"The life so short, the crafts so long to learn."
~Geoffrey Chaucer

Eco-Friendly Mosaic Art by Sandy Schimmel

That old saying, "one man's garbage is another man's treasure" fits Sandy Schimmel's art to a tee. Her mosaic art is a beautiful and ingenious combination of painting along with junk mail or greeting cards or scrap paper. All the materials normally dumped into our trash without a second thought. Her artwork is colorful, energetic, ethereal, and eco-friendly to the core.

The three things Sandy can't live without (besides her art supplies):
  1. Her husband. "He gave me the courage to quit my job and become a full-time, stay-at-home professional artist. He supports our family so I am free to create 24/7. He comes to every opening, every show, is my biggest supporter and cheerleader - and he puts up with all my emotions - which range from agony to ectasy! Oh, and he's my absolute ideal man!"

  2. Her studio. "A place where I can shut the door, listen to the radio, books or tape or music...make a mess, make art, make decisions, and leave the world behind for those hours. I think it is absolutely imperative for an artist to have a space that is theirs alone."

  3. The library. "When I am stuck, all I need is a stroll through a few stacks to find a zillion sources for inspiration... travel, history, fashion, other art forms, other artists, decor, etc."

Click HERE to visit Sandy's website. And, HERE to read more about the artist.

Collage Art by Leslie Avon Miller

Collage artist, Leslie Avon Miller, creates artwork that fills you with a sense of tranquility. Her work combines earthy colors, simplicity, style, and multi-layered textures. She and her husband, along with their three cats, live in the Pacific Northwest, between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, with a view of a wild ravine full of animals and bird life right out their door. "I explore – colors, shapes, textures, process, and new ideas. I glue down, cover with paint, remove paint and expose part of what is underneath. I love having the ability to seek out interesting papers and to move them around to find a composition that pleases my eye. Expressing meaning became important as I began to work more. Now I create a narrative, a mood, and express myself in ways I simply can’t with only words. Although I also love words, and often include them in my work."

What inspires Leslie: "I am inspired by life. I am so grateful to be here, on this beautiful planet and in this time. I love people, animals and birds, and nature. I love to see the interesting effects of time on a wall, billboards, and architecture. I love history and archeology and learning. I have seen ancient art carved into rocks eons ago. That speaks to me as well. And most of all I feel it is our obligation and gift to learn to speak in our own authentic creative voice. We create value and space for others to do so when we do learn to express ourselves. If I am frustrated it is by wanting even more time to create….I want a self cleaning house!"

How she handles creative blocks: "I am unable to really work well if I am tired, or I haven’t nourished my body or soul. Occasionally a life situation will arise that takes me off course. I try to work my way back to my creative expression gently. I might look at images, nature, calligraphy, and work of artists I enjoy. I read poetry or a good story. I talk things over with a trusted friend. I also give myself permission to be, just be, with what ever is present at the moment. That can take some reminding to me, but it is worth the effort. I also make a decision to enter my creative space. I have no goal when I do. I simply expect myself to pick up my tools, sort my papers, tidy up, and reconnect with my materials and space. It almost always results in some sort of creative effort. It doesn’t take much if I am rested to get going again." Visit Leslie's blog to see more of her artwork HERE.

Images used with permission from Leslie Avon Miller.

Torn Paper And Mixed Media Collages by Julie King

Over the years, Julie King has woven baskets, made hand-sewn soft dolls, and dabbled in painting. But she always longed to be an established artist. "I was lucky to have worked in a support position to a wonderful group of graphic designers for several years. This fueled my desire to be an artist even more." After seeing an article about torn paper collages in February of 2007, Julie thought "Hmmm, I may just try that. And, my true artistic self was born. I am completely self-taught and learn something new with each and every piece I do. I'm all about experimenting." She makes hand made collages from torn bits of paper, and sells note cards and prints from her original works. She also creates custom designs.

