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Paintings by Amy Rice

I had such a wonderful day today! Remember, I’m between 6-9 hours ahead of my friends in the states, so for me the day is just about to end (it’s 11:30 PM here). What did I do? Well first, my IKEA kitchen was delivered and installed — I cooked my first official meal tonight (that wasn’t in a microwave!) in our new space and we had our friend Allie over. He kept telling me how crazy he was about the kitchen, how my light looks like a little dog, and the great walnut counters that he went ‘nuts’ for. Well, not real walnut, they are IKEA laminate, so faux bois… But they look spectacular and I’m thrilled. I also did a ton of errand running with my husband and Allie in the city this afternoon… stocked up on art supplies at this massive 2-floor art supply/craft store called Idee. No Martha Stewart supplies there but honestly, I don’t care and don’t miss MS at all because I’m learning to live without certain products just fine, replacing them with new ones that I’ve never seen before. It’s a nice change for me I think.

Wren & Chickadee

I have been living in Germany now for 6 weeks and keep wondering when the fun will end because every single day has been great and I’m not exaggerating. The best part of the day was when my mother-in-law came over again today with yet another friend of hers to ‘tour’ my apartment. She makes such a big deal out of my place and all of her friends are the cutest — picture 60+ year old ladies who have very ‘old German style’ interiors with lots of orange, blue, and brown touring my modern mostly white, lilac, gray, and pastel-y apartment swooning over my stuff. The best part was when one of them was going nuts over my photography from Wren & Chickadee and a surreal print from Betsy Walton. I was grinning ear to ear. They all told me that I should open a shop here and, “bring this style to us”. I have concluded that it’s not that older Germans do not like light and bright colors and fun motifs, it’s that they aren’t exposed to it in the same way that I am being online all day… One thing I must comment is that I’m going to try harder to bring the art I see on sites like Etsy, DaWanda, Trunkt, etc. to those who I know aren’t online like some of the ladies that have been visiting me via my husband’s mom. I was thinking of placing a big order for postcards and such from all of my favorite shops and keep them in a vintage wire postcard holder in my entryway so that when people come over and see my art and all this stuff they’ve not seen before, I can give them some postcards and small prints to take home with them. Spread a little indie art love. Why not? So now I just need to find a vintage postcard holder that I can mount on the wall or perhaps something that spins for a shelf top… eBay Germany here I come!

Betsy Walton

Okay so back to art… I was shopping yesterday in Jennifer Davis’ etsy shop and while talking to her she told me about this project that she recently worked on with Amy Rice and so I looked at Amy’s blog and website and stopped dead in my boots. Amy is phenomenal! Now I’m wondering is Amy has prints because I’d love to add something to my apartment from her collection too.

Amy Rice

My goodness she is talented. Where has she been all of my life? I cannot believe I’ve not heard of her until today because I’m sure all of you talented design savvy creatures already know… and I’m just light years behind perhaps? If some of you are in the same boat as I am, then let us drool over the paintings of Ms. Rice together, shall we? First let me show you my very favorite piece, “Make a Wish”, from her collection. I heard it’s sold so my heart hurts a bit but oh well, I’m certain someone out there is very happy with it.

Look at the colors, the frame, oh.my.god. I just made a wish that whoever purchased Make a Wish will feel sorry for me and send me this painting. I doubt it will work. :) Making a wish does not guarantee it will be granted but part of the fun in life is hoping and wishing, don’t you think?

And look at this stenciled building with her paintings on it. I really enjoy seeing her work in such a natural setting. I can totally see her work hanging over some lush velvet sofa in an Anthropologie store, can’t you? It would fit into so many different decor styles from bohemian modern to a country farmhouse.

Amy if you’re reading I’m sorry for not blogging about you much sooner as the more I’ve read about you online this afternoon the more I realize how famous you are and how behind I am. Your work is brilliant and has inspired me so much today… Thank you for sharing your vision and lovely work to the world Amy!

Find Amy here: Her blog, Flickr, and website.

(images from wren & chickadee (first), betsy walton (second) and all others from amy rice)

Posted in Arts + Crafts on September 24, 2008

Etsy Take Five Tuesdays

Hello and thanks for your patience today as I know decor8 has been down for about 12 hours. Lucky for me, most of you were cozy in your little beds so you may not have noticed, but being 6-9 hours ahead of my friends in the states, I have been diligently working on the problem to see exactly why the little decor8 blog has been sick while you were asleep. I think I may have blog diva Heather Armstrong to blame. Even if I don’t, I will blame her anyway because I feel like it. :) No, serious… it really is all her fault. The moment she blogged about me on her mega hit blog Dooce I was screwed. One part happy another part oh crap! (in that order) because when she wrote this I was happy (and shocked and flattered because we all know she is next to take the seat when Oprah passes the torch to the next big thing) and then 5 minutes later I couldn’t access my blog anymore, a so-called “server error”. I think she sent some kind of crazy traffic spike my way because my server couldn’t take it. I have the prima deluxe ultimate mega server package too so I have no clue why it turned into the little blog that could…n’t but longggg story short, I’m happily blogging again! And thank you Heather, you made my day!

