A peek inside my sketchbook

I’ve been playing around in my sketchbook this past week practicing my typography skills!  I have always wanted to be able to naturally hand draw typography that just flowed. I guess the only way to get there is to practice and learn more about it!  I’m making all my quote art about crafting and creativity, things that I apply to my life and know others like me would love.  So take a peek into my sketchbook…which one is your fave?

Hope you liked my doodle typography creations!

Until next time Swellions!


A Tulle tale

tulle rosette

Can’t really say this is a great tale. I went last night and bought some tulle at Joann’s. I first picked up the tulle with the larger openings, then I found it on spools and thought it would be a better value. Come to find out, I would have been happier with the tulle on the yard. Oh well, you live, you learn. I made some little tulle rosettes tonight. This is the result. I guess I could make a brooche or hair pin out of it, but honestly, I’m not super excited about it. Eh, maybe need a bit more practice. Sewing (hand sewing) has never been one of my strengths. I think it’s just a bit too detailed for my sensibilities. Doesn’t mean I won’t try it. I really want to make a lot of these rosettes, but seriously, I’m thinking about getting someone to do them for me on Etsy Alchemy (you can go on there and request services and people bid on it). We’ll see.

I did enjoy using one of my new favorite possessions: My grandmother’s scissors:

grandmother's scissors

My mom packed them in a package of her things for me. I totally forgot to tell her to keep them for me. I’m glad she remembered to send them to me, knowing I would appreciate them. I remember these always being in her little junk drawer and I remember watching her use them. I think this is when crafting becomes a very personal experience…how it is passed down and how things you touch and make are created with love for others. I love that I have a pair of her scissors that she kept for many years. They are super sturdy too…unlike the various plastic handled ones I own. I will really cherish them!

Well, have a couple of things to do before I turn in. Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Until next time Swellions!


Meet my mom

my mom

This is my mom, Sharron Westerfield. She is one of the craftiest ladies I know! Ever since the age of six when she came into my life after my biological mom passed away, she has been inspiring me with her artful endeavors. One of the first things I remember doing with her was dying easter eggs, something that I still look back fondly at to this day. She has always encouraged me to be creative and express myself through all different kinds of handmade ways. As a kid, I would go with her to stores like Piece Goods and Hancock Fabrics and look through pattern books and piles of fabric with her for hours (needless to say, I did get bored after a while). She always bought me ribbons for my hairbows and Wonder Under and puff paint for the Daisy Kingom sweatshirts I designed. This past weekend, while I was at home, I saw the little Home Sew mail order that she let me pick out ribbons from, still the same after all these years, sitting on the table. It brought back good memories…

home sew ribbon samples

She is an excellent seamstress, actually the best that I know. She is very humble about her skills. I have seen her make everything from wedding and bridesmaid dresses to intricate costumes and custom drapery and upholstery.

Here’s a pic of some of the many things she has made me over the years. She always let me pick out my own fabric and pattern design. I didn’t appreciate the clothes she made me back then as much as I should have. I don’t get custom clothing like I used to…she’s way too busy sewing up dresses and outfits for my neice and nephews!

outfits my mom sewed for me throughout the years

I remember back in the early 90’s when she converted our attic hideaway into a dark room and created her own images for a photo quilt. It turned out absolutely beautiful and something I know my Grandma cherished. This was way before photo quilts were the thing! Even back then, she was ahead of the trend game and she continues to be. She subscribes to a lot of different sewing, smocking, and machine embroidery magazines, staying up on the latest techniques and designs. She constantly loves to learn and be inspired!

She is crafty in a lot of other ways too…she can make beautiful cake designs, crochet, knit, faux finish, and smock (which she can do by both hand and machine) as shown here in this adorable little dress:

my mom's smocking

I know I’m missing something off the list, but she is talented in a variety of ways. She is very meticulous in her work and really takes pride in getting things just right. She doesn’t settle for something “that will do”. Her detailed craftsmanship is something I’ve always admired. Just look at this beautiful piece that she embroidered using Jenny Haskin’s machine embroidered pattern. She worked over the course of a year on this quilted wall hanging and matching pillows and her attention to detail is evident.

my mom made this

She began sewing at the age of 9 and has never stopped some 50+ years later. Like me, she is never without a project or creative idea spinning in her head. She has such an awesome work ethic and can whip out a totally unique project in hours. Everyone is always amazed by the work she does and I think if she wanted to be, she could really be a force to be reckoned with in the machine embroidery or sewing industry. But, I’m not sure she would enjoy it as much as a hobby if it were to be something she did all the time or had deadlines to meet. I think creating for her is her own spiritual retreat and way to connect and give back. I don’t know that there is anything else that she would rather be doing.

finishing touches

And, even though we aren’t technically mother and daughter by blood, she’s been a great mom to me for these 23+ years and continues to inspire and encourage me. We have very different crafting skill sets, but appreciate and learn from each other. As I’ve gotten older, I’m glad that our shared passion for crafting continues to bring us closer together.

