Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Xmas requests officially closed.

I'd just like to announce that I can't take on anymore plush/craft requests for the holidays.  I added a few more to the request list after my last post, but I'm now officially maxed out on what I can finish and get to customers on time for the holiday. I'd like to thank all those who have requested items, and can't wait to get your things to you all. For those that may have wanted a Suzannah Ashley item, never-fear!  I'll be back to crafting things in no time. So expect to see a lot of new fun things during the second quarter of 2012!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

After Turkey-day catch up

My last post was the beginning of October? Holy smokes! I knew I was busy, but wow, seeing it in concrete dates makes it mind-blowing. I didn't end up participating in the craft fairs. There just wasn't enough time to DO ALL THE THINGS (partial reference to one of my favorite Hyperbole and a Half posts. Work, commissioned crafts, a sister's wedding, holidays, all of it seemed to pile up, and next thing I know it I'm here, at the end of November. Now its time for more crafts, more holidays, and soon my wedding.  I see a vicious circle forming here!

Currently my Etsy shop is empty. Its very sad indeed. It will soon have some items back up in it, many of them are custom orders for Sharktoplushies. A lot of people are wanting them to give as gifts for the holidays. In addition to the open orders for them I have, I'm going to make a few others to put up in the shop, and sadly that will be my last few items for sale until after the wedding in March.  However, someone else has their own version of a Sharktopus Plush for sale on Etsy. So if you aren't able to get one from me, you can try there.

But I'll still be posting some crafts and artwork that I've yet to post about. I have somethings to wrap up for the upcoming Baby Canvases show that opens this Saturday at The Soundry. Also, I have several crafty presents I'm working on for family and friends. I will still be planning for my shop reopening after I'm married, lots of ideas and brainstorming to do. Luckily I have the kind of brain that thinks non-stop.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Its October!

I absolutely love fall.  Fall and winter are my favorite times of the year. And now that its October I'm thinking about Halloween, which is also another favorite holiday of mine.  I don't necessarily go out and do much in celebrating the holiday, but its probably my favorite holiday aesthetically. Images of pumpkins, black cats, ghosts, and skulls are all some of my favorite imagery anyway, and Halloween has it all!

Because I know there are many people out there who love zombies, and because I haven't posted this piece yet, here is a zombie painting.  I created this for a partner in a Craftster swap. She really liked zombies so I decided to try and make her this painting, showing the cuter side of the undead.

Zombie <3 brains

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

FREE PATTERN - Skully Unicorn

Hello everyone.  I've decided to occasionally put up free patterns, as well as tutorials from time to time.  So, to start off, here is an embroidery pattern for a unicorn. I came up with this design while trying to find a unicorn pattern to use for a craft swap. Not finding anything that really jumped out at me, I decided to make my own.  Now I'm offering to the glorious interwebs for all to enjoy!

Click on the image to open and download the full size.

Here is the piece I made with this pattern. I eliminated the skull, and added some short stitches in the mane and tail to give it a hair like appearance, as well as some satin stitches to the horn and hooves.

Unicorn embroidery

If you use the pattern, I'd love to see what you do with it!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Things have been busy for the past couple of weeks. Because of this, I've been planning out the rest of my year to try and balance both work, crafts and my upcoming wedding. All of this planning has led me to make some announcements for upcoming craft fairs, commission taking, and my Etsy operating statuses.

Craft Fairs:
September 24 - ART CARNAGE at the Soundry in Vienna, VA.
October 29 - ART CARNAGE at the Soundry in Vienna, VA.
ETSY Shop Updates: (actual date/time of updates TBD) 
September 26 - 30Big Shop Update. Introducing NEW ITEMS!
October 17 - 21Shop Update.
November 21 - 25Shop Update.
December 5 - 9: Shop Update.

January 5 - April 7: The shop will be closed during this time as I will be preparing for my wedding. Being who I am this means a lot of DIY things, so I'll be devoting all my free crafting time to wedding related things. I will be updating my blog and other sites with the projects I'm working on for the wedding, so there will still be some crafty fun to read about.  The shop will reopen after I become a Missus.