Okay so what shall we talk about today? I’m thinking I’ll start with Etsy Take Five Tuesdays and go from there. Sound like a plan? Okay… Here are my Five Faves for the week.

I love Lucie! First up is Summersville (Lucie Summers) based out of the UK with bright perky prints and home accessories that have a clean, modern aesthetic. Loving Summersville this week!

Cards and calendars never steer far off of my radar as I find myself always loving them. Half of the cards I buy I never send though… it’s more like a paper obsession thing. I love looking at them, tacking them up on my inspiration board, placing a few on my magnetic board, I can’t get enough. Jessica Gonacha makes it easy for paper addicts because finding something you’ll love is super easy. Great product shots too. She gets major props for that.


I don’t think I’ve ever included the High Street Market in my weekly round up of fantastic Etsy sellers and thing is, I’ve meant to ever since she opened up her lovely shop! I know I blog a lot of ‘cute’ things but High Street Market is more grown up for those of you who are looking for some seriously nice (and affordable) home accessories and furnishings. Owned by a talented interior designer, items are carefully collected and made new again to resell in her fab Etsy shop. Such a great selection and best part… it updates constantly so be sure you sign up to be on her mailing list (HighStreetMarket [at] gmail.com).

And finally we have the talented Bow & Arrow out of Brooklyn with letterpress cards… Letterpress is like a totally ‘new’ concept here in Germany for cards – I can’t find a single paper shop that sells them. I’m not sure why, but paper products here are not that great. We need a really kick butt paper seller in this country to establish a chain of high quality stationery and gift wrap shops. Seriously. I see this happening in the future…

Next up is Toast. Puffy fabric floral pins for my jacket? I’m IN on this trend because whoa is this not the cutest ever?? Oh my heart… it’s melting! I really like seeing fun brooches and after realizing lately that my personal style could use a bit more color (I wear wayyy too much purple, gray, silver, and black) I think I’ll place an order with Toast. I want to pin some to pillows too. BTW: Speaking of fashion I have a quick trend report from Germany for ya: Gold (bright yellow) tights are HOT for Fall. They are everywhere here and I heard that they’ll be hot in most northern European cities over the next few months. I noticed them in Berlin over the weekend paired with lots of bright purple. It’s 1988 all over again…

Any Etsy sellers that you’re into this week? I go through phases so my favorites are constantly changing as I’m sure yours as too. Please share, even if you want to be totally shallow and give your own shop a plug. No problem-o!

(images linked to their sources above)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, Etsy Take 5 Tuesday on September 23, 2008

Natasha Mileshina & Random Small Business Thoughts

I have to spotlight Natasha Mileshina today because a parcel arrived from her in my little mailbox this morning and it absolutely made my day. I blogged about her etsy shop, bubbo-tubbo, in Take Five Tuesdays last week and like so many artists I feature here I end up becoming a customer because I want to own a part of their world.

I absolutely appreciate and love the American arts & crafts scene, and though there is one here in Germany that is growing and blooming right now, there is still something about the American aesthetic that I really like. Of course, I am partial since I am American so of course I’m going to appreciate things about my own culture that others in different lands may not. I think Natasha Mileshina’s style is so positively perfect, I really enjoyed the package of goodies that arrived because everything was so carefully wrapped and arranged. It was special to just open it and after turning back the papers to reveal the contents – ah, bliss!

“Nothing to put on” print, 5 x 7, $12.

Notebook, $7

Natasha lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland… not exactly the ‘hub’ when it comes to creativity like other places in the U.S. (Brooklyn, San Francisco, Portland OR, etc.) but I imagine that at times it must be nice to not live in uber creative communities because you are able to really be alone with your work and spend time developing it and fine tuning your style. Does this make sense? I guess I think this way because I lived for years in Boston and only when I relocated to southern New Hampshire did I really ‘slow down’ enough in my head to focus on my own artistic and creative spirit. Everyone is different of course. I cannot doubt the explosion of creativity I feel whenever I’m in San Francisco, L.A., even parts of the south where I grew up… But you can really be creative anywhere on this planet and though many artists pack up and relocate to the hip cities to be part of the local culture there, there are plenty of artists who do just as well in their little corners, too. If you’re like me, I go to cities to be inspired but I feel completely fine living outside of creative hubs now because I don’t need to be immersed in it 24/7. It almost stresses me out if I spend too much time in New York City, for instance. I like it there but I find equal inspiration walking on the beach in Maine.

