Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thoughts & Things Thursday #8

1. There is just something so beautiful about carnivals. Wouldn't Penny's photographs make attractive prints?

2. Steph shares some helpful tips on makeup for photographs (via Gala).
3. Kailey's new neapolitan hair is just gorgeous. Can you believe this wasn't intentional?

4. Check out this adorable Alice in Wonderland doll photoshoot and these gorgeous smash book pages (and these ones!) by Penny Lane. Love her sense of aesthetics so much!

5. After seeing this amazing Marie Antoinette wedding, I followed the link train to Kat's incredible Marie Antoinette photo shoot and subsequently Ian Stuart's bridal gowns. Now I know I'll be in so much trouble when I do get married someday... because I am completely and utterly in love with his very pricey gowns. Ack! I even looked up the distance to the closest store listed on their site, which is in British Columbia, by the way. Two hours, twelve minutes. Sounds doable!

6. Twinkie wrote about Sugarfina, a candy company. Now that is presentation done right. Yum! Wouldn't these make great little pick-me-up gifts or stocking stuffers? I would probably order some extras for myself though... see, when I find something that's super cute like that for a gift, I have to get myself one too, because otherwise I won't be able to part with it. I know, it's terrible.

7. Speaking of Twinkie... one of the things I find most fascinating is to see other people's creative workspaces. Check out Twinkie's workspace along with a super sweet interview!

8. Just look at this beautiful dress Gala wore! Black, white, and baby pink + that scallop skirt detail... ahh gorgeous!
9. Keiko did an incredible job of styling a pair of 7 For All Mankind skinnies. How eye-catching is that snake print?

10. Having a bad day? Check out Katie's perfect way to make a bad day better! Yeah, I like balloons. =D

11. I know, I totally overuse Rock N Roll Bride on my T&TT posts. But there's so much good stuff there... I can't help it! Like this rainbow pom-pom DIY tutorial by the bride in this stunning rainbow wedding. See? Worth sharing!

12. Jessica shared a tutorial on Zie's blog with suggestions on how to make envelopes pretty. Great way to add a pretty touch to card making!

And More Goodies!
+ On the subject of Marie Antoinette... Drop Dead Kawaii shared photos from a gorgeous Vogue Japan shoot!

+ And... Michelle's morbid Headless Marie costume from a few years back. Crazy cool!

This post by Blogess is so beautiful.

+ I don't usually bother watching internet videos, but I trust Shana to have great taste. This video is further proof. So cute and funny! Love the super-fuzzy cat and the chatty bird. And the kitty's expressions... priceless. Hahaha.

+ Check out this great autumn to-do list from Yes and Yes, which is a very cool blog, by the way.

So much good stuff... and I've barely even had a chance to catch up on this week's blog posts. Working on it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Artist of the Month: Lauren Rudeck, September 2012

I'm excited to present the first Artist of the Month who is a Seattle local! I first discovered LaRu, jewelry and artwork by Lauren, at the Winter 2011 Urban Craft Uprising. Bright colors and cute characters in funny scenarios? Sold! (Literally - I purchased quite a few pieces.) LaRu was also a vendor at the Summer 2012 show. I think Lauren's work is brilliant and I'm pretty sure you will too.

Thank you for joining us on Pink Wonderland today, Lauren! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Seattle-based artist who enjoys drawing creatures that make people smile and uses bright colors. I moved to Seattle six years ago, after finishing my Masters of Architecture at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. I was originally born in the Bronx, but grew up mainly in Colorado and a little in Idaho.

Four years ago, I started a craft group that meets once a month to experiment with different crafts and materials. During one craft night we made pendants with resin, scrabble tiles, and magazine clippings. I loved working with the resin, but hated using other people’s images and being forced to one size with the scrabble tile. Through experimentation with resin and my illustrations, it turned into what I make now. My name La Ru comes from the first two letters of my first and last name: Lauren Rudeck.

Your artwork is full of bold colors, cute/badass characters, and quite a few random situations (I’m thinking of the Octopus vs. Velociraptor fight). Where or how do you usually find inspiration?
A lot of times these crazy images just pop into my head and I think “why have I never drawn this?!” Sometimes the inspiration comes from my facebook fans. I will post a call for animals or weapons and within minutes I will have a long list of things to draw. I like using facebook for this because I get answers in a matter of seconds and it often challenges me to draw things I would have not thought of on my own. Usually once a year, I turn it into a contest. The person who suggested the drawing that gets the most likes and comments gets a free print.

