The Surtex countdown is on!

Oh my goodness, things really start to feel real and you understand just how close Surtex is when it’s less than a month away. In less than 4 weeks, one of my very best friends and incredible sidekick Sam and I will be getting on a plane for NYC! So excited, but can’t help but wish I could press the ‘rewind’ button so I could whip up the millions of patterns I have ideas for, but there will never be enough time so at some point, you have to make the call and get on that plane and put up your work for everyone to see. I’m super excited!!

I’ve moved booths this year but will be in the same aisle — booth 741. If you’re going, please stop by and say hello! Here’s a little sampling of what I’ll be showing (plus a link to my promo video if you haven’t seen it)! Hope you all have a great week.


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The Elizabeth Olwen Spring Giveaway!


Spring hasn’t quite sprung in my neck of the woods, but there are always flowers blooming in my little world! Enter to win a little slice of early spring with this Spring prize pack!

Winner will receive all that is shown in the image above: a fat quarter bundle of my newly released collection of organic cotton fabrics, Grey Abbey from Cloud9 Fabrics, and an assortment of new pretty-patterned products with Madison Park Greetings, including and iPhone 5/5s cover, Mixed Bag Mini Set, a box of Thank You cards, Washi Tape (set of 3) and iPops magnets!

A bit about Cloud9 Fabrics and Grey Abbey:
Cloud 9 was at the top of my fabric dream list and I’m so thrilled that I’ve been able to work with them, and what a wonderful experience it is. Their fabrics are gorgeous, with collections from incredible artists like Lisa Congdon, Rae Hoekstra, Eloise Renouf, Skinny Laminx, Leslie Shewring, Sarah Watson, Monica Solorio-Snow… the list goes on. But to summarize — dream team! The fabrics are 100% certified organic cotton, with some heavy weight They also do some voiles which I’m not-so-secretly hoping I’ll get to see my prints on. Grey Abbey is my first collection with them and there is another collection due out in the fall! See my full post on the collection here.

A bit about Madison Park Greetings:
Madison Park Greetings is a Seattle-based stationery and gift company who works with many nationally recognized artists, like Katie Daisy, Susan Black and Jen Renninger and Helen Dardik, and they’ve won tons of awards for their greeting cards, gift wraps, stationery and invitations, and are constantly adding new gift items to their offerings (stay tuned for some of more of my new products with them, coming soon). Check out my blog post on our items so far!

Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below — as instructed, you can LIKE on Facebook, TWEET about the contest, or follow us on Instagram. Fulfill as many options as you like via the Rafflecopter widget for bonus entries! Winners will be picked randomly. Contest closes on April 16th at 12.01am. Good luck!

***The contest is now over — CONGRATULATIONS to Jen Mishmash! A big giant THANK YOU to all of you that entered! ***

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Product goodies from Madison Park!

A little while ago I did a post announcing some of my new products with Madison Park Greetings, showcasing a few of their beautiful photos. But that was before I’d seen anything in person, and when I got my product samples, it was like Christmas! Licensing is a funny world… you work so hard on products for so long, and then… you wait. And wait. Because production takes a long time, it’s just the way it works. After a while, it feels so abstract. You wait for months and months and by the time you start to wonder if it was all just a dream, a big box of goodies arrives on your doorstep and you want to jump for joy!

Working with Madison Park Greetings was another one of the big highlights of my 2013, and continues to be in 2014, with more yummy products in development. They’re lovely, lovely people and I feel lucky to get to collaborate with so many people that just let me do my thing, support me through it and offer me only the best of feedback (which is extra helpful when you work in a bubble by yourself all day). And — they let me use GOLD FOILS!!! DREAM! I hope you can see how natural it was  to work with them when you see these products. I’m so proud of these little numbers and I hope you like ‘em too. There are tons of greeting cards, boxed note sets, an adorable keepsake box, washi tapes, iPhone covers, paperweights and magnets from iPops, invitations, mix bag sets, stickers, gift wrap, and a 2015 calendar that I’ll share closer to next year.

Interested in picking some of these up?
You can buy them in indendant gift shops, or you can buy online here!

Follow me on Instagram!
Instagram is my JAM! I’m always posting new pics of new work and products, so follow me if you’re interested!

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Grey Abbey is here!

