Guest Peace: A Creative Space

scarethread Rowley familyI share my home with my awesome husband, Ben, two gorgeous children, Jenson and Johanna, and my two hairy feline friends, Fluffy and Shiny. I was born and raised in Vienna, Austria, and moved to England to go to University, where I lived for 10 happy years and met Ben. We decided to move back to Vienna 7 years ago for various reasons, and we are so happy we made that decision! We both love living in this wonderful city so much.
I work for a non-governmental organization, and spend most of my weekends with my children hanging out in a park or lake somewhere. After hours, I am usually eating great food that Ben has prepared for me (he’s amazing in the kitchen!), drinking a cheeky glass of wine and watching Netflix with some embroidery on my lap. I try to make time to sew and draw as often as is humanly possible. If I could have one wish, other than the usual (end poverty, peace on Earth, etc..) it would be to have more time in any given day, or to not have the need to sleep (hmmm…., I love sleep, so scrap that idea). So if it could be arranged that a single day could be extended to 30 hours, and then the extra 6 hours could be used exclusively for creative and leisurely pursuits, that would be wonderful.
Photo: Sarah and her family

The goal: to have a space that was exclusively mine. As a full time working mum, I really felt the need for a space where I could sit and relax and be creative once the kiddies were asleep. It had to be functional, yet Pinterest-worthy. And in this space I would be creative, I would have all the time in the world to create masterpieces, enjoy the quiet alone time I sometimes so desperately craved, all the while sipping blissfully on a glass or two of wine. Happy! scarethread_01.JPGI decided that the bedroom would be the perfect spot. We drove to IKEA and found some amazing grey geometric wallpaper, and this happy looking yellow chair, and table. It was lovely. And I enjoyed sipping my coffee in the lounge chair during the occasional quiet moment.

But it wasn’t quite the creative space I desired. So, for my birthday in April, I asked Ben for my very own desk. Off we drove to IKEA again, I love IKEA!

I decided I wanted a bamboo top rather than the standard white top. In our excitement, we bought it without measuring (helpful tip: always measure before you buy!). The bamboo top wasn’t wide enough!! But that’s okay because the bamboo looked way better than the white, so I just got Ben to “fix” it by sawing the trestle legs a bit. Photo Aug 28, 8 51 59 PM.jpg
This is the table all ready to go, I just needed to add some finishing touches (notice how we tackled this project with a glass of rosé on the go. classy! And there’s Jenson, making himself at home). While we were at IKEA we bought that plant (now called Agatha, she has since been relocated to the living room, where the cats take a nibble out of her once in a while… sad times), and we also bought that chair, but I think I would like to replace it with something else in the future. I’m not sure what I’m looking for yet but I’ll know it when I see it!

My brother recently bought a gorgeous house just outside of Vienna, and he found a bunch of old window frames in the basement that were used in the house originally. He was going to throw them out anyway, so I think I was doing him a favour taking them off his hands. Best find ever!
Photo Aug 28, 8 59 23 PM.jpgI was tempted to sand them down and paint them an awesome colour, but when I put them against the wallpaper I thought they looked awesome just as they were. They had a rustic charm to them. That decision saved me a lot of work, which meant more time for crafting and wine. Hurray! (There’s Ben again, doing all the manual labour.)

I slowly started to add more personal items to the area to make it a place that I would feel inspired and happy. There are two photos taken by Ben when we first moved to Vienna: he took the same photo over the Danube river for about a year and some of the results we just stunning; an old photo illustration that I had custom made for me back in my early twenties and a number of little cacti plants and other bits and bobs.

scarethread_08.JPGThis space continues to be a work in progress. Eventually I want to add some shelving so that I can put the cacti and other more useful items on it, which will allow the desk to be a bit more spacious. I also want to add some extra storage to house my small fabric stash that I am desperate to transform into a LARGE fabric stash.

scarethread_11I would also like to get a record player in the room somewhere. I’m in the habit of automatically turning the telly on in the evening, and then I inevitably find myself distracted by zombies or Tom Hardy, depending on what I’m watching. I think it would be lovely to listen to some records and fully immerse myself in my creative little space. I have my heart set on a Crosley X UO Sterling Vinyl Record Player in turquoise from Urban Outfitters. I think this would make the perfect Christmas present (she says with her fingers and toes crossed, hoping a certain husband will get the hint).

