Skull Party

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

We had another fantastic Handmade Crafternoon at the New York Public Library last Saturday, April 14th. Noah Scalin, artist/graphic designer/author/speaker/artistic guru, came up from Virginia to share with us some exercises to inspire creativity. He is the creator of the immensely popular Skull a Day project and the book Skulls, and he has written two books on jumpstarting the creative process, 365: A Daily Creativity Journal and Unstuck.

He brought several cool projects for our crafters to enjoy, including paper skulls to decorate as each individual desired. The ingenious design includes an element that allows the jaw to move.

The resulting skulls were humorous and marked with a variety of techniques. This cool skull incorporates elements of Noah’s Dadaist and found poetry exercises.

I love the colors the artist used for this one – I’ve named it “That ’70s Skull”.

This one is simple and hilarious – a skull topped with a little bow.

The glitter glue that was donated by Martha Stewart last year was very popular with our skull makers – we had loads of glittering skulls.

And this one really put skulls on the map.

Noah’s poetry exercises prompted several interesting poems. My NYPL librarian co-host Jessica Pigza lead groups to the main reading room to find materials for the Bookworm poetry exercise. A young poet named wrote a lovely piece, and even read it for the group.

She inspired other poets (including her mom) to share their pieces with the group as well. Check out her mom’s sweet blog post about the day here. Others played with the Censored poetry exercise, where a poem is created by selecting words from an existing piece of writing and using them to create a new work. The piece below incorporates design elements as well (more glitter!).

It was a very galvanizing afternoon. I’m very thankful to Noah for sharing all of his eye-opening ideas, and as always, thankful to Jessica and the New York Public Library for hosting Handmade Crafternoon.

I was also thrilled to see my dear friend Myra Greene‘s incredible work as part of the library’s Photography and Ruin exhibit. It’s open through May 6th and well worth seeing.

Please join us for the last Handmade Crafternoon of the season on May 12th. We are very excited to welcome Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom fabrics. We’ll be making party garlands. It feels like the perfect way to kick off summer, the season of outdoor parties!

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A Day of Crafty Honors

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

The New York Public Library never ceases to amaze me!

The Centennial Celebration of the Stephen A. Schwarzman building includes an inspiring exhibit about programs and initiatives and people that have come through the doors of the library in the past 100 years. I am thrilled to say that Handmade Crafternoon is one of the programs they have highlighted!

The exhibit “shines a spotlight on items spanning thousands of years.” Finger puppets that Jessica Pigza and I made are two of those items.

To say that it is an honor to be included is an understatement. My mom, pictured above, took us our local library almost every day when we were kids, so it was a special moment to walk up to the glass case with her and see the Crafternoon exhibit. It was pretty overwhelming for both of us.

And talk about honors! The lovely ladies of Bust Magazine, Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller, honored us with their cool, crafty, feisty presence in celebration of their new book, The Bust DIY Guide to Life.

They showed us how to make friendship bracelets, which brought me right back to middle school.

Making these bracelets is so meditative — I think I’ll make a bunch of them for holiday gifts for all my favorite crafties.

It was amazing to have such feminist icons grace the Handmade Crafternoon series. These ladies helped make it cool to be crafty again, and I am forever in their debt.

I’m so thankful to Jessica Pigza, my co-host, and the NYPL for their tireless support of Handmade Crafternoon. And I’m filled with pride to be a part of the New York Public Library’s legacy for all New Yorkers.

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Soaking up the Design*Sponge

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Last month we had a fantastic kick off to our fall season of Handmade Crafternoons at the NYPL.

To celebrate the launch of her new and totally swoon-worthy book, Design*Sponge at Home, Grace Bonney (pictured above chatting with a lady in red) showed our guests how to make handmade stamps for printing on fabric.

She and her Design*Sponge colleague Amy Azzarito donated tons of amazing supplies to the event, from the foam for making the sponges to gorgeous colors of fabric paint. They also brought a bunch of lovely templates for guests to use when creating their masterpieces.

