Taking the Christmas Out of the Cardinal Motif


My title sounds very humbuggy doesn’t it?  Well it wasn’t really my intention.

It all started with a dream.  I was dreaming about designing fabric.  Thanks to Spoonflower I can actually do that without spending another ten years in school!  In my dream I wanted a cardinal fabric, but I wanted a cardinal fabric for all year round, not just a holiday fabric.  What I mean by this is if you look at notecards, fabrics and wrapping paper they generally only use cardinals in the winter or Christmas season.  Cardinals are usually depicted in a blue background with snowy trees, or with red ribbons, pines and berries –you know Christmassy. In my dream I made a fabric that showed my love of these birds during the other seasons of the year.

I particularly love to watch the cardinals in spring.  This is when the parents take their babies hunting for food and show them all different survival techniques.  I can get lost in my back yard for hours.  I almost always see the cardinals in pairs, always looking out for each other and I thought this was important to depict, even if the brown female isn’t as “picture worthy” as its male iconic counterpart.  They are all beautiful.

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So I woke up and got busy.

I did a little homework to figure out what cardinals like best (besides my bird feeder and fencepost!)

I made a list of cardinal favorites and tried to find ways to incorporate them into my design.  Here were some of the items:  wild grapes, mulberry, sumac, hack berries, dogwood, Hawthorne, native cherries, elder berries and Spiraea.

Instantly the dogwood flower stood out visually.  I knew I wanted branches.  The reason the birds like the trees mentioned above is because they are dense and twiggy allowing the birds some wonderful hiding places.  I also know that cardinal eggs are a pale green with brown specks.  I wanted them and I also added wild grapes, a Hawthorne leaf, a dogwood leaf and a nest.

It took me a day or two to map it out.  I chose gouache paint for its opacity.

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I spent a bit of time thinking about the color scheme…I’m still debating the color scheme though…

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and now I’ve started painting… I totally understand how using a computer to create fabric makes WAY MORE SENSE, but I thoroughly enjoy the process and the painting…so I’m gonna do my own thing regardless…

Plus I get a beautiful painted panel when I’m done.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.

I’m getting pulled every which way with my kiddos and the holidays.  I try to block out the multitude of people who ask me what I’ve created this year and why this year isn’t as prolific as last year.  I know the answer.  It’s because being prolific came at a price.  For each thing I was not doing in order to “Be Creative“, someone near and dear to me was doing.  Everyone around me rallied with pitching in with all the daily chores and special events in our lives.  That was an amazing gift from my friends and family, but it wasn’t something that could be sustained.  I went on a “Creative Trip” which had a beginning and an end.  Now I’m back from my trip and have to make time for all things, not just art.

Boo Hoo.

But actually I’ve made my peace with it.  I still devote a big chunk of my week to art and being creative.  It’s just not as flashy and easily visible.  Thanks to my blog I can see my path. It’s slow and steady and I’m still learning something new every single day, along with being a mother, wife, teacher and 40-year-old woman whose metabolism has disappeared and forced her to have to actually get out an exercise a few days a week (<— that’s been the worst thing this year. I can no longer get away without exercising!)

It’s all good actually.  Really good!

Palatial Platypus Estate

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My daughter finally got her platypus bedroom.

Here is a past post about designing the fabric:


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So I must admit I am the queen of cheaters!  In the olden days I stitched many a quilt by hand taking many months…but that was way before kids!

I needed to make a platypus quilt for my daughter’s bed and I had about three hours to do it!

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I sewed the two lengths of my Spoonflower fabric to  create a giant center panel…and then… and then…I STITCHED IT TO A READY MADE COMFORTER!!!!  Yeah I did! and wow was that so much easier than buying batting and stitching the whole darn thing together!

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I did the same thing with the curtains too.  The hand-designed Spoonflower fabric is quite expensive, so I opted to add a platypus panel to pre-made white curtains.  Botta-Bing Botta-Boom four sets of curtains completed in three hours!

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Plat and Fluffy like their new digs, which makes my daughter happy, which in turn makes me happy.

And thus concludes the very long platypus adventure!

PS. If there are any other “unique” individuals out there with a platypus fetish, I published the platypus fabric designs on Spoonflower :  http://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/3399179

I’m sure there’s at least one more freak out there right?

Where the Wild Things Are



I’ve been playing with some of my artwork on Spoonflower.  I just received a swatch of this fabric and I love it!

This was the original painting:


It wound up looking like a totally wild Damask print.  I titled it Rainforest.