Hope you enjoyed learning more about my mom.

Until next time Swellions!


Join me for Terrorific Tuesdays!

terrorific tuesday banner

If you haven’t already guessed I just love Halloween! I would call myself the queen, but I’ll settle for princess (I do have the tiara after all). And I have my own black cat too! That’s my cat Pixie in the banner above, the official mascot of Terrorific Tuesdays. She’s actually more of a scaredy cat than a scary cat!

If you have been reading my blog for a couple of months, you may have noticed that I’ve been posting a project each Tuesday and titling it my Terrorific Tuesday project. Well, I wanted to expand upon this idea and open it up to all my blog friends out on the “web”! I wanted to create a blog circle for October focusing on Halloween crafts and ideas. Tons of people are looking for clever ideas during this season in every shape and form and I wanted to create a positive, happy network of crafters for that!

You can choose as little or as much as you want to participate. I don’t want this to be something you stress over! Halloween is supposed to be FUN after all!

All I ask is that you please contact me and atleast let me know that you are interested so that I won’t be surprised last minute by someone I don’t know.


1. Project can be a new or old idea. There will be no set theme from week to week. You can choose to include or not include instructions in your post, but I do ask that you post a photo and a brief description or explanation as to why you were inspired to make that particular project.

Consider one of the following ideas for your post:
– home décor
– jewelry/accessories
– spooky food and drink recipes
– party and table decor
– clever costumes
– cards and paper crafts
– invitations
– outdoor décor
– pumpkin carving/painting

2. I want to keep this simple for everyone. I don’t want there to have to be a set day of the week that you post your project. For example, if you want to post your project on the Friday prior to October 6th, that’s fine, just send me the URL to that post via direct message on twitter (swelldesigner) or e-mail (swelldesigner@yahoo.com). If you want to be included in the Terrorific Tuesday Halloween Crafts and Ideas Roundup for that week, the absolute deadline is 6pm (Eastern time) on each Monday of October 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th. I will send a reminder on Monday morning on Twitter. Please get it to me each Monday by 6pm, or expect to have your project left off the roundup until the following week.

On that Monday evening, I will compile all the links and create a cute photo mosaic of all the featured projects and write up copy for everyone to use on their blogs. I will e-mail you back late Monday evening this info for you to be able to post in your blogs on Tuesday.

As you probably already know, I like promotion, so I’ll try to stir up some interest on the “web” after our first post! Hopefully it will generate excitement, while also generating us some positive traffic.

Here’s a little button I made for you to be able to promote this fun roundup on your web site. Click on it and it will take you to the HTML code and the Hot link information that you can then copy and paste into your own web site.

terrorific web banner for promotion

I can’t wait to see what you guys “brew” up!

Until next time Swellions!


5 Swell and random tidbits

I am giving myself 15 minutes to write this blog post today. Must.stay.focused. Sometimes I do it in a rush…other days, it takes 2 hours to post. Ugh, but I’m going out tonight to dinner with Jeremy (not quite sure, but I’ve been wanting to go to the Melting Pot, which just opened up here in Lex). Anyway onto my swell and random tidbits (I always liked the word tidbits, don’t you?)…

1. I just got one of my bracelet designs into a beading magazine and some of my ideas accepted into a CraftStylish publication for the holidays. Some projects I did for the magazine Jewelry Creations should be coming out any day now as well.

2. Picking up photos of the Dame tonight or tomorrow and going to get some mattes and a frame for it. I’m framing an 11×14 version for and then selling prints at Street Scene here in Lex. I inquired about selling something different than my jewelry and they took me up on my offer. The Dame actually was just demolished (it was an iconic nightspot for music here in Lex), so I’m hoping it’s demise will spark some interest in my photos.

3. I’m taking off tomorrow and going to the Kentucky State Fair tomorrow in Louisville with my friend Molly. I’ve lived in KY for close to 30 years and have never been to the fair. I plan on taking my camera and snapping some cool pics!

