Screaming Hairy Armadillos (or armadillos as the road to inspiration)

There is a lot going on in the world right now that makes some of us want to scream. I get it. But I think we need a little break from that to talk about a different kind of screaming.

Let me introduce you to Amber.

She’s a screaming hairy armadillo from the Smithsonian National Zoo. They tweeted about her last week. And my mom and I both saw it and were curious. Why was she called a “screaming” hairy armadillo? I get the parts about hairy and armadillo, but screaming?

So we Googled it.

And then we got the giggles. My dogs are now in love with Amber’s cousin-in-the-video and come running in the room when I play the sound. I told my mom “I think I need to design something with screaming hairy armadillos on it”. This might be the first fabric I have ever designed inspired by a sound. 🙂

So I thought about that for a couple of days. I have been working non-stop on grant/exhibition projects and I needed a day to goof off and design something fun. And I thought it would also be fun to talk a little about that process.

First I studied a bunch of armadillo photos and thought about how to make that great armor texture they have. Cut paper bits? Something photographic? Lace? Then I saw something pop up in my Facebook feed about making a paint texture with bubble wrap.

Screen Shot 2017-02-02 at 4.48.30 PM

So I grabbed a piece of bubble wrap and some double-sided tape and made myself a roller around an empty soda can. I squirted out some paint […]

Design Challenges = Practice


This is my design for the weekly Spoonflower design challenge.  The theme this week is “What’s in your bag?”.  The idea is that everyone carries around something interesting in their purse or bag and you should use that ephemera as a basis for a design.

Screen Shot 2015-07-08 at 9.25.43 AM


I don’t actually worry too much about the voting part of these contests, although it is very fun and validating to see the likes and comments from everyone.  For me these design challenges are all about deadlines and practice. With all kinds of skills from playing musical instruments to sports, you get better by practicing.  I feel like design is the same way.  I am out of practice with pen and paper drawing.  I participated in Illustration Friday for quite a while, but I got busy with other things and stopped.  So for these last few challenges, I have been drawing and digitally coloring. Practice. I don’t think pen and pencil drawing is a mandatory component to being a great designer, but I do think the more skills you have in your toolbox the more versatile you are.

The other creative challenge that I love is having a random topic as inspiration.  Being assigned a topic takes you out of your comfort zone.  It makes you think about topics you might never design and to really think about all the different ways you could represent lemonade or llamas.  Next week is a baseball theme.  I know next to nothing about baseball and I am really not a fan, so it is a real challenge to me to come up with what to […]

Inspired by your space?

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 1.07.22 PM

Finding inspiration isn’t a problem for me.  In fact, it’s almost the opposite.  I am compelled to create things and I am never lacking for ideas.  Sometimes it is difficult to actually finish something because I always have a better idea in the middle of what I am doing.  My mom will attest to this.  She tells stories of elaborate schemes presented to her in order to get her to take my sister and I to the local hobby store. No one was bored at my house.

There’s an expectation, or perhaps a social media inspired trend, that I am feeling right now that when you are an artist that you do a lot to find inspiration.  You create a mood board or a journal or you collect things that inspire you.  You put things in your space to provide inspiration.  In fact, you have a specific inspiring space where you do your work.  And you post photos of your inspiring space to help inspire others.  And you pin photos of other people’s inspiring spaces.

Abby, a blogger who I follow, just posted something the other day about a comment left on a photo she posted of her laptop at the kitchen table:

This question really struck me. I started to wonder what people might be imagining it looks like here at my house when I’m writing or sewing or podcasting or working on my business. Do they think it looks somehow different than this? Sexier than my kitchen table? And if they do, why?

What makes us want to imagine artists in beautiful light-filled loft studios surrounded by a rainbow of paint tubes […]

Digital Design Tutorial: Faux Batik Part Five

Today is all about color!  Now that I have most of my design laid out, I want to start to think about the colorway for this fabric.  The colorway is the set of colors I am going to use.  I really love the colors that were in my original inspiration fabric.  I could pick these colors out on my own in the color palette in Photoshop, but I want to show you a really fun tool that you can use for creating colorways.  It’s called Adobe Kuler and it is a free app for your iPhone or iPad. Edit: You would know it. In the week since I posted this tutorial, Adobe did an update. The app is now called Adobe Color and the screens are slightly different but still work essentially the same.

photo(3)It uses the camera to look at whatever you want to capture a colorway from and it picks out a set of colors from what it sees.  As you move around 5 little circles pop around the scene and identify colors.  You can tap the screen anytime to freeze it and then click the check box to save the colors.

photo 2Once I have saved it, I can open up the colorway by tapping a little icon that looks like a panel of sliders and here is the best part…

photo 1For each color, it shows me the HEX code and the RGB values, which are codes I can type right in to Photoshop or Illustrator.

Now remember that it is using a camera to capture the […]

2016-03-16T09:48:00-05:00Spoonflower & Fabric Design, Tutorials|Comments Off on Digital Design Tutorial: Faux Batik Part Five

Digital Design Tutorial: Inspiration Bonus

image from Asian Art Museum exhibition image from Asian Art Museum exhibition

This is a little bonus post for my tutorial series on creating a faux batik.  I know that it is hard sometimes to know where to start a design.  It’s the dreaded blank page syndrome!  If you don’t have a favorite faux batik bag like mine for inspiration, you might need a little help coming up with design ideas.  These are a few places you might look for inspiration:

Ta Ta Indian Stamps at Etsy.  She has a great collection of beautiful wooden stamps for sale.  Plenty of eye candy here!

e-Quilter Fabric store has a huge selection of batik fabrics.  We used to live really close to them when we lived in Boulder but I didn’t know it at the time!

Batik Exhibition from the Asian Art Museum.  Some lovely examples, especially of patterns filling a space.

2014-09-26T07:57:48-05:00Everything Else|Comments Off on Digital Design Tutorial: Inspiration Bonus

Sign up for my e-newsletter to see tutorials, events, upcoming classes and more.