March 26, 2013
DIY: Personalized Pysanky Place CardsPosted by Cathy Heck
With Easter right around the corner, we thought you might like to borrow this place card idea for your festive holiday table. Since our kitchen recently looked like it was a Ukrainian egg-making factory, I decided to make place-card-eggs for a book club meeting that was held at our house.
I love my book club, and when it’s my turn to host, I like to think of a theme for food and decor that matches the book we are reading. This month, our selection was Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan, and, although the title might suggest otherwise, food was rarely mentioned, and in fact, it was about espionage and intrigue rather than sweet bites of anything. So, I decided on a seasonal theme instead … a little touch of Easter bunny at each place setting.
You can read some tips for making these Ukrainian-style eggs in our last post, and below are some photos illustrating the before-and-after of these little place-holder gems.
1) Eggs with wax drawings 2) Several dye-bathed eggs with wax drawings 3) An egg during the wax-melting moment in the toaster oven 4) The design is revealed!
The personalized pysanky were then placed on a bit of Easter grass in little boxes that we found at Paper Source. We added some extra Easter egg candies as a nod to Sweet Tooth and Mr. Bunny. With this place-card-in-a-carryout-box, guests could just pop on the tops and take the place cards home for a happy memory of espionage and the Easter bunny.
OR, you can also simply write the name of your guests on nature’s very own dyed brown eggs for a much less time-consuming, but stylish effect. Happy holiday, and we hope the Easter bunny brings you lots of sweet surprises.
March 23, 2013
DIY Eggs: Another Blank Canvas To DecoratifyPosted by Cathy Heck
You may have seen the guest blog post on the C.R. Gibson site in which we shared our inspirations, one of which, for us, was and is blank stuff. So, you can imagine our delight with these blank orbs just begging to be embellished! (They are sitting in front of an etching I made in 1983 right before Ellen was born … blank eggs ready for adornment … even then.)
And now that Ellen is not only born, but working with me, we are still decorating these wonderful little oval canvases together.
Recently, when Ellen came to Austin for QuiltCon weekend, we decided to fit in some egg decorating after quilting hours. When we finished our daily quilting lectures, we headed home and pulled out our Ukrainian egg supplies, and started drawing with the magic wax. You will see below that we had quilts on the brain as we designed our post-QuiltCon eggs.
Visitors often ask us how to make these eggs, so here are a few tips so you can make some, too.
We have been making this family craft since our girls were about 6 or 7 years old … with supervision … it does involve fire! You can buy Ukrainian egg supplies many places on the internet. We have purchased kits from Hearthsong, and recently bought some new supplies from All Things Ukrainian. The art of the pysanky is basically a wax-resist and dye process much like batiking. (We were once told that most of our eggs are not officially Ukrainian, because we don’t always use the traditional motifs, but the method is the same, so maybe we’ll call them Texakrainian Eggs.) We like to blow our eggs a few days in advance so that they are completely dry. A Blas-Fix Egg Blower Set is a great tool for emptying your eggs with only one tiny hole (as in the egg below). In the past, we used chicken eggs only, but lately we have been trying duck eggs and even goose eggs, which are big honkin’ eggs, (so to speak). More egg means bigger canvas. Once you have your eggs ready, set out some containers for your dyes. Light a candle for heating your kistka (your wax drawing tool) and begin.
1) Heat the kistka over the candle, and scoop up a bit of bees’ wax. Then begin drawing on your egg with the wax to save the white areas. The secret is to keep your kistka at a 90-degree angle to your egg surface. 2) After you save the first color with the wax, drop your egg into your next dye color. 3) Next cover the parts of your design with wax that you want to be your second color and drop into your next dye color. Repeat and repeat. It looks like one of the Blue Men is working in this photo, but it’s actually Ellen, who is very careful to wear gloves, since many of the bright dyes are chemical-based. If you want something a little more natural, we also tried Wilton cake-decorating dyes from JoAnn Craft Store and they worked well. Next year, we are planning to try all-natural dyes, like beets and blueberries, as seen here on DesignSponge. 4) When you are finished dying your egg, it will be covered with wax. It will not be pretty. 5) In the past, we removed the wax by heating little parts of the egg with a candle, all the while trying not to burn it … but now we use the toaster oven. It is awesome. Place your egg inside on a piece of foil and watch it carefully. When you see the wax beginning to melt, take it out and wipe it with a soft cloth or paper towel. Voila! A beautiful Easter surprise. (Here are some more tips for successful Ukrainian masterpieces.)
Do you see the QuiltCon influence in our eggs above?
This year, the college spring-break weeks for our girls were at different times, so we saved the dyes between each visit. Here are some eggs that Margaret made when she came home. I know, it’s not exactly a girls-gone-wild kinda spring break, and we’re okay with that! As her consolation prize, we bought this cool egg-turner … a college gal just can’t have enough egg decorating supplies!
