Monday, March 12

The Art within Me

"Leggy Louise frolicked in the garden"
The other day I made the move to share my recent collages publicly and set up a dedicated Instagram account. I am making art, just for it's own sake, after being all about "utilitarian-art-you-can-use" for a very long time. I have no idea where it's going to take me, and right now, that is perfect! I am making hand-cut collages using found images from vintage books and magazines.

"Great Minds... (Hers & His)"
I waited longer than I usually do to share any of this new work because I didn't want to be distracted or influenced by other peoples' voices. Now I'm at the point where it's important to engage with other creatives because after a while it's not helpful to keep it all in one's own head.
"Ursula tried to structure her thoughts"
I debated over the wisdom of linking my Instagram SaraSmedleyArt feed to this blog, because it's terribly out of date and I don't want to distract myself at this stage trying to keep up with it. That's why I prefer Instagram, the images can speak for themselves and I can spend my time making more of them. Maybe one day a new website is in order but that's not today. In the meantime, this post is my attempt at making this blog somewhat relevant.
"Hazel dipped her toes into Spring"
It's interesting to me to scroll back through earlier posts. On one hand, I feel like cringing a bit as I see the "New Me" posts announcing my latest new direction, and the large gaps in between. At the same time, it's pretty cool to see how things have evolved and brought me to where I am now. I had a yoga teacher who would say that if you've ever done yoga, even if you are away from it for a long time "yoga will always be within you." I feel the same way about my art. Without going into the details today, so much of what I have done before (even as a kid) is finally coming together for me in collage. I'm still new to it, still developing my voice, all I want to do right now is see where it takes me.

If you'd also like to see where it takes me you can find me on Instagram for more current posts!

Monday, June 1

Gosh, it's been a long time...

...but I'm still here (you just couldn't see me)!

I've been meandering along various paths this past year. With renewed joy, I've circled back to here. My journey has included many online courses, exploring new mediums, thinking in new ways, letting myself play, and allowing things to develop as they may (not forcing square pegs into round holes). Amazing how that frees one up!

Here are a few examples of where I've been and how they came to be:

My butterfly friends came along for the ride. I created this image as part of Lilla Rogers Make Art that Sells (Part A) course, last spring. The assignment was to create a piece of wall art with mixed media. Honestly, I thought this was going to be a tough one for me, it's totally out of my comfort zone. I had to push through anyway and found myself on an unexpected path. This turned out to be my favorite piece to come out of the course. Lilla really pushed me to a new level, and if I may boast a bit, she discussed it in her weekly review (a coveted position). This experience made me want to expand my skills and to learn Photoshop as I've always been an Illustrator gal (thanks to Laura Coyle's incredible online tutorials on It also made me think more about layering and adding more variety to my designs. I've always been pretty hard-edged and minimalistic.
all images © Sara Smedley 2015
Yes, a couple more butterflies... the pieces above I created while taking the Photoshop for Designers online course, taught by the amazing Sherry London via Pattern Observer.

Most recently I was inspired to the point of giddiness by the Creative Bug Fabric Design Series. I could watch that over and over... I'm also having fun with several other Creative Bug workshops.

Later this summer, I'll be taking the newest Make Art that Sells class, Creating Collections for Home Decor. I'll also be traveling to Ireland, in the middle of that course (which could be an interesting challenge, yikes). This promises to be an exciting summer!

One more thing, I've reactivated my Etsy shop, for a bit. I'm no longer making aprons and tea towels but I still have a few in stock, including my Flutterby series, so check 'em out and grab some up while you can!

Monday, March 10

Full Circle - Dutch Hearts

Finally we arrive at "Dutch Hearts," part of my "Dutch Garden" collection, a distillation of the original "Dutch Heart". 
This pattern transports me to a 1960s garden party with ladies in their summer shifts and perhaps a mother - daughter matching set.
I hope you've enjoyed this early garden tour with me! Yes, we've circled back to the New York Botanical Garden circa 1966. I highly recommend checking out their post From the Library: Mad for Mad Men, the Garden in 1966.

You can view the entire "Dutch Garden" collection here and all my other prints at my Spoonflower shop. Each is available as fabric, wall paper, wrapping paper and decals.

Thursday, March 6

Dutch Garden

Continuing down the tulip path… here are two prints from my new Dutch Garden collection on Spoonflower:

I love connecting the dots of inspiration that lead to a new design, especially when those connections are unexpected, yet so right, at least in my mind (for instance Cake Plates).

A few years  ago, my Pennsylvania Dutch surroundings (see If you ain't Dutch) inspired me to come up with the print below called "Dutch Heart." Recently I decided to revisit the design, but wanted it to have a looser, hand-drawn feel that would work as a repeat print. Ideas were coming together but the magic happened when I stumbled upon my muse (keep scrolling)...
© Sara Smedley 2014 all images above
Thank you Redd Foxx! XO
Don't forget, you can view the rest of the Dutch Garden collection here.

Wednesday, March 5

Tulip March

© Sara Smedley 2014
Quite a while back, I promised to share the inspiration for my Spoonflower print collection, "Tulip March."
While researching mid-century landscape design one day, I came across a post on the New York Botanical Garden's website titled, From the Library: Mad for Mad Men, the Garden in 1966. Included were photos from their archives. This contact sheet is from a 1966 Dutch-themed exhibition.

Mid-century! Dutch! Tulips! Three irresistible sources of inspiration to me. This visual step back into time was all it took to set me on the tulip path once again, as you will soon see.

Wednesday, October 2

NEW designs NEW shop NEW logo NEW me

I've always wanted to do textile and wallpaper design and now I am! I've just set up my new Spoonflower shop, added my first few designs, and even changed my logo. Yup, it's a brand new me. My prints are available on fabric, wallpaper, even gift wrap!