"My technique varies depending on the piece. Sometimes I use torn paper only with very little acrylic paint and other pieces have a great deal of acrylic paint with only a bit of torn paper. I use a big variety of scrapbook papers, vintage papers, tissue papers, some handmade or hand painted papers to make the actual design. I also use rubber stamps, shiva paint sticks, india inks, glitter, gel pens, pastel chalks and a good deal of other substrates to create patterns and textures both on the backgrounds and for the actual design. Words are added via rubber stamps or on my mac. A clear top coat is used to seal the collage. My notecards are made with small prints from my Epson R1900 printer. I attach the small prints to pre-bought notecards."

Julie lives in Dayton, Ohio, and is married to a "wonderfully supportive man." She has two grown children, two grown step-children, and three grandchildren who are the light of her life. Her other love is Presley, her 16 year old miniature schnauzer. She pulls a great deal of inspiration from nature and random thoughts. "I enjoy writing poetry and sometimes will just sit and jot down words that eventually become an art piece. Blogging has really spurred my creativity both by writing and sharing with other like-minded artists and also learning so much from others." She is also an amateur photographer who carries her camera everywhere she goes. Visit her blog to see additional artwork HERE. And, her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with permission from Julie King.

Whimsical Creations and Rubber Art Stamps by Sandra Evertson

Sandra Evertson has the wonderful ability to create magic through her images and words. She reveals on her blog: "There was a single specific moment in time when it struck me, " I just might be an artist!" And I must admit it was quite a relief. This explains everything, it all makes perfect sense now! Those frantic urges to quickly search out paper and pen, a lack of attention for the ordinary and mundane but endless patience and diligence for anything frivolous or whimsical!"

"Then there are those impulses bordering on near obsession with all things quirky and impractical. As my squirreled away misfit collections of the odd and interesting grew so did the desire to create, the two traveled happily hand in hand. I have always admired my sisters beautiful singing voice, although I try, I can't sing a note. I do however sing through my art!" Sandra is a contributor to Where Women Create, Somerset Life, Romantic Homes and Somerset Studio magazines, and creates a line of rubber art stamps from her collaged images. She has also written several books.

In one blog posting, Sandra admits, "All of my life, I have never quite fit in, always felt out of place, odd man out, you know? Some times over exuberance, adventurous curiosity and creativity can cause others to misunderstand and even shun you.." I think many creative types feel this way, and it is often the art that saves us. We follow our souls calling, and in that act we can become whole. And, Sandra has a beautiful soul. She must have. You can see it in her creations, and on her blog. See for yourself HERE.

Images used with permission from Sandra Evertson.

Needle Felted Artwork by Debra Poth (Deebs)

Debra Poth creates needle felted artwork, and has been making them for two years. She lives in Redmond, Washington, and describes herself on her Flickr page (with updated info here) as, "Only child syndrome, little bit older lady that loves fiber, paper, scissors, threads, canvas and almost any craft object around. I have been 'taken' for 32 years, have two sons out of college, one daughter in college, and the last son who is a freshman in college this year. We have 3 dogs, all black labs and a Bengal cat. Oh, and my son has a snake which I get to feed ‘gourmet frozen rodents’ to while he is away! I love wool and love needlefelting artwork, cross stitch, needlepoint!"

She got hooked after searching for ideas for her needlepoint bracelets. After buying a small needlefelting kit from a craft shop, she fell in love with the technique and began teaching herself and creating larger pieces, up to 11" x 14" in size. Her inspiration comes from her daughter, who "takes some wonderful photos." "I get ideas from those, or from other family photos. Many times just getting some new wool batts in the mail is enough to come up with something. When I first started this, that was my biggest worry….coming up with new ideas. Oh, and I have plenty of feltings that did not live up to my expectations too! "

Her process involves using a 2” dense cushion foam for her base. "I lay a heavy wool felt blend on top and lay out my wool or silk. I poke it in with a two needle felting tool to tack it in place. I make any changes in wool at that time. Then I go over the entire piece with a 3 needle tool. After that I do the entire piece with the 2 needle tool until all the wool is poked down into the felt. Then I pull the felted piece away from the foam and trim the back. I then add embellishments such as art yarns and embroidery on top." Debra finds her craft very relaxing, but admits to getting a sore arm from all the poking. Visit Debra's Etsy site to see more of her works HERE. And, her Flickr page HERE.