Being a fellow Seattleite, I love meeting artists from the area. What is it like being an artist in Seattle? Do your location and the community here affect your artwork or business?
The Seattle art scene is a pretty close group of people; everyone seems to know everyone, which is really nice. I always know when I go to a show I will have friends to say hello to.

Who are your favorite artists?
Edward Gorey and Ralph Steadman. Some of my favorite local artists include Justin Hillgrove, Augie Pagan, and Stasia Burrington.

What do you like to do when you are not working?
I haven’t had a time when I am not working in a while! When I am not doing La Ru, I am usually at my other job as a project designer at an architecture firm in Capitol Hill. I am finishing up my architecture license right now, so it seems like I am always busy with something. When I can make time, I like to travel. Last December I was able to go to Costa Rica. I loved it there…I loved seeing all the exotic animals (especially sloths!!!) and the warm weather.

Robots feature prominently in your work. If you could have any robot, what would it be like and what would it do?
Hmmm, this is a good question. I think I would have a robot that would clean up after me. =) Something that would do this dishes and laundry.

Favorite dinosaur?
Ankylosaurus. They are so cute!

Are there any major events or experiences in your life that affected your work or business?
The most recent event that had drastically affected my business was that I was hit by a car in February. I was in the middle of a crosswalk in front of my house (I live downtown behind Pike Place Market) when the car hit me. I don’t really know what happened because I was knocked out. I woke up on the ground facing the opposite direction. I ended up with a concussion and tore most of the ligaments in my left wrist. Luckily I am right handed, but losing the use of my left arm meant that I could not physically make a lot of my stuff. I had to rely heavily on my boyfriend, Matt, and my family - especially my brother, Evan, to help me assemble the parts that I couldn’t do. This also meant missing out on a lot of summer art/craft shows. I did a few of them, but often with the help of my brother and dad.

Since March I have been in a full arm brace and am still currently in a half arm brace. I have had to learn how to create and make things without having the full use of my left arm. Had it been my right arm, I would have lost my business completely. I am very thankful that it was the left and that I had an amazing surgeon, Dr. Trumble, repair my wrist.

Tell us about your collaborative shop with Rosalie (of Ugly Baby)! There are plenty of successful Etsy shop owners, but not many make the big transition to owning a physical store location (let alone one at Pike Place!). How did the idea come to life?
Opening a shop (Ugly Baby and La Ru) kind of fell into our laps; it was not something either of us had been planning for. Rosalie had contacted me to see if I had any openings in my art studio. My building didn’t, so I told her I would be willing to move if we could find a studio with a retail space. Two days later we found our new shop. It was the first and only place we looked at. It is perfect because it has a small retail area on the first floor and the second floor has a studio space. Conveniently, the shop is right across the street (across the crosswalk I was hit in) from my house.

Since we hadn’t really planned to open a shop, there were a lot more hoops to jump through than we imagined. We had to get approved by the market and submit a three-year business plan, then get approved for our use and design by the city’s Historic Design Review board. The whole process took about three months, had I not had an architecture background I think it would have taken much longer! They had to approve everything from our products to paint colors. They even asked us what Kelvin our light bulbs would be!

Will you be exclusively selling LaRu and Ugly Baby in your shop or do you plan to include items from other businesses as well?
We plan on inviting other artists to consign with us, but will probably bring other artists in slowly so we can figure out the whole process. Our first featured artist will be Matt Inman from the Oatmeal. Matt is a good friend of mine and it just so happens his new book is being released at the same time. He will be doing a book signing at our shop on November 17th.

Any idea when the shop will be open to customers?
Initially we had planned on opening as soon as possible, but the previous tenant had been a bit of a hoarder and the shop had been closed for a year. Needless to say it needed A LOT of cleaning, new paint, and some fixing up. Our grand opening will be October 20th, 2pm - 9pm. It corresponds with the Pike Hike Art Walk so other shops in the market and along Western Avenue will also be participating.

