Hi! I’m still here, busier than ever even though you haven’t heard from me. I’ve been itching to do some felting but I’ve been working on my lullubee craft kits site (www.lullubee.com) , trying to prepare projects at least 6 months in advance. I flew to NYC last week to do a little business and to present lullubee on a morning t.v. show in Dayton, Ohio. When I returned to Israel, I had to continue with our annual Halloween party plans (jet-lagged) and finish my daughter’s costume for the party; she was the Corpse Bride. The party went well (according to the kids); there were many more kids this year because Elli wanted to invite both sides of her class (Israeli and French). Just remember, when decorating for Halloween, everything is scarier with lot of spiders and rats sprinkled over it. Here are a few highlights from the party:
I picked up a few Styrofoam tomb stones at a Halloween super store in NYC; I thought they worked nicely in the “garden”.
Once you enter, all the furniture has been covered in white sheets to give it that haunted house look. With the addition of a few black lights and a little eerie music, the illusion worked really well.
I like to add a lot of little details like this “horrible” bloody utensil garland, spiders, crows, cobwebs, changing portraits and dripping blood.
I picked up these changing portraits at Michaels Crafts. It appears to be a normal portrait, till you look at it in a different angle-Love it!
I didn’t have time to make the Halloween treats like last years, but we had a few things on the table that I think you’d think twice about eating or drinking…
The drink labels we put on the soft drinks were pretty funny, but I’m afraid most of the humor was lost to Hebrew and French speakers.
I put some of the props we have into glass jars filled with water and food coloring for a most “unappetizing” table of treats!
The brain jello mold is one of my favorite tools for Halloween food (it’s mostly a prop because no one eats it); those darned kids couldn’t keep their fingers out of it! I serve it with the desert saw.
I made a box shaped like a coffin and filled it with Halloween candy.
We all love Halloween around my house, but Elli and I love it the most! I love the creativity in the decorating and costumes and Elli likes the drama of it all and doing scary make-up.
It is once again summer, the girls are out of school and we’re getting ready to go to the United States for awhile. I never get excited about these trips until I’m actually there and I see my family and friends. There’s so much to do to prepare and in my mind, my work continues even if I’m not sitting here doing it. When I’m traveling, I’m always thinking about what great photos I can capture and how to use them and what cool things or people might inspire me and what’s new out there in the crafting and art world. I’m planning on packing some special crafting supplies I’ve collected and some felting supplies so I can work in my “down time”. Yeah, I know that vacation is supposed to be all about down time, but our trips to the United States seam anything but. We travel to several states to visit various family and friends and we seem to be constantly on the go-5 weeks of that is tiring. This year will be my 30th high school reunion in Indiana, so I’m especially looking forward to that.
It seems that eating is one of our main activities when we go home (which I hate) but Doron and I plan to eat every meal possible at a Mexican restaurant, and we plan on washing all that Mexican food down with salty Margaritas (Mexican food is one food that is sorely missing here in Israel and it’s my favorite!) We’ll be meeting my oldest and best friends in Michigan again this trip, we’ve rented a giant house that we’ll all stay in for a week and hang out on Lake Michigan. The big house is called the asylum because it used to be a mental institution many years ago; I believe we’ll get a few spooky adventures from this as all the kids (5 teenagers and 5 little kids) have watched way too many scary movies and they’re planning some sort of spook-fest!
The last two years since I closed my store here (A.S.-after store) have been a time of finding my artistic self and deciding exactly what I want to do. Without the employees and the big space, I didn’t want to try to recreate what I made at the store by myself but I kept making toys (by needle felting) because I just never stopped doing this. My needle felting work keeps evolving, I developed more techniques and taught more classes and I continue to sell my toys and costume accessories on my Etsy site. I’ve also been planning some large, needle felted work and will I’m veering towards exhibiting my work and all that that entails.
BUT, when I was in Rome a month ago, my crafting buddy Tiffany called me and suggested we start a new company. WHAM (I’m visualizing a cartoony, Roy Lichtenstein image here!) Her idea was to start a subscription DIY craft kit company, based on our combined love of crafts, my designs and artistic skills and her business and marketing skills. Finally, the like minded partner that I always knew that I needed had come up with a GREAT idea. And so it began, phone calls and umpteen e-mails back and forth from New York to Tel Aviv and vice a versa. Ideas have been racing across the world and have been evolving and materializing on my computer screen. It’s pretty hard to believe what we’ve put together in the last month and I’m looking forward to the development in the upcoming months! You’ll still find needle felting based posts here on my Laura Lee Burch site, but you can see my craft inspired posts on the lullubee blog: here. The site will officially launch in the fall, so I’m very pleased to announce to you dear readers, my new site:
lullubee is a crafting company, we sell monthly craft kit subscriptions, craft kits for adults and kids are always available for purchase. The kits come with great, easy to follow tutorials and links to video tutorials by Moi! We offer kits for birthday parties, patterns and tutorials in case you have your own materials and one of a kind artist pieces. What makes lullubee different from other craft sites is that you can choose your kits (no surprises) and we offer more than just assembly in a box. Our kits offer high quality and sometimes hard to find materials and you’ll never find a store bought pom-pom included in a kit box but you will find yarn and instructions for how to make your own big, fluffy pom-pom. We offer a diverse range of kits, from beautiful and elegant, beaded crowns for birthdays, bat mitzvahs, weddings and other special occasions to classic sock monkeys. So, Craft to it!
