Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Art of Being You: Audrey King of French Knot Studios

I met the delightful Audrey while at Alt Summit this past summer during her photo styling class. She is wonderfully fun and we share a common theatre background. Her fantastical weddings and events are to die for. 

Audrey Wagner King is the idea factory behind French Knot Studios.  With a background in design for the theater and an MFA in Fibers, she excels at working with a variety of materials and designing new event details.  Her love of all things wedding and event (graphic design, floral design, space planning, music, lighting, menu selection, et cetera) offers a unique opportunity to work on every detail for an event that is truly special and reflects the couple's love story through both its design and her impeccable styling aesthetic.  

Her exceptional work has been seen on all the major wedding blogs: 100 Layer Cake, Style Me Pretty, Ruffled Blog, Gray Likes Weddigs, The Knotty Bride, Emmaline Bride, and others.  A contributor for Savannah Weddings and Magazine, a feature in the book Vintage Wedding Style by Elizabeth Demos, and features in/on Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, MSN.com, Design Sponge, and Etsy's front page keep her busy and in the know of the latest trends.

Not to mention she is giggly and sweet and hilarious, I think we could be best friends! I hope that you enjoy this interview as much as I did. 

Why did you first start French Knot Studios? 

French Knot Studios started as a brick and mortar in 2009 called French Knot.  I sold supplies and taught classes for embroidery and needlepoint.  Slowly I started getting requests for custom work, and with a pretty happening Etsy shop, I moved into a home studio in 2012 and have been working from the internet and designing events and art directing/styling photo shoots ever since.  I added the "studios" to help differentiate from my old business (yet not abandon it completely) and the popular embroidery stitch where I got the name.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?  

My Dad was in sales for 37 years, so we moved around a bit.  As a kid I've lived in CA, IL, MN, and NC.  As an adult going through school and pursuing a career in theatrical design I lived in NC, FL, NY, the Bahamas, and now GA (which is actually my longest state of residence).  I've enjoyed every place I've lived for a variety of reasons.  I think it's helped broaden my influences, and lead to new places of inspiration.

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively? 

I think creative people are always looking for themselves.  One can't simply make the same thing over and over again.  Creativity is about reinvention and using your skills to solve new problems.  When I started school, the goal was to be a Disney Imagineer and design the rides and attractions at Disney World.  Then I discovered theatre through a college elective and loved designing for it.   I was surprised at how much engineering is involved with creating new costumes, sets, and props.  In graduate school I studied fibers and textiles, and now I work primarily with weddings and photo shoots.  Which are actually a lot like working in live theatre.

How would you describe your process?   

My process either starts with a couple or an idea (this can be anything, a pretty plate, a vintage bauble, a color, an idea, anything).  Then I flush out as many ideas as possible through lots of Pinterest/internet research, books, and sketches.  Then refine them into the finished product.  It's a lot easier to narrow things down, then try to find new ideas.

What is your favorite medium? 

All of them.  With my background in theatre and an MFA in a craft, I have experience with lots of materials.  I even learned how to weld on an internship.  Most often my mediums tend to be fabric and paper as they are affordable, lightweight, and I have many tools and machines to manipulate them.  I would love a big wood shop!  But I'm pretty handy with the circular saw, I have.  But if anyone wants to get rid of a miter saw, table saw or nail gun...

Where do you find your inspiration? 

It starts with a couple's love story, or a potentially crazy idea from myself or Izzy Hudgins (my favorite photographer and bestie).  The crazy ideas come from art, pop culture, museums, life, pretty colors, etc.

What do you do for fun?  

Make ice cream, watch bad TV, and relax with my sweet husband.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it?  
A high school friend who I don't really keep in touch with (aside from Facebook) messaged me because she had been browsing through Pinterest and came across my work.  It had been pinned several hundred times, and then she started to notice she pins alot of my work without even knowing it.  Sometimes I'll come across my images (mostly taken by Izzy) in a Pinterest search and it always makes me smile.  I imagine it's the visual equivalent to hearing your song on the radio.  But to be honest, I'm still making it.  A creative profession is feast or famine.  I'll be really busy one season, and crickets the next.  There's a constant effort to continue find gigs to offset the dry season.

