Free Phone and Desktop Wallpaper Downloads from Craft the Rainbow

free rainbow phone and desktop wallpaper downloads

Free phone wallpaper downloads

We loved creating these free downloadable wallpapers just as much as creating Craft the Rainbow. If you haven’t read it before, you’ll want to! As I mentioned in an earlier post, it’s the ultimate stay-at-home companion, which is something we all might need right now. And now, for the first time ever, it is available for your Kindle for super cheap too I might add.

Quarantine boredom is no joke, but what better solution is there than crafting? We created these downloadable wallpapers as we were inspired by Craft the Rainbow, so who knows what you could be inspired to? Let that simmer in your thoughts as you look through each colorful wallpaper, and choose what speaks to you the most. Inspiration can be found in the darndest places, and here at Lars, sometimes it’s a sweet background photo.

These were one of my favorite parts of creating the book with my friend, photographer Chaunte Vaughn. We spent A LOT of time making them. Ha! I wanted each chapter to show the love I have of it through finding all the beautiful craft supplies in that color. Some of the beautiful objects were provided by friends and crafters from around the world including Ruth Ribeaucourt of The French Muse, who sent me a huge supply of beautiful objects from Provence. To me, they made the book!

Chaunte was so patient making these with me. We shot it in January when we had shorter light to work with so we had to RACE to get them done.

free phone wallpaper downloads

Free desktop wallpaper downloads

Check out these new wallpapers as soon as you can, and let us know which one was your fav! Unless all of them were, in which case you’ll want to download them all! Look through the shop today for the free downloads, and let Craft the Rainbow keep inspiring you for the rest of the month (or maybe the rest of your life!)

free rainbow desktop wallpaper downloadsfree rainbow desktop wallpaper downloads

The artist behind these rainbow wallpapers

These beautiful background canvases in each the images were created for Craft the Rainbow by artist Rachel Kiser Smith. She added so much texture and vibrancy that we’ve been using the backgrounds for shoots ever since.

We love her work so much and wanted to introduce her to you! Here amazing use of color and texture fills the pages of Craft the Rainbow and we couldn’t be happier about it. Read through her interview below to get to know Rachel, and to see more of her process while creating for our book!

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person etc.?

Artist, creative, dabbler

Who helped you “become” who you are?

My Mom always had a creative project going and supplies to share. As an adult, friends who are also making art have been important to me. And can I say authors? I love reading anything on the creative process.

Do you feel like you’ve arrived at what you set out to do?

Yes and no. Perhaps the heart has secret dreams that will always keep me from feeling like I’ve arrived. But just starting to make work and share it on Instagram (after years of hiding) was an arrival of sorts. I remember the thrilling feeling when I realized that I was working with people I’d admired for a long time.

What more would you like to “become”?

Speaking of secret dreams . . . ha! I want to be a children’s book author and illustrator!

What did you study? Did you go to school specifically for what you do?

I took a bit of a meandering path in college and ended up with a double major in Spanish and Visual Arts. Spanish may seem inapplicable, but I think reading, analyzing, and writing about beautiful works of literature has had as much influence of my creativity as the art classes I took.

What’s your work space like?

When we moved into our house, we turned the formal living room into a creative space. It has a wall filled with art supplies and another with books. Usually the whole family shares a big table in the middle, but since having the kids home full time for distance learning, we’ve brought in another table just for me. That’s been a game changer.

Did you always have an ultimate plan?

No, and I still don’t! When I begin on a project or painting, I just have to start making stuff. The ideas come as I begin. I think careers can be like that too.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field?

Protect your creative time from yourself. Part of you will come up with any excuse to not create. Commit to editing and researching later.

What’s inspiring you lately?

Amy Merrick’s book On Flowers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels, reading The Wind in the Willows to my kids, and watching the caterpillars in our yard.

Where you can find Rachel’s other work

@rachelkisersmith on Instagram

Her work for sale on Minted

Shop the Rainbow

Many of our Craft the Rainbow items, like journals, our guided journal My Life in Color, and more are still on sale! Shop the entire rainbow here and gear up for your quarantine creativity!

My Life in Color guided journal for creatives

Women Who Work: Lulie Wallace

Painter and textile artist Lulie Wallace

When did you know that art was your jam? 

As early as I can remember, I have always loved arts and crafts.  I wanted to be drawing, sewing, pasting, creating a lot more than I wanted to do homework. I loved the piano as a child and feel like I have always been somewhat of a creative problem solver.

Why is it important to you to create? 

This answer has really changed since becoming a mother. I consider painting and the ability to paint a giant gift. I used to just paint because I enjoy it and because it was my job and way to make money, now it really is an outlet for me as a mom to go to my studio and make art. There is still so much for me to explore in painting and I love that.

Painter and textile artist Lulie Wallace

Was there anyone along the way who helped shape you and your work?

A lot of people! The first people to come to mind are my boss, Beth, in college and my favorite professor at College of Charleston, Professor Peacock. I worked in a gift store that carried paper products, bags, jewelry from so many neat artists and graphic designers and I know that was pretty influential in what my eyes were taking in. My professor in college was also hugely encouraging, not just to me, but I feel to all of his students. He pushed you, but also could find something positive to say about anything you created. It is wild how gigantic just encouraging someone in their field of interest can be. I heard of different colleges where art students were criticized by professors and that hurt to hear because with a little encouragement, people can make/do some amazing things!

