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Etsy, Here I Come!

It’s official!! I have an Etsy shop!

Etsy is something I’ve been meaning to be a part of for ages, and I finally bit the bullet. My goal is to gradually add more and more items as time allows (as a wife, mom, friend, event planner, and personal trainer, there’s only so much time for crafting!)

I plan to add paper goods and party-planning essentials, wall art, etched glass items, handmade books and journals, maybe even some textile pieces. The sky is the limit, really!

As I’m building up my shop, I’d love for you to swing by and check it out!

For those of you who asked about this wall art…

…there are now TWO available in my shop. Choose which frame style you like best, submit your order, and it can be YOURS in just a few days! They are ready to go, just need to be shipped to a loving home. :)

Thanks for loving Z as in Zebra and inspiring me to expand my horizons. Cheers!

Burlap Book

I mentioned in this post that I love making books for other artists. Some times, other artists are even willing to trade their art for mine. Win-win!

Abi and I were meeting up to do a photoshoot for BodSchool, my personal training business. She takes incredible photos and I wanted to bring a thank you gift that I could give her until I was able to make her official sketchbook.

In college, I purchased a book that teaches how to bind books without any glue. As you can imagine, that makes the process much quicker, as you don’t have to wait for anything to dry!

I had some burlap scraps another friend had given me and decided that would be the perfect material to try something new.

I chose to make a “quarto” sized book (a fourth of a page) from 8.5 x 11 paper. The final size was roughly 4.25″ wide x 5.5″ tall…a great little book for stuffing in a purse or camera bag!

I burned the edges of the burlap to give it a more finished look (and also in hopes it would keep it from fraying so badly). Have you ever smelled burnt burlap?! Eww.

Since Abi loves green, I chose olive-colored paper for the pages. It also looks really great with the earthy burlap, don’t you think?

The stitching I chose was Long Stitch/Link Stitch. The sections are sewn together so the stitches are exposed on the spine like this:

I really like how you could see the stitches if you knew to look for them, but that the twine also blended in nicely with the burlap.

This was a really fast book the make. The thing that took the longest was learning the new stitch, but even that went quickly once I got the hang of it.

Abi, thank you again for being willing to trade art! I love making unique things for unique girls like you!

Pin It

Practice = Perfect

Though I love to decorate cakes, I can admit that there are a few things I still need to practice. The following cake (made for Easter) reminded me that I still have plenty to learn. Well, not so much “learn” as just improve!

Writing is one. It’s difficult to figure out how much space you’ll need to pen your message on a cake. Sometimes the icing consistency throws you for a loop. Sometimes you just work too fast and things get sloppy. I’ve run into all of these obstacles. Another big area where I’d like to continue to improve? “Fonts”…meaning: I can print on a cake and I can do your run-of-the-mill cursive, but that’s about it. I’d like to spend more time perfecting some other typestyles.

Looking at this photo now (two years after I made this cake), I wish I’d spent more time smoothing the icing. It’s not bad, but there’s still room for improvement.

I’d also seen this cool diagonal design in a magazine and wanted to try it. However, in my excitement, I didn’t plan it out as well as I could have, and the bottom row of diamonds ended up getting a little wonky. If I had done my due diligence, I would’ve used toothpicks to space out the markings evenly.

But as they say, “live and learn.” I think it’s important for all artists to document their work and reassess their growth from time to time. We can learn so much by looking back.

Surely all of us at least have a photo that makes us wonder WHAT we were thinking in choosing a particular hairstyle. :)

How about you? Do you have old photos that teach you lessons about life?

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

I’ve been MIA lately from the blog because I have a VERY wild, crazy, curious 11 month old that keeps me extremely busy! Every day, we read books and play outside and tear apart the Tupperware cupboard (well, he does that last one on his own). It’s been so fun spending the past several months watching his mind work as he discovers new things and learns his world.

Meanwhile, between the pooey diapers and the Baby-Led Weaning and the tickle-induced belly-laughs, I’ve stopped making time to blog, and I’ve missed it A LOT!

Yes, I LOVE being a mama. I also love being an artist. I strongly believe it’s important for kids to see their parents pursuing their passions. They learn it’s not selfish to do something you love, as long as your life is in balance. It’s great to involve your kids in your passions, too, if they are interested. Even little Beau is right by my side while I’m designing. In fact, the computer desk shelf is one of his favorite places to sit. :)

I saw a book the other day entitled “It Gets Easier!…and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers” and I got to thinking about how my son is in the middle of a tough stage. He knows what he wants but can’t really communicate. He can crawl really fast or pull up to stand, but he cannot yet walk. It would be so easy for him to be frustrated by his limitations, yet he makes the most of every moment. Which got me to thinking that I am often frustrated by my limitations and use them as excuses.

