Thursday, July 16, 2009

My first craft fair

I will be selling my jewelry at the Memphis Taproom Handmade Market in Port Richmond/Kensington/Flat Iron or whatever you want to call it on the 25th from 10 am - 3 pm. Come visit!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I did it!

I finally...FINALLY...launched my Etsy shop. Honestly, I've had design ideas in mind for the store, but I was so afraid that what I saw as good work might be a laugh-fest to everyone else. So I did a test run by throwing some pictures of my work up on Facebook, and my amazing friends told me to get my ass to Etsy so I did. Check out my shop, here. And keep coming back because I expect to have some new and improved designs for sale, starting next week!

Below is a little ditty I whipped up to wear to my dad's 60th birthday/4th of July party, tomorrow. Expect to see a less patriotic version at the Etsy shop soon!

Monday, June 29, 2009

I think I can I think I can

I got some design ideas for some jewelry this weekend and decided to go for it! Here are the first three items I made. Think they'd sell on Etsy? Let me know what you think!

The Socialite's Rosary

Little George's Lie

Not Vintage to Nana

Saturday, June 13, 2009

And I'm still knitting, too...

Here's a peak at my latest project. Another hat...a beret, actually. The working title is "Second Hand Store Hat." I'll let you figure out the reference...

Maybe I should just change the name to Laura Draper's Garden!

My backyard is really the only thing that I've made any progress on, lately. But now that I've been "liberated" (thankfully!) from a job that made my soul hurt, I'm hoping that I'll be able to dedicate more time to the things that make my soul happy! And maybe...just maybe...those things can make money for me, too. But for now, I'm just happy to have the time to do them.

I must admit that my lovely husband has truly been the force behind the backyard. He's teaching in the evenings, this summer, so his days have been spent buying flowers, veggie starts, and herbs to plant in containers. And once everything was purchased and planted and growing, we realized that our backyard was just a mess of containers with no room to hang out. So, today, we dedicated ourselves to fixing it up. We hung a couple of window boxes on a back wall, since we don't want to damage our new stone sills on the front of the house, and we organized all of the containers so that there was more open space. There's still alot of dirt on the ground that we'd like to get rid of, but for the most part, the yard is open for business (aka partying!). My one remaining goal is to build something to cover the kitty litter container herb garden...maybe next month.

The spruce is a monster!

One of our old windowboxes on the wall, with pots planted by the hubby.

The stuff in the long silver pots is our crazy endive (we trim it, it grows more...insane!), the big pot is an eggplant plant, and then more flowers.

The kitty litter herb garden in full effect.

The full view.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Work and out-of-town weekends have prevented me from finishing most of my projects, lately, but I was reminded of this post on the Crafts Dept. Blog at Martha Stewart when I came upon this little courtyard outside of the new Comcast Center, today. These flowers were so neat, and so big! I tried to take pictures with my new iPhone, but it didn't do them justice.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Gardening, Part Deux

As the house comes together, and the veggies in the backyard have started to grow (thanks to a week's worth of rain!), my husband and I have been able to turn our attention to decorating our front walk and the back yard with flowers...beautiful, beautiful flowers!

We are lucky to live just a few blocks from the wonderful and always-evolving Greensgrow. When we first moved here, Greensgrow was a new venture that had taken over a former-superfund sight to grow some hydroponic stuff and administer a CSA. They were only open a couple days a week and their selection was tiny. Today, they are a full-fledged garden center, their CSA has expanded to include a winter option, and they also have a produce market. Plus, they are open all week long. Not only is their product well-cared for (compared to the wilty, brown mess that we saw at Home Depot, today), but their staff is also extremely knowledgeable and friendly. We have decided to plant our flowers in stages this year, but it's even more exciting because I'll be able to go back to Greensgrow again and again, all summer long!

Outdoor kitty friends inspecting the new flowers out front. Oreo is on the left and Harry is on the right.