I'll still be taking commissions on a rolling basis, up through January, depending on when the item/s are needed.  Currently October is full. I'll be in contact with those who have requested items shortly to finalize dates, plans, prices, etc.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Stubby Dog Art Auction - Teasers

Back in July I was asked to participate by donating some items to Stubby Dog's Art Auction.  Stubby Dog is a Non-Profit organization dedicated to changing the public perception of pit bulls to allow people to see that pit bulls are truly loving animals, pets and friends. While I do not have a pit bull, I do own three black cats, who are also often discriminated against as pets. Also, every pit bull I've personally met has always been a sweetie pie, and nothing other than a big ball of happy.

I'm working on a few things for this auction, but I thought I'd give a sneak peak of some of the felt ornaments that will be included. I'm hoping to show the cute side of this breed through my pieces. I think this ornaments are doing the job pretty well. :D

Felt Pitbull Ornament - Brown

Felt Pitbull Ornament - Gray

I really like how these turned out.  I may consider making some for my Etsy store after the Auction is over.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Delicious fall-style dinner

The other day I was inspired to make a nice dinner that would be perfect for a fall night. I know its not fall yet, but its my favorite season, and I wanted something reminiscent of it.  I was inspired by a recipe I found on for Apple Butter Pork Loin.

I did make some changes to the recipe, but it turned out super delicious. So did the roasted acorn squash stuffed with apple and onion couscous.  I'm listing the adjustments I made below. There are probably some more adjustments I'd make to the couscous recipe, but I will list what I did, and then list the adjustments I'll probably make next time.

Apple butter glazed fall dinner

Apple butter glazed pork tenderloin
First I used a pork tenderloin instead of a pork loin. The main difference this made was a shorter cooking time since its a smaller cut of meat.  Also I marinated the pork for 4 hours in a plastic bag with about 2 cups of apple juice with a bit of apple cider vinegar and about a 1/2 tsp of each, sage, rosemary, and salt. When I removed the tenderloin, I sprinkled it all over with salt and sage and rosemary and gave it a good rub before putting it in the oven to begin cooking.  Follow the cooking instructions as given in the original recipe, except for modifying the cooking times for the size of meat being used.

Apple butter glaze
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
I also adjusted the apple butter glaze.  I used about 1/2 -3/4 tsp of cinnamon and ground cloves.  I also added about 1/2 tsp of sage.

Roasted acorn squash stuffed with apple and onion couscous
*Note, I made the entire box of couscous which is way more than needed, but great for having leftovers.
  • 1 acorn squash
  • 1 box of Near East Plain couscous
  • 2 cups of apple juice
  • 2 apples
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil, salt, onion powder
- Cut the squash in half, and clean out the seeds.
- Spray a small cookie sheet, or roasting pan with some nonstick spray, and place the squash "flesh down" on the sheet/pan.  Bake for 30 min at 350-375.
- After 30 min, take out the squash, and brush it with the apple butter glaze.  Place back in the oven, but this time "flesh up" for another 30 min at 350-375.
- While the squash is cooking, peel and cut 2 apples and 1 onion into small pieces.
- Put 2 cups of apple juice on to boil.
- Saute the onions in about 1 tbsp of olive oil and a little salt and onion powder, to taste, adding the apples halfway through until soft.
- Pour an entire box of Near East plain couscous in the boiling apple juice. Stir in the apple and onions. Cover and remove from heat and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes.
- Fluff with fork.
- When the squash are finished, fill their cavities with about 2/3 to 3/4 a cup of the couscous. Put back in the oven for 5-10 minutes if desired.
- Drizzle some of the pan drippings from the roasted pork on top of the couscous and serve.

What I'd do different
- I'd brush the acorn squash with some olive oil or butter before beginning to cook just to help keep it moist.
- I forgot to add some oil or butter to the "water", in this case apple juice as it was boiling.  I'd make sure to add it next time so that the couscous wasn't as sticky while eating.
- I'd use 1 cup of apple juice and 1 cup of chicken stock instead of 2 cups of apple juice, for cooking the couscous. Especially if not serving with the pork, and not being able to use the pork/apple butter drippings/juices.
- I'd probably adjust the apple/onion ratio to 1:1

And that's it. It didn't really take that long at all, and the thing I liked best was having enough time between things to prep the next step. I'm normally super bad at getting a meal all together at the same time, so this was perfect for slow pokes in the kitchen like myself.  :D

Monday, August 8, 2011

Plans for the rest of the year

Things have been a bit busy lately. I'm glad I was able to get a few things finished and up in my shop before things got hectic with work.  Now that our big conference is over, I'll be making things and posting more regularly.

