Tag Archives: Gallery 360

Breaking Through the DIY Fear

When I see the acronym DIY associated with art projects I often freeze up. Over the years I’ve taken painting classes, sewing classes, photo album making classes…you name it. I usually leave the class frustrated and not very pleased with the final result. Photography has been my passion but even in the dark room while developing my black & white masterpiece I grew impatient and dissatisfied. Maybe I’m a closet perfectionist when it comes to creating something with my own two hands. Whatever the reason, my fear still hasn’t stopped my intrigue to try new things. Which is why I was enthusiastic to sign up for a Valentine’s Card Workshop at Paper Source a few weeks ago.



I mean, how hard could it be? The students follow an instructor in how to create three differently styled cards and, on the way, if you get creative and decide to put a twist on the sample card, go for it.

Being a gal who follows recipes to a T, I hardly veered from the examples but, surprisingly, I did get a new rush in the creative side to card making. It’s unclear if it was the combination of a variety of stamps, baker’s tween, colorful paper, sparkling powder or chocolate but at some point I hit a creative groove and I was digging it! There is something so rewarding about making a piece of art with your own two hands especially when you like the way it turns out.




Other than the occasional leaf blower, power tools have never been my thing. But once I was handed the Heat Gun I entered a whole new world of gadgets. Every student in the class was already a proud owner of the device but that did not hinder their excitement towards my new tool. Paper Source says it’s one of their favorite crafting tools, essential for effectively applying directional heat and bringing rubber stamping to life. Needless to say, I walked away with my own heat gun, embossing powder, a Versamark pad and enough stamps to last me a through a few more holidays. Bring on the homemade Easter cards with yellow embossed eggs!! And if you are so moved, follow this link where a card designer from Paper Source takes you through the heat embossing with rubber stamp process.  Super straight forward.

Although I might not have been born with the creative gene, my husband’s side is flowing with it and the Brown Family enjoys all of their creations. Nick’s Aunt Lucy, who lives in Vermont, makes cards from her drawings and watercolors. Most of her subjects come from the garden or “whatever else lands on our kitchen table…(which) has intriguing colors and shapes” she shares. The originals are usually larger so to make the cards she uses a commercial color copier and reduces the originals to card size. Lucy recently set up a new space to work, a large drafting table which welcomes in the morning sun and a view to the garden and lilac bushes.









(Lucy’s holiday cards above)

Aunt Wendy is also a talented card designer and maker. We see this in each birthday and holiday greeting which lands in our mailbox.  Check out her “Black Cats in a Pumpkin Patch” below. Of course it’s always an extra bonus to see how Wendy wraps and creates name tags on the holiday gifts. It often pains me to open each one!

A good friend of mine, Alecia Stevens, wears many hats. Not only is she a phenominal interior designer and writer/stylist for national magazines, she is also a fantastic photographer. Recently, Alecia created a book of postcards, Genus Loci: Italia, filled with black and white photos from her travels in Italy over the past six years with her husband, Lee.  She has selected her favorite moments of Italian life and created this momento to share with others. Lucky us!! The book was printed and bound locally in Minneapolis by Smart Set and can be purchased at Gallery 360 or on her blog.



And tada!! My final creations. To be honest I have yet to open my heat gun but have full intentions to start enjoying all my new gadgets especially since it motivates me to write more letters to friends. So I encourage you to break through that fear: it’s inexpensive, messy and rewarding. All good adjectives.

Meaning in a Mug

I have to say this blogging thing has made an impact on my pencil and pen collection. It’s brought a new dimension to what’s been popping out of my grass colored pottery mug…And I like the change!

First off, admitting you enjoy writing to your friends and family, so much so that you are blogging about it, is a pretty direct hint to folks looking for gift ideas.  And in 2011 I scored. Ha. Seriously, though, people were too kind.

The rage kicked off on my birthday when my friend Dana sent me a sweet Retro 1951 Tornado Classic Lacquer in brown…but of course. When I want to feel like a true professional writer or the CEO of Brown Ink, this is what I grab (thanks again, Ding!).


Christmas morning I found these Keep Calm and Carry On pencils from Paper Source in my stocking. Perfectly sharpened and calmingly red, I feel like British royalty with these 12 red charmers gazing at me from my mug. Thanks Santa.



My friend Jane provided our family with even more goofiness with this Predict a Pen which my boys are obsessed with using. When asking “Can we eat chocolate donuts for dinner?” and the reply comes back “Dude, No Way” they stomp their feet and ask to spin the pen once more. Pure entertainment.


Carrie’s always one for pizazz so it was no surprise to receive this Xonex Tri-Tone Pen in a happy blue/aqua shade from her for a holiday gift. You can pick one up in all sorts of snazzy colors at Epitome Papers for those of you who live in the Twin Cities.




I did treat myself to a piece of art from Gallery 360 which actually serves as a pencil. Sculpted by Agelio Battle, the pencil is part of a graphite series where the artist’s reverence for organic forms was inspired by his countless hours in nature. He believes “we discover things about ourselves and our thoughts by engaging the hand in a mark-making process.” Right on.  Instead of the Olive Branch above I selected the Quill which is believed to write words imbued with a spiritual and ancient guidance.


For our anniversary not only did I surprise Nick with a Sterling Silver Tornado rollerball pen (I’m hoping this soon ends up in my mug and not his mail slot), but he and I received a pair of Anna Pens by Alessi from my in-laws. These two-headed pals look they are about to head down the aisle. Cheers Sal & Jim.



Aside from these sweet additions to the mug I have also found some gems along the way that remind me of certain events in 2011. The silver Mickey Mouse Ears pencil brings back memories from November when I found out the in vitro had worked as I waited in the Disney Express Bus line headed to Wilderness Lodge. The pink & green striped Beverly Hills Hotel ballpoint pen is a memento from my LA trip to visit Jenny Fritz who continuously shows me a marvelous time in her home town, as well as the Marc Jacob lipstick pen which we picked up at Bookmarc on Melrose (a great find for little gifts). There’s always a few hotel pens from Nick’s travels on the road which tug at my heart since they represent a past absence but, like passport stamps from prior trips, they’re fun to have around.

So the question you might be asking yourself is ‘do they all write well?’  Yes, they all do. My mood often determines which one I grab. But when it comes down to my all time favorite pen, the one I always need to have a few of in case of an emergency, is the ever faithful Ultra Fine Point Sharpie. Tada…

It is permanent with a capital P (lots of evidence of this on our office desk thanks to the nonstop writer, Emmett) and it can bleed through thin paper, but the quality, control and smoothness which comes out in every word is unmatchable. I am completely hooked. So tell me, what’s in your office mug today?

PS. It was a good thing I checked up on Missive Maven last night. I had not a clue the cost of stamps went up 1 penny this past Sunday, January 22nd. I’m all about supporting the financial crisis with the Postal Service but where was our warning??? I checked in with The Queen Bee of letter writing, my old neighbor and friend Sandy, and this is what she shared with me.

The new rates are as follows: 45 cents for 1st class, 32 cents for a post card, $1.05 for international and 85 cents for Canada & Mexico. The good news is if you have old 44 cent stamps they are considered Forever stamps and you do not have to add more postage. But this does not apply for the postcard and out of USA stamps. Thanks Sandy!