Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Four for the Money

For the fourth year in a row, I'm contributing a literal little piece of art for Tulsa Art Coalition's annual 5x5 fundraiser!  Keeping in line with my past creations, I've used vintage papers again.  This year's focusing on the tunes of 1973!  For you youngins out there, this was an ad for hot 8 tracks of the times.  Bitchin.
I also trimmed the tunes out with some equally rockin' trim and used a gorgeous yellow lace, both from that crazy haul.  For the first time ever, I made my 5x5 way before it was due and hung it up in my workspace for a bit.  It was then that any doubts about the piece disappeared and I fell in love with the way it hung.  Especially the way that trim dangles below.  In fact, if this one doesn't sell at the fundraiser, I may very well buy it back!
For the first time in, maybe, forever, the 5x5 opening will NOT be on May 5th.  Instead, this year, the opening will be THIS Friday, May 2nd at 5:55 and will coincide with First Friday Art Crawl.  Every single 5x5 (there are hundreds!) are for sale for $55.  After that, the pieces can be viewed and purchased during normal gallery hours.  Do check them out!  It's a fun show.  You can see my previous three contributions here, here and here

Monday, April 28, 2014

Quilting (and Kitten) Fever!

Remember the days when I could only make quilts for certain people in mind?  So long ago, *cough* *cough* last year.  Well, something happened recently that shook me out of that and got me a-makin'.  Maybe it's Tex's spirit working through me, maybe it's just the break from school, or maybe I'm just desiring larger projects.  Whatever it is, I'm digging it and am firing away at quilt building lately.  Here are my two latest, already available in the shop!  And there very well may be a coupon code at the bottom of this post.  Hint Hint.

I mentioned quilt 'building' instead of 'making' above because that's really how I create these.  Especially lately.  And especially this one.  I just start with the smallest pieces and build on those until it feels whole.  If I try to start with the 'big picture' and imagine what a quilt will look like from the get-go, I get overwhelmed, over-think things, and just can't get going.  Breaking it down into smaller pieces makes it manageable and easier for me to work with.  I guess that method works for me in other arenas, too.
So, this quilt.  I'm in love with it.  The colors, the boldness, the symmetry.  It's made from mostly vintage fabrics and is flanked with a beautiful modern fabric on the ends.  The backing is the softest vintage sheet that perfectly complements the front colors. 
My second latest one is a tad bit smaller and a tiny bit simpler but still bold and beautiful!  Plus, gold!  And, trees!   This baby quilt is made of all vintage fabrics, including some gorgeous gold bark cloth.  Do you know what bark cloth is?  It was a fabric highly popular for curtains and upholstery mainly in the 50s.  Its most telling feature is often some raised parts in the fabric, giving it the sense of tree bark.  It's becoming a bit harder to find nowadays and is becoming more and more pricey by the minute.  I've always loved the imagery on much of it so I've been hoarding it for years.  This gold bark cloth is like none I've ever seen before. 
I backed this baby with another mega soft vintage sheet but this one is special - it's a Vera Neuman sheet!  Had I seen the markings before cutting into it, I never would have chopped it up.  It's so perfect for these quilts though that I can't image another use for it.  Plus, look at how serene and gorgeous it is.  It's the perfect partner for that tree on the front, right? 

The thread I used to quilt this just absolutely disappeared on the front but on the back, you can see what a cool design it ended up being.  Soon I'll be embarking on learning free motion quilting which I'm stoked about!  I can't wait to play around more with the actual quilting side of quilting!  :) 
Both of these bad boys are ready for their new homes and I'll have more to add soon!  Goin' with the quiltin' flow, man.  If you're a fan of discounts, I'm having a 20% off sale on everything in the shop with the code KITTENFEVER at checkout (good until next Monday, May 5th).  I even reduced some of the supply prices so it's sale central! 

And yes, our kitten arrived Saturday and is doing so, so good with everyone and vice versa!  I'll share some kitty updates soon but just know that between adorable Rio photos and kitten photos, I definitely have the cutest collection of images on my phone right now.  If you want to see some of this cuteness, you can follow my personal Instagram account (bifftastica).  Hasta luego!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fuzzy Friday: A New Addition!

After losing Pimmy last March, we've since been talking about getting a kitten for Rio to grow up with.  Being involved with cat rescue like I am, I receive email after email daily of animals needing homes.  A few kitten emails have passed through that have caught my eye and a few we've actually acted on but those just weren't meant to be.  Then about a month ago, I got an email sharing photos of a litter pulled from a feral colony and one little fluffball just wouldn't leave my mind.  Brent gave me a nudge to contact her foster and just a few days later, we were meeting this doll in our own home.  It was official, she would be our next family member.

