Spring Chalkboard 2015

Spring 2015 chalkboard

Here is a list of what happened this spring. As long as the list is, I’m sure there are dozens of things that I forgot to add. Something is better than nothing, so even if it’s not a complete list, I do enjoy keeping it. Aaand, I know that guests enjoy reading it as well. It’s kind of like a coffee table book, something to browse when folks come over.

It’s been such a busy spring and summer so far. I FINALLY got around to taking down my knick knack wall, which I’ve been saying I need to do for probably over a year. As I’ve probably said in other mantel posts, I’ve found that I am invigorated by changing up the furniture often. Ideally I would rearrange furniture, swap around art and replace the mantel quarterly or at least every six months so things don’t get stale. That doesn’t really happen that frequently, but I’d love it if it did. Sadly, I will have to report back later with what happens over the new mantel as I haven’t put anything up yet. I’m thinking a mirror and garland, but have taken no steps toward that just yet.

More Chalkboard Calendar posts right here!


I found out about the Phhhoto app last week via Katie of Skunkboy and I’m a bit obsessed now. The app allows you to make a moving picture, kind of like a gif, but actual video. Think about it as if you were going to take a picture, only now you can capture a second before and after the photo, so the resulting picture has movement.

I love this new-to-me app, and want to connect with others on there, but of all the contacts I have on my phone, facebook and twitter, there are are only 4 other people using phhhoto, so, please check it out! I think you’ll love it and then we can be friends! Here are a few Phhhotos that I’ve shared recently.

Creating at my drawing table

Driving through Shabbona Lake State Park yesterday

Flipping through a Pantone color book at work

This was my first phhhoto, I was so proud that I got my niece Gemma’s hair into these baby buns. Her hair is like cotton candy, and I have a whole new respect for when her mother gets it into braids or pigtails, etc. Also, Gemma never objects. I think back to when I was a kid and crying from what felt like hair pulling, getting my hair just so.

There is a publish to instagram option, but it puts a phhhoto logo on the picture, which I’m not crazy about. If you publish the phhhoto in the app, then you can go back in to the post and save the looping video to your camera roll and publish it to instagram without the logo.

Let me know if you create an account!


Strike Away Show 2

Last month I posted about the upcoming Strike Away Show. Did anyone else participate? I’d love to see links to your pieces.

It took me forever to come up with an idea for my piece. It took me so long that I debated participating at all. I don’t know why it always takes me so long to have my aha moments. Immediately afterward I will feel like a genius, but then shortly thereafter I realize “that was the most simple idea. Why did it take me so long to go from A to B?” My GENIUS idea was to make a #LittleArtBook from a matchbook cover. Similar to this  LittleArtBook, I worked almost entirely from my own gelatin print papers.

11.13.09 materials Chalkboard matchbook notepads #littleartbook

The matchbook was actually a perfect theme for me. When my SIL’s parents used to own a local bar/music venue when I was in college, we would sit at the bar and draw on all the matchbook covers. Then, I used to make little matchbook style notebooks to give away as freebies in my etsy orders (pictured above circa 2009 and 2011). And, as I mentioned on the last post, I apparently hoard vintage matchbook covers.


While my contribution to the #strikeawayshow is in transit to CA, I thought I'd share a progress photo from when I was working on it. Surprise, surprise, I made a #littleartbbook, accordion style. I had so much fun working on it! #matchbookart

I decided to make an accordion fold book, so that the panels would open up for display purposes, but each page is its own composition.

My contribution to the #strikeawayshow going on right now at Paxton Gate, a little accordion book in a matchbook cover. It was so fun to make! Thank you so much @ccerruti and @adorndesign for all your hard work organizing the show! #littleartbook

As shown in the previous post, I had a lot of vintage matchbook covers to choose from. While many of the books I had were from Ohio Blue Tip, the vintage matchbook I used as a cover was a brand called Superior Match Co., from Chicago, which was perfect because I’m from the Chicagoland area-ish. The book had the remains of the matches that had been pulled and used on the striker pad, so it had plenty of love and use. I was able to remove the staple and take out the old match stumps and staple in my own pages. The cover also had birds on the cover, and for a girl with a bird-like name, I felt it was appropriate. In addition, the cardinal has been a bird with a lot of meanings and symbols in my life. The cover images were so beautiful and I wanted to keep them intact, otherwise I might as well just build a whole matchbook from scratch, so I just did minimal mark making to alter the covers.

