Archive for March, 2016

This weekend, my husband, Michael Bailey, will be participating in the Local Author Fair at the Worcester Public Library. As a result, we’ve been pretty book focused lately, and so it seemed like a good time to share a collection of Storied Threads bookmarks! All of our bookmarks are derived from literary inspirations – here are just a few of my favorites.

Exit2Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Possibly the best stage direction ever written comes from Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale”. In Act II, Scene iii, the direction simply reads, “Exit, pursued by a bear”.

Shakespeare is one of my great loves, so it’s no surprise, really, that this is one of two bookmarks in my shop that are inspired by the Bard of Avon. The bear silhouette was drawn by my husband, and is possibly the most adorable, least threatening pursuing bear ever.

This bookmark is embroidered in dark brown thread on off white cotton canvas.

NoHarm2No Harm Ever Came From Reading A Book

“It’s just a book. No harm ever came from reading a book.”

Alright, I’ll grant you that technically, this quote is from a movie, and not a literary source. But given the nature of the quote, and Evie’s occupation as a librarian, it nevertheless seemed like a perfect choice for one of our bookmarks.

This bookmark shows the outline and scarab detail of the lock from Imhotep’s sarcophagus and the Book of the Dead, stitched in gold thread on khaki cotton canvas, and Evelyn’s ironic statement is stitched below it in dark brown.

TelltaleHeart1The Tell-Tale Heart

You know that feeling, when there’s something you desperately need to keep secret? And the more you talk to the person in front of you, the more convinced you are that they absolutely know you’re lying, and can see the guilt written all over your face?

Yeah. Edgar Allen Poe knew that feeling, too.

This clever design takes full advantage of the long vertical shape of a bookmark in order to show not only the quote, but the floorboards with a beating heart hidden in the dark space underneath.

BloodIsLife1The Blood is the Life

Both Dracula and Renfield know all too well that the blood is the life. Sadly, Renfield has to resort to the insects in his cell to satisfy that need.

This design, depicting one of Renfield’s unfortunate flies, was orignally done as a patch in our shop, but it never quite caught on in that format. It’s seen much better success since we decided to re-work it for our bookmark line!

The great thing about our embroidered bookmarks — besides just being awesome bookmarks — is that are still fully functional as sew-on patches, too! Use it to hold your place in your favorite novel, or sew it on a bag or jacket to show your literary loves to the world.



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I recently finished taking a drawing class at the Worcester Art Museum. Going into this class, I had only very basic knowledge of drawing — I was okay at contours, but knew nothing about shading, or proportions of the body and face, or perspective. And I want to be better, both for myself, and for Storied Threads.

During the first class, our teacher had us do three drawings so she could assess our skill levels. She had us draw our hand (to see what we knew of contours), do a self portrait (to see what we knew of shading), and draw a corner of the room (to assess our knowledge of perspective).  When I got home and told Mike about the class, I showed him my hand and corner drawings — and wouldn’t even let him see the self-portrait. It was THAT bad.

I tell you this because I’m still not going to show you that travesty of a self-portrait. But it’s important to know that’s where I started, so that you can fully appreciate what comes next.


My hand, done as homework after our first class in which we started talking about shading.

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A lily, drawn during the lesson on flora.

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From our lesson in body proportions. I finally understand all the rough sketched ovals artists use!

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Homework after the body proportions lesson, drawn from a photo of myself as a toddler. I sent it to my mother and said, “Ignore the face. I’m rubbish at faces.”


From our second lesson on drawing faces. Drawn in the Roman gallery of the Worcester Art Museum.

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From our final class, drawn from a model in the classroom. 

What I find truly fascinating is this — When I told my mother I was rubbish at faces, I really was. (Although looking back at that drawing, I can see a cool cartoon-face aspect to it that I kind of like.)  And having a good teacher, somebody who was able to communicate well to me the techniques that I didn’t understand and help me work through my stumbling blocks allowed me to improve leaps and bounds in just two months. At this point – I genuinely ENJOY drawing faces! I’ve started drawing portraits of my family, using photographs as a model just for fun.

I still have quite a lot to learn about drawing and about art. But in this class, not only did I learn a lot technically – I learned that drawing is something that I truly love. And that is invaluable.


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FeelTheBurrnThis is how patches get designed sometimes. True story.

My husband and I were out taking a walk in the cemetery by our house, and I said, “I want to make some Hamilton patches. But I want them to be based in actual history, because public domain. But I want them to also make people think of the musical, because Hamilton.”

Mike replied, half jokingly, “What if you did a flintlock pistol with a caption that says, ‘Feel the Bern’, only you spell it ‘B-U-R-R-N’.”

And then I laughed out loud so hard that we knew we had to actually make this happen.


A sample of Redbubble products featuring this design

This design is available as a patch in our Etsy shop and on our website, and as a sticker, t-shirt, and more at Redbubble.

Click here to buy one!

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The Storied Threads booth at Winslowshire Faire in 2011.

Years ago, there was a small renaissance faire called Winslowshire Faire that was held at Winslow Farm in Norton, MA.  While we never made a ton of money at this event, we were always happy to be there, because Winslow Farm itself was such a wonderful place.