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Here’s the swatch I just received.  It’s a little bit duller than the computer screen which is probably good for most people since my work is so darn bright!

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Check it out!


The Platypus Invasion!

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Wow, I checked my records and it’s was one year ago, September 3rd, that I posted my painted fabric designs of my child’s favorite thing in the world, her platypuses.



I hate to admit that these were fabric designs for her bedroom we were going to re-do….since that was a year ago!

But now that the kids are back in school and I can focus and breathe a little slower, I finally got my butt onto SPOONFLOWER.com!

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Spoonflower is the website where you can load your own images and create your own fabrics.  It was so darn easy, I don’t know why I put it off for so long!  It helps if you have some knowledge of pattern making because you need to make sure that all four sides of your design correspond to each other to create a repeat when creating yardage.  Even if you don’t know how to do that, Spoonflower’s website can help you take any image and create the repeat. I don’t have any savvy computer software, just watercolors and a brain and it came out awesome!  Before you place your order for fabric, they require you to purchase fabric swatches to make sure everything worked out.  That’s what you are looking at, the swatches…I’m definitely thinking pillows!

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But the harder part will be coughing up the change to buy yards of these designs for curtains and a new bed spread…

Let’s hope we are not looking at another year!


Here is a link to Spoonflower:  http://www.spoonflower.com/welcome

Here is a link to buy my Platypus fabrics (in case you know someone obsessed with platypuses –everyone right?):



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This is it.  The final platypus fabric design for my little girl who simply adores platypuses!

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See this little platypus drawing above?  I have at least 50 of these drawings from my daughter.  She always draws them the same way.  To her credit, that is what her beat up stuffed-animal Plat looks like.  Well, I got to thinking…what if I took that shape and matched it with its complete opposite?  It would look like a yin-yang symbol.  That could be fun for a little girl’s bedroom décor…so I tried it.  The kid-platypus shape definitely lends itself to a yin-yang shape!

This is what it looks like pieced together:

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I took some of the patterns and shapes from the “Tropical Platypus” fabric in hopes of tying the two together.

Actually all three fabrics loosely match:

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Next, I am going to flatten the paintings under a very heavy book for the next couple of days.  Then I will attempt to get a perfect photograph of each of the three prints.  Don’t look too closely, but they don’t match up perfectly.  It’s not the art, it’s the photography.  I need to set up my tri-pod.  It will take a bit of finagling on my part.

So that completes my fabric design attempts.  Now that the creative part is complete…you can wish me luck on the technical!

As I have mentioned for the last couple days, I will load them on www.spoonflower.com and get some custom fabrics printed.  I am so excited to add such a personal touch to my daughter’s room.

Thanks for joining me!


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Awww, if I didn’t think platypuses were one of the ugliest creatures in the known universe, I might actually say these platypuses were cute!

Really quick, if you haven’t tuned in, I am designing fabric for my daughter whose favorite stuffed animals are platypuses.

Yep, not a lot of platypus fabrics on the market.

A couple of days ago, I sketched this print out and colored in a bunch of choices for my daughter to choose from:

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These were colored pencil sketches.  She caught the gist.  My daughter chose the second color scheme because the platypuses were colored tan and white like here stuffed animals in real life:

#246- CUSTOM FABRIC DESIGN (9)So today I water-colored the final sketch.  I loosely followed the pattern my daughter chose, but I also kept in mind yesterday’s fabric.  I wanted the two to loosely match. Here they are:


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Believe it or not, they have exactly the same colors in them, yet they look vastly different beside one another.

We are starting to pull a look together.  The aqua-teal color is her favorite. I also did a painting called “Plats love chili”, but I don’t like how it looks combined with the other two fabric designs.#248 PLATS LOVE CHILI (1)b  I may omit it.  My daughter and I are going to work on one more concept tomorrow , then she will make the final decision and I will attempt to load the designs onto www.spoonflower.com and get custom fabrics printed for a new bed-spread & curtains for her room.  I’m pretty excited, but mostly because my daughter is very excited.  It totally makes it all worth while!

When this little project is done, I’d like to take a stab at designing a fabric for my living room.  How awesome would it be to create a pattern unique to me in the exact color palette I have in my head?….This Spoonflower could be a dangerous place…They can also print out gift wrap and wallpaper for you too… Can you imagine the holidays with your family photo on the gift wrap?

Better yet, platypuses in Santa hats?…Not much platypus gift wrap on the market either!


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This is a fabric print I am designing for my little girl.  Her favorite dolls in the world are two platypuses named Plat and Fluffy.


