have a beer while you're browsing); the now-defunct bound to be read in st. paul, minnesota; bart's books in ojai, california (where you can still shop after hours because the outside of the store is lined with bookshelves); and the news cafe in miami (a newsstand/coffeehouse with periodicals from all over the world).

i'd love to know, what's your favorite indie bookstore? where is it?

p.s. this print is going in the shop :)

Monday, January 19, 2009


thoughts are moving around again slowly upstairs after a complete doodlebreak for a few days... had a fantastic weekend in DC celebrating my friend's **th birthday... i love going to DC and this weekend was more exciting than ever because of the buzz surrounding the inauguration. the energy in the city was amazing. oh, what fun. wine, food, friends, being in a real city again... it felt great. i came home totally refreshed, just in time to take care of my sweet artsygirl who woke me up eight times in the middle of the night and landed us in the doctor's office this morning... back to reality... but refreshed... restarted...full of ideas... and already planning my next trip :)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

how to salvage a lousy morning


six cups of coffee

a beautiful fabric rose from my friend alix

and a weekend trip to DC sans enfants

see you all monday :)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

watercolors, inks and hedgehogs

a few more tips on the inking technique - watercolors work beautifully with inks, provided you're working with watercolor paper (thanks, krissy and jen for reminding me). if you like to do lettering, use hot press illustration paper instead of cold press.

one way to combine watercolors with inks: layer the inks on the paper first and then do watercolor washes on top of it. the dye inks run and mix - a very cool effect. or do the reverse with the watercolor wash first and then layer the inks on top. you can also use ironing starch, which diffuses the dye inks and gives the paper a spattered look, and then iron it out which gives it a groovy smooth finish. or draw directly on the papers with ink bottles for bright splotches of color. or, as ricë suggested, use a brush with the inkpad for more control over the color application. and, and, or, or... there are so many ways you can play with this.

today i'm finishing the framing and hanging of my pieces for the blue plate dinners exhibit which officially opens a week from friday. robin's are GORGEOUS and i can't wait to take pictures of them.

this piece might look familiar - it's a revised version of the pages i did for the do not leave unattended traveling journal project back in september. i wanted to get everything on one page for the blue plate show to express the the fondness i feel for this little city, the last place on earth i ever thought i would live, and one of the places i've wound up loving the most. yesterday bella from japan picked up on a quirky lawrence story that went international this month; there's a little eleven year old boy here who wanted a hedgehog. he found that they weren't legal as pets in the city, so he embarked on a massive research project, put together a compelling case and presented it to city hall. they were convinced - and changed the law. he's become a hedgehog hero. no hedgehogs for us, thanks, but it is reassuring indeed to live in a place that welcomes diverse voices and is open to change.

Monday, January 12, 2009

creating colorful journal pages

a few of you have e-mailed me recently asking how i create backgrounds for my journal pages, so today i decided to do a quick lesson. the technique is simple: just smear inkpads on paper, and BANG! instant color. this was a happy accident that happened one day when i was playing around with collage, saw a few lonely inkpads, and wondered, "hmmm.... what if..."

and WOW. i was hooked, for lots of reasons: it is a perfect way to get vivid color on thin journal pages that would buckle or tear under the weight of paint. it is instant gratification for impatient people like me. it doesn't cost much - all you need is paper and an inkpad or two. and best of all, it erases blank page fear. the random patterns and shapes from the inking often spark new ideas themselves.

so, to get started, pick your journal or paper, then your inks. you can use pre-inked pads:

or ink your own. my favorites are these stinky and 'highly flammable' letraset inks. just the thing to have in a household with children. i also like the winsor & newton inks but i think that's just because they look like little shining jewels in the glass pyramid bottles.

nearly dry inkpads are the best for creating even color and cloudy effects. to protect your work surface, put another sheet of paper under your page, or even better, use a sheet of vintage something instead of a blank page. the color overflow will build up in really cool layers on the sheet and then you can use it for collage material. another happy accident i discovered while inking pages.

wetter inkpads add texture, patterns, and shapes. try rubbing an inkpad in circles, pulling it from top to bottom like a comb, dabbing it like a sponge, drawing lines with the edges, and rolling it from side to side to get funky effects.

to avoid overkill with the color, press lightly with the wet inkpads and use sparingly until you know how intense the color will be. you can always add another layer. every inkpad behaves differently; you'll figure out the cool quirks of each one along the way. all part of the fun.

