Embroidery Hoop Knick Knack Shelf

knick knack mantle

I finally installed my knick knack shelf over the mantle in a proper way.

Back story: Shortly after we moved into our house in 2011 I put these shelves up over the mantle but Matt did not like how they were all just leaning there. He said if I wanted them up I need to attach them properly and it took me a couple years to finally get that done. Since I want to regularly rotate out our mantle, so the decor never gets stale, I just used LOTS of 3M velcro strips.

knick knack mantle 2014

There are two shelves that are deeper than the type case shelves so they are sitting on the mantle. The shelf on the bottom left is by my friend Ann of a A Beautiful Party and I bought it at a show but I think she needs to make and sell these online, they are so wonderful. Because that shelf is painted a very pale aqua or teal and a different color than the rest of the wooden shelves, and because I had an empty spot on the top right I had the idea of making my very own little knick knack shelf.

I first saw this shelf by etsy seller Senkki and thought it would be great to make a small, round knick knack shelf but from an embroidery hoop, to balance out my own shelf wall. Easy Peasy.

Embroidery Hoop Knick Knack Shelf supplies

A quick craft store run later and I was on my way. I just picked up an wooden embroidery hoop, and then went to the wood craft section and picked out some balsa wood that was the same thickness as the hoop’s depth. I grabbed a pencil, an X-acto pen knife, a glue gun (you could use wood glue if you want and have more time), and a cutting board.

Embroidery Hoop Knick Knack Shelf

I just eyeballed where I’d like a shelf to go and marked it with a pencil. Since the balsa wood is so thin and soft I was able to just cut it with the pen knife, no power tools necessary! Dabbing a bit of hot glue on each end, I then put it into the hoop and let the glue cool while I worked on the next piece.

Embroidery Hoop Knick Knack Shelf

The whole thing took less than a half an hour.

embroidery hoop Knick Knack Shelf up

Also, since the wood is so light I was able to put it up with more 3m strips, tada! I think the next size larger embroidery hoop might look better, filling the space, so I might try that next. You may want to stain or paint your embroidery hoop shelf. I’d recommend doing that before beginning.

Other Crafty DIYs and Tutorials by Robayre

Maple Syrup Tree Tapping

My grandma was a big fan of the author and illustrator Tasha Tudor and thus, she passed that interest onto me. My grandma, and I’m guessing Tasha Tudor, probably play a good part in my interest in homesteading and living the simple life. If you would have asked me about my future when I was in high school, I would have told you my dream was to live out in the country and homestead. Well, I pictured myself as an artist working out in a small homestead. Now, many years later I have traded in some of those country dreams for others, but I will always be very interested and passionate in learning and using self sustaining techniques in my more suburban life.

Winter hiking on solid, thick sheets of ice can be interesting, fun and there might be a few frozen tears on your cheek when you're through. This morning I got my #TashaTudor on and we learned all about maple syrup production. I'm kinda excited because we have 3 maples in our yard that would qualify. Now, if it would only get warm enough!

A few weeks back my family and I went to Russell Woods, a local forest preserve for their annual Maple Syrup Fest, where they have tree tapping demonstrations. Unfortunately, Northern Illinois was having one of the longest, coldest and snowiest winters in recorded history. They showed us everything they could but we didn’t really get to see any sap running.

Fast forward to mid/late March and the majority of the snow has melted and days are more frequently above freezing, than below.

45 degree heat wave, so I decided to walk home from work (maybe not the best idea)

I even was able to walk home from work one day last week. It was kinda muddy (to say the least).

One thing I learned at the Maple Syrup Fest was that it doesn’t take a very specific kind of Maple Tree to get syrup. In fact, you can tap all kinds of trees (Birch, walnut, etc.) and get different kinds of syrup! She said that most of the maple trees at Russell woods are the kind that have leaves that turn yellow in the fall (Silver Maples), but that most Maple syrup farms harvest from trees that turn red orange and yellow in the fall (Sugar or Red Maples).

Ahem, maybe kind of like the maple trees in my yard (documented here last fall!

Yahtzee, I have trees that I could tap in my very own property! We purchased some spiles (the taps) from tapmytrees.com via amazon, borrowed a wireless electric drill and 7/16″ drill bit from my dad, saved a few milk jugs (as recommended at Russell Woods), bought a couple larger food grade buckets, and rubber hose from the hardware store and we were on our way!

