Inspiration: The Natural History Museum

This week I took Malcolm to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. My mom used to take me there when I was little. We called it The Dead Zoo. Malcolm learned to say “Arthropods” and “Japanese Macaque”. He was really into the dinosaurs and the New England Forests exhibit.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

I fell in love with the South American textiles.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

The stitching on this shirt is so precise and delicate. It reminded me of the mini quilts on display at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont. The colors and design are so gorgeous, I need to learn how to make this shirt!

I was also really inspired by the colors and patterns of the beetles.

Harvard Museum of Natural History

Look at all the interesting shapes!

Harvard Museum of Natural History

I couldn’t help but think of these great little bug prints by Wide Eyed Tree.

I think we’re going to have to go back soon and check out the Peabody Museum. I am a super fan of Native American textiles.

Embroidered Sugar Skull Pillows

Embroidered Sugar Skull Pillows

I was totally inspired by these embroidered sugar skull pillows in the NOMAD shop window on Mass Ave recently. I kind of want one for a throw pillow on my bed. It might even be fun to design and embroider my own sometime…

The North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival

You guys, toddlers are NO JOKE. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have gotten almost nothing accomplished in the past six months. I would think wistfully of this blog and doing fun craft projects from time to time, and then my sweet baby boy would start screaming or get hold of a knife or bite my face. Toddlers are the most lovable monsters you will ever meet. Naturally, as soon as he went to bed I would need a glass of pinot grigio and a few episodes of Castle (swoon!) to get past the trauma. So this blog, and my very pathetic geraniums, have gotten terribly neglected. But it’s been way too long so I’m going to try my best to keep updating here because DIY is my favorite thing and I’m constantly finding inspiration I want to share.

Last weekend we went to the North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival. I loved it: fresh air, hippie food, hand crafts and GARLIC!

North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival

I was particularly inspired by these hand printed shirts. I love the idea of combining different prints.

North Quabbin Garlic & Arts Festival



And because we like to live on the edge, we also tried some garlic ice cream. Yup, it was the weirdest. But, when in Rome…


Inspiration: Children’s Books

My kid loves books. LOVES them. He learned the sign for “more” when he realized it would make us read him the same book over and over again. He uses that sign a lot, and it can get pretty tedious. But every once in a while we come across a really great children’s book that I’m excited to read over and over. I found a few recently that have inspired me so much, I just had to share:

A Gardener's Alphabet

A Gardener’s Alphabet by Mary Azarian has the most gorgeous woodcut prints. Not only has it inspired me to try more woodcut printing, I’m just dying to start a garden.

Anansi the Spider

Anansi the Spider by Gerald McDermott has such exciting pattern and color, it has me dreaming of new ways to use shapes, angles and color.

Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child by Jessie Hartland is so much fun. She has illustrated Julia’s life and even a few recipes in her super fun, quirky style. I’m ready to illustrate more of my own recipes now.


Stress and Handwork

Stress and Handwork

The November 2012 issue of Martha Stewart Living had an article called “This is Your Brain on Crafts” by Lisa Borgnes-Giramonti. She wanted to know why, after a particularly stressful day, she was able to completely turn her mood around by simply working on her embroidery for an hour. What she discovered was this: crafting has a very similar affect on the brain as meditation. Knitting, embroidery, cross stitch, quilting, all of these activities can lower heart rate and blood pressure, regulate breath and draw your mind into the present. Also, handwork gives people a sense of accomplishment and self-worth.

I guess I should have known this. Handwork has been a lifeline for me several times in my life. Knitting a sweater helped me slowly start to pull myself out of postpartum depression. And knitting on my couch in Queens kept the panic at bay on 9/11. The meditative effects of handwork are a powerful tool in stressful times. In fact, “This is Your Brain on Crafts” went on to say that during World War I soldiers were taught to knit to help with shell shock.

One of my personal goals for 2013 is to spend an hour a day working on my hand-crafts. Even if that means just a little knitting or stitching in front of Project Runway. It’s the best way I can think of to feel productive and reduce stress at the same time.

Do you have any crafting goals this year? I’d love to hear them!

Renate Hiller

I’m still working away on my tiny monsters. It’s so fun to have a quick project completed every night. I’m planning on sharing an update with lots of photos on Monday.

But today, I thought I’d share this wonderful video from Renate Hiller on the value of handwork:

“…and in handwork, in transforming nature we also make something truly unique that we have made with our hands, stitch by stitch, that maybe we have chosen the yarn, we have even spun the yarn — even better, and that we have designed. And when I do that, I feel whole.”