Posts Tagged ‘crafting’

Last week, I caught the train to Cambridge for a workshop at Albertine Press – an introduction to linocut printing. This involves carving a design into a linoleum block, inking the block with a roller (by hand or with a printing press), and transferring the design onto paper. I’ve done my fair share of scrapbooking, but had never tried anything like this.

Seven of us, plus the instructor, spent the evening happily carving and chatting, learning the feel of new tools in our hands and printing our designs in red or blue ink on one of the shop’s hand-cranked presses. Tiny pink rubber shavings piled up as we began carving; my fingers bore graphite stains from transferring my sketch from paper to rubber. I was fascinated by the tactile, physical nature of the process, and I learned – again – that my drawing skills are no match for the designs I can see in my head.

My attempt at a set of fall-ish postcards (see above) came out very wonky, and not just because the paper was sometimes a little crooked. I had to work hard not to be embarrassed at my efforts, especially after seeing others’ beautiful, elaborate designs. But I kept reminding myself: this is an experiment. I’m trying something new. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

We so often try new things expecting to master them quickly: a yoga pose, a new program at work, an interesting recipe. (Just me?) Sometimes it goes as planned: the pantry brownies I made last week turned out beautifully. Sometimes it’s sort of a disaster. Most of the time, we land somewhere in between.

My postcards are cute, with perhaps a sort of offbeat charm, but no one would mistake them for the work of an experienced artist. (Because I’m not!) But it was worthwhile: the trying, the experimenting, the meeting kind strangers while we learned something new, together. I may not become a linocut expert any time soon, but the joy of being a beginner again, for a couple of hours, was well worth the price of admission.

And now – if I can get over my own perfectionism – I have a stack of cute(ish) postcards to send to friends this fall.

When’s the last time you tried something new, just for fun? I’d love to hear.


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We’re sweating in a heat wave over here – and nearly halfway through August. I’m finally getting a little reading (and reviewing) mojo back. Here’s what I have been reading:

Finlay Donovan Is Killing It, Elle Cosimano
Annie recommended this one as “an absolute blast” and she was right. Struggling author and recently divorced mom Finlay Donovan is meeting with her agent when a woman mishears their conversation and assumes Finlay is a contract killer. Suddenly Finn and her nanny (Vero, whom I adored) are scrambling to stay ahead of the mob while tangled in a murder investigation. I loved this smart, zany romp and can’t wait for the sequel.

Fearless, Mandy Gonzalez
Monica and her abuelita have come all the way to NYC for Monica’s big shot at a Broadway show. But the Ethel Merman Theatre might be cursed – and it’s up to Monica and her new castmates to save their show. A cute middle-grade theater story from one of the stars of Hamilton and In the Heights.

Goldenrod: Poems, Maggie Smith
It’s no secret I am a Maggie Smith fan: her tweets and her book Keep Moving have helped save my life this past year. Her newest poetry collection is full of startling images and hard-won wisdom and flashes of beauty. Some poems spoke to me more than others.

No Memes of Escape, Olivia Blacke
Odessa Dean is loving her life in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. But then her traveling aunt comes home early, and Odessa and her friend Izzy are (almost) witnesses to a murder in an escape room. I enjoyed Odessa’s second adventure (the sequel to Killer Content); she’s a quirky, fun amateur sleuth. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 5).

Hooked: How Crafting Saved My Life, Sutton Foster
This fun memoir is exactly what it sounds like: an exploration of Foster’s life and career through the lens of crafting. She shares her adventures in crochet, collage and cooking, alongside anecdotes from her time on Broadway and TV, her love life, her journey to motherhood and her complicated relationship with her agoraphobic mother. Breezy and enjoyable. To review for Shelf Awareness (out Oct. 12).

The Year of the End, Anne Theroux
In January 1990, Anne Theroux and her husband Paul decided to separate. Anne kept a diary that year, and in this memoir, she revisits what was really happening behind and around those brief entries. A thoughtful, poignant exploration of divorce and rebuilding a new life; also a detailed snapshot of a moment in time. Quiet and moving. I received an advance copy; it’s out Oct. 12.

Most links (not affiliate links) are to my local faves Trident and Brookline Booksmith. Shop indie!

What are you reading?

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Last summer, before we left Abilene, I went through my friend Grace’s closet. That is, I went through several bags full of clothes she’d purged from her closet, and took what I wanted before she sent the rest to Goodwill. One of the pieces I chose was an adorable striped maxidress from Gap. I loved the cheery colors and thought it would be perfect for long walks on the beach in my new Boston life. I sort of forgot that I’m 5’4″ and have a few curves – which means the maxidress look is, well, rather unfortunate on me. So the dress has been sitting in my closet for a year.

Inspired by Marisa of New Dress a Day, and by my favorite comfy brown jersey skirt, I decided to remake the maxi into a skirt I’d actually wear. I cut off the top part (too small anyway) and the straps, then tried on the long tube of fabric and trimmed it to hit just below the knee. I don’t have a sewing machine, so I confess it was sort of a pain to hand-stitch the waistband, and I left the hem edge raw for now (it rolls naturally). Here’s the finished product:

I also didn’t want to throw away the 20″ tube of fabric I trimmed from the bottom. So I took a cue from a recent fashion trend, and looped the tube around my neck twice. Et voila! Infinity scarf/cowl!

Fall has arrived here in the Northeast, which means I may not wear the skirt much until next summer – but the cowl will be a great addition to my fall scarf collection. (Which is already huge, but hey, you can never have too many cute scarves.)

I love the satisfaction I get from projects like this – remaking something I already own into something useful and beautiful. (No wonder Marisa enjoys it so much.)

Do you remake/repurpose clothing (or other stuff) like this? I’d love to see your projects.

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