Monday, December 31, 2007

Brooching the Subject

"I saw an Angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

- Michelangelo

o you brooch? Until crafters started taking everything from hand knitted scarves to jewelry by storm, and stamping everything with their own unique style, brooches were relegated to the back of the jewelry box. Or, at the very least considered something your dear sweet, heavily powdered cheeked old grand-ma ma would wear when playing bridge with her heavily powdered cronies also encrusted in big baubbly brooches galore.

Not anymore. Brooches were big about five years ago when they re-debuted with such style and verve, that style-licious babes everywhere were sticking brooches on everything from their favorite jackets, bags and hand knitted caps, to sweaters, blouses , skirts and even shoes.

Oh yeah, the brooch made a Gi-normous come-back, and I don't think it's going away anytime soon. Why should it? Brooches are versatile, and can add snazz to anything your heart desires. Even pin your favorite guy. With a little imagination, your brooch could be the one thing that pulls an entire look together, and given half a chance, the piece D' resistance!

Brooches are not just the carved bone Italianate cameo you inherited from your great aunt Harriet. (and there is nothing wrong with antique and vintage cameo's in this girls book). Brooches come in all styles, genres, shapes, colors and materials these days. From wood, to felt, fabric, knitted doo-dads, to plastic, resin, acrylic and lucite. Brooches range from High-brow to low-brow. Up-town gorgeous or down town edgy. Naive folk art to pre-mediated sophistication. The choices are endless . I have a fabulous kitschy brooch made out of pasta shells and macaroni that I've had for years. I love it, and plan to keep it as long as it will have me. I pray I never have to boil it and add a little marinara in the event of a raging pasta craving.

So, this year as I was bottling up Isabella Lemoncello and adding the stories to Isabellas's new relatives, I got an idea to try making wearable art out of a few of my illustrations. So far I've done Space Odyssey Venus, and Good Luck Bird Girl.

When I'm in the middle of an illustration, many times a story seems to seep out. Like the Illustration is trying to communicate to me that it must have it's own story, independent of anything I'm drawing. Maybe some of you know what I'm talking about. Do you ever create something, maybe it's jewelry or a painting or a knitted scarf, and it seems to tell you what it wants you to do do finish it, or how it want sto look. My illustrations do that and sometimes have their own stories.. I think Michelangelo was quoted as saying, "I saw an Angel in the marble and carved until I set him free."

I would never compare myself to fellow Piscean, Michelangelo, (though I would love to recruit him for the Petaluma Craft Mafia). But, he said it perfectly. Sometimes what you seek to create already has other ideas independent of your plan. Sometimes you have to surrender and let that divine plan work through you. You have to get out of the way of yourself. Michelangelo learned to do that quite well.

Stories are like that too. I sometimes create an illustration, with no intention of a story being associated, but the story comes anyway.
When creating these little illustrations, of course the stories arrived whether I wanted them to or not. It feels wrong not to include a story with the picture brooches when they so plainly are telling me their own story, so I decided to name a whole series of them, "Storyville" by Moxieville.

I'm thinking of sewing some of them too. Maybe adding fabric trim, flora and fauna trims. Though I've always really liked flat prints, sort of like Lautrec or Japonism prints. Adding a three dimensional elements might be fun or may not work at all.

We shall see, so for the moment here I go venturing into jewelry again. One of these days I'd to work with a jewelry person who knows this craft really well. It would be fun, and we could "Cross-craft" so to speak. Dee and I are experimenting with a few stitched cards we talked about months ago. Anna and Dee are collaborating on scented sachets and eye masks. And as soon as they've completed one they're actually happy with I'll post it right here. A-hem. Hint, hint. But no rush girls. ;-)

I love this idea of cross crafting. Two heads are better than one, especially when my fellow crafty gals are such great fun and easy to collaborate with! Collaboration with a great group of like-minded creatives from different disciplines can be a blast. I sometimes learn a thing or two about other crafts I'd had no interest in before.

So, broaching the subject of brooches, look for more Storyville by Moxieville brooches on the Etsy. Lots of fun things planned for the New Year. Speaking of which, one quarter of our craft mafia is pregnant and having contractions as I write this. Will Dee ring in the first of the year with a New Year's Eve babe? We shall see!

Until then, Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And then there was Maude

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, forget the calling birds, why not call Maude instead? Actually, you can try getting a hold of Maude, but you'd have better luck reaching Maude's alter-ego and proprietress Ms. Jess Brown. Jess opened Maude with friends and business partner, Stacy.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Jess not long ago at her store, Maude on Kentucky Street in downtown Petaluma. She and I are clearly kindred spirits. She has an eye for unique, beautiful things, and I can tell she is a sensitive soul and a creative crafty gal as well. I fell in love with her tiny shop and with Jess herself.

Not having children, (yet), I really haven't much need to climb the sweet and gently curved wooden stair case that leads into the the quaint children's shop that is Maude. Though everyone from dear friends to business colleagues in town have been urging me to go visit Jess's store. Sure, occasionally I go shopping for baby shower gifts or tots, but no need to go looking for anything for my own wee ones as Himself and I currently have one extra-large dog. I'm afraid nothing at Maude's would fit Sweet Georgia.

Let me tell you, Maude's may be customized for tots, with it's vintage inspired clothing, hand made sweaters, caps, sweaters and softie toys, but adults can find a few things at Jess's french-asian inspired shop to get hung over the moon on as well. (At least I did)!

When I say french asian, it's that her shop has a simple and complex feel all at once. Vintage-modern. The items are spare, hand picked with care. The merchandising and display is simple, yet sophisticated and elegant with an organic feel. Many of the fabrics are vintage or vintage inspired, with an air of Japonism about them in pattern and color. A distinct feeling of mid-west sensibility, with a slight decadant French undercurrent running through out. The cherry on top is a slight thread of eclectism of the pattern which feels very Japanese to me.

The children's clothing lines are mostly handmade from Jess's favorite designers, and practical enough for everyday wear. Maude also carries a few local artisans such as Phoebe Washer's pieces, and some other local bay area artisans prints she personally likes.

So, on the fourth day of Christmas, turn your thoughts to the wee children in your life. Maude carries several items sure to bring a smile to the wee one's as well as their parents.

One item I fell in love with, is a Kokeshi doll (I love Kokeshi dolls and have made a few over the years). This Kokeshi doll was a nesting Kokeshi, with two tinier, painted versions of himself nested inside. Much like the Russian Matroshka dolls. The Kokeshi was housed inside of an amber glittered pine cone ornament which opens up to reveal the Kokeshi, one fine french chocolate from L. Voison, and a Mighty Midget Series story book. Each amber glittered pine cone contains a different Kokeshi doll, chocolate and storybook. Which one you get is a surprise!

Guess which one I got? I received the chocolate orange flavor chocolate (my company colors and a favorite flavor L. Voison chocolate) AND my surprise story was Rumpelstiltskin. Remember my blog about pickles and Rumplestiltskin almost two years ago? So, this was kind of a nice and karmic surprise.

Enough about the Kokeshi dolls and miniature books. I loved these as well as the jars of gorgeous Japanese candy I spied on the tall white corner shelf. Though, I behaved and left it alone.
The shining star at Maude's is clearly her impeccable taste and the choices Jess makes of what to bring into her shop. This must be very hard as there are a whole sea of talented designers out there. Of course, Maude also makes their own clothing as well, Stacy, the co-owner of Maude makes the Maude line of clothing for children. Can't wait to see what she'll come up with next year.