Tell us about your creative process and workspace.
My work space is usually kind of messy. Since I hand cut out all my characters to collage them on different colored backgrounds, there are paper scraps all over the floor around my desk.  I have two bunnies that come to studio with me. They love the paper scraps because they can throw them around the studio and play with them.

When I am working at my studio, I am usually watching (or really listening) to documentaries. I feel like it’s a good way to learn new things while working at the same time and a lot of times you don’t have to watch what is going on. I love documentaries on artists (like Beautiful Losers), architecture, and prison life. I am fascinated by the grittiness of prison and the situations that land people in jail. The artist documentaries are pretty inspirational and usually give me ideas to try new things.

As far as my creative process, I usually draw outside of my studio (at home, restaurants, wherever) and then assemble everything at the studio. I carry a sketch book with me everywhere because you never know when an idea will pop into your head.

What advice would you offer an aspiring artist or someone who wants to start a small business?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and get your work out there! I have a lot of friends who ask me about starting up an etsy shop and then get too worried working out all the details. I feel like you should just jump into it and you can figure it out and fix things along the way. It will never be perfect, so there is no point for waiting until it is.

I think people should also start with what they can afford.  Many people take out credit cards and loans to start something that they don’t know if it will be successful or not. If you start small and see if it is successful first, you can expand from there with little risk involved.

The one thing that I tell everyone to do when they are thinking of starting a crafty business is read Kari Chapin’s book “Handmade Marketplace.” Her book is like a craft business bible! It covers everything you need to know: how to price your items, how to market yourself, etc. I have used mine so much the cover fell apart.

I have seen you at Urban Craft Uprising twice now and it looks like you have participated in quite a few craft fairs / events. Any advice for small business owners who are ready to start participating in craft fairs?
I started pretty small, at I Heart Rummage when it was at Chop Suey. It was inexpensive and a good learning experience. There are quite a few smaller, inexpensive shows that are good places to try out vending at shows.

When I first started doing shows, I also became a team member of the local craft group EtsyRain. EtsyRain helps connect local crafters to different events, meetups, and even host their own shows. Being a member is free and a good resource for both shows and answers to any business or craft question you may have (there is an online discussion forum). Their next show is November 23 & 24, 2012, Show hours: Friday 11am to 6pm / Saturday 11am to 5pm.

Other than the store, are you working on any projects or pieces that you are excited about?
I am currently working on a piece for a fundraiser for a children’s hospital in Oregon. They sent me a bowling pin to draw on that will be auctioned off. I really enjoy the challenge of drawing on 3D surfaces (I started by drawing on all of my arm braces). I also really enjoy doing projects for charity; every year I try to participate in a few different events and fundraisers especially for children and animals.

Tell us if there are any events you have lined up where we can find you and your artwork in person.
Applications for most of the winter shows still haven’t announced their vendors, so I can’t say for sure, but you can come see me at the EtsyRain Holiday Show (dates and times above).  And for any New York readers, this Saturday (September 29th) I will be one of 50 alumni invited to vend at the Pratt Institute 125th year Anniversary Celebration in Brooklyn , NY.  The show is open to the public, 10am-5pm, on the main campus.

Thank you so much for sharing your stories and advice with us on Pink Wonderland, Lauren!

You can find Lauren and her work in these places:

You'll hear more about Lauren and her and Rosalie's shop on the blog next month! Isn't Lauren's work so much fun? I can't wait to hang up my LaRu pieces in the new house once I've gotten them framed!

Artist of the Month is a monthly interview feature with an artist. I am very selective about whom I interview - I pick artists I believe in, whose style I truly love. See all previously featured artists here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

San Diego Zoo, Part 2 - Fuzzy Animals

In unfortunate news, the wireless internet on my laptop randomly stopped working... so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be fixable when I take it in today. Oh, and the battery dies almost immediately when the laptop is unplugged. Sooo that + the fact that it's about 4 years old & I use it at least a few hours every day might mean it's time for a new laptop. =( Anyway...

Seemed like about time for another San Diego Zoo post! If you missed the first one, it was birds and reptiles. Today, I decided to share some of the fuzzy/furry animals we saw!

One of the best animals in existence, in my humble opinion. Definitely drawn comics/stories featuring them before and a friend once gave me a stuffed blue llama. Best present ever! They just crack me up.

