Monday, October 22, 2012

Holiday Show Schedule 2012!

In my last post I talked about deciding to leave my 'real' job finally, and what that might entail. When I made that decision I knew that making a living off of Woolly Mammoth was going to be a lot of hard work, but I was prepared for that since it meant a whole lot of doing the things I love most.

What I didn't necessarily bargain for was getting accepted to ALL of the holiday craft shows that I had submitted applications for. I couldn't be more thrilled or excited to announce that I will be setting up shop in the following places:

Liberty Local at the Ann Arbor Art Center on October 27th in Ann Arbor, MI
My next door neighbor is hosting a ladies shopping afternoon here in Parchment, MI on November 3
The Chelsea Artisans Market at the train depot in Chelsea, MI on November 10th
Ladies Shopping Night at the Portage, MI Curves location on November 14th
Maker's Mart in Toledo, OH on November 17th
Bizarre Bazaar at Bell's Brewery in Kalamazoo on November 24th
Detroit Urban Craft Fair in Detroit, MI on December 1&2
and DIYPSI at the Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti, MI on December 8&9

This will be the first year that Mr. Mammoth will not be able to help me out at the big shows, now that he has a swanky new job; so all you readers out there should dove visit me at my booth and check out the BEST indie craft fairs that Michigan and Ohio have to offer!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A New Chapter

So I 'quit' my job on Tuesday. I started typing a huge post about everything that was wrong with my job and how it was wrecking my life... But it has had a huge negative effect on my mood and outlook for several years now, and I need to just put it behind me.

This is a huge opportunity for me to dive in and find out if my business can float on its own. I am totally terrified, but also really really excited. For the first time in my life, I can be creative ALL the time, with no other outside demands on my attention. It's a huge gift to be able to even take that risk.

So look for more posts from me here, and lots of new stuff in the shop. I am Mrs. Mammoth, hear me roar!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sweatin' in the Studio

I've been scrambling this week to finish prototypes of new products so I can start applying to all of the fall and holiday craft shows I'm hoping to get into this year. Along with the hippos, here are a couple more shots of what I've been up to...

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Dress

Finally, the post you've all been waiting for; the one about the wedding dress! In its completed form, it was made from  creamy white 100% Ultra-fine Italian Merino wool. It was gloriously lightweight and breathable, with a natural two-directional stretch that helped it lay nicely, not wrinkle at all, and hug in the bust area where I needed good fit.

It was lined with the 100% silk that I had originally intended to make the entire piece out of, but had too many problems with (see previous dress post for details). It had built in pockets so that I could carry the 1921 silver dollar my Great Grandfather carried in his pocket on his wedding day. I hand braided the straps out of a thin strand of mesh, and two strips of beautiful 1/8 inch silk ribbon in the same shade as the dress.

Our wonderful photographer friend, Casey Spring was kind enough to shoot some photos of me in the dress before it was painted. In the pictures you can see it both loose, and bustled. I will post soon with photos of the original paint sketches, and the final, painted dress!

The front!
The side!
The back!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I had every intention of writing a foodie Friday post to talk about all of the tasty things we ate this week, but I went to see Moonrise Kingdom instead (totally worth it, will probably be my favorite movie for the rest of forever). It also might have been fortuitous that I held off on the food post since I was trolling around on Craigslist today and found a listing for a batch of '50-100 cookbooks, recipes' for $15. I could tell by the two books on the top of the stacks in the photo that I wanted the lot even if those were the only two keepers. Dustin drove me out to Oshtemo to pick them up, and it turned out to be an insane treasure trove of cookbooks and pamphlets from 1930-1970, with essentially all of them in mint condition! Check it out:

Totally excited about the Polish recipes from the 1930's!

Our road trip honeymoon turned out to be pretty much an eating tour of the East coast, and we ended up eating several things that I couldn't wait to try recreating at home. The first few days home it was too hot to use the oven or grill outside, so I started us off with a curried chicken salad in romaine heart boats.

