Category Archives: Side Projects

My Real Life Hobby: Blurry Runway Photography

I have a lot of hobbies: drawing, painting, sewing, knitting.  Most of these hobbies have been sucked into my professional work, leaving me with very few completely “just for fun” hobbies.  Apparently one of these “just for fun” hobbies is runway photography.  Specifically, I like blurry runway photography, but really any kind is fun.  I don’t know why, but I just LOVE taking photos when I go to runway shows.  I’ll leave “real” runway photos for the professionals, but I really truly enjoy going to shows and just playing.  There’s no pressure to get a good shot.  My brand doesn’t depend on any of the photos I take.  It’s just me enjoying making art. I think this is probably what having a hobby feels like:  FUN.

Designer: Jenny Pool

From Dan Richter and Buf Reynolds’ VESSEL fashion show.

Designer: Buf Reynolds

Designer: Dan Richters

Designer: Dan Richters

Designer: Angela Balderston

Designer: Angela Balderston

Hope you enjoy my blurred runway photography as much as I enjoy creating it, but really it doesn’t matter because I will continue to do it regardless of anyone’s opinion.  HOBBIES ARE FUN.


Posted by on 08.30.13 in art, Fashion, Side Projects


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prysm.break collection video

Garments and accessories from the prysm.break collection available soon at


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Rookie Animator

I wanted to make a short video for my prsym.collection debut.  I went back and forth on what sort of look I wanted for the video.  After deciding that I’d be making the video myself (because I like to do EVERYTHING myself), I felt a few limits shift into place on what type of video I could make.  I have very little video-making experience, and I mean VERY VERY little (maybe a loud wind-infused video from a 5th grade project…..does that even count?).

I remember thinking to myself, “I can draw, so technically I could animate, right?  And now I can draw digitally, so technically I could probably animate digitally…..right?!?!?”  and that was the confident-ish beginning step into my first ever animation project. The next 10,000 tedious steps of the process weren’t so confidently maneuvered.

Storyboarding time. My first time.

First step, get some sketches going.  I knew I wanted to use a loose style of illustration.  I’m really into that right now.  Maybe because I’m trying to slowly let go of my perfectionist tendencies.

Drawing digitally outside with my drawing pad.

Crrrrrrrrrotch. Someone’s gotta draw ’em.

Technically, I think I taught myself motion graphics skills instead of animation, but I keep calling it animation anyways. Animation sounds cooler to me because it’s always been a dream job, but I think in reality a lot of the video is created through motion graphics.  I’m too much of a rookie to really know for sure.  And really, either way, my video still looks the same no matter what you call it.

Time to get those graphics in motion! DANGER: LEARNING CURVE AHEAD!

I finally got the hang of getting things to grow, shrink, slide, twirl, etc.  It was very tedious work, which I sometimes enjoy. This was not one of those times.  I’m sure there’s animation software that maybe helps with some of this finicky work, but I was working out of Photoshop.  Photoshop is really not the greatest program for this project but as I maybe mentioned a few dozen times: ROOKIE.

Building a digital marionette looks a lot like dismembering a human.

I pretty much changed 90% of my original storyboard idea, but I like what I came up with.  At first I changed my concept due to the fact that I have extremely limited skills.  Then I changed my idea AGAIN because I realized that I could, in fact, create my original concept  if I spent enough time on it and my secondary idea was boring to me.  I found a happy medium.  I made a video that allowed me to learn a new skill, but didn’t make me spend an extra six weeks fleshing out an idea using the same skills I just mastered in a ridiculously repetitive manner.  Compromise is hard for me, but happy mediums are happy.

Working on my animation project out in my porch office.

After many, many days of rethinking and refining, my prysm.break video is FINISHED!  Even though my video is only about a minute long, I had to create it in six or seven separate files since my computer couldn’t really handle all the frames and layers I had going on in Photoshop at once.  I didn’t get to see all of the sections cropped to the right size and set to music until the very end.  That’s a lot of anticipation!

Watching my prsym.break video in its entirety for the very first time. So much emotion!

Hold on to your pants, folks.  The prysm.break video will be debuted this Friday!  One minute of  awesome rookie animation headed your way!