We decided to wait a while for her to get a little larger (she was only about a pound and 9 weeks old when we first met her) to be able to hold her own with Rio and Mondo but as time passed and impatience grew, we decided that we were ready so if all goes as planned, tomorrow she'll be moving in!  Once she's a bit bigger and older, we'll have her spayed and will finish up her shots. 

Believe it or not, I know very, very little about kittens.  Now cats, that's a different story.  I'm a cat nerd but kittens are pretty foreign to me.  We had some when I was quite young but don't have much recollection of their kitten years.  This will be a learning experience for us all!  A cat tree is on its way, kitten food is being purchased, toys are being accumulated, the other pets have been given pep talks; we've prepared ourselves as much as we can at this point!

We can't freaking wait to watch her and Rio form a relationship and grow together.  To say we're excited would be a huge understatement.  So wish us, the other animals, and our new kitten luck!

*If you've been missing some of my fuzzy talk around here, you can catch up over at Bark Meow where I've been contributing off and on!  It's a great little website to get lost in for a while.  So far I've written about introducing your pets to your new baby and things to consider when adopting a senior pet.  It's been fun! *

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Docs to Watch

My making time always coincides with a certain little person's naptime and bedtime.  There are times when I work with silence or put on some tunes but honestly, that's not my norm.  While I make, I also watch.  I'm slightly addicted to streaming Netflix. And I'm ok with that.  Some shows and movies have stood out more to me than others, naturally, so I decided to start compiling a list to share with you here.  I always appreciate recommendations and, who knows, maybe there are others of you out there with the same binge-watching habits that I have.  :)  Here are a few documentary-type films that I recently enjoyed.  I'll share some movies and streaming TV shows soon!
Mortified Nation - One of the more recent films I have watched.  SO good!  It's basically a traveling comedy show that features adults reading passages from their own childhood/teen diaries.  I strongly suggest this one.  It was refreshing, hilarious, and very relate-able.

The Punk Singer - Punk music is a genre that I really know VERY little about.  It was the movie description that caught my attention so I clicked play.  This documentary focuses on the incredibly interesting life of Kathleen Hanna, who was the singer for Bikini Kill.  What I loved most about this film was learning more about the feminist movement of the last few decades.  Women who challenge gender roles are a-ok in my book.

Blackfish - You know, this film kept coming up as a top pick for me and I kept skipping over it again and again.  I have a hard time stomaching any sort of mistreatment of animals which I knew would be covered in this film.  Then, a few weeks back, Holly strongly recommended this one so a few days later, I gave it a go (this time while I cooked dinner).  Well, that was a sob-filled dinner making experience!  BUT, I feel like this film NEEDS to be watched and shared.  My generation was raised with Sea World stars in their eyes but in reality, places like those were so very dark.  I feel the same way with circuses and many zoos.  I strongly encourage you to watch this film.  Do it while you cut up onions though, so you can blame the tears on those. 

Fabulous Fashionistas - Ok, this one isn't on Netflix; it's even easier to watch!  This short film is FANTASTIC and is about some awe-inspiring women in their golden years who refuse to age.  It's endearing, entertaining, vibrant, and leaves you feeling more alive.

 So what am I missing?!  What are your favorite documentaries as of late?  I'm all ears!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

East Village Fest

You may remember that forever ago (er, a week and a half ago), I participated in my first show of the year!  It was the East Village Second Saturday Fest which was the first of a three-part festival series this summer to bring life to a really cool, yet often overlooked, area of downtown Tulsa.  The area is actually right down the road from my folks' business and is actually an area that we've done much work in over the years.  It's pretty cool to see it getting so much attention lately.  I was reminded much of the Pearl District events that were held a few years back to bring awareness to another area.  
As for the festival, there were a few things that I absolutely loved about it.  First, it was only four hours long!  For an outdoor show, shorter is better in my opinion.  That is, from a vendor's viewpoint.  Those types of shows can really take it out of you!  Second, it was quite (REALLY!) affordable to participate.  Third, the live music was off the hook.  It wasn't your typical Tulsa festival music which I found to be incredibly refreshing.  There was Latin music, live poetry with interpretive dancing, belly dancing, and even a rapper!  I was all about the business happening on stage.  Finally, the crowd that was there was absolutely delightful.  This also includes my fellow artists.  The organizers did a great job marketing to only handmade artists to share their wares and were also able to draw a crowd that fully embraced the purpose of the festival.  Oh, and there were a plethora of food trucks.  Yes, please.  Check out this great video of the event which includes the live mural painting that was also happening!
Probably the only drawback of the day were the high winds which, for a vendor, aren't really ideal.  Since this wasn't my first outdoor rodeo, I knew that meant that I just couldn't build my displays up high and needed things weighted down well.  No problem.  I do wish that I could have been able to have been more creative with my booth but Mother Nature came first.  I had pretty good sales which made my first sunburn of the season worth it and I had fabulous booth neighbors which is always an added show bonus.  

