25 June, 2014

Birthday Love



Hey friends, it's my birthday, and I've got love to share --- my gift to you is an extra 15% off any item currently listed in the shop (everything is on sale already, anyways, so this works out to be an extra deal!) AAAAnd, as I'm packing up the studio and finding LOTS of little treasures, and cool supplies, and other fun stuff, I'll add an extra surprise or two to your order envelope or box. You just need to use coupon code FABULOUS40 at checkout. (40, crazy, right?!)

In other news, I found an absolutely amazingly adorable little carriage house to move into for this next adventure in life. It is SOOOO completely quintessentially chez-sucre-chez; I am over-the-moon excited about it and can't wait to see how it inspires my work. If I made you think, in my last post, that chez-sucre-chez would be going away, let me assure you -- it isn't!



After Friday, the shop is going to be on break through to the next Wednesday. Any orders placed during that time will be shipped as soon as I'm back online. But really -- take advantage of that sale, and the extra 15% off, and the promise of an extra pressie in with your order! xo, friends. -k.

17 June, 2014

Drumroll, please

Okay -- big news to share today, friends:



After over six years of doing chez-sucre-chez as my only full-time and regular means of income and employment, an opportunity has come up that I cannot refuse. I've been given the chance to pursue my one true other love as a maker -- baking. Come July, I will be the lead baker at a new coffee shop opening up in Flemington, New Jersey.

!!!

I know, right? It's kind of a big deal. At least, it's a big change.

First of all, it means that I'm going to have to move; the commute from here would just be too much - it's well over an hour each way. It's been a wonderful few years here at High Hill Farm and I hate to leave! And, frustratingly, I don't have anything lined up over there yet. Ugh! Any of you have any leads on a little house or apartment in the Flemington/Frenchtown/Lambertville area? Moving to New Jersey... yeah - not psyched on that...(I was born & raised there; I can say that!) I'd happily take a place over the river in Bucks county if I find anything available there. Fingers crossed that something good comes up - soon.

Second of all -- wow - what a change, from being my only boss and working from home, to going to work every day and having someone else really calling the shots! Whew!

FORTUNATELY, that boss is my sister and brother-in-law. They own and run the popular Blue Fish Grill in Flemington, and when, a year-ish ago they said they were planning on opening a coffee shop, my heart did a little flip-flop, as I quickly went to the daydream of being the one who makes the baked goods. I put it out there as almost a joke (but kind of not really a joke), and they went for it! I'm over-the-moon grateful that I come from the family that I do, and that, even without a culinary degree or even commercial kitchen experience, I've got peeps who believe in me and my capabilities.

If you've been following this blog or my instagram for a while, you probably know that baking (cooking in general, but baking especially) is something dear to me. As I've been thinking about it, it's been a cool realization that it is just a part of who I am. At my core, I am a maker -- creating and sharing what I do with others is pretty much what makes me feel most alive (tie with being on a dancefloor with some cocktails and my friends).

So, this is happening!
However, I'm not leaving chez-sucre-chez behind! I love it way too much to even think about doing that. What I am looking forward to, though, is not having to rely on chez-sucre-chez so much as my only paycheck. I do admit, wracking my brain to come up with new products, and seeing the way that the world of small businesses like mine is evolving, was kind of starting to get to me. I think I've taken the business where I've wanted it to go, and without hiring other people, I don't think I can grow it much more than what it is. So --- without changing chez-sucre-chez, it's time for a new challenge for me. I'll be spending lots of hours in the kitchen, but then I'll have my beloved little chez-sucre-chez to come home to. The shop and wholesale business will remain unchanged. I think I may need to adjust for slightly longer turn-around time on custom work, but everything else should remain about the same. I'm actually looking forward to feeling some of the weight off of me, and hoping it'll provide the breathe of fresh air that I'm seeking, allowing me to breathe that into my creative stitch work.

But the next month is going to be nuts! As I'm packing up the studio (!!!), I am finding A LOT of work that is stitched up and ready to go - and really needs to go. Some of it is product left over from shows, like towels, napkins, bowl covers, and some other random products that I'd squirrelled away and forgotten about. The rest of it is stitched work. Friends, I do A LOT of stitching and often it's just for the sake of making a new design. A lot of that work never got put into the shop - but it's there now! I am a packrat and I get so attached to these things I spend such long hours stitching, but I can't take this all with me... I need to lighten the load of what is going with me. Hence, a MEGA SALE. If ever you've wanted a stitched piece by me, now is the time to go for it. Check out the items in the shop, and, if there is anything you want that is not listed, any particular piece that you remember from somewhere or other that I'd done, get in touch -- chances are, I have it but just haven't listed it; seriously.

Kits are also on sale! I'm running the 3-for$30 deal through this Friday only. Then I'll be packing those things up. So stock up now for your summer projects!



14 June, 2014

moving sale!