We can all find excuses why we “can’t” do something. I’m sick of making excuses. My husband and son are my daily priorities and other things come second to them and their needs. But that doesn’t mean I can’t find make time to do other things! The longer I use my guys as a reason for not being creative, the more likely I will begin to resent my role as a wife and mother and take for granted what a blessing life is and how fast time truly flies.

So…I am back to say I am back. :) I don’t know if my posts will follow a set schedule as they did before. We’ll see what I can do with the time I have. Maybe I will just post as I finish projects. Who knows? I do have several past projects that never made it on here. And it’s time to get them posted! If for no other reason than because my artistic soul needs a place to run free! I know I can find ways to be an artist AND a mom! Maybe my baby will even create some masterpieces of his own!

Thanks for sticking with me during the hiatus! I hope you’ll check back often to see what’s new!

If you have any advice on juggling many ‘hats,’ and making time for your passions, I’d love to hear it!

I’m Baaaaaack!

It’s been several months since I posted anything new here at Z as in Zebra. But I have a really great (read: CUTE) excuse:

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My first baby was born on June 23, and we’ve been pretty busy since then getting used to each other. :)

But now he’s 4 months old and getting better every day at entertaining himself while I cook or clean. I haven’t made time to create over the past few month, so I’m going to jump back into it with the Art Every Day Month challenge, which starts tomorrow! The goal is to do something creative every day in November.

Since I believe creativity can be defined very loosely, I will be exploring several avenues: the bookmaking and baking that you’re used to seeing as well as other ventures including cooking, painting, collage, stationery design, drawing/doodling, writing, makeup, fashion, photography, video, music, organizing, sewing, scrapbooking, and so forth.

I’ve been wanting to open myself up to other artistic pursuits and AEDM is the PERFECT opportunity to do so. I hope you’ll stop by throughout the month and see what I’m creating. You can even join the challenge yourself if you need a little kick in the pants to get motivated! :)

Learn more by clicking on the AEDM button!

Learn more by clicking on the AEDM button!

See you tomorrow!

Baby Sabbatical

Not long ago, I found the cutest fabric in Hobby Lobby:

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After my mom and I spent some time hashing out ideas, she created this cute maternity top for me:

cute top

And it fits The Bump and I perfectly!

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Tomorrow, I will be 33 weeks pregnant. If my mom’s prediction of Baby’s arrival time (read: early!) turns out to be correct, that leaves me only about 5 weeks before I’m officially on Mama duty.

And there’s still plenty to do, like finish setting up Baby’s space:

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Get all of Baby’s clothes and diapers washed and ready to go:

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Bake a bunch of lasagnas and quiches and other dinners that can be made ahead and frozen:

PW lasagna

(Just because I’ll take a break from baking for clients doesn’t mean I get off the hook completely!) :)

quiche

All that to say, I am taking some time off from creating. A Baby Sabbatical, if you will. In fact, “sabbatical” is defined as “a rest from work, or a hiatus, often lasting from two months to a year.”

I can’t predict whether my break will be closer to the two month end or the one year end of that spectrum. That will depend mostly on Baby’s temperament and my energy level. (I sure hope it’s not a YEAR!)

But I can tell you this for sure: I finished my last cake order this morning and I’m only taking orders for custom books through TUESDAY, MAY 25th.

So…if you are planning to want a journal, photo book, or sketchbook made for an upcoming birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion, please order NOW. I want to be able to guarantee I can get it done for you before Birth Day!

In the meantime, I will continue posting about the projects I have completed…until the queue runs dry! :)

Thank you so much for your understanding and for your patronage over the past few years. Your loving support and sweet comments mean a lot to me!

Abbi

Sunflowers and Sunshine

Since I was already in the process of making a book for Ann, my friend Amy asked me to also make one for her friend Erin as a Christmas gift. Amy went to great lengths to find out all of Erin’s favorites…Amy even went so far as to create a survey for Erin to fill out! Throughout the survey, Erin mentioned ‘sunflowers’ and ‘aspens in the fall’ several times.

That alone was enough to send me on a book cover hunt!

