Category Archives: Lost in Creativity

Pottering Around

I recently enrolled in a handbuilding class at a local pottery studio. From my understanding, “handbuilding” basically refers to anything not made using a wheel or pour molds (i.e.: coil work, pinch pots, slab construction, tiles, sculpting, etc.)

I’ve found the class very fun and I’ve learned a lot in a few short months. I figured I’d brag a little and share some of my favorite pieces here on my blog.


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Hump-mold bowl with lace doily for texture.


Glazing is an art in and of itself. Some benefit from a simple glaze that accents textures, others work well with colorful glazes.

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I threw one piece in my class–this tiny bowl.


Other pieces work best with selective glazing or no glaze at all.

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Pinch pot with big red for clay body.

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Crazy coil planter!


Sometimes you can use underglazes to accent textures.

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Tiny jewelry box made using slab construction techniques.


Or you can layer glazes, like I did for the band on this basket.

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NOTE: clay can be difficult to weave into a basket.


Like I said, I’ve really enjoyed this class. I’m hoping to keep it up and make more cool creations like this guy:

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Octopus sculpture.

A Little Bit of Everything

I’ve always loved collages. There’s something about taking separate objects or images and bringing them together to make something new.

The art pictured above is comprised of petroglyphs–images engraved into rock. These particular rocks show superimposition, meaning that some of the art was etched over already-existing images. To see these petroglyphs and more like them, check out the Crystal Wash Rock Art site near Ash Springs, NV.

I’ve been to a lot of cool places in Nevada since moving here over a year ago.
Here’s a collage featuring a few of them:

NV Photo Collage

Pictured locations include:

The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (A.K.A. Mount Charleston)
Great Basin National Park
Cave Lake State Park
Mount Irish 
Nevada Northern Railway Train Museum
Sloan Canyon
Desert National Wildlife Refuge
Valley of Fire State Park
Red Rock National Conservation Area
Hoover Dam
Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas

Another place I’ve visited is the Neon Museum in downtown Las Vegas (near Fremont Street). It’s basically a neon sign boneyard. They offer a tour and challenge you to write your name in neon. I succeeded.

Neon Jess 2

And as long as we’re talking collages, who could forget this timeless ensemble:

Ceiling of Wonders--Early

Campus, flyers, ads, candy wrappers, hand written notes–all were welcome on the Ceiling of Wonders.

Kolaches–A Family Tradition

Kolaches have always been a cornerstone of my family heritage. No family gathering–whether it be Christmas, a graduation, or even a wedding–would be complete without them. A kolache is a fruit-filled pastry which, like my family, originated in Bohemia (now split into Slovakia and the Czech Republic.) For my family, making and eating kolaches is a way of connecting with our cultural roots. Grandma is the undisputed Kolache Queen, but several of her grandchildren including myself are slowly learning the craft.

The recipe we use is common through out the Spillville, IA region. 

A few years back, I recorded a radio story with my Grandma about kolaches.

Knitted Mermaid Tail Blanket

About this time last year, I discovered mermaid tail blankets. I immediately wanted to make one, but most patterns I could find were for crocheting, and I only know how to knit. After some searching, I was able to find a free knitted pattern called Jean Lafitte’s Mermaid Lap Blanket.  The finished project, was nice, but I wanted to try out a few variations for myself. Here is my version of a knitted mermaid tail blanket. Enjoy!

A PDF of the pattern is available here: Knitted Mermaid Tail Blanket FINAL

3 Mermaid Tail Blankets

Kids to short adults (I sized it to fit me & I’m 5’ 2”) but can be easily lengthened by adding sets of scales (1 scale set = 4 double-seed stitch rows).
You will need:
1) Super bulky (6) weight yarn, approximately 440 yds. ( I used Bernat Blanket.)
2) At least 1* 24in (60cm) or longer circular needles in size US 19 (66mm)
3) Tapestry Needle

*I prefer to use 2 circular needles. It allows me to knit the flat parts like using normal straight needles, and also makes it easier to knit the tighter round sections.