Will I return to the show as a vendor in the future?  If my schedule allows, then hell yes.  The two remaining fests will be May 10th and June 14th, from 11-3.  Perhaps we'll see each other there!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Hopping Around for Easter

Well hello, strangers!  How's that for an unintentional break around here?  Last week I was focused on finishing up the end of the semester and then on Friday, our little family hit the road for three days of jumping around the state. 

We actually began our trip separately as Brent played in a memorial golf tournament early Friday morning in Guthrie.  Having no interest in getting up at 4:30 a.m., Rio and I decided to just meet him later in the day, allowing us to take our time and go on our own adventure together!  We were able to catch up with old friends, check out some of my old stomping grounds (I went to college in OKC), and leisurely enjoy the day.  We ended up getting a room for the night (where Brent met back up with us) and we spent most of the gorgeous evening in the pool or on the balcony.  Made up for the missed naps and not-so-great night's sleep.

On Saturday, we headed to Brent's hometown of Okemah to spend some quality time with family.  Rio was in heaven there.  She couldn't have been better.  I guess being the center of attention and having acres of land to explore will do that to you.  We feasted like kings, danced to some oldies, and laughed together; all so good for the soul.  After a hearty Easter brunch on Sunday and some egg hunting, Rio and I left Brent behind and headed back to Tulsa where we managed to make it in time for a small gathering of my family at my folks' place!  Awaiting us was the beast, who my parents kept throughout the weekend.  He was thrilled to see us, as were we with him. 

As wonderful as the weekend was, it was sure nice to get back home yesterday and to sleep in our own beds.  We all slept like rocks.  It was glorious.  I hope your Easter weekend was just as pleasant as ours was.  We may not celebrate the holiday in the religious sense but we sure love any excuse to gather with family and count our blessings.

Fun to look back on last year's Easter weekend...the rug rat was so small! 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The BiffBoard, Version One

I made a BiffBoard!  It's similar to a billboard but much cooler, obviously.  When Bifftastica made its debut three years ago, I simply ordered a plastic sign from Vistaprint and have used that ever since.  You can see it here and here.  It worked out great but for the past year or so, I've been dreaming up something different in my head.  Something handmade.  Something one-of-a-kind.  Something not printed up by a machine.  With my first show of the year coming up (tomorrow!), I finally got my tail in gear and made up new signage for my booth.

It's basically just a small quilt with ties.  Simple.  I cut out letters from the same fabric as my table covers and just sewed them on, much like I did with the Stella Quilt.  The edges of the letters will fray, and are already doing so.  I DO wish I'd paid more attention to making everything square but I didn't so c'est la vie.  I figure with the ties, I can drop that right corner a little bit to make everything line up a bit better.  Or maybe it's not even noticeable to anyone but me!  :)
With the ties, I sewed them on before I applied the binding and did so in a way that you will not see them if I decide not to use them; they will lie flat on the backside of the tapestry.  I wanted to use ties instead of loops so I could I wasn't restricted as to how I could use it!  With ties, I can attach it to the bamboo rods I use (as shown), to one of my grid walls, or to my canopy frame if I'm outside.  Loops wouldn't have allowed 2/3 of those options.
I left the quilting (really) simple.  I actually had a hard time figuring out how I wanted to quilt it but sought the mister's advice which prevented me from overdoing it, which I tend to do sometimes.  The green fabric and backing fabric were both used in the Cleo Quilt and the bias tape was used in the Tulsa Loves Tex Quilt.  As you know, both of those quilts are incredibly special to me so it seemed fitting to use pieces of them in this project.
After I had finished photographing the BiffBoard, I had a lightbulb moment and now believe I'll be making a new sign sometime!  I don't know why I didn't think of it before but now I want the sign to have my business name on BOTH sides so if I want, I can have the sign sticking out into the aisles.  Make sense?  I think this would probably only work with shows where I use my canopy so it's high enough not to clothesline anyone but I also think those are the shows where it would be most effective.  There is a chance that I could hand stitch the name on the backside but a part of me thinks it would be faster to make a new one!  Ha!
I'm super stoked to set up my booth tomorrow and see how things come together!  If you're local, do come out!  The weather will be beautiful and there's nothing better than a street festival on a gorgeous day.  It's the East Village Street Fest from 11-3 at 3rd and Lansing complete with artists, a live mural, live music, and food trucks!  See you there!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Four Months In

