How to make it work

We're all busy. How do you get everything on your to-do list accomplished? Which things are more important than others?

This is my busiest season, which is probably true for a lot of us. I have shows just about every weekend in November and December, Malayna's birthday on the 22nd of December, and of course, Christmas. There are also orders coming in, both wholesale and retail. I do have more business than I had last year, and one of the reasons that is true is because I've welcomed it this year. Last year was Malayna's first year in school (full day kindergarten) and I volunteered at school a LOT. I didn't leave myself much time for other things, like making art. I did lots of shows, but I was always working up until the last minute. Don't get me wrong - I still do that. Sometimes I feel that I can't work any other way. The rush that gives me pushes me to do more and more.

Some of the things I'm doing differently this year are:

* I make a daily list of what I want to accomplish. Even if it's the tiniest thing (like sending an email) I write it down so that I have something to cross off the list.

* I cut back on the amount of time I'm volunteering in Malayna's school. This one wasn't intentional. There were a lot more opportunities to be in her classroom last year than there are this year. I'm still at school at least one day a week, but don't feel the need to be there much more than that.

* I'm pursuing more wholesale accounts. That means that I get an order, make it and then deliver. I don't have to worry about my work sitting around in a shop waiting to be sold on consignment.

* I'm doing are less first-time shows and more repeat ones. (And no shows that were a bust last time around.) Sometimes the first-time shows are no good. Then you're stuck at a show with no one attending and wishing you were home spending time with your family or working in the studio.

* There's no way I'll ever be the kind of person who plans out her meals weekly. I tried it a few times, but it just does not work for me. Instead, I have a few meals that are easy and require few ingredients, so I make sure I always have those on hand. Also, last year I was annoyed that I had to be the one making dinner most of the time. I don't enjoy cooking but Jimmy does. But you know what? I'm home more than he is. Even if I'm working, that usually stops when Malayna gets home and she's old enough now that I don't have to worry about keeping her occupied when I'm cooking.

* Don't worry about dust. Seriously. Who cares? My house is not a pigsty, but it's also not a show home. We live here. It looks like it. Would I like to be more organized and have more space? Yes, of course. But I'm not fretting about it right now.

So that's my list. What's yours? How do you get things accomplished? Any tips?


How I create my images

Hello, hello! No, I haven't disappeared off the face of the earth! I find that when I start a blog post lately it sits and sits and never gets finished. It's so much easier to post little snippets on my fan page on Facebook. Are you a fan of milkshake crafts? Do you have a fan page I can join in return?

Since this is the craft show season, I get lots of questions about how I create my images. I never really know how much to reveal, or how much someone really understands about what I'm telling them. I have a running storyboard in my head as I'm talking, but it doesn't always come out the way I see it! Will you let me know if the following makes any sense??

First, I start off with a pencil sketch in my sketchbook (or on a random piece of paper). The sketches are usually created when Malayna is drawing and I'm keeping her company.  Sometimes an idea sits in my head for a looooong time before I finally put pencil to paper. Other times I'll do a sketch and that will sit around for a while until I flip through my sketchbook and decide it's time to bring it to life.

 {This is a marker sketch after I've scanned it.}

Next, I'll trace the drawing with a black Sharpie marker and then scan it into my computer. I used to scan the pencil drawing, but found that I wasn't getting the crisp lines I wanted. After the image is scanned I open it up in Adobe Illustrator and clean it up there. This gives the drawing a more polished look, and I can then adjust the lines of the image.

After cleaning up the image in Illustrator, I open it in Photoshop. That's where I apply the patterns and colors. For example, the clematis image is made up of three different patterns (the red one in the middle, the orange one in the petals and the yellow in the petals):

 {This is the same image after it's been cleaned up in Illustrator
and filled in with patterns in Photoshop.}

I have many, many patterns to choose from (all of which are created by me in the same way I've described above), but I find myself using the same ones again and again. I change the colors sometimes to match the other patterns used in the image.

For example, here is the same pattern but in different colors. The same pattern was used above, in the petals in yet another set of colors.

{The same pattern with different color treatments.}

Someone once suggested that I have all this information with me at shows in a small binder to show people when they ask about my artwork. It's a great idea and I would love to be able to have a visual instead of trying to explain and hoping it makes sense!

Was this helpful? Did it make sense? Is there anything I'm missing?