Strike Away Show
Strike Away Show
Strike Away Show

Some close ups of the panels. The finished piece was something like 1×2.25 inches. So TINY! It reminded me of back in the day on flickr when I’d see people doing “inchies” and thinking to myself “That looks like fun” but if I sat down and tried to make any it felt like a lost cause. Just way too small. BUT, in an accordion style book, it worked and it was so much fun I might do more!

Here is a little video I captured really quickly to show how it opens. I was going to have Matt help me film a better one, but then I got too impatient to send it off, and forgot to record a new one.

Speaking of mailing, this piece was a nightmare in the postal system. In almost 10 years of running an etsy shop, I have had the utmost faith in the USPS, never losing or damaging any of the hundreds of packages I have sent out. This package, however, has altered my view. The piece had to be in the hands of the curators on May 3rd, which is a Sunday, meaning it needed to arrive in the mail by Saturday May 2nd. I sent the package 2 day priority mail (using a postal machine) on Tuesday, April 28th (I think). That meant the package would arrive in plenty of time, even if it was delayed a day OR TWO, as sometimes happens and is understandable. On the Friday night before it should have arrived, I checked my tracking and it said it was still in the Chicagoland area! I’ve been noticing a nasty trend lately, that all mail going through Chicago is delayed by days, and there is no excuse. I was already pretty annoyed when I checked again right before bed, in hopes that the tracking would be updated and show it had really been in transit to CA all along. Well, it had updated, but not in the direction I had hoped. Somehow it had made its way to FLORIDA! Yes, FLORIDA. My package from Northern Illinois, headed to California, took a trip to Florida. I knew immediately that my piece wasn’t going to make the deadline cut off. I immediately emailed the curators with the tracking info and explained that I would be going to the post office the next morning to find out what happened. The next day I explained to the postal employee at the counter what has happened, in hopes that they would explain that it would still arrive on time and that they just ship things like that sometimes (who knows? I know it doesn’t make sense, but I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, ya know, because of above said utmost faith). As soon as I explained though, the clerk said “oh dear, they’ve made a mistake” and immediately rushed off to get a manager. My eyes got big. The manager took my receipt and came in to tell me in the most positive and happy voice “your package will arrive in 5-7 business days, Mam”. I said “But I paid for 2 day shipping” to which she responded that 2 day is not guaranteed and went on to explain that it even says that it is not guaranteed and is only suggested and that sometimes packages just travel that way (to CA via FL?). I could tell she was trying to defuse me and get me out of there ASAP, even though I had gone in there on their side, not angry at all. Her attempt at trying to make it seem like it was no big deal, and that everything in the world was happy-happy-joy-joy actually worked to make me FURIOUS! It was then that I asked to make a formal complaint and she responded with “you’ll have to do that online” and with tears in my eyes, knowing that my piece wouldn’t arrive in time for the cut off date, I stormed out. When I got to the car I started thinking more clearly and went back into the lobby and photographed each page of the mailing machine that I used and NO WHERE, and on NO PAGE does it say that 2 day is just estimated or suggested. Fortunately, before I got home I received an email from Courtney saying that they would make space in the show for me, and I was so grateful. The package got lost, and really, I understand that, but what really made me angry was this employee’s response. She lied to me and denied any wrong doing, when the previous employee had already told me that it was a mistake. I’ve always heard that taking responsibility and apologizing goes way further than trying to deny guilt, blame shift and redirect anger, and I experienced that first hand here. If she would have said “I’m so sorry, we are going to look into this” and then promptly threw away my tracking info as soon as I left the office I would have still left feeling like they cared. This woman was doing it all wrong and I really hope that it was just this employee’s own way of dealing, and not a reflection of how the USPS teaches their managers to respond to patrons. End rant.

My piece, up at Paxton Gate for the #StrikeAwayShow

The show opened last Friday, May 22nd at Paxton Gate in San Fransisco, CA. It was so much fun to see all the images of the opening and I snagged this picture someone shared that included my piece. If you’d like to see more, use “strikeawayshow” hashtag on instagram. So many of the pieces are just amazing. And tiny! Tiny and Amazing! Just my type of artwork!

Let’s Call it the Little Pencil Pattern Book

Inspired by some of the other #LittleArtBook-ers using spiral bound books, I made this little book tonight. It is filled with roughly and random cut #watercolorpaper. #artbook #bumblebee

It started with a craft night with some girlfriends. I have a hard time focusing on art when I’m around others, so I usually bring something that doesn’t require a lot of attention. This night I brought some regular printer paper and a pencil. While we chatted I scribbled out the flower pattern on a halved sheet of paper (used as a #littleartbook backdrop in the above picture).

