Category Archives: Super Crafty

Bring out your dead

Steve's ShrineCounting down the days to our favorite holiday, Dia de los Muertos.  The kids and I have started to drag stuff out of the basement to make our family altar.  Some years we do it big and set everything on the dining room table pressed up against a wall, but it leaves us eating in the kitchen for a bit and so this year I think we’ll be using the space on top of the piano.  I start putting pictures up 1st, of our relatives who’ve passed away, grandparents and a special space for my uncle Steve who was a big fan of the holiday.  I tried to find some cool links on the net to connect Steve to, he was a UPI reporter for many years and worked for Westword Magazine in Denver as well as contributing articles to the Denver Post and now defunct Rocky Mountain News.  Thing is, Steve died in ’03 and most of his work is buried somewhere in microfilm.  Need to do more digging there I guess… We do have some of Steve’s ashes and those will go on the altar along with candles, and a bottle of Guinness and one of his favorite hats.

Over the next few days the kids and I will start making sugar skulls.  I posted a tutorial a few years back and you can link to it here. This year we’re making lots of extra skulls to sell at the Someday Lounge Day of the Dead party on the 1st.  100% of the proceeds from the sales will go to “Wheels for Henry” a fundraising drive for our buddy Henry who needs a new van which will hold his fab new wheel chair and walker.  Henry’s getting a bit to big for his mom’s old car and I think it’s on last legs.  We are very down with the “pimp Henry’s ride” idea and will have him and Chloe over for a skull making playdate this week.  I’ll also be selling the skulls on my Etsy shop for folks who can’t make it over to the party.

I’ll be posting altar pictures over the next few days, Crafty Chica is running a shrine contest on the CRAFT site, which looks pretty cool and I’m always up for more glitter in my life.  The contest runs through the 28th and they are looking for altar/shrine photos to be uploaded on their flickr site.


Par for the Course

lil divots As summers go, ours ended up being pretty mellow, no camp no big vacation, lots of hanging about the house getting under foot making trouble, bugging the dog…  The lil peeps ened up getting into games, board games, cards, crosswords, anything with rules and a purpose.  We found a horde of used putters at the thrift store and suddenly the summer was golf on demand. Rather than shilling out $20 for every trip to the mini strip, we decided to build our own courses and designed a set of flags that traveled in the car along with us for impromptu games.  This has become a great activity for them- setting up a course usually takes twice as long as a game, as they look for natural hazards and geographical anomalies.  My son especially enjoys hitting into the rough and water and mud hazards are a magnetic destination rather than something to be avoided.

Since making flags was their own swell idea, the kids were enlisted in some serious production work- way to keep the manipulative motor skills honed over break!  We hand stitched the numbers to the front of the flags then I attached a second layer to the back using a machine.  We used a synthetic felt from the craft store since it’s cheap and stands up well making the numbers easy to see from a distance.

8th holeLucy especially liked the project.  She and I tend to have relaxed, random conversations while we’re stitching.  Both kids like to sew but burn out quickly- by having lots of colors to choose from and different thread handy, they stuck with the tasks a bit longer.  Each of them designed the flag for their age and suddenly the numbers became personified with a hidden kid symbol language ascribed to each.

We’ve taken the flags to one of the larger flat parks near our house and had a great time, really spreading the course out over large distances.  We avoid using drivers or going for big hits, don’t want to scare/wound the locals.  Ideally with a mini course design, you’d want to be able to make a hole in one on every hole, with challenges for not getting it right the 1st time. With a guerrila course it’s a bit hard to structure, plus we aren’t too hung up on the rules.  We’ve been using cardboard strawberry boxes for the holes, they are light, stackable and easy to carry. Paper cups would work just as well,we just happened to have the boxes lying around.

The back of the flags are cut so they hang either atop the wooden dowels or can be hung as a garland.  As hoped the look great strung up inside and for his 9th birthday my son wants a golf party, no prob bro. we got the decor done already!

I’ve just uploaded the “how to” info for making your own flags on

july 09 867

instructables if you want to make your own set.

