Sunday, November 30, 2014

Aminah and Ayah Custom Arabic Name Signs

A dear friend recently asked me to make custom Arabic name signs for her.  Her daughter picked out the anchor and dragonfly wood cutouts and requested that I incorporate the color turquoise in them.

I just finished painting them today and I hope she likes them.  I still have to add the wire for hanging, but while I hunt down my drill bit, I thought you might want to see what they look like completed.
Ayah and Aminah Custom Arabic Name Signs
Feel free to contact me if you'd like your own Arabic name sign.  Simply send an email to ACraftyArab at my Gmail account and I'll be happy work with you. Unless you see your name already here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Product Review - Happy Heart Kid

Recently I was sent a Happy Heart Kid kit to review as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs team.  I want to send a huge thank you to them because this product has been fantastic. 

I was sent the Manners Kit, which included everything below and has caused much giggling and conversation in our household.

When the package arrived on Friday, my seven year old couldn't wait to tear into it. As a business owner who almost lives at the post office, I was impressed with the packaging and how secure everything remained in the shipping process.

As it was getting close to bedtime, we laid everything out in anticipation of the fun we were going to have the next morning.

On Saturday morning, I was awoken by my bed shaking with a giddy 7 year old ready to play.  We started our adventure by first doing the Activity Book and meeting Caleb, an adorable elephant who needs some help being reminded of his manners when he visits his monkey friend, Ella.

I loved the Helpful Hints at the start of the book on how to engage my child to use the product effectively.

My daughter passed on drawing inside the book with the crayons provided because she was too excited about getting to the other stuff in the box.  However, we did read the story and do all the fill in the blacks.  She was surprised to see that later on she can cut out parts of the book to use.  She's never had permission to cut inside a real book before and one of the activities includes cutting out utensils, napkin and a class of juice and gluing them next to a dinner plate.

From the activity book, we moved on to the Create Thank You Cards goodie bag.  Again, I was very impressed with the Nurturing Good Manners section at the front written for the grownups. This showcased ways we can communicate with our child on showing courtesy by being aware of our own actions.

We followed the instructions on how to make our stamp with the materials provide: a block of wood and foam shaped stickers.
Then I asked my daughter who she has been thankful for in her life as of late and she named her teacher, her Girl Scout leader and me. After she created her list, she picked a card and wrote a few words inside.
Don't tell Ms. Meeks yet, but she also got a kitty inside her card, courtesy of the markers that came with the kit.

After the insides of the cards were dry, we flipped them over and stamped under and above the Thank You that came already written on the front.  Actually she tried a few test runs first on an extra piece of white paper so she can see how hard she needed to push down.  We both loved that the ink came in this multi-color green pack.  This lead to a great conversation about patterns and how often we see them in our lives.

Here is her completed thank you card.  It's already in the backpack on the way to school today.

Our next order of business was to dig into the Create Courtesy Bracelets goodie bag. I will have to warn you that when we first opened the bag, the beads went everywhere.  Luckily my daughter has a sharp eye and found the ones that fell on the floor, but I reached for a small piece of felt to hold the rest.

The book again starts off with an adult page on how to use the bracelets as reminders of courteous behavior through everyday activities. Yet, as I was explaining this to my child, she immediately started looking for the letters to write her own name. I had to remind her that this bracelet can either be given as a gift, or can be used by her as a reminder to say the one word she might need help repeating during the day.  She thought carefully about my words and came up with this

However, since she is a Princess in the truest form of the word, she wanted me to include a close up of her original design. She was worried people couldn't see that she had created another pattern by using every bead color provided.

By now, it was lunch and we took our last goodie bag, with the Manners Game inside, to share with the rest of the family after we ate.

If you look close at the kit in the first photo, you'll notice that it only includes 3 peg people, yet there are five people in our family.  We fixed this little problem by adding our own peg people.  We also used foam stickers provided to help distinguish the plain looking peg people.

Don't let the size of the miniature canvas board fool you.  Even after half an hour of play, we still had not gotten to the half way point!  Here was one fun highlight:

What is your favorite season? (from Table Talk)
7 year old: Fall!
12 year old: Salt!

We eventually brought the conversation back to manners when the next question lead to a discussion on appropriate questions to ask a new friend. We never did finish the game because the older girls had to rush off to robotics, but I'm sure we'll play it again.