Although I currently paint in my studio alone, for about 10 years I worked right next to other artists. I think this was incredibly influential on my work ethic and style of painting. It is so much fun and motivating to paint right next to other artists. They were also amazing people to live life with on a daily basis…win/win!!

What’s your advice to women wanting to pursue the same thing?

One of my greatest pieces of advice (that is almost the hardest to achieve) is to hone in on your style…work, work, work, work, and work on it some more! People say, “I could never be a painter” but my mentality really is if you wanted to do it so bad that you worked your butt off at it, then you could do it!! My other piece of advice is to find a mentor/apprenticeship/job of someone who is already successful in their craft. I think that is huge!

bright and happy home design

You can find Lulie here:

@luliewallace on Instagram

luliewallace.com 

(All photos were found on her site)

Women Who Work Interview Series

This interview series was inspired by our Women Who Work print by Libby VanderPloeg, found in the Lars Print Shop!Artist art print Women Who Work

Women who Work art print by Libby Vanderploeg

You can see our previous interviews:

Becoming interview: French Papercut Artist Julie Marabelle

French papercut artist Julie Marabelle

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person etc.? 

I guess all of the above. 

My background is in visual art and stage design. Over the years my work has evolved towards a mix of illustration, painting, craft and design. 

I started my career in London as a stage and costume designer for the theatre. I have been working with lots of different media from making small scale models in the conception of a stage design to orchestrating large sets with carpenters. 

For over 10 years, I have been running my own business Famille Summerbelle where I design a line of illustrated products for the home. I love the creative diversity involved in my work, from paper cutting illustrated maps, researching and sketching, to handling the production, styling, shooting and editing the images of a new product and finally bringing it to market. 

Who helped you “become” who you are? 

It’s a combination of how I was brought up, my life experiences, and inspirational people I have worked with along the way. Most of all though, I would say that my family has shaped me most. 

I have inherited the creative side of my mother. As a child, if I liked a piece of clothing that I saw in a shop my mum would say “you can make it yourself, it’s so much better!” So we would go to buy fabric and then design and create it together. 

My parents were doers, very hands on, always renovating homes, and many creative side projects. 

I am the second of five children and I am very close to my siblings. Family means so much to me and how I have developed creatively. As kids we were very resourceful and independent. There were too many of us to have the full attention of our parents! Also I wouldn’t be doing what I do today without my three children. Famille Summerbelle started as we started our own family. Making art with my children is what I enjoy most. It’s a constant work in progress. 

collage art with kids

What more would you like to “become”? 

So much more, I don’t think that ever finishes. I like to see it as a lifelong journey! There are so many skills I would like to improve and new things to learn. 

Becoming better at painting, learning new languages, being better organized, more patient, better at running a business, those are all goals of mine. 

I am often juggling too many balls at once! I have three children that are still young so my days seem often too short for all the things I would like to do on the side of running my business. 

Where did you study, and what did you study? 

I’ve always been lucky enough to be educated in a creative environment. All my primary years were spent in a Waldorf school so thinking creatively and using my hands to make things was very much part of my upbringing. 

I studied Visual Arts in Paris at l’Ecole Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art. In my graduation year I saw a play by Robert Lepage ‘The Far Side of the Moon’ that blew me away. I then wanted to become a stage designer, so I moved to London to study a BA in Stage and Costume design at Central Saint Martins. My time there was amazing. Being in London was incredibly stimulating creatively. I was seeing the best art exhibitions, fringe to West Ends plays and Operas to underground art installations. While studying I was assisting set designers like Es Devlin, who had a big impact on me. I loved my life in London so much that I ended up staying for 10 years. 

Was it an easy decision to begin working as an artist? 

Yes, it was an easy decision. I was working straight after I graduated designing for the stage in various theatres in London. Also I worked on many TV commercials and film sets which was very exciting. 

How did you get started doing art/design? 

I always loved drawing and I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something related to art and design. As a teenager I would take the train to Paris every Saturday to take life drawing classes. We would go to the Rodin or Louvre museums to draw sculptures and study the masters. I was passionate about art in general. Studying in art school gave me a solid base in art in general, to think creatively and solve problems. However it doesn’t really prepare you for being a professional artist and working with clients. This is something I have had to learn along the way. 

Famille Summerbelle papercut art prints in the Lars Print Shop

When did you discover your love for art/design? 

As I mentioned above, I had a very creative education. We would study music, dance, sculpture, painting, calligraphy, wood work as much as the other more classical subjects. This is where I realized that art was a great way for me to express myself freely. 

Were you scared when you first started looking for jobs? How did you overcome this? 

Of course! I was dreading contacting people and selling myself. I still do. This is not something you learn in art school. I learned it while assisting art directors and set designers. Also by making errors and asking for help. You get more confident as you gain experience. 

What’s your dream job? 

Bit boring as an answer but honestly it’s my current job. I’m very happy with it and as much as I challenge myself I can never come up with something I could imagine more fulfilling. 

What are you most proud of in your career? 

As a general point I would say that I am most proud to have created and maintained a developing business over the last 12 years while having lived in four different countries and juggling the chaos of having three children. 

If there is one project that I am most proud of, it’s difficult, but perhaps I would say the collaboration that I did with Issey Miyake and my world map papercut. I have a really deep affection for Japan, visiting many times and working with great Japanese partners. To see my designs in Issey Miyake boutiques across the world was something really special, somehow cementing my relationship with this country and culture. 

Papercut world map by Julie Summerbelle

How did your childhood influence what you have become?