Hello friends!
So -- big exciting things are in store for me & chez-sucre-chez, and I'll tell you aaaalll about it next week, but in the meantime, I just wanted to make you the first to know that through the next two weeks, I'll be having a big moving sale. I've gotta clear out the studio and I have SO MUCH STUFF that I'd rather send off to new homes than pack up and move with me. I have a lot more to go through, but I'm listing stuff as I find it and the first batch is up; a collection of stitched-and-ready-to-go towels and napkins:


If any of these is your color/letter combination, snap it up! See all listings in the shop here. And tune in early next week for the big news! xxoo.

06 June, 2014

study in golds & greys



Do you ever get an image or an idea in your head and then have it stay there for days until you finally make that image or idea happen? That's where this, above, came from. I'd been seeing this combination of greys and golds... knowing that I wanted to put it together with those white flowers that are now blooming in our yard, against a dark background of black, and I couldn't go on with normal work until I did it. Phew!

The Stay Gold piece is a new version I did last week or so, from a design I've done before but love so much I can't let it go. :) I'd actually found and bought the frame weeks ago (hello, Home Goods!), and that was the inspiration. I'd long thought about doing this one with yellow-gold stitching on grey -- the same combination as the popular Ring Around the Posey kit. So many people remark on that color combination at craft fairs and such, and I just recently used it for a custom piece -- it seemed like the perfect colors to put in the frame.

The Life is Beautiful piece is actually a poster print. Before I sold the original stitched piece, I had it scanned and then later had a few digital prints made up. I was hoping that this would be an easier process and that I'd be able to do this with a lot of my designs on a regular basis. Other people who make and sell prints make it look so easy; this was not the case with my work! The colors were never quite perfectly right, and I just didn't have the patience to keep on trying. So, I gave up on the business of making and selling digital prints -- but I still have a few left over! Though they never met my expectations of perfectly fancy prints, they are terrific for a *much* less expensive piece of home decor. I actually like them as a more casual decorating option. They do work in a frame, 11x17 - which isn't as common as 11x14, but it is a standard size -- but I like these prints when tacked up on a wall with a collection of other scraps of memorabilia and art. I don't have any bright pink washi tape, but I bet it'd look really cool anchoring the corners!

The top circular hoop piece is my stitched sample of the Ring Around the Posey kit -- available as a DIY in my shop here. The little cloud next to it is one of my one-of-a-kind silver-lined clouds, and it's also currently available in the shop. Right about in the middle is a chippy-yellow-paint vintage metal embroidery hoop with my favourite fabric of the moment dispayed inside. And in the hoop below is a vintage applique that B brought home from a yardsale for me last weekend; I stitched it onto a piece of linen and framed it in the hoop.

Hip hip hooray for making things happen! And now, I've gotta get back to all that work that I was only half-doing while my mind was so distracted with this project. Happy weekend, friends!


02 June, 2014

rolling up the walls, or maybe everything but the walls?

If you've received a package from me in the last year or so, it's quite likely that the envelope was decorated with a patterned roller. I am a little obsessed with these things, and since a few of you have asked, I figured I'd share my experience with them.



These paint rollers are made of some rubber-like material, and they work such that you attach them to an applicator handle along with a foam roller brush, then once the foam roller is loaded with paint, you roll the patterned roller across your surface and voila, you're left with something pretty fancy! (*Note -- in the above photos, I'd just "charged" the foam roller with paint, and then not yet attached the patterned roller onto the applicator.) Also note -- I use the top of a Walker's Shortbread Tin as my palette, which I've been doing for years. Works great!

By this point, I've built up a little collection. I've gotten them all from Etsy from a few different sellers.

My first order was from The Painted House, which seems to be maybe one of the original shops to sell these things on Etsy. I had seen this deer print somewhere (probably an Etsy home page feature) and I HAD TO HAVE IT. Since this was my first order, I had to get the applicator and a foam roller as well, and as it was shipping from the UK, I opted to get more bang for my buck by adding on another roller. I forget which one I tried to get originally, but it was sold out, so I went with this one. In my opinion, The Painted House is the best shop to order from. It is pricey to have items shipped here from the UK, but the quality of their rollers really is superb. I didn't know there would be such a difference until I ordered from some of the other shops; there is. The Painted House also offers good youtube tutorials, which were really helpful in figuring out how to best to get started with using these things. (I found it super helpful that they recommend you add a bit of water to your paint to make it the consistency of heavy cream -- it does make a difference!)

I love using the deer print around the winter holidays - it feels festive and warm and old-timey classic.

I've used it to make patterned wrapping paper and gift tags:

You can use just about any roll of paper and go over it with the roller. Earlier in the year (or last Christmas?) I used a roll of thinner Ikea wrapping paper, and it worked great. This year, I used thicker kraft paper, which I love.... (I also used tea towels for a lot of my holiday wrapping this past year - love a multi-use eco-friendly package!)