I was able to find the most amazing fabric for Erin’s book: bright, golden sunflowers blooming all over the cloth.

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I used black Canson paper as the facing pages so that its starkness would allow the flowers on the cover to steal the spotlight.

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Amy wanted me to be sure an include Erin’s name, so I used letter brads in the bottom right corner.

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Over the past couple of months, I’ve also been spending time thinking about how I want to brand Z as in Zebra and what my vision is for the future. The main thing for now is making sure people know where their handmade journal came from, in case they fill it up and need another! Or…even better, love theirs so much they want to get one for a friend. I just love the idea of “paying it forward”!

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Like with Erin’s book, I can use almost any fabric as a cover material. Have a favorite article of clothing from your past that you can’t wear anymore but you can’t bear to discard? Let’s discuss the possibility of making it into a book cover! The sky’s the limit!

Artist, Organized

Not two words you usually hear in the same context: artist and organized. Why is it that everyone assumes that artists are scatter-brained, messy, easily distracted and ‘starving’? I’m not sure why that is, but I’m probably one of the few artists you’ll ever meet who is able to be simultaneously creative and organized. In fact, I like finding organized ways of being creative and creative ways of being organized. :)

EXHIBIT A: I’ve had tons of scrapbooking thing-a-ma-bobs in a shoebox for years, and I wanted to display them so I could quickly and easily see what I might be able to use for each project. IMG_1833

I also wanted a place (besides a junk drawer) to store my tools and a spot to hang to-do lists and inspiring images. So…I took some measurements and created a sketch and my wonderful husband Andrew built an art board for me! :) The top center panel is 4′ x 2′ pegboard (for tools), the bottom center panel is 4′ x 2′ masonite (into which I screwed many, many little white hooks) and the side panels are 18″ x 4′ sheet metal…perfect for inspiring images and cute magnets!

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The hooks are perfect for displaying all my little embellishments.

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But over the last few months, things have gotten a bit cluttered. The board itself isn’t a huge mess, but it could be better. And the space below my bookmaking table could sure use some tidying. There are various reams of paper just stacked up, spools of ribbon bursting from a too-full shoebox, a sack of fabric that needs a permanent home, a pile of 12 x 12 scrapbook paper that will eventually become paste pages but currently lies in wait, etc. And my organized artist self wants this space to be even tidier.

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Cleanliness makes working in the studio that much more enjoyable…I can get right to a project rather than spending the first 30 minutes cleaning up and hunting for the tools I need.

Don’t even get me started on THIS mess:

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Drawers full of crafting odds and ends. Some for card-making, some for sewing, some for stamping, some for decorating. Anything that doesn’t have a place to belong has ended up in these drawers.

All of this talk about streamlining naturally got me thinking about those pesky New Year’s Resolutions that so many of us make. And getting organized will be oh-so-helpful as I attempt to tackle the following 10 resolutions in ’10:

1. Establish a more regular ‘quiet time’ routine concerning spiritual matters: Prayer, Scripture, etc.
2. Maintain a certain level of fitness and a healthy (yet no-more-than-necessary) weight gain during my pregnancy.
3. Do lots of experimenting and build up a book inventory.
4. Set up my Etsy website…I have already reserved my domain (abbiz), I just need to make some stuff to sell!!
5. Declutter the house and sell/donate/give away/use up stuff instead of having to move it when Andrew and I relocated to the country in the late spring/early summer!
6. Knock out some more cupcakes! Hoping to get about 20 more batches done before Baby comes…I have about 26 weeks til my due date, but babies’ exact arrivals are unpredictable. :) (I’ve done two batches since I originally wrote this list!)
7. Network more intentionally with other bloggers. Set up specific times during the week to surf, read, and leave comments, in hopes of creating more traffic on this blog in return.
8. Partner with other artists to create collaborative projects.
9. Dump photos to my Snapfish account and back-up DVDs monthly.
10. Try 2 new recipes per month.

How about you? Are you making plans for this new year that’s ahead of us? I’d love to hear what your hopes and goals are! Leave a comment! :)

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas…

…wait…no, it’s not! But that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about Christmas and all the gifts you’ll be buying for your loved ones!

Why not invest in a unique, hand-crafted book that will easily become a treasured keepsake? For this holiday season, I’m offering two options: Custom or Collection

CUSTOM: I love creating one-of-a-kind journals and sketchbooks and can easily customize a design for anyone on your gift list! Each book is designed-to-order, so to guarantee that your book(s) will be finished in time for Christmas, please have your orders submitted to me no later than NOVEMBER 15th. That will allow me ample time to create a design for each of your items, collect the perfect materials, and give each book the amount of artistic finesse and patience they deserve.