I'm planning what I'll be working on for the remainder of the year.  It seems a bit early to be thinking about the end of the year, but I know from experience that time sneaks up and whizzes by way faster than you think.  I recently found out that there is going to be an Artomatic even held in Frederick, MD. It wasn't on the main Artomatic site, and instead has its own site. I've been wanting to do an Artomatic event for a while now, so I was considering participating in this one.

But I've decided not to this time.  I've got a lot of projects on the "to do" list. I'm in a few craft swaps, and I've got a few craft fairs coming up. Not to mention holiday items and more plushies.  I've sold my two ready-to-ship Sharkoplushies, and already have a customer who bought a made-to-order one. Plus there is another show I want to do coming up soon as well.  So timing wise, its just not right.  Hopefully, I'll be less busy and more prepared next time an Artomatic show comes around.

I also am considering sending some of my work, like my ornaments for Art Star to look at and decide if they might like to sell them in their shop and on their website.

Besides all the art and craft things I have planned, I'm looking at teaching myself more about designing websites in WordPress.  I need to learn more about WordPress for work anyway, and I'd really like to learn how to design sites in WP.  I've hand-coded sites, and do web editing for my job, so I'm already familiar with HTML and CSS.  I'd like to get used to using XHTML coding, as well as learning a little PHP, at least enough so to be able to create customized websites and templates through WP's system. I look forward to making a Suzannah Ashley website, and my wedding website.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New and improved, Sharktoplush!

Several months ago I made a sharktopus plush for a friend. I posted that version in here a while back. I have since revised the pattern a bit and made another large one for the director, but something terrible happened. He started multiplying! Now there is a adolescent and baby sized sharktopus, and I'm afraid for all the beach goers out there. Especially with the baby, he's super cute, but deadly. Don't let his cute baby charm or the fact that he hasn't grown in all his teeth yet fool you! He'll chomp your ankles the second you turn around!

sharktoplush medium - cute face
Who can resist this face? Well you better if you want to live!

sharktoplush medium - crawing to get a snack
Uh oh, it looks like a beach babe grabbed his attention. Looks like he's going to get himself a snack.

Murder and mayhem make for an exhausting day. Time for them to rest a little before their next attack.

NOTE: I'll be using him as my example for my "How to attach tentacles" Tutorial I'm working on. Hopefully I'll have it ready by the end of the month. :)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Featured in Stuffed Magazine + Shop Reopening!

A while back I mentioned having a couple of pieces accepted into Stuffed Magazine. Well here they are:

Stuffed Magazine July 2011

I wasn't sure which issue my stuff would be appearing in.  My fiance came in with the mail a few days ago, and had already found my pages and marked them so when I asked if there was anything for me, he replied, "yup" and showed me this! Its so neat and weird at the same time to see my little creatures and my write ups about them in a printed piece put out by someone else.  So now I need to go buy an extra copy of the July 2011 issue to send to my Mama.

Other exciting news, I'm reopening my Etsy shop.  I've been trying to find the free time to wrap up some things so that I could reopen, but have been super busy with work lately.  However, I can finally announce an official shop reopening date.  The Cuteness Returns - Tuesday, July 5 @ 2pm EST.  YAY!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cell Block 316

Been pretty busy with some plush preparations for a grand shop reopening.  But I took a 24 hours break to participate in The Soundry's Cell Block 316 art show.  Artists were "locked up" at the Soundry for 24 hours, and had to complete as many works as they could. All projects had to be started and completed within that 24 hour period.  It was a really fun experience and I would totally do it again. It was nice to kinda be forced to make art, because you really had nothing else to do. I couldn't distract myself with a chore, or go watch tv, I had to make art, or do nothing.

I think I got some really cute pieces out of the show, including a couple that may end up as plushies!

Tiny Teddy


Cat grin



This last one was a collaboration piece with another artist, Brittany Hunter. She painted a background and asked me to put some of my little creatures on it, so I did!

