Wednesday, May 16, 2012

handmade joy

My thanks go out to Anne for imagining an exchange of handmade joy and getting it to happen.

I had the pleasure of creating a gift for Michelle. She has an absolutely delicious little girl who currently has the starring role in her blog, leavingthecocoon. (How easy it is to fall in love with little ones via pictures!)
With Elly absorbing her focus, and knowing family and friends have been sending/bringing presents for this sweetie, perhaps Michelle would like to have some special note cards to express her thanks...
I bought a simple cardboard pencil box at Michaels, plain white inside and out. I used a Kona Bay oriental print called Tranquility Floral Garden which I purchased at Stitchers Crossing in Madison, Wisconsin the day I drove to hear Jennifer Chiaverini at Mill House Quilts in early February. I ironed a piece of this fabric to Heat n Bond ultra hold. (Once the fabric is adhered to the heat n bond, you simply remove the paper backing and iron it to whatever you'd like to attach it to, clothing, purses, pillows, greeting cards, notebooks, magazine boxes, hats, whatever.)

I learned the technique of dry embossing at a stencil shop in Cedarburg, Wisconsin, many many years ago and have been in love with the technique and obsessed with collecting stencils ever since. I learned using a window as my light box. That's a bit tiring for the arms and not very easy to do at night. Also, so many of my stencils require a good deal of precision with the stylus. For a while I tried using a lamp without its shade resting on the floor in front of me with a glass shelf balanced across my spread knees. (Not a pretty sight!) Better than a window, but that light bulb would get pretty hot. Eventually I purchased a real light box from an art supply store. It is one of my grandest tools, useful for many jobs besides embossing.
In the hope that Michelle would like to learn the technique, I enclosed a stylus and a tin "M" stencil to get her started. Included were ten little gift cards, only one of which I embossed with her initial so she could do the rest. My note to Michelle included a link to the technique, so she could watch what I tried to describe in my letter and then finish the remaining blank cards by her own hand.

And my gift? I received it from Laura, of Italy by way of the UK. (I often wonder if my mail lady is curious about contents when she delivers packages from far off places into the mailbox out here on the farm.)
A visit to her bilingual blog reveals a spunky, lovely young woman. And her gift reveals a kindred spirit in that she loves to crochet too!

Within the smiley wrapping were 2 crocheted pouches in my go to color, grey. The wee one has a crocheted flower on the side.
Within the pouches:
a crocheted necklace, whimsical summery charms, and tube beads of many colors and widths,

and a set of crocheted face scrubbies, perfect for removing the sweat and grime from my face after hours in the gardens out here in the midwest USA.
I really am intrigued by the necklace design and Laura graciously sent me directions for crocheting it.
Thank you, Laura, for the tiny, perfect stitches and happy collection of "beads." And for responding to Anne's request. It's a pleasure getting to know you, and you, too, Michelle. I'll be watching your blogs for news of your art, your journeys, your lives.
Happy celebration, everyone!
Isn't life grand?


  1. It is nice to see how much time and effort goes into these exchanges. I bet Michelle was over the moon with her personalized gift from you. It was most thoughtful. How lovely that you received such a unique gift too all the way from Italy! It must have been so much fun to open your mailbox and see the package inside.

  2. Hi Sharon!
    I am really glad you liked my necklace, charms and scrubbies!!
    I like reading your blog!
    I really enjoyed reading your post, and discovering what you made!

    It was such a joy participating at this exchange! ...CHEERS to our Celebration!!

  3. Love the photo of the package in your mailbox! I was so excited when Laura sent me the photos of what she was sending you! :) Her little sketch is so sweet, too!

    Your gift for Michelle was beautiful, too. I know she loved it!

    Glad you joined in on the fun!

  4. What a lovely exchange!! I saw your gift to Michelle on her bog this morning, and how delighted she was with it! And I enjoyed reading Laura's blog and seeing the sense of fun and fine stitching she put into your gift!
    You did a beautiful job on that box, Sharon, and the notecards make a wonderful gift!
    I, too, used to use a window as a lightbox and laughed when I read about your arms getting tired! I totally understand, and also felt that my lightbox was one of the best pieces of equipment I ever got!
    Cheers to Anne, who masterminded this lovely exchange!!

  5. Such fun goodies from across the ocean!
    Love the notecards and matching box that you crafted, too.
    I finally bought a light box when it went on sale a few years back. Such a nice addition to my "tool box".
    Three cheers for your clever daughter Anne, for getting us organized.

  6. What a thoughtful gift! The embossing looks just gorgeous. This exchange was such a great idea! It's so fun seeing what everyone created.

  7. How lovely to see what treasures everyone else received!

  8. What a lovely idea! Dry embossing looks like something I'd like to try! Oh you received the crochet goodies from the fun-loving Laura! I've just discovered her blog and yours from this wonderful swap! Looking forward to visiting you more! Oh oh oh!!! I just realised you are Anne's mother!!! Wow! So great to have "met" you. So much talent! Like mother like daughter :) Oh it was definitely worth the wait! :)