Speaking of talent, I did mention earlier that Jess is a crafty gal didn't I? Jess makes the most adorable softie dolls you ever did see. I want one! She may have inspired me to make a few softie dolls. My mother made dolls like this, but each doll maker clearly has her own look. Jess Brown's dolls are made with love, and gorgeous scraps of vintage fabric. Jess is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand for the orders. Not a bad problem to have, but frustrating when you can't find the time to keep up with the orders. Check out the photos. They speak for themselves.

Maude plans to carry a women's line of clothing next year... stay tuned for that!

P.S. - I know, I'm only on the fourth day for scouting out handmade and interesting local finds for my fellow Petalumans, but remember, the first day of Christmas actually starts on, the first day of Christmas, which as we all know is December 25th I'm still way ahead of myself!

If you'd like to visit Maude, you can find this adorable shop here:

133 Kentucky Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Petaluma Crafty - Cocoa L'Imogene

Cocoa L'Imogene. A crafty kit to give or receive.

Last year, I finally took a firmer step in my promise to start making more handmade gifts. I have my own reasons for doing so, I've always been fascinated with China and Asian cultures in general. Whole blogs could be written about it. Currently, things have gone askew with imported and manufactured goods. It gets down to politics, economics, greed and moral decisions. When did giving a simple gift become a moral decision? If you've small children, it's even more frightening.

And it begs the question, isn't is immoral to manufacture items that contain known poisons? The same poisons and toxins of which we were assured by these manufacturers years ago that they would never again be used in the toy making process again?

Being a crafty sort, you may find the various components needed to assemble your "homemade" DIY gift to potentially have it's hazards. Wasn't that ribbon made in China? And it was wire with a metallic thread running through.Yikes! That nifty little painted nesting can your homemade item is housed in, (Could the paint have lead)? And what about that paint made in China, you painted that cute little wooden nutcracker tchotcke (also made in China) that adorns the gift?

See what I mean?

You almost can't escape it. It's not that I'm against saving money at the register, au contraire, but I believe that one day we are going to be very sorry. Ultimately, our bill will come due. I hope it's not more cancer or a collapsed U.S. economy we will never dig ourselves out of. China is getting wealthy, but they are also becoming the most polluted country on the planet. A big one.

Their bill? It will also come due.

I'm no different than most Americans in regard to time and budget. I may have big Martha ideas (though I pride myself on being a bit "off" than our dear Martha). But I don't have Martha's budget, or her team of assistants.

BTW- You don't suppose? Naww! Martha's 'crafty' line made in China?

It's a sword. A double-edged one. Let's say I decide I want my stationery line or my crafty dolls mass produced, because they are selling like hotcakes. I don't have a huge budget, and I know China can do it faster and cheaper to cut costs. There are even companies in San Francisco who will reproduce my patterns for cheaper too. But not nearly as cheap as China. Here is where you lose control of your product. Some U.S. companies and Europeans even know what's going on, and the potential dangers. But still, they do it.

Sometimes, they are taken advantage of with copyright infringement. It's scary. I just read that legally, China is not bound to responsibility if there is a problem with production. Let's say you've paid for production work, but haven't received your goods and it looks like you never will. Fat little you can do about it except never do business with them again and spread the word so they get a bad reputation.

Of course, that doesn't happen very often, because most business people in China are fair and smart. They want to do business with you. With that said, Overseas copyright infringement is scary and is a reality. I believe there is a lot of talk about overseas copyright law taking effect recently. This is good. Toxins in toys and good sproduced overseas are a still a reality. Only we can stop it.

All of that to talk about a simple cocoa kit recipe. Whew. Where was I? Oh yes, homemade gifts.

So last year, I started the process. It started out as an idea to thank clients and spilled over on to friends and family. I made two huge batches of Limoncello, and some hot cocoa kits. Easy! Though, the Limoncello was scary. I'd never made it and it takes a bit of time (2 mos) to go through the distilling processes. That's the toughest part isn't it? The waiting.

This year I'm doing the same, but also made some soaps that my fellow crafter in crime Anna, helped me whip up. The bath goddess, Anna, crafted a scent especially for me! I have my own scent! Just like J. Lo and Coco Chanel. Ha! It's made with Bergamot orange, almond and clove honey. I adore bergamot orange. Orange is also my company color, which is very thoughtful of Anna to include this fav ingredient. Bergamot sounds lovelier, so we'll just say that. Bergamot soap just became another homemade gifty item this season. (Thanks Anna)!

This is for those who have little time. Or perhaps you don't know a knitting needle from a pine needle. Or, perhaps just feel hopelessly lost in the world of arts and crafts. I have a recipe for you! Hot cocoa kits. Kids like it as well as grown-ups. You can customize them any which way. Last year I made triple chocolate and peppermint chocolate. But you could also do, orange chocolate, Mexican chocolate, white chocolate caramel, etc. The choice is yours.

Here is what you'll need:

Cocoa Kits


A quart jar with a lid or seal

1/2 Cup Good quality chocolate chips or chopped semi-sweet bars

1 Cup Sugar, white and or brown

1 Cup Powdered good quality cocoa (Droste is nice and has color depth)

1 Cup Powdered milk

1/2 tsp salt

Now you have the basics, you can customize with chopped peppermint candies for peppermint hot cocoa, marshmallows, dried orange, caramel, white chocolate, etc.

You simply layer it any which way you please. I layered it so that the dark and light ingredients alternated for a layered effect. Also, I put more fragile ingredients at the top layers to hold shape and texture.

Pop a homemade label on and a hand-written note. You're good to go.

Last year, After bottling so much Isabella's Limoncella, I got loopy and also made a custom label for the hot cocoa kits. I decided 'Cocoa Le Imogene' was Isabella's french cocoa cousin. Last year Isabella got a story written about her. (I still think Holly Hunter would be the perfect fit for the role of Isabella).

This year, I wrote one for Imogene as well. Everyone kept asking me about her story last year. So, it was only fair Imogene has her own history and story this year as well. It has a surprise entrance from another foodie personality of another homemade gift we're making. Since we're keeping it in the family, these Euro cousins, (Isabella's Italian and Imogene is French), meet-up with their American cousin. She's from the deep south, and something to do with cheese straws. I'll blog on that later.

In the meantime, whip up some creative cocoa kits. Handy on a cold afternoon. Everything is there, you just add boiling water. You could also make layered cookie kits in a jar or a lovely (lead-free) tin. If you can find one! It's from the heart, and that's what really matters.

So I made festive bright red, Limoncello and Cocoa last year. Oddly, people really seemed to like them. So if they really didn't like them, they should have kept mum because now they're getting another this year!

A gift card from Best Buy is always a nice alternative. Himself, told me to say that.

Have a Happy and lead-free Holiday!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

One Craft Show, One lesson in Chinese Foot Binding

This Saturday was the Petaluma Farmer's Market Holiday Boutique. And if you think Petaluma Crafters just have chicken and eggs to offer, you're so mistaken.

It was of course, a different crowd then my usual Mafia crowd, but certainly none the less talented for it. We pulled up at 8:49 on the dot and barely got a parking space. Hermann Sons Hall is tiny but mighty in presence. This building has much character, or as one crafter said,"Everything here is real." She's right. The hard wood floors, tall arched molded ceilings. Even the lighting feels better with the windows facing east and west. I love the strange bathroom! Very clean and vintage funky. It felt like a powder room from an old Farm house.

A few of the crafters I already knew, such as the talented and spicy Charissa Drengsen. (Hi Charissa!) Charissa is the owner and designer at Curly-Cue Designs. She is one of my favorite red-heads, and she's smarter than the dickens with a wicked sense of humor to boot. When you grow up with sisters such as Charissa and I did, you learn to have a sense of humor or you will boil over waiting for your turn to use the powder room.

