Sunday, May 31, 2009

Fields full of daisies

Under a daunting burden with deadlines yesterday, I resolved that work I must but it would be a shame to waste a day of glorious Pacific Northwest sunshine.

So off I trundled with my husband to work on the island, art supplies tucked in a basket in back. Dropping him off with a wave, I looked for a lovely outdoor spot to work... a park, a beach, the quiet corner in a schoolyard. All I needed was a picnic table.

Passing a hilly park, I noticed one of my favorite flowers in blooming in joyful abandon, the result of someone not being overly careful to mow regularly: ENGLISH DAISIES!

Aren't they the cheeriest of flowers?

And when I got up close, I realized they were tipped with an irresistible hint of rosy pink!

I worked steadily all day on a baby collection: baby's bath time, baby with a blankie, baby and mama. I did storks and baby shoes and tiny little toes. And if you should someday buy the products with my baby silhouettes one day, perhaps you will look closely and see a few wonderful English daisies peeking out cheerfully, a result of the hours spent working in a meadow-like park on a sunny day in early summer.

Friday, May 29, 2009

An unlikely love affair

Behind the studio stands a rickety old barn. It belongs to our neighbors, who don't value it as much as we wish they did. It's been getting more rickety by the year and we can't persuade them that it's worth anything at all.

At this point it's probably too late, and a darned shame that is, too.

One of these days it'll blow down in a storm, and when that day comes, I'll be sorely tempted to hold a funeral for the dear old thing.

You see, I am smitten with barns, head over heels in love with them. I admit it's an unlikely love affair but there you have it: I'm completely over the moon about barns.

Ditto for old sheds, chicken coops, duck runs, greenhouses (but only the glass variety.)

There's just something about that magical blend of industry and laziness that makes you want to snooze in the sun or build something indoors. The scent of hay or tomato plants or just plain ordinary dust.

Surely I'm not the only one (am I?) who loves the rustic simplicity, the humble functionality, of these gems.

There is just something so honest...

so utterly respectable and hardworking...

so downright beautiful about outbuildings. And the way of life they suggest.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Snipping springtime

It's late spring, and I'm scissoring babies and bunnies and blossoms for another CriCut cartridge, this one to be released in February (at least I think it's for February!)

Here I am snipping away like crazy, sitting under the apple tree or beneath the honeysuckle-covered arbor, or sometimes by the fire because spring still carries a chill here in the Northwest.

I've been pawing through the old tool chest, which I've stuffed full as can be with scissors and bone folders and odd bits of this and that...

I'm mired in huge piles of work but if you peeked over the fence or through the window it would be a peaceful and gentle sight. Chickens pecking at the grass, sleepy puppy at my feet. And in my apron pocket a list that overflows a long, long sheet of paper folded in half and written in a cramped hand in smudgey pencil scribbles, with arrows and asterisks and quirky notes-to-self jammed in every which way.

It's gentle chaos around here. Joyful, sweet, and just a little bit crazy.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Home to the lilacs

When you've been away, is there a special place on the road home that makes you smile and think, "Ah, home"?

For me, that wonderful place is called Starbird Hill.

We crested Starbird Hill the other night in the moonlight, our own little valley spread before us like a blanket. Cranked down the windows and breathed in air that seemed to be scented with the magical perfume of lilacs.

The next morning I ran out to sniff around the yard and enjoy all the lilac bushes I planted several years ago. What a gorgeous smell!

We've got lots of them, from deep dark violet to the classic pinky purple, and creamy white ones, pale pinks. Not for the the thinly elegant store-bought floral arrangements. I prefer armloads of home grown beauties with the old fashioned brilliant smells snipped in the cool of morning with the rusty cutters that hang on the nail by the garage door.

Oh the fun of cutting armloads of lilacs in the morning, with the dewy grasses tickling your toes!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The glorious Met

Wandering through the Met... the hours evaporate!

My dear friend Barb and I finished a dizzying expedition through the glorious Metropolitan Museum of Art with a French raspberry tart I bought at a picture perfect bakery on Park Avenue. A shameless extravagance and each jeweled morsel was delicately delicious.