Images used with permission from Debra Poth.

Recycled Glass Art by John Bassett

Retired carpenter and amateur musician, John Bassett, creates recycled glass art. He and his wife, Christina, live in Brookline, Massachusetts. "My town has a good recycling program, and I get a lot of my bottles and old windows from the town dump. I’ve been doing glass since 1979. I was a kid who drew and painted. My uncle, Richard Bassett was a painter. If there is consistency in what I make it is in the re-use of old stuff. I’m interested in the richness of shape and texture of glass produced by slumping and fusing. "

"I’m doing glass that can be shown on interior walls and doesn’t need strong backlighting. This wall mounted glass is supported by armatures of wood or brass. I’m interested in light, structure, line, texture, balance, and color in that order. I also do panels for windows and commissions. I’m happy in the rich, associative world of recycled glass and other found objects. "

Besides creating recycled glass art, John and his wife lead a busy life with their cats, Enrique and Cowley. And, proud of their seven grandchildren, Rachel, Theo, Penny, Freddy, Naomi, Henry, and Gavriella. John also keeps busy showing his artwork, promoting the green aspect of his recycled craft. Visit his website to see additional glass art HERE. ~Information provided by John Bassett and also seen on his website.

Images used with permission from John Bassett.

Handpainted Functional Art by Marilyn Grad

Marilyn Grad's functional art brings to mind Helen Keller's quote "When one door closes, another opens. But we often look so regretfully upon the closed door that we don't see the one that has opened for us." After one of the companies she worked for went bankrupt, Marilyn started painting to "fill the void." She didn't sit around feeling sorry for herself, she created a new door. Her functional art is a part-time business, which she hopes will become full-time. "Eight years ago, I returned to the restaurant industry as a host to afford me with the luxury of flexibility and food! I am so excited as I just accepted a host position at new restaurant opening in the new The Modern Wing of the Art Institute of Chicago. How perfect!!"

Marilyn is a self-taught artist who works out of her apartment in Chicago, but plans on moving to Portland, Oregon sometime in the future. She is 53 years young, and one of her favorite magnets (which she collects) says, "Oh crap, I meant to get married and have some kids!" "So my kids are my hand painted creations and my marriage right now is to my business. And I am growing to love it more and more!"

"I love to work with wood for its durability and texture. Some of the boxes I now use are custom made for me from an artisan in Kentucky, which gives me more latitude for custom sizes, especially for my tea, jewelry and take-out menu boxes. I also use recycled and found objects. I am going to work on more wall art and jewelry." Her other passions include painting, yoga, ayurveda, sailing, cultural venues, collecting quotes, and blogging of all things. Visit her website to see more of her functional art HERE. And, her blog HERE.

Images used with permission from Marilyn Grad.

ACEO Cards by Maria Kitano

When I created this blog, I decided not to feature painters because there are so many talented ones out there. Choosing would be agonizing for me. I'm making an exception because I had never heard of ACEO cards before. Until I visited Maria Kitano's blog. ACEO (Art card, editions and originals) are similar to ATC cards (Artist Trading Cards) in that they can be traded with other artists like trading or business cards to promote ones craft. ACEO cards are usually 3.5 inches by 2.5 inches in size, and are also sold today as art to be displayed. Maria started making ACEOs about a year ago, after seeing a few on a website. "I had never tried painting such small formats so it was a challenge to me. After making a few it became an addiction."

Maria lives in Hamburg, Germany, and has been painting and drawing since childhood, and professionally for six years. On her blog she explains, "My work is a celebration of life, inspired from things I see every day, things that most of us do not pay much attention to. My daily experiences: watching the sky, a bird, conversations, media, photos, television, memories, are reduced to abstract shapes and colors which allow me to show what I feel is important and beautiful. Abstraction is the way I come closest to representing the world around me." You will see that birds are one of her favorite subjects, as her blog titles, Tweetart, also suggests.

"I use various techniques, going from pencil and graphite to pastels, watercolors and finally oils which I like the most. There is no complicated philosophical explanation about my paintings." Her craft gives her the opportunity to communicate emotions through her painting. Emotions that are universal. Her goal for the future is to hopefully have a "real" exhibition. But, for now, Maria is content with painting what she loves, and promoting her business. Visit her blog to see more of her works HERE. And, her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with permission from Maria Kitano.

