Artist Profile: Amy Gale

Dear readers, let me introduce an artist with a great sense of humor, an affinity for monsters and quirky characters, and a joyfulness that shines through in all of her work!

Her name is Amy Gale, and if you frequent Spoonflower’s contests or the “latest favorites” page, no doubt you are familiar with her art.

I had some questions for Amy, which I’m glad she took the time to answer for us:

Amy, how did you come to be an artist?

“I have always loved to draw and my dear mother was kind enough to pass along her artistic ability to me. I remember as a little girl getting out my box of 64 crayola crayons and just going to town with them!”

What is your favourite artistic medium?

“My favorite artistic medium is my colored pencils. I have a few different sets, and just staring at all of the beautiful colors of the pencils totally inspires many fun ideas! Once I start to draw, the ideas usually take form soon thereafter.”

Do you have a favourite shape?

“My favorite shape is definitely the circle. Many of my designs start with a circle and go crazy from there. What is cuter than big round heads and fat little round bodies? That has always been so appealing to me!”

Are there any subjects you are particularly drawn to?

“I am particularily drawn to creatures, monsters and generally the weird side of life…..quirkiness! If given a theme or topic, my mind instantly goes to the irreverent, humorous, or wacky side of things. I come from a long line of very silly people so this is not surprising!”

What and who inspires you?

“I would say nature inspires me greatly. I have a strong love of animals, plants, all things in the natural world. My mother is a big inspiration as well. She can paint, knit, quilt, sew ~ she has always inspired me to create and use my talents ~ has always encouraged my creativity and for that, I am so very grateful.”

Would you mind sharing some of your plans, hopes and dreams for your career as an artist?

“Well, being able to design my own fabrics to sew with was a dream I had, and having accomplished that, that is one item off the bucket list! I would love to open an etsy shop of my own one day as well as possibly write and illustrate a children’s book., as I am basically a big kid in an adult body!”

Thank you, Amy, for letting me feature your work!

Amy’s designs on fabric, giftwrap, decals and wallpaper: http://www.spoonflower.com/profiles/amy_g
Her art prints and on various merchandise: http://society6.com/AmyGale

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DIY fabric planner and notebook covers: A stylish way to avoid PVC and other plastics

The following is a guest-posting I wrote for plannerisms.com – please check out Laurie’s highly informative blog about all things planner-related!

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If you’ve used any number of planners, odds are that you are familiar with that leather-like cover they usually come in. It is very difficult to find a planner without a PVC (poly-vinyl-chloride) cover, especially if you seek some variety, and I’m sure that many Plannerisms readers are quite picky about their planners!

Some of the problems with PVC are that:

–  it outgases indefinitely, even in landfills

–  it releases dioxins when incinerated (carcinogenic and contributing to climate change)

–  it is a group A human carcinogen, linked to liver cancer

–  it is a known hormone disruptor

–  like any petroleum product, its source, production and disposal are associated with environmental harm.

Some people actually seek out PVC for its visual characteristics, and many people enjoy plastic products for their obvious practical appeal. I am one of the (probably) few people who avoid PVC like the plague, and I try to avoid new plastic products in general.

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For the last few years I have used Quo Vadis planner refills and ‘dressed’ them in simple fabric covers that I sewed. Here you see them stacked up; I have used the Quo Vadis President, Trinote, Minister, Journal 21, and for 2014 I’m using their APB1. On top you see a little Clairfontaine Notebook. I promise that I have not been paid a cent or received merchandise to write this (although that would be nice)! I like Quo Vadis planners for their variety in formats as well as the craftmanship. I have always preferred their Equology line (100% post-consumer paper) over their regular products, but I don’t have access to their recycled planner refills.

Making your own cover is easy:

1. Get yourself some fabric you love, ideally of medium weight. In the past, my fabrics included old (‘vintage’) pillowcases; now I use fabric I designed myself.

