Making dresses for baby girl

Baby Dress | mer mag

Last Easter I tried to take a stab at not only making a dress for baby M but making up the pattern as well. I quickly found out that it’s a whole lot harder (for me at least) than I thought it would be. The dress was waaaay to large and had all kinds of puckers and problems. I still liked the color combo however so decided to keep it for when she was older. Cut to the present, a year later, and I just tried it on her this weekend. It’s still not perfect but I had a lot of fun seeing her romp around in it. It’s inspired me to sew more dresses for her and really hone my skills a bit more (I can use a pattern no problem, but making up my own is new territory for me).

Baby Dress | mer mag

I think it would be so fun to try and sew one simple dress (or clothing item) for her a week. Not sure if I’ll be able to keep up with it each and every week but I like the goal. My friend Meta, of One More Mushroom, is also thinking about doing it with me and I’m excited to share with all of you the results.

Baby Dress | mer mag

If you have any good patterns that you recommend I’d love to hear about them! I’m sure many of you are much more versed in this world than I am.

Eraser Stamp Rainbow Art for St. Patricks Day!

MerMagDottedRainbowArt800

I’m sharing a easy eraser stamp rainbow art project for your little ones to make over on Minted today. And Just in time for St. Patrick’s day! I have a hard time thinking of creative and aesthetically pleasing things to do with shamrocks but I can always get on board with the ever lovely rainbow.

My boys loved making this (they LOVE things that are generally fool proof and have a repetitive methodology about them) and were all about picking which rows of color the each got to do (I had to do the last row of purple as neither one of them would touch it ;). It was a fun way to talk about colors and their similarities, patterns, etc. as well what makes a rainbow, and whether or not there really is a pot of gold at the base of each one (I loved dreaming about this as a little girl).

Hop on over to Minted for the template and full DIY!

Artwork for Oh Happy Day's Screenprinting Bonanza!

Friends did you see that Jordan of Oh Happy Day! is starting up her Craft Nights again? Makes we wish I lived in norther Cali. I’d sign for the floral design and screen printing classes like yesterday! Jordan asked me to contribute a couple of designs for the event and this little juice cup is one of them. craft-night21

Can’t wait to see all the cute totes, tees and onesies everyone makes! Rumor has it that Indigo Bunting is one of the artists in the line up as well. Woo hoo! Maybe I’ll just have to drive up to the golden state just for this event…

 

Wallpapering our Vintage Dollhouse

Dollhouse Wallpaper by Mer Mag

I found this simple vintage dollhouse a number of years ago when my boys were younger and we lived in california (another lady really wanted it for her nativity but I had made a claim on it already…but I have always felt I needed to do it justice as I was the one who took it home and it’s been sitting here for years, not being played with). Over the holidays I created some wrapping paper but didn’t end up using it as I wanted to save it for just the right project. And it just recently it occurred to me that this dollhouse is the perfect canvas for it!

Wrapping and Wall Paper by Mer Mag

I had Spoonflower produce my mountain, grid and cat wrapping paper but the cool thing is that they can make it an actual wallpaper and of course fabric as well (I have visions of another cat quilt in the future!). I didn’t use the mountain paper in this project but you can see how I papered the dollhouse in the grid and cat motifs.

DollHouse Wallpaper by Mer Mag

I found some vintage Creative Playthings doll furniture on ebay before Christmas and had to get them for Baby M and this house.

DollHouse Wallpaper by Mer Mag

Baby M is of course still a bit young for this but she’s been enjoying it in her own way…

Vintage Dollhouse and Wallpaper by Mer Mag

Like climbing inside to find her favorite furniture items…to nibble on…

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I won’t deny that I’m just a little bit excited for the day when we can really play dollhouse together. (if I ever try to “play” with my boys Little O promptly tells me that I’m doing it all wrong. They voices are off, the characters aren’t tough enough, and son on).

Dollhouse Wallpaper by Mer Mag

I also had a lot of fun scaling down some of my art for this little house and making balsa wood frames and miniature rugs out of felt.

Face Wall Hanging by Mer Mag

I haven’t made a lot of decor items for Baby M lately either so it was fun painting this simple embroidery hoop face.