4. Why does it always weem you have to pay out the wazoo all at the same time/day?? Today I had to fill up my tank, change my oil + get new wiper blades, and pay for a prescription. Grr. I hate that!

5. I’m making some really cute cupcake photo toppers like these for my friend’s b-day this weekend with funny sayings that she says/has said. I think she will get a kick out of it. I don’t have to make the cupcakes, so one less thing I have to do. Seems like my days have been jampacked as of late. I’m a busy girl, just don’t ask me to do anything more!!! I hate that olden’ phrase!

I have one minute to spare. I did it! A successful blog post in 15 minutes. It really can be done!

Until next time Swellions!


Digital Photo Drawings

paris copy

I know you’ve seen this before. You may not have realized it, but the handwritten/drawn on look is all the rage! A few months back, my friend Carey gave me the idea to play up photos using this technique and I whipped up a few pieces using existing photos I had. I know you’ve seen this look…heck, you may have even done it before and never really thought of turning it into something uber fab!

It’s seen all over Perez Hilton…he’s not only the “Queen of All Media”, he’s the queen of these doodly drawings.


The movie Juno also featured this drawn photo/illustration style in it’s opening credits…

juno opening

…and I love it on this fun cd artwork (complete with the diagonal stripes, one of my faves)…


So there’s no reason you can’t do this to your photos too! All it takes is a basic Paint application (MS Paint or Photoshop Elements anyone?) If you don’t have one of those, then you can download one of these free applications…. It doesn’t really require a lot o’ talent either. You can just do some fanciful outlining, dots, and very primitive shapes. The photo paint look so lends itself to the sloppy handwritten look and that is part of it’s charm too! Sure, you may have to be a little bit picky and do some erasing here and there, but’s that all a part of the process! I played around a little bit before I came up with this final design for my friend’s cat Puzzle:

photo paint art

If you are trying to do this, let me just give you a few quick tips:

1. Use the pencil brush instead of the blurry edged paint brush. The pencil brush has a hard edge and gives a more illustrative/pen-like style. You can play around with both really (the paintbrush tool lends to a more graffiti feel), but the looks shown in this post all used a pencil edge.

2. Work with the highest quality resolution image if you plan on printing them out and framing or actually making a fun craft project. There’s nothing worse then spending a lot of time on an image only for it to turn out totally pixelated and poor quality. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

3. Mix your digital drawing in with your fun decorative fonts like I did in the Oui Oui picture above. This adds a touch of whimsy and if you’ve not super confident in your handwriting, this may be the way to go.

4. Fill in large areas with a large paint brush tool or paint bucket tool if you want to showcase just certain areas.

5. Dress a design up with basic dots, lines, swirls, and outlines in different colors. Also doodle and draw on your image the same way you would on paper. Draw hearts, stars, thought bubbles, little smiley faces, etc. on your image. I recently visited Bam Pop fun and graphic inspiration in this style.

These would make cute little conversation pieces all around your home…I can just imagine making mini digital photo drawing pillows, coasters, stickers, and magnets to put on display. They also make a great photo grouping using different shaped frames scattered all over an open wall. This also opens up into gift possibilities as well…if your friend is a nut over those LOL cats, wouldn’t they be just as crazy over a custom cat or funny image of themselves with their signature phrase??? These would make super funny gift wrap bags and tags as well. What a great way to make a funny statement!

You really can do so much with this look. A few months back, I created this idea folder in a very similar vain (granted, I actually hand lettered this image, but the basic idea is there). Just think outside of the box and start thinking about the different ways you can accessorize your plain photos and turn them into something beyond swell!

idea notebook

Until tomorrow Swellions!


Terrorific Tuesday: Spooktastic Halloween Pennants

Here’s a cute project I did last year taken from my Myspace blog…I really had a blast making these and they are a quick evening craft. If you love making pennants and banners, you will love making these!

If you are an avid crafter, you know it when you see something out and about and have that “Voila! I can make that!” moment…this happened to me when I saw this:

Original pennant design

I really loved them, but didn’t like the price tag ($8 each), so I got my crafty thinking cap on and decided to make my own (with my friend Lorilyn’s help).

halloween pennants

I think they turned out super cute and fun…super easy too! We just used kabob sticks, printouts, black cardstock, pinking shear like scissors, and some wooden balls painted with glitter on top.

I plan on displaying them in a bowl filled with candy corn or possibly sticking out from a cool pumpkin. Any other thoughts?

I have another special post on the way later for all you Swellions! Have a great day!

