May 31, 2012

Bits & Pieces.

1. This retro chef letter set from Present&Correct...the idea to make postcards out of photos from my vintage cookbooks was born out of this lovely find! 
2. This quick LP wall organizer DIY from Papernstitch! Perfect for my next apartment. 
3. THESE PRINTS BY LAURA EVANS! All caps required; I just love them so much. You can scoop these up and many more right here.  1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
4. This collage by Kim Smith of Art Equals Happy (lovely blog, PS). Simple palette, simple truth. You can buy it here
5. I want Larissa's mantle in my life, but mainly the Africa she made herself; that crafty little lady! The heart over Ethiopia and ERRTHANG. In. Love. My sister made one of Cuba for my grandma this Christmas...but it's no Africa. Just sayin. 

6. This fun manual photography printable! Breakin' down the basics in a colorful way. 

7. This post by Amanda of Little Tranquility about her love love love for Sylvia Plath. Woman after my own heart! 

8. Regina Spektor's new album, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, still streaming on NPR; thanks Christine for letting me know it dropped on Tuesday! 

9. This FANTASTIC letter from Ronald Reagan to his son before he got married. I think everyone considering tying the knot should read this, but this is coming from a non-married person, so take that as you will. 

10. Meredith of One Sheepish Girl's Bonjour, Paris Blush List is so full of beauty...just go czech it out. Brought a smile to my face...and then made me want to watch Funny Face! Haha. 

Random thought: I need more yarn in my life. Happy Thursday, guys. 

May 30, 2012

On finding your voice, or niche, or strength, or something.

“Creativity is a habit, and the best creativity is a result of good work habits. That’s it in a nutshell.”
–Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit

My brain has been a jumble lately. Blame it on my all-or-nothing way of living (super unhealthy, working on that) or the fact that I’m so in love with art and the work of others that I’m constantly trying new projects or reading new books, never letting anything truly settle or resonate before I move on to the next thing…but this isn’t about a lack of productivity. It’s more a lack of focus and inability (so it seems lately) to distinguish where my true creative strengths lie and forging that path, full speed ahead.

If only I could, you know, GET there.

And yet, though all of this, I’ve come across some Really Great News that’s makin’ my heart smile. Things that you probably already know (because you’re that awesome) and I’m just a little behind the curve. Or maybe you’re like me, struggling to find that sense of “Where do I fit in this super-saturated creative world?” or trying to unearth the root of your passion, the core of it, from tangled layers of the debris of everyday living and stress. And maybe, just maybe, that excavation has exhausted you to the point of self-doubt.

Hello, My Name Is Jessica Simmons, And Sometimes I Have No Idea What The Heck I’m Doing Most Of The Time.

But the Really Great News starts here: A few weeks ago, writer Neil Gaiman gave a commencement speech at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts; maybe you’ve seen it. I’ve probably watched it about ten times now, and I’ll probably watch it ten times more. It’s that good, and in typical commencement speech form, inspiring. One of the biggest things I struggle with when it comes to my art is *insert dramatic drumroll* originality. What artist doesn’t? (PS if you’re superhuman and don’t have this problem, email me ASAP with your divine wisdom, kthanks).

Everything I do comes from the heart, comes from my head, but may also have stemmed from some thing I saw on Pinterest (cringing at just ADMITTING that) or on another creative blog, etc. As much as we want to believe in originality, it doesn’t exist. Obviously there are ways to tweak and alter and do things a little bit differently, but everything in the art world is an amalgamation of an individual’s own life experiences and exposure to other artists/works of art. This stresses me out more than anything else, because I want to believe that I’m doing something different, and I want to be ABSOLUTELY SURE I’m not copying someone else’s hard work. Gaiman has a few things to say about that (this is one of my favorite bits from his speech):

“When things get tough, this is what you should do: Make. Good. Art. I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician, make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by a mutated boa constrictor, make good art. IRS on your trail, make good art. Cat exploded, make good art. Someone on the internet thinks what you’re doing is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before, make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, eventually time will take the sting away, and it doesn’t even matter. Do what only you can do best.

Make. Good. Art.

Make it on the bad days, make it on the good days too. And fifthly, while you’re at it, make YOUR art; the stuff that only you can do. The urge starting out is to copy and that’s not a bad thing, most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”


Validation, much? If you’ve followed the ol’ blog for a bit now, you’ve seen the clear discrepancy between projects I’ve posted “inspired by” someone else, vs. the things I share of my “own” creation. It bothers me. It does. But you know what? I’m realizing that it’s ok to draw inspiration from others and the end result be similar, so long as I don’t pass it off as my own. My ideas will come. And they DO come. Some work, many don’t; which is why they haven’t made it to the blog just yet.