I started by boiling and shredding chicken breasts then added curry powder, sea salt and black pepper, dill, and the smallest amount of mayo possible to make it all stick together.
When we were in Cleveland we went to one of our favorite places EVER, Yeleseyevski deli in Lyndhurst. They stock Ukranian, Russian, Polish, etc. imported and novelty foods, and I bought a box of these really fantastic fat and juicy golden raisins with wonderful flavor. So I tossed in a handful of those, and about a 1/4 cup of slivered almonds for some crunch.
So fat! So juicy!
All mixed up
And then spread it into the romaine heart leaves and served it up to Mr. Mammoth, who was totally impressed with his new wife's cooking prowess! :-)
Our favorite stop of the Honeymoon was our last night, which we spent in Bethesda, Maryland. In case you haven't been there its a super rad town, that's easy to walk around with lots of fantastic restaurants and cool little shops (I will post soon about a cool little boutique I found there as well). We specifically went to Bethesda so I could take Mr. Mammoth to a restaurant owned by the son of one of my dad's business associates. It's called Redwood, and both times I've been there the food I ate surpassed any other meal I've had, along with great atmosphere (most of the inside is made of redwood wood, along with stylish modern stone).

One of the appetizers we had at Redwood was an amazing cold corn soup. It appeared to be pureed raw sweet corn, and was topped with an amazing salsa of sorts made of tomatoes, cucumbers, and WATERMELON. I swear to you, it is totally worth it to drive to Maryland just so you can eat this soup.  We also ate a roasted beet and goat cheese salad that I had last time I ate at Redwood, and our entrees were a grilled steak on baby spinach salad with blue cheese and chestnuts, and the most amazing piece of salmon I have ever tasted atop a lush bed of fresh pea puree. I am really sad to say we didn't take any pictures of our meal, we were too busy trying to look classy.

The first day we were home I attempted to re-create the soup by pureeing fresh corn in our fancy new belle blender, adding a little bit of 2% milk, and then topping it with Michigan made Garden Fresh salsa. It was delicious  and refreshing since it was 106 degrees outside that day, but it still made me long for another bowl of the Redwood version. I am fairly certain they must have strained their soup, as it was smooth and silky while mine had a grainy texture from the hulls on the corn kernels, and I wish I had made my own salsa with watermelon.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


So Mr. Mammoth and I are officially married, and have arrived back at Mammoth Manor after our winding roadtrip honeymoon. You can expect lots of posts about wedding crafts and roadtrip shenanigans in the next few weeks, but for today I have exciting news on the home front!

Right before the wedding, one of the bridesmaids and I hit up the neighborhood garage sales in the Historic Stuart Neighborhood of Kalamazoo. Since the houses there are mostly victorian and their owners tend to be swanky, it's usually a good bet for finding some awesome vintage treats. I ended up not making very many purchases, but at one of my first stops I rummaged through a huge pile of vintage die-cut decorations that must have come out of an elementary school classroom. Imagine my joy when I unearthed an entire set of circus die cuts at the bottom of the pile, and then had the guy running the sale give them away to me free of charge!

They hung on our dining room wall during the week of the wedding, and when I came home, I saw them and got inspired. After a quick trip to the fabric store and the use of my swanky new printer-scanner-copier machine, I cranked out what is soon to be a full line of vintage inspired circus pillows! Check out the first three:

The images are printed onto white cotton canvas transfer paper, and then appliqued onto the cotton fabric of the pillows. Here's the close-ups:




The tiger is totally my favorite, but I can't wait to make more of them. Hopefully they will be available in the WoollyMammothDesign Etsy shop in a couple of days.

In other news, its really hot here. REALLY HOT. Michigan is breaking heat records all over the place this week, and my really long hair was not making me happy. People who have known me for years know that I have only had long hair twice in my life. When I first met Mr. Mammoth 3 years ago, I had the same haircut he has now, which is about 2 inches long, and even shorter than that in some places.