Another Swell Project: LOL Cat Purse

lol cat purse

So, I’ve been wanting to work on this project all week and I finally got around to it tonight. Isn’t it crazy that I’m actually posting 2 projects in 2 days?

Anyway, I wanted to create a funny purse that I can carry around with my own cat Pixie on it, but something that said a little something about her personality. She definitely has a varied demeanor. She’s not as mean as this picture looks, but she does have her moments where I kinda don’t want to cross her path.

This purse is really fast and fun and only takes a couple hours to complete…here’s how:

– Wooden box purse (mine was purchased from Michaels)
– Americana Acrylics paint in Lamp Black
– Craft Twinkle paint in Crystal
– DecoArt’s Multi-Purpose Sealer
– About 50 6mm crystal rhinestones
– high quality resolution cat photo
– Computer with photo editing software and inkjet printer
– white cardstock
– scissors or paper cutter
– foam brush
– spray adhesive
– black stamp pad
– super glue or permanent adhesive glue like E-6000


1. Pick out your cat photo and think of a funny lol cat phrase to accompany it. To translate your phrase into LOLCAT speak, visit the Speak LOLCAT web site and type in a phrase to translate.

2. Open up your image in Adobe Photoshop or other image editing software. Crop your image to be 6.25″ x 6.25″. Make sure to think about where you are going to place your text inside the are when cropping. From your fonts menu, select Impact and type out your phrase (mine was set at 50pt type). Scale to fit in your image and save. Now print your document onto cardstock according to printer specifications.

3. Using scissors or paper cutter, cut out image and set aside.

4. Using Lamp Black paint, paint entire box with foam brush, being careful not to get paint on handle (only unless you want you handle painted too). Let dry. Paint inside of purse if desired and let dry. Once dry, paint with Crystal Craft Twinkles all over box except for front. Let dry.

5. Spray back of print out lightly according to directions with spray sealer. Adhere image to front of purse, pressing firmly to release any air bubbles. Use stamp pad to go around adhered image to get ride of white edge. Let dry.

6. Seal entire purse with Multi-Purpose Sealer. Let dry.

7. Use glue to adhere rhinestone crystals about 3/4″ apart around top and sides of box (I didn’t add rhinestones to the bottom of mine, because I thought it might sit funny, but you can if you want).

This is a really cute idea that could be applied to a lot of different surfaces…heres some quick ideas if you want to use it in other décor and accessories:

– pillow
– stacked box set for an office (wooden or papier maché)
– Belt buckle
– magnets
– tote bag

The sky’s the limit. OK, now time for me to go and snuggle for the night with my inspiration. After all, she does know where I sleep.

Until next time Swellions!


All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008

Terrorific Tuesday: Frightfully Funky Feather Wreath

This is the first post in my weekly tribute to Halloween this season. Every week, I intend to share an inspired frightening and fun crafting idea. I noticed today that the project I’m about to share with you was featured on a great new creative site I discovered called One Pretty Thing. I realized that I had never posted this project on this blog (even though I did it last year). I went through a phase there where I only posted certain blogs to my myspace and certain ones to this one, but here lately, I’ve been using this as my central blog and not using myspace as much (is it bad to say I’m kinda over it). Anyway, this is a repost from that Myspace post from October last year. I’m going to keep coming up with some unique ideas and will keep you posted on them (literally), so check back here every Tuesday for a spooky idea! And now…the Frightfully Funky Feather Wreath!

black wreath detail

I made this last night (stayed up late to finish it)…I have always wanted to make a feather wreath and I wanted something that was going to make me smile as soon as I see my door. It’s light, airy, fun, funky and I think that’s more my approach to Halloween.

Went to Hobby Lobby two nights in a row…the first night to buy the styrofoam form and the feathers and the next night to buy the ornaments (all from the holiday section-half off baby!). It took me an hour or so to pick out just the right ornaments to get the look I was going for.

I heart glitterville and kinda took a page from that book in creating this. I think there are options out there for crafters to get that high end look, but for a reasonable price (this cost me about $16 bucks to make) rather than paying an arm and a leg for something storebought. It’s worth it…you just have to know what you are looking for and watch out for sales (oh, and 40% off coupons help too).

Here’s how I did it….

Medium sized styrofoam wreath blank
2 long black feather boas
3 small silver glitter plastic ornaments
3 sm/medium purple glitter plastic ornaments
3 large round glass orange ornaments
25-30 small padded protectors (they keep lamp bases, frames, etc. from scuffing hardwood)
Black Americana acrylic writer
Black spray paint
1 sharpie marker
Glue gun with glue sticks

1. Glue gun end of feather boa to styrofoam wreath. Wrap around half of wreath and glue other end in place. Glue gun and wrap second boa around wreath blank until entire wreath is covered in feathers.