My first print collection is called "Cake Plates." The colors were inspired by a room interior featured in a vintage magazine. It's available in several colors and variations and would make a cool gift wrap:
Next post I'll share my initial inspiration for my second new collection "Tulip March," which is also available on Spoonflower:
all designs © Sara Smedley 2013
One more thing... sometimes to make room for something new, something else must go. In this case, I will no longer be making items for my Etsy Shop. That means the aprons and tea towels that are available for sale now are the last that will ever be! Onward and upward...

Tuesday, July 9

La FĂȘte Nationale!

Yes, Bastille Day is almost here! I always enjoy seeing Etsy Treasuries inspired by this French National Day and it's icing on the cake when one of my Fleur de Lis Butcher's Aprons is included in these festive treasuries, such as FĂȘte Preparations, curated by Marie-Claire.

I also love to see cooking inspired treasuries, and yes, they are even sweeter when one of my designs is included. I am inspired to go right to the kitchen by Sharon's treasury, Love Cooking? I have to admit, I am also coveting the "1950 Man's Apron." How awesome is that? 

Tuesday, March 5

Home Sweet Factory

Today, my dear and extremely talented friend, Wendy Stevens, as well as myself were featured in the Reading Eagle's Business Weekly! You can read the article here.
(If you look closely, you'll see a hint about where my next "hand" design is going)

Thursday, February 21

Everyday V-Day!

How did I miss this? One of my favorite blogs, Apartment Therapy, featured my Dutch Heart Butcher's Apron (in black), on Valentine's Day! You can visit their post here.

The same apron (in red), was included in this gorgeous Etsy Treasury, curated by Kate of Lithuanian based Yarn Store! Sweet!

Wednesday, February 6

Fresh Take

I want to share this photo of some curtains a customer made with my Dutch Heart tea towels!
I love this idea, not to mention those green walls!

Monday, January 28

Pinches and Shots

Sounds like a visit to the doctor's office but fortunately, we're talking about a couple of Valentine's Day inspired Etsy Treasuries, featuring my Dutch Heart apron and tea towel.

"Add a pinch of love", curated by Diana Smith and "Shot Through the Heart", by Karen and Kim. Thanks ladies!

Wednesday, November 28

Xmas 2012 gets a helping hand!

I couldn't resist using the "hand" pun this time. I know it will get old, but it seems wrong not to ride the wave for just a little bit. To the point, my Xmas 2012 Tea Towel is now available in my Etsy Shop!

...and so, a new series is born. I'm very excited about this line and have visions of more hand scenarios dancing in my head.

I even love the way they look folded up together!

As promised, I have also added my Flutterby Butcher's Apron (to go with my Flutterby Tea Towel). Yes, Virginia, there is no hand, but anywhere I thought of placing it just seemed bizarre. Think about it. Instead, I mixed it up with a very large butterfly, which makes me quite happy. I hope it will put a smile on your face too!

Photo credit © Jickie Torres

I'll leave you with this festive gift wrap tip out of the December 2011 issue of Romantic Homes Magazine, using one of my Dutch Heart Tea Towels. My original post can be found here.

Monday, November 19

Flutterby Butterfly!

Just in time for holiday gift giving, my newest design, "Flutterby" is now available as a Linen Tea Towel in my Etsy Shop! A matching Flutterby Butcher's Apron will follow shortly and I'll be adding a new Christmas Tea Towel, as part of my "hand" line by early next week!

Flutterby is the first of my line of tea towels which will feature a hand. At this point, I could run wild with clever lines such as: "Hand towels!" "Handy wipes" "Hands-up the best towels ever!"

Instead, I'll write about where the hand inspiration came from. I've forever been a fan of vintage cookbook illustrations and many have wonderful "how-to" line drawings with these Laura Petrie-esque hands. My very favorite comes from the 1964 edition of The Joy of Cooking (later versions have "updated" hands). I grew up with this book and the page I remember most, and still turn to each Christmas, is the "Rich Roll" cut-out cookie recipe which my mother always made and I still do (with icing!).

Another nostalgic influence for the Flutterby design in particular was this Arabia Pottery Finland butterfly pitcher, which I also grew up with. Unfortunately it's long gone, but my memory was jogged when I came across this one in this Etsy shop, (sadly, it was already sold).

I hope this kitchen related nostalgia trip of mine helps get you in the mood for a heartwarming and delicious Thanksgiving this week. Stay tuned for more holiday goodness... Cheers!

Monday, October 1

I couldn't be prouder!

I finally got my hands on a copy of the Fall 2012 Smithsonian Catalog and featured on page 7 is non other than than my Fleur de Lis Butcher's Apron and Tea Towel!

I am extremely honored and proud to see my work associated with The National Museum of American History's upcoming exhibit "Transforming the American Table" which includes Julia Child's Cambridge Kitchen.

Thursday, September 13

Apple days ahead!

Ah, it is time for apple pie! I love the mellowing days of September with their promise of crisp and colorful days ahead. As the days grow shorter and the nights cooler, I find myself in the kitchen more. The last few weeks I've been busy freezing roasted heirloom tomato sauce and ratatouille. I might do pesto next and am curious to try a tip I read on one of my favorite blogs, thekitchn, for freezing herbs in olive oil.

We are fortunate to live close to a wonderful orchard, County Line Orchard that grows all kinds of heirloom apples (and other fruits). It keeps things interesting to follow the progression as different varieties come into fruit. Right now it's Honey Crisp time, by the end of the season we stock up on Keepsake apples. I was just thinking about apple pie the other day so it was a nice surprise to see my Dutch Heart Apron in this Etsy Treasury, Time for Apple Pie, curated by Faith from Ordinary Mommy.