Charissa designs some of my favorite jewels and baubbles such as her asian and naughty girl necklaces, and vintage inspired dolls. Some come with record-bowl dresses. In fact she makes a whole lot of very inspiring crafts from cards to wrist warmers. Some of her pieces are riddled with humor others are downright beautiful and mystical. She's a crafter I always look forward to seeing and we made a pact to do chinese food soon.

And speaking of beauty and humor, another crafter I had the opportunity to meet is fellow Petaluman, Karen Baggiani. I liked Karen right away. You can sometimes tell a lot about a person through their craft. Their likes and dislikes, sense of humor or if they even have one. Sometimes artists and crafters, much like writers, express another side of themselves through their craft in ways we sometimes miss in everyday communication. Karen's aprons and oven mitts were both beautiful and fun. And Karen is beautiful and fun! Old time western pin-up gals in various poses. She also made some gorgeous African inpired pieces as well. Karen says she's really gotten out of crafting, but you'd never know it by her work. She puts a lot of pride into it.

My mother, an old ranch girl herself would have loved these ranch girl inspired kitchen duds. I was very inspired by Karen. Lately, I keep telling myself to find a new sewing project to get back into this particular craft I abondoned in my teens. Oh yes, I 'm the 4-h goldmedal winner and can sew a mean button, fix a torn seam, but I don't really sew anymore. I think Karen inspired me to do it. I hope to run into her at more faires. Her attention to detail is to be admired. She showed me a jacket she had made. Beautifully lined, and very well-made. She would have loved my Great-Grandmother KaKa. A perfectionist. A custom made jacket that has stood the test of time very well. You'd pay a lot for a jacket like this on the market - if you could find it. Clothing is disposable today. Even from some of the more expensive stores. wash it once, loose threads appear everywhere, weak seams show themselves.

My neighbor to my left was disarmingly honest and funny. I just hit it off with Shea immediately. Shea Brown is a photographer, and a marvelous one at that. Her nature prints would make the real flowers wilt with shame on how beautifully her very impressive lens has captured their short life span. Shea is from Texas, and smart and spunky. She is very happy to have landed in California, though most of her family is still in Texas. She shared with me tidbits in between our customers about her life and her craft. At one point she pulled out her camera, putting my bitty digital to shame. If she was the voyeuristic type, I think she could spy on Neptunians or Plutonians with that scope! I had instant lens envy. Shea had brought her husband's blown-glass work as well. Tod Brown is a glass blower. His work is amazing. He makes hollow glass beads that look like those old time paper weights, but with a distinct organic feel. You could swear those are really poppies or mollusk shells or quartz lining the walls of his glass beads.

Children and adults alike have long been fascinated by glass. Shea, a natural teacher, drew mesmerized adults as well as children to her like a moth to a flame. Several budding artists and glass blowers here in Petaluma, judging by her rapt audience. I was fascinated by the process of pyrex as I heard Shea explain it time and time to tiny upturned faces wanting to know more, peeringdeep into the vortex of a multi-colored glass bead. Best of all, Shea is an absolute doll. I found another new friend and look forward to seeing her as well as my other swell and crafty ladies as future shows. And Shea, my pics turned out horrible. Especially ones of the glass, so send me yours!

A couple across to my left, that I never got the chance to go over and see their work, came by and bought one of my kitschy Holiday pieces. I had put a packet of forget-me-nots along with my Lucky Kitchen and Garden Gnomes" and they bought one. They were adorable and I regret so much not going over to their booth. I hope to see them around soon.

One of my customers was Lesley, a lovely Petaluma woman who told me she has a good friend in Chicago who also goes by "Moxie." (See, Moxie is everywhere now). My adorable customer Lesley, told me about her friend who is a publicist (I hope I got that right Lesley) for many heavy-hitters out there. (I do not want to drop any names in case I'm not supposed to). Anyway, I loved this customer. She bought a package of notecards, my letterpressed flats, with the 'Moxie' name so she could send it to her friend back in Chicago who sounds like a hoot. Lesley said she wears all vintage clothes and is just gorgeous. Siggh. Some gals just have it all. Anyway, I hope she likes the cards! I know I liked Lesley, and her friend back in Chicago should know she has a thoughtful friend here in Petaluma to think of her.

Another dynamic Petaluma lady I met, who just happens to be a fellow illustrator is lovely and talented Patty of Patty Lou Designs. Patty, her handsome husband John and their adorable daughter came by and chatted. Patty gave me a few of her cards which are whimsical depictions of cows, flowers, hearts and whatever whim the muse brings her way. We illustrators work in mysterious ways! Patty's grandmother is a prolific AND profound cross stitcher and embroidery artist. Her work has a vintage 1930-40's influence. It speaks to my kitschy side.

Patty's energetic grandmother lives in Minnesota and sends Patty hefty boxes of embroidered tea towels and doilies out to California. Being a Sunday stitcher myself, I fell head over heels for her designs from vintage patterns which are retro like my own. As my company colors are orange and chocolate ( Yep, much like Hermes -) I had to purchase one of her grandmother's "Orange" tea towels. Quaint and spare but just the right amount of kitsch. Just amazing.

Guess what? Patty is a Gnome gal too! In fact her whole family is. I felt like I came across my long lost kin yesterday! Thanks Patty and John for helping to make my day. Oh! And their little daughter, loves squirrels. Yup. We definitely must be long lost relations. She kept coming by Moxieville booth with an enchanted smile and staring at my squirrel mascot that I'd just lacquered a believable chocolate brown, making everyone hungry. That one, absolutely gorgeous and going to be some kind of heartbreaker when she grows up.

So many awesome crafters and I regret I didn't go around and meet more of them. Another awesome crafter and chick I had the pleasure of meeting was Alyssa Conder who makes the cutest hair doo-dads for children you ever did see. Big flowers and diamondy things. Inspired by her own two little daughters, she gave me one and I wore it to Chopstix for dinner afterwards. Got loads of compliments. Alyssa is a character. A major character! She reminded me of a couple of people I know melded into one very unique person. Alyssa doesn't have a website or I'd point you in her direction. Look for her at local craft shows though. Like me, she has a day job, but she is just bursting at the seams with crafty creative ability.

This was my first show at home in Petaluma. I was honored to be a part of the Farmer's Market group, as I was a newbie and they all knew each other from way back. The diversity was wonderful and Erica did a good job of putting it together from the baked goodies and gingerbread scones from Heaven Scent Cafe to the live entertainment. Bruce Sexauer did a fantastic job setting tone with his band. I didn't realize it was him at Shea's table, when I made a semi-naughty joke out of one of his questions. I will forever be embarrassed about it. But Bruce seemed to get a good, pre-show laugh anyway!

After we'd packed up to head home, we headed or Chopstix. Chinese food has become my traditional after-show dinner. I had developed a major sore throat from chatting so much with customers and other vendors, that I was craving some hot sake. The couple sitting next to us just happened to have been at the craft show. Small world! As we were getting ready to leave, the owners of Chopstix came by and inquired about our dining experience. I told Linda, I loved what they had done with the space.

"OH! she exclaimed suddenly very animated, "You must come with me!!" She grabbed my arm and we left Himself at the table with a bewildered look, wondering if we were heading to some underground Opium den, or at the very least I might learn Chopstix's secret to that awesome black bean garlic sauce.

I got the grand tour of the building and an explanation of the design which her son-in-law had done. "He has another restaurant in Shang Hai." Linda explained. He is quite a designer with an eye for color, texture and space. The chinese antiques,such as the celadon urns and armoires were an excellent choice.

I loved the lights and what I thought must be stained bamboo lined walls, and told Linda so.