Below, photo left, is another example of an egg, which Margaret just finished dying. Her work is still covered with wax. Then, the photo right shows the same egg after it has been to the toaster-oven spa.
As you can see, every egg is beautiful in its own way, whether covered with detailed design or simple dots and stripes. Here’s a little example of Margaret’s pysanky path, and a method you might want to borrow if you are running out of egg-making patience.
Tip: You might guess that the process is a little repetitious, like knitting, so we recommend running a television show in the background that does not require that you look at it to understand it. Our favorite Ukranian-egg-making station is the Food Channel. And you might even discover a recipe for all the eggs you blew out of the shells.
Here are a few more examples of the diverse results you will have. Whether you use cake dyes or beet dyes, bees’ wax or crayons, we hope you enjoy your Easter-egg-making fun with family and friends. Happy springtime from the Texakrainians.
March 22, 2013
A Bubble Full of Easter EggsPosted by Cathy Heck
Just in case you are trying to think of a new way to display your Easter eggs this year, how about this? Our family has been making these Ukrainian-Art-Craft-Whatever eggs for years, so they have added up and we can’t bring ourselves to toss a single one.
This year, when I started to put them in their display tray, Neville, our beloved pup, looked at them with a canine kind of longing. In dog thoughts: “Yum, Easter treats … just for me … you are the best mom!” I instantly procured a different display vessel, which would require opposable thumbs to access the pretty loot. And, it looks great on the coffee table.
Although we love the new look for our Easter tablescape, we actually miss the tray treatment, because it allowed us the ability to touch and turn the eggs more easily, but Neville also would have liked the ability to touch and turn the eggs … and chew and swallow the eggs. So, the egg bubble it is. (Here’s a photo of Neville observing our jewels before they were whisked away and placed inside the magic dog-proof globe. Sorry, Nevs!)
March 19, 2013
QuiltCon Debuts in Austin, Texas USAPosted by Cathy Heck
You might have noticed that our blogging has been a little bit sparce lately. Here are the reasons: (1) Cathy received a sewing machine from Santa and is learning to sew during her blogging hours. More on that later. (2) Ellen’s blogging time has been filled recently with a move to a location around the corner from Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto. Deliciously more on that later. (3) Ellen and Cathy attended QuiltCon in Austin, Texas. More on that right now!
Now, about QuiltCon: oh my goodness and wow! Ellen joined me in Austin for a weekend of quilting awe. This is the first year that the Modern Quilt Guild has introduced this wonderful event, and happily, they chose Austin, Texas for thousands of modern quilters to gather. It included classes, lectures, and a juried quilt show. When I registered in the fall, I didn’t even know how to sew. We were originally planning to attend to see the fun projects that are made with our fabrics, but as a new “official stitcher,” I had a completely different experience. We were able to look at every single little stitch very, very closely. (No kidding, there was but a thimble-length between our noses and each quilt.)
Not only did we enjoy the juried show, but a separate group of quilts by Denyse Schmidt was also on display. “Modern quilting” is a little bit different than the kinds of quilts one imagines when thinking of traditional quilting. Lots of solid color and negative space, wonky shapes, and creative, improvisational designs. To attend a Modern Quilt Guild show feels a little bit like attending a show at the MOMA, only in this case, the artwork is made of fabric and thread.
The show was meticulously coordinated. The modern color palette used for all of the pre-show advertising was replayed throughout the show with signage, literature and even the hand-crafted award ribbons, shown below.
With all the Modern Quilt Guilds (MQG) in town, an extra treat for us was that several members from Ellen’s very own Bay Area MQG came to Austin, and with their friendly personalities combined with adorable Australian accents, they were most certainly the stars of the night when they took a break from quilting to go boot-scootin’ at the Broken Spoke!
The next day, we toured the main lecture hall, where the walls were adorned with quilts created by Modern Quilt Guilds across the country, for the Block Challenge using the QuiltCon color story. The blocks were sent ahead of time, and twenty were chosen to make a quilt that was selected for one lucky winner. The remainder of the blocks were then made into many amazing one-of-a-kind quilts. Following the show, all of the quilts were given to the Austin Children’s Shelter as a way of saying thank you to the city of Austin. I wish I could see a photo of a room in the Children’s Shelter filled with these beautiful modern works of art wrapped around little Austinites.
We attended several lectures, and enjoyed every single one of them. A highlight for us was to see our friend, Laurie Wisbrun, speaking with a panel discussing the business of fabric design from the perspective of designers, as well as manufacturers. The lectures covered a wide range of topics from David Butler’s photography secrets to Anna Maria Horner’s design process to the keynote speech by Denyse Schmidt, sharing her constantly evolving creative journey. But interestingly, although every presentation was different, they all resounded with one similar message: Be True to Yourself. We marched out of QuiltCon rejuvenated and ready to draw, paint, mouse and stitch. And, of course, to be true to ourselves.
