Thursday, December 20, 2012

Now I know how Santa's elves feel

It's been a busy month in my studio. In past years I've stopped taking commissions in December so I can focus on making things for my family and preparing for the holidays. This year though I took on every project that came along, and they kept coming. Consequently, there are kids all over the country that will be getting personalized kokoleos for Christmas and Hanukkah and my kids will be having a fabulous Christmas as well thanks to the cash I earned in the process. Here's my latest batch of personalized pillows...


Those last two were a last minute project I accepted this weekend. A return customer who lives in Seattle emailed me to ask if there was a possibility I could make a pillow for her by Monday evening. She was going to be in my neighborhood visiting a friend's new baby and wanted to be able to take her a kokoleo pillow, and if I could squeeze it in she wanted the Jonah pillow for another friend's kid too. We exchanged a few emails to determine the best fabrics and I sewed like a banshee and literally snipped my final thread as she arrived at my door to pick them up. It was nice to meet her in person and see her reaction when I handed them to her (she loved them). Usually I just package my work up and send it out into the world and pray they arrive safely and the recipient is happy. 

Another return customer contacted me to make Hanukkah gifts for 4 little boys. She wanted personalized capes like the one I made for a friend years ago. Here's what I came up with...

Modeled by McKenna...

 Then an old friend from Peterkin, our church camp, called me to ask if I would make banners for each of her family members with the Peterkin "Halleuiah Kids" symbol on them. After a few days of exchanging emails with fabric combination options, here are the 4 we came up with:

And now I'm done with my commissions for the year. Last night I made these chocolate pretzel trees for the staff at my kids' school...


After teaching two preschool Mother Goose classes plus improv acting classes at 2 different elementary schools the past few months, I remember what it's like to be a teacher. And after what happened in Connecticut, I remember why it's important to tell people you appreciate what they do for your kids. 
For my kids' teachers I made these tiger print totes - one for Sage's teacher, one for McKenna's, and one for the teacher who found this super soft luxe tiger print fabric (their mascot is a tiger) at a yard sale this summer and bought it for me.


She knows I collect fabric because she's seen the PTO displays I've created in the front hall of the school. Here's the one I did a few weeks ago:

 Whew! That's a lot of kokoleo for one month. I wonder what I'll make next year..

Sunday, November 25, 2012

EtsyRAIN Handmade Holiday Recap

The day after Thanksgiving I lugged all my kokoleo wares into the heart of downtown Seattle and spent my Black Friday and Small Business Saturday here:

photo from the EtsyRAIN facebook page
at the EtsyRain Handmade Holiday Show located at the Marion Oliver McCaw Hall, home of the Seattle Symphony and Pacific Northwest Ballet. The show was in their magnificent lobby. Here's my booth:

and my tower-o-accessories and coffee mug pin cushions:

The view from where I sat:

and the view from  the second floor...

 Friday was super rainy, but we still had a line outside at the beginning and it ended up breaking previous Etsy RAIN event attendance records. I didn't take many pictures during the event because I was too busy using my phone to process credit cards for kokoleo purchases. This was my first time using my Intuit GoPayment App and I love it. Who wouldn't love money instantly deposited into your bank account? I made all my money back and then some on the first day and made even more today. The only thing I like better  is knowing a whole bunch of kokoleos are going to be wrapped and given as gifts this Christmas.

Speaking of gifts, I got a few for my family too. Sage is going to love this piece of wall art from pixelparty:

And from Kate Endle, I bought McKenna this calendar and Casper Babypants CD.

I also did some great trades, like a coffee mug pin cushion for this ceramic snowflake ornament (though I can't remember her business' name).

And I traded a necktie headband for a fabulous assortment of  treats from Sweet Coconut Bakery. I tried to save them for my family, but ended up eating most of them at the show.


I trade some stuffed ducks I made (for a Renton River Days window display) for this necklace by Cyncity and some magnets I'm going to put in my husband's stocking:

And from Scary White Girl Designs, I traded a Mickey Mouse sundress for this flower barrette and some arm warmers.

It's nice to be home with a lighter kokoleo load, money in my pocket, and a bunch of new handmade things. My best sellers of the show were my Seattle baby tees I whipped together just last week.

Driving home tonight after a fun show, I appreciate this skyline even more.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A kokoleo kind of Regular Show

This year, my kids decided they wanted to be these guys for Halloween:

It's Rigby and Mordecai, from Regular Show on Cartoon Network, and most people have never heard of them. Just like Adventure Time (their costumes last year), it's one cartoon they enjoy watching together. It was quite the challenge though, and I only had 3 days to do it.  Fast forward forty dollars of fleece and fourteen hours of cutting and sewing and here's what I came up with.

Here are a few pics of the process:

I would have written up a tutorial but I was manically making it up as I went along and not taking many pictures. I did discover what is destined to be my new favorite textile - FOAM! It makes everything all Muppety, I love it. The kids both remarked how soft and warm and comfy the costumes were and plan to wear the pants as pajamas after Halloween is over.

On Sunday, after a morning spent skipping church to sew the finishing touches on their costumes, we took them trick-or-treating at The Landing in Renton. Most people didn't know who they were but a few kids yelled out "Mordecai and Rigby!" and some of the hipper parents were impressed. A few asked "Where did you find those?" to which I replied that I made them and they looked at me in disbelief.