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life? 

I'm often at the mercy of inspiration.  When it hits, I'm in the studio all day, sometimes as much as 16 hours.  When it's not there, you can't force it.  So I call friends to play, or go shopping, or tackle a long overdue home improvement project.

What is the most difficult part of Being You?  

Time management.  I work pretty fast, but for some reason, I always think I'm faster than I really am, or a task will be super quick.

What is the most rewarding part of your day? 

Looking at a finished project.  My husband is so sweet.  I often drag him out to the studio (in the backyard) to see my latest creation.  He always says, "wow, great Sweetie."  Hugs me, and goes back in the house.  I know my work isn't his cup of tea, but his smile and support of my career are always welcome.  Then I call Izzy (or my mom) and text a picture for lots of praise and girlie discussion of every nuance.

What do you have in the works?

I'm currently working on a collection of styled shoots for Wedding Paper Divas, the Spring 2015 cover of Savannah Weddings Magazine, and half a dozen weddings.

Who do you admire?  

Anyone following their bliss.  Whatever that bliss may be.

Follow Audrey


Thank You Audrey for sharing how you are Mastering the Art of Being You.

UPNEXT: Art of Being You Interview with Kate of Quarter Mile Quilts

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Art of Being You: Interview with Maggie Revel of Leland Gal

Why did you first start Leland Gal?

Leland gal started in 2011 by complete coincidence and accident. I had just started a new teaching job after relocating from Chicago, IL to Grand Rapids Michigan when I was asked to teach graphic design as part of my curriculum just before school started. I quickly taught myself this new medium using my paintings as a means to learn the program. I fell in love with this idea and had a few patterns printed to make Christmas presents and soon realized this could be more than just a hobby. I did this on the side of teaching for two years, and opened up my own "brick and mortar" shop last summer and resigned from teaching in August.

Where did you grow up? How do you think this influenced your creativity?

I was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, but spending every summer in Leland Michigan is 100% the influence being my work. To me, being by the water makes me feel more alive than anything else. The beauty and the simplicity that is here is unlike anyplace else.

Would you say that you have “found yourself” creatively?

As a former art teacher of 12 years, I don't know if you are ever done finding yourself creatively, or at least I hope not. I can say that I am definitely a creative, but that curiosity to always be trying to ideas and things is part of the winning formula in my book.

What kind of a path did you take to get to where you are now?

I never took the path that was expected of me, and got to where I wanted to be on my own terms. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse! I've always had creative influences, and grew up with an artist for a mom (Nellrevelsmith.com), so creativity was always around me, but I had to really work hard and put the time in to find my own creative voice.

How would you describe your process?

I definitely think the best ideas come when I am not sitting down at my desk working. Whether it's on a walk, in the middle of the night, during a tennis match, or on a drive, things just come together when I am not expecting it at all. For me at this time, as a mom, a lot of my process has to be compartmentalized into segments of time when my son is napping. What is really great is that I have a seasonal store. It opens in May and closes in October, so I get the entire winter to dream up, and paint new patterns and come up with new products making sure my ideas are always fresh, as well as a great way to get through a long winter.

What is your favorite medium? 

I paint in acrylic, mainly because I would be too impatient to wait for oil to dry, and I also make a lot of mistakes and allows me to keep working while other parts of the canvas is drying. The cool part is that now I paint with a different eye completely, as I focus on what I will do within graphic design afterwards to make it into a fabric pattern.

Where do you find your inspiration?

My inspiration is all about the laid back atmophere of a waterside community and the natural elements that surround it.

What do you do for fun?

I love throwing parties, playing golf and tennis, swimming, creating, and literally my favorite thing is dinner parties that turn into story telling sessions.

Can you describe the moment when you felt you had made it? 

I'll let you know when that happens. :) But seriously, even though we are eking by on very little, it was very gratifying to resign from teaching last August to decide to go 'all in" on Leland gal as a business.