I liked how it looked, so I thought it would be fun to make more. So much of my favorite art and design start out that way. No pressure, just fun play. I like how the pencil looked, and went with the bare, basic and scribbly quality of the pattern illustrations.

little pencil pattern book

I folded a bunch of pieces of paper to put together a booklet. Then, I found this 8.5×11 sheet of grid paper I had also scribbled out with pencil for another project, and figured it would make the perfect cover.

little pencil pattern book

Forks, knives and spoons, and few plates for good measure

little pencil pattern book

Some abstract blingy rings

little pencil pattern book

Back to the original pattern, which I had drawn out on the side of paper which would either have to be a left center spread page or a left page in the back. Because I liked it so much I decided to make a center spread and do another pattern on the opposite. They are unrelated, but maybe I should have done another pattern that was meant to work with the first.

little pencil pattern book
Some little houses
little pencil pattern book
And of course, lily of the valley.

Stay tuned as I use some of these patterns for other projects.

Too Little, Too Late


Imma jerk and never got to posting about my Big Time sign (on my blog) before the owner of the shop had to call it quits. Above is the picture I shared on instagram last year. I’m so sad because I really wanted to share this with others and order another for myself. Waaaaaaah!

The story is that my friend Joon‘s husband opened up an etsy shop where he was creating all sorts of woodwork pieces and came up with this great design based on National Park signs. I ordered this one for our house that says Big Time because Matt and I use it all the time to mean “a lot” or “REALLY” (not that it is unique, but I’m just saying as opposed to us being big Peter Gabriel fans).

When my nephew (3y/o) was over last weekend we were teaching him how to incorporate the phrase BIG TIME into his everyday conversation. "Do you like the video game Spelunky?" "BIG TIME!"

For the longest time my sister, Matt and I tried to incorporate into my nephew’s dialogue, but he refused. Here’s the caption from the above picture, from over a year ago:

When my nephew (3y/o) was over last weekend we were teaching him how to incorporate the phrase BIG TIME into his everyday conversation. “Do you like the video game Spelunky?” “BIG TIME!”

Back to the signs. Mission Beach Woodwork shop had to close up recently (sadface) Joon recently shared some of the signs that Evan (her husband) made for their house, which reminded me of how I never shared my own sign.  It is so beautifully crafted.

#LOVEOURSWIRLINGBLUEPLANET above their headboard. I love this so much! The lettering is this beautiful pale blue color.

And of course one with her nickname, which makes me even more sad because I planned on ordering one with ROBAYRE for my studio.

Think of how much fun it would have been to even make some and place them on trails guerilla art style! Nobody would question it because they were so well made.

Birthday Crowns

I don’t think I’ve ever shared my birthday crowns here. It started with this crown in 2012

Today I made an #upcycle paper crown  for a coworker's birthday.

I made it for a coworker’s office birthday, with materials from the building (big sheets of flat cardboard, paper scraps from the printing presses, adhesive, a sharpie and a stapler). I snapped this picture of myself wearing it, because I was so proud of how it came out.

Madame Alyn's Lid

The inspiration came from the artist Alyn Carlson, pictured above, and her beautiful paper hats. She actually has a book out now and I need to get it!

mailart 129/365

I’ve been inspired by her before, with this series of mailart postcards. You can see more here.

But back to the birthday crowns. I liked that first crown so much I knew I just had to make more.

Erica crown

I wish I would have been better about documenting them as I made them, but here are a few more that I made. This one was for my best friend.

Ann's birthday crown

Here is an expectant Ann (of A Beautiful Party), wearing her birthday crown. I think she was just a week or two away from her due date with her daughter Maybellene, and we were singing her Happy Birthday and I think she was just about to blow out her candles.

Last night's project, a custom requested crown. It's bee a while since I've made one.

This one was a commission, and I can’t remember what it said all the way around. Something like “Your Wonderful Highness”.

me in crown

Of course I had to make one for MeSelf!

2.11 capsule machine

It currently lives on top of my gumball machine.

Progress photos of the most recent birthday crown I made. I'm particularly proud of this one and it fit @shealwayslovedlarking perfectly!

And most recently, I made one for my friend Courtney (of She Always Loved Larking) for her belated birthday party. Here is a progress shot of the crown before I stapled it together.