I want to let you know about another beautiful and crafty site that I like: Silver White Winters by Caroline Froberg. I’ve been following her for awhile and especially like her “wooly” articles. I think our two environments are exact opposites because I’m in hot, sandy Israel and Caroline is in cold, snowy and friendly Denmark (the friendliest country I’ve EVER visited!) She’s having a give-away, a chance to win some crafting supplies, please take a look! http://silverwhitewinters.com/2012/06/16/competitiongive-away-20/
Many of my friends have told me that I am very disciplined as far as work is concerned and I tend to agree, but it’s not easy. Everyday I get up, get the girls off to school, clean up, do the dishes, start a load of laundry, clean the cat box and do other sundry jobs like perhaps going to the post office to send out Etsy purchases or pick craft supplies that I’ve ordered from abroad. After the little daily jobs are finished, it’s down to work for me creating art. My husband teases me as he leaves for work in the morning “I wished I could stay home everyday, don’t eat too many bon-bons!” and I ignore him and try to put myself in creative mode.
Being serious about creating for a living means not going out for coffee with friends a lot during the day, not watching t.v. (not a problem for me) not being distracted by housework, phone calls, taking Hebrew or French lessons (which I should be doing) or other odd jobs that need being done around the house and the list goes on. Keep your eye on the ball and your nose to the grind stone as they say. I need to keep my concentration, to be in a good mood and most of all I need long periods of time and Inspiration to make art. I’ve written about this before, but it’s an on-going search. My long term goals have a lot to do with the energy that I need to plow through the daily distractions and continue to make art for a living. It can get fairly depressing and start to feel like I’m running around in circles and what’s the point if I create things all day and no one notices or buys them. I need to feel that I’ve accomplished a task to feel good and not like I’m “staying home from school and playing” My goals and accomplishments keep me going: Etsy and local store sales, book deals, teaching jobs, my handsome website and plans for future needle felting exhibitions give me strength.
Recently, I took my youngest daughter Emili on a mother-daughter trip, we went to Rome, Italy for a week! I’ve made it a tradition to take my girls on mother-daughter trips, the one on one time with my girls is priceless, the adventure is forever memorable and the photos and inspiration that I get from it is good for my soul. Emili chose to go to Rome, I think because she has been studying Rome in school and maybe because spaghetti, pizza and ice cream are three of her favorite foods! She has several Italian friends in school, so we received lists of the most interesting places to go the best places to eat, maps and valuable travel info. from them-thanks Marcello!
Our favorite time to venture out was mid-day; we shopped, walked around, ate and talked as the sun began to weaken and the best time of the day for Emili and I was seeing the sights as the sun began to set. All the touristy sights were packed with people (not my scene) in the early part of the day, it’s not easy to take great photos when there are throngs of tourists everywhere. But in the evening, St. Peter’s square in the Vatican was empty! and I was thrilled! These long walks afforded us time to talk; Emili and I talked about things that don’t come up on a regular basis at home. Walking through St. Peter’s square and around the Vatican, we talked about religion, it seemed appropriate. Emili had a lot of questions about nuns and priests, about how they dressed, what they believed in and how they were connected to The Vatican. She told me that she and her friends at school have had discussions about religion and religious differences and respecting those differences. I was impressed at this level of discussion for 9 and 10 year olds and the mention of respecting their differences made my heart sing!
We found the small Bertolucci Shop while wandering around the tiny street of Rome; they specialize in wood carving and Pinocchio dolls. This was right up my alley of coarse, I bought I small finely carved Pinocchio for myself. I believe I will needle felt a Pinocchio doll in the future, I’ve always wanted to make one! There was a corner of the store showing the wood carving tools and pieces of wood in different stages of carving, a real artist’s workshop-you don’t see that very often.