Thank you so much for listening! Sarah xxx

For more of Sarah’s creative adventures, make sure to follow her on Instagram! @scarethread

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GUEST PEACE: A Gold, Glam, and Fab Bridal Shower

My dear friend, Yadira, is engaged to be married next month and she recently had her bridal shower hosted by Linda and family.  This fam could open their own event planning business with talents in multiple areas! Needless to say, they threw a gorgeous bridal shower.  Here is a peek into her gold, glam and fab shower!

A re-purposed wood sign and thrift store wire screen painted gold by Linda’s daughter and the bride-to-be’s BFF, Katie. Photos hung on the screen by Jordan Hazel.Linda’s husband, Reid and craftsman extraordinaire, painted and put together the posts surrounding the main banquet table.Outdoor bar cart complete with a hand stenciled “Bubbly Bar” sign and lots of rose!Gorgeous floral centerpieces by Linda’s friend, Elizabeth: roses, lisianthus, ranunculus, stock, coffee bean and geranium leaves

The gold containers were spray painted gold by Reid and complimented by paper goods purchased from Etsy and Cake Girls.Catering by Linda’s son, Daniel: smoked salmon, parmesan crisps with a goat cheese mousse, chicken salad on wonton skins, toasted points with micro greens and vinegarette, bruschetta, mini eggplant sandwiches, and mixed greens with carrots, cucumbers, and grilled chicken with a ginger citrus dressing.Linda’s daughter, Sarah, made the naked cake from scratch to accompany the mini eclairs and cream puffs.Custom photo backdrop complete with an old painted bench by Reid, tissue paper tassels, and gold frames.Katie spray painted old wine and beer bottles to place as accent pieces around the garden.Favor bags: pink tea bag with a pink rock candy stickWhite lanterns and glass and gold tea light holders hung from the poles above the table for a dreamy and romantic feel.The beautiful bride-to-be and her flower crown by Elizabeth.  We can’t wait for you and Mike to tie the knot!

Linda is a Southern California native and a passionate party planner in her spare time. Every event she holds is perfected down the the smallest detail.  She has a beautiful eye for color and shabby-chic, rustic decor. She is a loving wife, mother of 6 and has 8 grandchildren!  That’s a lot of parties!

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Guest Peace: Cakes & Cookies

Tiffany is a full time working mom of 3 amazing kids ranging from 8 months to almost 8 years old. She has loved cooking and baking since she was a kid. After completing her master’s degree in business, she was still drawn to cooking and baking and decided to attend culinary school. Tiffany had her first child towards the end of her culinary education and since then making treats for family and friends has been her culinary outlet.

I started dabbling in cake and cookie decorating when my oldest son turned 3. I had very specific ideas of how I wanted the kid’s birthday cakes and treats to look which made the ones I purchased pretty pricey.

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As I decorate my treats my older kids often sit at the table and work on their own creations. They usually end up using the extra fondant like play dough which gets messy but it is fun quality time.

Most of my designs are based on what the client requests. And by clients I mean my kids, nieces, nephews and close family friends.

One of my latest projects was a doll cake for my niece. She knew exactly what she wanted and gave me detailed instructions. It was so much fun.

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The typical design process starts with the client telling me the theme of the cake. Then together we look at pictures so that I am sure to include important details. Once that is done I sketch out a rough drawing of the cake and create a game plan on how to accomplish the design. With the exception of the dolls, I try to keep everything edible.

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Larger figurines on my cakes are made out of rice krispy treats. What’s the point if you can’t eat it, right? If krispy treats do not work I use extra cake or even cookies to get the job done.

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Taste was also a huge factor in how I wanted to make my cakes and cookies. I was never a huge fan of fondant until I happened across a recipe for marshmallow fondant. What a game changer! Delicious and I could make all sorts of fun design with it.

For the cookies, I use candy melts for the simple designs. Candy melts on sugar cookies are wonderful! There are times when royal icing is necessary though. I try to keep the designs simple so that the cookies do not need extended drying times. There is nothing tasty about a dry cookie.