Today my sister and I tapped two of the maple trees in my yard. We are finally having days above freezing. I was so amazed at how easy it was. One second I'm drilling the hole and saw dust was coming out and then the dust turned to mushy pulp and the sap

All in all, it took only minutes to put everything together, drill the hole and start collecting, as seen above. It was so exciting to watch as the saw dust being drilled out of the tree quickly turned to a wet pulp, which then turned to drips of liquid. We each dabbed our finger into it and could taste the sweetness. All the same, it can take 40 parts of tree sap to boil down to 1 part syrup. Naturally after we tapped the trees yesterday the temperature dropped below freezing again so collection will slow down. I’ll check back in again after we’ve collected and cooked down our syrup this first year.

If you are interested in tapping your own trees I recommend researching online, there are plenty of sites with information and videos. The site that our spiles came from (tapmytrees.com) seems very thorough with plenty of information and videos, but this is in no way a sponsored post.


My All American Hero – ME!

Another composition made from a stack of handcut stencils I used while making #gelatinprints. #art

Since my work schedule has changed and I get off of work earlier and work fewer days I have noticed that I’ve been filling up my sketchbook pages more regularly. I’ve always carried a sketchbook, but I feel like for a few years I noticed that I didn’t really take it out that often and put anything into it. Now, I’m filling up pages with artwork, ideas and to-do lists. I’m also noticing that I’m wanting to make sure it is on the bedside table at night before going to bed, this is because I’ll be having ideas I need to write or sketch out before falling asleep, or even waking up and needing to add things to my sketchbook. If I don’t, they will be gone by morning, no matter how important I think they are and how much I’ll tell myself “there’s no way I could forget that”. This reminds me of when I was just near the end of college and then recently graduated, living on my own and I would keep my sketchbook in bed with me always.

I was thinking about a small handful of facebook friends who have recently completely transformed themselves into the people they want to be. These transformations are physically noticeable, but the changes are not just on the surface but from inside out. I would really love that dedication and mindfulness to think about my daily actions regularly and ask “Is this something that the ideal Robyn would do?” So, back to the sketchbook. There is this part of me that is feeling more balanced and inspired, brimming with ideas and now finally having the time to work on them, but there are still all of these other inner elements that I’m still battling. TV/netflix and food probably being the biggest time consumer (and also probably the easiest ways to avoid dealing with the next issues, which are…), the resistance to actually sit in my studio and work or create unless it is 100% mandatory (I believe at the heart of this is a resistance to taking the time to make the switch from left to right brain activity, and then once there, not wanting to shut it down to go to bed, even though I have to be at work at 6 a.m.), and then lastly the fears of “what if?” and this includes all the goodies like “will I be good enough?” , “will this be too hard?” and “what if I fail?”

A couple things to mention:

The mindful approach is making me think of Matthew McConaughey’s acceptance speech for his Oscar a few weeks ago. Don’t laugh. I know he caught a lot of flack in the media for essentially saying “he is his own hero” but I think those people didn’t actually see the speech or weren’t really listening fully to his message. Really, he was saying he just wants to aim to be a great person, he knows he is not that person today, but it gives him something to work toward. This is part of his speech below:

My hero. That’s who I chase. Now when I was 15 years old, I had a very important person in my life come to me and say “who’s your hero?” and I said, “I don’t know, I gotta think about that. Give me a couple of weeks.” I come back two weeks later, this person comes up and says “who’s your hero?” I said, “I thought about it. You know who it is? It’s me in 10 years.” So I turned 25 10 years later, that same person comes to me and goes, “So, are you a hero?” And I was like, “not even close. No, no, no.” She said, “Why?” I said, “Because my hero’s me at 35.” So you see every day, every week, every month and every year of my life, my hero’s always 10 years away. I’m never gonna be my hero. I’m not gonna attain that. I know I’m not, and that’s just fine with me because that keeps me with somebody to keep on chasing.”

Easy peasy!

After reading Andrea Corrona Jenkins‘ article in the latest Uppercase magazine I was inspired to make the above image. Lord knows I can kill a project by overthinking it. It’s a lesson I need to learn over and over again. Just do it. One foot in front of another, stop looking too far ahead and just go. During the “Start a Foolish Project” course I took last summer, Andrea Scher shared a technique that she uses. She suggests breaking up a project, and writing down a list of how to accomplish it in 3 to 5 easy steps. Instead of becoming overwhelmed with a long laundry list of things that need to be done, just 3-5 things. Once you are in a step, just focus on the things within that step.