Courtney birthday crown

And a picture that Ann took of her wearing her crown surrounded by all the beautiful parti-ness.

Emily Neuburger facebook birthday crown

Thank you Emily Neuburger, of Red Bird Crafts, for sharing my crowns on your facebook page too!

I love making crowns as they are super low pressure. I think the scrappiness and playfulness really make the crown.  It was also really fun to put together this post and see how they have developed over time.


Ruth Denning – Wealth

It’s National Poetry Month!

Looking for an old picture recently I found a greeting card and when I opened it up, it was filled with handwritten copies of favorite poems of mine. The poems were all written over time and in different pens and pencils. I have absolutely no recollect of filling this card, but I am glad I did, and I am glad I found it because of one poem in particular. A poem I think of occasionally, but can’t find by simply googling the title or author. My grandma shared this poem with me when I was just in high school. My grandma used to write articles for the local papers in Joliet, IL and one of those articles was about a treasure she found at her public library. It was a book of poetry written by a teenage girl who (if I remember correctly) was killed in a car accident before she graduated. Somewhere in my possessions I have photocopies of the whole book and hopefully a copy of my grandma’s article too, and if I find it I’ll share more, but in the meantime I’ll just share my favorite poem by Ruth Denning, 1930. Sidenote: (also if I remember correctly) Ruth had quite an interest in the gypsy life.

She has wealth
Clothed in laces and silks,
Perfumed and coiffured and gemmed,
She sits surrounded by luxury.
Jewels gleam from her shining hair,
And she laughs at life.
She has wealth.
I have wealth.
Clad in gingham and sandals,
Windblown and happy and free,
I stand on a high hill.
Sun shines on my browned hands,
on my tossed hair,
And I laugh with life.
I have wealth.

Strike Away Show

2.28 3636 Project

In 2014 I was invited to participate in a group show, curated by Courtney Cerruti, The 36/36 Project. I think this picture above was the one featured on Uppercase Magazine, and my spoon is the upside down, grass green one.

This year Courtney and Alicia Dornadic (AdornDesign) are curating a matchbook themed art show. If I am understanding it correctly, this show is open to ANYONE who wants to participate. Submissions are being accepted until April 15th and pieces must be in their hands by May 3rd, 2015. Like the 36/36 Project, this show will be up at Paxton Gate Curiosities in San Fransisco.

I was really excited to hear about it, but was also hesitant to take on another project, as I have so many unfinished already on my plate. The sign up date was a while away, so I decided to take some time to think about it. And then BAM! In that short time, all of a sudden, I just started seeing vintage matchbooks. First at a pop up show my friend Courtney (of larking.etsy.com)  was participating in. Then at my parents’ house. THEN while sorting my paper hoard I found a whole baggie full of beautiful vintage matchbooks that I had bought at a garage sale years ago, never knowing what I would use them for at the time. That was all it took, I figured these were the signs I was looking for and I signed up. But it hasn’t ended. Last week my SIL and I went to an estate sale and in the basement I found a mishmash box of unpriced items. Just in case there might be a treasure, I started rifling through it and pulled out a binder. It was a matchbook collectors folder, with slits in the pages to hold all your matchbook covers with several pages already filled. One, who knew such a thing even existed and two, how on earth did it come to me and three, now I have a place to store my baggie of beautiful matchbook covers.

Have you heard about @ccerruti's upcoming Strike Away matchbook themed show? While going through my paper stash I found a bag full of these vintage matchbooks and took it as a sign to participate. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, but I have some i

I’m still trying to decide on what to do for my pieces. I’d really like to use some of my vintage matchbook covers (pictured above), but at the same time how do I make them into my own pieces of artwork without covering the already existing beautiful artwork on each one? I have some ideas and need to start playing!

Now, I’d really love to encourage everyone reading to participate as well! As Courtney said “The more the merrier.” More details and the submission page can be found here at ccerruti.com/strikeaway. AND if you are on instagram, check out the #StrikeAwayShow to see what types of things other people are working on and submitting.

Goodbye Winter!

3.29 Winter 14-15 chalkboard

I’ve probably said this before, but I may not make pretty scrapbooks, but I feel like this chalkboard is kind of like my version of a memory book. I’m not even all that great at remembering to write down things that have happened on the board, but I hope that I at least capture the highlight reel.

