Merchandise printed with my digital artwork. Leggings, phone cases, kimonos, mugs and more.

Did you ever work on something so long that when it was ready to share you didn't actually believe it? I ask because that's where I am today. At long last, I'm excited to show you my latest creative exploration. Available because of the "Print on Demand" industry, we are now able to design anything from yoga leggings to coffee mugs, kimono wraps to iPhone cases, bodycon dresses to throw pillows. And now I do this. I'm marketing the items under the name "Printed Muserie" and you can read more about what that means over here.

If we've talked in recent weeks, you might have heard me go on and on about "the leggings" because, to be honest, designing those has been some of the most fun I've had in the history of my creative life. But there's much more to it than leggings.

Because there are necessarily several different links, and pages that come at this project from a number of different angles, I've worked to organize the content as efficiently as possible. Chances are there's much more work to be done, to make this as tidy as possible. But hopefully you'll be able to find your way around without too much trouble. My hope is that you also have some fun if you click through any of these pages. Please know that all you see here reflects hours of fun and curious exploration, learning and trial-and-erroring, starts and restarts, and ultimately, a mountain of possibilities.

The two companies I'm working with most right now are Art of Where and Society6. Art of Where prints my designs on fabric, cuts and sews the clothing, and sells it to you. Society6 contracts with manufacturers of all kinds to print my work on a random array of goods... and sells it to you. That's the short-and-sweet of it all. My FAQ page is here.

Because it took so much work to pull this together and I'm only announcing this publicly now, there are literally just days of shopping left, should you want to buy any of these things to give as Christmas gifts. Please do know that. I'm sorry. But the baby couldn't be born until the baby could be born. Orders must be placed by the 9th of December, (just revised today!) for Art of Where (leggings, kimono wraps!) and by the 14th, for Society6 (laptop sleeves, wall tapestries, stationery cards.) But to be clear: this is not a holiday shop. This is a new avenue for my creative expression and there will be much more to come in the approaching year. So please consider me for your gift giving, but do come back for yourself after the frenzy dies down and get something nice for yourself!

A Tiny Mountain of Links for You

Disclaimer and Reminder, With Final Notes of Gratitude

You will almost certainly find some messes. You may click on a "category" (Society6 shop is a great example) and find that I once set it up when I had no idea what I was doing, and haven't yet removed it. You may also click a link and wonder what in the world I was thinking when I made that particular design. They're fair questions, of course. But if a creative person always compared herself to those much better at something, she might never put anything out into the world. It was time. It had to be done. We're all of us getting better every day and this project has taught me that again and again. The value of just jumping in and giving something a go.

If you see a broken link or something doesn't make sense, please kindly (and gently) let me know.
I'm continuing to tweak and improve and your help will be so welcome.

Remember (yes, I mentioned this before,) that if you do see something you like and want to gift it to another for Christmas, the cutoff dates will be here in a hot minute. In fact, Art of Where emailed While I Was Writing This Blog Post to announce an earlier cutoff date because demand had been so high, for their products. DECEMBER 9 is this Friday. That's the deadline for orders for leggings and kimono wraps, if you're going to give this to another. (December 14 for Society6!) But I'm not closing down my shop after the holidays! This endeavor has literally been months in the making, and I'm only getting started.

Thank you to My One Great Love for being so patient and supportive with this and all the other kooky, harebrained ideas I come up with on any given day. I'm sorry it took so long to get this thing off the ground. I love you more than I can say. And to my friends who took a look and weighed in with critiques and suggestions and oohs and aahs and encouraged me to keep going: I love you too. More than you, too, will ever know.

Now... about those jewelry designs I put on hold. Hmmm!

That time I started designing jewelry again but never told you

Today I realized it's time to stop getting in my own way and just write the first blog post about how I am making jewelry. Again. And about how one day, surely before too much longer, I'll be opening an online shop so I can sell some of the pretty things I've been making since March.

You'd think that telling you such a simple thing would be a no-brainer, wouldn't you? Well, I'm sure you're right. You're probably better at managing all sorts of things than I am. Which is fine. There's beauty in all our paths.

What's different about today and the days, give-or-take-8-years-ago, when I last made and sold jewelry on a regular basis, is... well, nearly everything! And I'm not even exaggerating!

The first time around, I backed into it through an unlikely avenue when - as a then-potter I fell in love with clay and kept wondering what kinds of things I could do with the clay, then started making these fun little one-of-a-kind pendants and pretty soon I had this wee little enterprise that had my wares in shops and galleries and craft fairs and the like.