Still, most people had no clue who they were. One mom said, "Wile E. Coyote and an Angry Bird! How cute!" One little girl in a princess dress looked at McKenna in horror and started crying. That was funny.

The best was the several different groups of teenagers who told them they were awesome. It's not every day a teenager tells a 5 and 10 year old that they're awesome.

This may be the last year they want to do a bro/sis costume combo so I had to do it.

As Rigby and Mordecai would say, I did them a "solid." They totally owe me...

...lots of candy.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Adventure Time! Times Two

What time is it? Adventure Time! And Halloween season too. Last year my kids went as Finn and Jake for Halloween. (you can read my Finn costume tutorial here and my Jake costume tutorial here.) I made their costumes because at the time, there weren't any officially licensed Adventure Time costumes available. Now there are some mass-produced Made in China-kinds available here and here. They even have Ice King and Princess Bubblegum costumes and a slutty Fiona costume too. Still, some prefer the one-of-a-kind variety. While searching the internet for Finn and Jake costumes last month, a woman found some photos of my kids in their costumes, discovered this blog and my kokoleo website, and wrote to ask if I would make the same costumes for her sons. Luckily, last Halloween I made some extra Finn hats and backpacks so I already had an adult-sized version available for her teenage son, but the Jake costume I had to make from scratch. And here it is:

Her younger boy is 10 and small for his age, just like my boy who was nice enough to model it for me.

And here he is with his sister who can still fit in her costume from last year.  I think the yellow I chose for the bigger costume is closer to the actual color of Jake.

And here they are with our real-life doggie:

Saturday, October 06, 2012

The Day We Made a Mosaic

Back in January I wrote this blog post about my vision for a mosaic in our Children's Park. Guess what? We did it! I applied for a grant through the City of Renton's Neighborhood Grant Program and it was approved. We were awarded $700 to install a one-of-a-kind mosaic in our park. My goal was to have it be a community-driven project (I certainly couldn't do it alone) and have as many people in the neighborhood as possible contribute items to be included in the mosaic. Here's the blurb I wrote for our homeowner's newsletter:

Victoria Park Receives Art Grant

Our Children's Park is a hidden gem in Victoria Park. Last year, a group of parents came up with an idea to create a mosaic in the park. A proposal was written and a grant was applied for through the City of Renton's Neighborhood Grant Program and it was approved! The Victoria Park Homeowners Association has been awarded $700 to create a one-of-a-kind community-based art project in our park.

We want you to be a part of this project too! The idea is to create a mosaic around the bench that faces the swing set. In it, we plan to embed colorful marbles, tiles, rocks, and tiny trinkets. We are asking every person who lives in Victoria Park to contribute one item to this project. Items should be no larger than 2 inches across and non-biodegradeable. Examples are: A rock from your front lawn, a marble, a plastic or metal toy, a broken tile or dish, and other small, solid trinkets. Please note your item will not be returned, but instead it will be embedded in cement and on display forever in the Children's Park.

Little by little, donations were dropped of in a basket on our porch - coins, toys, broken jewelry, seashells and rocks - and over the course of the summer I began amassing mosaic materials at thrift stores, yard sales and antique shops - marbles, tiles, and polished glass stones.

In mid-August we finally broke ground...

and the friends who encouraged me to apply for the grant came out to help us.

There was no going back at this point. We dug a 12 ft. by 12 ft. hole 10 inches deep. We couldn't leave it like that for long, so we scheduled a date when we could all meet again and install the mosaic. Over the next two weeks I shopped for supplies, arranged for cement delivery (54 bags!), bought water and ordered 10 large pizzas to be delivered that evening. A few days before we were scheduled to install the mosaic, I stopped by Upton Glassworks in downtown Renton to ask if they had any broken bits or leftovers that we could include in our design. To my surprise, the owner, Paul Sullivan, brought out a big heavy box full of beautiful glass orbs and said we could have it. Free!

I knew then that we were ready to begin our project. These were the big, beautiful, colorful, Renton-made objects we needed to make our mosaic complete.

September 16th was the day we converged on the park with shovels and wheelbarrows to make it happen.The kids helped mix cement (but soon learned how tiring it was and quickly left to play on the playground while the grownups did the dirty work.)

While the big strong men mixed and poured the concrete...

The moms started laying out the materials and coming up with a design so we could easily transfer it when the cement was ready.

And suddenly it was! 

Everyone quickly tackled certain parts...

The area in front of the bench ended up a "sealife" theme with fish, crabs, frogs, turtles, an octopus and a mermaid...

surrounded by an ocean of clear, blue, and green marbles...

and a "barrier reef" of seashells.

Then we moved on to the marbles...


And finally we let the kids place their toys and all the trinkets we'd collected into the cement.

Then we had a pizza party. (I factored this expense into our budget when I applied for the grant.)

Yeah, my neighbors are awesome. I'm pretty lucky to live here.

A week later we applied a few layers of cement sealant to strengthen and weatherproof it. I also threw in some glitter to add some sparkle.


And now it's done!

We walk past it everyday on our walk to school...

and remember that one day in 2012


...when we made a mosaic.


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