December 21, 2013

Neville’s Christmas Croon

Posted by Cathy Heck

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Many of you might remember that Neville began his singing career as a mere pup. His talent was discovered when he was only six months old, while the girls were singing the woo-woo-woo part of the Charlie Brown Christmas song. Suddenly, Neville began to chime in. A star dog was born. Now, four years later, he has perfected his craft with hours of hard work and by singing “Happy Birthday” to family members via telephone. We think he might be ready for the big time … the Heck family Christmas card video.

We hope this little recording brings you 40 seconds of Christmas joy.  Love, the Hecks

 

December 17, 2013

The Christmas Tree Library

Posted by Cathy Heck

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When the girls were growing up, we read a story or two every night before bed. I know you know that delightful scent of a just-bathed child curled up in your lap with a book. Heaven!

And extra heavenly is when the first day of December arrives, and we get to pull down all of our Christmas books. I put them in a basket right under the tree. While our tree waits for presents to arrive, this basket of books is gift aplenty.

My girls are all taller than I am now, so they can’t really sit in my lap … comfortably anyway. But, when they come home for the holidays, I will often see them pull out a favorite book from the basket, curl up on the sofa, and remember.

You might want to add this little holiday decoration to your own house. Depending on the style of your decor, you could put them in all kinds of containers from a wrapped box to a red wagon. Oooo, I wonder if I need a red wagon? No, Cathy, you do not!

Here are some of our favorites that you might want to try if you are just starting your tree library. I put them in the order that their book jackets are worn and tattered:

1) The Sweet Smell of Christmas, A Golden Scratch ‘n Sniff Book, by Patricia Scarry, pictures by J.P. Miller.

I have to admit that this one is the most frayed, and, in fact, we are on our third copy, due to its scents having been sniffed away over time. Because of this book, Santa has not ever forgotten to place a juicy orange in the stockings, even if it has meant a midnight run to the grocery store.

2) The Polar Express, written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.

And here is a tale about a little girl who had the chance to meet the writer of the story she loved.

3) Mousekin’s Christmas Eve, story and pictures by Edna Miller.

We have had this book since 1986! Its book jacket looks like it could be used as nesting material for Mousekin himself.

4) Why Christmas Trees Aren’t Perfect by Richard H. Schneider, illustrated by Elizabeth J. Miles.

Who would ever guess that a small little pine tree could have such a big heart? This story added a little magic to many of our tree-choosing occasions, when we could discover the little gaps and imperfections that made our tree perfect.

5) A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote, and there are many versions, but our favorite is illustrated by Beth Peck.

When your children are a little older, this is a wonderful book to read together. You might read it first so you can decide if your child is ready for it. When we read it these days, my girls still have to say, “Oh no, is Mom going to cry this year, again?” Even though I have to use a tissue at the end, the happy memories throughout the story will keep you smiling all season long.

There are so many more, but those are our top five most tattered. What are your favorites? Please share so that new moms and dads can begin to collect their Christmas tree library collection. Merry reading!

Categories: about us,holiday Tags: ,

December 12, 2013

Goodnight Classroom, Hello World

Posted by Cathy Heck

We are so excited to announce our new full-time member of the Cathy Heck Studio team. Julianna Heck. Yes, she is related. Julianna (sister to Ellen and Margaret) has been working for the studio part-time for two years. When she first began her college career, she was headed down the athlete path. But, lucky for us, and although it was hard at the time, we are so happy that she set aside her lacrosse stick to pick up a pencil and a mouse. Graduating with a graphic design degree this weekend, Julianna will continue to help us develop new collections, as well as use her skill with all things digital to update our shop site. (And, we might still utilize her fast legs at trade shows to run back to the room and get more flyers.)

For Julianna’s first official assignment, we have asked her to write a guest blog post.

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Goodnight Classroom
by Guest Blogger, Julianna Heck

The day that I thought would never come is finally here.

It’s over. After two college degrees, one high school diploma, one 8th grade certificate, a couple of gold stars, and several huge sighs of relief from my teachers throughout the years, I am finished with school. In a few days, I will be graduating from VCUarts with a graphic design degree. In order to graduate from the graphic design program at VCUarts, all graduating seniors are required to present their work in a collaborative show.

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Here is my display. I presented a piece inspired by a children’s book I wrote and illustrated for one of my classes, The Apartment at the End of Stitchington Lane. I chose one of the characters and recreated him to be the size of my allotted space within the gallery, and included three copies of the book, so that viewers could read the masterpiece if they wanted, since it’s not published … yet.

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Opening night is now over. The angst-riddled days preceding the show have now transformed into feelings of complete shock. The first-grade me would have been so excited for this time in my life to come and go. However, things have changed since then. I can now read, which is great. And mixing up letters while reading doesn’t bother me. I now view my Dyslexia and ADD mind as a ‘gift.’ (Well, my mom and dad do, at least). I didn’t realize it was really the last time I would be in a classroom until thirty minutes before my last class was about to end. I looked up, and instantly felt like I needed to say goodbye to everything in the room. Not just the people, but the things too. So, my inner Goodnight Moon came out.