This time I also backed into it by accident. Whereas I'd kept making the very occasional piece of jewelry for myself or a gift, over the years, I was all hot-and-heavy into Zentangle art and exploring all the "tangle patterns" I could get my hands on when one day I thought, "If I wanted to wear this tiny little piece of art on a necklace, how could I make that happen?" Seriously: it was that innocent.

Fast forward 5 months and I've commandeered most of a whole room in the house for my studio and when I'm not designing or consulting on Squarespace-based websites (or creating graphic designs that will be printed on merchandise like mugs and cards and pillows and leggings!!!!!!! which is, of course, a whole 'nother story for another day, but hopefully a day not too very far from now,) I am making jewelry. In part thanks to the beauty that is the Internet and its willingness to teach us pretty much anything we want to know, and specifically thanks to YouTube which was either not really that much of a thing last time I was a jewelry designer or at least it wasn't the educational behemoth I have at my fingertips today! I even have some jewelry design books!

Whereas last time I used clay and beads and a bit of sterling or copper wire to add a hint of swirly flair now and then, this time I'm using... well, everything that's not nailed down, to make my jewelry.

Not even kidding when I say everything. Tiny story for you about the time, a few weeks ago, my friend Phyllis sent me a photo of the black just-shed snakeskin hanging from a tree branch outside her back door. Once I was over the fascination/ick factor (in equal parts!) of the idea of snakes hanging from trees, potentially over my head as I innocently walked through her yard, the next question out of my mouth was, "Um. What are you going to do with it?" Which led, of course, to My Love driving me to her house the next day with a can of spray shellac-esque product to coat it with so it wouldn't fall apart in transit or the subsequent handling that was about to ensue. All so that one day I will be working this atypical acquisition of mine into the pretty designs currently residing in my head.

Mostly, though, this time around, I started out creating little pendants featuring tiny pieces of artwork - Zentangle-inspired or otherwise - and then it quickly grew so that I've got this little setup with hammers and torches and quench bowls and pickle pots and one of my favorite places to visit is this scrap metal recycling business where I always come away with the most thrilling finds of cast-off copper I then hammer and cut and torch into submission.

Besides that, I'm encasing things in resin (like paper painted with watercolor paints, vintage sheet music, twigs and bark, shells, and so on and so forth,) and exploring what happens when you mix acrylic paints and various secret binders into concrete and shape the resulting blobs into forms that will, in time, be encased in resin and attached to funky wire bails I can't wait to show you, and turned into pendants and earrings.

I've also explored etching copper with Tangle patterns. This is something I expected to do a lot more with by now but in truth has been put on the back burner while more enthralling processes capture my attention. But don't doubt it: there will be much more on that front in coming months... maybe even weeks!

"Muserie" has become a huge concept for me, all revolving around the inspiration we hunt down for ourselves. And so it became the obvious choice when I decided to name my artisan-jewelry-making endeavor. Here's the page on my website; soon enough I'll be able to market it with the dot com as needed.

"Muserie" has become a huge concept for me, all revolving around the inspiration we hunt down for ourselves. And so it became the obvious choice when I decided to name my artisan-jewelry-making endeavor. Here's the page on my website; soon enough I'll be able to market it with the dot com as needed.

There's so so sooooo much more to tell you, but frankly I just needed to break the ice and tell you something about what I've been up to behind the scenes. Maybe now I can get on with writing more interesting posts about this or that technique or lesson or exploration or disappointment - even those are showing up and surprising me far more than I expected, and I'm enjoying the process nonetheless.

For now, point you over to my Muserie page where I put up some images a while back with the intention of getting this whole endeavor pulled together and moving along far more quickly than I have so far. There are photos over there of some of the finished and in-process pieces and in time I'll flesh that out better, too.

Thanks for reading and check back again; I am so very excited to show you more of what I have in the works!

Now using a font manager. Love letter to NexusFont. Six things I've learned.

Dear NexusFont,

Thank you. While I won't be so bold as to say - yet - that you have changed my life, it's clear that you're already making a honkin impact on my workday efficiency. For that, I am elated. Thank you for being free. Thank you for providing a donate button, too, because while the zero price tag is appreciated, a donation was a must. I'm sorry it wasn't more. Love, Me.

No matter how large my font collection has grown, I've usually been able to find what I needed with a fair amount of efficiency. Until recently, that is. Then I began noticing that when I was looking for a font - especially while working in Photoshop and most especially when I was perusing titles at the latter end of the alphabet (so many fun fonts begun with S, I've recently discovered!) my work would pause, hang up, or just take way longer than I generally have the patience to deal with.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Ahem. Or research.

So I spent a bit of time over the course of several days researching my options. That's when I discovered NexusFont. Created by Seoul-based JungHoon Noh, the free windows-based program has gotten a lot of acclaim. This is the one program that seemed to come up in reviews, lists, videos and just-plain-kudos web-based mentioned. After skimming a slew of said resources, I was sold.