The New American Wing of the Met got my entire attention. In a rather lame effort to take bits of the Met's glories home with me, I snapped photos galore. Because you may have an insatiable appetite for the beauties that reside there, I can't resist sharing...

If you wander into the room they call "visible storage," you may gasp as I did. I could have sketched an entire day, just gazing at the historic silver, glassware, grandfather clocks, porcelain and assorted pieces of pewter and other handmade works.

An open courtyard filled with light showcases more of the metal smith's art, glass flasks, and lampwork. Just look at the details! Don't you wish for a week at the Met?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I can't believe I won the Louie Award...

What a shock! I walked into the Javits Center today to find a note from my licensing partner, Sunrise Greetings, one of the Hallmark companies.

"Sharyn," it read, "I came looking for you to say that you won the Louie Award last night at the gala dinner."

Heart pounding. Mouth dry. Who would have ever guessed?

Never did I even dream of winning the award for greeting card excellence. But it happened.

Can I really have won the top award in the stationery industry?

I actually jumped up and down right there in the aisle. Rather a dignified jump, and I stopped short of a squeal but oh my goodness, I blushed red as my mother's lipstick and am still walking around in a fog of utter amazement and delight.

The Louie Award.

Oh my.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Art show in New York

In New York again, I am finding myself inspired.

The Surtex design show at the Javits is once again chock full and overflowing with some of the world's most gifted artists and designers. And I'm here smack dab in the middle of them all!

Here's what my booth looks like. And once again I'm tickled pink at the opportunity to work with some of the most amazing companies on the globe, companies I once never dreamed I'd partner with.

Even a fast walk from my booth to the ladies' room leaves me breathless and asking myself again, "how in the world did I end up here with these amazing people?" It's a humbling experience.

But the other artists and my licensing partners are my friends and we're having lots of fun connecting as usual.

Before the show opened, there was time for a bit of window shopping. Above, the window at Kate's Paperie. What a skirt! And later I met the owner of Kate's, who is every bit as wonderful as her stores.

I'd never visited Anthroplogie, and I suppose I should publicly apologize to them in case I might have drooled all over their windows. It was definitely jaw dropping.

This month their display windows are everything bees~ flowers made from old soda bottles, hives made of a gigantic stack of brightly colored plastic bags layered and cut to the proper shape. Wow.

The theme for today is sensory overload. I've got a "to do" list as long as my arm but for the moment I think I'll be content if I can just quit humming "New York, New York!"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Botanical paperweights

I thought you might like a peek at some of the other fruits of recent labor on the old press that shares my studio. Printing is addictive... once you start, new project ideas multiply like mushrooms!

I love the crisp impression and the texture of the paper combined with the slick shininess of the glass.

On soft, thick Italian paper, the crisp, deep impression is pure joy. There's just nothing like letterpress printing. So satisfying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Interview on the Examiner

Ahem... I feel very awkward mentioning it (shameless self promotion, horrors!) but Andrea Campbell of the Examiner has posted an interview about my latest book, just out from Lark books. If you're interested, here's the link:

Botanical journals

A day spent printing on my antique press is a happy one.

Each lead letter is plucked from the drawer and hand set, the wooden furniture is locked into the cast iron chase and away we go, with the music of the press singing to me as I feed sheets of paper through the cycle one by one, watching the stack of printed pieces gradually stacking on the wooden shelf.

If you'd peeked through the studio window Sunday you'd have seen me grinning.

The result was botanical journals headed for the New York Stationery Show, along with matching heavy glass paperweights.

What fun!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Do you sometimes look around you and feel absolutely overwhelmed with blessings?

I do, especially at this time of year when everything's abloom and growing, and suddenly there's that special day again... Mother's Day. My husband & sons always make it special and I smile (and maybe cry a little, too) thinking what a gift it was to have a wise and kind woman for a mom.

Every day is a good day to pause and count your blessings.

Chickens in a brand new homemade coop.

A garden crammed with birds and flowers in every square inch...

Blueberries and forget-me-nots, lilacs and bleeding heart and strawberry and even the cheerful dandelion!