Thursday, July 28, 2011

Revolutionary Art: Egypt

I had been meaning to post this a couple weeks ago when I first saw these amazing images from NBC chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel of revolutionary art in the Tahrir Square, Cairo.  So often we make art to say something about ourselves that we forget how powerful art can be in telling people something about themselves.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="Everyone back to your nest.... the revolution is over"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="on the sides "Detention, Poverty، Coercion, Torture, Fear, Frustration" In the middle "Injustice, Loss of identity""][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="287" caption="Political awareness is the key to the future"][/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Chapter 17

We are finally at the end of the book.  Chapter 17 is the last 'OFFICIAL' chapter that focuses on HOW TO in building your business.  The last chapter is more of a recap.  I will make sure and share more on that next week.  Chapter 17's subtitle is "You Are Your Own Publicist."  I love this section of the book.  Katharine Sise, the author of Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career, goes into the differences between marketing, advertising and publicity.  I have to admit I thought marketing and advertising were synonyms.

On personal branding, Jane Lauder, General Manager of Origins (One of my FAV companies!) says:

"Creating a brand is like creating a story and there's value in telling your story over and over again.  Sometimes you're too close to your product and what you may think is repetitive hasn't even scratched the surface of becoming clear to your customer.  It's vital to get feedback so that you're sure your message is shining through. "

This one piece of information has prompted me to begin meeting every Wednesday with two other local business women and FOCUS ON branding.  This fits nicely into Wednesday's post transition since the completion of the book is next week.  I am super excited to get started.

Anyone else out there picked up this book and begun the process? I would love to hear!

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Seeking New Voices

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="342" caption="image credit"][/caption]

Do you enjoy blogging about crafting, design trends and inspiration?  We are now seeking new voices for both guest posts or weekly contributors!  Contact us now using the submission form below.

[contact-form] [contact-field label="Name" type="name" required="true" /] [contact-field label="Email" type="email" required="true" /] [contact-field label="Website or Blog" type="url" /] [contact-field label="Comment" type="textarea" required="true" /] [/contact-form]

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hardware Store Jewelry Tutorial

Jezebel featured this great tutorial project of re purposing hardware store finds into jewelry from their DIY series.  Though its not a new concept of picking thru a hardware store for inspiration (which can sometimes be more dangerous than being lost in a craft store because...Oh the possibilities!) and these designs are loosely based on Lanvin's 2009 Fall collection (I actually like Jezebel's reinterpretation much better), its a fun project challenging us to look at materials in a new way.  Here's how to make your own from Jezebel:

For this project, all you'll need will be parts from a hardware store in the desired dimensions and quantities, plus ribbon — I used a mixture of velvet and organza ribbons, to vary the texture and transparency — and a set of scissors. Straight pins and a needle and thread are optional; you can either sew or knot your ribbons together. Obviously, the key ingredient here is the hardware store stuff: I used mostly pipe couplings from the plumbing section of my local hardware emporium, but you could go heavier on the nuts, washers, incorporate some chains, or choose to work only in one color metal depending on the look that you want. Go for what inspires you.

This project is dead simple. First, lay out all the hardware store bits in some approximation of how you want your necklace to look.

String 'em up.

Knot or sew your ribbons together at the desired length. (For a Lanvin-inspired touch, you could make little bows out of your ribbon, and stitch them over your knots.)
Bam! Necklace. I'm into how the ends of the copper couplings that are bent tuck inside the pipe couplings that are straight. That gives the necklace a kind of neat articulated look.

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Chapters 15 and 16

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It's amazing how when you have resolved to keep moving forward, though the obstacles seem insurmountable, you can find the stamina to keep moving forward.  I have had the chance to begin dabbling in custom invitations this week and it has been fun just to play.  As you have probably heard me mention in the past, I love children's books.  So the idea of making some fun invitations geared towards kids is a nice fit.  Of course I did not come up with this on our own.  This is the beauty of etsy and its convo system.  Sometimes you get requests to try JUST TRY.