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New Studio “Chalkboard”

I was reading something awhile ago and there was this quote in it that had quite an impact on me. I wanted to put up in my studio for awhile to see a reminder of whatever this quote said.

(Note: this blog post is not about this vague, unmentioned quote.)

I have a corkboard in my studio, and normally I’d just scribble a quote down and pin it up.  Lately, the corkboard is overflowing with inspiration/reference images for a collection that I’m scheming on in my head.  The quote would definitely get lost in that visual overload.

I decided that a chalkboard would be cool, so I could change the quote/phrase/reminder at will.  I don’t actually have a chalkboard, but I am resourceful.  I found my pile of vinyl records that served as decorations in an old apartment.  I painted the center of one black and grabbed my sidewalk chalk. Easy!  In fact, it was so easy and exciting that once I figured out that it’d work, I immediately scribbled down one of my favorite Alice in Wonderland quotes (and promptly forgot the original quote that inspired this whole chalkboard project).

My vinyl record chalkboard hanging up in my sewing studio.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said . . .


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Watercolor Wednesday pt. 1

Okay, so I don’t do Watercolor Wednesday every week (partly because I lose track of what day it is nearly every day), but a few weeks back I did an ENTIRE DAY of Watercolor Wednesday and I absolutely loved it!  I need to spend every Wednesday just playing with watercolors.

One of the projects I worked on that day was finishing up a set of watercolor fashion illustrations for my monoprismatic collection.  I wanted to have these drawings done before the collection went onto the runway, but when the deadlines starting flying at me, I decided to finish the clothing first.  No regrets.

My painting studio is too chilly for me in winter, so I let my painting projects  take over my sewing studio for the day.

Each figure was drawn to resemble the model that wore that particular outfit on the runway.  I don’t always do that, but I think having a separate hue for each model created a strong model-color-outfit connection in my brain.  I’m really color-oriented up there.

Fros are hard for me to draw and paint, but this guy turned out adorable.

It feels good to have all the illustrations finally completed.  Even better, I’m more than ecstatic about how they turned out.  Now I just have to figure out how to get some prints made asap, since so many people have been fighting over these even before I had them all drawn!  (If your an artist with a suggestion on how/where to get prints made, help a brother out.  Honestly, I’m stuck in “passive research” mode and I’d prefer to be in “waiting for the beautiful prints to arrive on my doorstep” mode.)

The finished monoprismatic fashion illustration set!

I’m for real about the prints. I will figure it out soonish, so keep an eye out for prints of these cute fashion drawings to pop up into my shop at  I’m excited to share the rainbowy glee!


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Making Multiples: Quilted Brains & Love Art

I almost always make completely one-of-a-kind art/clothing/accessories/etc.  I like figuring stuff out and trying something new, which usually means I try something new for every single project.

This one-of-a-kind model of creation is great, but I’ve been doing it for so long, I can feel myself getting antsy.  Essentially, it isn’t completely fulfilling my need to continue to try new things.

So, I tried something new:  I made more than one of something.

Brains & Love Wall Hanging

Brains & Love Wall Hanging

I’m not dabbling in mass production or anything, but I did create five or six of these adorable wall hangings.  I love them.  They are appliqued and quilted.  I liked the original challenge of figuring the layout, the freestyle embroidery for the brains, the fabrics, the applique stitching, etc.  Additionally, I enjoyed the challenge of creating the item again and again.

Appliqued textile art.

Appliqued textile art.

Freestyle embroidered brains. Just like in real life, the brains differ slightly from skull to skull.

Freestyle embroidered brains. Just like in real life, each brain differs slightly.

I’ve put these adorable wall-hangings from my ‘making multiples’ challenge up for sale in my shop.  They look great on a range of wall colors (I’ve got quite the color palette in house, and I didn’t find a wall it looked bad on), and they make great gifts!  Shop here:

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Posted by on 12.04.12 in Side Projects


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Wizard of Oz Doll Costumes

It’s getting close to Christmas, so it’s time for me to figure out my Christmas gifting plans.  I’m a huge fan of handmade holidays (I’m a huge fan of handmade everything), so I usually try to make at least half of the gifts I give each year.  As I am making plans for this year’s gifts, I have been thinking about last year’s projects.

