Category Archives: arts & crafts time

The Mondays & My Maira Kalman Crush

Maira Kalman - Skirball Center until 13 February

“My dream is to walk around the world. A smallish backpack, all essentials neatly in place. A camera. A notebook. A traveling paint set. A hat. Good shoes. A nice pleated (green?) skirt for the occasional seaside hotel afternoon dance.”
— Maira Kalman

I’ve love how Maira Kalman sees the world. Especially helpful to remember as I head back to work after the holidays. Le dread. Perhaps with Maira in mind I will come to appreciate new things about the 5 and 10 freeways during rush hour in the rain. Don’t hold your breath.

When my in-laws were here for Thanksgiving we took the opportunity to take the family to see Maira Kalman’s exhibit at the Skirball Center.  The exhibit called “Maira Kalman: Various Illuminations (of a Crazy World)” is on until February 13, 2011.

I always think of Kalman’s work in gouche and watercolor but she also does embroidery.

Her children’s books are so much fun to read. Oh la la Max in Love & Max Makes a Million are my two favorites.

Oh La La Max in Love

I also think of her New Yorker covers, especially the one of New Yorkistan, which we own in the form of a 1000 piece puzzle…

New Yorkistan as a puzzle...

And more recently for her work in The New York Times for her In Pursuit of Happiness blog, which has so many wonderful images and ideas.

by Maira Kalman

…I almost forgot that Maira Kalman also liked to embroider. Her embroidery demonstrates her monster crush on Abe Lincoln.

Kalman's homage to Lincoln

I feel a sense of dread…

sense of dread

Her desire to capture our country’s history and beautiful names stitch by stitch

While looking at Maira’s embroidery online I’ve found many other embroidery artists also have Maira crushes.

I discovered Texas artist Jenny Hart, who has some embroidered portraits of musicians like Dolly Party, The White Stripes and Edith Piaf.

Edith Piaf, by Jenny Hart

I also discovered Andrea Dezsoa, who uses embroider to pass on wisdom from her mother…

About skimpy underwear

Skimpy underwear

or about people’s foreheads (i’m in trouble)

smart people

What kind of wisdom do you want to pass down to your daughter? While I’m thinking about that it is much easier to figure out what to say to my son…boys are simple.

It pretty much boils down to Star Wars.

Embroider a pillow case perhaps?

May the Force be With you...Come to the Dark Side...

May the Force be With you...Come to the Dark Side...

It isn’t embroidery but a cross-stitch R2 is probably the perfect heirloom to pass on to your little Jedi.




Filed under art, arts & crafts time, embroidery


My 9 year old daughter (who by the way wants to be called by “Buttons” on this blog) wants to learn how to sew. She asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. Short on space and always looking to save a buck I suggested she start with a lesson, which I’ve arranged for her to take at Sew L.A. We’ll do that lesson but in the meantime I can’t stop thinking about needlepoint samplers. Growing up my Mom had a couple samplers in our house and as kids my sister and I learned how to embroider and do needlepoint before learning how to sew on a machine. In fact my sister and I made countless embroidered hand towels. I plan to do some embroidering with “Buttons” this year…but before I pick a project here are some samplers past and present to inspire.

1760 Sampler by Elizabeth Laidman

Per Wikipedia “The stitching of samplers was believed to be a sign of virtue, achievement and industry, and girls were taught the art from a young age.” I better get my daughter (aka
Buttons) stitching samplers before she makes the full transition from tweener to teenager.

Button’s goal for 2011 is to get a dog. Perhaps she’ll go for a doggy sampler instead? Think it will work? These are pretty cute.


Check out the hot dog/weiner dog in the bottom corner

Who needs an actual dog when you have an embroidery girl with a rainbow purse walking in the rain with said dog? Right?

Girl in Rain with Dog

Even better…imagine my delight…when you type in dog and emboidery google still manages to surprise.

Dawg I heard you like Samplers

There really is so much you can do with embroidery as your “canvas”….I love real estate. With a sampler I can own a whole street. I can be Ivanka Trump in a thimble.

Row of townhouses

And for those who want to be even more sophisticated with their stitchery. Don’t miss Lisa Borgnes Giramonti’ fantastic and whimsical take on samplers. Here are a few that were shown at her show called “Stitching up the Noughties” at ACME. Lisa Borgnes Giramonti also writes the blog A Bloomsbury Life.

"On Aging"

For the bicoastal gal…

"On East vs. West"

And anyone online knows a thing or two about sleep disorders…


"On Dark and Stormy Nights"

Reality generation meets the 1760 set…

"On Role Models"

So you see sky is the limit…I’ll have to do some more searching and plotting before figuring out our next move.

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Filed under art, arts & crafts time