How do you balance your creative self with the rest of your life?

I definitely see it as a juggle instead of a balance. All things are constantly in the air, but the most important lesson I've learned is to make sure your on time is as good as your off time. Living in the moment is hard sometime when your phone is close by, so I have to take physical breaks from it to make sure I am enjoying the ride. 

What is the most difficult part of Being You?

Lately, it's not getting to those things that I want to get done, and trying to squeeze in simple pleasures with my son every day. I'm not big on guilt and I don't live with regrets, but I'm always trying to figure out ways to improve my process to make sure I'm enjoying life.

What is the most rewarding part of your day?

Walking into my sons room and having him applaud as I walk in the room is pretty much the best thing ever.

What do you have in the works?

I'm working on some prints that will translate to other waterside areas, and have applied for a few Florida Trunk shows this spring. One of which I have been accepted to, Banyan Street Trunk Show is Boca Grande, Florida on March 12th. I'm hoping to put a lot of my ALT Summit contacts and ideas into reality over the fall, collaborating with interior designers and getting blog posts sponsored to have more before and after examples for my clients to see how my fabric line can change their space. JoyCho seriously inspired me to work on licensing and working with brands for a collaboration that helps both parties, so I am also seriously brainstorming on that right now as well!

Who do you admire?
Diane VonFurstenburg, Lilly Pulitzer, Joy Cho, My mom

You can connect with Maggie at:
Instagram @lelandgal   Twitter @leland_gal    Facebook @lelandgal      Leland Gal Blog

UPNEXT: Art of Being You Interview with Audrey King of French Knot Studios

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How To: Make Cardamom Peach Freezer Jam

My mother in law brought us fresh peaches from Apple Annie's Orchard a few weeks ago. I had no idea peaches even grew in Arizona!

They were delicious and I wanted to preserve their fresh flavor. The best way I knew how to do this is to make jam and freeze it. I looked up Recipe Girl's Peach Freezer Jam and used it as a guideline. If you know me at all you know, I'm not good with following directions.

Here is what I did to create my Cardamom Peach Freezer Jam.

Par-boil peaches by tossing them in boiling water for 3 minutes. You'll know they are done when they float to the top and the skins crack. Scoop the peaches out and place them in a bowl of ice water. 

The skins will then easily peel off. Discard peels, cut peaching in half opposite from the peach crease. This allows the pit to pop out easily.  Discard pits.

Pulse in a food processor or blender to get smallish peach chunks. I like bits of fruit in my jam, if you'd like a smoother jam blend into a puree.

In a 2qt sauce pan combine peaches with apple juice. I used a juice box since we hardly have juice in the fridge.  Once it is boiling add the pectin. I prefer powdered pectin, it seems to jell better and it's great for small batches like these. 

After you add the pectin, let it boil, add the sugar and spices and get foamy. It's a beautiful orange color and extremely hot.

Ladle into serialized jars or plastic containers to freeze in. Remember to leave space at the top for expansion and a jar in the fridge to eat right away.  This is so delicious I could eat it right out of the jar! 

Cardamom Peach Freezer Jam

3/4 cup apple juice
3 tablespoons pectin
5-6 peaches = 3 cups puree
1 cup white sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom 
dash cinnamon
5, 8oz freezer jars - glass or plastic with lids

Heat juice over medium high heat until boiling. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in 3 cups of peach puree, sugar, cardamom and cinnamon. Bring back to a boil and maintain at a boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Transfer and divide between jars, leaving 1/2 inch space at top. Leave at room temperature until cool. Then freeze or refrigerate. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Apple Chip Monday

Monday's are always my day to get everything in order. I do food prep, laundry, and house cleaning. Today I'm making a bigger effort to not throw food away that can still be used in other ways. Apple chips it is. Using a mandolin and a food dehydrator these take about 5 minutes to slice up and 2 hrs to dehydrate. Easy Peasy.