We love these galvanized tins from Home Depot. We drill holes into the bottom and presto! Large, sleek, sturdy planters!

This lovely lady is right outside the back door. You can't really tell in this picture, but she has bright purple flowers along those stalks.

One of our eggplant starters didn't make it, so we replaced it with a strawberry plant!

Our new herb garden. We have SO many of these kitty litter containers, that we decided to put them to use. We planted chives, rosemary, two types of oregano, and basil. Plus our mint crop has taken over two big containers, too!

We've had this raspberry vine for a while, but she is much happier with her new trellis!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Laura of Anothah Mothah

This is not one of my designs, but it is the design of my good friend, Laura. She's got an amazing knack for creating centerpieces and party accessories that are simple and elegant. Her handmade centerpieces for her own wedding were made with store bought glass candle cylinders, paper, and ribbon, but they looked like a million bucks. And this arrangement, made for one of the tables at our friend's bridal shower, consists of a craft store vase, ribbon, and fresh flowers from Costco.

Laura's talents extend beyond flowers, too. She and I have fantasized about starting an event planning business, specializing in bridal/baby showers, jack and jill parties, and engagement parties. A celebratory niche, if you will. Maybe some day we'll make it happen...

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gardening season has started

Since we live in the middle of Philadelphia, our backyard is a concrete slab. We've had alot of success with container gardening, back there, thanks to this gift from our friends S&C. This is our first summer trying vegetables, but with the greatest urban gardening center right down the street, we got lots of valuable advice about which veggie starters would make it in containers. The lettuce is a bit of a risk, because of the spacing, but we're gonna see how it pans out.

Lettuce! That is, indeed, an old radiator cover that's in the backyard. I'm thinking of spray painting it with rustoleum in a nice bright color!

This is actually a spruce that survived the winter. It sprouts beautiful green leaves that turn to a brilliant yellow.

That's our blackberry plant on the left, which also survived the winter, and a couple veggies (tomatoes, I think) on the right. I can't wait to get those window boxes back up on the front of the house because I have a great idea for what's going in them!

Tomatoes and mint in the front, another survivor from last year, and japanese eggplant in the back silver pot that also has survivor mint from last summer! Did you know that planting mint and basil helps keep mosquitos and flies away? Last year, we had a 4th of July BBQ and that mint was picked fresh and mashed into a delicious vodka/lemonade punch!

Tomato plants. The one on the right is sharing space with some oregano!

My plan for the summer is to do something about the ugly concrete floor of the backyard, once our house construction is done and all the equipment is out of there. (Imagine climbing over power tools to plant those tomatoes!) I've seen people paint concrete on TV home improvement shows, or Ikea also sells this decking that we could just put over the concrete. Have any of you guys ever had to do something to make your concrete back yard look better?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Hello, beautiful

Say hello to my new friend. Hopefully, she will be wearing my sweater and shrug designs in the future. Thanks be to Craigslist. I was thinking of naming her. Any suggestions?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So close!

I was going to wait until the whole thing was done, but I'm too impatient. Here's a sneak peek at the facade of our Philly row home. Our awesome contractor and his peeps chipped away the damaged areas of the stucco and re-covered the entire surface in the metal mesh that you are supposed to use for stucco. (Our neighborhood isn't known for expert workmanship...that's for sure.) They also removed the rotting wood lintels and sills, and replaced them with limestone slabs. The stucco is a synthetic material with the added gray pigment that I selected. The synthetic is believed to last longer and crack less. The first pic is a "before" image that I took on the day we signed the contract for the house, back in 2006.

