Workshop time (well, almost)

Can you believe it? Fall is here, and before you know it, so will the holidaze!

I am NOT ready for this. This is NOT ok! Wasn’t it just blazing hot 2 days ago?

Alas, ready or not, here it comes!

As an introvert, I tend to be in my head a lot. Lucky for me, I am, married to an extrovert. Left to me, I’d probably never get around to actually inviting folks over, even though I love company. I’m just much better at asking a friend to meet for coffee, or Pecha Kucha.

Around here, we’ve been doing a bit of entertaining after a long hiatus. The Mr. had a horrible work schedule for a while which didn’t allow for weekend entertaining. I am happy to report that his schedule changed, and we are back in the swing of things. I love having folks over just to hang, talk, chill, and, ahem, drink! In this day and age, as we develop more and more ways to be in touch, true connection just seems to be getting more and more difficult. It is still so desperately needed.

I am so happy that we have managed to create warm oasis of good food, good company, and good atmosphere in our little corner of the world. (Personally I think it’s all the printed fabrics, and the warm ambiance of my old-timey christmas lights that we keep up year ’round).


I am planning some very awesome workshops for the near future, so look out for the emails! I have pinned down some dates, just waiting to confirm a location, and we will be good to go!

In the meantime, be well, do good work, and keep in touch, my friends!

Doing Well The Things

I’ve been really thinking this week about laser-focus and the art of doing things well.

I’ve been witnessing how lovely it is to be intentional, present, and laser-focused on your craft, in your life, in the moment.

handpainting fabric

In this day and age of multi-tasking, constant busy-ness, and round the clock distraction, it becomes increasingly more difficult to laser focus on doing less, doing it well.

It’s even tougher when you have a bad case of  shiny-object syndrome like I do.

I just realized I’m not Superwoman. And I don’t want to be.

This week I have had the privilege seeing what life could be, if I could let go of doing it all by myself. I got to be around, and work with some people who, who just being around them made me want to be not just better, but EXCELLENT.

They were so awe-inspiring and motivated to excel, that you just could not help wanting to be as good as them, if not better.

(By the way, who were these magical creatures? They are my fellow educators. By the way, those who teach…are magic. I dare you to say different.)

I noticed that what made them so gosh darn awesome, was that they are know the difference between 1. what they are good at, 2. what they do not know how to do, and 3. what they have no interest in doing. 1, 2 & 3 were crucial to their mission, but their expertise was in 1, and 1 only.

So what to do, what to do…

They did something that I have been really trying to master. They pass 2 & 3 to those who do those things, not just very well, but do it BEST. (Me being one of the minions, of course). This freed them up to focus on doing what they do best, #1.

When that happens, the result is pure Magic. I dunno about you, but I could use more magic in my life.

ribbon scraps

I know that this is not a new idea. It’s not even new to me. But somehow seeing it in action this week really drove the point home like never before.

Since I’m gifted with the ability, talent, and curiosity to do a lot of things, I try to do EVERYTHING. While I generally succeed with most things, I would be better served to stop trying to do it all myself.

Letting go of control is never easy, and I don’t yet know what it means for the future, but I’m open to finding out.

How about you? What amazing phenomenal thing could you excel at if you let go of the less important?

Taking It Personal

I promise, the very next post will be about screen printing with latex paint. I promise, no more detours.

A pretty picture to look at while reading my tale of woe.

A pretty picture to look at while reading my tale of woe.

This post struck me out of the blue as something I really needed to write. If you are wondering where I’ve been (or not), I have been busy scraping myself off the floor from exhaustion and maybe even (undiagnosed) depression.

Welcome to the Sandwich Generation.

It sounds so lovely doesn’t it? Like, “excuse me miss, might I trouble you for a sandwich?” (in a british accent of course). This term conjures up delicious images of the most decadent fillings, pressed together by a yummy glorious bread…oh great, now I’m hungry for carbs…

Anyway, this quaint little term is what we use to refer to people like me: balancing parenting and household responsibilities, full time work, part time business, AND taking care of our elderly parents, while trying to maintain the highlight reel that is our social media presence. Oh yeah, that last one is a recent phenomenon.


Another pretty picture to keep you reading instead of reaching for a stiff drink.

My father was diagnosed with Dementia a few months ago, although we have suspected it since he moved down from Alaska into our town 4 years ago.  His legendary shenanigans just seemed to depart of  his personality quirks. He has always subscribed to magical thinking, especially about money. When he started to lose money to scammers, I knew something wasn’t really right, but he seemed lucid most of the time so I was not sure what to make of it.

Of his 4 children (2 of them teenagers), I am the only one that lives locally, and the only one saddled with the responsibility of caring for, and managing him. If I don’t seem overjoyed about this task, it is because our relationship was difficult and awkward prior to this.  Despite our awkward relationship and my resentment of his irresponsibility, I find that I cannot just let him wither away with no one to advocate for him. I manage and care for him out of a sense of duty, not because I really want to. I have long ago divested myself of any guilt.

