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Time2cre8s tarantula minicards

Time2cre8's tarantula minicards

I haven’t been the luckiest person in terms of winning things. I guess I’m decent at poker, but I don’t play a lot of casino slot machines or enter a lot of contests.

However, today, I won something on Etsy! I placed an order last night for some mini-notecards that I thought were pretty adorable. Time2cre8‘s (aka MaryLou) shop has a nice selection of minicards, so I thought it would be nice to get a few cards just for general use and to surprise loved ones in my life.

So this morning I woke to an email saying that I had won $10 of free merchandise! The reason? I was her 3333rd order, and the number 3 is significant to her. This was music to my ears since I had a hard time picking out items the night before. I’ve decided to pick out a selection of 10 sea creature themed captionable minicards to add to my sea wall.

In browsing MaryLou’s Etsy shop, however, I found that she had some amazing little gift tags and labels that would be great for a sea or ocean/beach themed wedding. So pretty… and affordable at just over $0.30 each!

Click the picture to go to the item in Time2Cre8’s shop:

Seahorse tags

Octopi tags

Also: visit MaryLou’s blog. She does a lot of beading as well.

Crafting a Proposal (part 1): Acquiring the matryoshka

After I received the dolls in the mail, I remained unsure of what to do. I knew I wanted to make them into something meaningful to us and not too proposal or marriage related. Something I could put on the shelf and remember our Asia trip as well as the proposal and the crafting experience. (Remember; I’ve never painted anything other than paint by numbers in my life!)

My Moleskine Van Gough special edition notebook

My Moleskine Van Gough special edition notebook

With this new born need to craft, I began sketching some ideas in my beautiful silk Moleskine book. I had a vague idea of the concepts I wanted to capture from Japanese culture including, but not limited to: bonsai, geisha, harajuku girls, octopus, robots, sumo, Mount Fuji and Hello Kitty.

The sketches were simple, and I had a hard time limiting them to specific ideas. There were four larger dolls and two super tiny ones to decorate. I thought I would save the most detail for the larger dolls so I focused my energy on those.

The sketches took shape as follows:

These were the ideas for the larger dolls.

Various details and smaller concepts I wanted to include

Looking back, I was pretty true to my original sketches, especially on the geisha and Mount Fuji dolls

Some details and ideas for the Mount Fuji doll.

In the end, I decided to do dolls with a geisha, sumo, Mount Fuji and Hello Kitty theme, with a special idea for the two tiny dolls. Not everything would go according to plan though…

more to come

Can I just mention right now how much I love sea animals? Whales, seahorses, jellyfish, even ugly anglerfish and creepy cephalopods of any variety (but mostly octopi) bring joy to my life. One of the best days of my life started out extremely poorly in Bangkok but ended up fantastic, after spending four hours at Paragon Siam Ocean World aquarium. The garden eels alone were worth the price of admission. And it made things easier to identify during deep sea dives.

But, I digress.

I have a “sea wall” in my apartment, which if you have ever been to Vancouver, you may recognize the punny name. (To explain: they too have a sea wall, except it’s a physical brick wall that helps minimize the erosion of Stanley Park into the sea) Mine consists of some beautiful prints via New Zealand artist Nut and Bee and some amazing stuffed creatures that I think some friends got from Etsy.


Whaletaculon and Squiddy

left to right: Whaletaculon and Squiddy

I like it when the sun falls from the vaulted ceiling windows onto the stuffies and makes it look like they are under water.

These are the Nut and Bee prints

These are the Nut and Bee prints

So, it’s no surprise I often surf around Flickr looking for interesting seacrafts. Today I found this pair o’ ‘pis:

Wedding Octopis via a href=

via dropstitch on Flickr, made via this pattern on

What are matryoshka? They are Ukrainian (or Russian) nesting dolls. You know, the super cute ones that keep decreasing in size as you open doll upon doll? You might remember them better from a really beautifully retro Sesame Street bit:

Watching that makes my heart happy.

Anyhow, I don’t remember how or when I found out the boy (aka Mr M) liked these stacking dolls, I only remember he did. I thought they might make a good gift for him, but initially could only find the traditional style dolls, pre-decorated such as the ones seen in the video. While beautiful, and a nod to my heritage as a Ukrainian girl, they weren’t quite what I was looking for. I wanted something beautiful, personal and made by me.

Cute kokeshi!

Kawaii kokeshi!

While doing research on matryoshka, I found out about kokeshi dolls. Kokeshi are Japanese wooden dolls, and are said to be the precursor to the Russian matryoshka. They are quite a bit simpler than nesting dolls, but are similar in that they are amputees! With no arms or legs, either style of doll seemed quite simple for me to paint, or even make if I had to. I’m not the most proficient artist, after all, as you’ll come to see.

Plus, after having been to Japan on a recent trip with my beau, it seemed a beautiful nod to the sweet memories we had of the country, which we adored. Kokeshi are beautifully styled and decorated, in the Japanese kawaii (cute!) style. I was only left to wonder how I could combine these two wonderful doll styles into something meaningful to us, and still somewhat proposal related.

Luckily, I found a fantastic vendor in Hawaii on Etsy (Whittle World.) She handmakes wooden dolls of all sorts, including the matryoshka style. She had an incredibly affordable set for sale, which I scooped.

blank matryoshka dolls from etsy

my blank matryoshka from WhittleWorld on etsy.
aren’t the little ones darling?

But how to decorate them..?

More to come…

In March 2008, I got this idea. A small idea, but one that nagged at me for months.

I had just finished traveling with my boyfriend of three years through Asia for the first few months of 2008. We spent some time with my family, sometime alone (together and apart), when I realized life was just better when I was with Mr M. It had never occurred to me to sit around and wait for him to realize it; I just had to tell him how much I loved him and how much I loved being with him.

But how?

That’s when something magical happened; I discovered Etsy. Suddenly, a world of possibility! Slowly, piece by piece my plan came into fruition. I purchased a set of unfinished nesting (matroyshka) dolls from WhittleWorld. I began to sketch and plan out what I was going to paint on the beautiful wooden canvas. Turns out coming up with how to ask it was a bit harder, though.