The bad news... we eat these WAY to fast. They'll be gone by Wednesday.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Art of Being You: Interviews with Creative Women

I am so excited to introduce you to a new series on the blog, the Art of Being You. The women I will be interviewing are wonderous and the lineup will knock you out of the park. There are so many incredible women who work and make and create beautiful things, I was curious to know how they manage it. How do you? It's not easy to be creative. Despite of what "non-creative" people might say. It can be a struggle to figure out how you fit and where you imagination yourself to be. I know you've been there too.

Every Tuesday starting September 2, I'll be introducing you to some amazing women and ask them about their start, where they've been and where they expect to go next with their art and creative lives!


Friday, July 25, 2014

Settling In

What a summer this has been so far! Our cross the country and have settled in (almost) and wow, school has already started here. Pretty much the shortest summer on record for my boys, but they seem to be happy to have new friends and a routine.

I'm settling into my creative grove again and can't wait to get started on some projects! First I'm getting a grip on my editorial calendar and hope to have a pretty printable for you too!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

5 Things I Learned at Alt Summit

Things in my life have settled a bit since I came home from the whirlwind of Alt Summit and the whole moving across the country thing. Yes, my whole world is still in boxes and in storage, but at least it is sunny and I get to hangout with my cool family in Arizona... in person none-the-less!

I had plans of doing a recap of my favorite business cards from Alt with links to all of the incredible women who I met while exchanging them... but they are also in a box. In storage. However, I've had plenty of time and 2,700 miles to think about all I learned at Alt. I can sum it up in 5 key points.

1. Be your best self.

Don't try to be a fake overdressed version of yourself. You will feel more confident if you are happy to be here, mingling with other creative women and a few fellas. There was lots of concerns about the fashion at Alt and what to pack. I wore clothes that made me feel confident, fit well (some I had made or altered), were dressier than my average jeans and t-shirt wardrobe and I fit right in.

It's not just what you wear, but also the attitude you pack with it. I discovered that while everyone else was doing the same, being their best self, it was an incredible positive, helpful, creative bath of loveliness that I wanted to soak up every minute.

At the Melting Pot sponsored by Silhouette America all flamingo and pink and really pretty.
2. Take the Lead By not waiting for others to introduce themselves I did myself a big favor! No one likes to walk into a room full of strangers. What I discovered though was when I took the lead to introduce myself "Hi, I'm Shannon. I don't believe we've met yet..." I was connected with all these people who really were friends I hadn't met yet. Like Gilit for example who runs The Bannerie. This gal is terrific and as soon as we swapped cards it was hilarious. "Oh, you are Eva Blake's Makery! I'm The Bannerie!!" This scenario happened again and again. I honestly thought no one would have a clue who I was, and some didn't, but the few who connected my face and name and company together it was magic.  
3. You Got This

We all struggle with self doubt, right? I know for sure I do. I often ask myself if I have any idea what I'm doing. I've worked hard, done a lot of homework, but I'm still sorting out the details of where and how I will go next every day. What I learned while at Alt, from the panels and speakers is that I do know what I'm doing, I just need to keep doing it and proving that I can do it! 

All of the classes I attended where incredibly helpful. Ideas and social media tips I hadn't considered are eventually going to make it into my blog future, but after looking over my notes, most of them weren't brand new thoughts. There is something fantastic about hearing those thoughts come from someone else that just confirms it and gives you the "yes" you've been looking for. 

Martha Stewart at Alt Summit Summer on Friday interviewed by Design Mom's Gabrielle Blair

 4. Share Your Story

Not just during the interview with Martha Stewart, and Joy Cho's keynote address but all through out the conference this running theme kept cropping up for me. Share your story. Sometime's we don't think our story is special, because...well... it's ours. You live it everyday, over and over. It doesn't feel special.

Then you share it.

In a very impromptu moment on the street outside the Grand America after walking back from a chilly picnic in the park I handed my card to a group of women. Mastering the Art of Being Me on top and Eva Blake's Makery on the bottom.

No big deal. I'd been doing that all week.