try different combinations of color, shading, and blending. green/yellow go well together, as do yellow/orange and red/pink.

masking fluid creates interesting effects, too - i experimented with it last week. at first i wanted to do lettering with it, but found that masking fluid dries and gums up quickly. so precise lettering was out, but it worked great for adding more depth and variety to the background. give it a try. slap on some masking fluid in random patterns. (be sure to wash your brush immediately, or use yucky old brushes that you don't mind throwing away.) when it is completely dry, which doesn't take long, ink the page and then remove the masking fluid. you can either leave the space white or fill it in with another ink color.

keep goofing around with the inks and before you know it you will have a bunch of pages to use for doodling, lettering, collage, writing, and so on.

a few more tips:

*if archival quality is important to you, stay away from the dye inks. while they are the easiest to work with (they dry quickly and are great for color layering), after a while they fade in direct sunlight. pigment inks take longer to dry but they last longer. if you keep your pages in a closed book, though, the dye pads should work fine for you.

*if you are meticulous about keeping your inkpads clean for stamping, you may want to purchase a separate set just for this purpose, because the colors will indeed mix and taint the surface of the other inkpads.

*inky fingers are a guarantee, so if you want to protect your manicure, gloves are a good idea. i always forget this part so my hands are colorful nightmares.

*check out ricë's video with the inkpad in action. she shows you how to do this in bound journals, and how to wedge color in the inside binding area. and she makes funny commentary through the whole thing, as she always does.

if you play around with the ink technique and are willing to share photos of your experiments, let me know and i'll link back to them in a future post. happy inking! :)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

the plight of the tardy

sure, i could avoid situations like these simply by leaving fifteen minutes earlier, but then i would be deprived of good doodling material. so why change? ;)

Monday, January 5, 2009

don't eat the art

painting and printing madly for an art show in a few weeks... the feast for the eyes show at blue plate in october went so well that they are now rotating shows by artists that participated in the group exhibition. so my friend robin and i are kicking off january with our show 'don't eat the art', featuring her groovy mixed-media paintings and my crazy doodleprints.

the opening reception will be on friday, january 23 from 6-8 pm at blue plate dinners on sixth & wakarusa in lawrence. if you're local, please join us for wine, yummy appetizers and lots of fun :)

Saturday, January 3, 2009


[saturday scribblefun with my ancient tria markers]

some people are great at writing strategic plans for themselves and sticking to them; i'm not. if i really want to do something, i don't plan. i just go ahead and do it. i only write things down if i don't want to do them but need something in my face to shame me into action.

now i'm a little high from the marker fumes so i think i'll publish this post and gaze at the ceiling for a while.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

the low-profile reveler

hope you all had a great new years eve! any stories to share? i admit that i enjoy staying home to welcome the new year. my share of mind-rattling new year celebrations are well behind me and i don't miss them. especially the nightclub ones. one year i got stuck at the bargain clown mart lounge in LA, another time at a suffocating club in new york, and i didn't care about the new year in the least; all i wanted was out. the friends who dragged me there knew me well enough to keep tabs on me; if we got separated, one would nudge the other and say "go find aimo; she must be freaking out by now. or she's already bolted." and then there was the jam-packed puerta del sol in madrid with champagne bottles smashing all around, the fiesta bowl block party in phoenix, and... oh my... i'm glad that i've been there and done it, but crowds are no longer for me.

everyone in our household was asleep by 9 pm including mr. artsyville so i just doodled around happily with a glass of wine until a bit after midnight.

this year i think i'll start including bits of what i'm reading. right now i'm finishing up 'seeing' by jose saramago and starting 'the master and margarita' by bulgakov. artsygirl and i were having doughnuts at a bookstore this morning, lost in our reads, when our neighbor saw us and came over to mention what a nice mother-daughter moment it was to see us reading to ourselves and each other. and then it hit me what a moment it really was; a year ago such a thing would have been impossible. she would have been running around the store, pulling books off the shelves, causing scenes and so on. something happened on her way to six. her mind matured, her curiosity took off and her reasoning skills sharpened. no longer do i have to constantly watch her and say "do this" or "don't do that" out of necessity to keep her safe and our home intact. i'm transforming from police officer to guide, which is a role i much prefer. i mentioned this to my neighbor and she said in her sweet turkish accent, "you're becoming friends now."

a quiet day, a good start.