** Gauge isn’t super important, but mine was 3 sts x 3 rows over 2 inches.
Finished blanket measures:
44 inches around at widest point
42 inches long from waist to start of caudal fin
77 inches from tip to tail

k = Knit
p = Purl
k2tog = Knit 2 stitches together
p2tog = Purl 2 stitches together
slm = Slip marker
kfb = Knit into the front and then the back of stitch (creates 2 stitches)
st, sts = Stitches

Pattern Notes:
The blanket is knit top down and begins with a 3×3 rib stitch. The main body consists of a double-seed stitch to create a scale-like texture and the caudal fin uses a 2×2 rib stitch to form fin rays.


Cast on 63 stitches [63STS]

Row 1 k3, p3 to end
Row 2 p3, k3 to end
Rows 3-8 repeat 3 sets of Rows 1&2
Row 9 k3, p3 to end

Row 10 k1, (p1, k1 to end)                                                          Row 11 p1, (k1, p1 to end)
Row 12 p1, (k1, p1 to end)                                                          Row 13 k1, (p1, k1 to end)
Row 14 k1, (p1, k1 to end)                                                          Row 15 p1, (k1, p1 to end)
Row 16 p1, (k1, p1 to end)                                                          Row 17 k1, (p1, k1 to end)
Row 18 k1, (p1, k1 to end)                                                          Row 19 p1, (k1, p1 to end)
Row 20 p1, k1, p1, k2tog, (p1, k1 to last 5 sts), k2tog, p1, k1, p1 [61STS]
Row 21 k1, (p1, k1 to end)
Row 22 k1, (p1, k1 to end)                                                          Row 23 p1, (k1, p1 to end)
Row 24 p1, (k1, p1 to end)                                                           Row 25 k1, (p1, k1 to end)

Row 26 Join work in the round by slipping first stitch of row over last stitch of row and
purl. (In other words, p2tog first and last stitches to join the round.)
Then k1, p1 to end. [60STS]

Mermaid Tail Top

Starting out with a straight stitch and joining the ends together creates a slit in the back which makes it easier to get in and out of the blanket.

Row 27 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 28&29 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 30&31 slm, k1, p1 to end
Row 32 slm, k1, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, (p1, k1x12)
p2tog, k1, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1, k1, p1 [54STS]

Row 33 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows34&35 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 36&37 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 38-39 slm, p1, k1 to end
Row 40 slm, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p1, k2tog, (p1, k1)x12, p2tog,
k1, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1, k1 [48STS]

Row 41 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 42&43 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 44&45 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 46&47 slm, k1, p1 to end
Row 48 slm, k1, p1, k2tog, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1, k2tog, (p1, k1 x12), p2tog, k1, p1,
k2tog, p1, k1, p2tog, k1, p1 [42STS]

Row 49 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 50&51 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 52&53 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 54&55 slm, p1, k1 to end
Row 56 slm, p1, k2tog, p1, k2tog, p1, k2tog, (p1, k1 x12), p2tog, k1, p2tog, k1,
p2tog, k1 [36STS]

Row 57 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 58&59 slm, k1, p1 to end
Rows 60&61 slm, p1, k1 to end
Rows 62&63 slm, k1, p1 to end
Row 64 slm, k1, p2tog to end [24STS]
Row 65 slm, k1, p1 to end
Row 66 Lay body of tail flat on the ground. with the slit you created with the first 26 rows centered so that the caudal fin will lay flat. Match up the 24 stitches one in front
and one in back so that there are 12 pairs of stitches. With other needle, slip
back stitch through front stitch 12 times so that there are 12 stitches remaining
and the end of the tail is closed.[12STS]

Caudal Fin

The body of the tail is closed on Row 66 and the caudal fin is created using straight stitches and short rows. Make sure that the slit at the top of the blanket is centered in relation to the caudal fin so that the blanket lays flat.