Goodbye desks.
Goodbye tests.
Goodbye to all my midterm reviews.

Goodbye pens.
And to the stinky bathrooms.

Goodbye fluorescent lights.
And to the janitor who works at night.

Goodbye teachers.
And to the noiseless speakers.

Goodbye art school.
Goodbye classmates.
It’s time to put on my big girl shoes.

Part of me thought I should be sad. I remember asking myself, “Are you sad? Should you pretend to be sad? How about a tear?” The answer is, “No!” Hallllelujah! I made it. I did it! It is time to move on to new adventures in the cutest place on earth–Cathy Heck Studio, of course!

P.S. I know this isn’t a letter, but if it was, I would like to say thank you to all of my teachers, homework enforcers, mentors, coaches, friends and family over the years who have watched me struggle and now succeed. Your help has made me who I am today and I am so grateful that I wasn’t ever left behind. (Mentally that is, because if this was a foot race, we all know who would win).

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December 6, 2013

Creative Expression Then and Now

Posted by Cathy Heck

 

Today is Julianna’s Senior Show at VCUarts.

To all young parents out there in blogland, if you give your little artist some markers and paper, and she decides that paper is not her preferred substrate for artistic expression, don’t worry …

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… because one day, she might be graduating from art school, where face painting is not only allowed, but celebrated. Congratulations Jules. And, heck yes, have a great show.

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Categories: about us

December 3, 2013

It’s the wrapping time of year!

Posted by Ellen Heck

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Now that’s it’s officially the Christmas season, we’re excited to show off one of our new designs, Snow Angels, which will debut this year on boxed cards and wrapping paper at DesignDesign and on glittered fabric by David Textiles at Jo-Ann stores.

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November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving from Cathy Heck Studio

Posted by Cathy Heck

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We knew those extra Surtex mustaches would come in handy one day.

Happy Thanksgiving to your family from ours. Hope you have a wonderful day full of friends, family and delicious food, which may or may not include a handsome turkey.

 

Categories: about us Tags:

November 25, 2013

Sketching Together: 7 Tips for Family Drawing

Posted by Cathy Heck

I am in awe of Mica, the artist Ellen featured in her last blog post, who lets her four-year old finish her drawings for a wonderful collaborative result. When we had four-year olds, I’m not sure that I could have been quite so collaborative. I think I would have been sneaky and would have offered them my rejects to finish. “Here honey, this is a very special drawing that Mommy made. Will you finish it?” “But, Mommy, you just pulled that out of the trash can.”

Even though I wasn’t quite the team player that Mica is, Ellen’s post reminded me of so many shared drawing moments we have had through the years. And, happily, it has really paid off, since my little sketchers are now big sketchers for the studio. And, we do now, in fact, finish the work of one another … for wonderful collaborative results.

Many of our early sketching-together occasions took place when we traveled together.  Some of our most interesting journals were made when we were in Japan for four summers teaching English at a summer camp there. Here is one of my favorites, created by Margaret at the Fujiwa Hotel. We were apparently drawing and humming together. Inscription on the back: “Im drawing mommy in this picher.” It was a picher within a picture!

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This is the image that I was sketching of the entrance to our hotel, while Margaret and I were humming. It was so much fun to pull out some of the old sketch books and relive the wide-eyed wonder of a new place and different culture. (the wide-eyed wonder of the children AND their grown-ups.)

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People often ask me if I think that children inherit their artistic skills genetically. Maybe. But, I think that providing an environment full of art-making ‘stuff’ and lots of creative opportunities is probably the most important way to nurture future artists and inventive thinkers.

Here are my little tips for sketching with your children.

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1. Always have paper and pens handy in your bag everywhere you go. Keep them in a plastic bag, because tops are occasionally (often) left off and then there goes your purse with a giant ink splot. Or, these excellent bags make perfect supply holders, and they are fashionable to boot. (If you are a dad, you might have to start carrying a dad bag, which can be very hip these days, by the way.)

2. Children (and you) do not need to draw directly into a sketch book. Feel free to glue “restaurant drawings” into a journal later. Sometimes a beautiful blank journal is a little bit intimidating. Keep a stack of paper or perforated journal pages handy, and you can pick and choose your favorites to adhere to the real sketchbook later. This is a great journal with heavy paper for pasting favorites later.

3. If your restaurant waiter is taking for-ev-er (more than 3 minutes in toddler time), play a fun drawing game: Here’s an easy one: One person draws a line, and everyone guesses what she is drawing, then another line, another guess, another line, until finally someone guesses correctly and wins (but not too loudly, as we are using our restaurant voices). If the food is STILL not there, repeat and repeat.

4. Above tips sound like we only eat out, but really, the kitchen is our biggest studio. Keep your art supplies handy in a drawer next to the silverware. (Chopsticks can go in either drawer.) Throw paper and pens at your children all the time. (Glue and glitter, too, if you don’t mind a little fairy dust in your beans.) While you wait for the pasta water to boil, you can sit down to draw, as well. Your children will be shocked.