Found Object Assemblage Art Dolls by Suzan Buckner

What do most artists and craftspeople have in common? They are obsessed with their craft. In a positive way, that is. And, Suzan Buckner is no exception. Visit her blog, and you'll see what I mean. "The only frustration that I have with my artwork is that I want to make more than is humanly possible. I want to paint a gazillion paintings a day, and do a couple of dozen assemblages a day, and I want to make art dolls on top of all of that. So, it's frustrating to have to write my ideas down on paper, and do them as I get to them. I need four of me, and 50 hours in a day, and I could make everything that I want to make." Her greatest "unexpected" joy from art is the inner peace that it gives her. "I am high-strung by nature, and art calms me. I also use it to work through various problems in my mind..things that bug me."

Suzan is married to Chuck, and between them, they have three grown children and four grandchildren. Her dog Petey is about three years old (they think). "He showed up in my yard one day, and we tried to run him off, but he kept coming back. Finally, I fed him, and then named him, then took him to the he's a spoiled rotten brat of a dog." She adores Petey! And, she feels the same about her craft. "I have always loved art, and took art in high school, and I have ALWAYS said that I am going to be an artist. No one believed me because I didn't actively DO art. But, I have said that since I was about 4 years old (I am 44 now.) So, I really think that it was predetermined that I would make just took me 42 years to get around to doing it." And, this month is her two year anniversary from the day she "got around" to doing it.

Much of her assemblage pieces are made from recycled materials. "I begin by having my husband get the wood, and cutting it like I want it. Then, I sit in my studio, and just move things around until I like it. I have a gazillion things right at my fingertips, so it's just like putting a puzzle together. I get all of my materials for assemblage at junk stores, thrift stores, antique stores..anywhere. I hoard it. I could probably create a couple of thousand pieces without ever leaving my studio, but I keep buying more stuff." Suzan gets her inspiration from other artists, from pictures, from things that she sees. "Inspiration is everywhere. I jot things down when I find them, and use them for reference later." If you want inspiration, visit her blog to see her artwork HERE. And, her website HERE. And, be sure to take a look at her journal pages on her Flickr site HERE.

Images used with permission from Suzan Buckner.

Ceramic Art Pieces by Diana Fayt

Diana Fayt took her first pottery class in the eighth grade. "Not because I was interested in pottery but because a boy I had a crush on was taking the class. I remember making a clay hippopotamus in that class but I don’t remember what happened with the boy." Today she is buried in pottery. Between her business, giving lectures, and attending shows, it's safe to say that Diana is fully dedicated to her craft. And, she still maintains her sense of humour. In one blog posting, she confesses "I do wish I could tell you that a torrid love affair has kept me away but alas I have been doing a little traveling and working, working and um, working."

Diana's parents, who are Hungarian, are resourceful people from an old world. Diana observed her mother make clothes from whole cloth and helped in hand cranking pork sausages in their garage. Her father, an intensely quiet person, was a tool and die man of great precision who later went on to make jewelry. Diana's work is hand built and she uses molds that she also makes herself. "All of my ceramics are made with lead free materials and are food safe."

"The process I have developed and use is quite labor intensive which includes approximately thirteen steps from beginning to end. Some pieces (like the platters and large bowls) can take up to seven hours to complete which does not include the twenty three hours of firing time in the kiln. All of the drawings are my own freehand illustrations and the images of the birds, whales and other silhouetted imagery are all also my own original drawings. I use many different tools, including old hand forged nails and found objects to etch my lines into the clay so as to achieve unique markings of interest to my pieces. Some of my pieces may seem irregular in shape. This is intentional. I want evidence of the handmade to remain an integral part of my work." Visit her website to see additional works HERE. And, her blog HERE. And, Etsy site HERE. ~ Text used from her various sites with permission from Diana Fayt.

Images used with permission from Diana Fayt.