Things that my ideal future me would do differently
eating better, cooking more, wasting groceries less
losing weight, feeling better about myself via better overall health
less or no time in front of the TV
blogging more and actually publishing (you should see the looooooong list of partially started drafts)
more studio time
putting my work out there more (shows and in shops, etc.)
working on ideas I have, rather than just thinking about them forever until a newer more exciting idea comes along and I abandon the previous ideas
staying on top of my emails
writing more letters (and actually sending them)
Pretty much you can see a pattern here, that I need to follow through with things more

36/36 Project opening and Uppercase Magazine

2.28 3636 Project
Picture by Courtney Cerruti (I believe)

The 36/36 Project opening was last Friday at Paxton Gate in San Fransisco.

2.28 3636 Project my spoon

Here are pictures I took of my spoon before sending it off. The center is what it looked like when it arrived, and then left and right are front and back of my spoon.

You can read a little bit more about the show in this previous post here. I’m so inspired by Courtney’s project and her inspiration behind organizing this show. She is such a do-er. She get’s it done! If you don’t already, you must follow her on instagram now!

While I couldn’t attend the opening, I LOVED seeing all the action on instagram and in my email as those in attendance shared pictures and updates from the event! First my friend Claire (bicoastally) was able to stop by and get pictures before the show even opened up.

2.28 3636 Project Paxton Gate 2.28 3636 Project Paxton Gate2
The picture on left was opposite where my spoon was displayed, and right is the grouping of spoons mine was in.

She also sent me a picture of this spoon she loved by Patrick Sean Gibson. It’s great, right? Even knowing nothing about the backstory I love it, but apparently it is a commentary on the outrageous cost of living in San Fransisco. Apparently it got plenty of reactions (positive and negative) which was excellent.

Next my friend Barbara (who just recently transplanted to SF from Chicago) was able to attend the opening and it sounds like it got crazy in there.

I don’t think she was able to even see all the spoons, but she got these pictures she shared on instagram. She shared that my piece got a good response and that sent me beyond the moon.

Yesterday I found out that my spoon was featured on the Uppercase Magazine Blog! And then I died.
2.28 Uppercase Magazine

That’s what you get for falling behind on your blog reading, and then missing important comments left on instagram. Fortunately I caught it after all.

And then I actually saw the post, and my spoon was one of two spoons that were fully featured! and then I died again.

For more or better images click on the pictures above or search #3636project on instagram. The show will be up at Paxton Gate for one month, so if you are in the area you still have time.

Giveaway winner announced

So, it only took me a few additional days to getting around to the drawing, but here I am.

self mailing stationery by robayre

I wrote out all entries from the instagram post and comments on the blog and the winner is, drum roll please

And the winner of the much belated drawing for a set of my self mailer stationery is @alphabetpizza Congratulations! I know this prize will be put to great use with this snail mail enthusiast.

Jane of Alphabet Pizza!

Congratulations Jane, I know this set will be put to great use!

If you weren’t a winner but would still like a set, please feel free to hop on over to ye olde etsy shop and purchase a set (2) for only $5!

Confetti Washi Tape Wall

Real quick before I get into this post, don’t forget to leave a comment on the post from last week for a chance to win some fun stationery.

Aaaand, if you are in the San Fransisco area this week (Friday, Feb 21), please don’t forget to check out the 3636 Project where my art spoon will be amongst an amazing collection of art spoons on display at Paxton Gate.

So, on to it! I have a washi tape addiction. I don’t feel too bad about this because I know I’m not alone.
This is a problem. Inspired by @hey_lady_hey Going into setting up this picture I really thought I had about half as many rolls as I do. The problem lies in the compulsion to buy but fear in using it because I feel it is too precious. Yes precious is perf

Since I took this picture over a year ago, my collection may or may not have doubled, cough.

I’ve admitted to the problem of hoarding and yet, having a hard time actually using it. I use it so sparingly and a little goes a long way.

I’ve used it here
washi tape keyboard

and here

washi tape bunting

and here

Packaging orders

But most recently, I had the novel idea to put it on my walls. I’ve seen giant washi tape rolls used for decorating your walls before, but it had never occurred to me to use regular washi tape on the walls before now.

I'm wishing my dear friend, the creative and talented, generous and loving @rmurillo, a happy 28th #birthday. This #cupcake is Nutella, Cookie Butter and chili mango flavor just for yooooou!

On Rosa‘s birthday, I wanted to post a special picture for her on instagram. I had the cupcake, but I wanted the shot to have a fun background. I thought I wish I could get a confetti-like background but with the cupcake and candle in the foreground I couldn’t just sprinkle confetti on a piece of paper like I usually do. I actually cut out small pieces of square origami paper and was about to try and stick them up on the wall before I realized (like a brick to the head) why not use washi tape.

washi tape

I just cut little square-ish pieces and placed them randomly on the wall behind my drawing table in my studio. Now I have a pretty backdrop for when I want to take silly selfies.