Caudal Fin
Row 67 k1, kfb x10, k1 [22STS]
Rows 68&69 k to end
Row 70 k1, kfb x20, k1 [42STS]
Row 71 k2, (p2, k2) to end Row 72 p2, (k2, p2) to end
Rows 73-90 Repeat 9 sets of rows 71 & 72

Row 91A (k2, p2) x5, k1 [21STS]
Row 92A turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x5 [21STS]
Row 93A (k2, p2) x4, k2, p1 [19STS]
Row 94A turn work, k1, (p2, k2) x4, p2 [19STS]
Row 95A (k2, p2) x4, k1 [17STS]
Row 96A turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x4, k1 [17STS]
Row 97A (k2, p2) x3, k2, p1 [15STS]
Row 98A turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x3, k2 [15STS]
Row 99A (k2, p2) x3, k1 [13STS]
Row 100A turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x3 [13STS]
Row 101A k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p1 [11STS]
Row 102A turn work, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2 [11STS]
Row 103A k2, p2, k2, p2, k1 [9STS]
Row 104A turn work, p1, k2, p2, k2, p2 [9STS]
Row 105A k2, p2, k2, p1 [7STS]
Row 106A turn work, k1, p2, k2, p2 [7STS]
Row 107A k2, p2, k1 [5STS]
Row 108A turn work, p1, k2, p2 [5STS]
Row 109A k2, p2 [4STS]
Row 110A turn work, k2, p2 [4STS]
Row 111A k2, p1 [3STS]
Row 112A turn work, k1, p2 [3STS]
Row 113A k2 [2STS]
Row 114A turn work, p2 [2STS]

Bind off 21 stitches. Slip last bind off stitch over the first stitch in the second half of row. Weave yarn through your remaining 22 stitches so that you are starting the next row on the outer edge of the tail rather than the middle.

Row 91B (k2, p2) x5, k2tog [21STS]
Row 92B turn work, k1, (p2, k2) x5 [21STS]
Row 93B (k2, p2) x4, k2, p1 [19STS]
Row 94B turn work, k1, (p2, k2) x4, p2 [19STS]
Row 95B (k2, p2) x4, k1 [17STS]
Row 96B turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x4, k1 [17STS]
Row 97B (k2, p2) x3, k2, p1 [15STS]
Row 98B turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x3, k2 [15STS]
Row 99B (k2, p2) x3, k1 [13STS]
Row 100B turn work, p1, (k2, p2) x3 [13STS]
Row 101B k2, p2, k2, p2, k2, p1 [11STS]
Row 102B turn work, k1, p2, k2, p2, k2, p2[11STS]                                                                      Row 103B k2, p2, k2, p2, k1 [9STS]
Row 104B turn work, p1, k2, p2, k2, p2 [9STS]
Row 105B k2, p2, k2, p1 [7STS]
Row 106B turn work, k1, p2, k2, p2 [7STS]
Row 107B k2, p2, k1 [5STS]
Row 108B turn work, p1, k2, p2 [5STS]
Row 109B k2, p2 [4STS]
Row 110B turn work, k2, p2 [4STS]
Row 111B k2, p1 [3STS]
Row 112B turn work, k1, p2 [3STS]
Row 113B k2 [2STS]
Row 114B turn work, p2 [2STS]




Simple Ornaments


I made some adorable ornaments as holiday gifts. They didn’t take too long and turned out beautiful!

Ceramic Ornament Supplies



  • Pre-made, ceramic ornaments
  • A pencil
  • Paint markers
  • Clear acrylic gloss coating









Step 1

Create a design on the ornament using the pencil. You can use any design, but I’m partial to Zentangle patterns, they are simple to draw, but look complex. If you feel confident about your design, feel free to skip this step and free-draw with the paint markers.


I used a pencil to outline a Zentangle pattern called “Purk”.

Step 2

Use the paint markers to color in the design. Make sure to let each side dry before turning the ornament over to prevent smudging.