I also have a slew of new prints coming to the shop soon, and this Hi Five! print is one of the first and can be found in the shop here.

Hi Five Print by Mer Mag

Now I just need to make a few little friends to inhabit our newly papered and decorated dollhouse. I have a few ideas already and I can’t wait to make them!

Vintage dollhouse wallpapered by mer mag

Storing our DIY crafts and toys

Mer Mag Crafts Storage

So many of the crafts and toys we make are played with loved and…well consequentially thrashed (R.I.P dear little tea box train, you were loved). I of course want my kids to play with and enjoy the crafts and toys we make together. However I’ve began keeping a few of them on shelf with the hopes that they will be preserved a bit longer and I’ve been really happy I’ve done so. Now the kids can ask for a specific item to be brought down to play with (the interlocking castle being a big fan favorite around here) and then we put it back up and away when they are through.

Mer Mag Crafts Storage

I’ve also enjoyed seeing my work all together in one place, and seeing how one thing informs another, and so on. Like our well loved mix n’ match um blocks from three years ago. It was one of my first plunges into making toys out of wood and it’s still a very favorite of mine. I kind of feel like putting all of this “on display” translates into a big messy craft/toy mood board of sorts for me.

Mer Mag Crafts Storage

This of course only represents a very small portion of things we’ve made. And if I’m being honest, the big beast of crafts and supplies is starting to take over pretty much our entire home…It’s getting a bit out of control and really I should cut back a bit, toss a few things, maybe do a giveaway (would you guys want repurposed toys anyway?).

Mer Mag Crafts Storage

But for now, I’m enjoying being reminded and inspired by our crafts of the past.

LOVE LETTER PALS Printable Valentines in the shop!

 MerMagValentinePrintables1

This time of year is always so inspiring for me. Must be the LOVELY LOVE in the air…  I know we’ve shared a few valentines ideas already (and you guys are as wild about the animal envelopes as we are! I’m loving seeing all the versions your littles are making on Instagram!) but I couldn’t help but slip one more in before the chocolate filled holiday of l’amour. (And don’t you think love notes and amorous correspondence should be year round thing anyway?).

I wanted to add to the shop, not only printable valentines but also printable party accessories such as soda bottle labels, Valentines Day banners and more (similar to my Halloween and Christmas printable party packs).

MerMagValentinePrintableSodaLabel

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Truth be told I’ve fallen for these little love letter pals myself. Mr. Bunny and Kitty have already made a love connection. Kitty is a bit hesitant but with Mr. Bunny’s help, she’s ready to take a chance with her heart.

And Li’l Pig is having a hard time deciding between Mr. Bear (a dreamer with a soft heart and head a bit in the clouds) and Senior Mouse (a simple, shy guy, who’s approach is a bit rusty but who’s heart is longing to love). Who will she pick?!

MerMagValentinePrintableCharacters

I love all the options you have with these printables as well (I’m dying to print these guys on fabric and make finger puppets out of them!). You can even cut out and send the larger characters in the mail to a lovely friend using the large envelope option. I know Little O sure is enjoying his new little friends.

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And seriously, I’m not sure i’ll ever be able to drink a soda again without this cute little Mr. Bunny on it (all characters are available for the soda bottle in the printable as well).

MerMagValentinePrintableSodaLabel2

So, if you’re trying to throw together some last minute valentines (and let’s be honest, we all do it the night before anyway, right) or play a festive gathering for Friday, These Love Letter Pals Printables have got you covered!

 

DIY Valentine Heart Magnets

DIY Clay Heart Face Magnet Valentines

My good friend Stephanie (who hosted my baby shower seen here) has this great Valentine’s get together every year just for the gals. Anyway, it’s super fun, filled with delightful people and A-mazing valentines (I still have intense cravings for a certain waffle cookie that was passed one year). A couple of years ago I made these for the event (last year i believe I was sick, or my baby was…one or the other) and so this year I’m so excited. I wanted to be sure to be prepared and, as much as I LOVE making kiddo valentines with my littles, I jump at the chance to do something fun and and creative for a bit older crowd (but of course these could easily be done with your littles too!)

