"Doctor Down Under" the story of a man who makes house calls in the bush.
Holy smokes, it's like a for real thing! Criminal Crafts, the book is at the printer, getting boxed, bundled, and packed up for a shipment to stores this spring. While I knew that it was happening, since books don't write themselves, much as we'd like them too, it didn't feel legitimate. Until this ... The thing that's got me super giddy is the ISBN number, it seems so official, even more fun than when I found my name in the phone book for the 1st time. So even though the book isn't out yet, you could pre-order it, or wait a bit and let me sign a copy for you with a devious inscription.
So delighted with how the project turned out, the folks at Andrews McMeel did an amazing job putting it together. The design elements are super charming in the macabre way that I find so appealing; faux bullet ridden holes in the pages, tire tracks from get-away cars and the occasional incriminating fingerprint.
My friends Laura Sams and Rob Sams carved a huge and generous amount of time from their super busy schedules last fall to take pictures for the book. Criminal
Crafts is a bit of a departure from their usual work of making outstanding wild life films for kids, but
Laura and Rob have a great sense of humor so working on this project wasn't really a stretch. I'm super lucky to have such talented folks in my life, and grateful that my kids will actually have some folks who are a good influence on them as roll models. I mention this last bit because, last week my 8-year-old came running into the room yelling "mommy, I have a great idea for a bank job". As much as I'd like to discourage her aberrant behavior, it actually was a good plan, so if this whole book thing doesn't work out, we've got plan "B", though it does involve waiting until her brother is tall enough for his foot to reach the gas pedal.
As any good bank heist movie will tell you, the art of distraction is the best disguise. No one is going to remember your ugly mug when it's sitting pretty under a pound of bling, making that perp walk, a cake walk.
I took it, I stole your sock and I put it in my Etsy shop .
Also there was a lot of beer drinking going down- my kind of gig, crafts, bribery and beer, what could be better right?
Late nights of sniffing glue and yarn bombing have me down to fighting weight. I’m an animal, a knitting machine ready to cut loose and meet you on the playground after school, pinking shears in hand.
With the coming of Valentine's Day, I'm inspired to acknowledge that singular stunning person in my life who motivates me to create. Dante had his Beatrice, John had Yoko, Warhol had Edie and I've got my Amy.
My muse is not a gauzily veiled coquette, a Helen of Troy with beauty inspiring an armada across the sea. No, she is my nemesis, a hooded figure who trailing through my nightmares barks at my heels like a rabid pit bull in heat. Holding a mirror to my shadow, I see her lurking in the dark crusty side of my soul, feeding on spite and malice.
In the past I may have tried to win the affection of a fair beau with my crafty prowessness, but let me tell you friends, these victories come easy. Sew a guy a pair of mittens, make him a beer cozy and he's yours to keep, it's pretty darn simple to catch a man, you don't even need to knit the net, just put on a tight sweater, toss him a sandwich and mischief managed!
And while I've given up on impressing my paramour, I still have my frenemy, the woman who keeps me sleeping with one eye open. She is a craft stalker, plain and simple. If I make something unique and lovely, I'll see her the next day whipping up some facsimile, a China Town knock-off of my designer original. To call her a copycat though is a cheap shot, her cunning and quick draw with the pinking shears make her a worthy adversary. She truly is an artistic genius as demonstrated in her Tornado Landscapes and seminal work in dental implant mock-ups .
Born of Russian aristocratic stock, her kin found her to be such an unpleasant child, they abandoned her in the woods during a spring outing. Subsequently, Amy was raised by a community of Bush Squirrels. Ever the traitor, she milled the family tree for firewood, during a winter cold snap. "She's dead to me" said her cousin, Stumpy, when I asked him about those early days.
My nemesis and I met a few years later, classmates in a "Hand Tools for Woodworking" course that left us both inspired and bloodied. Bonding over a passion for expensive Japanese saws and a well stocked liquor cabinet we became inseparable until the ugly gorgon of competition reared it's distorted head. Our feud has been slightly documented, scholars desiring of more back-story should begin with the poignant blog, Remember When We Were Friends where our early correspondences have been cataloged. The letters are in chronological order so it is best to start with the oldest work first.
Learning that I had accepted the Iron Craft Challenge, Amy had to jump on band wagon too. Her rigorous schedule of prosthesis making, accordion lessons and personal grooming has left her unable to participate on a weekly basis. She was determined to make a Valentine for this week's challenge, and since she's got to worm her way into every facet of my artistic life, she made her own interpretation of a Randy and Evi Quaid love note, complete with an Australian Shepard.
And that, as Stumpy would say, is our relationship in a nut shell. My challenges are not personal ones, they are spurned by knowing there is a devious soul out there trying to best me at my own game. We run faster when we know we are being chased.
Happy Valentine's Day Amy, you've won my heart, and one day I'll have yours (possibly in a small box that I keep on top of the fridge if all goes according to plan).
Well this Iron Crafting is sure keeping me nose to grindstone. I've been super busy prepping projects for forthcoming Criminal Crafts book so I decided today to double down... I combined our challenge of bunting with stamps from my "It's Your Funeral Kit". I needed to take pictures of that today too.