Eco-Friendly Hand Dyed and Stitched Textile by India Flint

India Flint comes from a long line of women who made things with their hands in order to respond to the requirements of the moment. "My great-grandmother grew, harvested, retted, hackled, spun and wove her own flax. My great-aunt made wine and preserves, my grandmother sewed all sorts of things and taught me how to dye cloth. My mother was a spinner of wool and a weaver and an embroiderer (but now restricts her creative work to gardening)...and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Even my father (an Emeritus Professor) is constantly building things and devising useful objects."

"In our family, if you wanted something, you would try first of all to grow it, make it or find it." India lives on a working farm in rural South Australia, and creates eco-friendly hand dyed and stitched textiles. The ecoprint technique was discovered by her in 1999 and is the signature mark of her work. This technique is a water-based printing process using relatively small quantities of plant material compared to traditional dye methods. She uses natural dyeing techniques having discovered just how toxic synthetic colours can be. "The dyes I make avoid the use of potentially harmful synthetic mordants, relying instead on found metals, ash, seawater, whey and fruit vinegars; among others."

She manages the farm on behalf of her parents, who also live there in a separate house. India is a single mother with three children (two adult, and one nearly adult) and a border collie who is her right hand "dog" on the farm. She also has cats rescued from the RSPCA, but too many to count according to India. There are also sheep and cattle, as well as chickens and ducks to care for. Her hobbies include playing the tenor saxophone which makes her very happy. India also gives workshops, has a r(eco)fashion label, creates costumes for dance, and writes books about her craft. Visit her website to see additional works and to read about her many ongoing projects HERE. And, her blog HERE. ~Information provided by India Flint and used with permission.

Images used with permission from India Flint.

Hand Beaded Jewelry by Patrizia Tager

Patrizia Tager, or Triz, discovered the world of beadwork when her son turned one and started day-care a couple of times a week. "I just needed to get out of the house! And, I wanted to do something creative, so I enrolled myself into four classes at my local bead shop, and fell in love with this medium. I started buying every magazine and books available and sat at home for a whole year learning new techniques and stitches." Triz is a single mother, who lives in Israel with her son who is almost five years old, and her two dogs. One is a 12 yr old rescued dog named Kaya, and a newly rescued 2 month old puppy she named Houdini. She has a B.A. in fashion design, but designing jewelry has become her career.

Not only she is busy taking care of her trio, but she is constantly creating new designs. Not just for her jewelry line, but for birthday gifts for her two sisters. Her family is very important to her. She named her son after her dearest cousin Marc, who was killed in a plane crash in 1988 that left 270 people dead. In a recent posting dedicated to him, she writes "I named my son after you. I hope he grows up to be half the man you were....your smile... your warmth, your compassion, your generosity, your joie de vivre, your friendship, your jokes and yes, even your pranks, are the things I miss the most.... you were definitely too good for this world... and I really hope you are in a better place, otherwise nothing makes sense...."

Triz recently started piano lessons, something she's been wanting to try since she was little. "I used to have lots of hobbies: tennis, karate, yoga, swimming, and photography. But that was before I got hooked on beading jewelry!" As most artists and craftspeople who love their work, Triz is more than passionate about her craft, it's on her mind 24/7. Visit her blog to see additional works HERE. And, her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with consent from Patrizia Tager.

Hand Painted Boxes, Mixed Media, and Folk Art by Flor Larios

Originally from Nicaragua, Flor Larios grew up in a family of artists and art lovers. "My first contact with painting was in fact through my grandfather's work. My grandfather was an exceptional man whom I admired as a child and from whose example I continue to benefit. He was a musicologist by profession, but did primitivist painting when his research allowed." And, though her grandfather introduced art to Flor, it was a stranger who ultimately inspired her to pursue it. "It was actually the work of Frida Kahlo that motivated me to spend more and more time painting. There is hardly a more courageous artist, defying all expectations, challenging standards, and in the process managing to communicate her feelings and experience."

Over the years Flor worked very hard to overcome the challenge posed by her lack of formal training in the arts. And, it has been frustrating at times. But, she is fully devoted to her craft, and seeing her children develop a sensitivity for the arts has made it a very rewarding experience. Her children are also involved with her business. "My daughter, she is always giving me the right prices to sell my art, and my son, always giving me new ideas and good advice." Her husband is the greatest admirer of her work, but a tough critic, as well.