Now that the biggest part of the project is done, we'll move on to the little things like replacing the front doors and restoring the original features of the house facade: the cornice, the transom, and the wood framing around the windows. We had originally considered fully restoring the cornice by having our contractor recreate the decorative finials that adorn most original cornices in Philly, but a neighbor of ours did a really nice, polished, and cheaper job on her cornice, and I loved the modern look of it, so we are going to go in that direction. I've picked out a color to paint the door, window frames, and cornice. It's a green called Happy Camper! Perfect for my mood, today!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Whew! Sorry, folks! This last week has been a whirlwind of other projects. Today, I'm working from home while my contractors work on refacing our house. It's kind of another design project of mine as I'm working with the guys to design a more modern cornice for the top of our row house, and I've been fretting over a paint color for that piece, and the front door, that will really pop against our new dark gray stucco. And there will also be a glass etching project in store, for the safety glass that will be installed in our newly-excavated transom!

In the meantime, I've finished my very first sewing project and here's the final product!

I love that I reversed the fabrics on the strap so that you could see some of the faux bois print without having to look inside to the lining. I've been carrying it around like a purse for the last week, just so I can show it off. I can't thank the ladies at Spool enough...their intro to sewing class really has me believing that I might actually be able to use a sewing machine, after all!

I finally got around to setting up my Christmas present from my husband, too. Now I just have to find some time to sit down and re-learn how to use it.

Behold, a knitting machine! I have a blanket idea and a shrug/ponchette idea, but I might start with the blanket first because it's more straight forward. I'll post updates!

One last thing! I just found out that I'll be covering the Phillies' Stitch n'Pitch night, for my Examiner blog, on April 29th. I don't know if I'm more excited about having a press pass for an MLB game, or being able to knit while I watch the world champs at work!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Vote for Pedro...I mean, VOTE FOR ME!

I know I've been delinquent, y'all. I have a couple projects that I've been trying to finish up and show off. In the meantime, I've entered two project photos in a contest at Martha, and the winner will get a copy of her new Craft Encyclopedia! So head over there, check my stuff out. I'm under the user name LauraDraperDesigns - I've posted the projects here already, but I'm trying to get picture views for judging purposes. And please, comment to your hearts' content!

You can see all the entries here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So sew me!

What do these two fabrics have in common? They are both going to be used by yours truly to make a bag in my very first sewing class at Spool! I'm so excited to be learning how to sew. I sort of knew the basics from watching my mother and grandmother make things, but I've never sat down to learn how to use a machine and all the technical terms that come with being a sewer. Tonight, we cut our fabrics, cleaned them up (including cutting off the selvage), learned how to thread the sewing machine and maneuver it, and we created a seam allowance.

Some of my friends have been surprised to see me launch this blog, along with the one I have at Examiner. Even though I took a bit of a sabbatical as a young adult, I was a pretty creative kid. I used to design and hand-sew clothes for my Barbie dolls out of scraps of fabric from whatever my mother was sewing. I also loved making jewelry; my favorite project was making macrame-style bracelets from embroidery floss. But somewhere around late middle school, I decided I was going to become a lawyer, and suddenly, there was less encouragement for my creative pursuits and more for the academic ones. When I was in college, many of my closest friends were art or theater majors, but I rarely got involved in their art projects because I think I felt like I couldn't be both a lawyer and a crafter. I was going to be a career woman, and something in me feared the idea of straying from that path. I can't put my finger on how I got that idea, but it was my husband who actually opened my eyes to idea that I could make my own path. You see, he's always had a deep respect for this lady and he informed me that she was a model and a wall street trader before she brought her creative talents to the mainstream. (Plus, she was the product of a women's college, just like me!) It made me realize that it IS possible to "do it all," even if you don't end up having a multi-million dollar corporation as a result. (I'd settle for just being an editor in her crafts department, thankyouverymuch.)

I do think Martha would be proud that my first sewing project involves her latest obsession: faux bois. But no matter where my path takes me, I'm truly hoping that it will be one that is full of fun and creativity, even if the things I make don't go any farther than my friends and family.

I finally see the light...