Tip: If the paint marker color you want to use is light, you may want to erase your pencil marks before starting to fill in your design. The remaining marks will be dark enough to use as a guide, but light enough that they won’t show through to the finished product.

Step 3

Use the clear acrylic spray to create a glossy, finished look. Again, let each side of the ornament dry individually.

Ornaments--Clear Coat

Make sure you spray the ornaments in a well-ventilated area. I always just take mine outside.


Here are a few of my favorites:

Hollibaugh Star

I used a Zentangle pattern called “Hollibaugh” to create this design.


This ornament incorporates 3 distinct patterns to create a cohesive design.


Plaid Tree

I made a plaid pattern by varying the width of straight vertical and horizontal lines.


Creative Chaos

I entered my freshman year of college in the fall of 2008—an election year. It was the first election I would be old enough to participate in and I was not prepared for all the political ads I received in the mail. I remember they were printed on thick, shiny paper—expensive paper—and it seemed like such a waste to me. So, I used sticky tack to attach those flyers to the ceiling of my college dorm room. At least now they had a purpose.

Those political ads were just the beginning, though. In case you were unaware, a college campus is a gold mine for flyers—people have to learn about upcoming events, fundraisers, meetings, and visiting speakers somehow. The way I saw it, I was doing the college a service by removing the out-dated posters from the bulletin boards all over campus. After all, no one else seemed to take care of it—and flyer space is seriously valuable in such situations. Other artifacts found their way onto my ceiling: pizza ads, candy wrappers, hand-written signs, post-it notes, a paper bread bag from a restaurant in New Orleans, wrapping paper complete with bow. Basically if it was paper-like and didn’t fall off the ceiling repeatedly, it was fair game.

By that May, when we had to move out, my roommates and were living under what we called The Ceiling of Wonders. The only remaining blank sections were those directly above our beds. It took 5 or 6 people and several hours to take down.

Ceiling of Wonders--Early

Campus, flyers, ads, candy wrappers, hand written notes–all were welcome on the Ceiling of Wonders.

We decided to continue the tradition for our sophomore year, only this time, we would upgrade to The Room of Wonders, meaning that the walls would be covered as well. The result was colorful chaos.


Room of Wonders--Mirror

A glimpse into my sophomore living space.



That second year, the take-down process took days. It must have been more traumatic than I realized at the time, because that was the end of my era of captivating ceiling collages.


In case you were wondering how much sticky tack it takes to cover an entire ceiling, the answer is a lot!


Desert Living

Hello, Beautiful People!

I’ve been out here in the desert for 7 months now! While I definitely admit that less than a year of experience doesn’t exactly make me an expert, here’s some mixed media advice on how to have fun/survive the wilds of Nevada.



Getting lost IS sometimes fun, but the sun can be brutal out here.


You know the tracks on the bottom are from a lizard because of the long trail left by its tail.


There’s lots of weird stuff out here in the Mojave.




Cactus flowers are awesome.

Today’s blog post was vaguely inspired by Neil Gaiman’s “Instructions“, a poem in which he offers guidance to anyone who might himself or herself inside a fairy tale.


I’ve posted before about sun-dying, but really how could you expect me to move to the desert and not post about such awesomeness? This time around, I decided to make some stellar tote bags instead of t-shirts. Here are a few of the results.

Bubblegum Lattice

Method: Lots and lots of painter’s tape.

Tortoise Tote

Method: Negative transparency, painter’s tape, stencils

Total Baller

Method: 8×11 Label & xacto-knife to create custom sticker stencil and painter’s tape


Method: 8×11 Label and xacto-knife to create custom sticker stencil and a negative transparency to add depth/texture

I also experimented with a few fabric fragments:

Table Runner

Method: Painting sponges

Found Objects

Method: Placed rocks & dried cholla cactus on previously-dyed (but undeveloped) fabric; the black garbage bag was very important because it prevented the sunlight from developing the white parts during transit.