As kids we would spend our summers in the South of France with our cousins in the small village where our grandparents lived. As long as we were back for lunches and dinners we had a lot of freedom to run errands on our bikes in the village, build cabins in the woods, dress up and organise a new show every evening for the grown-ups. This family bond with my siblings and my cousins is still very strong. None of us would miss our annual summer trip to see each other. It is so fun now to watch our kids following in our footsteps. 

Did you feel pressured in any way to pursue a certain career path? 

Not by anyone else but me. From an early age I knew that I wanted to do something in the creative field. We were lucky to have open minded and supportive parents who encouraged us to be independent and pursue our dreams. I knew I had to work hard to get to where I wanted to be but as it was something I was passionate about I was always putting in the hours. I quickly realized that I wanted to be my own boss and create the work instead of waiting that it would come up to me. 

Did you have anyone along the way that was instrumental in the trajectory of your life? 

My husband Simon always supported me in my career choices and he played a big role in the making of Famille Summerbelle. He helped me turn my creativity into a real business. Famille Summerbelle has been and remains a family affair! 

What’s your work space like? 

Since we moved to Germany 2 years ago, I work from home. We are lucky to live in a beautiful house from the early 19th century with very high ceilings and big windows. My studio is located on the first floor in a large room with a balcony. I have the sun pouring in all day which is a blessing – I couldn’t work without natural light!

I have three desks in my studio: two along a wall, one for my computer work, another higher table for packing the orders and a third very long table in the middle of the room where I draw, paint and do all my paper cutting. Hanging on this long and high wall are colourful cutouts, postcards, paper samples and paintings that I am working on. On the other side of the two desks, I have all the Famille Summerbelle stock with my prints, paper cuts, trays, wallpaper and so on. 

Papercut art studio and home office of Julie Summerbelle

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from? 

I can never remember or attribute quotes or specific advice. Somehow everything I have absorbed, all the advice I have received, manifests in a few key thoughts: I strive to be present, be open to changes, trust my feelings, stay focussed, stay true to myself and enjoy the process. Whether in my personal or professional life. 

What does your dream retirement look like? 

I don’t feel that I ever want to retire, I will keep on making things for as long as I can! I would love to have a big studio in the South of France so I can paint all day with the windows open with a view of a blue sky and the smell of the eucalyptus trees. Of course I would have a big kitchen table for long family lunches! 

Floral papercut art prints

What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to? 

Makoto Kagoshima, Ulla Johnson, Jonas Wood, David Hockney, Picasso, Matisse, Es Devlin, Sanna Hannukka, Erin O’Keefe, Anna Kovesces, Ilse Crawford, Hella Jongerius, Mizuki Goto, Alexander Girard, Ellsworth Kelly, Miroslav Šašek, Sempé. 

You were one of the first artists I ever followed on social media. How has social media influenced your work? 

Oh thank you and it is reciprocal! Lars was one of the first blogs I read that inspired me to start my own creative business and my blog back in 2008. 

Living abroad, I am delighted to be part of this creative online community and to interact with people interested in my work. Of course, as an artist with an online shop, being on social media is essential. I love Pinterest and Instagram to discover the work of talented designers, artists and photographers that I could never have found elsewhere. It is an amazing tool for all creatives but which also has its limits.

Personally I am much more creative and efficient in my work when I am not connected. My inspiration comes from my daily experiences, my travels, my books and especially my imagination. 

Who is your work intended for? 

Honestly I would say that I first make everything for me and for my family home. I made the House Boxes for my kids bedroom and my studio as I wanted a fun box to store away all of our small objects and toys. The first city map I made was of London, a city I love and where I lived for 10 years. I designed it as we were returning from our long world travels settling in France. It was designed as first for us as a souvenir of our time there. I make and test all my products in our home first and of course I always just hope that other people will be inspired by what I make and would want to have it in their home as well! 

Colorful home boxes by Famille Summerbelle

What’s inspiring you lately? 

Most things Japanese! I am currently designing a map of Tokyo after just launching a map of Berlin. For the 11th anniversary of Famille Summerbelle, I did an exhibition of my work  in Tokyo last year at the Galerie Doux Dimanche and while I was there I made lots of sketches and took photos of the different places I wanted to feature in my paper cut map. It makes me so happy to dive back into my research. I still have lots of drawings to make before I will start cutting the map. 

Whimsical store front window art

What did you want to be when you were young versus when it was time to decide what to actually do? 

I tried fencing, ballet and the violin. None for more than a few weeks! Boring as it perhaps sounds I have always loved drawing. It’s still my favourite hobby even when it’s my work and income.

Where to find Julie’s work

Her collection in our print shop!
On Instagram
On Pinterest

They ship worldwide from www.famillesummerbelle.com

Portfolio site: www.juliemarabelle.com

Photos by A.Lecuyer and Julie Marabelle

How to publish a book: Part 1

Establish your goals

Whenever I begin a project, no matter what it is, I like to think about the why behind what I want to do it. Why do I want start this project? What is the goal of this project? In this case the questions is this: why publish a book? It’s such an enormous project that will take up a lot of time and possibly money so it has to be worth it in some intentional way. A few suggested reasons (and there’s no right answer for everyone, just preference):

  • Passion project
  • Brand awareness
  • Credential/Validation
  • Sales
  • Audience alignment

What were my goals with writing a book?

In my case, it was all those things. Overall I wanted to make the most beautiful craft book I could possibly imagine so yes, it was most DEFINITELY a passion project! I love what I wanted to do and I wanted to share it! It was also a great way to share what The House That Lars Built is all about, thus establishing our brand.