The download was quick and irritation-free, and within minutes I was using it, elated while intermittently kicking myself that it took me so long to locate such a resource.

You know I'm in love with something when I take the time to bother telling you about it!

It Works Like This

Load the program, make sure "Installed" is selected in the top left panel, and to the right, every font loaded on your computer will appear in a scrollable list on the right. But not only is the name of the font visible, the sample text (which you can change at any time to suit your needs,) appears in each font, showing you how all your fonts compare. You'll quickly want to start breaking down your fonts so that certain kinds will be more easily-accessible. That's where the real fun begins...

After you've explored as far as you like, comparing and narrowing, you can then go into the program needed for your work, quickly type in the name of your chosen font and proceed without getting bogged down in viewing long, tiny lists of names.

Give Back!

I mentioned in my love letter at the beginning that Noh included a prominent Donate button on his website. I'm not proud to admit that I don't always donate when I've been given something freely such as in this case. Still, I try to remember, and particularly when the freebie proves to be such a useful resource. This was definitely one of those times.

Screenshot of NexusFont in action with numbers near key sections I've included in my blog. Click to enlarge.

6Things I've Learned about NexusFont So Far

For those readers who don't know me: my process is organic. (Also for those who don't know me: I'm only half a geek. This site is not for you if you're looking for careful and thorough technical analysis. Seriously. Those sites exist. This just isn't one of them.) I don't sit down and study a book or tutorial from beginning to end. No laboring over the ins-and-outs and teaching myself a start-to-finish list of important details. Jumping in and trying it on the fly is my way. I'll go back and learn more as time, interest, and attention span dictate. Still, I'm happy to share a few key perks of using this tool, because I think I know a few people who would appreciate it the way I do.

  1. At a glance, it tells me the number of fonts I have installed on my computer. This could be misleading; I don't have 1034 unique fonts installed. This number, best I can tell, reflects a total including every version (bold, semibold, italics, bold italics, etc.,) of every font. Handy.
  2. You can create sets of fonts. And name them what you want! So I might create a set for handwritten fonts, calligraphy, serif, sans-serif, heavy, fun... I haven't found any limits. I created a set just for the illustration in this blog post!
  3. There is a space for typing any text I like, which allows me to compare a phrase or sentence when it is rendered in all the fonts I'm considering for a project. This morning I discovered that clicking a down arrow to the right brings up past sample text, in case I need to toggle back and forth for different projects!
  4. Formatting options allow me to render fonts in various colors, sizes, and styles.
  5. In the right column you see that "Whiteboard" has a subtle gray highlight, and once this font was selected from the list, available information about this font appears in the lower left panel.
  6. See that tiny plus sign in the bottom left corner of the screen? Click it and you can add sets and groups. This was not immediately obvious to me so I had to be sure and mention it here. I haven't explored groups yet, but I'm considering (though not researching yet, because today is about efficiency and today I'm not curious enough to make the time, though you're welcome to add your own discoveries in the comments if you like!) that it's a way to include all the variations of a particular font. Time will tell. No doubt using the drop-down menu at the top will lead me to far more shortcuts and benefits.

Looking over my image now, it's evident that there's much more I could have shared with you. The designer's website link is in the lower right corner of the NexusFont panel, you can quickly see what fonts are considerably smaller than "average" (if there's an average size in font-creation... my studies haven't been thorough, though writing this makes me curious,) and the fact that there is a print button at the top that will allow you to print out (or save to PDF,) a quick-and-handy reference concerning a set of fonts, for goodness sake! So much I keep discovering. I have some additional curiosities, too. I'm looking forward to learning more.

And there you have it! My new favorite tech goodie. Outrageous to have never discovered such a tool before now, but I'm beyond thrilled that I have now. Perhaps you'll try it out too, and see if it helps with your own efficiency. I'd love to learn what you think!

Being your own muse on the days you DON'T feel inspired: A list of tricks

Being Your Own Muse When You're Not in a Creative Mood: Tips for Tricking Yourself into Feeling Inspired

It’s easy to write a blog post about Muserie - about being your own muse - when you’re fired up about life in general. On a creative day, when your energy level is through the roof and mental sparks are firing off the charts, telling folks about how you want to help others tap into their own creativity through your idea of Muserie… well, yeah. Then everything feels like a no-brainer. Then there are the other days.

It only took me until just before noon to remember that this is the time I need to harness my own muserie and actively search for - and trick myself into regaining, if need be - my creative inspiration. Because even though today I’m scattered, overwhelmed, hormonal, and watching the clock to see if I can’t get on top of this day before it buries me… well, I still believe in my innate ability to turn some things around. If not fully make this day one of my stellar, prize-winning creative days, I still can get on top of the angst.