The rest of the afternoon was spent with my seven year old, making another bracelet to gift and the thank you cards to hand out.

I would highly recommend this kit and encourage you to check out the Happy Heart Kit Kickstarter campaign.  We really need to support more of these mom & mom ventures that encourage our children to be better contributors to humanity.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goodbye Arab Artists Resouces & Training

As my A Crafty Arab business has grown (Alhamdulillah), I'm finding myself with less and less time to do other pet projects of mine.

One that has fallen off the waste side has been Arab Artists Resources and Training. I started this non-profit organization back in June of 2001 as a way to connect Arab artists with museums and galleries.  I received a substantial grant from the New York Ford Foundation and Doha Qatar Foundation to publish a resource guide of Arab artists around the globe.

Then along came the internet.

Suddenly no one wanted to buy a physical book, everything moved online.  I spent months putting all the information on the world wide web for free.  I even added a database of grants and job opportunities available to Arab artists.

But I just couldn't keep up with this project, my master's degree, starting a family of three girls and now my full time business.  So, after two attempts at hiring web companies to keep the website spam free, I've decided to throw in the towel.

I'll try my best to add the database to my Pinterest boards, this one for painters and sculptors, one for writers, and this one for entertainers. If you think of others, let me know.

I hope you all wish me luck in mailing my last tax forms to the IRS.  I've decided to send a little joy by adding Eid sheep tape on the back.
Goodbye Arab Artists Resources & Training
All monies from AART is being sent to other nonprofit organizations doing good in our world.  More details about this later with everything is confirmed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Homemade Harvest 2014

Shukran (Arabic for Thank You) for everyone that came out to the Homemade Harvest 2014 last Saturday.
Homemade Harvest 2014

For the second year in a row, attendance was through the roof. I wrote close to 50 Thank You cards this year to the people that came.  I felt blessed to write each one.  I am grateful to all those that came to support the handmade community.

Just a reminder, except for a small percentage taken out to help pitch in to pay for the food and a few other small things, the artists you talked to on Saturday received all the money for their hard earned work.

Make sure to continue to support these artists:
Scarf City

Thea Starr

Navanka Creation

Blue Heron Dye Artwork

Sculpture Soap

Holli Dunn
To support handmade artists like these in the future, make sure you put November 14th, 2015 on your calendar now.

Thank you to our artists this year:
Blue Heron Dye Artwork
Holli Dunn
Navanka Creations
Scarf City
Sculpture Soap
Thea Starr

Please continue to support them! And if you want to see more amazing handmade artists, be sure to visit Zibbet and stop by my shop. :)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Homemade Harvest 2014 Artist - Sculpture Soap

Continuing our exploration of the fantastic artists that will be selling at the Homemade Harvest Open House, today we talk to Tito from Sculpture Soap. Since the beginning, HH has only had female artists selling, which makes Tito our first male artist.  I am so excited to see his wares in person on Saturday. Be sure to bring the kids so they can get a look at these soaps up close.


Tell us a bit about yourself? Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
Besides sculpting soap designs all day, attending to customer orders, and working in 3D, I am an active freshwater fly fisherman and a dad of two kids that my wife and I adopted 7 years ago.

What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
I have always been an artist first and a designer second. Having worked as an Interior Designer earlier in my life, I admit that I am more in touch with decorative things for the home than most men I’ve known. I’ve also had an extensive career as a video game artist. This enabled me to hone my 3D skills and to appreciate sculpting expressive figurative designs. Only now am I truly embracing what it means to be working as a traditional artist.

Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?.
There are several highly skilled 3D artist that I admire. However, the most well know sculptor that has had the longest impact on my decision to creating these uniquely sculpted soaps is the French sculptor, Auguste Rodin. I saw many of his pieces in Italy, the summer of 1987.

What other passions do you have in your life?
Sculpting is my main passion. Learning to live healthier is quickly becoming my second passion. Otherwise, learning to appreciate my family as we are, and making time for them consumes any extra time I may have in my day.

How do you promote your work?
As a fairly new business owner, I am enjoying attending local markets, street events, and seasonal festivals. For my first year in 2014, I’ve attended over a dozen different events so far. I have a schedule online at my website.