This year I decided to make clay heart face valentines and then turn them into magnets (and afterthought that came when I questioned…”so what exactly are they supposed to do with these after they get them?”).

DIY Clay Heart Face Magnet Valentines

Supplies:

DIY Clay Heart Face Magnet Valentines 

Making the Valentine Face Magnets:

  1. Roll out your sculpey clay with a rolling pin to desired thickness
  2. Cut out heart shapes with cookie cutter
  3. Bake in oven according to clay instructions found on box
  4. Once your hearts are cooled, paint various colors, keeping some white
  5. Once base paint is dry, add facial features with additional paint colors. Let dry
  6. Attache adhesive magnet to the back of your heart.
  7. You heart magnet is ready to go! (I enjoyed playing with faces on these but these would also be so cute painted as the traditional candy conversation heart too. So many options!)

 

DIY Clay Heart Face Magnet Valentines

You could then package these in some cute little bags or just pass them out as is. Just be sure to make a few more for yourself and your sweetheart. They’re so fun to see up on your own refrigerator holding a sweet love note!

DIY Clay Heart Face Magnet Valentines

DIY Animal Envelope VALENTINES!

DIY Animal Envelope Valentines

We’ve been having so much fun with our Animal Envelopes that we couldn’t stop and just one or two! So we decided to take it even further and make a complete set of Animal Envelope Valentines!

DIY Animal Envelope Valentines

To make them we pretty much followed our original technique, only this time we used smaller envelopes and added a little paper heart (made from a paper punch but you could use stickers, etc.) for the nose, making them perfect for a little Valentine to share with classmates!

 DIY Animal Envelope Valentines

It was a lot of fun coming up with different faces and ears. Really you and your little one could make any animal from this technique (or make up your own kind of creature!)

Have your little one address the backs of the envelops (or technically the fronts) to their classmates, fill with candy and seal. And your Animal Envelope Valentines are ready to share!

DIY Animal Envelope Valentines

Just watch out for little candy thief’s (like this cutie pie) while you’re making these. They just might deplete your candy heart stash before you have a chance to pass them out!

Candy Thief

Free Desktop Download and ALT Summit recap

Happy Friday friends! In 2013 I mentioned that I like to do themes for each year (you can catch up on a few from the past here). I like theme’s because they are easy to remember and can guide my goals, motivations and decisions throughout the year (particularly when I might forget that ever ambitious and inspiring list of goals I made early January). I know people who even pick one word to guide through the year. I think this is pretty cool too.

For me, this year, I decided to pick the inspiring quote from David Allen, a productivity specialist, “You can do anything, but not everything”. And I’m sharing a free motivational graphic for your desktop should you want to keep this message on your radar as well! Just click the image below to download.

MerMagYOUCANscreensaver

This message was also one I shared on my Collaborations panel at ALT Summit a week ago. I always enjoy my time at ALT. Particularly meeting up with and learning from other inspiring ladies. This year I spoke on a panel with amazing creatives Emily Meyer of Tea Collection (favorite kids clothing line made even more awesome by getting to know the completely amazing lady behind it all – seriously love her), Nancy Soriano, (former editor of Country Living Magazine – super smart lady who was responsible for making Country Living a favorite mag for someone like me who used to shy away from anything “country”), and Brittany Watson Jepson, fellow collaborator, friend and all around AMAZING creative behind The House that Lars Built (who needs no introduction…you all know and love her as much as I do).

ALT Summit Collaborations Panel

If you’re someone like me, a creative do-it-yourselfer, you might start out trying to do everything yourself. And at first, this is perfectly fine, especially as you try to grown your brand and get to know your readers and build relationships. But as you grow you might find yourself getting a bit overwhelmed. Perhaps your inbox is filled to brim and you just can’t keep up, your editorial calendar is behind or all over the place (or you don’t even have one…which of course I’m sooo not guilty of), perhaps your personal life is feeling out of order and yours and or your family’s health is in flux. If so, you might be ripe and ready for some healthy collaborating.

