Summertime Macrame

Summertime Macrame

Summertime is my season to tie knots.
Something about it makes me feel like a carefree kid again.
For many years, it was friendship bracelets.
(Occasionally, it still is.)
Then I moved to paracord survival bracelets.
I made a few dream catchers last summer.
But so far this summer, it’s all about macrame.

We’ve been experiencing extreme weather recently.
A mix of violent rainstorms and scorching sun.
I’ve been hiding out in my home studio.
Drawing, painting and tying knots.

Thus far, the longest cords I’ve worked with were about 15 feet each.
Any longer, and I would need to roll each cord around something to shorten it.
But for now,
I’ve just made sure my floor was clean and let the rope drape in piles around my bare feet.
I did have to deal with a few troublesome knots,
but quickly figured out a method and rhythm to keep the tangles at a minimum.

What you choose to anchor your macrame makes all the difference.
I scored this gorgeous curvy driftwood from a fellow artist.
She gifted me a box of found objects.
I thanked her with a retro paper cutter I’d bought at a NYC flea market years ago.
Gotta love a good junk trade.

I made the driftwood macrame wall hanging for my living room.
As I mentioned last post,
We’ve been in our house three years now.
Til now, I’ve haven’t been in the mood to create anything for the walls.
But suddenly I am .
And so I have.
(More projects in the pipeline – so keep an eye out)

After I finished the bigger macrame hanging for my living room,
I decided to play around with another piece.
This time I anchored my knots on a 12″ diameter brass hoop.
I kept thinking of the words “fiber-Frankenstein.”
By which I meant to experiment with mixing and matching fiber techniques.
I wanted to mix macrame, dream catcher and a bit of hand-weaving together.

My result was tamer than I initially visualized.
Not particularly “Frankenstein-ish” at all.
But it’s only the start of summer.
Plenty more weeks to continue playing with rope, thread and other fibers.
So I’m thinking there will be more Fiber-Frankensteins to come.



Remember that fiber exhibit I was prepping for?
It was REALLY amazing.

You know I was worried about my “craft” hanging out alongside real fiber “art.”
But I was also fretting about the unusually cold weather along the east coast.
Here in Charlotte,
the cold has been keeping people at home.
Would folks venture out into the cold?
In the dark?
Just to see some fiber art?

At C3 Lab for the TEXTURES exhibit

The happy answer to that was YES.
Yes they did.

What a heart warming experience to walk into C3 Lab to find it buzzing with people.

The CLTextile Artists (and I’m on that list!!)

I was equally excited to see MY name included on the list of participating CLTextile artists.

How cool to be part of the CLTextile group.
To be at C3 Lab.
To meet like minded people with a love of making.

Every piece in this show was an intricate work of someone’s hands and heart.

My “Out on a Limb” on display at the TEXTILES exhibit

When I noticed people clustered around my piece,
I was delighted that they were taking the time to study the little details.
Didn’t think I could get any happier.
…Til someone mentioned the local news had been by earlier in the day,
And that they’d noticed “Out on a Limb.”

“Out on a Limb” by Val Chan

That’s when I found out my crafty little bird even made it on the local news.
Here’s the link to some clips from Wilson’s World talking about our fiber show.
  My piece shows up in the last three minutes of the clip.

My cup runneth over.

Out on a Limb

Out on a Limb

Arts and Crafts.
I love them both.

As an “artist,”
I draw and paint in a myriad of mediums.
I use lots of glue (specifically Mod Podge).
I love to experiment and to mix techniques and mediums.
I want to be able to produce representational art when the mood strikes.
But it’s the crazier, looser stuff that really sets my heart pounding.

As a “crafter,”
I tend to be more careful.
I mostly crochet, needle felt, knit and sew.
I try NEVER to mix glue with my fibers.
I follow patterns.
I like the cute stuff.

Until now,
I’ve kept my “arts” and “crafts” separate.

So what’s changed?

A few weeks back, a fiber artist friend asked if I’d like to participate in a fiber art exhibit.
I was intrigued.
But a little worried.
For me, working with fibers is strictly a crafty kind of thing.
“Crafty” as in kitschy and cutesy.
How could simple embroidery or amigurumi stand side by side with fiber art?
I was intimidated.
But what the hec.
I said “yes” anyway.

I pulled out embroidery floss, felt, yarn, wire and roving.
I used wire cutters, pliers, crochet hooks, embroidery and felting needles.
I crafted my heart out.
…And I made something that (gulp) might actually be classified as “art.”

My fiber sculpture is called “Out on a Limb.”
It will be on display at the TEXTURES exhibit at C3 Lab this Friday (Jan 5, 7-10pm).