I hear koala's are actually not particularly nice, but they do look pretty darn cuddly!

I forget what these were called (let me know if you know!) but they are cute!
EDIT// Apparently these fuzzy darlings are called Takins - thanks, Carrie!

And... a few of the smaller fuzzy ones.

Monkeys are fuzzy too.

Check out this guy. He even had a bio - supposedly he's quite the "player." Bet the zookeepers had a fun time writing that one up!

Can't forget the pandas! San Diego Zoo has a whole section for them. Lucky for us, our panda friend was hungry and violently chowing down. It was fun to watch. I would not want to be that piece of bamboo.

More pictures to come! Seriously, this zoo was really, really big. Have you been there?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Birthday, Corbin!

This is a two part post, the second of which which will be posted on the blog shortly. Both parts are very, very important to me, so I really hope you take the time to read it through!

Part One - The Story
First off, I want to wish my brilliant little brother a happy birthday! Corbin turns 23 today.

 Me and Corbin in Roatan, Honduras - Winter 2010

 Me and Corbin in Costa Maya, Mexico - Winter 2010

Since Corbin is only two years younger than me, we really grew up together. As with any siblings, we’ve had plenty of fights over the years, but ultimately, Corbin is one of the people I care most about in the world. He and I used to play legos a lot – for years, we grew our collection. He wanted to build cool things like planes... with mismatched brick colors, which drove me nuts. I, on the other hand, cared more about the personalities of our lego characters. We also loved books. Both of us devoured tons of books growing up, sharing our favorites and recommending series and authors to each other. When we got a new book, sometimes we’d fight for who got to read it first. I am a very fast reader, but Corbin goes through things at lightning speed. He’d remember every detail too. I know because I’d set up quizzes for him and his friends, where I would be the host – game show style. They would have to answer questions about the Star Wars universe or whatever the latest popular series was. The winner would get a prize from me – usually a hand-drawn trading card (yeah, we were nerdy) or something else I had fashioned.

Corbin is also a chess wiz. I really mean that. He’s won lots of state and national tournaments. He teaches summer camps and does private tutoring. He’s worked hard to learn a lot about chess, but he's also a natural. I was actually the one to receive a chess set as a child with a book on how to play. But Corbin was the one who became interested in the game. Even when he was little, he was so good… when I beat him once, so far into forever ago that I have no idea how old we were… I was so obnoxious about it because it was a huge accomplishment. I actually drew a chess board, drew the pieces in my winning position, and posted it on the wall for everyone to see (probably with the title “Kelsea Beats Corbin”, although I can’t quite remember). Terrible, I know.

Yoda and Corbin at the Mardi Gras Museum in New Orleans - Winter 2010

In high school, Corbin started flying out to major chess tournaments on his own. One day, he didn’t wake up for a round despite numerous phone calls from his friend to his hotel room, alarms, etc. We were all stunned and frustrated with him. How could he possibly miss something so important?

Later, we would find out that he has heart disease and has probably been suffering from it for years before we knew. The day we found out through a rather traumatic event which ended up with him in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), my dad happened to be in Bellingham, a city 90 miles north of Seattle, on a cycling trip. I picked up my dad and we drove down to visit Corbin at the hospital in Portland.

See, when Corbin was 13 months old and a tiny little fussy baby (our parents said he was really fussy), he had open heart surgery to fix a hole in his heart. He healed up nicely and other than taking medicine before going to the dentist and a scar on his chest that grew as he grew, there were no signs of any damaging effects. We had no idea it would strike years later.

Corbin is a fairly private person, and for his sake, I won’t go into the details of heart disease symptoms, along with the symptoms of other things he has since contracted, including diabetes. But know that he has talked to me about some of it – probably not all, but enough for me to be totally at a loss to truly understand. I can’t imagine feeling sick constantly, having to take dangerous medicines daily, and having to worry about mortality in my late teens and early twenties. Being sick for years and years and years. It just seems so unfair.