I really only grew my hair out this time so I would look extra purty and somewhat more feminine than usual in wedding photos, and had planned on hacking it all off immediately after the wedding (possibly even before the reception!). But once the wedding was over I all of a sudden had pangs of fear about cutting off three years of growth. If you're curious about the length, scroll down a few posts to the one with the bridesmaid clutches, and add two inches.

Heat has a way of ridding me of attachments to long hair; I called the salon at noon today, and walked out at 3:30 looking like this:

And feeling heaps better. No hair on the nape!

It's so hot I even wore shorts today! In public! This tank top was my first-ever purchase from, and I might be in love.

In case you haven't  had such an experience, Pica is here to let you know that sneak-attack puppy licks are the best way to stay cool.

Monday, April 30, 2012

And also these things:


For those of you who haven't heard the word before, Pica is a unit of measure that equates to 12 point size (Or 10 characters per inch) in typewriter font. Other than that, it is also the really nerdy name I gave my dog.

We almost got a dog at Christmas this year, but then the dog I wanted was adopted by someone else, and we ran out of money because it was Christmas, and then we ran out of time to take care of one because we were planning a wedding and navigating all of the social obligations of the holiday season, and so we both sort of forgot about it for a little while and I went right on being obsessively in love with my cat, who I have always be convinced is part of my own soul...

Then Mr. Mammoth came home a week before my birthday in January, and ran straight for his computer and said hurry up come here and look at this, then showed me a bunch of pictures of wiener dogs.  I was relatively confused at first, because Mr. Mammoth is a huuuge dog lover, and I am a huuuuge cat lover, and really I would have been fine with never getting a dog. Unless it was a wiener dog. I love them. I am convinced they are the most ridiculous and adorable of all dog breeds, and are small enough to not be scary. Anyone who knows me well also knows that the more ridiculous a thing is, the more I love it. Mr. Mammoth, on the other hand is a medium-to-large size dog lover, and any time I talked about wiener dogs, he promptly told me that they were ridiculous creatures... but not quite in the same tone I would have said it.

So as we sat in front of the computer looking at adorable Dachsund pictures, Dustin explained that a friend had just had puppies. Miniature long haired Dachsund puppies. And that they were up for grabs. And did I want one? Did I WANT ONE? I might have peed a little. Just a little.

Fast forward through the eight weeks until we got to bring our little darling home; and the many more weeks it has taken me to make this post (because I've been too busy playing with my PUPPY), and allow me to introduce the newest resident of Mammoth Manor: Pica.

Creature Clutches!

After two weeks of folding invites, stuffing, stamping and sealing envelopes, and writing out hundreds of addresses, we mailed out the wedding invites today. I am pleased as punch to have them out of the house, and even more excited to present to you... Bridesmaid Clutch purses! Points to anyone who can guess which purse goes to which girl...

Handmade from Marine Vinyl, elephant, dachsund, and French terrier. :-) Having finished these and looked at the pictures, I can't wait until I have free time again so I can make an entire zoo's worth of clutches!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two-Ring Circus

So, the dress is finally finished! Once I had bought the new batch of fabric and gotten down to the knitty gritty sewing it only took about 48 hours to make the dress start to finish. It's off at the tailor shop getting hemmed ( I could have done it myself, but the elongated shape would have been tricky and I wanted it to be very precise). I actually enjoy hand-hemming all of the garments I've made, but I'm a little particular about the quality, and couldn't allow myself as much time as I would have liked to do it right.

With the dress finished all of the other crafty wedding projects are exploding onto my to-do list. I shopped this week for the materials to make the jewelry and clutch purses for my brides ladies, helped Mr. Mammoth purchase the rest of his snazzy wedding clothes, and ordered envelopes and a return address stamp (in Pica font, which is exciting for reasons I will explain in my next post :-).