I'm going to be participating in the Waldorf Holiday Fair and Craft Bazaar this weekend. The show starts on Friday night from 6-10 and then continues on Saturday from 10-5. Come by and visit! It's a great show - lots of yummy homemade food, crafts for the kids and, of course, great art. There's even a secret shopping room for children where they can buy gifts for the family.


New collection of wall squares

Introducing a new collection of wall squares! In the past I've designed them so that 3 of them work together, but this time you can mix and match all twelve. Start your collection with just two or three and eventually work up to all twelve! Wouldn't these look great filling a wall in your house?


Photo Friday: love

Click the picture to enlarge it.


26 days until Halloween!

Do you know those little cards your kids hand out to their friends for Halloween? You buy them and then your child has to write her name on 20-30 of those little things. It gets old real fast. Why not get some with her name already printed on them? Great idea, you say? Well, it just so happens that I have some for you to download! Just place your order through my Etsy shop, tell me your child's name and then I'll send you a pdf or jpeg and you print and cut! Or, if you'd like it to be even easier (and who doesn't?), I'll do the printing and cutting for you and mail it right to your house. Easy peasy. Now you can get to work on making that costume…


New clock images

How was your weekend? Mine was a blur, but good - I was busy creating and refining some new images for clocks. I'll be uploading them to Etsy this week, but if you see one that you like and must have before that, just send me a message (lisa at milkshaksecrafts dot com)! I'm so glad that I finally got these down on paper. A lot of them have been in my head for a while. Remember that survey that some of you took waaaaay back in February? I got lots of great ideas from that, and some of these new ideas came from the survey. Thank you!


Fall art classes starting SOON!

Are you in the Elkins Park/Abington/Philadelphia/Cheltenham area? If so, I'm teaching art classes for kids, ages 2 and up! There will be two sessions, one for 2-5 year-olds (with parent) and one for ages 5 and up. Click on the flier below for more information!


FREE shopping list printable!

Are you like me? Just about every time I go to the market I forget 75% of what I need unless I have a list. No list and I wind up right back at the market the next day. Also, I make the same list over and over and over… making me feel like I'm wasting paper and brain power trying to remember what we usually purchase. So last year around this time I created a shopping list for myself and printed out a handful of them. They were so, so helpful to me and I hope they are for you, too! Feel free to download the list and use it as many times as you like.

PS: I'd love feedback on the items on the list. I did this kind of quickly and may not have included your favorites. Let me know if there are things that you absolutely must have on the list and I can easily update it!


Introducing: coloring books!

The first coloring book in the series is ready! This one features 10 different patterns, measures 8.5 x 11" (or 11 x 17" when flat), is printed on white paper and saddle-stitched. You can have your very own milkshake crafts coloring book for just $4! And if you buy one today, you will also get a free *surprise* gift! Click here to go to my Etsy shop and get your very own not-your-ordinary coloring book!


Coloring books!

I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on here or not, but I've been thinking about making some milkshake crafts coloring books. I know I've posted about it on my Facebook fan page back in May. Yes, I said May. I don't do much work during the summer :)

I've got quite a few pages already finished, so I thought I'd give you a sneek peek. What do you think?

Right now I've used my patterns as the base for the pages. I've also been thinking about birds, butterflies, etc.

What would you like to see in a coloring book? Would you use it or give it to your kids?


FREE back to school printable!

Malayna goes back to school tomorrow, and we're planning on doing something fun and crafty today to celebrate, in addition to having her favorite dinner (spaghetti and homemade meatballs). Last year we made crowns. This year we're going to make back-to-school time capsules. I got the idea here. Looks like (easy) fun!

 {Click on the image to enlarge it. Print, cut and enjoy!}

Lunchtime in the cafeteria was really tough for Malayna last year, so I was thinking of ways to make it easier on her this year. One way is to leave little notes for her in her lunchbox. This year she can read, but last year when she couldn't I drew her little pictures. To make things really simple, I created a free printable of lunch box notes - you can download, print on letter-sized paper, cut and write a message or draw a picture for your little one. (Click on the image above to make it larger, then print. Send me an email - milkshakecrafts at yahoo dot com - if you have any problems.) Enjoy!

What do you do to celebrate the first day of school?


Fall art classes!

If you live near Elkins Park, PA and would like to sign your child up for art classes, check out my new Facebook page for Creative Kids! Creative Kids is my new art class-teaching business. I'll be offering two classes in the fall - one mommy & me class for ages 2-5 and an after school class for ages 5 and up. Days/times are listed on the Creative Kids page. Click on over to Facebook and be my fan!