My fondest memories are cooking and baking with my grandma over the weekends. It was never anything particularly fancy but my grandma had a way of making the simplest things amazing. Now as a mom of 3 I want to create similar memories with my kids.

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Guest Peace: Doodles to Letters

profile-imageCurrently working as a graphic designer, Lisa resides in Los Angeles with her two cats. (They are jerks.) She is an avid tea drinker who often laments about the lack of good tea shops nearby and also the lack of puppies in her life.  She dreams of “making it” as a lettering artist, who also runs an alpaca and goat farm.

I’ve actually only been doing lettering “officially” for about two months now. I can’t really pinpoint what got me interested but I’ve always been a doodler.  I look back on meetings notes, and inevitably there are doodles in the margins, between paragraphs and in corners.  I’ve been really fortunate that a lot of my friends have been really encouraging and supportive.  I was dragging my feet about posting my work, before a friend pretty much gave me a deadline and forced me to do it.

img_1_LisaIsTheLaI have a list of words, quotes and ideas, but a lot of my pieces start on whatever catches my fancy.  I tend to sketch really rough and loose thumbnails. I have also developed the habit of keeping sketchbooks everywhere, so I’m always ready to jot down an idea.  I honestly keep a sketchbook by my bed, just in case!

img_3_LisaIsTheLaOnce the sketches are getting to a place I like, I rework them on regular printer paper.  Nothing really fancy.  This can go from one round to six rounds of just refining the artwork. When it’s at a place I am okay with, I ink the art, and scan them in. With a little Photoshop and Illustrator magic, I add texture and clean up little mistakes.

img_2_LisaIsTheLaI’m not sure where this will take me. I’m still trying to find my style, and it can definitely get frustrating, but despite this frustration, I find a lot of joy from the work.  I have so many ideas and mediums I want to try out, like chalkboard lettering, sign painting, quilling and embroidery.  It just really gets me jazzed up that there are so many avenues that lettering can go and I want to explore all of them.

Make sure to check out Lisa’s website and follow her on Instagram to see more work and keep up with all of her lettering adventures!

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GUEST PEACE: Cloud Quilt

I find myself pinning a lot of cute quilts on Pinterest that I envision myself making. I have absolutely no idea how to quilt though and I’m not too keen on the idea of taking a quilting class or doing research. When I saw a cute cloud appliqué quilt that I really wanted to make for my friends baby, I decided to just give it a go by cheating.

I picked out some pretty material patterns that I thought were complimentary and white cotton with little white spots for the quilt. The pattern pieces were the little remnant samples form Joann’s so they were really cheap.

I printed a cloud template from the Internet and began cutting out clouds. I quickly realized however, that the material would fray. I went back to JoAnn’s and found some fusible fleece to iron on to the back of the material so it wouldn’t fray. I picked the fleece because it offered some padding to make the clouds stand out.

Once I cut out all the clouds I pinned them onto the white cotton material and hand sewed them in place.

Following that I cut out rain drops with the remaining material and sewed them on under a contrasting color cloud. I used an embroidery hoop to help with this. This hand sewing process took a lot of time and my poor fingers got tired. I know there’s a clever little trick with the sewing machine to sew on small appliqué like this, I just didn’t know what it was and additionally, doing it by hand meant I could park myself on the couch, in front of the TV while I did it. Once I finished sewing on the clouds and raindrops I matched up the batting and back piece of cotton for the quilt. Now here’s where all proficient quilters will shake their heads in disapproval. To create the “quilt” effect I just sewed across with the sewing machine and created squares. I started in the middle and worked out so that it would be even and it was definitely tricky to keep in a straight line. There were a few instances where the material got caught up as the machine met a section that had already been sewed in the opposite direction but all in all it turn out fine. Finally I added on the trim to finish it off.
With a couple of left over clouds, I embroidered “For Aria, with Love” and sewed them on the back of the quilt.

It didn’t turn out perfect but hopefully that adds to the charm of this homemade project. I shipped it off all the way to my good friend Melissa in Singapore for her beautiful baby girl, Aria. I hope Aria has hours of fun tummy-time on this fun little “quilt”.