Today we ordered our rings, which I'm kind of dying to see and try on. We spent a lot of months deliberating over what sort of rings we wanted, and I had originally picked out a beautiful white gold and gemstone ring by an artist called Paul Hapip who we had seen at the KIA Art Fair Last June. Unfortunately Paul had nearly quadrupled his prices since we had seen him, and we could no longer afford his work.

After that we looked at some of the swanky new finger print bands that were popping up on Etsy (you could have your ring engraved with your spouses fingerprint), but somehow I never felt sure. We looked at a men's band inlaid with meteorite, and some that were inlaid with wood, but the meteorite was on the high end of our price range and I was concerned that the wood inlays might not stand the test of time.

On a whim I ran an etsy search for 'inlaid rings' and lo and behold, I found the unicorn of all inlays... Dinosaur bone! Both bands are sterling silver, and Mr. Mammoth's band from Mtroyalgems is inlaid with five strips of three different shades of fossilized dinosaur bone.

My ring is from Jewelerjim is inlaid with two strips of fossilized dinosaur bone centered by a raspberry colored sapphire.

 I'm fairly certain that they are appropriately nerdy for us, and it's going to be really antsy around here while I wait for them to show up in the mailbox!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Things, lately

Things have been a little frazzled lately here at Mammoth Manor. For those of you who hadn't heard yet, Mr. Mammoth and I are getting married in June. I am the sort of woman who finds bridal stores to be infinitely terrifying, and since I make at least half of my living off of, well, MAKING things, it seemed only appropriate that I should make my own wedding dress. I was hoping for something with a really simple style, that would be loose and comfortable in order to avoid medieval style torture devices disguised as undergarments, and comfortable to dance in. I knew I wanted something long since I wear dresses all the time, so having a cocktail or knee length dress didn't feel as special as I might have liked. Essentially I wanted this Jcrew gown:

Since I was going to save a lot by making my own dress, and the style was set to be so simple, I was ridiculously obsessed with choosing the perfect fabric. I hoped for a 100% natural fiber like cotton, linen, or silk; something that would breathe nicely in Michigan June humidity, and not look to wrinkled in the photographs, hopefully something off-white instead of bright white.

As it turns out, the mecca that is Kalamazoo only has two fabric stores. Only one of them is not a chain, and both of them apparently love polyester. All of the cotton and linen options wrinkled horribly and looked like cheap bed sheets. The silk options seemed to be narrowed down to either charmeuse, which was way to sheer, or shantung which is very stiff and, again, wrinkles horribly. Lo and behold, it took me nothing short of 4 months to find and decide on my fabric.

When I DID decide, it was perfect. It was 100% silk, a luminescent and pearly off white that felt like water pouring through my hands when I held it. I spent more than I had ever spent on fabric, and purchased a luxurious nine yards of it so that I could line it with the same delicious feeling fabric. And I ruined it.

I spend a lot of time working with cotton, canvas, vinyl, and wool. Silk is a very slippery fish, and despite taking the utmost care, the purchase of special pins and a new, thinner, needle for my machine, I was no match for this beast. No matter how many pins I used when laying out and cutting, the fabric slid against itself and came out wonky. I was panic stricken. I couldn't believe that I had imperfectly cut the most perfect fabric. I tried, oh man did I try, to fix it as I was sewing; to keep the seams straight where the cutting wasn't perfect. But I couldn't fix it. Partly, I suppose, because of my lack of experience with silk, and partly because my machine couldn't handle it either. The material was so slippery and unsure of its own grain that even the pull of the feed dogs on the machine forced the two layers of fabric against each other and made the bobbin side thread come out all crooked. Even my beautiful Bernina machine couldn't master this tricky fabric.

It was devastating. I felt like I had failed at something I had been so confident in my ability to do. I was terrified of having to go to stores and look at dresses, or exhausted at the concept of possibly starting again after WEEKS of struggling with this fabric, and really upset that I might have to embarass myself by admitting I had failed to everyone who knew I was making my own dress, or letting down my dad who was SO EXCITED that I was making it myself.