Flor lives in sunny Miami, Florida with her family. She admits to "complaining all the time." It's just a habit, she acknowledges. But, if she complains, it's partly because she expects so much of her herself. And, she works extremely hard. As most artists and people in business should do, she is constantly developing new ways to promote her craft. And, she does it well. Visit her blog HERE to see additional works. And, her ETSY site HERE.

Images used with permission from Flor Larios.

Vinyl Art By Daniel Edlen

Jimi Hendrix

Daniel Edlen came up with the idea of painting vinyl records (remember those?) as a teenager around 1992. "My dad had turned me onto The Beatles on vinyl, and my mom volunteered at the library handling used book and record donations. I got first pick of the records, which didn't sell well. Amassing duplicates of my favorite albums, the idea hit me after a high school art project I did using white pencil on black paper. I did about 6 of them and lost interest."

John Lennon

In 2006, some friends suggested that his vinyl art might make good holiday gifts. Though Daniel had been sculpting people out of clay for years, he never lost his painting skills. So, he began selling his vinyl art for a living. He uses "only white acrylic paint, dabbing it on with small brushes which wear out very quickly. "

Tom Waits

"I know that the mere idea of portraits on vinyl might seem gimmicky or hokey and the pieces might not fit into typical art world categories, but it is the passion for music which motivates me." He's willing to do customized orders, and will even paint on a buyer's own record album. People are always curious about Daniel's work, and have asked all kinds of questions. Such as whether or not you can play the record after it has been painted. The answer: No. Unless you'd prefer scratches on your painting, it is highly discouraged. Visit his website to see more vinyl art HERE. His blog HERE. ~From his site with consent.

Jimi Hendrix on Vinyl by Daniel Edlen
(Time Lapse Painting)

Images posted with permission from Daniel Edlen.

Environmental Art by John Dahlsen

“Blue Rope” (Triptych) (Environmental Assemblage Art)

Environmental artist John Dahlsen has eyes the color of the bluest sea, and that's only fitting since it was the ocean that first inspired his craft. While searching for driftwood to make furniture at a remote beach in Australia, in the mid 1990's, he discovered "vast amounts of plastic ocean debris" Following his instincts, he started picking up the beach litter and hauled it home. What happened next is somewhat of a history in the making. John's history, that is. And, an inspirational one it is. His is the story of the creative, artistic mind. One we are all capable of tuning into,if we only try.

6 Driftwood Totems 2009 (Environmental Driftwood Art )

John took the beach litter and organized them into groups according to their material and their color. There were ropes and strings, all kinds of plastics (yellow and blue and red in color) and plastic coke bottles, and even thongs (flip flops.) These were the materials he would later use to create his abstract environmental art. He likens these found objects to a "giant painters pallete." "I later had the notion of making assemblages of each of these objects once sorted, this occurred to me as a natural extension of the process I was undergoing in the studio. This whole new palette of colour and shape revealing itself to me immediately affected me; I had never seen such hues and forms before which enabled me to make new environmental art."

Blue River (Recycled Plastic Bag Art)

"As I worked with these objects, I became even more fascinated by the way they had been modified and weathered by the ocean and nature's elements. My challenge as an artist was to take these found objects, which might on first meeting have no apparent dialogue, and to work with them until they spoke and told their story, which included those underlying environmental messages inherent in the use of this kind of medium. " Read more of the artist's statement of his works HERE. And, visit his website to see more incredible environmental art HERE. ~From the artist's website with consent.

Images posted with permission from John Dahlsen.