Thirdly, as a blogger since 2008, I was in the habit of self-publishing blog posts left and right, but there came a time when having an outside voice was helpful in validating my work and showing others those credentials. Additionally, of course, I wanted sales to happen–hoping for the best (you can read more about that here). Lastly, I wanted to see if there were more people out there in the world who wanted to align with what we have to offer.Craft the Rainbow by Brittany Jepsen

Make your goals drive your process

Once you’ve established your goal, it’s important to make sure that your goals drive the process. That includes driving the following:

  • Subject / topic
  • Whom you select for you agent
  • Whom you work with as a publisher
  • Contract terms
  • Production input and timeline
  • Launch / promotion

Your goals may shift through the process, and that’s totally fine! As long as you identify what they are and how that affects your flow.

How to select an agent

These days there are various methods to publishing your work, from self-publishing to online publishing etc. This series only addresses traditional publishing, in which I found having an agent to be very helpful. She helped me navigate the foreign world of publishing.

My agent came recommended to me from a few people who were in a similar category. I had seen what she produced and knew she represented a talented crew so I felt comfortable working with her.

How to find an agent in your category

If you don’t have one that comes recommended, there are a few ways to find one.

  1. Look at the acknowledgements section of books that are similar to yours. Authors typically thank their agent in this section. It’s a great resource! You can also follow authors on Instagram–I’ve seen a number of them thank their agents there.
  2. Ask around to those who are in similar categories. Agents typically represent only 1 or 2 categories, for example, art and food.
  3. Online search. I didn’t find this to be the most helpful way, but, of course, it’s always there!

I’d recommend doing lots of interviewing and research to make sure that you find the one that’s a best fit for you. You will be working with your agent for a LONG time. I first met my agent in 2014, didn’t sign a contract until 2016 and the book wasn’t published until 2018 so it’s a long haul! And then there’s marketing afterward and additional books after that.

Here are some things to look for in an agent:

  • This person has a good track record in your genre
  • You get along with this person
  • This person will tell you the hard things (not just what you want to hear!)
  • This person has fair pricing
  • Your work processes align

Agent takes your book proposal to auction

I’ll get into the book proposal in the next post, but for now, I want to talk about one really awesome reason why I’m glad I had a book agent for Craft the Rainbow. The auction! Once you have a book proposal that’s solid, the agent will put your book up for auction, which means that he/she will shop it around and it could go into a bidding war. The agent has solid relationships with editors at all the major publishing houses so this step is crucial for finding the one that’s the best fit for you and your goals.

The publisher will respond if they are interested or not and then they make a proposal to you with a price, royalties, and terms. Each one that I received had a lot of pros and cons to it, but the agent walked me through each one thoroughly. I ended up going with the one with whom I thought understood my concept the most and would allow me the most freedom to create the book that I wanted to create, which turned out to be the best fit! My Life In Color prompted journal

Ok, there are many more pieces to add to this puzzle, but I’ll be talking more about them in the next post. That includes the following:

  • how to write your proposal
  • how to work with a team to write your book
  • contract negotiation/financial considerations
  • contracts
  • production scheduling and resources
  • launch/promotion

In the mean time, let me know if you have any questions so I can include it in the posts! My Life In Color prompted journal

You can find Craft the Rainbow here and it’s on sale for both the hardcover and Kindle (only $2.99!). You can find My Life In Color, the follow up journal here. 

Two art prints for coronavirus relief charities

Art for Coronavirus Charities

First off, we are thrilled to introduce a new artist to Lars Print Shop, Erin Jang. Remember when we interviewed her last year? Big fans! Erin Jang is the graphic designer and illustrator behind the creative studio, The Indigo Bunting. Her clients include The New York Times, Apple, Bon Appétit, Urban Outfitters, and Chronicle Books. Her books include You, Me, We! (A 2-in-1 activity book set for parents and kids to fill in together available here) and the craft book, Make & Give. She lives in New York City with her husband and two young boys.Art for coronavirus

I’ve loved following Erin as she shares a daily activity to do with your children during social distancing. She’s always so good at showing how to do things with your children. And guess what? This art print is no exception! Here’s what she had to say about the print:

I created a version of this print many years ago, part of an effort to raise money for charity. I was a new mother at the time, and I wanted to make something that would help give me encouragement and ground me.

Years later, I am revisiting these virtues, and this print, with the help of my now 8-year-old son (his handwriting is on the right side of the print). We are sheltering in place here in our small apartment in the middle of NYC, with our two boys, and I feel the heaviness of all that is happening in our city, in the world. Our city is turned upside down, and there is so much deep loss in every way. These virtues appear basic, but they are so hard to live out, especially in times like this. But I am seeing how much I need to return to these small, simple things — to hold on to them, to relearn them myself, to teach them to my boys, to try to practice them together in small measures (and fail, then start anew the next day). Now more than ever, these small, good things matter, and they help us rebuild.

If you’d like to help in a small way, the proceeds of every purchase of this print will be donated to the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund which helps provide relief and support to health care workers, local small businesses, displaced hourly workers including immigrant workers, families, youth and other vulnerable New Yorkers.

Art for coronavirus

The print comes in white OR black. You can find them here.

You can follow more of Erin’s work at @theindigobunting. 