I mention in this post how crucial collaboration was for me in making my upcoming book, PLAYFUL, a success. There is seriously NO WAY I could have made it as amazing as it is by myself. For an artist and illustrator, who has been used to working alone in her studio for years, it’s been so nice to work with others. Hard at first to give my “babies” over to others to work with, but SO worth it.

MerMagALTCollaborationsRecap1

 

I mentioned a number of things in my panel that help to make collaborations successful but the few that I want to touch on in this post are these:

  1. First and foremost, make sure your own PERSONAL BRANDING IS STRONG. You need to know who you are, what you have to offer and what others come to expect from you. And, well, quite frankly it needs to be goooood.
  2. Secondly, when you are ready to collaborate, you need to CHOOSE THE VERY BEST people to work with. This can vary depending on what your brand and your project needs are. Evaluate those needs, go back to your brand, and see who you want to bring on. For me it generaly means, creatives and or brands that are like minded and that have very high levels of aesthetic. Meaning they don’t compromise when it comes to taste (which generally means I like to work with people who are better than me).
  • These could be friends you know and respect or strangers work whom you have admired from afar. Both are valuable.
  • They could be other bloggers who have a great brand and following themselves that you gravitate to and want collaborate with. Or they could be friends, artists, designers, etc. that are creating great work but don’t necessary have a blog. Seriously don’t discount these associations. Big online followings are not the only thing you want to grade your collaborations on (at least for me they’re not. it always comes back to beauty and taste level for me).

I also shared a bit more about steps for a successful collaboration

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  1. Identify a need and then decide what project/collaboration would fulfill that need
  2. Evaluate your budget and or resources – basically what can you bring to the table to make it worth it for others to collab with you
  3. Pick your collaborators – which creatives or brands best fit your project
  4. Collaborate – once you have picked the best, shared your concept for the project with mood boards, etc. you really need to step back and let your collaborators do what they do best. This is crucial I think for magic to happen (of course do what you need to do to keep things on track/brand but don’t micro-manage, basically).
  5. Follow Up – was the collaboration successful? What worked, what didn’t? And what would you differently next time?)

I then summed it all up with this message: You COLLABORATE to ELEVATE.MerMagALTCollaboration=Elevate

 

So remember, you can do ANYTHING, but not EVERYTHING. And happy collaborating in 2014!

(oh and if you ever wanted to collaborate with me, just shoot me an email! Chances are it just might work perfectly for something I’m wanting to work on! And no matter what, I want meet you and know about the amazing things you do and are you’re working on!)

My Book! PLAYFUL Toys and Crafts Made by Hand Coming this fall, 2014!

Friends I’ve been dropping a few hints here and there about some exciting things I’ve been working on this past year and I’ve been dying to share more images and reveal more details. And I’m happy to report that I can do so now! I  have a book coming out this fall!!! It’s titled PLAYFUL Toys and Crafts Made by Hand and is being published by gorgeous book maker Melanie Falick of STC Craft. Below is a shot of the tentative title page as well as a handful of teaser images from the book!

Mer Mag Book | PLAYFUL Toys and Crafts Made By HandTwo years ago, at my first ALT Summit, I was introduced to Melanie Falick by my friend Brooke Reynolds of Inchmark. I had the idea for making a kids craft book already buzzing around in my head so when Brooke suggested it as well, and recommended me to Melanie (a long time favorite publisher who makes beautiful books like this one, this, and this) I was more than excited and knew I was headed in the right direction. After working hard to make the best book proposal I could, I submitted it to Melanie and excitedly/anxiously waited to hear back. I can vividly remember the return phone call from Melanie. It was the summer of 2012 and all of my family was loaded in the car after spending the afternoon at Seven Peaks water park. My cellphone rang and I saw it was from NYC. I picked it up and I’m not sure what was said really other than….YOU’VE GOT A BOOK DEAL. When I hung up the phone, I looked over at Jon, paused and then screamed…I HAVE A BOOK DEAL!!!! He had to pull over so we could both scream a few more times. It was so exciting for me.

I love making beautiful things, maybe a bit obsessively so, and it’s been a dream to create my first kids DIY  toy and craft book. I had such a specific vision for this book. I knew I wanted it to be first and foremost PLAYFUL, inspiring, beautiful and full of amazing, special projects for parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers and more to create with and for the little ones in their life.