In chess, there are several coveted titles. One of them is Master. Corbin’s rating from tournaments is so close to what he needs for the title. But he also has to take a daily medicine that makes his brain cloudy. It makes it harder for him to concentrate – something devastating to a mind as brilliant as his. He can see sixteen moves ahead in chess - that is no exaggeration. I can’t even imagine how much thinking power that takes. His current rating is 2157, which is 43 points away from the rating needed for a Master title. But the medicine makes it difficult to think straight and there’s no choice of taking it or not – it’s a life or death pill. So we still have strong hopes that he can make it to Master someday, but with the side effects of the medicine, it isn’t going to be easy.

Unfortunately, Corbin is far from the only one suffering from heart disease. It is America's number one killer. Most people have a cause that is near and dear to them – something they care immensely about. Mine is heart disease. Each year, I participate in the Heart Walk, which  benefits the American Heart Association (AHA), and I ask a few friends and family for donations. I never want anyone to feel obligated or guilt-tripped into donating, so I always feel a little uncomfortable asking. I thought hard about what I could do this year other than just ask for money. I decided to sweeten the deal. In a month, on October 20, I will be walking in the Heart Walk, and I hope to have more money raised this year than in the past.

As such, I'm going to announce the details of the Help a Heart Event here on the blog very soon. Hoping to get the final preparations done this weekend and announce it by Monday. Thank you so, so much for reading through this, and please stay tuned for the details of the event.

Also, I just want to say that I reached 100 followers today via Google Friend Connect, and I am so grateful to each and everyone one of you! Whether you follow Pink Wonderland regularly via GFC or Bloglovin', click in through Facebook or Twitter, drop by the blog occasionally, stopped in from Pinterest, or are just reading for the first time today, thank you! I'm considering doing a giveaway to celebrate... any interest?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Coldstone Ice Cream Cupcakes

One day, while we were packing up everything in our old house, I caught an ice cream cake craving. Now this is nothing unusual... but it was a persistent one. Know the feeling? Well, after talking about it for two days, Jacob figured out that this one was serious. He has a few gift cards, courtesy of his mom, so we grabbed one and headed to Coldstone.

Now here's the thing about me and Jacob. We have very, very different palettes. He loves Oreos and chocolate chocolate everything. I happen to be much pickier about my chocolate - I pretty much only like pure dark chocolate (unless desperate, I prefer no milk chocolate, no chocolate ice cream, no chocolate cake). I also love cookie dough and all sorts of ice cream flavors he won't eat. This made it very difficult for us to agree on a flavor.

Behold! The Coldstone cupcake six pack! Three flavors, two cupcakes of each flavor. Sweet cream, cake batter deluxe, and oreo. I've been eyeing the cupcakes whenever we're at Coldstone, but we always end up with a full ice cream cake. We decided to try it this time, agreeing that he would take both chocolate cupcakes, I'd take both cake batter cupcakes, and we'd each take one sweet cream cupcake.

Left to right: sweet cream, cake batter deluxe, double chocolate devotion

The cupcakes consist of a crisp dark chocolate edible wrapper, encasing a very thin layer of cake, then a scoop of ice cream, topped with frosting that had the consistency of whipped cream, and sprinkles, chocolate shavings, or half a chocolate-covered Oreo.

Our thoughts? Jacob absolutely loved the chocolate cupcakes and he was a fan of the sweet cream. For me, they were mostly good, but the cake batter deluxe and sweet cream cupcakes were just too sweet. Too much frosting/whipped cream and the ice cream was very sugary, even for me. That is usually my issue with Coldstone in general - it's not my favorite ice cream place due to the super-sweetness. However, the chocolate shell was absolutely divine. Anyone know where to buy those? Or maybe I could find a mold and make them myself... so good!

Anyway, that was my first experience with ice cream cupcakes. I also just tried a strawberry one from The Ram, a brewery. It was delicious! I would love to try making my own version of ice cream cupcakes sometime. I feel like it would be less daunting than another ice cream cake.

Have you tried ice cream cupcakes? What did you think?

P.S. Due to the hectic process of moving in, I'll be skipping a few features this week. Unfortunately, I still haven't found my art journal yet (I put them in a "super safe spot" and then promptly forgot where that was), and I won't have time for Thoughts & Things Thursday tomorrow. I really, really hope to start them both up again next week! This weekend will involve catching up on blog reading, unpacking and getting things ready. I've set up/built most of the furniture in my studio and I'm ready to make it mine! Stay tuned for a big post on Friday!
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