It was a totally packed house, and as always, our amazing crafters created an inspiring variety of designs.

These pretty pachyderms were drawn by a guest.

Another clever attendee created this pastoral scene with stamps from the design*sponge templates.

This sweet tote used the same stamp first with white fabric paint, then with yellow, creating a very subtle effect.

I want these napkins!!!

Below is another example of same stamp, different color effect. I love the way it looks, especially with those fresh colors.

It was a group of very happy crafters. Many thanks to Grace and Amy to kicking off their book tour at Handmade Crafternoon.

This Saturday from 2-4pm, we’re having our second Handmade Crafternoon of the Fall. We will welcome knit and crochet designer Lisa Daehlin who will show us some simple techniques for making knitted and crocheted lace.

We’ll have some supplies, but if you have the following please bring: DK or heavier weight yarn, a size G or H crochet hook, size 50 knitting needles, and a hairpin loom.  And my wonderful co-host Jessica Pigza will bring a fabulous selection of books on lace from the New York Public Library‘s collection. The event is free as always, but reservations are welcome. To reserve your spot, please write to handmade@nypl.org with your name and the date of this event. Hope to see you at the Library!

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Fall in the House of Craft

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Saturday’s Handmade Crafternoon at the NYPL was a huge success! It was a joy to meet Grace Bonney and help her celebrate the release of Design*Sponge at Home, her first (and truly inspiring) book, featuring the best of the best of design*sponge!I’ll do a proper recap asap, I promise.

This weekend I’m doing a demo at Maker Faire in NY on Sunday at 1pm! I’ll be demoing ideas for handmade party decor. It’s going to be a blast. Maker Faire is the COOLEST, I swear. If you didn’t go last year, you missed out. Hope to see you this weekend!

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Spring Ahead

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

For Easter, I made my sweet little niece a new pink dress for her auntmade bunny and an Easter bonnet for her very own. The bunny’s dress pattern is amended from Kata Golda‘s book Hand Stitched Felt. My version has little felt buttons on the back so the dress can be removed.

The bonnet was made in collaboration with my mom. It’s from a pattern my mom used for me when I was a wee babe.

That’s a photo of me and my brother being country and adorable. Damn, I love a good sunbonnet.

But Easter’s not just about the clothes! It’s also about the food. We had plenty of delicious things to eat and drink, with a few special highlights. Rufus’s Uncle Ned and his Aunt Bobi made some amazing Meyer lemonade. Not only was the beverage itself unique and refreshing, Bobi and her nephew Dawson made some gorgeous ice cubes to put in it.

They used the floral ice cube instructions from Martha Stewart, and the results really were stunning. Bobi said that Dawson picked the flowers and helped with the water boiling and ice cube tray popping. There he is showing off his handy work with his own batch of Easter cubes.

But no Easter is complete without dessert, and my mother-in-law Susan makes a mean sweet. That beaut up there is a butterscotch pie. Recipe courtesy of a family friend from the Bay of Fundy. It’s so sweet it almost hurts your teeth, but it’s utterly impossible to resist.

When you’re surrounded by good food and loved ones, it’s easy to love LA.

But NY is pretty nice this time of year, and next Saturday, May 7th, we’re wrapping up the Spring Session of Handmade Crafternoon at the NYPL with a celebration of the Stephen A Schwarzman Building’s 100th birthday and a celebration of zines! It’s going to be super cool – Ayun Halliday, author of The Zinester’s Guide to New York City will be there along with a guest librarian, Karen Gisonny. And of course, my wondeful co-host Jessica Pigza and I will be there to get crafty with you. More info on the event here. Come on out and make something awesome.

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Hello Dolly! with Oliver and S

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

On a glorious spring day, we had a fabulous turnout of eager crafters ready to make paper dolls with Liesl Gibson of Oliver and S.

Liesl has such great energy! She just makes everyone feel warm and at home right from the start. We were so glad to welcome her back to the NYPL.