Tricks I'm Using Today, for Creating Inspiration:

  1. Just Stop! Literally stop fighting the icky sense that the day might drown me in overwhelm. And sit quietly for a reminder that I don’t have to fix everything this second. So I did. Just sat here and breathed in and out slowly with my eyes closed, and remembered that even if I run out of time today and don’t complete everything I wanted to do when I woke up, it’s okay. No. Really. It’s going to be fine. Because I get another day tomorrow. (Shhhh to the voices reminding me that there are still other things needing to happen tomorrow. Shhhhhh, I say!) It's just not as much of a travesty as we can convince ourselves it is!)
  2. Stretch. Yoga, baby. Because I haven’t yet fully embraced all that is amazing and wonderful about creating a full, nice-long yoga practice every morning, there’s a nagging hint of guilt telling me all about that, too. But I decided that even I – she who doesn't always make the healthiest choices for herself every single day – I am allowed to stretch, too! So I walked outside and did the shortest yoga routine ever.  In the sunshine, with the sounds of birds chirping and kitties playing and a fountain trickling. Vitamin D and fresh, clean oxygen, darlins. And then? Just before publishing this list, I did the whole thing again, only this time I stretched for an even longer time.
  3. Look Around for Sparks. There’s beauty everywhere. Sometimes much more than at other times. This week, I agreed to house and pet sit for a traveling friend. Before me, on the walls and shelves of this home, I regard one of the greatest personal collections of artistry known to man. Known to me, anyway. Not only is this home inhabited by voracious readers who travel a lot and bring home interesting artifacts from their adventures, my girlfriend happens to be an artist, herself. The titles and colors and textures available to me this week are not to be believed. In spite of the fact that I woke this morning in a challenging mood and have found it a struggle today to get my head in the game, so to speak, taking the time to appreciate the inspiring surroundings has helped with my perspective.
  4. Grab Some Oils. In my purse, I carry a zipper pouch filled with little roller bottles of custom essential oil blends I’ve created for the primary challenges in my life. A blend for helping with focus. One for boosting immunity. There’s one for pain relief, should one happen to experience pain. And still another for keeping allergies at bay**. Regardless of the fact that I carry this bag with me nearly all the time, for some reason, lately I’ve slipped and let myself just plain forget the definite benefits I receive when I remember to use my oil blends. Since I’ve started writing this paragraph alone, having applied (and inhaled – there’s a blend in a little tube like those Vicks inhalers we grew up with, too,) the allergy blend, my eyes have literally stopped itching and burning. Duh. How many times do we have to learn these lessons? Which I mention because it’s hard to be creatively inspired when our comfort level is askew. Shortly I'm going to apply the focus blend, too!
  5. Hydrate. This morning I indulged in 2 and a half cups of quite satisfying coffee made with ground espresso beans. Because yum. But what about the water? As a non-soda-drinker, I often enjoy the satisfaction of being “one of those water drinkers” who literally turns to water before a syrupy, fizzy drink. Only? Sometimes the truth is, I forget to drink enough water. Nursing a cup of coffee throughout the morning is NOT a way to get your day’s hydration. And so I put the coffee away and moved the water glass closer, noticing it hasn’t been touched nearly as much as that mug was.
  6. Write it Out. One of the nagging voices this morning was reminding me that I haven’t kept my promise to get this blog going again. Enter, a two-for-one journal exercise. I could write about turning my day’s challenge around and get a blog post out of it, too. Hopefully even inspiring someone else with my obvious reminders of how easy it can be to get myself back on track when I’ve been spinning my wheels. Writing helps me center. And resuming a long-stagnant blogging practice helps me in other ways we might get into another time. Today, I decided to cover two bases at once.

And that is what I did today to get myself out of the decidedly non-inspired rut of angst that filled my morning. I feel much better now. Of course everything isn’t “fixed” and completely perfect. Because if life were always perfect, our days would feel ordinary and bland. Contrast = yay! But these tricks did help. As they always do when I need to pull myself up from a funk. Maybe they’ll help you too, should you find them and need them.  I hope so!

What tricks do YOU employ when you need to create inspiration on a lackluster day? Care to share below?

**On allergies, should one want even more on this subject: I live with cats, as does my friend. About 10 years ago, I developed shocking allergies to most beloved felines. Whaaaa? Although I don’t need allergy pills at home, most days, I know better than not to bring them with me when I go elsewhere. Only this time I forgot to pack any and the past 15 hours or so have brought some serious challenges in the way of eye rubbing and the general irritation that comes with kicking myself for not having remembered to pack the convenient bottle.