" I just got back from Shang Hai. The lights, just like the lights you see in the streets of Shang Hai. Very traditional." Linda said proudly.

And it was just a lovely, comfortable effect. Linda's son-in-law is a pro and knows what the heck he's doing. Perhaps he just has a very good eye, but the space is both open and intimate at the same time. Hard to pull off.

She pointed out the vintage advertising prints of pin-up Asian women of decades long ago, hawking everything from cigarettes to shoes.

"See those shoes? Just like shoes from the old days. My grandmother had shoes like that- very tiny feet." Linda pantomimed how small her grandmother's feet were. She told me about the ancient practice of Chinese foot binding.

"Terrible what they made the women do. Bind their feet so they couldn't run away!" She laughed.

"It's hell being a woman sometimes in any culture." I agreed. I'd never let anybody bind my feet. I'd read horror stories of the deformity and the terrible smells of the foot that caved in on itself like a claw, making it difficult to wash. Women couldn't run. Only teensy little steps could be taken, and it resulted from this barbaric practice of foot binding. Chinese women of yesteryear would have to take mincing steps just to get from point A to point B. Adding insult to injury, being brainwashed into thinking it made them look more delicate to take tiny steps, when in reality they were almost like concubines in their own families. China has such a deep, rich culture that has influenced so many Westerners. But aren't we lucky that particular practice never came in to vogue? Western women would not have stood for it. They would have put their foot down. Bad pun.

The hot sake was making me feel very sleepy. I had no voice left to speak. I told Linda I would be back and hopefully before the next craft show. What a day. The ancient art of American craft and ending the day with an impromptu tour of one of Petaluma's finest Chinese food restaurants, hot sake and a lesson in Chinese foot binding.

Only in Petaluma.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Petaluma Holiday Arts & Crafts Boutique

Our Lady of the Market is hosting a holiday arts and craft boutique this coming week-end. We at the Petaluma Craft Mafia are pleased to be a part of this craft fair as we are very fond of our local Farmer's Market and the lady who runs it. Your's truly plans to be there, representing the Petaluma Craft Mafia. Yes, PCM is in our own crafty hood this week-end. Yaay!

It feels good to be home doing a craft show. And it's at Hermann Sons Hall which is beginning to feel like home to this feisty crafter. I feel very comfortable here. Hermann Sons Hall is small, true, but it has good, um, feng chei you might say.

The Holiday Arts and Craft Boutique is sponsored by Petaluma Farmer's Market. We plan to donate a few items for the nifty raffle, and you can count on local unique items such as handmade jewelry, decorations, stationery and greeting cards, (Ahem I wonder who that could be?), bath items, dried fruits, jams and jellies and oodles of holiday baked goods and hot foods served up by Molly from the Tea House. Lots of local goodness to partake in.

Hark? What is that I hear? Angels? No, it sounds like ... live entertainment. Yes! Bruce Sexauer and Friends will join us to give us some music to feed the soul.

See you there!

December 8th, 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Hermann Sons Hall
860 Western Ave.
Petaluma, CA 94952

How Bizaare!

It's that time of year. San Francisco's annual Bazaar Bizaare Fest is upon us and just in time for the holidaze, I mean holidays.

We plan to check it out and see if Petaluma Craft Mafia is bizaare enough to meet Bazaar's standards. I think the answer is most likely, yes. In fact, why would we even question it?

Mrs. Grossman's, a Petaluma favorite and Craftzine will be just one of the sponsors at this year's Bizaare event. Promises to be a famously bizaare time with mucho goodies for your gifting pleasure.

Bazaar Bizaare San Francisco,
Saturday December 15, 2007
11:00am - 6:00pm

San Francisco County Fair Building
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

$1 at the door

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Smells like Moxie

Happy December! We're ramping up things for the Holidays and planning to have a rockin' 2008 for Petaluma Craft Mafia. I just put the holiday banner up on the PCM blogspot and will look for a few holiday tunes to take us into the New Year.

I just got the Petaluma Craft Mafia postcard promos designed, and realized Moxieville is looking a little sadly slim in the promo and swag department. Woe is me. No buttons, postcards, nothing. So, I brought out my squirrels, acorns and oak trees, (all Moxie mascots you know). Where I ended up with the postcards was a surprise even to me. My brain does work in mysterious ways. 'Smell's like Moxie Spirit' is what I ended up with at the end of the eve. Kitschy and a bit silly.

Moxieville logo has always been very classic, but not too serious, I hope! So, when I came up with the idea of scratch n' sniff postcards a few months back, I had a good chuckle. Ridiculous, but then having a squirrel as your company mascot is not exactly un-ridiculous. (I do believe I've made up a new word). So, tonight I put a little rough comp of Moxieville postcard together, and will work out the design details later. I've no idea why I designed something so difficult, as scratch n' sniff design is foreign to me.

I asked Anna for her advice on this, as she is the scent and bath goddess in this crazy craft famiglia of ours, but she wasn't sure how it would fly. Scented oil's would simply stain the paper, even though it's coated and glossy. None of us are clear on how scratch n' sniffs work exactly and are produced. Maybe an alcohol based spritz scent would work? I think the way scratch n' sniffs are actually designed, is that the scent is applied layer under layer. Then printed layer over layer? Therefore, when you scratch it, you eventually wear away the surface layers to get to the next layer of scent. But this is just a theory.

As we are on a budget, I'm looking for ways to make this work on the home-grown level. I've been wanting to do a scratch n' sniff item for years. I'm thinking of oranges or lemons, something fresh and citrusy. We'll keep you posted ... in the meantime, any scratch n' sniff experts out there, be sure to give me a holler!

In the meantime, all my frolicking Sag friends out there, happy birthday!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sac Town's Got Craft

What are you doing this week-end? Really? Well, you might just change your plans when we tell you that Sacramento Craft Mafia is hosting Indie Sacramento tomorrow! Oh yeah!

Our crafty sisters in our capitol city are pleased and proud to be hosting Sacramento's largest Alternative/Indie Craft Faire. It's their first show of this kind, so let's give them some warm California love and support.

They've got some fabulous sponsors,entertainment and of course, it goes without saying, crafty vendors. Go girls! So what are you waiting for? Get the motor running. Pop by my favorite Tower cafe for some lunch and a drink and head over to the faire. It would be a 'capitol' offense not to pop by and say hello to the girls that probably have had very little shut-eye the past few weeks trying to organize the show. It promises to be a fabulous one!

Good luck Ladies, we'll be cheering you on!

Indie Sacramento
Saturday, December 1st

YWCA of Sacramento
1122 17th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

* At the corner of 17th & L Streets

Slumgullion -It's What's for Dinner

Sluhm-guhl-lee-yuhn- noun. 1.Irish slang for a thin watery stew. Leftovers. 2. California Gold Rush fare. 3. Great Grandmother Cottle's ironic term of endearment for leftovers.

o we've pretty much got our cook book
recipes gathered from folks in the community and our craft mafia. Now the real fun begins! I'm knee deep in Christmas party invite design right now, but the cook book is on the back-burner so to speak until I find a few extra hours to make it into a real book! But I promise to have this ready by early next year, famiglia honor.

As a teaser recipe, I'm submitting a fun version of a recipe that my great-grandmother Kathrin Cottle, summed or should I say "slummed" up as "Slumgullion."

Kathrin Cottle, aka KaKa (pronounced KayKay), my mother's maternal grandmother, was quite a go-getter. She originally came from the Sacramento area, and her father was a very prominent attorney for the rich folks of the great Sacramento valley.