So onto Chapters 14 and 15 of the book Creative Girl by Katharine Sise.  Chapter 14 deals with getting your ducks in a row tax wise and setting up your business whether it be as an LLC or sole proprietorship.  There is a gem in the midst of this chapter about where to go to find out what's deductible for your business: search and look up "Schedule C" to find a checklist for write-offs.

Chapter 15 tackled the myth of the Starving Artist and really challenged me to think of ways to become a THRIVING artist.  What jobs am I willing to take that offer exposure but may not offer money.  At the same time, which jobs am I willing to take that may not work in my passionate realms but help supply monetary resources to keep the business going forward.  I love this bottom line:

"You have to pay attention to and pursue what's sellable about your creativity if you want to make a living." (p. 235)

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making Books: Coptic Stitch Binding

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="274" caption="Bound Coptic Journal"][/caption]

I think books are way hot and as if I do not have enough to read, quite possibly bordering on an addiction with the written word, I've decided to make my own.  I was really inspired by the above journal (for the record...totally not my work...but imho, knock down gorgeous that inspires me to create).  So began my research to find the best resource on how to create a coptic stitch journal of my own.  What I found was a treasure trove from the helpful artists' collective of Booklyn, who to quote their website:
Booklyn’s staff works tirelessly to put books in the hands of the people and to encourage the people’s hands to make more books.

Within their helpful site is and education manual detailing how to bind all types of self-made books including the Coptic Stitch.  What a wonderful resource!  The directions were really helpful in my first attempt, but I always kind of do my own thing (which made a so-so journal) but it was amazingly fun.  I love flipping through and seeing all the fun papers I collected bound together waiting to become something new!  Now what to write?

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Daytrippin': Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art

This past weekend I went to Biloxi, Mississippi and visited the partially constructed Ohr-O'keefe Museum.  Though it's offering was small it was certainly made up in content.  First off the building, designed by Frank Gehry, is simple and striking all in one; plus we got sneak peak of what finished building will resemble in 2012.  There were lovely examples of ceramicist, George Ohr (for whom the museum is named), an amazing exhibit of jazz photographer Herman Leonard (man, I cannot tell you how thrilling this small exhibit was!) and in the lobby they had local artists creating their wares and discussing with the visiting public.

It was a really nice space, enveloping local art past, present and future all situated right on the beach.  The other really nice thing about the Ohr-Okeefe is the gift shop; I know ALL museum gift shops are fascinating but I've never seen one with so much support for local arts and crafts.  If you find yourself in the area; its a stone's throw from the beach and the most delightful and cultured way to cool off!

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Chapter 13 and 14

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I mentioned over here I did a craft show over the weekend.  It was a complete bust.  I put my all into the transformation of my 2009 table to reflect where I envision my business to be moving towards. Unfortunately, I will have to admit that in all the excitement, I did not ask enough questions.  What I found when I arrived at the venue was that the environment was filled with resellers and with people who represented companies like Pampered Chef and Scentsy, both wonderful companies but not necessarily the same group that would be interested in what I am offering.  I also did not question the fact that one of the two days that I paid for was Friday during the day and not only that, but the shutdown time on that day was 6pm - wouldn't this be when the shopping begins?  Again, I did not take stock of the amount of wasted energy and unproductive hours and unprofitable use of time something like that would ultimately be.  I left there completely aware that I would not be doing these types of settings again.

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So the lovely thing about all this is that Chapter 13 of Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise challenges us to structure a business plan.  I had put one together while working through this book  but this weekend's event was a great opportunity for me to go back and rework how I will take my work to the public.  I truly want to expand past the Internet but the reality is that shows like these run anywhere from $45-80 just for space, and many times the vendor also has to give back 10% of sales.  So it is a no brainer that I need to be more selective with my decisions in this area.  Interestingly, this chapter also talked about having an "Exit Plan" for your business in the event things turned out to be unprofitable.  I will tell you honestly that I was really taking stock in the WHY of my business this weekend.  This was on the heels of the potential government shut down which would have affected all military families not getting paid so this was NOT a fun weekend.

Chapter 14 got into the specifics of HOW to set up shop, addressing issues like logos and trademarking as well as business policies and customer service standards.  This Chapter ended with some straight talk on really defining the type of boss you want to be.