That’s Liesl showing Lindsy, one of our unofficial volunteers, how to make a magnetic paper doll.

Our attendees dove right in and made a wonderful variety of dolls. Most of them were created from the Oliver and S paper dolls and templates, and many of them were dressed in the gorgeous Oliver and S fabrics or the fabrics from Liesl’s new collection of patterns and fabric for women called Lisette.

Some people made dolls from images Jessica Pigza had printed from the library’s collection. The Victorian lady on the left is one example.

Others just made their own templates and designs.

At our raffle, we had a plethora of generous donations: brand new patterns from Oliver and S (so new they aren’t available anywhere except to our lucky patrons!), a goodie bag from Pins and Needles sewing shop, some fashion kits for kids from West Side Kids and of course, Liesl’s book Little Things to Sew, donated by STC Crafts.

And here’s a fun post-script: I was happy to go home with a treat from an attendee named Janice.

Janice decorates these gorgeous little chocolate bars, which would make lovely favors for any party. I told her I’d spread the good word, so email Janice at Tante23@msn.com if you want to order some!

Of note: Janice heard about Handmade Crafternoon because she was in the audience the day we did the Martha Stewart Show. It’s nice to know our attendees find us in so many different ways.

Enjoy your sunny, crafty Sunday!

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Next Crafternoon – February 20th at the NYPL

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

Saturday, February 20, 2:00 – 4:00pm – Esther K. Smith!
For our first Crafternoon of 2010, we will welcome the absolutely wonderful Esther K. Smith. Esther is the author of the beloved How to Make Books,


as well as the delightful Magic Books and Paper Toys and the just-released, utterly lovely bridal DIY guide The Paper Bride. Esther will demo a few projects from her books and share her paper folding and book making wisdom with our group. As always, my wonderful co-host Jessica Pigza will pull an incredible selection of books related to all things paper, letterpress, and more.

My husband Rufus and I were lucky enough to get a tour of Purgatory Pie Press, the letterpress company Esther runs with her husband, Dikko Faust. We shot some video with them, which Rufus is diligently editing as we speak, so check back here in mid-February for a behind-the-scenes tour of an amazing crafty place.

In the meantime, go make some valentines! The big day of love is right around the corner.

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Best Friends and Crafternoons

Monday, January 25th, 2010

My best friend, Christine Poreba, is a wonderful lady. She can craft with the best of them (I’ve been wearing the t-shirt necklace she made me for Christmas at least once a week since she gave it to me and she was my first Crafternoon co-host here in Brooklyn), she’s a gifted poet and she is a very kind and thoughtful friend. At the beginning of the month, she and her talented photographer husband, John Mann, traveled to Portland, Oregon, where John has an exhibit at PDX Contemporary. (The exhibit closes this Saturday, and I’m sure it’s fantastic, so go check it out if you are in the area.)

While they were there, they made the requisite pilgrimage to Powell’s. And there, in the craft section, on display, was Crafternoon! She took a picture to prove it to me.


It’s an honor to be featured so prominently on the fair shelves of such a famous bookstore! It makes me feel warm inside. And just today when I was looking through my iPhoto album, I came across this photo: IMG_0714

This is one of the covers I made for the Crafternoon book proposals I sent out so long ago now. Seeing this picture reminded me of what an amazing journey Crafternoon has been. From small parties hosted with dear friends, Crafternoon has transformed into big gatherings at one of my favorite places in all of New York City. And from ten book proposals with hand sewn, recycled denim covers (sewn with the assistance of my lovely mother), it has become a book you can buy at a wonderful place like Powell’s. It fills me with awe, and it makes me truly grateful. And it is proof that dreams can be achieved, with heart, persistence and a little help from wonderful friends.

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Big Brooklyn Weekend: Saturday Crafternoon/Sunday Book Signing

Friday, December 4th, 2009

Hope you’ll pay a visitation to Spacecraft’s ornamentation decoration station or WORD’s writer-bookstore collaboration in the beautiful Brooklyn nation!