I'm pretty happy with the results even if you can't see all the letters on the flags, my photo is over exposed and I didn't get all the headstones in the shot... OK, maybe I'm only slightly pleased...
Very pleased with my new hearse linoleum stamp though. Cinephiles should
immediately recognize this car as the '69 E-type Jaguar that Bud Cort drives in Harold and Maude. It took me about $25 in linoleum to get this model right (head light and grill issues). Unlike Harold's car, I won't be driving mine over a cliff...
All things considered it was a great day to be hanging out in the cemetery, and of course I began to wax nostalgic for absent and departed friends and it got me to thinking, what the heck are Randy and Evi up to these days. Think it's about time I checked back in with them...
Oh baby there is an ill wind blowing, can you feel it, just seeping through the door jams and window sills. And while it's chilly in here, I can only imagine how down right cold it's going to be feeling in my buddy Tom Delay's jail cell. Poor Tom went from being the big shot in the house to being a little man in the big house for conspiracy and money laundering. Since making an insulating cushion was the project theme for this week's Iron Craft Challenge, I thought I'd whip up a little going away present for my favorite felonious former Speaker of the House.
For the outer shell I used the sleeves of a left over prison uniform sweater, something I just happened to have at the bottom of my laundry basket. I stitched the two arms together at the pit joint and sewed one long end closed. I filled the cushion with pinto beans raided from my stash in the nuclear fall-out shelter and sewed the other end up. My project was cute enough but to keep pace with the quality work being done by the other Iron Crafters, I'd have to step it up a notch... A prison i.d. patch seemed just the right touch... so who's number did I use? None other than M. Diddy's, the patron saint of criminal crafters , the ultimate irony being that I used her super expensive silicon hand stamps to create the badge. Classy right, and it seemed like the perfect thing to make Tom feel at home in his new digs.
As an added bonus the cushion weighs about 30 pounds so if he needs a kosh for self defense he is set and in some kind of lock down scenario he's got the makings of a pretty substantial meal, if some kind soul gives him access to a coffee maker... good luck Tom!
The gauntlet has been thrown down! Some very well meaning crafters issued a challenge, 52 projects in one year, something groovy, once a week. Iron Craft! You know what, all the hounds in hell couldn't keep me away from a proposal like this. It's not like I've got to create some sort of jaw dropping amazingly tallented Skull-a-Day thingy-o. Just something crafty, like a good alibi, but with art supplies, sounds do-able. (Blogging about it once a week, that's a whole other kettle of stinky fish).
Of course, I'll have to put my own criminal spin on things, we can't hide from ourselves can we?
The challenge for this week was to make something with light. Because I was a little late coming to the party- I discovered I had about two hours to throw something together, photograph it, upload and blog.So I went for votive candle, the standby craft that has never let me down. It comes together almost instantly and makes the perfect hostess gift, plus I love the smell of burning Modge Podge and hot wax, just like a San Quintin summer morning!
I've posted a few other photos in the Flickr pool and you can see what the other talented folks are up to too. Looks like, for once, I'm in good company.
It has come to my attention, and delight to discover that Criminal Crafts has a small cadre of fans in the international espionage and law enforcement agencies. Kudos for your excellent taste and even better sense of humor. As a small token of thanks for your selfless commitment to your affiliated country of choice (or countries for you double agents) and because I'm always happy for another sale... I'll be offering a 10% discount to spies, cops, raconteurs, deceivers and ne'er-do-wells and malcontents in my Etsy shop. Just enter the coupon code 007spy when you check-out. How will I know if you are a legitimate spy? That's the million dollar question isn't it? Well, you could tell me an awesome story from your shady past in the customer comment section or play it close to the vest, keep me guessing, the game is a foot, right? This offer is good right up through Valentine's Day!
And lo it came to pass, one Christmas Eve two wayward travelers found themselves exiled in a strange land. The comforts of the past -caviar, Belgian endive, bikini waxes, running water- all forfeit for a new life, a life on the run, from the cruel clutches of Johnny Law. It had been a hard year for Randy and Evi Quaid, a media circus born out of desperation, unpaid hotel room bills, lawsuits, and jail time.
As the holidays neared they just wanted to get their heads down, re-group, take stock of meager fare and plan, plan big for next year- the reunion tour, where Randy, re-born bursts naked from the ashes of his old husk of a career, a flaming phoenix of theatrical importance, the next David Hasselhoff. This time, he'd bag that Golden Globe. But for tonight? Any port in the storm of the private hell they'd created would do. It was a bleak time, we'd been living out of their Prius, me in the backseat with their mouthy Australian Shepard, Doji. Long days spent driving from one rest stop to the next, playing endless rounds of "What's in Randy's Beard", late nights we'd spoon fighting over who'd cuddle Doji for warmth.
My mission had been to pull these lost lambs back into the fold, convert them with craft, let them find inner peace through self expression and maybe a little glitter. Crafting on the lamb presents unique challenges, we were hurting for supplies and Evi was in a real bad head space. One afternoon, I walked in on her in the ladies room, her face smudged with a fine white powder an empty packet of Cremora in one hand, I knew we were about to hit bottom.