IMG_7534Samantha is from England but has been in the U.S. for almost 8 years. She has been an amateur knitter most of her life after her grandmother taught her at an early age. She loves crafting but struggles to complete projects. She has recently started making what she calls “cheat-quilts” – sewing quilts without using any correct technique. Samantha loves making gifts for friends kids and any time she completes a project she is very happy. She says that the best part about crafting is the relaxation it provides so she never takes any project too seriously.

See Samantha’s other Guest Peace: A Fun Christmas Jumper!

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Guest Peace: Geometric Cork

When I moved into my new office a year ago, I wanted to make it mine in a way I hadn’t done in my last office, but as often happens, I was overwhelmed with such a blank slate. I wanted a way to incorporate photos of family and friends in a way that was suitable for a professional office, that didn’t include a lot of picture frames (talk about too many choices…), and that kept the photos in a place that I could enjoy them. So many of my colleagues have photos in their offices that are only visible to their visitors. I wanted these to be for me when I need a little pick-me-up or to help me escape to some of my favorite places and past vacations.
My plans often came to back to corkboard, but it didn’t seem polished enough or appropriate for the office…a little too college dorm room. Roaming the aisles of Target one night, I was struck with the inspiration to add some geometric designs, fancy push pins, and GOLD paint. All of my supplies were purchased at Target and the whole project easily came in under $20 and took me just one evening to complete. The corkboard even came with adhesive to easily hang them on the wall.  I used painters tape to mark off random designs on each piece of corkboard, playing around with different angles and amounts of space.

 I painted with the eggshell paint first, allowing about 15 minutes to dry in between coats. Since the cork soaks up paint, it took about three or four coats to get the coverage I wanted.

 After the eggshell portions were dry, I removed the tape and applied new tape in different directions to mark off where I wanted the gold portions to be. Again, three or four coats of paint were needed.

  
I almost didn’t want to cover them with pictures once I hung them, but I love that I can see all my photos when I look up from my computer screen.

 It’s so easy to change them out when I feel like it without worrying about the photos needing to fit in a certain frame or be a certain size, and since all of my photos these days are just inexpensive online prints of iPhone photos, I have a never-ending supply of new material.

393197_10100930939217166_496989639_nLAUREN AND I HAVE BEEN BEST FRIENDS FOR OVER 20 YEARS AND SHE IS MY “GO TO” PERSON FOR ANY AND ALL THINGS CRAFTY. HER TECHNICAL MIND MIXED WITH A LOVE OF DESIGN MAKES FOR A BEAUTIFUL AND EASY EXECUTION OF WHATEVER SHE DECIDES TO CREATE.

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GUEST PEACE: NIGHTENGAIL ART

Gail_newGail is a native of Florida, but has now adopted California as her own, thanks to her love of avocados and mountains (one of which Florida is lacking). She has been working as an in-house book designer for over 8 years and works on freelance illustration projects in her spare time. She has illustrated one educational digital picture book and hopes to publish one of her author/illustrated stories one day as a classic picture book. For her, picture books bring together her love of illustration, typography, and printing–and she will yammer on about them for hours if you let her.

For the past number of years, I’ve made it a habit to create nursery art for friends, family, and close coworkers when I find out they’re expecting. I’ve tried to make them a bit fancier each time in an effort to push myself to get better at my art and build a portfolio of work. More complex = more time, and recently I’ve run into a dilemma. Between the day job, my own personal art projects, and the number of IOUs for friends and expected little ones, I found that I had more of these art pieces than time to create full colored illustrations for. To find a solution, I had to simplify: pen-and-ink drawings, maybe a hint of color. That is all.

Elephant_watercolor_closeup

Swatches_scrapI decided to make use of what I had lying around: scrap watercolor paper (Arches, 140 lb), remnants from larger sheets that I cut down to sizes needed for various finished projects. I cut the remnants into 5×7 sizes, with any smaller pieces heading straight to the scrap bin, to be used later to test watercolor mixes before I apply them to finished pieces. Each large sheet of watercolor paper is too expensive to let anything go to waste.
Dog_closeup_eraserDrawings were done in pen-and-ink, sometimes being sketched out first in pencil, sometimes drawn freeform and impulsively. That is particularly true with some of my favorite animals: foxes, elephants, giraffes. They are fun to draw and I’ve probably drawn them a few too many times.
Once drawn, I add a touch of color to accent but not detract from the final images.
Ladybugs
The images come from a combination of what I know a person wants as an image and what I’m in the mood to draw that day. They are a nice change of pace from the portfolio pieces that I redraw and redraw until I am (sometimes) happy with them. These are play.