2. If using new fabric, prewash or simply dunk it into hot water for a minute and let it dry – then your cover won’t shrink later on. NOTE: “oilcloth” fabric is coated with plastic (by far most commonly PVC)

3. Using a tape measure, measure the length of your planner or notebook: measure the closed book from edge to edge around the spine. Then measure the height. Add 1/2 inch (1 cm) to the height and about 4 inches (10 cm) to the length measurement – less, if your planner is very small. Mark the fabric on the wrong side with a pencil or pins. Cut out the piece.

4. Hem the short edges of the fabric, either by using an over-edge function of your sewing machine or by using needle and thread to prevent fraying.

5. Fold over the short edges of the fabric by about 2 inches – it helps to wrap the planner in the fabric and pin the top and bottom fabric edges together. Remove planner and machine-stitch along the top and bottom. Use the over-edge function of your sewing machine OR straight-stitch by hand first and follow up with a simple manual over-edging as you did in step 3.

6. Your cover is finished! When it gets dirty, just wash in the machine or quickly by hand. I recommend air-drying.

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I hope that some of you now feel inspired to make your own fabric cover for your planner refill, perhaps at the end of this year. If you have any questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment!

SOURCES:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polyvinyl_chloride

http://www.epa.gov/airtoxics/hlthef/vinylchl.html

http://www.consumer.org.my/index.php/products/106-household/206-pvc-plastic-products-outgas-poisons

Art on Society 6 products – no sewing required!

Some people have expressed to me that they love some of my designs but don’t possess any sewing skills. Well, they may be pleased to hear that many of my designs are now available on Society 6 at http://society6.com/ChristineWitte as art prints, and bit by bit on various merchandise as well. But of course spoonflower.com also sells giftwrap, decals, and wallpaper, not only fabric.

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My latest design, ‘Wellies & Brellies’, is available in the form of art prints as well as on skins/cases for laptops, ipads/pods/phones, and on a shower curtain, pillow, bag and clock. More designs to come soon.

If you ever have a particular request as far as what design to be available for what Society6 product, just leave me a comment!

Forecasting sweet dreams tonight…#2 for Dream Town!

I’m ecstatic for my Dream Town design to be ranking 2 out of 254 in this week’s “Bedtime” Spoonflower contest!! I can’t believe it! I was already amazed at all the favourites it received; more than what I’ve been used to. But number 2? I’m really grateful for all those votes, favourites, and sweet comments! Thank you!

Coincidentally, I was thinking lately that I could use a new pair of pajama pants. The thought of making them out of this fabric makes me chuckle. But for now, I think this week’s little success is enough material for sweet dreams for me.

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Spoonflower’s photos of this design and the top 10:

Bedtime Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Dream Town by christinewitte

Bedtime Design Challenge Top Ten Winner: Dream Town by christinewitte

Bedtime Design Challenge Fat Quarter Bundle

And a link to the design page:

http://www.spoonflower.com/designs/2916547

Recipe of the Month: Vanilla & Chocolate Pudding w/ Raspberry Sauce

If you find baking too complicated and sometimes just crave something relatively quick and easy for dessert, or to bring to a potluck, then this may be the solution: vanilla or chocolate pudding, or layering them both in a dish!

When I see that pouches of pudding or custard mix powder are sold at stores, sometimes very expensively (as with organic varieties), then I wonder why anyone would bother buying something so easy and much cheaper to make from scratch. Of course one could spend even more on puddings sold in plastic containers. But if you care about minimizing waste and questionable ingredients (including sugar), then that’s no option anyway.

Whenever you create anything yourself, you have the most control over what goes into it. Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to taste and to add flavoured extracts to your liking, e.g. almond, lemon or mint.

The raspberry sauce, a popular ‘pudding-condiment’ in Germany, is surprisingly sweet when only using raspberries, but obviously you could add some maple syrup or sugar to  add sweetness. If you dislike the seeds, simply strain the sauce through a fine sieve.

One note on bringing soymilk to a boil (on medium heat): just before boiling point, soymilk will (just like cow’s milk) quickly rise up and easily overflow. Therefore, keep an eye on your soymilk and whisk occasionally to keep from scorching. Once it boils, work quickly: whisk in the slurry and stir like mad for a minute, then remove from stove. No fear; it really is easy.