It's been right about four months since I chucked half of my responsibilities out of the window in order to refocus and breathe a little bit easier.  I know you've been dying to know how things have been going so here's your update ;)
Well, so far so good.  Honestly, it's been a challenge, a good challenge, for me to focus solely on my own creative business.  I've been so used to jumping around mentally with my many projects that I'm having to teach myself how to just chill out some and go with the flow of Bifftastica.  One of my goals for the year was to create an Etsy treasury a month to become more interactive on Etsy.  I've compiled three so far (Fast and Slow, A Bird's Paradise, and Bring the Outside In) and I have noticed a difference in traffic to the shop.  I'm not sure if that spike is generated by the Treasuries or by me just promoting the shop more, but it's happening!  One of the main things I'm gaining from my Treasury challenge is that I'm learning what makes a listing appealing.  The tags, the descriptions, the photos and the overall feel of a shop are what make you want to come back and make you want to hang out there!  These things that are sticking out to me are the things I'm trying to make happen in my own shop.  My stats are telling me that the renewed focus that I'm giving my shop is definitely making a difference.  I mean, notably so.
With shows, I had the goal of participating in at least three good shows this year.  My first, The East Village Street Fest, is this weekend in Tulsa!  I've also been accepted to Strawberry Swing in Kansas City in August.  I have a few other shows on my radar that I plan to apply to so I should well exceed my goal of three shows.  Whether or not they'll be good is to be determined!  Wish me luck, or better yet, come out and support me!  :)

I also wanted to add a store to my stockists list.  Well, in addition to Made, I now have tooth fairy pillows at Dwelling Spaces and soon my pillow covers will grace the seating at one of my favorite local retro shops...details on that soon.  :)
I'm certainly not ready to quit my day job(s) just yet (and that's not the plan) but with the addition of my Instagram shop sales, I've been feeling pretty good about how things are going in my creative world.  So much so that I did something that I've never done before.  I signed up for a sewing retreat, SewOK.  I have never, EVER taken a class for any sort of craft that I have poured over.  And I've been boastfully proud about that fact.  Here's the thing though.  I had a revelation one day about how elitist it was of me, as an educator, to scoff at taking any sort of classes to better myself.  I've witnessed my ESL students grow with their mastery of English and go on to fulfill their dreams.  I've watched some of the attendees of our Craft Show classes rock their creative businesses.  And I've watched my mom grow as an artist firsthand as a result of her pushing herself and taking more and more art classes. So here I go, nervous as can be, into my first sewing classes! 

If you're feeling uninspired or stuck in any way lately, I encourage you to take active, baby steps to remedy that.  For me, that has involved lots of cleaning and purging, organizing, taking time NOT to make or work, and being inspired by others.  I recently stumbled upon a free online course (that I had bookmarked two years ago!) by one of my inspirations (especially when it comes to balancing a creative life and motherhood), Alisa Burke, all about finding YOUR inspiration.  I've also fallen deep into the abyss of TED Talks and I can't recommend them enough.  I know I'm late to that game but better late than never!  So good.  SO GOOD. 

In sum, I may not be moving mountains but I'm sure making MY world less rocky.  And pretty!  I'm not sure I've ever been this creatively productive before.  Prioritizing and saying no to things sure isn't easy (as I've spoken about more than I need to) but have been monumental in this shift in my world.  I'm proud of the progress and revitalization that Bifftastica has been making and am really looking forward to how things continue throughout the year!  So here's to making things happen, big AND small!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Rio Style: Little Gardener

'Tis the season to work and play in the garden!  While the weather this time of year keeps my tummy in constant knots, I try to overlook that and focus on all of the new life that starts popping up outside.  The mister is our master gardener and this year is no exception.  As I write this even, him and a friend are outside building 'potato towers' before the rain rolls in.  More on that later.  Last year, Rio only experienced the garden on my back or in our arms but this year, she's already digging, picking up worms, and watering the plants.  It's a whole 'nother ball game for this little one!  Yesterday, we spent some time out back as a little family enjoying the beautiful weather and beginning stages of this year's garden.
 (Those curls!!)
Rio turned 18 months just a few days ago and is all personality.  And teeth.  Mimicking, animals sounds, constant cuddles, mini-tantrums, and an insatiable appetite for life (and food!) are filling our days lately.  To say I can't wait for summer with this one would be an understatement.  To the garden and our little budding gardener!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tooth Fairy Pillows

While nobody in our house may be losing any teeth just yet, I'm sure that day will be here before we know it, as crazy as that sounds!  One of my latest creations is just for that momentous occasion - tooth fairy pillows!  I had a request to give some a whirl so I churned out a handful that are now available at Dwelling Spaces!  I made sure to make them super kid friendly so when they're not housing teeth, they can be used as play things.  I also made sure to make the pockets large and loose enough for both kid hands and adult hands!  Finally, I put a little hanger on each pillow so when the Tooth Fairy does need to visit, the pillow can be hung by the little's bed so no one forgets the prize!  I don't have any available in the shop right now BUT can if there is an interest and I'll gladly take custom orders for them as well!  Just say the word :) 
Let's get to losing some teeth! :)
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