Month: June 2010

Has Art Ever Spoken to You?

Lisa Kattenbraker
Determined by Lisa Kattenbraker

Has art ever spoken to you? You know, the image literally jumps off the page and speaks directly to you and your life experiences; tugs on your heart strings and causes some weird water like substance to fall from your eyes? Have you ever had this experience?  I’m happy to say that I have had this experience, most recently this past week when my husband and I attended the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City.  Here I met Lisa Kattenbraker and most instantly fell in love with both her, her work, and the medium of batik.
Lisa Kattenbraker
You can follow this link to learn more about batik or to see more of Lisa’s new work
The print above is the image I purchased for my new studio slash office, which is being remodeled by my wonderful husband as we speak.  The piece is titled She was always prepared for what she suspected might be just around the corner.  This is the image that brought tears to my eyes as my baby screamed and my husband kindly asked me to “just pick one already.”

What a hopeful and inspiring message.

I can’t wait to hang this beautiful masterpiece, so that everyday, happy or gray, it can speak to me again, and tell me my future.

Has art ever spoken to you?  What did it say?

You Just Need to Change the Lightbulb

This awesome photo came from Etsy artist Lense Cat

Have you ever had a light-bulb experience?  You know the kind; where you come up with this amazing idea and you can visualize it perfectly in your head.  Your excitement and energy soars and you spend hours, maybe even days, creating this “light-bulb idea” just to have the final finished product be, well not exactly a masterpiece?

This has happened to every creative soul out there, don’t be discouraged.  And while in all honesty I too have found this terribly discouraging, I now realize this is called “the creative process”.  Most artists never create a masterpiece on their first try.  Often this “light-bulb idea”, if fostered, continues down a path, taking turns here and there.  It took me a while to learn this, and once I did I noticed that my work grew over time and got better.

Let’s think about this light-bulb analogy again.  Have you ever had a room where when you go to turn on the light, your anticipating something, maybe a bright glow.  You flip the switch only to be disappointed; instead the room is too dull and maybe a bit dreary.  If you have the wrong wattage bulb the light is not going to do it’s job; it’s going to make the room either too bright and florescent, or too dark.  The room might be fine, really beautiful actually, but if the light is wrong, the feel of the whole room suffers.

And so in this example, should we throw out the entire room?  No, that’s absurd.  The same might be said for your “light-bulb idea”.  Don’t scrap the idea.  Rather, play with the wattage.  Maybe you just need to change a light-bulb and soon your idea will shine!

More Applique Quilt Patterns to Come

Here are the latest photos of one of my most recent machine applique quilt patterns. Both machine applique and felt applique techniques were used to make this handmade quilt full of applique embroidery design.
My daughter, husband, and I were out on a picnic one day, sitting on a handmade quilt given to us from Josh’s Grandma. It got me thinking, and in the sunshine, with fine food and family, an idea came to me. What if I made a literal picnic quilt. From there I designed and created this fun little masterpiece, full of Americana colors and sweet images.
machine applique quilt on bike
machine applique quilt folded on chair
machine applique picnic quilt ants food
machine applique picnic quilt ant strawbertty picnic basket
Josh made these matching ceramic dishes and I made matching cherry print napkins to go along with this handmade quilt.  You can buy the whole set, along with a vintage picnic basket at The Artists’ House Etsy Shop.  If you rather not purchase the entire set, the quilt is also for sale on it’s own.
I’m currently working on the pattern for this handmade quilt.  Soon it will be available in my Etsy shop.
Yummy, don’t you think?

Before and After Pictures…

The art of making a house a home sometimes requires that things be custom made for a space. I recently picked up an old wooden cabinet that had been converted into a play stove for kids. It was still in pretty good shape but definitely needed a little TLC. Josh took off all the old hardware, gave it a good sand, painted it, and added new door handles to match our little girl’s room. Finally Josh rummaged through his pile of miscellaneous junk to find the perfect oven temperature knob. Along with that, Josh also made a grocery cart. Can you see it parked next to the newly renovated stove? I think a matching fridge is in the works for Christmas. Shhh, don’t tell.

Here are the before and after pictures…

To make a room stand out as being unique, and truly belonging to you, you need to find a way to customize it with things that are truly one-of-a-kind; those things can be made by your or by others.  This is the secret behind the art of making a house a home.  In my daughter’s room for example, items have been made by 16 different crafters and artists…

Print by Artist Charley Harper

Fairy furniture by Utah Artist Debbie Schraman

Custom made changing table by Great Grandpa Korte who specializes in woodwork

Hand-knit blankets, custom made by Great Grandma Korte and Grandma Kathy

Handmade one-of-a-kind quilt, custom made by nine of my dearest Utah friends

Custom made bed-skirt, curtains, one-of-a-kind machine appliqued quilt, and baby mobile all made by me.

All these items, perfectly mixed together like a good recipe, make Monet’s room a genuine masterpiece.  Not only is it aesthetically pleasing to the eye, but it’s also warm to the heart because the items have been made by real people.  As Monet get’s older, I’m sure the collection in her room will grow.  Like a fine wine, a house becomes a home over time.