Amanda Jane Jones Art for Charity

You should be familiar with Amanda Jane Jones by now (we’ve been talking about her for months!) Her collection of prints is inspired by her children’s book, Yum, Yummy, Yuck. There’s the banana, apple, cherries, pear, ice cream, and booger (ha!). You can see the full collection here. They are AMAZING as oversized prints. I love what she did here:

Amanda is giving the profits from her collection all to No Kid Hungry. As the coronavirus crisis bars kids from the school meals they depend on, everyday people, celebrities, corporations and others are stepping up to ensure these kids can eat. They are using donations large and small, from individuals just like us, to support kids who are struggling.

Amanda is also providing wonderful resources for children this time. You can follow her at @amandajanejones

We are thrilled to share Amanda and Erin’s quest to support these charities by purchasing their art. You can shop the collections here

Julie Marabelle of Famille Summerbelle now in the Lars Print shop!

Julie Marabelle for Lars Print Shop

The delicate nature of the flowers in each illustration is a perfect addition to our print shop and your own home gallery. Like the rest of our shop, you can choose to buy the download (the cheapest option!) and print it yourself or you can get the print. You can get it matted and framed too! I sprinkled her prints throughout my house and they fit so well! 

Remember my guest room reveal? It was lacking some art and so I framed hers and put it up. I love how it fits in with the rest of the room.

Affordable art prints from Lars Print Shop

Here you can see the Polkadot Potted Flowers and Field of Blue Flowers prints.

Floral Papercut Prints in my living room

To my living room I added the blue potted duos:Affordable floral art prints from Lars Print Shop

The Blue potted flower and the Blue vase

Affordable artwork for the bedroom

And lastly, I have her blue colored flowers in my bedroom. It all works so so well!

affordable art prints

Floral Paper Cut Prints

To create the collection, she painted paper and then used her famous process of paper cutting to create the exquisite cuts. What’s so cool about the prints is that she created them in a way that you can see the shadows so you know that they are paper cuts and not just 2D floral images. They have much depth!

We couldn’t be more excited about the Famille Summerbelle Collection. If you would like to check out more of Famille Summerbelle, stroll on over to their site (good news, they ship worldwide!). Who needs to wait for May flowers when you can put these beauties up in your own home right away! There’s no better time than this period of social distancing to brighten up your walls with pretty new floral prints. You could separate these pieces into different rooms, or create a sweet gallery wall near a sunny window to pull the outside in. Check each bouquet out in the shop!

To welcome Julie to the shop, please take 15% off her collection until next Sunday, the 19th with code WELCOMEJULIE.

Stay tuned for our interview with Julie herself!

In the mean time, you can check out the full collection over at Lars Print Shop.

2 years of Craft the Rainbow!

Craft the Rainbow

It’s been two years since Craft the Rainbow came out and basically two years since I’ve read it cover to cover, which I did once again tonight. And you know what? It’s the best work I’ve ever produced. Hands down. I poured everything I had into that thing. And I think I’m now far enough away from it that I can say that without trauma in my voice. Maybe…ha! We’ll see.

I get how it might be viewed as another craft book and if you’re not into crafting, how you wouldn’t be interested. I get it! There are plenty of tutorials out there on the Internet that where you can take what you need, make a happy craft, and move on. But, going back to our mission, and it’s taken awhile to be truly conversant in what it is that I believe, when you put soul into something, it means more and your life is enriched. It’s just that simple.Launch Party

Because of that, I made Craft the Rainbow more autobiographical than a standard craft book and thus, meaningful. I spent a lot of energy working on every sentence and anecdote because I wanted it to be an interesting and humorous read as well as provide a deposit for beautiful pictures. I shared images from my wedding, pictures of my grandmother and included stories about how and why I made each project in the book. It was important that each story was deliberately chosen. (Except for one–there’s one story in there where I just didn’t know what to say–I just thought the project was really cool. Ha! I’ll let you guess which one that is.)

I also wanted you to learn something from it. The goal was to encourage you to get more comfortable using color in your own work and life. I shared what I know about successful color usage. Especially how you can develop your own color story and, one of my favorite tips, how to love a color you think you hate. I have challenged myself to do this many times and because of it, I can say that I love every shade of the rainbow–as long as I can pick the shades!

Craft the Rainbow on Amazon

The book has a 5 star review on Amazon, which is, not too shabby *wipes off shoulder (and if you haven’t left a review yet, please do! It helps the book rise in ranks–so important for authors!) and that makes me smile and grateful for everyone who took the time to do so.

The decision to do a book was not treated lightly. I spent months, nay, years, investigating if I should do it or not. I asked friends who had written books to find out if it was worth it. I was hesitant for a few reasons: I was still getting going on my business and time away from building it would interfere with its growth. Sure enough, I was right–we paused on activity on the blog for a few months. Luckily, I had grown Lars so we had a small team to pick things up more or less. I definitely couldn’t have done it without a team!

This genre of book, crafts, is a huge time commitment AND investment of money. Though I received an advance of royalties, we used a big chunk of that on paying people to help, buying supplies, props, rentals, photography, etc. Above all, I wanted it to be EXTRA so we went all out! I hope you can see that as you flip through the pages.

I also knew that writing a craft book wasn’t going to end with me on the New York Times Bestseller List. I had never seen it done so there wasn’t much proof that it even could happen. But, I also knew that if I was going to pause my business for so long, I needed some sort of marker that it was going to be worth the time spent on it, and being on a list of that type leads to more eyeballs and more sales so I thought I may as well shoot for it. Maybe mine would be the exception?! Sure enough, it didn’t end up on that list. And though it was well received and reviewed, it didn’t break any sales records. And that really disappointed me and I’m still sad about it. I think that’s partly why it’s taken so long to really reflect on it publicly.