Reginold's Aquariam

Now that this has been wrapped up, its back to work on getting my shop opened again, especially since I have another piece of exciting news coming soon. :D

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pattern tip from Red Marionette

Just saw a great tip from Red Marionette, on making and using patterns from stiff felt.  Its a great idea and can't wait to try it out. Especially for some of my larger plush since it might save me a lot of time I spend tracing patterns now. I have a feeling it will work similarly with the fleece I use for plush as well as with felt I use for ornaments.  :D

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sharktopus - templates in the work

Whoa!  Its been a busy last several weeks.  In addition to 2 wholesale orders, I had to travel out to Seattle for work.  Its been a while settling back into things. After returning, there was work stuff to catch up on, wrapping up a wholesale order, wedding planning things, and some unexpected kitchen floor repairs. 

So now that all of that is easing up, except the kitchen floor which still needs to be done, I am getting back into things.  I had said I was holding off on making things for Suzannah Ashley to sell, but I really just can't help myself. I've had SO MANY requests, particularly for Sharktopus Plush. Plus I can't stand not having some kind of creative outlet.  I've already started cutting out the pieces for holiday ornaments, so I can get a head start on those. I had no idea how popular the Sweet Owls would be last year.

Also, I've drafted a revised pattern for the sharktopus plush.  Just added a few minor tweaks. I've also drafted a pattern for a smaller version that I will test out tonight. So yes, that means there will soon be sharktopus plushies available in my shop.

And because I've been asked a couple of times now, while I'm working on making some sharktopi, I'll be putting together a tutorial on how I attach tentacles to these types of plush. So if you ever were wondering how to attach tentacles, then keep an eye out for that tutorial.  :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Dead Bat Plush - Clothes That Kill!

A few weeks back, I was contacted by Clothes That Kill! about coming up with a plush of their Dead Bat Logo. Its the first time I was asked to make something to produce in multiples and sell at wholesale. It took a few prototypes to come up with a design that both was easy enough to reproduce in multiples, and was as close to the original artwork as possible. After several revisions to the pattern, a final prototype was made.

Dead Bat Plush - Final Version

Going through the different prototypes allowed me to adapt my techniques and learn more about plush construction, enhancing my techniques.  Once his pattern was finalized I made several more...

Dead Bat Plush - Ready for pick up

But I turned around for a minute and they all flew off!  I finally found them hiding in an empty shelf on my bookcase.

Dead Bat Plush - Hiding in a cave

I guess they didn't like the daylight so much.  I managed to wrestle them into a box and deliver them to their buyer.  And another 10 to be made and delivered before the end of April.  :D

They'll be available exclusively through Clothes That Kill!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Early Cuyler Plush

My sister is a big fan of the Adult Swim show Squidbillies. Her favorite character is of course, Early Cuyler. Knowing this, her fiance and I conspired to make a plush Early for her birthday.

I did some research both to get an idea of his facial expressions, and an idea on how to construct him.  I came across vikangaroo, who had made a custom plush Early too. I got a better idea of how to construct his head, but decided to go with my floppy tentacles and to use different techniques for the face.

Here he is all stuffed. I'm using my hat to get an approximate measure for his head, so that I could make his hat.  Also this is before his mouth was embroidered.

Squid Plush with hat

I actually really like him like this, he's almost like a Clockwork Orange octopi.

And here is the finished piece with hat and his mouth sewn on:

Early Cuyler Plush

My sister loved it! And a few weeks later when we both went up to my parents, Early came up with her. He road shotgun all the way to PA from NC, telling everyone along the way, "Don't touch the triiim!".

Friday, March 18, 2011

Long time no post!

Its been a long time since I last posted.  Life got busy and my little blog, and my crafts, got pushed to the side.  My dad has been a sick for about a year with congestive heart failure. Luckily he was approved to be included in the trials for a new procedure to replace a heart valve (A calcified valve was the cause of his problem). He went through the surgery and did great!  Even the doctors were really impressed with how quickly he recovered, and  how quickly you saw the difference in him.  Its amazing, like someone just turned on a switch and gave him his energy back. We're all so happy, and now that he's feeling like his old self again, I can worry less and focus more on crafts and planning for my upcoming wedding.

As for wedding stuff, I'm planning on making a separate blog for that, mainly as a way to teach myself wordpress. I'm a designer by day, and I'd really like to add that among my list of capabilities.  Though I'm sure any wedding crafts I find and do will be cross-posted to this blog as well.