In the future I’d like to be…
 A better sculptor as well as a great husband and father.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Homemade Harvest 2014 Artist - Scarf City

Today we get to know Roz from Scarf City, one of the artists that will be selling this upcoming weekend.  Roz and I have known each other for years, having met at a craft show put on by Seattle Handmade in SoDo. We have also done booths at Punk Rock Flea Market, I Heart Rummage, and a few others together.

Roz was an artist at the 2012 Homemade Harvest and I'm so happy to have her (and Smigel!) return this year.


Tell us a bit about yourself? Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
Aside from knitting and crocheting accessories I am also a Communications Manager at a non-profit in Seattle. I handle all media and public relations and the bulk of the writing for Washington Community Action Network.

What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
Fashion! I love being a fashionista and adding stylish pieces to my wardrobe and helping others do the same.

Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?.
My Grandmother. She taught me to crochet when I was 10 years old and could crochet a whole garment in minutes (just kidding)

What other passions do you have in your life?
Smigel --- my ChiPomPeke

How do you promote your work?
I don’t …it’s sad really, but I don’t have the time or energy.

In the future I’d like to be…
Someone who can focus enough to finish a long-term project in the smallest amount of time possible.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Homemade Harvest 2014 Artist - Holli Dunn

The Homemade Harvest is just a few days away.  Today's artist, Holli from Holli Dunn Photography, will be bringing her line of fine art products and baked goodies.

I have know Holli for about 10years, first meeting at a mother's group, and she has done an amazing job photographing my children as they have grown.  I am looking forward to seeing her new fine art product line and tasting some of the peppermint bark, dark chocolate truffles, chocolate snowflakes and snowman lollipops she will be bringing!


Tell us a bit about yourself? Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
I’m a mom and have two middle school age kids, I’m a co-leader of a girl scout troop, school volunteer, and also work for myself as a portrait / commercial photographer. I’ve been doing portrait photography for over 8 years now, and am currently taking a business break and getting back my creative mojo… photographing for ME.

I have a huge love for all things tiny and things that grow… so you’ll find me out in my garden most of the summer, usually with a camera in hand and macro lens attached… trying to take a photograph of the smallest bug or seed head.

In addition to photography, I have a love of candy making, in particular working with chocolate. Not only because it’s super yummy but also because it’s a great medium to create things with. I have made many cakes using real chocolate as decorations. How fun to be able to EAT your decorations rather than pull them off and thrown them away.

What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
I guess it’s a fascination with figuring out how to do things and master it. And I love crafts! I tend to pick up a new craft and want to find out everything and all I can do with it and master it. Especially with photography. I’ve also got a biology degree and really love the mystery of things behind biology and science - like I said, all things tiny. So my garden is a huge inspiration.. doesn’t even need to be the plants I’ve planted, I’m inspired by a bunch of weeds or the small insects that fly around.

And secondly, along with my love for things small and growing, I think my children fit in there. All young children do… they can be so quirky and cute and they fascinated me. I so loved having them in front of my camera and be able to take their portraits back to my computer and study their expressions and moods.

Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?
I’m really inspired by any woman who can create a work-life balance for herself and do the things she can enjoy while contributing to her family, and herself. I know that is a luxury for a lot of women. And difficult to achieve…believe me, I’ve tried! It’s not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication. For those that make it look easy to the rest of us, I think they have probably worked the hardest.

I’m always inspired by people who go out, learn for themselves and work get things done.

And more specifically to photography, I first inspired to work as a photographer because I had a love of scrapbooking and really loved the photos most. There are some amazing portrait photographers in the world who do incredible work with young children and that blew me away. I have always enjoyed working with the younger set in front of my camera. My kids were quickly burned out on me taking their photos and so I decided to work towards it as a 2nd career which appealed to me as a flexible job I could do while being home with young kids. It’s hard to name names because there are so many inspirational photographers out there in the world.

Ok, I’ll name one of the very first inspirations who can really capture that magic of childhood with her camera… Jinky Art.  Her work has changed tremendously in the last 8 years and she always comes out with ideas that are more amazing than the last.