I had a MAJOR meltdown. I mean, I am talking about epic style. Sobbing, hiding under the sheets, the whole shebang. In retrospect I am pretty horrified about how badly I behaved, and what a miserable experience I know it was for Mr. Mammoth, who did his best to love and support my sorry, sobbing ass. It was not my most shining moment. or day. or week.

Ordinarily I would never make a post this text heavy, but also, I have never been very good at admitting to needing help. I thought I could make my own wedding dress. What I didn't realize was that I couldn't make my own wedding dress ALONE. I needed my parents to tell me that they believe in me, for my dad to tell me how proud he will be to watch me stand to be married in something I made with my own hands, and for my future husband to help me figure out the geometry of pattern pieces, tell me that I will look beautiful in whatever I end up wearing (even if it's a paper bag) and to love me even when I am literally crying on his shoulder with snot running down my face and getting all over him. I put the pieces of silk in a bag and folded it into the bottom of my sewing cabinet, closed the door, and got ready to try again.

Two days ago I bought new fabric, and last night I started over. With the help of the people I love, I am learning to put a little less pressure on myself and enjoy the process. I am only going to get married once. I only get to make my own wedding dress once, and I am really, really going to enjoy ever minute of it.I have a surprise addition to the dress waiting in the wings, which I will reveal after the wedding, but until then, I promise no more long-winded monologues or stress about the dress!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Post-Christmas tear down

Having a full fledged crafty business means that almost every weekend during the holiday season I am out of town vending at shows. Last year, between craft shows, getting engaged and buying and moving into our new house I never had time to put up a tree or deck out the house for Christmas. I spent all of 2011 getting excited about being able to decorate our new house for Christmas this year, and as an end result, I might have over compensated just a little...

Along with all of the usual fanfare of the tree/ornaments/indoor and outdoor lights, I decided to test drive some decor ideas I was thinking of using for the wedding. I had been seeing some really fun paper pinwheel backdrops on wedding blogs this year, but I wondered how practical it would be to try to complete such a large scale display in a limited amount of time.

I'm guessing this is probably the best our big, blank dining room wall has ever looked.

I like that Horrocks had cut greenery in their flower section so I could make a winter white arrangement accented  with pine boughs.
The dining room wall looked so festive that I couldn't resist making a photo backdrop for the basement. Since I didn't want to deal with the mess of adhesive on our permanently installed blackboard, I hot glued this set of pinwheels to a foam core board backing, then propped it up on the blackboard ledge. Since it's not actually attached to anything, I was able to take it down afterwards and keep it for use in future years!
Anyone who knows me well is aware of my obsession with all things Anthropologie. Among other things, their store displays are always awe inspiring, and on a very large scale. A  couple of years ago their holiday displays incorporated huge hanging flurries of paper snowflakes. I decided to make my own 'snow storms' in two opposing corners of our basement. To make the displays I used Honeycomb balls and pinwheels from a local party supply store, disco ball Christmas ornaments I already owned, round paper lanterns from Party City, silver stars from the dollar store, and some tissue paper poms I had made for a party last spring. I was really happy with the overall effect, and in total I spent less than $50 for all of the supplies for both the pinwheel displays AND the hanging snowstorms.

A snow flurry in the basement.

To cap it all off, once the house was decorated I couldn't resist having a party. Since I've always believed that a themed party is infinitely more awesome than an ordinary party, we threw a masquerade ball. Check out what Mr. Mammoth and I wore:

Mr. Mammoth sports the Honey Badger scarf I made him for Christmas, along with a very poetic thrifted jacket.

If I could get away with dressing like this every day, I probably would. Vintage Sequin dress purchased years ago at a church rummage sale, tiny tophat from the party supply store, and a really fun makeup job thanks to the lovely Bre.