To accomplish this, I of course couldn’t do it alone. My specific vision for the book meant that I needed to find just the right photographer, stylists and designer who understood the look and feel of what I was going for. Brooke (former Art Director for Martha Stewart Kids) was already on board from the get-go as a designer (lucky lucky me!! It was her idea to have this fun confetti around the title page and I love it!) and I had a few ideas in mind for a photographer and stylist. After some back and forth I knew Nicole Gerulat was the perfect photographer for this book. She has an incredible eye, a way with children and can capture the most magical moments (and she happens to live just about 20 min away from me). In 2013 I met with her over lunch, oh just a few months before she was to give birth to her second child, to see if there was anyway she could fit in a book shoot that hot summer before, you know, having a baby and all. SOOO happy she said YES! (So lucky the shoot was local or it wouldn’t have happened…and I would have cried like a baby for months ;)). And you probably already know how much I love working with my dear friend Meta from One More Mushroom (one of the first times we met we talked for hours and hours – in fact we still have a hard time cutting off the chatting when we get together, making it hard go home and get on with things – our husbands just looove it, I’m sure). It’s no secret she has incredible taste and a killer eye for styling so naturally I wanted her to style to shoots. Our styles are different but complimentary and she understands what I gravitate to. Nicole suggested bringing Brittany Watson Jepsen, from The House that Lars Built, on board as well for wardrobe (as she had just moved to area). I couldn’t have been more thrilled with the idea. I’d been a fan of her blog and impeccable taste for quite some time as well. When I first met her I was so excited for this book and the possibly of having her on board, I was a bumbling fool, overwhelmed with my hyper enthusiasm. Lucky for me she was  game….and it’s been a magical collaboration ever since.

Gals behind Mer Mag's book PLAYFUL Toys and Crafts Made By Hand

All four of us met for lunch to launch this collaboration. My favorite part was when Meta and Brittany walked in, having never met before this point (in fact this was when I met Brittany as well) and both blondies were dressed in cute scandi/peasant dresses, swedish sandals, their hair in crown braids and practically matching leather totes. Nicole and I looked at each other and just nodded our heads as if to say “oh yeah, we picked the right combo for this job”. And boy did we ever. After meeting, sharing mood boards, ideas and more, we all got to work (and let me tell you these girls do what it takes to make things impeccable…making all my wildest dreams for this book come true and then some!). When I’d show up to the sets to help everything come together, I couldn’t have been more blown away. The things Meta would have put together were breathtaking…and the clothing Brittany had found fit the crafts and the styling so well. And then when nicole started snapping away, I was literally gasping with glee (is that possible?). I was beyond thrilled to see what she was able to capture. Seriously you guys, these ladies took this book to an entirely new level of Uh-mazing.

And on that note I’m thrilled to share a sneak peek of one of my favorite crafts/shoots from the book. My favorite little trapeze doll! I couldn’t get this idea out of my head (which actually came to life after a phone call with my sister when I made a doll with legs that were too long and I had to figure out where to go with her). Once discovering that she was always meant to be a big-top flyer the ideas started spinning. I had the idea of having a couple of dolls hanging form a trapeze in a little girls room. Would have been cute for sure, but then Meta came back with the brilliant idea of doing an overhead shot similar to her super hero photo booth that I collaborated with her on. I loved it immediately. Originally she envisioned a circus scene with the girls flying above it but decided to simplify to a simple circus tent opening to keep focus on the doll. I painted the tent, Brittany put together the darling Woven Play ensemble and had me paint some tights (cutest idea ever!), while Nicole climbed a tall ladder (at 8 months pregnant!) with all of us spotting her so she could take this phenomenal photo. The result = nothing short of playful magic.

Trapeze doll for Mer Mag's book PLAYFUL - out fall 2014. Photo by Nicole Gerulat

And the rest of the book is just as amazing! It’s so hard to keep it all under wraps as I’m dying to share it all. This fall can’t come soon enough! But stayed tuned as I’ll be sharing as many little updates as I can. Yippee!