Kathrin and her sister Helen, lost their own mother to cancer when she was still a young girl. Kathrin was the most profound and prolific seamstress you'd ever want to meet. She could sew anything and everything. Wedding gowns, complicated Vogue ensembles from the jacket, hat and the matching bag. Her attention to detail was incredible.

I have several of Kathrin's outfits, such as the red silk mandarin collared pantsuit that actually fits me, even though it's a bit short on me as Kathrin was quite petite as you can see by her photo. The other photo of the adorable bride is her daughter, my great aunt Ginny. Ginny worked on the San Jose Mercury for several years. Ginny was an Irish pistol! Isn't she gorgeous? And unlike her mother Kathrin, a major gourmet cook. But more about Ginny another time. This is about Kathrin.

She was an enviable creative who could make anything. Including that wedding dress she made for her daughter that you see in the photos. Two summers ago now, I toured the house in Loomis that she and Warren built in 1933. It was up for sale for the first time in almost 70 years, and the second owner knew my grandparents whom they bought the house from quite well.
The house was amazing, sort of tudor castle meets rustic craftsman. The outside decking was all built around trees. River rock and high beams, dark wood everywhere made up the house. Goth rustic.

During the depression that hit everyone so hard, Kathrin and Warren were forced to sell off a good bit of the land they owned in Granite Bay and Loomis. Quite a bit! Money was tight for everyone, but they made it through the darkness that left some people destitute and penniless. Touring the Loomis house, my cousin Pat, who often stayed with Kathrin and Warren pointed out the gorgeous and delicate amber colored lights along the dark corridor.

"KaKa made those, they ran out of money so she pretty much made every thing herself." said Pat. And Lord, those lamps were gorgeous.

The house, which was custom built my grandparents, had been sold only once to some family friends who were doctors. It was then passed down to the woman who was the daughter and currently selling it on the market. It was such a pleasure touring the old house that KaKa and Warnie had lovingly built as a young couple, in love, troubled times and with three spirited and gorgeous daughters.

And those lights KaKa had made ...were still there after over seventy years. That's how beautiful they were.

The house needed about 2 million dollars worth of work to put it back into it's original condition again. I would have loved to have bought it. Not in my budget.

The wonderful woman who owned it, told us that as family we were welcome to take whatever we wanted in the house before it was sold. I wanted those lights, but I felt they really belonged to the amazing house. I hope the new owners kept them up.

My mother's mother Patricia, Ginny's eldest sister died, when my mother was just seven years of age. My mother would sometimes stay with her grandmother Kathrin, not at the Loomis house, but at the house in Santa Clara, which was a large old Victorian. My mother could hear the upstairs floor creaking in the old house because Kathrin had a habit of getting-up at 6 a.m. and doing her round of calisthenics every morning. She would then gussie up and head down the stairs to cook a proper breakfast.

They were a well-known family in Santa Clara and very busy socially. So, while Kathrin cooked well enough; i.e., efficient, she was no gourmand. She was a tiny thing, as you can see by her photo. Warnie, my great-grandfather, used to call her "My little China Doll."

Though I remember G-Grandmother Kathrin best for her always making my sister and I mint-chip ice cream cones when we made trips down to the bay area of Santa Clara. I'm told that Kathrin occasionally made a dish she jokingly referred to as Slumgullion.

Slumgullion was her reference to whatever was left over. Kathrin was Irish, Dutch and French, and the French believe and have a knack for using what you have to make something delicious. Sort of creative recycling in the kitchen so to speak. I like this concept. I'm sure my great-grandmother KaKa's creative verions of Slumgullion helped my grandparents through the Depression years.

So I'm sharing my version of Slumgullion with you. Hopefully we will never have to experience another depression such as this country has before. Kathrin used whatever was in her larder or fridge. I find myself doing the same and didn't realize this Slumgullion tradition of mine was a family trait. I guess we like 'slumming' it in my family! ;-)

Kathrin Cottle's 'Slumgullion'

Open fridge take a peek,Dark and cavernous is it?

Use any combo of leftovers that your mind can dream up.

Ground beef?
Can of corn or frozen green beans?
Can of some kind of condensed soup?

Great! Now get to work and serve it all piping hot over mashed potatoes or egg noodles. Garnish with grated parmigiano cheese.

Bon apetit!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Stick em' up Crafty Christmas Tree

Okay, you can come out now, we've put away our pistols, and we at the Petaluma Craft Mafia prefer glue guns over the other variety anyway. (Don't they add a wee bit of 'bella mafiosa' drama)? If I were a gun lover I can tell you, my pistol would be red, shiny and loaded with glitter. My ammunition would be shooting chocolate red foil hearts. Dangerous, only if you're a chocoholic.

We've been gussying up our little Christmas tree, and decided we really need to get some ornaments going. we decided on a PCM color-themed tree of sunset red, grey, white and black. Hmm, maybe some black&white photos of us crafty mafia eating bowls of pasta? Hmm. I think I'm getting hungry.

Our tree is looking a bit sinister, crafty-sinister that is, and just the way we like it. Maybe a few eyeball ornaments, and chopped off fingers of our foes? Naww, too messy. Plus, we haven't any foes. I like the idea of hanging mini plastic chickens too, this is Petaluma after all.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

A glitch in my stitch

I love vintage needlework and stiching. The patterns and quality of expression are difficult to find today. Though many of the old patterns have been brought back in reproductions ready to stitch to pillows, fabric to be framed, pillowcases, linens, bags, you name it. Today, there are some crafters such as Jenny Hart at Sublime Stitching, and Subversive Cross Stitch that have won my heart, with their own delightful, charming and hip patterns. If you are not a stitcher, or are a "Sunday Stitcher" such as myself, the patterns available today may just convert you into giving stitchery a try.

About a year ago last summer, while visiting my parents, my mom felt well enough to do some antiquing with me, something we used to do together when I was a teenager. We popped into a store in Shasta City and I came across a pair of vintage pillow cases edged in lace at the opening, and embroidered with a happy and slightly kitschy nature scene of bluebirds, deer and flora. They were in pretty good condition, and the fabric was buttery soft, which told me they had been washed a lot. I wish I knew who stitched them and when. Was it a new bride? Someone who stitched to while away the hours? They took very good care of them, despite the fact they had been gently used over the years.

I've put these to good use, and it seems that soft fabric, has finally given a bit, wear has turned to small and larger tears in the cotton fabric of the pillowcase. One pilowcase is beyond repair as the fabric has long tears and has grown too soft and thin. What to do? I've been careful about washings, but maybe I shouldn't have used these for my everyday pillowcases. It's just that I believe things should be somewhat functional as well as beautiful. I have too many pretty little things that go unused, that I've made a resolution to either use it, sell it or give it away. So, these pillowcases are well-loved and well-used.

The stitching is holding up admirably. I figured the stitching would be the first thing to show wear. So, I'm trying to figure out how to salvage the stitching on the pillowcases. I may have to ask Dee for some advice and remedy for this one. Maybe make it into a bag? Another pillowcase? I just don't know. I know there are people who can do wonders with restoration of stitched pieces that are no longer supported by their fabric foundation.

Any stitching wizards out there have any suggestions? I'd hate to toss these lovely cases.

I guess I loved these too much!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Petaluma Crafty

All that rain dancing I've been doing for weeks must have finally done the trick! I meant to post this blog yesterday, but alas, my posting fingers were otherwise occupied. But we've needed the rain desperately. I wish we could send some to the southeast too. They might want to consider hiring me out for rain dancing now, before I'm totally booked-up!