Silly Selfies


Smiley Faced Pouch Time Capsule

Smiley faced pouch time capsule

Matt just came home and asked me “Anything happen while I was out?” and I was able to reply “Only that I found a TIME CAPSULE!

I have FOUR HUGE storage bins that I packed up of all my belongings from my parents’ house when I moved out around 2000ish. These storage bins went into a storage shed at my sisters’ house and stayed there until Matt and I bought our house in 2011. Now they reside in my garage, but I still haven’t gone through them. These bins alone are like time capsules, filled with my Cabbage Patch Dolls and diaries and Seventeen magazines, etc., etc., but this is not the time capsule I refer to.

I want to execute a project in our house and had to get something that I knew was in those storage bins. I opened the first bin and fortunately what I wanted was sitting right on top. But immediately underneath, was this little smiley faced pouch. It was a zipper pouch I used in high school, and carried the necessities in it (probably my driver’s license, cash and chapstick) and it might have been attached to my keychain. When I picked it up from the storage bin it was stuffed round and I immediately grabbed it to see what was inside. The zipper wouldn’t budge and then the pull actually broke right off. I could tell the zipper was completely corroded closed and there was no way it was going to zip open. It was so stuffed and I knew I had to find out what was inside so I decided to document opening it just in case it was good.

Smiley faced pouch time capsule

In other news, and just by chance, last week Kaylah from the Dainty Squid posted a picture on instagram that she said was “A collection of absolutely worthless things that mean everything to me.” I replied that she needed to hashtag that and that I wanted to play along. I am 100% the type of person to keep “junk” purely for sentimental reasons. She hashtagged #worthlessthingsthatmeaneverything and I thought “ok, now how shall I go around gathering little trinkets from all over the house and get a picture of it?” Little did I know this gem would all but just drop into my lap a few days later.

I love when things like that happen. I kind of feel like it’s the universe telling me that I’m on the right path.

Smiley faced pouch time capsule

But really, who knew what would be inside? It could be awesome, but it could just as easily and more likely be a bunch of junk like rocks I picked up from who-knows-where because let’s face it, that would be so me. Instead it ended up being AWESOME!!!!! Scroll down.













2.15.14 time capsule

Can you believe all this stuff was stuffed into that little pouch? Some of it really is junk, like a half of a broken button. What the heck is that about? Maybe in my old life that button meant something to me, but right now I haven’t the slightest clue why I would have kept it. BUT, there were other things in there that really do mean the world to me. Things I have long wondered “what happened to that? I wish I still had it.”

A few highlights:

Near the center, a little to the left there is a white ceramic oval that says my name. I received that, probably for a birthday, when I was 6-8(maybe younger?) from my Godmother. It was a pin that I treasured. It said MY name (Robyn) on it and as a girl if ever I would find customized items, AND on the super rare chance that they would have my name, it would 100% surely be spelled Robin. As a little kid having an oddish name was a rough thing for me, I dreamed of being named Samantha, or Alexandra (then I could have a nickname like Sam or Alex), but no instead I had a name that was unusual and on top of that it was an unusual spelling. I got over it by the time I was in high school and all the kids started wishing their names were unique and trying to come up with unique spellings for Sara and Jennifer. Underneath my name it says “Strength of Character” and my mom always said that my Godmother said about me when I was little, “There’s no worry that Robyn won’t get what she wants in this life. She knows exactly what she wants and goes after it.

When I was in high school I took a train trip to a family reunion with my Grandma Wells. We were in Amish country and they had tons of gift shops. We went into one store and they had an assortment of these super tiny ceramic vegetables, Top to middle of the Righthand side. I loved them so much and talked my grandma into buying them for me. It was no easy feat. I LOVED my grandma, but my memories of her were also VERY THRIFTY and money conscious. She was born in 1910 (I believe) and lived through the great depression, and that pretty much changed everyone that had to go through that. So, getting her to buy something for me was HUGE. I also got her to buy me a pair of huge black, chunky healed maryjanes that trip and I wore those things until they DIED. I still think of those shoes and wish I still had them as well. Sometimes I try to find something similar but that was a very 90s style.  I remember her asking me “what are you going to do with those (the vegetables)? and I said I didn’t know but that maybe I could somehow turn them into charms and make a bracelet. You can see that never happened, but I still love them as they are, all the same. I just love everything miniature and I have often wondered where they went.

In the bottom center is a brass silhouette of a “Jamaican Basketball Player”. It was the very first assignment in my very first metalwork class in college. We had to learn to use our jeweler’s saws and this was the shape everyone in the class had to cut. This is actually the discard piece from the finished piece of jewelry that can be seen here (the second lowest hanging piece on the display)

One last note, the pile of red junk appears to be a disintegrated remains of a red water balloon, yet, the silly putty is perfectly good still!