After walking around the Piazza Navona area, we started to cross the wide and highly adorned Ponte’ Sant Angelo (one of the bridges with the statues) and Emili started dancing. We were listening to a very talented guitar player, his playing put a pep in our step, we dropped a few coins in his hat because we admired his talent and we continued to boogie across the Tiber River on our way back to our hotel.
I studied in Florence, Italy when I was in university, so Italy has a special place in my heart. Italy was a place of firsts for me and it was a new world that I never knew existed! I’m hoping that our travels will inspire things in my girls. My oldest daughter asked me once why should she read “old classic literature” when she liked “the new stuff” better. The answer to this question was was so obvious to me, that I had a hard time putting my answer into words. But basically, I tried to explain to her that there are a lot of ideas, experiences, thoughts and feelings out there in books and music and foreign cities that have never crossed your young mind and once you find them in one of these places you will be “delighted” and want to seek more.
Classic architecture, crumbly old buildings, ancient, chipping, ochre-colored walls, tiny narrow alleyways, beautiful, tiny shops, tall pointy trees, bumpy, black, cobblestone streets, colorful markets and teeny-tiny cars (all of which Emili had to have her picture taken with) were the sights that delighted us in Rome. It’s good to get away every now and then, away from my daily routine and surroundings, it gives me the time to realize how lucky I am and the chance to make life-long memories. Emili says her favorite part of our trip was the Colusium, because we lied down on a grassy hill outside of it, snuggled up together and took a little nap in the sun after we had roamed around the big circular stadium for a few hours.
After Emili and I had walked, eaten, shopped and sight-seen for the day, we went back to the Casale de Cedri (the ochre colored 19th century villa we stayed at on the outskirts of Rome-owned by an aristocratic family as their summer home). We spent the evening in the living room that over looks the manicured grounds full of vines and flowers, fountains and maze-shaped bushes that Emili described as an Alice and Wonderland type garden. Emili played games and watched Pet Shop videos on my computer, which are her passion right now and I read my book. We sat on the elegant, white sofa together, but every evening, she slowly inched toward me so that our legs touched and our elbows got in each other’s way. I looked over at her because maybe she didn’t realize that she was crowding my space, then she gave me an adoring smile and this was my favorite part of our trip, every evening on the sofa together!
I’ve just finished another successful Purim season (whewwww!) To try to explain the frenzy, as an artist, Purim for me is like Christmas craft preparation time would be in the United States. First of all I’d like to thank everyone in Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas for all the orders! I’ve been working like a donkey for a few weeks now, day and night trying to finish the orders in time for everyone’s party. Word of mouth has brought me enough to keep me busy and I usually take the special orders that involve needle felted accessories rather than sewn pieces.
I reconnected with some old customers which was really nice. I really didn’t let people know where I was or what I was doing after I closed the store because I needed to figure it out myself first! I decided to make toy making by needle felting my main priority but the costume gig follows me around where ever I go, which isn’t a bad thing.
Taking orders is a tricky business, I’m always afraid I’ll accept too many and then not be able to finish on time. I don’t accept any and all orders, I take jobs that interest me and I work with clients who appreciate the art of the costume. Many times, I ask people to call me back in a few days to see where I am and to give me time to re-evaluate my time situation.
Taking special orders freaks me out a little, I always feel much better when I know that everyone (especially the kid I made the costume for) is happy-if the kid is happy the parent is happy! I also love to receive photos of the kids in my costumes-I have a collection! I think next year, I’ll start to ask for orders in January so I can stay on top of things better.
The problem with deciding “what you want to be” early is that kids constantly change their minds. One week they want to be a tooth fairy and the next week they want to be something completely different , therefore early decision making is risky!
Every time I start to sew, I wish for……. a nice studio, with a window, away from my kids’ play room, and space for all my fabrics, wool, felt, tulle, tools, laces, trims, ribbons, zippers, snaps, Velcros, sponges of different thicknesses, bias tapes, metal and plastic boning, threads, iron-on fabric backings and hundreds of patterns to be organized. I wish for…….. a place for my little sewing machine, my iron and ironing board, my mannequins, my photo backdrops and lighting and hanging rack to sit and not be in anyone’s way. If I had my own organized space, creating would be so much easier!
After I finished the last costume order, I wandered aimlessly around the house trying to decide what to do! I decided to cook some food for my hungry family that I’d ignored for the last few weeks. I now have some new patterns to prepare for my Etsy site and special orders, I’m working on some needle felting tutorials for Craftsy and I have a fun project: to design several little boys’ kippas. So back to work…..
Ho–ho–ho! Once again, it’s the time of year to make Christmas tree ornaments! Last year I made a gnome ornament tutorial that was very well received, you can see that here. This Rudolph ornament is based on the same idea of transforming one simple shape into an ornament.