I’m sure it’s uncomfortable if not cringe-worthy to hear about someone’s disappointment with something they’ve worked hard on. It’s uncomfortable for me to share about it. And it’s disappointing when the publisher was also banking on its success. In fact, the book was used as their show off book–there are so many bells and whistles on it! Gold leaf, gold book binding ribbon, every page was well designed. It’s nice to know, but not if it doesn’t sell books, amiright?!

I share this insight because it’s very easy to see people’s successes online, especially when they’re flailed about like we’ve come to do on social media, but we don’t often talk about the non-successes. I won’t say the word failure here because it wasn’t. It achieved my goal to make the most beautiful craft book that ever existed. I am very proud of it, I’m proud of my team for accomplishing such a huge challenge. I think I’ve probably needed to air it out so that I can heal from the experience.

Lessons Learned

What do I learn about this experience? Lots of things, but the biggest life lesson was that you don’t always have control over an outcome. You can only do your very best work and prepare as much as you can, which is exactly what I did. I can’t feel regrets about that!

With all that said, I still feel strongly that Craft the Rainbow belongs in your library, whether you craft or not, but especially if you do, and now is the best time to take advantage of the time. Dare I say, it’s the ultimate Stay-at-Home companion. They are all projects made from paper, which you may already have at home and if not, we will be making lists of materials from each project in the book so you can place it directly in your cart. Stay tuned!My Life In Color prompted journal

My goal with being so direct and vulnerable is 1) catharsis (and it does feel slightly better 😉 and 2) remind you that it still exists and you will benefit from it. Ha, how’s that for no shame?!

Throughout the month we will be sharing some more insights into Craft the Rainbow and My Life in Color so stay tuned!

You can find Craft the Rainbow here!

Craft the Rainbow (the kindle version is only $2.99!)
My Life In Color
Craft the Rainbow notebook
Craft the Rainbow journal

Picture Hope: The Social Distancing Coloring Book

Picture Hope: The Social Distance Coloring Book

It’s a project that I’ve compiled from 64 artists from around the world who have each made a coloring page inspired by hope. The idea is that they provide the blank canvas and YOU add the hope through color. And you know what? It works! I can’t even tell you the goose bumps I got while I was working on it! COVID-19 has indeed changed so much of our routine, yet in the confusion and uncertainty we’ve also witnessed countless moments of compassion and the strength of the human spirit.

Picture Hope: The social distancing coloring book

64 Artists from Around the World

I’m going to list all the artists here because they all deserve recognition for dropping everything to make this happen:

Abbey Lossing, Alli Stocco, Ane Kirstine Bilde, Angie Stalker, Ashley Isenhour, Audrey Smit of This Little Street, Ayang Cempaka, Beci Orpin, Brooke Smart, Caitlin Connolly, Cat Seto, Corrie Beth Hogg, Danielle Kroll, Darcy Miller, Dylan Mierzwinksi, Elizabeth Graeber, Ellie A. Osborne, Emily Isabella, Emma Block, Eva Jorgensen, Flora Waycott, Hannah Gumbo, Helen Dealtry, Hilary Onyon, Jackie Diedam, Jacqueline Colley, Janna Morton, Jen Hewett, Jess Whittaker, Jessie Kanelos, Weiner, Jéssyka Gomes, Jordan Sondler, Josefina Schargorodsky, Julie Marabelle of Famille Summerbelle, Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow, Katie Kortman, Kelsey Garrity Riley, Kendra Dandy, Libby VanderPloeg, Lisa Congdon, Loris Lora, Madison Blake, Maria Trolle, Meenal Patal, Merrilee Liddiard, Meta Coleman, Mia Saine, Michéle Brummer Everett, Michelle Christensen, Miranda Sofroniou, Monica Dorazewski, Natalie Apuzzo for Winter Water Factory, Normandie Luscher, Phoebe Wahl, Roxy Marj, Samantha Hahn, Sarah Jane Wright, Sebastian Curi, Suzy Ultman, Tara Nearents of Rad and Happy, Tonya and Steve Vistaunet of A Happy Vista, Victoria Riza, Yelena Bryksenkova

Creativity is Important Now More Than Ever

I’ve spent my career developing The House That Lars Built, whose mission is to encourage people to make things with their hands. We believe that the act of making has the power to heal and improve your well-being. The goal of this book is the same and it’s needed now more than ever. Coloring is a simple yet profound act that allows for meditation and mindfulness and this coloring book is even more profound because of the many voices of support behind it.

Donate for Coronavirus Relief

You can purchase Picture Hope in our shop and donate for larger amounts if you wish.

You can find the printable book over in our Shop!

And if you do some of the coloring pages, we’d love to see them! Tag us with #PictureHopeColoringBook

Women Who Work: Amanda Jane Jones

When and how did you know that graphic design was your jam? 

I loved art and knew I wanted to do something commercial with it (because I was determined to support myself and not get married! (Ah… the things you say at 19!)  So I tried being a photographer first and shot weddings for a summer and realized you had be SOCIAL and TALK to people on a regular basis which didn’t / doesn’t  come naturally to me, and being a graphic designer seemed to fit my hermit tendencies much better…best of both worlds I guess? My mom was so sweet and set up a meeting with a designer in our area so I could get a feel for what she did and it just felt right! and I’ve never regretted or looked back. I seriously ADORE my job. I have so much fun at work.

Why is it important to you to create?