Running around town yesterday like a chicken with her head cut off, (not an uncommon sight in our buttery poultry filled land of Petalumaville), I couldn't help but notice it seemed everyone was driving erratic, I saw an almost head on collision at a four-way stop, and one man got out of a car and confronted a woman who was making, uh, hand gestures. Then, whilst shopping at one of my favorite stores, two of my favorite store shopkeepers had um, 'words' with each other over something really silly while I was at the register, and overall just a lot of strange tension in the air yesterday. Both of the store employees later separately apologized to me for acting that way in front of a customer, but what struck me was how this was so out of character for both of them. We all are human and have bad days, but a lot of it all over town yesterday. Whew! I couldn't wait to get home and back to work!

Usually a full moon can bring this out in some folks, I actually like full moons myself. I notice aberrant behavior in the general public when it's been unusually windy for several days in a row. People drive selfishly and are more abrupt with each other. I read about a wind in France, I believe it is called the "Maestro" that comes every year right on schedule, and howls unrelentingly for about a month. The French say they see a dramatic increase in acts of violence, relationships ending, break-up of marriages and suicides during this time of year. The crazy, moaning wind literally pushes the human psyche over the edge.

Interestingly enough, I'm not a big fan of long windy days and can feel unusually sensitive on these days. Rain is different. It's soothing somehow, and I've been hoping for rain for weeks, and unlike some Petaluman's, I had a great day yesterday, (the new moon in Scorpio must agree with me!). I wondered if what we needed was a good rain to wash away and cleanse accumulated gunk on the landscape as well as the accumulated stuff that gets clogged in the human subconscious, making everyone cranky and unkind. Everyone needed a good drink! I believe the weather affects us in ways psychologically that we may not consciously be aware of. Sorry, I'm an old psych major. Several weeks of sameness in weather isn't good either. I think we need a change of seasons.

So, I asked for rain yesterday, and got it today! Thanks for listening Ms. Mother Nature.
A full agenda today, but I really wanted to get out in the rain, and if just for a bit and check out Luchessi Park Community Center's Craft Fair, and maybe photograph some of the wonderful crafty offerings. I had never been to this particular craft fair. I couldn't help but notice my fellow Petaluman's seemed noticeably relaxed today and jovial with each other, I knew the rain would do the trick. A balm for a stressed out psyche.

If you haven't been to the Community Center Craft Faire, you really ought to check it out. I found some great offerings at the craft faire and even got a few photos to prove it. What I noticed immediately was how huge this show is, and still managed to have plenty of diversity in offerings. Being a candle kind of gal, I fell in love with Charlee's Candles. Charlee pours her own candles which are made with 30% beeswax and burn longer and cleaner than paraffin candles. Beeswax is becoming mighty scarce with our shortage of bees, so I grabbed a bag full of her votives such as pomegranate, vanilla orange and " sin" at a bargain, and Charlee threw one in for free. Her scents are wonderful, some are subtle and you can detect the warm sweet undertones of honey scent in all of them. Not an obnoxious scent in the entire collection. Charlee is from Chico, and is a complete doll. She also pours critter candles, such as the sweetest smelling skunk you can ever hope to find, and will keep you well-lit and scented through those chilly autumn evenings. When you pop by and say hello, you will find that Charlee has that charm that many women in the south have, everyone, regardless of their name is "honey."

And of course, I couldn't go to the crafty fair without saying hello to one of the sweetest gals in Petaluma, Mrs. Erica Burns-Gorman (Our Lady of the Market) who was working the concession stand. She and Anne Sibbaluca were selling hot coffees, the yummiest nutmeg and blueberry scones along with Anne's famous galettes. Hey crafters and crafty shoppers work up an appetite you know! You all know Anne from the Farmer's Market, right? Those scones, galettes, will make a strong man weep with joy. The Petaluma Craft Mafia is just gonna have to have her bake for one of our up and coming shows.

Now, I don't know about you, but food and craft go hand in hand, and we couldn't resist the many gourmet offerings and picked up a jar of homemade blackberry jam, from Jody's Jams. Tastes like I just picked the fresh berries, and we plan to spread the jam on Anne's scones tomorrow for breakfast!

We wended our way around the maze of craft offerings, and truly with all the crafty diversity, there is something for everyone. Another craft vendor who should be pointed out is the Cutting Edge, a husband and wife team who photograph and create gorgeous fine art prints of nature. They almost look like paintings. The cutting edge also offer angora, silk and cashmere scarves, and hats, as well as some gorgeous wool rugs. They are cozy and lovely.

We met the friendly and down to earth folks at D&G Designs, who create the coolest gourds you ever did see. I've always loved gourd art, because each gourd is so unique, and grows from the earth. It's what you do with that gourd and it's unique shape and personality that makes gourd art so special. D & G Designs, here in Petaluma, have gourds for tree ornaments, containers for your personal belongings, and gorgeous decorative gourds for your autumn decorating or holiday table. I fell in love with the apple gourds, (see photo). The shape is just like an apple, hence the name, these apple gourds are housed in a sublime bowl made from a very enormous gourd, which is rare according to D & G, because once gourds get to this size, they generally split and crack, due to the volume of liquid. So they are a bit rare. Unfortunately, the large gourd bowl is not for sale, as D&G Designs are very attached to it, but you can take home the apples and arrange them for display in your own decorative platter.

Can't get enough craft? The show goes through Sunday, and you owe it to yourself to get out, grab some coffee and a few fresh baked goods for nourishment, and shop till you drop!

Did I mention the holidays are around the corner? I saw the first Christmas lights of the season this evening. Thanksgiving hasn't even stepped out the back door yet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Stitch it Good!

When a problem comes along,
you must stitch it,
Before the cream sets out too long,
you must stitch it,
No one gets away
until they stitch it,
I say stitch it,
Stitch it Good!

-(hint- for best results, must be sung along to Devo's 'Whip it!')

Y'all listen up, Stitch Austin 2007 is here in just four short days! I've been thinking about Stitch for months, and everytime that Devo song pops into my head.

You hipsters already know about Stitch. And lucky you, I believe you can still get tickets. Stitch Fashion Show and Guerilla Craft Bar in Austin just keeps getting bigger every year, hey, it is Texas after all. It's getting such a big following that the Stitch folks had to change their venue, because the seams were threatening to burst. Stitch Austin, promises to be a great year for all Indie fashion mavens, hip crafty craftsters, and those who just wanna be on the scene and find one of a kind crafts and gifts for the holidays to suit the discriminating tastes of your dear ones. It takes a whole lotta energy to put on a show, especially one with a following and reputation as Stitch.

November 10th, the red carpets roll out for some of the wildest, coolest threads, handmade from talented hands across the good ol' USA, and its'a all happening in the best little town in Texas, which everyone knows is Austin, home of the legendary Bluebird Cafe and some of the best music going in the world. (Whew! Where is my prize for the world's longest run-on sentence?) And I don't have to tell you about Austin's world famous cuisine, including the best Tex-Mex east of the border. Chuy's anyone?

Jessy, Jen and the rest of our gorgeous and twangy Texas famiglia are putting on a helluva show this year. Okay, they're not that twangy, not like we were in Georgia, but hey this is my blog and I if I want my Texas gals to be twangy, why can't they be? The Austin famiglia puts a lot of thought and planning, and a few sweat and tears into each show. Lots of great music, food, fashion and craft. My friend Queen Puff Puff will be there with her gorgeous, girly hand bags, (Hey Nicole!) Nicole is gonna have a great time at Stitch. Have you all seen her bags? Audrey Hepburn meets Valley of the Doll's Jacqueline Susann, very tres vampilicious. Just the thing for holiday soirees and the prettiest bag under the christmas tree. We're getting together some Petaluma Craft Mafia swag for her to take to the capitol of Texas and dispense to those longing for a taste of Petaluma Craft Mafia and our fair city.