Winslow Farm is a sanctuary farm. The opened in 1996 with one goal in mind – to take in animals of all types who are neglected, abused, or in danger. They rehabilitate them, love them, and provide them with a safe place to live out their lives.


Mervin the goat with Mike and I during a visit in 2009.

Very soon after opening, Winslow Farm opened their doors to the public. You can visit during their operational hours, and wander the grounds visiting the many animals who live there. Some are in pens, both for their safety and the safety of Winslow’s visitors. But others roam the grounds freely, greeting guests at will. Dogs and cats make up the majority of the roaming animals, but occasionally others will joing you as well. This goat, for example, joined us early on one of our visits to the farm, and hung out with us all day. He walked with us around the farm, stopped when we stopped, and generally kept us company for hours.

If you are in the southeastern Massachusetts area – or if you’re an animal lover and up for a bit of a drive! – I highly recommend a visit to Winslow Farm. The people who run it are lovely, and any donations you make go to support the farm and the nearly 200 animals who live there.

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Top hat with goggles, take one.

When I sent in my application for the OtherWhere Spring Steam Faire, I started looking at my selections of Steampunk themed items, and noticed a giant hole — I had no Steampunk Geek Merit Badge! I immediately started thinking about what image to use for such a patch, and quickly settled on the idea of a top hat with goggles. I sat down and drew out my idea, and when I was happy with it I brought it out to show to Mike. I thought my design was darn cutes, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself.


Top hat with “goggles” to use as a model.

Mike looked at the drawing, and heard me make my pitch for a steampunk geek merit badge along these lines. He said, “I think this is a really good idea, and a really good concept. But what if you try drawing the hat so it’s not straight on? I think another angle might give it more depth and visual interest.”

Now, I’ve improved quite a lot as an artist in the last couple of months, but I still wasn’t up to visualizing what he’s suggested and putting it down on paper. I did have a vintage top hat in the closet, though, so I grabbed that to use as a model. The tricky bit was goggles — I don’t own a single pair! So instead, I took the lids off of two spice bottles, and tied them to the front of my hat with a piece of heavy thread.


Steampunk top hat, final artwork.

And then I started drawing. Having an actual hat in front of me was amazingly valuable – it let me see the shape of the brim, where it touched the table and where it lifted up, and the shape of the crown. It let me see the angle of the “goggles” and how, in three dimensions, they would stand out from the hat itself. And from there, extrapolating the goggle details such as the strapping and the cups at the sides of them  became much easier. You can still see, in this artwork, the ghost of the clock hands that I decided to eliminate from this version – with so much other detail, they became unnecessary, and even cluttered the image.

SteampunkOnce that was done, it was a matter of scanning the image to my computer, and re-working the design in my embroidery software, using this drawing as my guide.  We showed you the final patch last week, but here it is again, the final step in this artwork evolution – our Steampunk Geek Merit Badge!

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2016-02-12 10.10.48A while ago, I decided I wanted to make myself a pair of ears for wearing to cons. I had been thinking cat ears, until I realized that I already  had a marvelous russet red faux fur that was not a terrible match for my own hair in the studio — and decided to go with fox ears instead.

I didn’t think to start taking pictures until I was about halfway finished with this project, unfortunately, so we’ll start there!

I had some ideas of methods to make my ears, but I also know that thousands of people before me have already tackled this kind of project. And the internet is a thing that exists, and surely a few of them must have written about the process right? Right. I read about half a dozen “how-to” blogs, and finally settled on a mixture of techniques that I would use — although part of this process was still a fumble-through, figuring it out as I went!

EarsOnlyOne blogger was kind enough to post the pattern she had used for her ears, so I started there, though I did not use her construction technique. I used faux fur and gray felt, and inside, I placed a layer of wire mesh so that my ears would be stiff and shapeable. They’re a little bit messy at the bottom, where I hand-stitched the opening shut. If I was going to make these again, I’d leave myself more extra seam allowance at the base to make this step easier. I can always trim excess away, it’s much harder to try to work with too little fabric!

EarsBaseOnce the ears were made, I had to figure out how to mount them. I had a narrow metal headband I wanted to put them on, but I wasn’t sure how. I knew my ears would be bent at the bottom, to give them a more natural shape, and simply attaching the corners seemed unstable. In the end, I wound up using more of my wire mesh, and creating a sort of cap that extended past the headband for the ears to sit on. And since I knew I didn’t want all of that metal showing through my hair, I covered it with more faux fur to let it blend in with my own hair better when worn.

The final step was comparitively simple – attaching the ears to their base. I hand stitched them on with a sturdy whip stitch, and was grateful for the forgiving nature of faux fur. Once the stitching was in place, I was able to fluff the fur up around the stitches to mask the seams quite nicely. The end result is a pretty cute pair of fox ears which I’m excited to wear to my next con!

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Pickman1Are you afraid of the dark? Of subterranean spaces? Screams of terror and demonic figures? No? Then the Pickman School of Art is the perfect place for you to hone your craft! This design is inspired by HP Lovecraft’s short horror story “Pickman’s Model”, and is available in our Etsy shop and on our website.

The design is also available at Redbubble on t-shirts, stickers, notebooks, and more!


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