Like I said, because of all the real life business, I haven't had much time to create things, but I do have a few things to share once I take some photographs and wrap up a few loose ends.  One of those things is a pattern I came up with to enter into Spoonflower's Weekly Fabric Contest. The theme this time was "Squid". Designing repeating patterns has been on my list of "want to do" forever, so I really was happy to get to play around and come up with something.  I used a little doodle I had made a while back as the basis for my pattern and cleaned it up in Illustrator. Going back and forth between Illustrator for drawing and Photoshop for creating the offset repeat block, I came up with...

Squid Fabric Pattern

I really like how it turned out, and regardless of where it places in the contest I think I'll make it available for sale. I definitely want to order a few yards for myself to make some things, maybe some wallets or clutches.  If you'd like to vote this, or other fabulous squid-themed fabrics, head over to the Spoonflower Squid Fabric Contest page.

Working on pattern design was something new to me and I must say it was a whole lot of fun.  I'm excited to work on more pattern designs in the future. Currently I'm working on my entry for another upcoming fabric design contest, Project Selvage.  The overall winner will get a licensing contract with Michael Miller fabrics.  How neat is that?!  Although I would be stoked just to make it into the semi-finalist round. The deadline is March 24, so I need to get crackin'!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Working on pieces for Soundry's Member Show

I've been distracted from updating. A lot has been happening lately in real life, however I am finding time here and there to sneak in some creative things. I have a couple of commissions to finish up, including the Sharktopus for Declan O'Brien. Also I'm finishing some work for the upcoming Soundry Members Show. I'm should have 5 pieces in the show including a good sized plush

Some of the things I'm working on that aren't plush:

Girl drawing - 2/10/2011
Drawing finished just last night. 6x8 inches, color pencil on paper.

Balloon girl - Progress
Painting in progress. 4x12 inches, acrylic on canvas.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Soft Toy Techniques

Abby Glassenberg is posting some really helpful technical information about sewing plush and soft toys. Check out the ongoing series, Elements of Soft Toy Design, at her blog.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sharktopus is a hit

Apparently my cute little sharktopus is a hit!

Not only did I get an email from the Editor-in-Chief of Rue Morgue Magazine telling me that Declan O'Brien, the director of Sharktopus wanted to know how he could get a sharktopus plush, but SyFy tweeted about my plush too!

I could just explode!

Sharktopus Plush

UPDATE:  SyFy tweeted about my plush!  Tweet Tweet.

So I've had to keep quiet about a recent commission for a while now. Its been killing me because its so cute and I'm really happy with how it turned out.  Luckily its finally been delivered to the person it was made for so I can finally now share.  Share what, you say? ...

SHARKTOPUS!!! Half shark, half octopus!

Sharktopus Plush - Lounging

He's actually not that bad of a guy. He just wants to take a tiny nibble of your leg is all....

Sharktopus Plush- Watching TV

Here he is watching tv with my boyfriend. See, friendly as can be!

Sharktopus Plush - Skin Suit

This is his skin suit, and what he looked like before being stuffed and sewn shut.

A friend of mine asked me if I could make a plush for his girlfriend.  He's a fan of "bad" science fiction movies, and apparently had made her watch the SyFy's masterpiece Sharktopus. He wanted to reward her for being a good sport by having a cute plush version of the creature made.

I had never attempted anything like this before, and it involved drafting a pattern and trying to fit 8 legs nicely around the base of the shark. I had to come up with some new techniques for things, like using a stabilizer inside the dorsal fin to help make it rigid. Also, the tentacles aren't stuffed. Instead I used a cotton batting to plump them up a bit, but to keep them flat and flexible. Perfect for grabbing prey, or hugging unsuspecting girlfriends....

I'm really happy with how he turned out. I'm absolutely in love with his little tentacles and now need to think of even more things to add tentacles too.  I hear he is also a big hit with the unsuspecting girlfriend which makes me super happy.  :D

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


One of my favorite things to make in the winter is homemade marshmallows. They actually aren't that difficult to make, and are SUPER delicious.  So much better than store bought versions.  I use a basic recipe (below) but I may make some adaptations to it for my specific needs. As I experiment I'll let you know the outcomes.

Homemade Marshmallows