And speaking of bags, the goodie bags at the Stitch show make me green with envy. Blue Q, (I heart gnome lip balm and have worn mine down to a stub), Sublime Stitching, Ach Ach Liebling. And this year's sponsors are tops, Venus, Bust, Beauty Bar to name a few.

Actually, I'm tired of name dropping already now. I'm just feeling a little green. Yeah, uh-huh with envy I think. But maybe next year Petaluma Craft Mafia will go to Stitch! Until then, I think some of my crafty famiglia across the country will be mosying on down to Austin to drink in the festivities and feast their eyes on the fashion and crafts and participate as well.

The Petaluma Craft Mafia, are going to produce our very own 'Stitch Petaluma' Show in the future. Artists, crafters, models, make-up people and of course crafty designers, you know you are being summoned. We might use the Phoenix for our show. Still looking for a venue. If you want to be on our mailing list for events as a partcipant, vendor, or volunteer send me an e-mail.

If you are a crafty fashion designer or crafty business person, wanting to get your own business together, Stitch has a fabulous grant for doing just that. So get together your business plan and your faboo ideas and send it to Stitch. You never know until you try. A percentage of the proceeds go to charitable foundations such as the Lupus Foundation.

So, what are you waiting for? Fly the friendly skies, or hit the highway for Stich with a mason jar full of texas tea in style - that would be in a open-topped, ol' red and shiny caddy with bull horns for a hood ornament. Hey, at least that's the way I'd arrive in Texas. So you think they'd let me over the border in that kind of rig?

The Austin Convention Center
500 E Cesar Chavez St / 78701/ exhibit hall one

4:00 p.m. doors open -fashion show at 9:30 p.m.

And remember, it's not too late to Stitch it, Stitch it good!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Splish Splash - The making of a Sea Siren

The tale of the Mermaid, or in this case "Sirena", Anna Crosby's insouciant sea siren on the packaging for Siren Suds bath products. Anna first approached me about designing her packaging several months ago. Truth be told, it was more like a few years ago. But I was busy, and a bit reluctant at the time. She was making bodylicious bath salts, lotions and soaps and other assorted potions, and was using chilly ol' cello bags and muslin for her packaging. Not sexy.

I cannot tell you how it hurt me to watch her put her beautiful products in boring, sterile packaging that did nothing to stir the imagination or represent how great the product and the person behind it is.

Sometimes when you're a designer you get approached by every neighbor and friend, including those you didn't know you had, to design this site for them, or that logo, label, poster, cousin's bar mitzvah invitations, you name it. Sometimes this can lead to a designer doing all kinds of free work or with little compensation, but lots of headaches, revisions and ultimately resentment. No fun at all, especially since I love my work. Certainly not the girl with the most cake.

Graphic designers have bills to pay like anyone else, you know. So, I've always been very resistant to getting roped into doing that for loved ones even when they offer to pay handsomely. But, it's not easy saying no, and sometimes I literally have to zip my mouth when I see something I know can be designed lovely and I want to do it for a loved one. Sometimes I end up roping myself into a project. But, I'm getting better at saying, "no."

I went to a design conference few years ago in Las Vegas. One of the guest speakers was a fancy, schmancy designer whose client list was deep and impressive. After a few years of heartache and headache mostly on her end, she quit cold turkey doing any design work for friends or family. Zero. Zilch. "It's simply not worth risking the relationship over." she said. And some were her best paying clients.

To the pedestrian non-designer, that may sound dramatic or even harsh, but I assure you, having been there myself, I understand her decision completely. Design is an intensely personal field of work to get into. Certainly to the client, but none more so then to the designer. It can be a lot of work. It's different than art in that you are attempting to capture the viewers attention aesthetically, but complicated because unlike art, you also have to communicate a message as well, and communicate it effectively or the whole project is a loss for your client. I can't afford to miss the mark by expressing myself the way an artist is free to do, I must also tell the story and communicate the message.

Effective design is what makes the world spin, that and of course love and good chocolate. But design is heart, soul, brain, emotions, intellect, and a designer has a lot of responsibility on their shoulders to do this and tell the story well. At least that's how I view design, it's telling a story visually and with the senses. And the average person's attention span is pretty short and the product on the shelf deep, which is one more challenge designers face. Most of us don't get paid enough for how many hours we bill a client, compared to how many hours and sweat and tears we might have really put into the project. And if the client is a pain in the arse, gauranteeing you'll double your billable hours and headaches, most designers, the wise ones, will factor in the "pita" percentage in to their quote. Fair is fair.

Look around you. Everything in your environment, from the steering wheel in your hands to the road sign in front of you, to the label on your coffee cup has been created by a designer. I believe a good designer can change the world for the better.

Now our Anna, is sly. You have to watch those Tauruses (Taureans)? She has watched me over the last few years starting my design gig and so has a good idea of the challenges the designer can face. One day I get a phone call from a person who claims they have a line of bath products and need a logo and branding for packaging the product. After a few qualifying questions, I agree to meet with the person to discuss. We meet, and I agree to take on the project and we go over time lines, specs and budget.

The client is very agreeable and accommodating. I tell the new client about my friend Anna who also happens to make bath products. My client does not know Anna. At this point, my suspicions have not yet been alerted. Until, one day my "client" brings me some product to sample for packaging, and my first red flag is raised, that and the fact that my "client" seems strangely removed from the process and a little bit ignorant about her own product. Now Anna and I have actually formulated some of her products together, and some of the scents were so much like Anna's I began to think the client had bought some of Anna's products and tried to reproduce them. But, I brushed aside my stray thoughts.

That night while drifting off, (which is when I get my best ideas, and so I keep a pad of paper by my nightstand for this purpose), the sea siren name and mermaid popped into my head. My new client had mentioned that the sea was her inspiration, with as little additives or preservatives as possible. I pop on the light and furiously make a rough sketch, and jot a few notes. I turn off the light, always amazed at the way the creative process works for me, I can picture a product fully designed or at least concepted before dozing off. Some claim to get their best ideas in the shower, but mine are in bed.

That night, I had a dream about Anna, who in my dream was a beautiful mermaid decked out in sea swank and pearly metallics. She was trying to avoid me for some reason, and acted a little guilty which is not like Anna at all. Before I woke up she swam up to me and thanked me, very happy and peaceful. Anna is always thankful for her good friends and the many blessings in her life, and she is generally very peaceful, but the dream and her behavior struck me as odd. When I woke up, it hit me, and I suddenly knew my "client" and Anna were one in the same.

The next day, I decided to toy with my client a bit, who had just paid me all but the final third of our agreed upon fee. I questioned her about the ingredients, and the process behind her bath creations which seemed to make her very nervous. I called Anna that evening and told her about my idea for the branding and doing an illustration of a mermaid for my bath product client. She loved it!

"I knew you would, I told her, which is a good thing since you're paying for it!" Long silence on the other end of the line.

"She told you?"

"No, I figured it out." I told Anna about the dream I'd had. She confessed she'd hired her neighbor's daughter's friend, who was studying acting to be the "client", because she felt bad about asking me to be her designer, yet she couldn't see anybody else doing the design for her bath products.

I was touched she went to all that trouble.We both laugh about it now.

So, that's the story of how "Siren Suds" was born. Truth be told, had I known it was Anna, I would have gone for something a little more organic and elegant, knowing this is a look that Anna usually goes for. And eventually we may go with another product line that is a bit different than Siren Suds. Anna is formulating a scrub, called "Siren Scrub." We have all been Anna's guinea pigs for product testing. Anna does not use guinea pigs or any animals for product testing! Just friends and family. I liked her last version of Siren Scrub, which had a cinnamon, gingery, mandarin and almond cookie scent. Dee liked it okay, and Anna's other testers seemed to dig it. Steve, aka, "Himself", detested it. Really the first time he's had a negative reaction to any of Anna's products.

