A Taproot Gathering at Squam


I have spent the last few days settling in after what must have been a dream: A Taproot Gathering at Squam. Did that happen? Yes. There are pictures to prove it.


The retreat was so much more than the sum of it's parts. It was more than interesting classes, beautiful scenery and a break from daily stresses. It was calm, quiet and gentle. It was fun and exhilarating. I had the pleasure to meet some beautiful people who I had previously only known through a screen. I took sweet Phoebe's class, A Return to Play. I made a little doll, but took away so much more. Sitting around a table chatting and laughing with these lovely women, while hand stitching little dolls and creatures without judgement was the perfect way to spend a day.

My little Elsa flower fairy hanging out with some of the other sweet sculptures.

My little Elsa flower fairy hanging out with some of the other sweet sculptures.

I do think the most meaningful moments happened outside the structure of the retreat, during passing conversations, shared meals and in cabins by the fire. My roommate, Shannon, was a perfect companion during the days I was there. She was thoughtful, funny and kind. I do think I've made a new forever friend. Everyone I spent time with was clearly there to connect. The conversations were real and meaningful. I even had a few conversations with Amanda. I've followed her since I became a mother and meeting her was so special. She was just as lovely as you would expect. A calm and gentle presence. Our other host, Elizabeth, was warm, welcoming and exuberant.

My roommate, Shannon. 

My roommate, Shannon. 

I have always been a grounded person, not easily swept up into the feeling of a place, especially if it's a 'zen' feeling. I wondered whether that quality would stand in the way of fully experiencing a retreat like this. Would everyone else 'get it', and I'd be left out? Would it be magical to others, but simply a change of scenery and some fun classes to me? Well, I am here to say that there was something magical happening there. There was a kindredness I felt very much a part of. It was simple and special and just what I needed.


And after all that, I am so very happy to be home with my people, with a renewed sense of peace and purpose and connectedness. The world is a wondrous place and I feel so lucky to have experienced one more magical piece of it.


Next, I'll have to share with you a bit about the Squam Art Fair. I was a vendor (for the first time)! 

backyard art camp :: graphite & collage figure art


I'm so excited to be participating the Backyard Art Camp series organized by Melissa of A Happy Stitch and Jane of Buzzmills. They recruited a bunch of bloggers to come up with projects for kids based on the work of established artists. I've been really enjoying the series and I think you will, too! Make sure to click over to the other projects at the end of this post.

I based my project on the work two illustrators I admire: Jaime Zollars (who happens to be a dear friend and an all around awesome lady) and Lisa Congdon (who is also awesome; just read her blog). Both artists have a series of work in which collage is integrated into more traditional pencil drawings: Jaime, in her Society of Seekers series and Lisa, in her Nordic inspired work.  


Fallon; She who seeks strength by Jaime Zollars (left) and Sami Woman by Lisa Congdon (right) shown here with permission from the artists.

I love how both artists integrate graphic elements through the use of collage into their delicate pencil drawings. The juxtaposition between detailed rendering and flat color creates an interesting tension that I'm really attracted to. I knew the kids would enjoy this technique and that it would allow them to achieve an effect they couldn't otherwise. The fact that the kids are familiar with the work of these ladies is an added bonus! We own The Dictionary of Ordinary Extraordinary Creatures illustrated by Lisa Congdon and Inside the Slidy Diner illustrated by Jaime Zollars. Two favorites in our house.

Fiona (4 years old) and Elijah (8 years old) both created great final pieces, but most importantly, enjoyed the process of drawing, tracing, cutting and gluing. I've outlined the project below, so let's get on with it!


Two Fancy Girls by Fiona (above) also posted here with permission from the artist. ;)


Graphite & Collage Figure Art 

Here's what you'll need: 

  • Thick paper (bristol, mixed media, watercolor or the like) 
  • Drawing pencils
  • Variety of colored and patterned paper (construction paper, wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, cards, etc.) 
  • Light box (Optional; You could also hold your drawings up to a sunny window to trace!)
  • Scissors
  • Glue

I started out by presenting the project to the kids. I showed them this collection of images and explained how the artists achieved the look by creating a pencil drawing, cutting shapes out of paper for clothing and accessories, then gluing those shapes on top of the original drawings. I emphasized the process much more than the result to the kids. These examples are created by accomplished professionals after all and we don't want to intimidate our little artists!


Here's the step-by-step: 

Draw a person wearing simple clothes.