Saturday, December 5th: Holiday Ornament Extravaganza at SpaceCraft in Brooklyn
Time: 1:30 to 3:00
Join me for an afternoon making ornaments for all the things in your life that need festive decorations. We’ll be crafting up some clothespin ornaments and adorable Christmas bagels, too, in the warm and cozy Spacecraft space!
Location: Spacecraft, 355 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Admission: $5
Link: http://spacecraftbrooklyn.com/

Sunday, December 6th: WORD Holiday Open House

3-5 pm:
Lev Grossman (The Magicians)
Maura Madden (Crafternoon)
Michelle Knudsen (Dragon of Trelian and Library Lion)

The word on the event, according to WORD:

“Some of our favorite authors will hang out with us at the store,helping with gift-wrapping, recommending their favorite titles and personalizing signed copies of their books for your gift-giving needs! Get a head start on holiday shopping – join us for this festive two-day open house. Refreshments will be served.

Facebook RSVP here.

Location: Word, 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY
Link:     http://wordbrooklyn.indiebound.com/event/holiday-open-house-0

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November/December Crafternooniness

Monday, November 9th, 2009

November and December are gearing up to be the Crafternoon-iest months of the year. I’ve got two ‘noons each month in NYC, each with a completely different theme, and all of the delightful details are below.

Saturday, November 14th – Handmade : Crafternoon at the New York Public Library
Time:  2:00 to 4:00pm
November’s Handmade: Crafternoon will be all about basic book making (both sewn bindings and not). Along with my co-host, Jessica Pigza,  our special guest will be the amazing, prolific artist Mike Perry. He will share his book arts expertise, and we’ll have lots of supplies on hand to share so that you can make your own handmade book!
Location: Stephen A. Schwarzman Building , 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum (Room #227, located in the northeast corner of the second floor)
Admission: FREE
Links:  http://handmadelibrarian.com/
Sunday, November 22nd: Second Annual Charitable Crafternoon at WORD
Time: 2-4pm
Join me for an afternoon of crafting for a good cause. Crafters of all ages are welcome to help us make Thanksgiving cards and decorations for the food pantry at the Greenpoint Reformed Church.
Want to do some crafty homework? Donate a handknit or crocheted hat, scarf, or pair of mittens. And we’ll have some yarn and knitting needles on hand if you need to add a few rows to a scarf or a pompom to a hat.
Location: Word, 126 Franklin Street, Brooklyn, NY
Admission: Please bring two cans of food or a handmade winter accessory to the event. And feel free to bring other snacks and beverages to share with your fellow crafters.
Links:  http://greenpointchurch.org/ministries/emergency-needs
Saturday, December 5th: Holiday Ornament Extravaganza at SpaceCraft in Brooklyn
Time: 1:30 to 3:30
Join me for an afternoon making ornaments for all the things in your life that need festive decorations. We’ll be crafting up some clothespin ornaments and adorable Christmas bagels, too, in the warm and cozy Spacecraft space.
Location: Spacecraft, 355 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY
Admission: $5
Link: http://spacecraftbrooklyn.com/
Saturday, December 12th – Handmade: Crafternoon at the New York Public Library
Time: 2:00 to 4:00pm
Join us as we welcome Heather Ross, author of Weekend Sewing and two other textile mavens: Denyse Schmidt, author of Denyse Schmidt Quilts; and Liesl Gibson of Oliver + S, will all be on hand to talk about their creative work. And as usual, we’ll have lots of Library books to look at, as well as a spread of materials on hand so you can get started stitching if you wish.
2:00 to 4:00pm
Location:Stephen A. Schwarzman Building , 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Margaret Liebman Berger Forum (Room #227, located in the northeast corner of the second floor)
Admission: Free
Links: http://www.nypl.org/blogs/2009/09/18/december-12ths-handmade-crafternoon

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