It’s just a part of me! I’ve always been a maker. My mom had a big closet full of supplies growing up. We were always allowed to use whatever as along as I didn’t use her FABRIC scissors on PAPER! that was her one rule and I’m embarrassed to say I broke it all the time. They just cut so well! I couldn’t help myself. 😉 Anyway, I’ve just always loved to be creative – in life, in my surroundings, in the way I dress…I read once somewhere that when creative people stop creating, it creates a cloud in their brain that can stifle creativity and I’ve seen that many times in my life.

Was there anyone along the way who helped shape you?

Yes! my grandma had me come to her home every summer and she let me pick out patterns and fabric and we’d sew whatever my heart desired. My mom and dad were so good and cultivating creativity for me with supplies and experiences and then actually, Since marrying Cree, he’s always been a huge supporter of my work and my creativity. He sees how important it is to me and always makes it one of his priorities as much as it is mine which has provided me the space to grow as a designer and try projects I otherwise wouldn’t be able to with three little kids at home.

What’s your advice to women wanting to pursue the same thing?

A couple things!

1) Be an intern or apprentice. I interned FOUR times – once even while I was freelancing full-time and starting Kinfolk! I’m a huge fan of real life experience and learning from artists you admire. Be a sponge! (Click here to find out more about internship opportunities here at Lars!)

2) Put in the time. no one is holding you back but you! If it’s something you really want, go for it. I worked at a small design firm for three years while freelancing nights and weekends before I could freelance full-time. It wasn’t the most enjoyable experience, but I’ll be forever grateful my 20 something self put in all those hours.

3) Fake it till you make it. Honestly, the first time I was hired to design a book, I didn’t know how! everything is online now – take a class, google it, or just ask! I’m always surprised how you can learn things as you go.

4) Be true to yourself and your style. So many times, I’ll be asked to do a logo or brand that just isn’t me. In the beginning I didn’t have the luxury of turning those projects down. But now I know, that if you try to be something you’re not, it’s a waste of your time and the clients money.

You can find Amanda here:

Find Amanda in the House Lars Built Print Shop!

Right now Amanda is donating ALL of her proceeds from her food prints in our shop to No Kid Hungry. Due to COVID-19 many kids are left without meals they normally receive at school every day. No Kid Hungry donates meals directly to those children during this break from school. Your purchase of one of Amanda’s prints found here will help those kids receive meals and will hang in your home as a reminder that there is always hope!

And get these adorable 3D fruit ornaments to match your Amanda Jane Jones pieces!

Author Art Print

Or you can find all of the Women Who Work here!

Make sure to hang up the Author Print in your home to remind you of just how incredible you are at your work!

You can see our previous interviews:

Women Who Work: Beth Moresi

When did you know that woodworking/making things with your hands was your jam?

I knew that woodworking and building was for me after my first week on site- I was hooked right from the start. The feeling you get when you stand back and can see all your hard work right in front of you is unbeatable.

Why is it important to you to create?

It is important to me to create because life is more than just work. Getting your paycheck can’t be the thing that gets you our of bed in the morning – you need passion!  Being creative with my work is where I find that passion and pride in my job.

Was there anyone along the way who helped shape you?

I had and still do have so many strong people in my support network who helped me along the way. My dad, who is also a builder (and self-confessed feminist) has always been my number one fan and supporter. He loves to support strong women and has always had my back and pushed me out of my comfort zone.

What’s your advice to women wanting to pursue the same thing?

My advice for women who might want to get into building is to just be yourself. I spent so long trying to be tough, trying to be as strong as the boys, trying not to have emotions, trying to fit in. Embrace yourself and all the amazing things YOU have to offer. Let your personality and the your points of difference shine through your work. Since starting my own business I have never felt more myself – all the way down to my pink business cards.

You can find Beth here:

@bethbuilds

Carpenter Art Print

For all of you carpenters and woodworkers out there, Libby’s Carpenter art print is 20% off for the next three days, ending Thursday, March 26th with code Carpenter. You can find it in our Print Shop here.

Or you can find all of the Women Who Work here!

If you are building be sure to hang up the Carpenter Print in your home to remind you of just how incredible you are at your work!

You can see our previous interviews:

 

Jen Hewett – printmaker, surface designer, textile artist and teacher
Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers – Garden, flower maker 

How to make Pysanky Eggs with Betsy Croft

How to do Psyanky

What isa Pysanky Egg? Simply put, it is an Easter egg decorated using a wax resist method. It literally means “to write” as you’ll soon learn in the video.

But, it is so much more than that. Ukrainians have been decorating eggs, creating these miniature jewels, for countless generations. The design motifs on pysanky date back to pre-Christian times and many date to early Slavic cultures making these eggs incredibly meaningful and full of rich history!

Pysanky Eggs

You can find the Pysanky instructions in our e-book here.

You may feel daunted looking at these but Betsy breaks it down easy as can be so that you and I can get started making them. Download the E-book now so you can get started!

And in case you need something special to display those beautiful Pysanky eggs in that you are about to make, checkout these incredible Ceramic Totem Egg Cups that we collaborated on found in The House Lars Built Shop plus so many other projects to keep yo occupied during these hard times.

Be sure to tag us with #Larsmakes so we can see how your eggs turn out!

Why I feel called to craft: Part 2

Why I feel called to craft

The stories my mom would tell me about my grandparents and great grandparents, etc, shaped my narrative and formed my identity. My great-grandmother, Marilla Zatelle, painted porcelain, sewed her own clothes, and was truly a force of nature–it probably helped that she was 6′ tall. I remember visiting her in the hospital before she passed away at age 97 and knowing that I was Danish stock like she was.