I think in really creative hubs there are so many people making things that yes, it can inspire, but sometimes it may also feel competitive or stressful… like you must continuously churn out new designs or you are no longer ‘the hottest thing’ in your community. I wonder if anyone reading this lives in a creative hub and can comment on this. Here in Hannover, Germany we have many creative types but no one really sticks together, in fact it’s a little competitive and ‘high school’ sometimes just as it was in the beginning days of blogging for me online. I am trying to change this here in Hannover, but it will take awhile. But I have an idea…


“Cat on my head” print, 5×7, $12.

I want to host a street fest here with the local artisans and craftsters but I’m scared no one will mingle because they seem to not like one another! I think these problems exist in the states too, but when I was at Renegade last summer in Brooklyn I didn’t get the sense that vendors there were competing or even jealous or upset at the success of the more popular vendors. I think this is one of many reasons why Americans have such success with their small businesses — the majority seem to support and rely on fellow small business owners knowing that their success comes, not by shunning or excluding others, but by holding hands with others and showing support. I don’t know if craft fairs like Renegade really exist here in Germany, but I’d like to get involved in hosting one here in Hannover to see how it goes. My friend Enna and I are in discussion over this so I’ll let you know what we churn out. I’m thinking next year, a summer fest. :) I want to have a ‘decor8′ table at the fair to show the work of my American friends, and even those from Australia, England, and beyond that may like to introduce their work to the German market. I want to expose more Germans to crafts outside of Europe, too.

You may be shocked to learn that most of my creative friends here aren’t even online, do not blog, and they’ve never heard of Etsy! Half or more do not even speak English, another problem if they want to reach customers outside of Germany. This is one of the major reasons I’m speaking this Saturday in Berlin, I want to encourage the many creative types who will attend the decor8/Dawanda event to blog and reach out to the world if they aren’t already doing it. I feel so confident in the indie arts scene in Germany but not many people outside know what’s going on in this country outside of Oktoberfest and beer. Not even many Germans know what’s going on because so many seem to create in their ateliers, closed off from the rest of the world so to speak, and not much is seen outside of their own city. This is only my opinion as a non-German but I think small business here (at least arts & crafts) is where American small business was back in 2004/05 – blogging was just picking up speed, indie craft fairs were starting to appear nationwide, more and more people were connecting online and making new friends, etc. It’s fun to be over here in the beginning stages of it all. I can’t wait to see what develops!

“Fake NYC” by Natasha Mileshina, processed using the fake tilt shift technique, most likely in Photoshop.

I think I’m running off on a tangent here (what’s new!?), but this was on my mind when I awoke this morning so I thought I’d talk about it today to see what your opinions are on this topic. Do you need to be in the heart of a creative hub to create and network? If you lived in a city where shop owners do not seem to support other shop owners, how would you promote peace and encourage a more supportive environment? How do you overcome feelings of competition with fellow creative types?

Now back to the lovely Natasha! Don’t forget to check out her Flickr album for further inspiration, and don’t miss her lovely studio over at Poppy Talk.

(images taken by holly becker for decor8)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, etsy, small business on September 17, 2008

Suzy Ultman: Illustrator

I recently heard about Suzy Ultman via the fabulous Lilla Rogers and fell in love with her illustrations. I think her style is so very sweet and thought I’d point you over to her online portfolio for additional eye candy. I heard that Miss Suzy was recently picked up by Madison Park Greetings to produce a collection of cards so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of her cutie illustrations in the months to come.


Above is a glimpse of her home studio in Newburyport, MA – a nook that inspires her.

Congrats, Suzy!

Also don’t miss the Lilla Rogers online shop — it’s visually a delight and loaded with links galore. You’ll be in heaven I swear! Lilla has a fab card shop too!

(images from suzy ultman via lilla rogers studio)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, stationery on September 10, 2008

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Further editions available: Decorate published by Murdoch Books for AU/NZ, Decorar BR, Alt om indretning DK, Inspirace pro váš byt CZ, Dekorácie SK, La décoration FR, Lust auf Wohnen DE, Sisusta tyylillä FI and Sztuka aranżacji wnętrz PL.

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