I Quit My Day Job x 2

I’ve quit my day job twice now. The first time I quit I had aspirations to go back to school to get my MFA. Fear struck my very core though and before I was even enrolled in school I was back out there looking for a job linked to my degree. My degree is in education and while I genuinely love children and aspects of teaching, when at work my heart and my hands longed to be somewhere else. They longed to be at home with my daughter and in my studio sewing when she slept.

So just a few months ago I quit my day job again and I’m “living the dream” so they say. It sounds all happy and sunshine I’m sure, but it’s difficult caring for a child and running a business. Yet at the same time it’s amazing how if you love your work, truly love it, all of a sudden it keeps you up late by choice, and inspires you to rise early with no struggle. While some of society probably thinks I’m crazy, I don’t care. I believe in my myself and in my dream and so I’m listening to my heart instead, while raising my baby girl at home.

And so now, I make things. I make things that make a house not just a house, but a home. I make things that add character, warmth, and charm to a space, without the extravagance that might otherwise make beautiful things inaccessible to those with children. I make handmade, applique quilts and fabric wall art creations.

And as a result, my home is a happier place.

Creative Connections Conference – I’m Going!

When the Creative Connections Conference was first publicized, I immediately called my college roommate, an artist living in Minnesota. We talked about the possibility of attending the conference together since we both just started small at-home businesses this past year, me with The Artists’ House and her with HT Designs 4U. Oh, we were so hopeful! Money has been tight though, and as much as I wanted to attend the conference and see Heather, I didn’t know if it was going to be possible. I felt a little like this…

This past Saturday, my email was buzzing like crazy. All these people were suddenly following me on Twitter. I knew something was up. I logged in and when I saw that tweet from Etsy, saying that I was the winner, well I just couldn’t believe it.

“UPDATE: We have a winner! Congratulations to Angela, a.k.a. theartistshouse (@TheArtistsHouse on Twitter), who has won the trip to the Creative Connection! We can’t wait to meet you at the conference.  Here’s her tweet: “

#cc #etsy Creating is not a choice but a need, just like eating and sleeping. If I ignore it, my whole being suffers.”


 I was so excited!  After expressing my joy with my little daughter, I immediately called Heather. We both were tickled, acting like college freshman again, giddy on the phone.  It’s funny, how this conference and this awesome giveaway is helping two college roommates, creative in spirit, reconnect for the first time in five years. Heather is looking into registering for the conference as we speak.

To Market, To Market

We prefer quality over quantity here at The Artists’ House.   It’s something that I am always trying to be more aware of, as hard as it is. This motto goes beyond things, it’s also a motto we follow very strictly when dealing with what goes inside our bodies. We strive to buy quality foods that may cost more, but in the long run nourishes our bodies on a deeper level.

My grandfather grew up farming in Southern Illinois. In the late 70’s an article featuring his organic farm was published in the National Geographic magazine. Unfortunately, my grandfather was a bit ahead of his time and couldn’t make ends meet; as a result he lost the farm. While this was very difficult on my family, to this day, my grandparents garden, growing over 50% of their own food, as well as selling to the local grocery stores. Because I was so close with them, I too grew up with my hands in the dirt. I am genuinely passionate about the importance of supporting local farmers.

(Note:  If you haven’t read any of Michael Pollan’s books and you would like to learn more about the food you consume, I highly recommend giving them a read.  These two books changed my family’s eating habits and made us more aware of little changes that really go a long way.)

And so today I’m going to share just a few tips, recipes, and personal stories with you concerning “quality food”…

Great ways to get quality food:
1.  Grow your own food
2.  Buy from local farmers
3.  Shop organic when you can

Grow your own food…

Josh and I love gardening; watching a seed turn into a beautiful plant that produces food, that we can then make wonderful meals from. It’s been a bit rainy and cold here the past couple days and so Josh made this soup yesterday afternoon, and can I just say it was AMAZING!  The best Tom Ka Gai soup I’ve ever had!  The snow peas, cilantro, and green onions came from our garden; unfortunately our carrots aren’t big enough yet.

Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup Recipe:
– 3 cups chicken stock
– 3 cloves minced garlic
– 2 cans (13.5 oz. each) coconut milk
– 4 hand torn karrif lime leaves
– 3 tbs fish sauce
– 1-2 tbs hot chili sauce
– 1 tbs mirin (rice wine vinegar) substitute with white wine vinegar or omit if needed
– 2 tbs grated lemongrass (about 1/2 stalk)
– 1 can bamboo shoots
– 4-5 slices of ginger root (about 4 tbs) (traditional recipes use galangal root if you can find it)
– 1 lb organic diced chicken (tofu is a great substitute)
– 3 carrots sliced lengthwise in 2-3 inch lengths
– 4 green onions diced
– 2 cups snow peas
– juice of 2 limes
– 8-12 oz. thin rice noodles (optional)
– 4 tbs cilantro
(Note: we keep lemongrass, karrif lime leaves, and ginger in our freezer at all times)

Combine chicken stock and garlic in large sauce pan and heat until boiling.  Add next 8 ingredients, through ginger root, and return to a gentle boil for about 5 minutes.