What other passions do you have in your life?
I love to be outdoors… I work out three times a week at Blue Sky Outdoor Fitness with a great group of ladies…outdoors all year round. It’s the best! And I love to be on the water, kayaking or my new found love of paddle boarding. Being in the sun on the lake is amazing, and truly a gift of living in WA. My family. I have worked a lot of weekends and evenings and one of the main reasons I’m taking a break from my portrait business is so that I can not only find my creative self again, but be home with my family on evenings and weekends and really enjoy that time. It’s the best! And I relish it!

How do you promote your work?
For chocolate, I don’t promote it, it’s only through events like this when I can make chocolate and sell in an intimate show, and not have to worry about mass production. Keeping it to a handcrafted hobby… straight from my kitchen.

For photography - I have my website for portraits - and I also use facebook (Holli Dunn Photography), instagram (2littlebirdies) and pinterest (Holli Dunn Photography) quite a bit. And word of mouth.

For my art work I have a storefront at Society6. I’m just getting going with my store and hope to expand it and start promoting it more soon. I also will have a blog up regarding my garden, photography and travels to help promote my fine art photography business.

In the future I’d like to be…
An expert in the perfect work-life balance, which is the toughest thing to achieve! LOL But I’d like to continue using photography as my main artistic outlet and then someday (I’m currently looking) find a job working in the creative industry, either in photography or graphic design, or even marketing.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Homemade Harvest 2014 Artist - Blue Heron Dye Artworks

Next weekend is my 8th Annual Handmade Harvest Open House. I'll have three returning women business owners and three new entrepreneurs joining me in a makeshift pop-up shop in my living room.

Last year I thought it might be fun to get to know the talented artists that will be sharing their handmade harvest.  I asked them all interview questions before the show so guests get to know them.

I wanted to carry on this tradition by introducing you to Liz from Blue Heron Dye Artworks.


Tell us a bit about yourself? Apart from being ‘creative’ what do you do?
I'm a stay at home mom of three teenagers husband, 5 chickens, 3 cats and 1 dog. I enjoy making healthy meals, supporting my youth in their sports, music and academics, gardening (I love to grow sunflowers and hops), sailing with my husband and children, and volunteering with my church, University Unitarian Church.

What inspires you to do the kind of work you do?
I've always enjoyed creating art with my kids. Over the last 10 years at our Unitarian Universalist summer family camp at Seabeck, Washington, I learned how to and later teach tie-dye. Over a year ago I decide to open my business Blue Heron Artworks selling my hand dyed scarves and clothing. I love playing with the colors and developing new ways they swirl together.

Do you look up to anyone? Who? Why?
I've always admired Eleanor Roosevelt. She advocated for the poor and disadvantaged all her life.

What other passions do you have in your life?
Working with color has always been a passion. I've created many baby quilts while my friends were having babies, knit sweaters and mittens in my 20's, made ink prints with my kids, and now dye clothing. What unifies all these crafts for me is the playing with color. I'm often inspired by things I see in nature to create new color combinations.

How do you promote your work?
I've just begun trying to figure out how to promote my work. Mainly I've gone to various festivals, craft fairs, art shows, and private fundraising parties. Lately I'm trying to develop my Etsy store. This Thanksgiving I'm advertising in the Seattle Times Gift Guide. It will be interesting to see if that drives customers to my Etsy shop.

In the future I’d like to be…
My hope for my future is to be healthy, active and engaged in activities and relationships that feed my passion for playing with colors and being in community with my family and friends.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Quilled 12th Man

I'll be teaching a Beginner Quilling tutorial class at Ben Franklin Crafts and Frames in Redmond on November 12th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.  

To help advertise the class in the store, I created this quilled 12th Man mini board with wood letters and paper.

Considering our entire town of Seattle has gone crazy with 12th man fever, I thought it might be fun to come up with my own quilled interpretation.

Stop by the Ben Franklin store to see it live. It is on the display in the middle of the store, on top of the supply rack for the quilling supplies.  This previously held the large letter B full of flowers and one little bee.

If you want to sign up for my class and learn how to make your own, call 425-883-2050 and let them know you want Beginning Quilling. Bring a friend and for less then $20, you'll learn an easy craft invented by nuns during the Renaissance.  It only uses one tool, stripes of paper and tiny, minuscule amounts of glue. I'll even give you a coupon to shop till you drop for whatever you want to quill in the store.

Hope to see you there!