And I used it on my holiday craft fair display boards:

The boards I use are that thin wood stuff that you can get at Home Depot type stores; they're lightweight and look polished enough on their own. I've had so many of these through the years of doing craft shows; painting them, repainting them, drilling holes, and more holes and more.... They come in handy for product photos, too.

And I love using the deer print to pretty-up my holiday orders. Since I started decorating my envelopes so many years ago (remember these and these and these and these?) I hate sending out a plain envelope!


We even used the deer print to fancy-up our Washers set.

Do you know this game? Ha - I think it's a Jersey thing, but heck, it's fun!

And here's the other pattern printed on kraft paper:


And then in the same colors but here on those wood panels:


By the time I was ready for my second batch of rollers (new designs! I wanted new designs! I wanted MORE!), some other sellers had started offering them on Etsy. (I gotta say, I'm not quite sure how these qualify to be sold on Etsy -- they're not hand-made by any of these shops... but maybe because they're a supply to make pretty creative things?)

My second order came from Not Wallpaper, which seems to no longer be on Etsy. It looks like they're selling from their own site now. And I *think* that they're based in the US, which is good, because the shipping charges are lower. I got the Sea Roses roller from them and I love love love it.

We rent our apartment, and my landlord is a little particular about the walls and wall colors, so I couldn't just go nuts and start rollering the whole house.. but I did create a wall of temporary wallpaper for a Spring photoshoot last year. I turned our bedroom upside down for a few days - it was fun!


See what goes on behind the scenes?! Smoke and mirrors, my friends - smoke and mirrors. :) I'd rolled the designs onto a wide roll of white paper -- it worked just like wallpaper, actually, except that I was attaching it to the walls with lots and lots of masking tape which I was mostly able to hide out-of-frame. After the shoot, I used the paper to wrap up packages that got sent in the mail.

I've also used the rose print for regular packaging materials, both the envelopes and the inner wrapping paper:


And I used it to make washi-tape for wrapping up a batch of my home-made sea salt caramels:

Note -- washi tape, both commercial and home-made, does not stick so well to parchment paper.. But it does look pretty!

The last order I did was from Paint and Courage, which is based out of Slovakia. The designs that they carry are fantastic, and I found their prices and shipping charges really reasonable, so I went ahead and ordered another two rollers -- this one and this one. It was actually really hard for me to narrow it down to two -- they have so many good ones! Shipping was quick and customer service was great, but I was a little surprised to see that the quality of these ones was not the same as the other orders I'd placed. They're still *good* -- still great for so many projects, but just not quite as clean as the others; there are some seams and bumps that ideally wouldn't be there.

This was my most recent order, so I haven't done too much with either of these yet, but they have shown up in some of my product shots, and I've used both on batches of shipping envelopes:



I'm definitely feeling about ready for some new designs, but I haven't been able to decide yet which I like best. Oh -- significant to note, maybe, is that the rollers and applicators from these three shops have all been interchangeable - they're all the same width and depth, or at least really close. I know that there are other shops out there that carry these things, but these are all that I can vouch for... Have you tried these at all? Or something similar? If you've got any tips or other sources, I'd love to hear about them!

08 May, 2014

Rediscovered Travel Inspiration (Barcelona)

I'm a pretty terrible blogger anymore, huh? I'm sorry! I've written a score of blog posts in my head over the past week or two or three, and none of them have made it here yet. Ooops.
Really, if you're ever looking to see what chez-sucre-chez is up to, the best place to find me these days is on Instagram (user name chezsucrechez) - and if you don't have a smarty phone or an Instagram account, you can always see what I've been posting via the Instagram link on the chez-sucre-chez website, here. :)

For today, I just wanted to check in and post a few random shots that I found while digging around on my old hard-drive.
The following are from a trip to Spain that I took way back in 2004 with one of my best friends. We visited Park Guell in Barcelona, which was designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, and I was just so taken by the broken tile mosaics that make up the large bench that runs through the square.
The colors and patterns of old dishes/crockery has long been an inspiration for me and my work. In fact, I recently did an interview for a magazine (which I still need to post here on the blog), and that very thing, old dishes, was one of the items I listed as my inspiration. I'd completely forgotten these photos I snapped and the sense of wonder and excitement that I felt when I first saw this work in person at Park Guell. I'm glad I stumbled upon these photos today!



These other ones were taken at the bird market on Las Ramblas. As an animal-lover, I'm not sure how I feel about the bird market (I wonder if it's even still there?) but I did love seeing all of those colorful birds. My photos weren't quite what I was going for; it's tough to capture those quick-moving birds through the bars of the cages - but I actually like how they came out kind of blurred and strangely cropped...Made me think of the boxes of Joseph Cornell. Looking at them now, I'm swooning over the colors and patterns of those feathers -- all of the subtle gradations and irregular markings.



Kind of makes me want to paint.... !!! Happy Spring, friends - it looks like it's finally here!