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!