Add chicken, carrots, green onions, and snow peas.  Return to a gentle boil and cook until the chicken is cooked thoroughly, about 7-10 minutes.  Add lime juice and rice noodles and cook until noodles become soft.  Garnish with fresh cilantro to taste.

Thai Tom Ka Gai Soup Recipe


Buy from local farmers…

Our favorite nightly read these days is “To Market, To Market” by Anne Miranda.  Going to the local farmer’s market is a great family activity.  Or why not consider signing up with CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  A lot of CSA programs even offer quality meats and cheeses.  And when eating out, support local restaurants that buy from local farmers.


Shop organic when you can…

Since organic food is expensive and sometimes hard to find, when in doubt I recommend following what’s called “The Dirty Dozen”.

Remember that is isn’t an all or nothing situation.  I encourage you to start small and do what you can, for the good of your taste-buds, your body, our farmers, and our mother-earth.

This Moment

“{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.” -SouleMama

A Letter to Oprah

image of Oprah via

Tara Gentile from Scoutie Girl wrote a wonderful and inspiring letter to Oprah Winfrey.  My one-year-old daughter Monet was sitting in bed with my husband and I, and as I read this letter aloud to him, inspiration in my voice, my daughter Monet started clapping.  I too am giving Tara Gentile a standing ovation, because not only is she trying to make change for me, a maker and designer in the indie biz, but she is also making change for my daughter.  I think Monet knew this when she started clapping, that the words I was reading meant change for her and the day she too is an artist in our society.  And yet, also change for me, her mommy, and her daddy.  Two people, who in order to live happy lives, don’t just love to, but sincerely NEED to, create and work with their hands.  Won’t you please read this letter, and take to heart Tara Gentile’s words…
Dear Oprah,
Your business empire has excited and empowered women for many years. We appreciate your humble beginnings and your never-say-die attitude in making your way to the top. Whether harnessing your television audience, your crazy good business sense, or wide-reaching network, your big ideas and passion for change are a big inspiration to me and my community.
My community, you ask? That’s the very purpose of this letter!
My community is the creative thinkers, makers, and designers of the indie craft & design movement. And Oprah, we’re ready for you.
It’s time the lid is lifted off this goldmine of passionate, empowered, and assertive women (and dudes). It’s time that the world knows that China isn’t the only place that things are made. It’s time that consumers begin a love affair with the things they buy and not the quantity of stuff they buy.
And the makers & designers of the indie biz movement make great stuff. They produce beautiful products with engaging stories – original designs with innovative ideas – clever stuff with thoughtful details. You can shop in a variety of online venues – including my favorites Etsy and Supermarket – where you can buy directly from the maker. Many artists also run their own stores. Others sell at craft markets or in independent galleries & boutiques.
Although these women are working hard at promoting their wares & services, they are facing an uphill battle against big box stores, mass production, instant gratification, and a society that values quantity over quality. Oprah, these women need your help. They need your inspiration, your thumbs up, and your ability to shift the tide of American consumerism.
Your suggestion, word, or endorsement would do nothing less than change the lives of hundreds – thousands – of creative women (and dudes) who are seeking a more meaningful way of doing business, making a profit, and creating social change. It’s change we can believe in – the kind of change that lifts people up spiritually & financially and the kind of change that makes the world a more beautiful place.
We would be happy to open our community to you – and anyone who is interested in becoming more mindful of the things they consume and the way they spend their money. We want to share our stories & our passion with the world. We want to find a place in modern society for handcrafted, thoughtfully designed wares.
Thanks for your time and consideration.
A fan,
Tara Gentile
Scoutie Girl
Scout Creative Media, llc
tara_gentile on Skype

Thank you Tara, for believing in us creators and makers of beautiful things. Thank you for inspiring us and giving us a push when we start to get discouraged. Thank you also for helping us to become wiser consumers, people who consume less but also consume more wisely. You are a genuine inspiration to me, just like Oprah is to so many. 
Won’t you join our revolution and help fight our battle against “big box stores, mass production, instant gratification, and a society that values quantity over quality”!?

Thrift Store Gold Mine

We descended the stairs into the musty basement of our local thrift store, turned right, and took a few paces before I looked up and saw Angela’s eyes grow two sizes in two seconds.  Immediately she started doing a little dance and squeaking with excitement.  She had made a find.  I have seen this look before; it reminded me of when Angela spotted an old dresser at this exact thrift store.  That dresser, stripped, refinished, and dressed up with some new hardware, currently looks marvelous sitting in our bedroom.
This time it was four metal-framed chairs that had her jumping with joy.  Two had been poorly reupholstered with some sort of red velvety material. We just wanted the bones anyway.
All it took was a little cleaning, a coat of Rustoleum paint, and some cedar boards picked up from Home Depot to make the former refuse good as gold.
Now these chairs are a welcomed addition to our back yard dining area.  They also served as great inspiration for me to refinish our old table that had become a little weathered, and Angela’s Picnic Set is the perfect accessory.
Have you turned any trash to treasure recently?  We would love to hear about it.
– Josh Flicker