It’s ok for me to “sound like a lot of other people” right now. The content is still running through the filter that is ME, and that in of itself is an alteration. In the same vein of this problem of originality, I want to cite the lovely words of Mark Twain from a letter he wrote to Helen Keller in 1902:

“As if there was much of anything in any human utterance, oral or written, except plagiarism! The kernel, the soul—let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances—is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources, and daily use by the garnerer with a pride and satisfaction born of the superstition that he originated them; whereas there is not a rag of originality about them anywhere except the little discoloration they get from his mental and moral calibre and his temperament, and which is revealed in characteristics of phrasing. When a great orator makes a great speech you are listening to ten centuries and ten thousand men—but we call it his speech, and really some exceedingly small portion of it is his. But not enough to signify…It takes a thousand men to invent a telegraph, or a steam engine, or a phonograph, or a telephone or any other important thing—and the last man gets the credit and we forget the others. He added his little mite—that is all he did. These object lessons should teach us that ninety-nine parts of all things that proceed from the intellect are plagiarisms, pure and simple; and the lesson ought to make us modest. But nothing can do that.”

If that doesn’t bring peace of mind, I don't know what will! Now I'm off to, you know, make some good art of my own (: 

Ok, now I’m handing you the mic (keyboard?). What’re your thoughts on originality? What parts of the creative process do you struggle with most? How absolutely gorgeous is Neil Gaiman?! Haha.
Just so you know: This post stems a lot from my frustration with starting my own creative business, but having trouble with pinning down the cohesive nature of the product line. I’ve done so much research, asked so many questions of other independent business owners…now I just have to buckle down and DO it. But any bits of advice are greatly appreciated, as always!
I hope your Wednesday has been kind (: PS lots of exciting things happening around here that I can't WAIT to share with you...also, today is my BROTHER'S BIRTHDAY! He's seriously my favorite.

May 27, 2012

A question of needs, not rosary beads.

My brother and his friends played at a local coffee shop on Friday night. Maybe I'm biased (Big Sister Syndrome) but I have to say, it was one of the best acoustic shows I've ever experienced. The atmosphere of this place is already pretty intimate, and the crowd was really responsive and loved the music.
It's so crazy how a simple change of scenery can alter your auditory experience. I hear these same songs, over and over, through the walls of my room while my brother practices; it's just a day in the life. But for the group to come together; for my BABY BRO to play in front of an audience, just belting the heck out of every lyric as he Big Sister Syndrome^infinite power. Proud doesn't even begin to describe how I felt. Awestruck, maybe. 

And awesome, because I have really cool siblings. Whatev. 
The band played a set together, and then they each played some solo stuff. Some songs were original, but they definitely played I Can Feel a Hot One by Manchester Orchestra. 

And I died. 

And then my brother closed his solo set with Weights and Measures by Dry the River...and I died again. It took everything in me not sing along/cry. Goosebumps outta CONTROL. My dad showed up a little late and they replayed the song for him...he got a little choked up too I think.

Ahhh, the power of music. I love it. 

It was a beautiful night. Good coffee, great music, and catching up with friends; what better way to spend a Friday night? 

I hope you're having a great weekend! What amazing shows have you been to recently? 

May 25, 2012

Of note.

The book of thanks, notes, and photos for The Boyfriend that I mentioned last week, as inspired by Oh Hello Friend. I've been spending a lot of time over at his apartment lately to avoid the stomach bug that's been going around my house (the plague is over now, thank goodness) so the idea was born out of an expression of thanks, and I decided to include some notes about summer plans I'm excited for (one of them was Renegade, haha) as well as photos from our roadtrip to visit friends in Corpus last October. 
I love making personalized mini-gifts like this, and Danni's notes of encouragement challenged me to experiment with a new form of that, which I completely love! I used a manila folder, random paper scraps, envelopes, and various odds/ends to make this project. Also, the $1 lion stamp from Michael's is my new best friend. Whatev. 

Happy weekending! What's inspiring you to create lately? 

May 24, 2012

Bits & Pieces.

1. These and many more photos by the uniquely talented Dorothee Smith
2. This idea for making your metal chairs more cozy! 
3. This film for the Orla Kiely Spring-Summer 2012 collection. 
4. THIS makes me SO EXCITED for my odd collection of thrifted bundt pans; I think I've found their calling! 
5. This super simple bleach constellation leggings DIY from Manzanita is so awesome!
6. This print from a collection of art installations made of self-help books by Ken Rogowski.
7. This recipe for Primal (Paleo) gluten-free chocolate chip cookies from Elana's Pantry that might actually work with my stomach, aside from the chocolate (hellooooo carob!) and the honey (hellooo...stevia. Pfft). 