Sometimes this happens in the perfume, bath product world. One tester likes, even loves a product, the other has a strong negative reaction. You try to qualify why, and then decide do you take it back to drawing board or go with it? Anna decided to change a few things because while we all liked the new scrub scent, none of us loved it. And Anna, like me is always looking for the "love" factor. Otherwise it's just not worth producing.

The Siren Scrub is a departure from her salts, lotions and soaps, but I think we'll keep the same label to keep costs low, and color code it in a vampier red.

I'm a big fan of mists. I love spritzing them on my face throughout the winter and summer. I'm trying to talk Anna into formulating some fruit or herbal mists for the face. "Siren's Spray" ... kind of has a nice ring to it. Stay tuned!

P.S. Happy Birthday Scorpios .. some of my favorite people! And Happy Birthday to "Himself," my sweet man and Petaluma Craft Mafia's official long suffering product tester.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

SF Mafia Made Show 2007!! Resounding Success...

Got Craft? Oh, yeah. Our crafty sisters down in the little city by the bay, put on a kickin' show this week-end. It was Petaluma Craft Mafia's first show -ever, and our extended famiglia hosts were very welcoming and VERY talented. All of the vendors rocked. I found myself wanting to spend all the Lincolns floating around in my oatmeal can full of greenbacks. Oh, yes. The hidden dangers of being at a Craft Show of this caliber; spending everything you make.

People of San Francisco, you were very so good to us! Thank you for your awesome support, your compliments and respecting craft as much as we do. Met a lot of wonderful customers, friends and future clients. It blew me away! Luckily, the SF Mafia provided us vendors plenty of donuts and coffee or I would have blown away!

I'm told we had over 900 people at the Mafia Made Trunk show on Sunday! It went by in the blink of an eye. But I know I was there, because now I have to get busy and make more product and we have this awesome goodie bag full of schwagg and presents to prove it! Thanks Craft Gym for the awesome demonstrations! If y'all have never been to Craft Gym, you better exercise your crafty muscles and sign up for a class. I walked away with this awesome necklace that Barbe Saint John of Saints and Sinners made. She just rocks and I could never get tired of her jewelry. And I learned some great tips and tricks from some of my sisters, such as Jessica at FutureMoMo: "Bring everything, Cheryl." By the time we remembered to take some photos and get some footage, we were getting pretty depleted on our wares.

Not only were our famiglia in SF gracious hosts and so helpful, but they were so kind. You know, when you meet rock star caliber crafters like our SF sisters, you never know. We were not disappointed.

There is no greater compliment than when my fellow graphic designers buy and dig my product. Several of my customers were designers themselves, and asked me questions about my design process and packaging. One lady was a student at the Academy of Art, fashion design. She was interested in purchasing some of my display pieces and props,and asked if I could make some for her. Very wonderful experience over all. Several customers wanted custom invitations for holidays and parties. It's amazing what can happen when you finally peek your head out of the office!

After a delightful meal at Jennie Low's and gallons of lychee tea, (which has magical restorative powers), I came home and collapsed into bed with my comped copy of CRAFTzine.

Thank you again San Francisco, and our sisters, the San Francisco Craft Mafia. You put on one heck of a show! xoxo
Look out Petaluma, the PCM has taken notes, and we're puttin' on the craft and plan to take over Petaluma soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Moxieville's latest: Got Ring Bling?

mox*ie - mok'se (adj.) 1. verve, style and grace in the midst of turmoil. 2. spirit and courage.

Okay, so you think you've got moxie? Well, sometimes having a little moxie goes hand in hand with having a big, ol' chunky ring on your finger and making a real statement. Any Queen worth her salt, or Ghetto royalty knows that.

While I don't see myself turning into a jewelry maker anytime soon, (anytime soon!) Anna, (of Siren Suds) has been after me to make jewels with some of my original illustrations, forever. See what a little collaboration can do? I must admit, I kind of like it. Though, to be honest, it takes a lot of time and focus to learn any new craft well.

And yes, Siren Suds logo, (y'all know that serene mermaid with the cotton-candy colored locks). Siren Sud's Sea Siren, will also get cast into a g-normous ring or necklace too. So look for Moxieville's baubles on our site and possibly the Etsy site too.

If I get ambitious, I'll cast some Petaluma Craft Mafia rings too. Roosters, sultry eyeballs. You get the picture.

You're all familiar with the tradition of the Don, or Capo Cramine? I promise I won't make you kiss my ring!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Mama Mia! Cookin' with the Petaluma Craft Mafia

It's no secret the crafty chicks in Petaluma love cooking, which is a good thing, 'cause we also love eating. Though we've posted tantalizing hints at our cookbook on the PCM web site almost two months ago, our famiglia has decided to change our cookbook a bit and include the entire community of Petaluma.

We figured that since so many of us have been touched by cancer in some way, (I lost my 62-year old mother to cancer late last February), that so many people in our community might want to donate recipes and stories about their family. And they are pouring in, along with some awesome photos!
Our only concern is that the book is gonna be G-normous, so we might have to get selective and pare it down, and perhaps do our own craft famiglia book separately.

If you're just itchin' to add to your cookbook collection, this is gonna be one big spicy meatball of a cookbook - but don't fret- there are plenty of vegetarian recipes too!

Our goal is to raise awareness about the cancer that "whispers" - Ovarian Cancer. Never did I think somebody so close to me could fall to cancer let alone ovarian cancer. And ladies, ovarian cancer does not run in my family nor does it's gene related cousin breast cancer, it is one of the deadliest cancers and spreads very quickly with barely a symptom until it's at the later stages.

If you check out the symptoms at and find yourself experiencing them, and your doctor casually dismisses them - please get a second opinion or insist on an ultrasound and CA-125 test. It could save your life. Unfortunately, my adorable mother is a cattle rancher's daughter, and is unusually stoic and stubborn. Couple my mother's stoic stubborness with her internist's casualness = disaster. She was finally diagnosed a year later at stage 3. By this time her symptoms couldn't be ignored and she was in such deep pain.

Okay, I'm down from my soap box. I feel very passionate about this. Heck of a way to start my first Craft Mafia blog, isn't it?

We're donating our profits from our cookbook to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund,, and Hospice of Petaluma. The cookbook should be ready by early next year.

Happy October, and happy birthday all you Librans. Hope you've all been better at staying out of the Halloween candy than I have! :)

Ciao Bellas

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Are you going to San Francisco?

We are! And with flowers in our hair. Okay, maybe sans flowers, but you never know! Now I've got that delightful song stuck in my head.

Our extended crafty famiglia, the San Francisco Craft Mafia, in the sweet little city by the bay, are hosting "Mafia Made" trunk show in Golden Gate Park at the Hall of Flowers On October 21st.. Y'all know the park. It's gorgeous. We are excited to be exhibiting and have lots to get done between now and October 21st.

Come on down to the Hall of Flowers between 12-5 p.m. Say hello, meet the famiglia and get some early Christmas Shopping done. That way, when the holidays roll around, you won't have to fight the crowds. Just rest easy with a big mug of spiked egg nog, and dream a little dream of snowflakes.

We at the Petaluma Craft Mafia look forward to meeting you there.

Monday, August 20, 2007

We've hatched!

Petaluma Craft Mafia is pleased and honored to become a part of the family. We are but one branch off the family tree of our "ancestors" the Craft Mafia, started by the Austin Craft Mafia. The famiglia is a really swell and creative bunch of women.

Craft on.