Monday, November 23, 2015

Changes for Lily Cole Designs

Thank you for following me and my little corner of this world these past few years. This blog has been a great place to introduce new products, give a few crafty tutorials, and show pictures of our growing children. Yet, this website will no longer be the "go-to" place, because Lily Cole now has a NEW WEBSITE! We would be overjoyed if you checked it out:

Winebrenner Designs did a fantastic job in not only projecting Lily Cole's vision, but also in guiding us steadily through the set-up process - teaching us all about SEO, keywords, analytics, and so forth. If you are a small business looking to build a new website, I highly recommend Melissa.

So, this will be the final post in this spot. Happiest of holidays to you all, and we look forward to working with you over at our new location.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

My Handwriting, My Heart

So, this little corner of my world with Lily Cole Designs has been...well, in a nutshell...exhilarating. Being able to create artwork specific to customers' desires and knowing that it is being looked at with young, big eyes is so motivating and it makes my heart full. Also, while having my own business has it's challenges, to me I see it more as a giant diving board. I can bounce as high as I want and as many times as I want before jumping in. I might fall off or bounce the wrong way, and I never know what the water will be like below. Yet more than likely, I'll have fun swimming in it.

My stomach is doing flips as I'm getting ready to jump really high on the diving board this morning. This lovely little idea came to me about 6 months ago and I am FINALLY ready to "test the waters" to see if you all are as excited about it as I am. Here's the deal. It's all about handwriting.

Handwriting is so personal, so memorable, to unique to each individual. And I could pick out my Grandpa's handwriting out of a line up. Couldn't you do the same with yours? I bet you can. I can't see my grandpa anymore, but I want, I need, to see words up on my wall.

For this one (above), we found an old letter that my Grandpa had written to my Grandma in 1943 from Germany during WWII. He signed it "All of my love to you all. Ralph." Priceless.
*Note: watercolor flowers are a background option for you. Flowers painted by Create the Cut.

 And this one, from my husband's Grandpa...
...From this birthday card that he had signed years ago. I gave it to my husband for Father's Day and he has it hanging up in his office.

I've also had so much fun with my own family's handwriting. I had each of us write "love you" on a piece of computer copy paper. Then I created this, which is now printed in a 16 by 20 inch size (BIG) and hanging in our bedroom. We will treasure it forever. I mean, who can resist a 6 and 8 year olds' handwriting? Love.

I am calling this new line of products on Etsy "My Handwriting, My Heart." Want to learn more? Check it out in my shop. I'll also be posting details in my Instagram account @LilyColeDesigns. What types of projects would YOU like to see with your family's handwriting?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Color in 2014

The older I get, the more I appreciate color. And texture. And how you can create something from very little and it can be amazing. Lately, my "tv show craft" and my "car craft" (I simply cannot sit for that long without creating at the same time) has been creating collages. I have been creating them out of old magazines and newspapers. I find super colorful pages or images, cut them out, and adhere them to a 12 by 12 sheet of paper. Then, I scan them in (300 dpi, of course) and use them in many of my illustrations. I am completely in love with the array of colors that shines through.

Here are just a few examples of the lovely illustrations you can create. I hand draw everything I do. I typically start by drawing things with a pencil in my sketchbook. Then I scan it in, redraw it on my computer using my Bamboo Tablet, and then digitally color in my drawings. For those of you familiar with graphic design programs, I use a lot of "clipping masks" leaving my magazine/newspaper image as the center point. The possibilities are truly ENDLESS. 

Oh, and on a more personal note, here is our 2013 holiday card. Of course, I didn't get the cards sent out until January 12th, so I made it a Happy 2014 card. ;-) I have created our family's holiday cards since Lily was born, and I almost always include several pictures from the year. 

And just for are some of our past holiday cards:




This was one of my first attempts at putting together a collage of pictures in Photoshop. I had so much learning ahead of me at this point.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Well hello again blog!

Poor have been so neglected. One might think that I have been sitting on my arse eating bon bons and doing nothing with my business, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Lily Cole Designs is so busy that I haven't made any time for blogging/facebook, etc. Well that is going to change, starting today. Nice to see you again blog, let's get to know each other again.