Then a women with tears in her eyes said, "That is so perfect. 'Mastering the Art of Being Me" that is so great." With total sincerity she hugged me. This was a life confirming moment for me. My inner and outer struggle with myself was perfect and great. "Yes it is", I thought. Yes it is.

I then told this little huddle of women what Mastering the Art of Being Me means to me and how I cam to embrace this with full purpose of heart. It was unbelievable to me to see all of them looking at me, nodding, and understanding that as creatives this is what we are all trying to achieve.


5. Have Fun

It is remarkable to me how easily I found my business self and my authentic self meld together at Alt. The last night was a stunning outdoor garden party. I was sad to see it all coming to an end. I found myself with beautiful supportive friends. It was tempting to want to live there, in the garden of a gorgeous hotel, lovely people dressed in florals and pastels talking about what they love.

I laughed and smiled until I felt like all those sweet smile lines on my face would be permanent.

All photos courtesy of Justin Hackworth and Brooke Dennis

Friday, June 13, 2014

MOVE IT - Less is More

I'm packing up and cleaning house! So for TODAY 6/13 and TOMORROW 6/14 only you can save BIG so I can move less across the country. I'd call that a win win. Just use the coupon code MOVEIT to save 50% in both the Mastering the Art of Being Me shop and at Eva Blake's Makery. What a steal!

All items will be shipped on Monday June 16th, patterns are PDF instant downloads.

The shop will be closed for a week or so while we travel and settle in.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

What I'm Taking to Alt

Confession: I am not a fashion blogger, nor am I really that fashionable…but I'm headed out to Alt Summit next week…

and 3 days after I get home my family will be moving across the country from New Hampshire to Arizona. So needless to say this adventure to Alt is going to require some serious outfit planning (and commitment) because everything I own, including most of my clothing is going to be in a box. Oh, and I'll be out west looking for a place to live for the 5 days before Alt.

Hence, the need for a plan!

I made this sketches with my new Wacom tablet to give me an excuse to get used to drawing with it. These looks may change slightly, when I finally get down to tossing it all in a suit case but it's a good start.

I arrive in SLC in the morning and I hate to fly in skirts since I always freeze in the airport or end up sitting on the floor, so I'll be flying in black skinnies with this sheer cream polka-dotted blouse (both from Target) Once I get there I'll be about town with my BFF from high school and then heading to the hotel to change for the sponsor dinners. 

I managed to get a spot at the Silhouette dinner! Super excited for that! I'll be wearing my favorite teal dress in linen with pin tuck pleats at the hem. Since I drew up this sketch I bought a great pair of Franco  Sarto platforms to wear with it. Hooray since they are sandals and more comfortable than the heals.

Wednesday is full of classes and business-ness I'll be sporting my new fancy denim pencil skirt which I just tailored down from a size 16 to an 8. Can't go wrong when it was on sale for $2.97! I'll probably pair it with my favorite pretty tshirt from Target. They hang nicely and are made from amazing jersey knit. 

The dinner that night is supposed to be casual and food-truck central. I made this terrific teal floral dress, but I'm undecided if I want to wear it that night or the next day, instead of the orange and teal combo below. Either way I'll be sporting another pair of wedge sandals because I could walk for ages in them.
I've pretty much decided not to wear this orange skirt. It's a faux wrap skirt, but it flutters open a lot when I walk. So I'm leaning towards wearing the black skinnies again with this top. I've also nixed the black strappy healed sandals. (Are you sensing a theme? I love teal and I have a thing with comfy shoes. I just don't want them to look like "mom shoes" My husband has serious issues with "mom shoes")

For the last night Garden Party I'll be wearing my favorite all time Heather Bailey fabric printed with enormous pink garden roses. It's retro and unbelievably comfortable and pretty. 

Of course I won't be leaving home with out goodies and business cards! I'll be handing out these (don't worry the new Art of Being Me cards are here and my name is spelled correctly!) I'll have Eva Blake's Makery cards and mini i {heart} handmade cross stitches to work on.

What are you wearing to Alt? If you see me please come introduce yourself! I'd love to meet you.