Those of you familiar with Mel and her new years announcement might be able to guess which one of these I created for their nursery.

Dog_Closeup

To follow Gail and her artful adventures:
website: http://nightengailart.com/
twitter: @nightengailart
instagram: nightengail

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GUEST PEACE: A FUN CHRISTMAS JUMPER

 IMG_7534Samantha is from England but has been in the U.S. for almost 8 years. She has been an amateur knitter most of her life after her grandmother taught her at an early age. She loves crafting but struggles to complete projects. She has recently started making what she calls “cheat-quilts” – sewing quilts without using any correct technique. Samantha loves making gifts for friends kids and any time she completes a project she is very happy. She says that the best part about crafting is the relaxation it provides so she never takes any project too seriously.

I really love Christmas, and I especially enjoy Christmas crafting. It’s a habit that only really started a few years ago when I found some winter wonderland felt templates on the Martha Stewart website. I had just found out my best friend was pregnant with her first child and in a show of solidarity I decided to not drink alcohol for her entire pregnancy so I spent New Year’s Eve making lots of Christmas tree ornaments for the following year instead of partying.

I came up with the Christmas jumper idea because I had an old jumper that was really comfortable but had a hole in it, so instead of throwing it away, I decided to alter it. I first knitted Christmas trees. I opted for untraditional tree colors (blue and white) because I happened to have that wool lying around and also because I thought they would look icy and snowy.


To knit the trees I cast on a few stiches (4 for the big tree and 2 for the small) and knit for a few rows to form the tree trunk and then at the end of each row, cast on more stiches (10 for big and 7 for small), knit across and then began reducing the stiches at either end to create a triangle type shape for the branches. Once I got back to my original trunk stiches I would knit one row and then begin casting on again at each end,  doing less this time to create smaller branches as the tree got bigger. I sewed the trees onto the jumper covering the hole using a gold thread.


Once the trees were attached I used the gold thread again to sew on little tiny beads in a looping effect to create tinsel. This took a very long time and was a bit frustrating because not all the little beads had the same size center hole so my needle wouldn’t always fit through. If I made another jumper I would sew the tinsel onto the trees before sewing the trees to the jumper because it made a big mess with the thread on the inside of the jumper – but it’s ok, no one can see it.


 The last detail was to sew on little charms which I found at Michaels. I used snowflake shapes, little gifts, stars for the top of the trees and I was most excited to find little multi-colored lights which I attached between the tinsel.


This was such a fun project that really didn’t take very long and I was so pleased with the result. I was really proud of myself because I am a total amateur when it comes to crafting. The one little catch that I didn’t think about when I was making it though…. I can’t wash it. Febreze!!!

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GUEST PEACE: Fabric Leaf Coasters

246676_4716433631114_1290277048_nJulie a fifty-something, married, full-time working mom of recent college grad Eric and college junior Ali.  After two years, she is starting to discover some good things about the life of an empty nester:  expanding from focus on the kids and career to her place in a larger world, with time to appreciate both natural and designed beauty.  So she crafts and bakes now whenever the inspiration strikes…. why not?

I needed coasters for our high rise condo and have always liked fabric coasters.  I searched online but couldn’t find fabric coasters that I really liked, so thought I’d try making some myself.  I wanted to add an organic touch to our contemporary decor, so I chose to make coasters that mimic various leaves:  maple, palm, gingko, etc.

1.  Sketched a few different leaf shapes onto felt and cut them out.

2.  Cut out a matching shape in a complementary felt color.
3. Embroidered the “veins” on the outward side of each felt leaf.  I used both metallic and matte embroidery flosses.4. Hand stitched the two sides together (right sides out) and embellished with a crystal droplet bead for a little bling.
I love how they turned out!  You can use different leaves or colors for different seasons.  Or different holiday themes:  Hearts, flowers, snowflakes, etc.  Maybe even initials or words.  They cost pennies to make and they’re both decorative and functional!

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