Lily Cole has been "in business" since March of 2011. Everyday since it's inception, I have created something. Here are the most recent works of art, so great for a little girl (nursery or child's room):

And everyday I learn something new. Every. Day. Sometimes I make mistakes that turn out to be a complete waste of time/money. Like buying iron-on transfer sheets - a lot of them - thinking I'd make a bajillion tshirts out of my own designs. Nope. Epic fail. Designs bled, some didn't go on all the way, others cracked off. After a lot of research, purchases, sample fabric ordering, and trial and error, I finally landed on the right solution for me: uploading my designs to Spoonflower and getting yards of fabric printed with several of my designs. I then cut around the design and stitch it on the onesie/t-shirts.

I also have made some SMART decisions. At the top of the list: hiring Stephanie Fizer Coleman to consult me on my business. If you don't know Steph's work, check it out here and her blog here. Her work is amazing, she sells worldwide, has licensing deals, is a book illustrator, and has a fantastic Etsy shop (the Fox and the Teacup). She has "been there done that" but even more appealing is that she is willing to share her learning experiences with others. I have found many other artists who aren't eager to share their secrets (like, where do you get your supplies? how do you get your artwork printed?). Steph has answered probably one hundred of my questions so far (and if you know me personally, you know that I have a tendency to ask a TON of questions). If you are an artist or entrepreneur looking for advice on growing and maintaining your business, I highly recommend you check out her services: Creative Biz Coaching

I have been working with Steph for 3 weeks now, and already my business is about to undergo some major changes. Here is a breakdown: 
  1. Instead of getting all of my printing outsourced, I will now be printing everything on my very own new printer. This was an impactful decision for many reasons. My workspace is limited and I had to clear out many old craft items to make room for this beast of a machine
  2. Printing at home means I also need to have paper (several different sizes), a paper cutting machine, and shipping supplies at my house. Saving money in the long run and it gives me more control on what is delivered to customers. 
  3. I rarely do any advertising or marketing, but I am learning that utilizing existing social media outlets can be really impactful. I struggle with blasting the "look at me and all of my talent!" communication a bit because it seems very "self-absorbed." Yet I plan to have a different approach. Stay tuned. 

Thanks for checking in (and hanging with me after a long blogging absence). 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Nursery art for boys

My poor, sweet little blog. It has been neglected for months! There is so much to share.

I have really wanted more excuses for creating boys' room artwork. I have searched high and low for cute artwork and it is tough to find.

Here are a few illustrations I've created recently. These illustrations can be sized anywhere from smallish (5 by 7 or 8 by 10), to bigger at 11 by 14 or 16 by 20.

Also, camping anyone? For a little boy's room - especially the outdoorsy types - I just couldn't resist illustrating a camping theme.

These are boyish, rustic, weathered looking, textured and full of color.

You'll find that a lot of boy decor includes primary colors. While those are not typically my favorite "main" colors to use, I like blending them with soft blues and greens to create a ton of color, while complimenting existing decor.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The tooth fairy is coming!

So we had an "emergency situation" yesterday (according to Lily). She has a loose tooth that is so close to popping out and we did not yet have a tooth fairy pillow (oh the horror!). Yet when I am assigned with such a craft task, I am ON IT. I don't seem to have that quality when it comes to housework or cooking, but make a pillow for my daughter - well that is a priority above all others.

See how that tooth already grew so far behind the baby tooth? Is that normal or should I call the dentist?

So making the pillow was super easy and fun.

1. Cut a pattern of a tooth shape using Kraft paper. I love that stuff. Pick it up super cheap at Dollar Store or Walmart and we use it for patterns, for wrapping all of our gifts, which the kids then decorate with pictures - see Christmas photo. And of course, I also use it to package up every Lily Cole Designs box that I take to the post office.

2. Find an off white fabric - double it up if you are going to embroider a name on it. 
3. Find another colorful fabric for the back. Have your child help you pick it out! 

4. Embroider his/her name on the light fabric. First write it out using disappearing ink pen. I love that thing. It really FULLY disappears!

5. Place right sides together, then pin the pattern on top. Cut all pieces of fabric around the pattern. Take the pattern off. 
6. Make a little pocket for the tooth to go in. Pockets are really easy to make. Just fold down all four sides of a square of fabric and stitch them down. Then place it on top of your fabric and stitch the  3 sides to it, leaving the top open. 
7. Pin the right sides together of just the fabric. Sew all around the tooth, but leave about a 3 inch opening on the side. This is the opening you will use to turn it inside out. 
8. Turn it inside out.
9. Stuff it full of stuffing. Have kids help. It's fun.  
10. Then stitch that 3 inch opening closed. I started it and Lily finished it. I think you can tell which stitches she helped with. I think that is my favorite part of the whole pillow. 