Dia de Los Muertos ’08

Someday Lounge Poster

Someday Lounge Poster

Well, last year’s Day of the Dead party was huge fun and my friends at the Someday Lounge in Portland Oregon agree!  We’re planning to do it all over again this year, with a free skull decorating workshop, a community altar build and procession through Old Town and the Park block areas.  We’re planning on starting the party at around 3pm.  Making the skulls is my favorite part of the day, something the kids really get into, especially with the glitter and icing.  We’ll have mexican hot choclate, face painting and watch short films too.  Many people came dressed up last year and we had a number of folks marching on stilts… Last year the alter was fairly small, but this year we’re sending out invitations to artists and crafters to participate, bringing mememntos of loved ones or other ephemeria to celebrate the holiday.

tiny tba

The large unexpected object

The large unexpected object

The lil peeps and I are really excited for Sunday and the children’s portion of PICA’s TBA festival, tiny tba. It’s something I’ve participated in for the last three years and it’s been a complete hoot. My friends Belinda and Hova of the most awesome radio program Greasy Kid Stuff host the event which features a kid dance party among other great performance pieces including Anna Oxygen, songs by Smithsonian Folkways Recording artist Elizabeth Mitchell and a performance by the Portland dance company Hot Little Hands there’s a link to the line-up here….

I’ll be showing about a half hour of global independent cinema for children and my friend Lars and I will have a hands on editing workshop. It’s something we’ve done a bunch in the past and features scratching and drawing on found footage and splicing together on the fly. It’s pretty fun and it’s amazing to watch kids “get it” when they realize that the film stock itself can be a medium, something beyond traditional narrative structures. I posted an example of Molly’s finished film on my kidfilmmaker blog. In the past we’ve done this workshop without sound, but a recent walk in the rain with my son inspired me to add another improvisational layer to the creative process.

Xander and I were busy attaching ponies to rings around town (see previous post) when we came across the innards from an old piano in an alley. It was just the back with metal wood and strings but we knew at once it was a real treasure. We plucked, banged and pulled on the strings for about 20 minutes getting the loveliest variations in tone which all complimented the small downpour we endured for our spontaneous art. The piano’s owner was willing to part with it and with only the slightest hesitation my husband and later PICA came to appreciate what was to be know as “the large unexpected object”. Getting it over to Leftbank where tiny tba is being held was a small challenge since it’s fairly large and weighs about 500 lbs. but I think worth the effort. I’m really looking forward to hearing the kids compose on the fly, narrating their experimental films. Lars is going to digitize the final work and my buddy Makayla has come on board as the official videographer for Indiekid Arts, so I’ll post the fruits of our labor soon.

Additionally, I’m helping to coordinate a paint chip poetry project for PNCA’s Continuing Education department.  We’re cutting up and rearranging hardware store samples to create visual and verbal art.  It’s a really cool activity, deserving of it’s own blog post which I’ll get to promptly, promise….

Summer slacker

Teaching grandpa to finger knit

Teaching grandpa to finger knit

I have problems sitting still for too long. Making things is less of an outlet and more of a compulsive behavior, but three cheers for productive disorders, we’ll never run out of trivets or kleenex cosies and with all those matching sweater sets the dog won’t be getting cold. The big drag of vacations is being away from my supplies. Normally I’ve got one knitting project in the car, for the times when SOMEONE ELSE is driving. More than a week from home and I start jonesing and then there is the emergency drive-by to JoAnne’s or I start rooting through unattended recycle bins. This trip I lasted about three days before dropping $20 on felt, needles, sparklies and random sticky things… here’s a catalog of the last six weeks…

No trip to my home town of Ft. Collins Colorado would be complete with out a trip to the New Belgium Brewery or stopping into the super cute knitting boutique, My Sister Knits. They’ve converted the carriage house in the back yard into a yarn shop with a wonderful selection. I really, really wanted to get a skein of handspun “Vitrehumours Yarn” from Insubodrdiknit, it’s to die for, it’s got felted eyeballs in it, how rad is that! I just couldn’t justify the cost, actually I could, but really just couldn’t explain the impending credit card bill to my better half. “But honey, I just had to have the eyeball yarn…”. Maybe for Christmas. I did get the Mochimochi chicken/egg pattern. I’m feeling so-so about the results, my egg looks like an onion…

The transition works…

but the chick is just goofy, the wings are too big proportionally… and his head looks like a bit of a boob.