Choose which colored or patterned paper to use for each piece of clothing. In Fiona's first drawing, she chose to make the dress a pretty floral using one of my Liberty Notecards! Nice taste, little lady!

Place the pencil drawing on the light board with collage paper on top. Keep in mind that if the collage paper is too dark, it will be hard to see through to the drawing underneath. If you don't have a light board, another option is to tape the drawing and collage paper to a bright window and trace it there.


Trace the outline of the clothing or accessory with a dark marker or pen.

Cut out the shape traced on the collage paper following the marker line. Fiona needed help with this step for her more intricate details. Elijah was good to go all on his own. If the kids need help cutting, don't hesitate to give them a hand!

Glue the collage paper onto the original pencil drawing in the correct position.

Fiona got increasingly detailed with her collage on each drawing as she started to fully understand the concept. Elijah spent the whole time working on a single piece. Artists work at their own pace, even the little ones. Respect their process! Fiona wanted a lot of feedback; Elijah was content to work on his own.


I expect that this will be an idea we return to again and again. It feels good for them to add one more technique to their creative tool belt.

Ready for another project? For more creative inspiration, pay a visit to these lovely ladies also participating in Backyard Art Camp:

Still to come are projects from:

oooh! an art cart!


Up until recently, Fiona has been quite content with her drawing caddy, creating stacks and stacks of drawings every day, refining her technique, and generally rocking my world. Have you seen her drawings? I die. But in the last couple weeks, creating drawings isn't enough anymore. Lately, she's all about projects. For those of you who don't know, projects involve a lot of materials! Materials that up until this point, she needed an adult to retrieve.

Not. Acceptable.

So, in comes Fiona's Art Cart! I've been drooling over this IKEA cart for months, but it has been consistently sold out at our local store. This past weekend, I went to IKEA for a new bed for Elijah, and came home with the new bed and the cutest little blue cart in all the world. I have to admit, the entire time I was assembling it, I was thinking about how great my things would look in it in my studio. But no! Because I am a sweet Mama, I gave it to my sweet girl, who very much deserves it. 


As you may be able to tell, I am very excited about this art cart. And I think I'll stop the post here, before I feel the need for even more italics. ;)

finger knitting


Elijah doesn't have camp this week, so we have the special treat of hanging out with him every day! Hooray! We are all so excited to have him around so much and I'm trying to make it an especially fun week for everyone. Like a stay-cation. Or whatever. :)


Today, we spent a lovely "crafternoon" at our new local craft shop, Baltimore Threadquarters. I originally just signed up Elijah for the finger knitting class, thinking it might be a bit frustrating for Fiona, but let me tell you, girl taught me a thing or two about underestimating her. She took to finger knitting like a fish to water. I should have known. Look at her little fingers go!


Elijah finished a rope over a yard long and Fiona turned hers into a necklace and a headband. Beautiful! Elsa remained happy on my back for much longer than usual indoors. She loved watching all the kids.


If you're interested in learning how to finger knit, it's super easy and rewarding for kids. Check out YouTube for a ton of tutorials, or better yet, sign up for a class!

wow. thank you.


Reading all the truly kind comments on the House Love giveaway post blew me away. Trying new things and putting myself out there isn't always easy, but it's so incredibly worth it. I feel proud of what House Love has become, and to see that all of you are proud of me, too... well, my heart is swelling and I feel so incredibly grateful for your support. That post will be bookmarked for a long time. For moments when I feel discouraged or overwhelmed, your thoughts will remind me that what I have going is pretty great. To be able to contribute to my family financially while staying home with my children, doing something I enjoy, something that means something to people, well, I can't really ask for more. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You all are a big part of why my world really is a lovely place to be.

one year of house love (a giveaway!)


Today, I am giving away a House Love portrait as a way of saying thank you for an amazing year. It has been one turn around the sun since I opened the shop. I still remember my first order (from Nina!), my first sale on Etsy ( from Val!) and the day I discovered that my house portraits had been featured on Apartment Therapy, then Design Mom. It was so exciting to see my little idea take off. I appreciate your support, your orders and your friendship so much. (The giveaway is open to previous and current customers as well as wait-listers!)

To enter to win one free 8x10 House Love portrait, leave a comment on this post! I'll choose a winner on Tuesday, May 28th and post the winner on the House Love Shop Facebook page.

Good luck!


Comments closed! And the winner (#37 chosen by a random number generator) is...

Just found you're blog. Love it so much. Just moved to a farm and this would be a lovely addition.