And in keeping with the lesson, we decided that to be truly true to ourselves, we needed to top off our last day with a delicious crepe from the very authentic crepe restaurant, Le Cafe Crepe, across the street from the convention center. Quilts topped off with crepes … it just doesn’t get any better than that!
March 17, 2013
Introducing the Little Forest Soft Flannel Collection!Posted by Ellen Heck
This sweet bundle of nap-worthy flannel is fresh off the presses this week! Little Forest flannel for David Textiles under the CathyLoo brand should be hitting stores soon, and there are already a few bundles here on the Etsy site.
It’s fabric season here in the studio and we’re loving every minute of it. These forest daisies remind me of the flowers popping up all over the lawns now that we’re only a few days away from the official start of Spring!
There are also still a few more days to enter the Peek-a-boo flannel giveaway. Have a great week!
March 14, 2013
New Flannel Fun and a Giveaway!Posted by Ellen Heck
We love it when our new products arrive on the studio doorstep! Since the manufacturing time is often several months, it’s fun to revisit designs we haven’t seen in a while.
Peek-a-boo, I love you! flannel for David Textiles under our CathyLoo brand arrived last week, and we love how soft and snuggly the flannel made these cute critters.
To celebrate, we’re giving away one of these 6-piece fat-quarter bundles to a randomly-selected commenter to this post! And if you tell us another favorite game you like to play with your little one, we might try to translate it to soft fabric next season! We will choose a winner on Thursday, March 21 at 10pm CST.
And here is a Peek-a-boo, I love you! camouflaged Easter egg made by Cathy! (While we were together in Austin for QuiltCon, we snuck in a little Easter egg dying … more to come.) This egg reminds me of a character from Monsters Inc. practicing its camo skills. :)
We don’t have any links to online stores yet, because most of this collection is just shipping now, but we do have a few bundles here on the Etsy site, and we’ll be sure to post links when Peek-a-boo flannel becomes available. Happy snuggling!
February 20, 2013
Hopping into a new season: Pottery Barn bunny pillows and towelsPosted by Ellen Heck
It’s always so much fun to see artwork evolve! Pottery Barn has recently released a set of bunny-themed pillows and hand towels for Spring 2013 from some of our designs. Here is a sketch and watercolor for this project from back in April of last year. I love how they paired the natural linen-cotton blend with the subtle colors of the sweet bunnies.
These glamour shots make me want to wear an icing-colored dress, find a kid in a seersucker jumper, and do some serious Easter egg hunting!
Quick Note: It looks like these guys have already sold out! (Good news, I guess, but I’m not sure if PB reprints collections or not. We’ll update this post if we hear anything new.) Happy almost-spring!
February 14, 2013
Happy Valentine’s DayPosted by Cathy Heck
You just have to get your corny Valentine puns out of your system on February 14th, or they might show up all year long! Eat lots of chocolate and have a punderful day. Cathy and Ellen
February 13, 2013
Uh oh, Valentine’s Day Is Tomorrow. This Idea Is Yours.Posted by Cathy Heck
If the big day of love and adoration has caught you by surprise, visit the C.R. Gibson blog for our guest post about this quick and easy (and pleasing to the eye candy) DIY gift. We also included the labels to download and print. All you have to do is fill in the “12 Things I Love About You” part. Following your giving of above list, you will probably receive a dozen hugs back atcha … especially if you write this in box #12: “I love it when you give me a dozen hugs.”
Happy Valentine’s Day x 12 from Cathy (and Ellen, who now knows about her Valentine surprise)
February 5, 2013
Back to BotanicalsPosted by Ellen Heck
During my first Chicago spring, we had a botanical illustration course held off-campus at the Garfield Park Conservatory every Thursday. For much of the semester, there was an open snow-coated field between the CTA stop and the entrance that made me feel, opening the glass door of the tropical rainforest room, like the Willy Wonka kids entering the candy room before Gene Wilder sings Pure Imagination.
The trek to UC Berkeley’s Botanical Garden is much more hospitable, up a path occasionally crossed by banana slugs behind the UC football stadium. The gardens are mostly outdoors, with different areas labeled and planted with the flora of a different continent. The above ode to a Peruvian lily is the result of our most recent visit to Berkeley’s South America. It would be great to start visiting more regularly. Can you make a new year’s resolution in February?
And speaking of botanical beauty, I was searching the web for images of pine needles for a new Christmas collection we are putting together and stumbled across these gorgeous microscopic shots from the University of Wisconsin at Madison’s botany website. The one above is a cross section of a pine needle and below, apparently a “vascular bundle” of that needle. Who knew a vascular bundle could be so beautiful?
They can be science/Rorschach tests too. The first image looked like a face to me at first, and then I started seeing two elf feet with green shoes and red socks clicking their heels – must be that Christmas collection on the mind. Anyone else see anything in those cell walls?« Newer Posts — Older Posts »