In the last 2 months he has recently taken a terrible decline, taking me down with him.

With his decline I have been slammed head-first into the reality of the indignity of old age when you have a lifetime of regrets. Those same regrets fuel your delusions, causing you to torture the people who are tasked with caring for you. That is a fate I will do my very best not to repeat.

A wise man once said, “Every man thinks that his burden is the heaviest.” I know it could always be worse, but from where I am sitting, it is pretty bad.

I feel like I became a world-class champion at ‘rising above.’ I rise-above all day with my students, children, father, and husband (who by the way, still wants my attention too). It feels like everyone is constantly pulling at me, and all I can do is rise above and give a little more of myself.

Then I started to I notice that I was getting sick with more frequency. The day before the last Third on Third Market, I was so sick that I could literally only lie down on the sofa all day. I still did the show the next day because, the show must go on, right? I am still recovering.

I was getting sick because I was not taking care of myself.

I was not getting enough sleep because I was burning the candle at both ends.

I was getting more eye infections because I wasn’t resting my eyes enough (that’s my theory anyway, but could also be due to all the germs I’m around as a teacher).

I was getting fatter because I was not exercising and I was (am) eating my feelings  (ice-scream daily, anyone?)

A sista was (and let’s be honest, is) tired!   After dealing with crises all day, the last thing I want to do is put on a fake happy face for social media. So I have kind of dropped out. You may have noticed that I have been less present on social media. I’ve mostly been consoling myself with lots and lots of beautiful Pinterest pictures.

I was trying to do everything equally well at once, and failing miserably at most of them. I couldn’t catch my breath.

So I decided to just let it go.

Let. that. shit. go.

I have chosen self-care. I have decided to start getting the 8 hours a night of sleep I have heard so much about. I have even started breaking out my Yoga mat again, even if it’s just for a quick 5 minutes before bed.

I have accepted that I can not do it all. I simply just can not. So I have to let some things go for a little while.

Unfortunately, the things I had to release (just a little) are the things I would rather be doing.

None of my obligations are going away anytime soon, but yay for summer break! With summer break starting in a few hours, I hope to be back.

So please be patient. That follow up to the Latex Textile Printing post is coming.

Creative living means making do

Creative living means making do, in a good way.

If I had a nickel for every time someone said to me ‘you’re so creative!’ I’d be rich…or whatever.

Little do they know that me ‘being creative’ means I make hundreds of quick mental calculations all day, just to figure out how things relate to each other.

I guess growing up in a time and place where there was no excess will teach you that.

These days it seems like there’s a solution for every single problem that we can imagine.

This past fall I asked my kids to help rake up the fallen leaves in the back yard. My request was met with some major balking, so I explained to them the importance of learning these practical skills for when they became homeowners in the future.

I was promptly informed that they would never need to such menial tasks when they get older since their robots would take care of it.

Well, shut the front door!

You’d best believe, they raked every leaf in the yard, to my satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic that we live in such an age of abundant options. Having these options readily available also means that we are conditioned to go out and buy, buy, buy. Which means we start to lose the ability to think of creative ways to use what we already have.

I’m guilty of this sometimes. If I really want to, I will invent a need for a (not so) quick run to ol’ blue and yellow . In the heat of my desire to visit the land of beauty and order, I will quickly forget that I have way too many storage knick-knacks that I don’t use.

I will then later suffer from buyer’s remorse as I go through yet another big purge.

In my old age, I am learning to slow down and think through my purchases.

A wise man once said (and by wise, I mean I don’t know who) that being creative is being able to see the connection between 2 seemingly unrelated things. By the same token, [tweetthis]living creatively means seeing connections between 2 unrelated things.[/tweetthis]

Here’s a look at my thought process when ‘being creative’.

Consider for instance, plain ol’ boring clear Contact Paper (aka shelf liner). Did you know that this thing is magic?

  1. You can use it as a privacy film on your windows.  If you’ve ever looked at ‘privacy film’ in the store, you will realize that it is essentially the same vinyl material. Sometimes there are designs on the surfaces. So go a step further and cut out some designs into the contact paper for a clean modern look.Window with contact paperwindow with contact paper

(Apologies for the sideways photos…there is some sort of glitch.)

  1. Use that same clear contact paper as a screenprinting stencil. Or use it as a wall, paper or fabric stencil. Like this smart lady did here. So, screen printing huh? You really just need something to make a mask on a piece of fabric. That something can be the self-adhesive contact paper. Perfect.
  2. This same contact paper can be used to transfer a vinyl design that I have cut on my silhouette machine to the wall or any other surface. I told you that lady was smart.  Why? well, have you looked at the transfer paper sold for the Silhouette machine? It’s really the same thing, but with slightly less adhesive. Remove some of the adhesive by sticking the contact paper onto another surface first.
  3. Laminate without a laminator with the same clear contact paper. Contact paper repels water. That is its sole reason for being. So repel some water off that printed paper!
  4. De-Lint your clothes with it in a pinch. Hey, you could do this before doing number 3, killing 2 birds with one stone!