Please note: a 50% non-refundable deposit is required up front for all custom orders.

COLLECTION: I also currently have several designs in my inventory available for sale. I have listed images of each book as well as a brief description and price.

“Precious Pink” is 8.5″ tall by 5.5″ wide, hard-bound, 200 pages (pink paper), with a white satin ribbon bookmark.

cover

The cover is made from a wonderfully soft and fibrous patterned paper featuring flowers and dots. The spine is embellished with two diamond rhinestone-studded brads.

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The paste papers are a playful pink gingham. This book would be perfect for an expectant mother who is going to have a girl. :) Cost: $25. SOLD

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“Beaded Bohemian” is 5.5″ wide by 4.25″ tall, paper-back, 120 pages (pink paper).

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I have two of these books available, and I am willing to sell them individually or as a set. The covers are cut from the same sheet of paper, so they are similar but not identical.

set

The binding is exposed and sewn using canary yellow thread. The stitches are embellished with seed beads. Cost: $8.50 each or $15 for a set of 2. SOLD

2spines

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“Bloomer Sooner” is 8.5″ tall by 5.5″ wide, hard-bound, 224 pages (neon green paper).

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Features a recycled paper cover and wild paisley paste papers!

facingpgs

Prisma pencil illustrations and flower brads combine to embellish the front of the book. Cost: $30.

brads

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“Namaste” is 8.5″ wide by 5.5″ tall, soft-cover, 120 pages (white paper). These book covers were cut from a dark blue yoga mat.

yogabooks

I have two of these books available. I am willing to sell them individually or as a set. Both feature a Japanese stab binding technique known as “Noble Binding”. One binding has been done with blue eyelets and twine.

twine

The other binding has been done with silver eyelets and 1/8″ black satin ribbon.

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The yoga mat covers are very durable and flexible. Cost: $15 each or $26 for the set.

flexible

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“Red Velvet” is 6″ tall by 5.5″ wide (a squarish version of the original), hard-bound, 200 pages (red paper) with black satin ribbon tie closures. The Red Velvet cover is made from flocked (fuzzy) wallpaper.

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Detail of black satin ribbon tie closures. Cost: $30 SOLD

ties

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“Stitch in Time” is 6″ tall by 5.5″ wide, hard-bound, 200 pages (lavender paper).

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The cover paper features silver stitched spirals.

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The book’s lavender pages and heather gray facing pages. Cost: $25. SOLD

purplepgs

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“Wild Child” is 4.25″ wide by 5.5″ tall, soft-bound, 160 pages (red paper) with silver eyelet embellishments. The Wild Child cover is made from black pleather.

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Detail of the silver eyelets and red pages. Cost: $15 SOLD

edge

To purchase any of these books, or to place an order for a custom-designed book of your own, email me or leave a comment on this post.

With either Custom or Collection orders, shipping is available at an additional cost, or the books may be picked up from my studio. I look forward to working with you and helping make your holiday gift-giving very fun and memorable this year!

Adventure Awaits!

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For nearly three years, I have spent my Mondays-Fridays as a graphic designer for LifeChurch.tv. An AMAZING organization, LifeChurch.tv has taught me a lot about design, marketing, spirituality, and myself. Bittersweetly, all good things must come to an end, and yesterday was my final day on staff. Being a part of the “Bling Team” has been a wild ride, and I’m excited I can still keep up with my friends thanks to the Bling Blog.

Upon announcing my resignation, several people have asked me, “what’s next?” This may come as a total surprise, but this self-proclaimed “planner” doesn’t have an official plan!

A burning desire to life a creative life and pursue my artistic dreams has been building in me for some time and has come to a head thanks to a book study/personal exploration I am doing called “The Artist’s Way.” I also feel called to positively impact and empower future generations, so I will spend some time articulating how those two (huge) passions are going to play out in my life. I’ll be doing some teaching, and I’ll also continue taking orders for books and cakes.

If you’ve been lurking around Z as in Zebra, now is your chance to get in on the action! With a self-made, flexible schedule, I will have more time to fulfill orders and make custom journals and designer cakes! I’ll also be expanding my design horizons and posting about other design projects that have been percolating in my mind for a while. Stay tuned!

Thanks for all your love and support! Let the adventure begin!