On December 24th we drove as far as we could and yet Siberia was no where in site, the Prius finally ran out of juice and we limped to the side of the highway. In a wild Canadian blizzard we walked from one hotel to the next, credit cards maxed, faces in the news, no one would take us in. As we sat on the hood of the car, Evi fell to pieces, crying bitter tears, but something came over Randy, a look of divinity if you will and he described a dream he'd had the night before.
An angel had come to him, a sweet radiant creature, who'd said follow that star, the second one to the right. So convinced of his vision we trudged back into the snowstorm until we found an abandoned mattress store, the back door miraculously unbolted. Hunkering down for the night, Randy got out his pen knife and our last bar of soap, he fashioned a crude manger scene pictured above, and just for a moment, peace descended on our little tribe.
I feel the same way about the Quaids, the Thelma and Louise of our time, yeah they're crazy, but they are my kind of crazy.
Our beloved Dame Agatha Christie turns 120 this month, and to celebrate the occasion, I've joined in with other mystery afficiandos on the Agatha Christie Blog Tour. As you may be feeling a bit peckish from your long journeys around the internet, I should offer some refreshments... perhaps a perfectly British, tea inspired craft project? As an homage to Aunt Jane and Agatha and because I like my tea like my men, piping hot, I decided to whip up the Miss Marple Tea Cozy. I was inspired by an absolutely stunning tutorial on the blog, Acorn Pies. If you want to make the cozy using a sewing machine or make one with a liner, head over to her site ASAP!
The Miss Marple cozy is sewn by hand and should be easy for even novice crafty types. I used felt sheets from the craft store and a crystal gem from the old chandelier that fell from our dining room ceiling (another story for another time!). Total cost for the cozy was under a dollar including the embroidery floss.
Since every tea pot is different you'll want to take measurements of your faithful vessel and adjust the pattern to fit your needs.
Plot out measurements of the height of your pot, furthest handle and spout distances, height from top of spout to top of lid, and lid width.
On a large piece of paper, draw an arch from the top of spout to the top of the lid and from the top of the handle to the top of the lid. Add a half an inch to the outside of your pattern all the way around to allow for stitching. Cut out template. You may want to actually make an extra template. I made two, taped them together and fit them over my teapot to check the sizing.
Pin the pattern to your felt and cut front and back pieces.
For the cameo, I've included an Aunt Jane silhouette, you can import this photo into your favorite program and adjust the size to best fit your pot.
Print design and cut from paper
Pin template to felt and carefully cut fabric
Using a running stitch, sew cameo to front of cozy
With a blanket stitch, attach front and back pieces together all the way around at side and top seams. Blanket stitches are one of my favorite functional/decoration stitches. Basically your needle moves from the back of your work through the fabric, you pass your needle back through the loop you've just made before pulling the stitch tight and insert next stitch again from the back.
It's a fun stitch to make and goes very quickly- There are some excellent videos on YouTube of making blanket stitches if you need more visuals.
Cozies need a bobble on top and Miss Marple truly deserves some extra bling, something like the much prized diamond from "The Secret of Chimneys" Sew your own diadem on tight and your cozy is ready for service. Now Polly put the kettle on and enjoy your tea, and if you should wiff the slightest hint of bitter almonds in your cup... well, you might want to switch over to whiskey instead.
So I might be a master criminal, amateur stalker, and maligned femme fatal- but that doesn't mean that I'm not a sucker for a good cause. A dear friend from high school recently shook me down for a auction donation, for an outstanding organization
Close inspection of the photo will show that Ms. Merritt has yet to finish said sweater, I'm OK with that, rumor has it her glue gun is shooting blanks
The juvenile delinquents who ride around in the back in the car begged for a treat, and since they talk less with something sticky in their mouths, I was only too happy to acquiesce
Notorious the Cocktail is a delicious combination of Brandy and Pear juice with a shot of lemon/ginger syrup and a delicate champaign sabayon sauce floating on top.
coming spring 2012 Criminal Crafts the BOOK from Andrews McMeel Publishing
A huge Criminal Crafts congratulations to Amy Marie Honeyman, this month's winner of the Hitchcock Sweater Re-Fashion Contest. The theme of our July craft off was, "Vertigo" which Amy did a bang-up job of interpreting. Not only did she manage to capture the great plummet from the tower scene, she also sewed on the flower petals which Carlotta dreamily tosses into the San Francisco Bay. Kudos to you Amy! Our lucky winner got a handsome vintage book and a special gift from the Criminal Crafts shop. Second prize went to Elizabeth Cramer who got a set of steak knives. Actually, it wasn't steak knives, but something else as equally endearing. Everyone who entered did an awesome job and I truly appreciate your enthusiasm to create something deviant and functional. It's time now to dust off your feathered boa and heat up the glue gun because our August sweater contest is going to.........The Birds! Hop to it friends, and send me pics of work in progress, I'd love to share it with the world! You've got until August 31st to send me a photo of your masterpiece and link to blog if you'd like. Winners will be announced shortly afterward. Up for grabs, a vintage steamy pulp novel from my private collection of smut and a special treat from one of my online shops.