See? for as low as $1 (dollar stores carry the stuff), the humble contact paper goes a very long way. You are welcome.

So next time you need something, think about what you already have that you can substitute. Sometimes you may have to walk around the house with a dreamy far-away look on your face while  looking at all your stuff before it comes to you. Your family will think you are crazy, but hey, you’re saving money!

So I’d love to hear from you! What are some things that you use in outside-the-box ways?

Midwest Craft Con Recap


Last weekend I attended Midwest Craft-Con, the conference for crafters and makers in business. The conference was held in nearby Columbus Ohio. I was super-excited to find out that there would be a Crafter/Business conference only one hour from me…these things usually take place in bigger cities, far, far away. I registered pronto, and eagerly awaited the conference.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

With fellow Dayton Crafty Business Women Shannon Rea (l) and PJ Golden (r)

What a fun, relaxing, and inspiring event it was! It was really nice to get away for one weekend to hang out with a community of makers. Not only did I get to hang out with some of my crafty friends from Dayton, I got to meet so many people, and learn so much!

The Highlights

I got to meet one of my illustration idols, Lisa Congdon, who gave a very inspiring keynote. One big takeaway I got from her speech was to ‘Sail your own ship’.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Image courtesy of lochnessmpls

I love this so much. In this age of instant access to literally EVERYTHING, it is so easy to get caught up in what your competition is doing. If you are busy focusing on your own journey, There’s no time to worry about what another ship is doing.

I also got to meet Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of the Craftsanity podcast. I have been listening to this awesome posdcast for about a year, and have learned so much and discovered new aroosts, makers, and business resources. In fact, I first learned of the conference whole listening to an episode of the podcast.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

With Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood of Craftsanity.

Jennifer is a fellow printmaker, so we clicked instantly. She recorded several interviews from the conference, one of which is mine. Stay tuned, you may just get to hear me in a future episode. Our conversation also spurred a project I am embarking on. You’ll hear more on this later.

If you are not familiar with this podcast, be sure to subscribe on iTunes, or anywhere else you listen to your podcasts.

Midwest Craft Con Recap


I really enjoyed Mei Pak’s seminars. Mei Pak is the founder of Tiny Hands Jewelry, which is a line of scented food jewelry (I know, right?!) She is also the founder of Creative Hive Co, a craft business consulting firm. Her seminars were jam-packed with very useful practical information for social media and content marketing. And she’s just so cute!

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Mei Pak, photo courtesy of

Last but definitely not the least, I got to attend a seminar with the great Abby Glassenberg of Whileshenaps. Her session was also jam-packed with useful and practical information. She continues to provide valuable information (as well as her cute sewing patterns) on her site.

Midwest Craft Con Recap

Abby Glassenberg of

The Lowlight

There were so many different seminars I wanted to attend. One (tiny) pet-peeve I have about conferences is the format of simultaneously having 3 sessions going on at once. I understand the reasoning for this however, I wish that there was a way to have the different seminars offered more than once, so attendees could have a way to attend them all.

I know, I know,  I’m being greedy, but….conference organizers, if you’re listening, this would be a great way to improve your conference.

All in all…

The Midwest Craft Con was well organized and informative. I left feeling like I’d received an enormous amount of information, and needed to brain-dump. I met cool new people and found a renewed sense of purpose. I look forward to the next one!

Midwest Craft Con Recap

The Return

Well hello there!


After much thinking and questioning, I have decided to return to the AfroMartha.

Back at the end of 2014 when I decided to shutter the blog, I thought that was what I had to do. A lot’s changed since then…I’m older, my hair is shorter, my dining room is now the lovely dark gray you see behind me…

Honestly, I have missed it, and you (those of you still checking in 🙂 Things just never felt quite right without all the other parts I felt that I had to cut out.

I find that I have a lot to say, and I look forward to saying it here.

The blog will be part art/print-making, part tutorials, part decor/diy, sometimes food,  and hopefully always inspiring.

Let’s do this.


As 2014 comes to a close, I have decided to bring AfroMartha to a close.

It is a thought I’ve wrestled with for months, as my focus has changed.

I find that I really can’t be “AfroMartha” anymore as I’ve developed more as a Surface Designer, and not the all around jack of all trades home improvement/homemaker person that I’ve been.

I will leave the site up indefinitely and you can always contact me by email with questions. I hope you decide to follow me to my new home:

Thank you for 4 wonderful years.

See you on the flipside.