Did I mention why each fabric pattern this week has this turquoise color?  That is her favorite color.  She calls is not green/not blue.  Just like her mother, a total pain in the arse!

Here is the progression of this pattern.  You can also check post #246 for more info.


Then, I used Corel Draw to piece them together…


and it will be one of three fabrics I will create on Spoonflower.com’s website.

OK.  The rest of the afternoon is crazy.  I have to get a haircut, pick-up kids, drive to grandparents, drive back from grandparents, hop in shower, and finally head out to a wedding in Jamestown for 6pm.

Wish me luck.  I will paint my final fabric print tomorrow and post it.

Until then, happy Friday!


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Well actually, my daughter loves chili!

I am designing fabrics for my daughter’s bedroom that incorporate her favorite things.

This fabric print started with a little drawing my daughter did of her favorite stuffed animals, platypuses.


I just love this little drawing.  This platypus looks like a piece of modern art.  There are curvy lines juxtaposed with straight and jagged.  The use of color is balanced yet not traditional or boring. Not to mention how quirky it is.  How does that come intuitively out of a nine-year old, but not the 39-year-old.  Probably due to my over thinking of everything!

Here is the original tile:


My daughter would eat chili for breakfast, lunch and dinner if we allowed it.  For her birthday, for Christmas, probably even her wedding meal.  I thought she’d get a kick out of the platypuses eating chili and tortilla chips of course!

I still have to paint the other two fabric patterns I created, then I will let my daughter choose which patterns we will go ahead with.  From there I will attempt to load the images on to www.spoonflower.com and get some custom fabrics printed.  Spoonflower can print any jpg. image onto a high quality fabric.

The opportunities for being creative these days are endless!


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Anyone wondering what I was up to yesterday?

Yesterday’s post was similar to today’s post.  Both preliminary designs for fabric.

You see, my daughter asked if I’d make her a quilt for her bedroom.  The curtains in her room have begun to fade as well.

This gave me the idea to try out the company SPOONFLOWER (www.spoonflower.com).

I have seen their website time and time again, dreamed of finding some time to try it, but alas, I never have.

Here is the premise for those that do not know Spoonflower:

You can take ANYTHING and turn it into fabric. Photos, paintings, computer images, scans, drawings, kids art….the sky’s the limit.

Which brings me back to my project.


Meet Plat and Fluffy.  These are my daughter’s two best friends in the world.  They certainly aren’t the prettiest things, but they show serious signs of love. The one on the right, Plat was a gift from my husband’s high school girlfriend two decades ago.  It is missing an eye due to a clothes dryer incident.  My daughter found it at my in-laws as a toddler and since then, they have never been apart.


Another year, for Christmas, my daughter asked Santa for a platypus friend for her Plat.  Through the magic of Ebay, another 1980’s platypus was found.  That’s fluffy, the one on the left.  Now all three are never apart.  They are best buds.

Knowing my daughter’s great love of platypi, I will attempt to make a few fabric patterns, paint them and take a stab at getting them printed.

I tell you, this is a kid that knows what she wants:


She has already decided on her color palette as well!


Now let me tell you a little bit about the process thus far.


As usual, it’s not as easy as it seems.  You have to connect your image to itself on all four sides.

#246- CUSTOM FABRIC DESIGN (5)#246- CUSTOM FABRIC DESIGN (8)Yesterday’s platypus design has four crosses that connect to one another and two diamonds.

Today’s design has a multitude of flowers and foliage that must connect.  So half of the flower is on the top and the other half below, but when seamed together, they will make one flower.  The same with the leaves, they connect by halves up and down and left to right.  Each has to be measured exactly to make sure they match up.


Here was a preliminary assemblage before I spent any more time on the drawing.  It took hours to get it just right.


After I worked out the logistics I then added the central figures.  Now, can you see where I forgot to add a certain detail? It’s the flower at bottom right.  I didn’t add the band of small lines around its center.  However, I did add it at the top of the design.


Now look at it pieced together, See how only half of the flower has the striped band?  This is what I need to catch before I move on to painting.  I can easily draw that in at this point. I missed the flower behind the platypus too.


I have to say, this isn’t what I thought I’d be doing this week.  I had grand plans for my children’s return to school, but that’s how it goes.  Your sitting with your kid talking bedspreads and 4 days later you’re still working on a pattern!  I am blessed to have this 365 challenge that allows me to float in any direction I choose.  Things like my outdoor shower or fabric design would have been daydreams, but most likely never followed through.

With this creativity challenge, I think it, I say it, I do it.

That feels really good!


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