Fabric and Paper Art Quilts by Terri Stegmiller

She Dreams in Color (Fabric Art Quilt)

Terri Stegmiller is one busy lady. Not only is she the assistant publisher of Fibre & Stitch, an online mixed media zine, but she lives with her husband and FIVE cats: Abby, Zoey, Junie, Patty and Lucy. (Two are indoor cats, the other three prefer the outdoors.) Her son left the nest within the last couple of years. They live outside the city limits in North Dakota, on a 10-acre plot where she tends to her flower gardens every chance she gets. Oh, did I mention she also creates art quilts? Yes, she does, and she does it beautifully as you can see for yourself. "I think I'm possessed with art. When I'm not in the studio working on something, then my mind is working, thinking, or dreaming about new ideas. I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love and with the technologies of today I can connect with other like-minded artists." Terri has worked with one type of craft or another for most of her life, and only started quilting around 1994. And, she considers herself blessed as her husband is very supportive of her love for creating art.

Blue-Mers (Paper Art Quilt)

She began with traditional quilts in larger sizes for beds. "I decided these took too long and my interest in them faded, so I started creating wall-sized quilts. When the traditional patterns became boring for me, I starting paying more attention to art quilting and would spend many hours on the Internet looking at the great art that a lot of quilters were creating. I knew that was the direction I wanted to go. I wanted to create my own designs and not follow any rules." Her favorite subjects or themes are flowers, cats, and the female face. "I like fun and whimsy in my quilts, therefore the subject matter isn’t created to resemble real life. I enjoy working in a small format and art quilts are perfect for me. My quilts rarely reach sizes over 36 inches tall or wide."

Winter Wonderland (Fabric Art Quilt)

Most of her quilts, whether paper quilts or textile quilts, are made in the typical manner as most quilts—three layers making up the quilt sandwich. "I like to use up scraps as much as possible when creating my quilts, but I don’t make it a rule. The techniques I use when quilting vary, but the technique I use most is fused, raw-edge appliqué, which is then free-motion quilted. I love texture and some of my pieces are heavily quilted with more surface texture and interest added with other mediums, such as paint. I love lots of color and most of my quilts reflect this." Terri also teaches online classes, like this one HERE. You can visit her blog HERE to learn more about her craft. And, her website HERE and her Etsy site HERE.

Images used with permission from Terri Stegmiller.

Designer Hand Knits for Pets and their People by Vanessa Sam

A self-proclaimed "obsessive-compulsive perfectionist", whose passion for knitting started when she was a mere 1st-grader, Vanessa Sam lives in the San Francisco Bay area (California) with her husband (they just celebrated their three year anniversary), and miniature schnauzer Bach. Bach is her star model, and has been with them for ten years. He's very dedicated to their business, and loves the free clothes! He's lucky that he lives with the designer.

Bach modeling "The Backpacker" (a cat/dog turtle neck sweater)
You'll have to visit their Etsy site to see his adorable face.
(Not that his butt isn't cute enough!)

Vanessa inherited her knitting "gene" from her mother who was obsessed with knitting pretty baby dresses while she was pregnant with her. Vanessa's first project was a vest for her teddy bear; her second project was a vest for her little brother. And, she's been "hooked" ever since. "Recently my mom revealed that the reason she taught me to knit at the age of six was to stop me from bothering her while she was knitting. I find that hilarious. But I am so grateful that she did teach me; this hobby has stayed with me for 20+ years and not only do my husband and dog benefit from the hobby, it has now become my business. By the time I was a teenager, my mom moved on to quilting. But there are lots of baby photos of me wearing her knitted dresses and cardigans, they're really cute!"

The Hipster cat/dog turtleneck sweater

Vanessa is a healthcare finance consultant by day, an obsessed knitter by night, and a photographer by weekend. Every item is knitted with love. And, she even customizes her knits according to variations in size. She also created a custom design for a buyer who wanted to recreate a toddler sweater that her mom knitted for her and her twin sister when they were kids. The result is the "Hello, My Name Is...." sweater. The buyer ordered matching dog sweaters for her corgi and her pug. Vanessa makes a human version of this sweater for toddlers, too.

She doesn't have kids yet (the two legged kind) but if she ever does, her shop will explode with knitted baby items! But, don't worry all you dog and cat lovers, she'll continue to knit adorable and "designer" outfits for your loved ones. And, yes, for most of us the weather is getting warm, but winter is just around the corner. So, visit Vanessa's Etsy site to see her designer hand knits for Pets and their People HERE. And, see her photography HERE.

Images posted with consent from Vanessa Sam.