8. Really loving/totally inspired by Elise from Enjoy It's newest creative blog feature, Photo Walk

10. These tips for Beating Self-Employment Burnout

Happy Thursday everyone! 
PS be sure to check out Cassie's Renegade recap over at The Mossy Fox...I'm so honored that she included onetwothreepeaceful in her post! That lady is the sweetest!  

May 23, 2012

Renegade Roundup / 3

Christine and I had some fun at the Magnolia Photo Booth...haha. But now for the final installment of this Renegade roundup party! 

I was so excited to see the Ello Lovey booth, automatically recognizable by the crocheted Sweet Dreams calendar collaboration between Rhianna and Meredith of One Sheepish Girl (such a small world, guys). Rhianna’s booth was packed with beautiful prints; I could gush for hours about her artistic style!
Her setup was very cohesive and cute (I felt like I was walking up to an actual brick and mortar shop display) yet functional to display the most variety of products possible, something I absolutely LOVED (a packed table with great products is a sign of hard work and dedication to your craft: respect). It was lovely meeting Rhianna (I knew of her, but only through mentions on One Sheepish Girl) and she was just as sweet as could be. Buy one of her English heritage-inspired prints here (they’re seriously the cutest), or keep up with her in the blog world here!


Look, I'm just really in love with Felicia’s plush hipster bears, ok?! I’m over the mustache craze but seriously?! Too. Cute. Lets Be Friends boasts one of the most unique plush collections I’ve ever seen, and Felicia was really humble about the whole thing. She’s responsible for the entire production process, from pile of supplies to the end result of adorableplushlove! I was really impressed by that, as the booth was lined with shelf upon shelf of these detailed hipster bears and other large furry creatures (like I said, the pictures don’t do it justice).
Christine with a mustachioed mister

LBF also offered a mystery creature box; basically you buy a box not knowing which furry friend will be inside (such a fun idea)! Prints and cards were available as well. You can find more information about LBF here, or shop for furry friends of your own!


I didn’t get a chance to really linger at this booth (it was PACKED) so I snapped a few pictures and grabbed a business card because the jewelry was just so beautiful. Ok mainly I was hung up on the red acrylic Africa necklace with the heart cutout, but anyway. Stevie is the wonderwoman behind the classy designs of tru.che, and fair-goers could not seem to get enough of her work..
The majority of the necklaces on display had various states and country pendants with tiny heart cutout detailing, though there were other designs available as well. Sidneote: In browsing around her website I came across her boyfriend’s work. In addition to his own business, the couple has an online vintage shop called Whiskey Ginger (as well as an actual storefront in Chicago that is currently open to the public by appointment only). Bottom line, this is a serious indie power-couple, and even though I didn’t get to speak with either of them personally, I’m really excited to see them successfully pursuing what they love. You can find out more about tru.che here.

1. Son of a Sailor very well may be one of the coolest business names, ever
2. Made exponentially more epic because of their logo
3. The geometric and colorblocked jewelry of William Knopp and Jessica Tata is so simple, yet completely elegant and natural. I took everything in me not to break my budget for this necklace. Or this one. Or this one.
4. Their display on woodblocks = total win in my book. I was also REALLY EXCITED because they debuted 10 pieces from their brand new, limited-edition Karve collection at this fair (so aesthetically beautiful…I’d be proud to wear one around my neck!)...I’m really glad SOS was at this fair; I’ll be saving my pennies for one of those aforementioned necklaces, maybe even a print or two! Shop SOS here, follow their blog for shop updates and such here.

I dabble in embroidery from time to time, but I’ve never done crewel work…I hadn’t even really heard of it until I came upon the Wool & Hoop booth! Katherine of W&H was very knowledgeable and quick to answer all of my questions (guys, she’s written two craft books on this. They’re both beautiful and I might just crewel til I die at this point).
Her booth offered a variety of colorful wool skeins, as well as crewel kits including all the supplies needed to create a finished piece. Her books were also for sale (my fingers were just itching to scoop them up) and so was a variety of her lovely crewel embroidered handiwork! I would never think of wool + embroidery in the same context, but obviously it’s a beautiful thing, and obviously I need to try it out! Her online shop is easy to navigate and offers a huge selection of products; anything and everything you could possibly need for this art form. That said, I’m really excited to experiment with crewel in the near future! PS her designs remind me of Ernst Haeckel sketches (instant love).  Have any of you guys ever done crewel embroidery? It's seriously fascinating.

Ok my dears, that wraps up my fair favorites from Renegade; this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the talent and craft that was displayed in Austin this weekend, but I hope it inspires you to check out your local fairs and send some love to those working so hard to make a living off of their skills and passions (: 


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