Some of the other projects fared better, there was a lot of felted toy making. I gave Lucy the store bought mermaid but made her a sleeping bag and some pillows…

I spied a super craft at the Denver Zoo, a tote made from Capri Sun bags. I talked to the woman who made it, she said it sewed up super quick and wasn’t sticky as I’d suspected. I like the idea of a bag I can actually stick in the dishwasher. We don’t actually drink the stuff, but I did see some organic juices the other day in the mylar packaging, so I may get around to it…

The kids have been busy too. Lucy’s been absolutley prodigious and finished the doll blanket yesterday… We’d just finished reading “Princess and the Pea”. I think there is a plan to make several more blankets, rumor has it “a stack to the ceiling”. There was also a need for peas for the interpretive version of the story. We came to a mutual decision that REAL peas might not fare well, we made our own. A great choice since the kids spent about 3 hours in the back yard rolling dough balls of flour,water and food coloring. We had more than enough peas for the story, in fact so many that we decided to make bracelets. We used the stretchy elastic string.

But the very favorite craft this summer has been something Xander made. He came up with the design, did all the cutting and a fair part of the sewing. He also chose the fabric from my stash (some of it was stuff I’d lifted off my mom) He named the monster “Mr. Sloppy”. It’s kind of tough to see from the photo, but he’s got four legs. That particular fabric came from the Liberty’s of London shop, something my mom got there in ’85. She’s threatening to ream us both, and probably would if she knew what the remnants were selling for on Ebay. If nothing else, Mr. Sloppy is one well dressed dandy and my boy’s got expensive taste.

Mr. Sloppy

Mr. Sloppy

You’re the Yarnbomb!

It’s a mommy/daughter project in the making. Lucy and I along with our friends, mother/daughter team of Kristina and Alivia, have submitted a proposal to the forthcoming book on Yarn Bombing. If you’re not familiar with the term, yarn bombing is like doing late night graffiti, but using fiber arts rather than spray paint. It’s absurd and crafty just our criteria for a good time… enclosed is the proposal we drafted. Please cross your fingers for us, we’d really like to be included in what is sure to be the next global phenomenon of craftploytation:

Little Things, for little horses, by little girls

By Aliva Perry, Lucy Bowman

and their moms

Kristina and Shawn

The Project

Portland Oregon is notorious for it’s fabulous craft events, boutique yarn stores and off the wall art. Over the last couple years there has been a city wide spontaneous art happening where people have chained tiny horses to gigantic rings which line the sidewalks of the older business and residential neighborhoods. The original idea came from artist Scott Wayne Indiana and is called the The Horse Project . The rings were originally set in concrete for people to tie their horses to when that was the main mode of transportation. For our yarn bombing we intend to outfit the horses in legwarmers, blankets, yarn garlands and hats. Lucy and Alivia are very keen on the idea and it’s perfect beginning project for young people who are just learning to knit. The leg warmers were made on a knitting mushroom and Alivia has been making the garlands using finger knitting. We love the idea of doing a project with our kids, passing on our favorite skill and stealthy surprising the neighbors with our midnight crafting. A number of our other mom friends love this idea and have begged to be included. Picture if you will several playdates of happy knitting kindergarteners and moms drinking wine as we play “Elves and Shoemaker”

f accepted we could include basic instructions for finger knitting and using a spool. We have several illustrator friends who could render a drawing or we could take instructional photos. Enclosed are photos of the girls with their work and their sketches of the plan.


Lucy and Alivia live in Portland Oregon and are five years old. They met and spend many happy days crafting at Harmony Montessori School. Next year they will both attend Richmond a public Japanese immersion elementary school. When not pretending to be kittens, the girls spend their time drawing on walls and causing general mischief, they intend to start a band, soon. We would like to trade places with them.

The support team: Kristina Perry is a pro knitter and all around great gal, she sells her work on line here… and occasionally at the Portland Museum of Contemporary Crafts.

Shawn Bowman puts on independent film festivals for kids and families and teaches kids contemporary art classes, you can see one of her projects here… .