I KNOW! JUICY stuff, right?

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cooling Off: Polar Ice Photography

Late last week my air conditioning unit fell victim to an errant lightning storm causing the inside temps in my house to rise to the low 90's.  It was totally miserable (and made me really rethink my career path of designer to A/C repair woman).  As I lay melting in front of a high powered fan, I found this wonderful refreshing piece from photographer Camille Seaman on Ted Talks.  She photographs ice berg, capturing all their majesty and mystery, and yes, even their short-lived beauty.  It's a brief 4 minute talk, but it was the best 4 minutes I felt all weekend!  Enjoy!

[ted id=1171]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Guest Post: The Drinks Are On The House

I am guesting today on Emily Orpin's lovely blog Good Things!  Check out my post from the AMAZING Beer Can House located in Houston, TX I visited this past Spring; really, have you not heard of this little gem?!  And please stay awhile on Emily's blog and check out all the truly "Good Things" she features...including a some seriously cute doxies!

[caption id="attachment_393" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="Beer Can House 222 Malone Houston, TX"][/caption]


--Lisa LeBlanc

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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Creative Girl Book Group: Chapters 11 and 12

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I have taken time this past week to truly take note of all the "busy busy" of my life... and assessing this one thing:

is all that "busy" really doing ANYTHING to advance my business.

Chapter 11 of the Book Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career by Katharine Sise challenges you with this question:


I have to tell these last few weeks I was beginning to wonder if the answer to that question is "NO!"  I think I was letting things get out of control by casting this wide net with so many opportunities going on at once.  And my rationale was since my hubby is deployed why not fill my time up while I can and hopefully advance the business so that when the hubby gets home I can relax and reap the benefits of the work.  The problem?  Many things WERE NOT ADVANCING the cause.  The section in this chapter titled "Get Ready to Be Your Own Boss" helped me to see I was not being a good boss.   I needed to clean house.  And so I did.  And guess what? I feel happy.  I am waking up without this whirring sound in my head of all the things ALL THE THINGS ALL THE THINGS...

I have also added to my reading pile as a result of this chapter: The Business Side of Creativity by Cameron S. Foote.

Chapter 12 titled "Birth the Creative Baby"  helped me to fall in love with this baby called Well of Creations again.  I LOVE IT.  I love where it is going.  I love what I am learning about myself.

What about you?  Are you reading along?  Leave your notes or your blog links in the comments.

-Robin Norgren

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fiber Arts: A Gathering of Untold Stories

[caption id="attachment_370" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Flower Power"][/caption]

This holiday weekend I took advantage of the time off to catch a great little gem of an exhibit by the Contemporary Fiber Artists of Louisiana at the LSU Rural Life MuseumA Gathering of Untold Stories is a wild collection that goes far beyond quilts to fascinating mixed media pieces, woolen bowls, and woven wearables.  Even the quilts were amazing; reminding me a bit of Faith Ringgold's quilts, as many were narrative in nature and others just explosions of the imagination!  If you happen to find yourself in the Baton Rouge area this Summer, check out this exhibit; it runs through August 27th.  You can also connect with the CFAL on Facebook to be informed of future shows.

[caption id="attachment_371" align="alignnone" width="224" caption="The 168"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_372" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="In the Beginning"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_373" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Look Through My Windows"][/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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Friday, July 1, 2011

Party on Fourth

Here are some easy ideas and tutorials to start your Fourth of July holiday with a bang!  Don't forget to check out the flag quilt we featured for Memorial Day...I was suppose to make my own to be ready this weekend that didn't happen!  If you are celebrating stateside with us, have a safe and happy 4th from all of us at Cottage Nest!

[caption id="attachment_331" align="alignnone" width="253" caption="Free Wine Bottle Printable"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Fourth of July Wreath Tutorial"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="332" caption="Patriotic Sweets Table"][/caption]

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="384" caption="Patriotic Bunting Banner Tutorial"]
Patrotic Bunting Banner Tutorial[/caption]

--Lisa LeBlanc

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