When I look back at last season I think the only thing I am really bummed that I didn’t do was go sledding. There were a few days where it was nice out, there was sun and beautiful snow but I just could NOT get myself to go out in it. What’s happening to me? I used to love to play in the snow. Instead I just felt cold, cold, cold. I even started sleeping with a heating pad on the end of the bed near the end of the season (I couldn’t find my heating blanket, which I haven’t used for 10 years and probably threw away). I can already tell a week into Spring and I am SO HAPPY to have some warmth and fresh air. Yesterday I went for a walk outside for an hour and a half!

Onto SPRING! Onto new blossoms and shoots, clean air, AND SUN!

More Chalkboard Calendar posts right here!

Battling my Paper Demons

paper pieces


Hello, My name is Robyn, and I’m a paper addict.



Recently I decided to undertake the big project of destashing my paper collection. I’ve realized that I am just not using the decorative, art, and vintage papers that I have, like I used to. At least for my artwork, I’ve been choosing my own painted and printed papers more and more instead. I’ve also realized that it’s such a BIG PROJECT because I’ve have had no self control and have never tackled it before so the paper hoard just grew and Grew and GREW! A few people on instagram said that they destash every few months or when their collection STARTS getting out of control. How smart of them (pounding my head against a wall that I didn’t think to do this myself).

My modest and humble paper collection originally started with a little accordion folder and the papers sorted inside. And then there were little ikea shelf of drawers that I had purchased to hold my entire collection, you can see them below my stereo in the picture below. The collection overflowed to the large flat shelves that stores magazines, calendars and old clipart books, and the book shelve in my studio that holds vintage books and old paper sample books. THEN when we moved to our house in 2011 I had something like 5 boxes of random papers that had no place to go, so they just sat on the floor of my studio. Over the years I was able to consolidate and get it down to just 3 boxes, but 3 boxes is still too much. I’d like to get it back down to a what’s on the flat shelves and then in the ikea drawers. Once it starts expanding, then I need to start making cuts again.

Studio getting unpacked
A picture of my studio when I first unpacked it in 2011, with the boxes of paper conveniently pushed out of the frame.

As I sort and get rid of paper I’m beginning to wonder if I don’t use any of it because it is just too overwhelming to even look at. I’ve offered paper packs of ephemera in the past. The first couple rounds were awesome and sold out quickly, but the last version I listed years ago, just sat in my shop.

It was distressing me to think of pitching my own paper collection, but I felt like the hoard was closing in on me and I know I work so much better with room to breath. I remembered when I was in college taking some fiber arts classes and the teacher had these boxes of random papers that we could sort through and use however we like. It was great! When I remembered those boxes and bins of paper in college I had the idea that I could just donate MY paper to the art school and I’m sure some college students would be SUPER HAPPY. Even if they are putting it in a blender to make recycled handpulled papers, it is being used, which is more than can be said for it on the floor of my studio.

My paper hoard - discard pile

Sadly, I’m at my end, so I’d really just love to take those boxes straight to the college but I can’t. The biggest problem is that I’ve been sloppy with my paper collection. Interspersed amongst beautiful art and fascinating vintage papers of all kinds are a variety of treasures that should not be donated. I’ve got three ongoing piles, one to donate, one to keep and one to pitch.

Found while going through my paper hoard

So far, I’ve found (I think) 6 Polaroid i-zone pics, and two photobooth strips. I have a whole container for photographs with specific individual bags for polaroids and photobooth strips, so these should not have been amongst the papers, but like I said, I’ve been sloppy.

Found while going through my paper hoard Found while going through my paper hoard

I’ve found COUNTLESS notes to myself, to-do lists, and grocery lists. As I mentioned in my last post, I used to write and draw on loose, quartered scrap papers all the time, and naturally many of those papers made their way into my stash. I’ve also found receipts, and paystubs, and bills, oi. Above I found a sketch and a letter from a friend.

One thing I wish I had started keeping were all the fortune cookies fortunes. There have been so many and they could have just been taped onto a sketchbook page.

Scrap pile

The piles of paper I plan on throwing away sometimes look so beautiful that I have to take a picture. I have a moment where I think I just want to keep it and start making stuff with it. When this happens, I’ve stepped away for a while. BUT THEN I found this box of the teensiest, tiniest, beautiful scraps. Everything is like 3 inches or smaller.


Crazy starts talking to me again and I think, I should start a photograph series documenting the piles because they are so beautiful! The paper may go in the garbage but the photographs are pieces of art on their own.

Ok, I have to admit. This box (the contents of which are in video and many pictures above) has been my brick wall. I might just make room for most of its contents in the Ikea shelf.