Art class: wild things

I'm really behind with these art class postings - I have three that I still haven't written about! Yesterday was the last summer art class and pool party. A good time was had by all!

Last week we worked on creating our own wild things. (The week before the girls did self-portraits, but I didn't get any good photos that day so I won't be posting about it.)

After reading Where the Wild Things Are, the girls got to work drawing their own wild thing in pencil. I gave step-by-step instructions - first draw the head, then the body, then the arms, legs, etc. Sometimes when I give them free-reign they rush through and finish too early. Going slowly gives them time to think about what they're drawing. I also gave out blank scrap paper in case they wanted to sketch some ideas before starting. I was surprised at how excited they were to do this part. I'll definitely include this step in other classes. When the drawings were finished I brought out the oil pastels for drawing patterns and outlining. Then the girls painted with watercolors and the spots where they used oil pastel resisted the paint. Most of them remembered this from the other time we did it.

Some of the names they came up with for their wild things were funny.

{Eagle wild thing.}

{Puppy pal wild thing.}

{I don't remember the name of this one, but she
told me it was a drawing of her mom!}

{Penguin wild thing.}

{Guinea fish wild thing.}

{Cop wild thing.}

{Puppy fish wild thing.}

After the wild things were finished we had some time left. I was expecting these to take up most of the class time, so I didn't have anything else planned. I spotted a tub of Crayola air dry clay that I had purchased a while back for Malayna. Each girl got a bit of clay and instructions to knead it in their hands before making something. They LOVED the clay and were so helpful to each other. I brought out some cookie cutters and one of the girls showed the others how to make little bowls. This could've been an entire art class on its own, divided into two sessions since the clay has to dry for a few days before it can be painted. This time they were sent home and told to wait 2-3 days for the clay to dry before painting it with tempera, watercolors or acrylics. You could probably even draw on it with markers.


Happy first birthday Lola!

Happy birthday Lola! It must be a special day, because you chose today to start drinking from the toilet.


Art class: collage with painted paper

Wow! This art class had so much energy! It was so lively and busy that we didn't even have time for snack until the very last minute. That's huge, people.

We read a fantastic book called The Lion and the Little Red Bird. The watercolor and mixed media illustrations in this book are colorful and inspiring. The story is great, too - about the friendship that develops between the two creatures, even though they don't speak the same language. The lion's tail is a different color each morning, and the girls enjoyed trying to figure out why.

Part of the reason this class was so energetic was because they were moving the whole time. Instead of having them sit at the same table for the entire class (like they usually do), I set up four painting stations. Each station/table had a different colors of paint and the girls would move to the next table after painting a sheet of paper (or two or three…). Table one had brown, black and white, table two had orange, red, yellow, table three had blue, purple, green and the last had yellow, white and pink.

They were so into it that I had to keep an eye on the time and move them along after a little while. I think they would've easily filled four or five sheets of paper at each table. My intention was to have them paint one sheet per table, but that didn't really work out. They tended to do two sheets on average and some were constantly asking for more paper. How could I say no when they were so inspired?!

In addition to painting the papers, they could use things to make impressions in the paint, like plastic forks, bubble wrap (the favorite), sponges and brushes. I need to get more bubble wrap - it's art class gold.

While they worked on painting their papers, my assistant Tessa had to start drying them with a blow dryer. I realized halfway through that they wouldn't be dry enough to complete the project. Once again I was so glad that I had an assistant.

After the papers were dry and we found the owners of them, I handed out bird body templates. The girls traced the bird body onto their painted papers, then wings, tail feathers, and head. Some girls went further and created nests, the sun, leaves and branches. I gave each girl a googly eye for their bird. I also let them use the oil pastels to draw on them. They cut out their drawings and glued everything onto blue construction paper.

I love the way these turned out! This, to me, was the perfect art class: there was tons of energy, the process was fun and the product looks great. Most of the projects we do are more about process than product, as it should be at this age. But it's a plus when pieces like this happen!

This project was adapted from one I found on the Deep Space Sparkle blog. She has lots of great art class ideas with excellent instructions.



A few inspiring things:

This blog

knack studios (love seeing the before and after shots)

Anna Marie Horner's gorgeous patterns

Pretty stationery

Seeing this. It never gets old.

What inspires you?


Wordless Wednesday

{Painting created by Malayna at the Abington Art Center's art camp…}

{…inspired by The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai.}