The Pete Lamp is finally complete! This project was inspired by a hanging lamp in the Long Island City abode of my friends, Stacey and Pete. Pete's version was smaller, but the idea was the same: kraft paper coated in shellac and attached to a basic Ikea light cord set. For my version, I made a frame out of garden mesh and electrical ties, so that I could make the lamp a bit bigger. I also added the stencil, which was done with black spray paint. Everything is held together with spray adhesive. I kind of like how the grid shows through the paper when the light is on, but a google search will reveal places where you can buy top and bottom rings for homemade lampshades, so that you can re-create this shape without the grid.

A word of warning: if you choose to make one for yourself, use one of the flourescent energy-efficient bulbs, please. Not only are they more eco-conscious, they also emit less heat, which is a good thing when you are working with a paper lamp and all. If you are still nervous about combustion, I hear that there are flame retardant sprays out there, although my trip to my local Home Depot was fruitless on that front.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Weekend Productivity...

My project this weekend was really to clean my house! It needed a good spring cleaning, and purging, as we seem to have acquired alot of junk over the last year. We've made three separate trips to the local thrift store with furniture, clothes, books, and even a big bag of yarn. (That last one made the thrift store employees VERY happy!)

I got married last September, and my husband sent me a beautiful flower arrangement, the day before our wedding. After the wedding, I made sure to hang the flowers up to dry, along with my bouquet, so that I could do something with them. In our cleaning frenzy, this weekend, I realized they were STILL hanging in our laundry room! So I took them down and made this.

I love it because it has the single yellow rose right in the center. Yellow roses are my favorite. Also, it's in a mason jar like the ones we used for the centerpieces at our wedding. It's a great addition to our dining room table and a pretty reminder of our awesome September weekend!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home Sweet Crafty Home

I have little touches to add, here and there, but for the most part, she's done! I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

The inspirations:

A blanket, hand knit and felted by my college friends in celebration of my wedding. Mine was the fourth blanket to be made for such an occasion. I specifically asked for something that was more for display than for every-day use, and they gave me this! I love the uneven edges. We started the tradition of knitting wedding blankets in 2003, when the first of us got married, and it was how I learned to knit. My college girls are usually my biggest inspiration, so the one thing that HAD to be in the room was this blanket. The other picture is the bedspread that inspired the wall color. I love purple, but I didn't want the color to be overhelming. The grayish hue that I chose was just right. Now...on to the before/afters!






After (my law library)

There's still more to do, like finding a cork or magnet board for above the desk and getting a few more shelves on the walls. I've also purchased a few IKEA organizational pieces that I will be hacking in a future post. But I have to finish the current project I'm working on, first. You can catch a glimpse of it in the picture of my desk!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Here. We. Go.

Welcome! The purpose of this blog is mainly to be a showcase for my creative pursuits, as a writer, a knitter, a crafter, and a designer of...things. My current projects are:

1) My Arts & Crafts blog. It's so great to be able to tap into the creativity of Philly with this blog. I think it's helped me become more connected to the city, in a way. There's a great give-and-take with this type of writing, where I can tap my existing knowledge of the arts in Philly, while also constantly finding new crafty hot spots in the city, as I do my research.

2) Designing and making knitted items for a to-be-launched shop on This is my first foray into writing my own knitting patterns and it's really given me a boost in confidence. It's one thing to be able to follow a pattern and create a piece that looks like the picture on the page. But to envision a piece in your head and then figure out a way to engineer it? That's a whole new world for me, having spent the majority of my adult life in the legal world, where ingenuity is not always encouraged. My design goal is always to create something that is simplistic, but with a gentle flourish. The picture above is of one of my recent products, which I am tentatively calling "The Walk in the Woods Hat."

3) Redesigning a space in my home that will be a work space, office, and showcase, and then helping others to do the same thing in their own homes. While I am a person who often works in front of the TV, because I like having the background noise, I also crave a space that is my own. I wanted something that had color, and where I could also place items that inspired me. Pictures will be forthcoming as soon as the final touches to the room are complete!

4) A super secret project that has yet to be revealed. Trust me, if all works out, it will be worth the wait!

Please comment to your heart's content, and enjoy!