Please feel free to click on over to flickr and see see the image BIGGER and to hover over the images to see exactly what everything else  is.

New Stationery and a Giveaway

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope you are celebrating with lots of love, hugs and candy.

self mailing stationery by robayre

I just added this new self mailer stationery to my etsy shop. The outside is a reproduction of an original art print I made with my gelli arts plate. I added some lighter areas for addressing and stamp placement.

self mailing stationery by robayre

The inside is lined, has a self sealing adhesive and is perforated (with my sewing machine) so that the recipient can open it.

Since it is a Friday and I’m off work and since it is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d like to celebrate by offering a set (2 in a set) of these mailers in a giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post or the post on instagram (or leave comments at both locations for an extra chance) and one lucky person will be chosen randomly next Friday.

So, did you get or send any valentine’s this year? I just went out to the mailbox and found a valentine from my 3 year old nephew, so cute!

36/36 Project


Last fall I received an evite from Courtney Cerruti (the internet’s sweetheart) to participate in an Art show in California. In all honesty, I’m in Illinois and probably won’t be getting to California any time soon, and I just assumed that it was a mass emailing and somehow I got on the list. I clicked through the links and thought that it was some sort of accident and decided to just quietly disregard it. A couple of weeks later I got a follow up email, once again asking to please participate and explaining more details about the show. Courtney was curating a show where each participant would create artwork using an antique wooden spoon.

I emailed her back explaining that I live in Illinois and that I wasn’t sure if she really meant to invite me, but that my interests were piqued. She replied that she picked me along with 35 other instagram artists to participate in this show and that I should “Say Yes!” and so I did. You can read more about the show here, including her inspiration, how it all unfolded and links to all of the other artists.

I’m amongst some amazing folks, I tell you. It was probably a good thing I didn’t see this list first, before I was invited. I probably would have been too intimidated to participate (biting my nails).

Can't wait to share what has became of this #woodenspoon. Thank you @ccerruti for inviting me to be part of the #3636project

Here is a little thumbnail of my spoon as it was sent to me. Now I have finished my piece and sent it back. The opening for the show is in a week. I don’t want to ruin the surprise, but here is a sneak peak, below, of the work in progress.

I just noticed my #spoon for the #3636project has arrived to its destination in CA so I thought I'd share this progress shot.

While I won’t be able to attend the show, I am so excited to see pictures from the show and find out what all the spoons look like.

The opening is on February 21st from 6pm-8pm at Paxton Gate Kids, 766 Valencia St. San Francisco. Here is the facebook event page. Spread the word!

If you are near San Fransisco or will be in the area on February 21st, please think of attending, and then reporting back to me about it ;)

Geometric Stationery Notepaper

robayre stationery

I have finally listed this fun stationery paper in the shop. Each sheet is 5.5×8.5″, or a half sheet of letter sized paper. The top is a pattern I painted in watercolor (I’ve used it for a number of things) and the lines are scanned lines I drew out freehand with pencil and lots of scribbly character.

The stationery is BEAUTIFUL, I’m so pleased with it! While I normally print most of my paper products at home or at print/copy shop, I had the opportunity to print these at my work on a huge four color offset press. I dream of the day that I would be able to design full lines and have them all printed professionally like that.

I created this listing for 20 sheets of paper, but what do you think? Is that enough, too much?

When doing research for the product I found many people are now offering stationery papers as immediate printable downloads. This way a person could print it for themselves at home, for much cheaper. For someone who makes her livelihood in the print industry you wouldn’t suspect I’d be so excited. I definitely want to design products specifically for this purpose in the future. I have been toying with offering this design as immediate download as well. I even created a listing that is draft mode. I just haven’t quite been able to pull the trigger.

I know that if I designed certain things specifically for printable download I would be fine with it. I’ll have my logo on it and disclaimers in the listing. I will have designed it knowing it has wings to fly on its own. But, for some reason on this stationery, although it was a spontaneous design, I don’t think I’m quite ready to just put it out there for people to do whatever they want with it. This design is too close to my heart, if that makes sense. I’d be crushed if I found out someone altered the design or used parts for their own gain. It kind of makes me think of the music industry and how once you have digital files, what keeps people from sharing, and sampling uncredited, etc. ? I may make my livelihood working at a printing company, designing work for other people, but my own heart goes into my personal work offered online and in my etsy shop.

I don’t know, I’m just so torn. What do you think?