From left to right: Dorothy, me, Carl, Zatelle, my mom Kim

Her daughter, Dorothy, my grandmother, even though she has passed on continues to be my artistic muse and great human being icon. She was pretty much an angel on earth with a wicked sewing room in Los Angeles, California. I dedicated my book, Craft the Rainbow, to her and even wrote an entire article about her and Carl, my grandfather, in volume 3 of Kinfolk Magazine about their wellness routine. They are legendary for their subdued natures, gentle kindness, endless generosity, and health regimen (no sugar! though I remember Grape Nuts in all natural apple juice as a real treat).

Dorothy at her piano. This was definitely in the 90s.

This is Dorothy and my sister, Caitlin. 

Going back to the beginning

But let’s get back to that sewing room. Dorothy and Carl built their house in 1951 in Bel-Air. That’s Bel-Air before Fresh Prince, so the houses weren’t Kardashian proportioned or bedazzled. Dorothy was infamous for protecting her newly done hair with a grocery bag when it rained and other such resourceful tricks that come when you’re a product of the Depression. She taught me to sew and whenever we’d come up to visit from Orange County, sometimes for days at a time, I’d churn out all sorts of doll clothes for her Shirley Temple dolls. For one Christmas I sewed her a green drawstring bag with lace tied at the ends and filled it with all sorts of nuts…because that’s what I could get my hands on. She said she loved it, but I still cringe at the thought of nuts from who knows where.

Her sewing room consisted of fabrics that she had collected from all around the world piled in a beautiful yet simple armoire. I remember feeling in awe of her collection. And her ribbons! Gah! And buttons?! They were extraordinary. Thinking about her sewing room now, I can see how it’s MUCH easier to make thing when you have a designated place to create. I’m working on that concept for my own house.

Dorothy sitting on the first platform.

My mother

Now, let’s talk about Dorothy’s daughter, my mom, Kim. She and her two sisters and brother grew up in LA, but the way she describes it seems much more of a quaint village than a major city that happened to make movie magic. For example, Dorothy played the violin for Hollywood music scores, my aunt and uncle were in TV shows and films, and their friends were in this show and that. My mom attended the Academy Awards with a friend. You know, stories like that that I only find out as an adult.

But their real talent was dancing. My mom and her sisters all left home when they were 16 to go dance at the School for American Ballet and the subsequently, in the New York City Ballet. The long story short is that my mom got injured after about a year and moved back to LA where she started a modeling. She says she walked into Seventeen Magazine and walked out on the cover of the January 1969 issue. Again, quaint neighborhood vibe? I don’t know. It’s hard for us to understand that mentality now that everyone and literally their dog aspires for fame.

Fast forward to her career in interior design, calligraphy, music and more to when she becomes a mother of four in five years. I’ve mentioned it before, but this magnet on our fridge growing up really does describe my mom the best: “A creative mess is better than tidy idleness”. And thus, we grew up in constant messes. My mom let us try all the things and would encourage us to think differently. How is everyone else doing something? Then do something else.

My childhood

Our school reports were pretty epic. There wasn’t a three ring binder in sight. We figured out clever ways of binding the books according to what the subject was. For example, for my report on Claude Monet (another artistic hero to this day), I made a cover out of cardboard and cut it out to make it look like a painter’s palette and secured it together with a paintbrush. I mean, it did get to the point where I was jealous of those three ring binders, but I see the magic of it all now.

When I was in kindergarten or first grade, Mom opened a beautiful shop called En Provence on Pacific Coast Highway in Corona del Mar and it was one of my first experiences off all encompassing magic. A true wonderland. Like old houses in Provence, she plastered straw into the walls and hand painted everything! It was a gift and furnishings shop and I think it must have been the most well-curated experience. The furniture was made and painted by my uncle, Dean Bradshaw. You can see a glimpse of it in the picture above of my grandmother. That bed was created by him as well as the paintings. But life became a bit much with four kids and so she closed up shop after 4 years.

My first Craft Club

When I was about 10 or 11 and I started a club called Crafts for Holidays. I’m not so much proud of the name, but what can you do. The club was modeled after my mom’s church group where they would get together monthly and make or do something. So, for Halloween we made can tin pumpkins. We sponged on paint in a variety of oranges and painted on faces. Then for Thanksgiving we appliquéd  turkeys onto corduroy pillows. For Christmas we turned a string of pinecones into reindeer complete with a red pom for Rudolph. I don’t know if my friends were into crafting, well I know they weren’t because the club didn’t last too much longer.

ANYWHO, I tell all this because it makes more sense how I arrived at what I do now knowing who I come from. I mean, I wasn’t aching to start a craft-based business at first. In fact, I never would have entered my brain. I was much more involved in music (I played the cello growing up) and tennis (I was on my high school tennis team) than I was in the arts. I wouldn’t even say that I did it as a hobby at that point because I was really into getting good grades. But because my childhood foundation was laid out in making, just like that industrious lot who came before me, I can see NOW how it happened.

This is my grandfather Harvey Sessions, who I didn’t mention at all here, but the photo is so good I had to include it. 

And because of that I’m very interested in continuing my grandmother’s legacy and carrying out the mission that I’ve identified along the way. I’m compelled to do it and I find a great need to do so, especially since we are more addicted to screens than ever. There is power in handmaking. It connects us to our bodies and souls and for me, my family.

Stay tuned for part 3 next week!