5. Although I LOVE technology, as you know, since I am visiting with you from a screen, I recommend that little ones start their sketching careers with real pencils, pens and paints, instead of pixels. Pixels can come later. I guarantee that their pixel work will be better for it.

6. Be sure to write the date on the back of all sketches before throwing them into the “To Save” box. This is very important. We have an old drawing of mine that was either made when I was 6 (in which case I was amazing with perspective) or when I was 12 (in which case it’s amazing that I am an artist at all.)

7. Capture every sketching moment during the early years. There is really nothing more pure in composition and color than the drawing of a child.

 

 

And, if you do this when your little ones are little, one day, you may find yourself sketching with them at the Louvre! Happy drawing or painting or sculpting or gluing with your petites artistes.

Below: about 15 years later, sketching at the Louvre: Angels seem to pop up in the drawings of the Heck girls, whether they are 5 years old or 25.

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P.S. I highly recommend side-by-side sketch-a-thons for grandparents, too. Although, you might want to forego the glitter … you already paid your fairy-dust dues.

 

Categories: about us Tags: ,

November 22, 2013

The not-quite-so-blank slate

Posted by Ellen Heck

I just ran across this sweet sketchbook collaboration between a mother and her four-year-old daughter.  The story is adorable, and the shared sketches fresh and fun – the magical fruit of a multi-generational partnership.

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I loved reading this because Cathy (my mom) and I (and now Julianna) get to do this every day – and it’s just as much fun after three decades!  While there is nothing more pure than the line-quality of a four-year-old, it’s also extremely satisfying to see the sleek and type-rich website your graphic-designer little sister made for the family business.  :)  Can you tell what we’ve been working on these days? (Coming soon.)

Here was a recent collaborative sketchbook Cathy and I did for C.R. Gibson’s Markings Journals series.  It was a fun project, and we think a lot of our artist friends from Surtex might be starting some more shared journals in the near future.  We can’t wait to see them!

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Here’s another of my favorites from Mica Angela Hendricks and her daughter, Myla (I love the little toes on the prancing dino):

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October 31, 2013

Empty Nester Confession: I Dressed Up Our Dog … Again

Posted by Cathy Heck

It’s Halloween and all of our girls are now in college or beyond, and I have no one to dress up. There was a day when I feverishly created clever–yet fast costumes … all, without sewing skills. But, now, I can actually sew. Just think of the masterpieces I could have created for my girls if I had learned to sew earlier. I am almost certain that my costumes would have made it into this video, Halloween Tribute From Awkward Family Photos.

But, alas, this year, the only ‘person’ in the house who needs a quick and clever Halloween ensemble is … Neville, our dog.

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Above is a mock-up of the costume that Neville requested. Of course, he chose the most popular costume of the year: What Does the Fox Say? from this viral video by Ylvis, and I knew we would never find one in his size. Plus, all of my sewing time last week was dedicated to Quilt Market samples. So, poor Neville was out of luck, and had to choose a repurposed headpiece from our “hats and headresses” box.

Which is your favorite look for our fella? 1) N’awlins Neville, 2) Heavy Metal Fella, 3) Peter Panville, 4) Spider-Nevs, 5) The Cat In the Hat Dog, 6) Professor Neville McMutt.

I think I will have to vote for the professor look … it seems to bring out his inherent intellectual giftedness.

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Happy Halloween everybody and enjoy dressing your little ones, because before you can say, “boo,” they will be dressing themselves for a college Halloween party (now that really is scary!)

Have a fun and safe night of trick-or-treating! From Cathy and Neville, reporting to you from the Heck family emergency costume closet.

 

October 30, 2013

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

Posted by Cathy Heck

We’re home from Quilt Market, and although we loved every minute, the term, jiggety, is probably a good one to describe our sojourn. We were stuck on the Katy Freeway, just outside of Houston, for 4 hours! Thank goodness we all like each other!

But once we finally arrived, it was so much fun to see our wonderful clients and friends. And thankfully, we made it just in the nick of time to give a little tutorial about Cuteville County Fair, our new collection for quilt stores, and about the way Ellen and I work together from our studios in Austin and Berkeley.

We loved meeting all of the quilt store owners … here’s a little video snippet of the fun.

When we arrived at the Henry Glass booth, we were delighted to see another beautiful Cuteville quilt made by Jean Anne Sharrai.  It felt like a shoemaker’s elf had been stitching through the night! If you are needing a fun and easy-to-make play or picnic quilt, here is a free download with the instructions for this pattern. (We were able to bring it back to the studio so we could take pictures for you.)

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We were intrigued by the way Jean Anne backed the quilt, too–using bits and pieces from the panel.  It gave it a vintage feel of days gone by when a quilt really was made from scraps of this and that.

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And if you look very closely, you can see that the actual quilting part has its own story: paisley swirls for the background reflecting the bandana border, and cloud stitches mimicking the clouds behind the ferris wheel. Thank you Jean Anne for stitching up some surprises for us.

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We will be back with a few more Cuteville DIY projects that you can make.  I know you can do it, because I did it during my learn-to-sew-right-now month. Cheerio from Cuteville.

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