2. Spray paint sheet of padded protectors. Once dry, randomly stick on orange ornaments for “flocked” look.

3. Create large swirls on purple sparkle ornaments with black writer. Set upright in small container or on an ornament hanger and let dry.

4. Draw stripes on small silver balls with sharpie marker.

5. Once all ornaments are dry, adhere ornaments to styrofoam part of wreath with glue gun. Fluff feathers around each ornament after glue is applied to make styrofoam area unnoticeable. Let dry.

Helpful hint: Store wreath in an ornament wreath keeper to prevent loose feathers or damage to ornaments. Since the orange ornaments are glass, they should be handled with care and stored accordingly.

Hope you find this project enlightening and it gets you excited about crafting for Halloween. It’s my favorite holiday if you didn’t already know! Until next time Swellions!


All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008

Patriotic Poster Drink Charms

patriotic wine glass charms

It’s Ornament Thursday time again, and this month, in honor of Independance Day, I created Vintage Patriotic Posters Drink Charms! They are colorful, fun, nostalgic, and celebrate the red, white, and blue in all their graphic glory. I just love them!

First off, you may wonder where I got these images? Well, straight from the net, baby! But, I didn’t “steal” them, they are images in the public domain, meaning that anyone can use them for crafting, brochures, web sites, or whatever! There’s lot of public domain images out there and a lot of great resources. I found this resource at Wikipedia. I actually acquired the images I am using for this project at the Online Library at Northwestern that I am using in this project. Their stipulation for using the images was that I state that in my reference.

Anyway, back to the project at hand. Here’s how you create these eye-catching charms:

– Computer with Inkjet printer
– Charm images (you can get your own at the Northwestern Library web site listed above or use the 12 I used. Find them here.
– White cardstock
– Therm-O-Web self-adhesive laminate
– Small wine glass hoops
– Various-sized beads in red, silver, and blue
– Pliers
– Scissors

1. Open up or layout your images in a photo preview program or Adobe Photoshop. Size, if needed where each individual image is about 1″ wide.

2.Cut out each individual image. Tear off laminate from backing and place picture onto sticky surface. Lay another piece of laminate on top. Press firmly over surface with finger to smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles.
smooth out wrinkles

3.Cut out around each laminated image, making sure to leave 1/8″ of laminate around image.
cut around laminate

4.Use pin or safety pin to poke a hole through top of image (not through laminate, or it will tear). Put small jump ring through hole to make a charm.
poke hole

5.String beads in desired fashion onto hoop. Use pliers to bend end of hoop to fit inside wire loop. Undo bended end from loop to secure onto wineglass.
bend wire hoop

Showcase your charms with pride on the stems of your glasses! They will be instant conversation starters. Who doesn’t like retro Americana ads? If you don’t want to go the trouble of making wine glass charms, print the images out on label stock, cut them out, and slap them silly onto red and blue Silo cups!

lined up glasses

And aren’t the old illustrations and fonts fabulous? Posters today don’t even compare. I love the simplicity and the importance of the image. Here’s a detail!

wine charm detail

On a final note, when I reviewed these posters a few stood out to me…this one looked oddly familiar. Then I thought about it and realized it’s an image used in the opening credits of Desperate Housewives! There is also a series of ads I found (reposted on That’s my Skull’s blog called Jenny on the Job encouraging women in the war work force to keep restrooms clean, wear low heals, be “fresh” as a daisy, and wear styles designed for victory. They would be incredibly demeaning today, but I’m sure back then, seeing those wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow.

Check out what some of the other Ornament Thursday ladies have made this month!

Cindy Gimbrone aka Lampwork Diva
Celebrate the Independent Spirit

Jules by Lisa
Lisa takes a shot at teeny tiny beads for a change

Linda at BeadStyle Magazine
Childhood memories of Independence Day’s past inspired this necklace.

Michelle at HTTP Design
Over at http design, Michelle has scuplted a piece which gives a different perspective on independence.

Strands of Beads
Melissa sees stars this month while considering the meaning of independence

Michelle McGee
Michelle’s favorite words on our country…

Art Bead Scene
Field of Poppies bracelet project from Heather.

Hope you enjoyed this patriotic project. Until next time Swellions!


All content/photos copyright, © Alexa L. Westerfield, 2008