My sister has a bunch of American Girl Dolls–not enough to call them a doll army, but enough for a girl band or something.  In the past, I’ve made her some random doll clothes, but I wanted to make her a cohesive set for all of her dolls.  Because I am a huge fan of the Wizard of Oz, I made her a set of Wizard of Oz costumes: Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tinman, And the Cowardly Lion.

Wizard of Oz costumes for American Girl Dolls

Wizard of Oz costumes for American Girl Dolls

These were alot of fun to make. It’s all the skills I love to use in my costuming & clothing design, but on a small scale.  I decided that if I was going to go through all the patterning work for one set, I should just go ahead and make an extra second set while I was at it.  I’ve had that second set in my studio since last Christmas, so I’m finally making it available for purchase here:





Cowardly Lion

Cowardly Lion



The Scarecrow costume is definitely my favorite of the four.  It’s probably because that outfit has the most accessories of all, and I really love accessories.  Also, the green leather hat is so adorable I can barely stand it.  I think my little sister really liked the outfits.  She kept running to get armfuls of the costumed dolls from her room to show my relatives when they came over.  And, I’m really pleased with how the set turned out.  They look great together.  Now I just need to build a yellow brick road and an Emerald City……

Wizard of Oz Set of 4 Costumes:


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Go to your happy place: an Overcrowded Costume Shop

In the theater where I work, there’s a very, very full costume rental shop in the basement.  My coworker friend manages the rental department, but when she can’t make it into work I get to fill in.  I can’t bring myself to say “I LOVE WHEN SHE’S SICK!” because being sick is a sucky deal, but it means I get to be surrounded by costumes all afternoon.  (When I say surrounded by costumes, I really mean “almost swallowed up by the insane amount of costumes stuffed into this space.”)

Audio Helkuik in their natural habitat: an overcrowded costume shop.

Besides all the vintage outfits, the giant animal bodies, and crazy headwear, the reason I REALLY REALLY love costume shops is because they are SO. FREAKING. RANDOM.

Randomness strikes: “Where should I put these handfuls of wolf heads?”

And where else would it be normal to find a box of polar bear heads stashed under a giant gator body?

Of course it’s alot of fun to run around and play dress up while working in a costume shop, but there IS actual work that has to get done. I took a photo for proof. Exhibit A:

Sorting colors for the billionth load of laundry that day.  I loathe doing laundry.

For curious folks: The theater I stitch at is the Rose Theater in downtown Omaha.


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Side Project: Mole Friend

In addition to creating clothing and accessories, I like to make creatures.  Secretly, I want to grow up to be a monster-maker (okay, not so secretly).  My passion is creating: clothes, costumes, creatures, whatever.   When I interned at the Sesame Street Live costume studio, I went to work each day in a building labelled “COSTUMES & CREATURES.”    So perfect.

A few months ago, I started painstakingly working on patterning some plushies. It’s hard for me to think three-dimensionally.  I know patterning for clothing requires three-dimensional thinking and planning, but I’ve been able to figure it out after years and years of working on it.  Plushies seems EXTRA three-dimensional (does that even make sense?!), so it’s super hard for me.  Like most people, doing things that are tediously difficult is annoying.  Most people tend to enjoy doing things they are naturally good at. But, if I had followed this model for my career, I’d be a mathematician instead of an artist/designer (not kidding, not even a little).  But, I ENJOY designing and creating patterns even though it’s tough for me.

Using the muslin to double check shapes.

The first creature I made was an adorable, chubby beaver.  He turned out really cute, but it took me quite awhile to get him there.  I decided the next creature challenge was going to be a mole.  Why a mole?  Why not.


This mole was going to be sewn out of an old faux suede winter coat that was given to me with hope I’d turn it into some awesome.  (Moles are awesome. Maybe not a real one that’s messing up your yard…..but this one will be awesome.)  I really do love to recycle fabric.  Actually, I ended up turning the lining of the coat, which was a nubby faux fur in the same color, into a second mole.  (You can see the nubby fur in the picture below.)