11. Then love on that pillow and wait for that stinkin' tooth to pop out!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Veteran's Day

Dear Lily and Cole,
We had quite the experience last Friday. It doesn’t mean anything to you now, but someday it will mean a lot. You’ll probably tell your children about it. You’d better. In fact, I insist.

Last Friday, your Great Papa (my grandpa, Dr. Jack Rowlett), who is now 91 years old, came to Lily’s school’s Veteran’s Day Assembly. Sweet Nanci, your cousin Jack’s wife and Great Papa’s main caregiver, drove him up to our house. He had a green notebook in hand. In that green notebook included pictures of him from the war (boy, such a handsome young man he was!), his ration card, important war papers and more. Here are some pics:

2nd row, dark shirt. He is the one on the slight right (the one without a smile on his face). 

Lily and Grandma Janie looking through the green notebook that Nanci and Grandpa created for the assembly.

Several Veterans came up to Grandpa after the assembly to thank him. It was very emotional for him.
Today Great Papa is ok. Living ninety-one years in the same body…well, he isn’t what he used to be. Dr. Jack Rowlett practiced medicine (family practice) Paola, KS for 47 years. For most of this time, he was only one of two doctors in town. He has delivered hundreds of babies, and has performed countless surgeries. He is incredibly well respected and sort of a “celebrity” in this small town. And in his old age, this tough “class clown” man, who sings inappropriate songs from war days and keeps people in stitches so easily, has become a big giant softie who cries easily. He is still quick witted and sharp, and his old age has just made him a little less aware of his surroundings. Yet we are still very much aware of him. Of his larger-than-life existence. Of his critical importance in our upbringing, and therefore his continued influence on our daily lives. 

I feel so blessed for all of the trips that Grandpa and Nanci take to "the city." We get to grab lunch and chat. 
Grandpa's 90th birthday party at his house. Most of the family, but we miss Sadie, Amelia and Crayton. 
Yet this Veteran’s Day, the focus was not on how influential he has been in our lives, but rather on his dedication to America and his heroism shown in World War II.

We had no idea what to expect. We heard it was a Veteran’s Day Assembly and that Lily could invite a Veteran.  I called Grandpa to ask and he seemed excited. We thought it would be a boring assembly. Quite the contrary. Two hours, many tears from all of us (except the kids, who really were bored) and a medal around Grandpa’s neck, the assembly turned out to be a day I’ll never forget.

Grandpa was too weak to stand in the long line of the Veterans and their sweet elementary school relatives. A thoughtful employee asked if Grandpa could somehow still introduce himself, as it was obvious there were very few World War II Vets there (turns out there were 3). Grandpa was the very last Vet to be “introduced.” Grandma Janie was going to introduce him from our seats, but when we realized the microphone had a wire and couldn’t reach to the back of the audience. Mom has a broken foot and is using a walker, so she couldn’t just run up to the front. I ended up introducing him (which is a shame because mom would have been great telling his story with date facts, etc.). I simply said “Lily Unruh, kindergartener, has brought her great papa here today. Dr. Jack Rowlett served in World War II.” Man – there were SO many things I wish I would have said like:
  •     we are so honored he is here
  •     he is 91 years old
  •     he served as a pilot

Yet I was pretty proud of myself because I made it through this announcement without crying. Who knew I would be a sobbing mess about 45 seconds after his introduction. Here is why:

As I was handing the microphone back over to the principal, the crowd of 700 erupted in applause. I suppose it was a combination of Grandpa being the last one,  but I believe it was also because he was a World War II Vet. I lock eyes with my barely standing, supported by a cane Grandpa…and he is sobbing. He was so touched by the applause given to him. And this overwhelming sense of pride came over me. I am proud of Grandpa. For his heroism in the War, for taking care of his patients for almost half of a century, for being a dedicated family man. But what really struck me in that moment was my pride for a simple thing – I was so proud that he was there with us on that day, in that school auditorium.

Lily and Cole – our time left with Great Papa might be dwindling. Even if you don’t remember this assembly, I want you to know that he showed up. He has a terrible back and a lot of pain in his legs. He was weak that day. But he came. For you. You two – my little darlings – are lucky sons of bitches for having him as your Great Papa.

I just love this picture of Grandpa and Cole. 

And then here too - Cole is so much bigger but still sitting in his lap. 
During our "Applebees days" when kids, mom and I would head to Paola to pick up Grandpa and he would take us out to lunch.