I’m still worried about it being more “crafty” than “artsy.”
But you know what?
I worked really hard on it.
So call it art or craft,
I’m proud of this little sculpture.

Christmas Craft Camp

Christmas Craft Camp

If you’ve been hanging out with me for a while,
You know I’m nuts about crafting.
My standard line?
I’ve never met a craft I didn’t want to try.
I also love to see what others are doing and making.
I think hand crafted anything is pretty cool.
But since I moved to Charlotte,
I’ve been especially on the lookout for crafters & makers with aesthetics in line with mine.
It took me two years to find them.
When I stumbled across Jen & Katie of Modern Craft Collective,
I knew I’d finally found my local crafting kindred spirits.

In the Small Hands Big Art Studio

Jen & Katie are a source of arts and crafts knowledge & experience.
Print making.
Wood crafts.
String crafts.
Shibori dying.
Ceramic hand building.
Alcohol inks.
I’m telling you… just name it & they have experience with it.
The best part?
…And they are darn good at it!
So when I heard they were offering a Christmas Craft Camp,
I made sure I joined the fun.

Their craft camp was a three hour extravaganza of “all you can make.”
Tables were set buffet style with six different projects to choose from.
My craft-loving heart started pounding the minute I saw all making possibilities.

Playing with Tooling Foil

I started by trying something totally new:
Tooling foil.
It was quick, easy fun with an interesting result.
Once I finished my design,
Katie tacked it into a wooden block
and even attached the picture hanger on the back.
What a treat to have her handle the mundane part of the project for me!

Never enough garland

Next I jumped over to the garland making station.
Can I just say…
There’s always room for one more garland.
(Smiley face)

Watching E set nails for string art

While I was hopping from craft to craft,
My boy tackled the most challenging project:
String art.

E and his reindeer

He drew his own design.
Set all the nails in place.
And then very carefully looped embroidery floss all around.

Struggling to set my nails straight

Once I saw E with the string art,
Of course, I had to try it too!
I plopped a Pinterest pic of  Christmas tree string art right on top of my slab of wood
and got hammering.
Handling all those little nails turned out to be a little tricky.
But I took my time and didn’t freak out over crooked nails.

My favorite take homes from MCC’s Craft Camp

And there it is.
Three hours of crafting fun.
Four completed projects to take home.
And a whole lot of new crafting inspiration.
A big thank you to Katie & Jen.
Modern Craft Collective is the best!

Photo Booth Frames

Photo Booth Frames


Today’s project?
Painting frames for a holiday photo booth.
Since I’ll be using the photo booth at a venue with Christmas decorations already in place,
I decided it was not necessary to create a back drop.
All I really need are some cheesy photo booth props and
a few colorful frames for folks to choose from.

Rather than combing stores for the perfect red, green and white frames,
I used Christmas colored spray paint to paint the frames myself.

Two of the frames & the paint were purchased at Michaels (with 50% off coupons).
The third frame came out of my frame stash.
(I find it amusing that I actually have a “frame stash.”)

Before painting,
I lightly sanded all three frames and wiped the dust off with a damp cloth.
And then it was three rounds with the spray paint on each frame.

You may have heard me say this before,
but here are my spray painting recommendations:

1.  Choose a low-humidity day to paint.

2.  Place a drop cloth or large piece of cardboard under each item.

3.  Work outside.
Preferably away from walls or vehicles.

4.  Stand upwind.  Spray downwind.

5.  Use a slow sweeping motion when spraying.

Think I’m ready for next week…
A few test pics
(featuring my best beloved Barkus)

Ready to play photo booth.



Time to PLAY

Time to PLAY

Happy December 1.
You know what this means, right?
It’s almost CHRISTMAS!!!!

I love the days leading up to to Christmas.
Setting up our tree.
Decorating the house.
Singing carols.
Baking cookies.
Making hot chocolate and caramel corn.
Forcing my kids to write “letters to Santa”
(My husband asked them to text us their lists, but I’m holding out for those handwritten letters!)
Visiting holiday markets and fairs.
Making Christmas crafts.
Ah yes,
I especially love making Christmas crafts.

I’m kicking off this month of holiday crafting with this little snowman.
He’s 100% needle felted.
Not a drop of glue used anywhere.
Sporting a crocheted scarf.
  With a button sewn on to add a bit of bling.
There might be a few more snowman friends joining him.
Or he might become part of a winter diorama.
But in the meantime,
He’s perfectly happy to sit atop this spool of ribbon;
Keeping me company as I dream up the next Christmas craft.