Spare parts (aawww, look at the cute little mole tail!)

Creepy Deflated Moleskin

I needed these moles to have some rockstar digging claws, so I brainstormed lots of different materials to make them out of: fabric, interfacing, felt, plastic, clay.  Then I remembered I have a pretty stellar leather scrap stash.  Leather claws would definitely look pretty gnarly.

Claw time: getting his nails did.

When it was finally time for stuffing, I was so ready to see him.  The anticipation was killing me.  He also turned out SO CHUBBY AND ADORABLE!  I was hoping to create a mole that looked sleepy, vicious and cute all at the same time.

Cutest chubby mole and chubby beaver I’ve ever made.

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Posted by on 07.11.12 in Side Projects


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Side Project: Rugmaking

When my partner and I started putting our dining room together after we moved, we decided we wanted a rug. A large rug. An awesome, large rug.  And it has to be the perfect color combination because I’m a total color snob.  Since we are on a decorating budget, finding a large one that wasn’t totally suck was proving to be frustratingly impossible.

This is about the time I just give up shopping around and try to make whatever I’m trying to buy. It happens all the time.  (I’m currently shopping around for suits in scrawny-but-bootylicious sizes……so, I’ll probably end up learning how to construct a suit soon. Stay tuned for that.) I started brainstorming different rugmaking techniques that involved skills I already have: knitting, weaving, latchhooking, crocheting, felting, stitching, etc.  I settled on trying out a layered fabric stitching technique, so I started making all the charts and diagrams because I would be cutting out ALOT of layers of fabric and I needed to be organized.

Charts help me keep sane.

The technique I chose is called faux chenille.  It’s based on the process of how they create chenille yarn, but simplified. Chenille yarn is made by weaving yardage of fabric, and then cutting it apart to create teeny-tiny strips of raw-edged fabric, aka chenille yarn. (Interesting sidenote: chenille is French for caterpillar. Cute.) With faux chenille, you stitch layers of fabric atop each other (usually stitching in the bias direction), and then you cut the fabrics in between to expose the underlayers.  The raw edges become fuzzy like chenille.  This faux chenille technique is used in quilting, but sometimes it’s called rag-quilting or slash-quilting. Also, there was a DIY craft movement circa 1992-ish where people took a standard sweatshirt and jazzed it up by doing some simple faux chenille patterns on the front. I think the one my mom made me had a giant heart on the front.  Inspired by my mom’s 90’s crafting skills, I decided a faux chenille rug would be awesome. I mean, if it’s cool enough for a sweatshirt, it’s cool enough for my floor, right?

Cutting in between the stitching lines.

A completed section: Black and beige. Black and sand…?
Black and grey/taupe/lavender/mystery neutral color that I love but can’t describe.

The process of stitching and cutting wasn’t overly difficult except that the sections were so large it was more like wrestling a rug than stitching a rug most of the time.  My sewing machine isn’t a long-arm style, so it was tough getting ALL that fabric in there.  The rug was pretty thick with all the layers (9 layers total!), so my machine was tired after all that sewing.  I have the rug put together in four large sections that velcro together to make one mega rug.  Each section is backed with a heavy black canvas (which was stitched through but NOT cut through).  I wanted to be machine washable, so it needed a way to actually FIT in the washing machine.  Also, I prewashed and shrunk all the fabrics before I started. With all the fuzzy edges that the faux chenille technique creates, you can’t really tell that the rug is made out of four sections. Success!

My finished rug! (And my grumpy giant Angora bunny, Frank.)

My new handmade rug on my dining room floor.

Still putting the room together, but at least the rug is in place. Next up: chair slipcovers.

I love the rug.  We’ve been walking on it and using it for months, and it still looks awesome.  Over time, the faux chenille strips open up a bit more and expose more of the underlayers. I like it.  Looking back, I really probably should’ve started my rugmaking endeavors with a smaller rug.  Maybe a 2×3′ or something.  True to my family’s motto, Go big or go home!, I just dove in. My first rug measures about 8×8′.  Heck yeah.


Posted by on 06.11.12 in Side Projects


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