Moshi Moshi

sneeze-guards.jpg The holidays have come and gone in a blur of super glue and feathers. The children crafted their little fingers to the bone like tiny indentured servant elves high on candy canes and instant coco. Complaining of pain fumes and beastly working conditions (dried out markers, cotton mouth from licking envelopes) Lucy took to wearing a faded Dora the Explorer shirt which she embellished with a fist in the air and the words “si se puede” ground in crayon. Actually, she was a complete sport and together we made a stack of these super adorable tissue holders from Aranzi Aronzo’s book Cute Things”

My Chemical Romance-The IPRC Text Ball

iprc-ball-007.jpg Another great party! Guests were asked to come in outfits inspired by text and this year’s theme was “The Elements of Style”. My friend CJ Beman has some lovely pictures on her site here…

The Grand Prize deservedly went to “Serif and Sans Serif” a brilliant and well executed costume, though I would have thought Serif would be the pregnant one, but perhaps it was more intentional irony…




My dress turned out quite nicely in the end, I also wrote the elemental description for carbon under my heels, so I could have diamonds on the soles of my shoes. Bo went as “Technical Writing” and won a lovely silkscreen wall print and a one year subscription to BITCH magazine- I couldn’t be more proud!



uA blog

Oh irony, ye are a very cruel mistress on an ugly learning curve… Also known as “I hope the ink dries by Saturday”.

Tonight is the IPRC Text Ball, an annual benefit party for the Zine Museum, meeting center and classroom, which makes it’s home here in Portland. They host lots of cool classes on typography, printmaking, have a zine of the month club and lots of support services for independent publishers. For the ball, guests are encouraged to come in text inspired costumes- last year’s party theme was “Black and White and Red- All Over”. The outfits were amazing, one couple sewed a suit make from braille pages and came as a “blind date”, another guy decorated a gorgeously tressed toga and was “Times New Roman”. I sewed a newspaper ruffle to a red sequined gown, made 12′ newspaper boa and sewed photos of Karl Marx, the Rosenbergs, Che, Mao, Castro and excerpts from “the little red book” into the lining of my black trench coat. It took about a week to make the ensemble and I was absolutely delighted to win 1st place- Two tickets to see David Sedaris! Though I was kind of hoping for the third place prize, an hour long consultation with Kohel Haver a local arts attorney- who I’m hoping would be my lawyer, if I could ever afford him!

This year’s ball theme is “The Elements of Style”. Earlier this year, I loaned my friend Marilyn Zornado a copy of Maira Kalman’s delightful illustrated edition of the book. Being a woman of great appreciation, and inspiration, and also the party planner for the fund raiser, Marilyn declared, “I’ve found my ball!” So I’ve been pondering a costume for a bit now, and finally hit on something which seemed the appropriate vehicle to RETAIN MY TIARA. Actually, there was no crown, but there should be, if I win again, it will be my 1st royal mandate. I kicked around a couple concepts; the obvious, “pregnant pause”, or “dangling modifier”. I suggested my dad wear a noose around his neck and t-shirt which said “sleep with me?” so he could be a “hanging proposition” or he could write the words “and, with, because, therefore…” onto a jacket and he could be my “conjugal visitor” pop said it wasn’t that funny and a bit creepy in the oedipal sense, he offered to babysit instead, though he did have a great idea for a “semi-colon” which involved some Match-Box cars… you get the picture.

So for this year’s costume I’ve silk screened parts of the periodic table onto a white vintage dress- Au and Ag… White damask with gold and silver trim… Which in concept should be almost clever enough. But I’ve never really silk screened before, and I’ll be in a room of pros… I should have looked at the tutorial in Craft, but I thought I had it under control… I didn’t have the funds to buy emulsion- so I thought I’d try the screen-filler method of printing. So far so good, I put together a nice design for the element of gold, and remembered reading in the instructions reading, “this method is based on the idea of ‘negative’ images”, by this they mean you should fill in the areas of the screen which you don’t want the ink to permeate. I think my brain is still living in film/photography land- so when I read “negative images” I assumed I should put my design in reverse like a mirror… just in case you’re curious- the mirror image of gold is blog- take what you want from that- maybe next year the party theme will be palindromes- then I’ll really be ready.


Casa del Muertos


So the Dia de Los Muertos festivities left us with lots and lots of beautiful objects du arte, which really weren’t ready for long-time storage. The kids and I decorated a couple wooden skeletons (from Jo-Anne’s no less, the 50% off sale kind-of makes it o.k.) and attached them to bamboo poles for the procession- Post party, a couple Ikea frames and gorgeous craft paper from Paper Doll, and the walls look 100% better-

text-ball-2-010.jpg we bit the bullit and actually bought nine extra, untreated Ikea frames, painted them and mounted the papel picado banners- and holy smoke! the livingroom looks classy! Well, for us it looks good. Squint, ignore the glare, it looks nice, right?