Hi everyone, and happy St Patricks Day! It’s been a while since I’ve posted but really, this is the most appropriate follow-up to my last post, which was about being rejected by a fabric company because my fabric line, Grey Abbey, with Cloud9 Fabrics has arrived! Which coincidentally, is named after a village in Ireland. More on that below.

The concept of having fabrics with my prints, even after working on the collection for what felt like ages, seemed so abstract. So when that big box full of fabric bolts arrived, it was surreal. I opened up the box and unwrapped the first bolt, and I just started crying these tears of pure joy — what can I say, I’m a sap. I just sat there with the first bolt for a little while trying to savour that feeling. Then I proceeded to open up the next  (tears) and the next (more tears) until I’d gone through all 12 beautiful bolts and could see the full collection as a whole, and man, did it feel good. The collection has been hanging out in my studio across from my desk so I can admire them and I had to force myself to start cutting them up for projects this weekend, it was hard to let go of those perfect bolts, but they are preserved in these photos below, and will be turned into many beautiful things, which is the whole point, after all.

The collection is printed on organic cotton and it feels sooooo good. The collection is named after a village in Ireland called Grey Abbey. My mum is Irish and I’ve been to Ireland many times, and I’ve always felt very connected to it. Trips to my grandmother’s house always felt quite magical — she collects antiques and the last time I was there I took a ton of pictures which inspired this collection. I‘ve shared some pictures of the fabrics below. You can also see the gorgeous Ribbon Box quilt that Cloud9 made. Overall, just so thrilled to share this! (And can’t wait to share the next collection, which ships in the fall!)

If you’re interested in getting your hands on the fabrics, look for / ask for them in your local modern quilting shops — and if they don’t have them, you can find them pretty easily online. A great online shop called Gooba Designs is stocking them, as is Hawthorne Threads, and a bunch of others too. The collection has already been featured in a few magazines, like Pretty Patches and Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, both of which are beautiful publications based out of the UK. As for me, I’ve re-acquired the sewing bug and can’t wait to sew up some goodies with these.

Thanks for sharing this journey with me, you guys! Nice to share this with the people that have been cheering me on from the sidelines. xo


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Try, try again

I recently came across a letter I’d received from a fabric company about a year ago. I’d been reaching out to some companies that I thought my work might be a good fit for. And while I had my top picks for dream companies, I was also aware that dreams don’t happen overnight, so I was hoping to just get fabrics *somewhere* and that maybe it would get my foot in the door. One of the options was a company that required I send a package in the mail, and a few months later received, if I might say, I rather snarky rejection letter. Essentially the letter said (and I’m paraphrasing, but not by much) that my work brought nothing new to the table, and that I’d essentially wasted their time. While I appreciated the personal reply, part of me almost wished that I’d never received it… it was so negative and unfriendly, and for some, could have been a dream killer. It wasn’t my dream company, so I decided I better not let it crush my dreams. So the other day when I came across this letter, while working on my second collection for Cloud9 Fabrics (which, by the way, *was* at the top of my dream list), a whole bunch of emotions came up for me. It made me realize how much has happened in the past year. And how happy I am about it all. And how glad I am that I didn’t listen to that letter or let it alter my path.

I just wanted to write this post because sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up when things don’t seem to be going anywhere. You submit, submit, submit… and feel lucky if you even get a reply. Sometimes it all just seems pointless, when you’re investing soooo much of your time and your heart into something, and hoping your dreams come true, and nothing is happening. You start to think your work isn’t good enough. I just wanted to share this story as a reminder to always try and keep your chin up. To persevere and keep at it and use that rejection as fuel to do better. And if at first you fail, then try, try again. And then when you reach one of your goals, you can feel a little extra proud of how far you’ve come.


New products with Madison Park Greetings

One of the highlights of my 2013 was working with Madison Park Greetings, a really artist-focused Seattle-based company whose products I always noticed in nice gift and card shops. I was so excited when I worked on my first greeting card for them, and then that turned into a few more, then more, and then into all sorts of fun gift products, most of which have just launched on January 1st. I’m so excited to show you the first instalment of my new products with them, which includes gift wrap (dream come true!!), washi tapes (ahhh!) and the cutest little gift bag-and-sticker set. I mean, what a dream!

I’ll leave you with a few photos of these new products (click to see larger), and there are many more to come! I’ll share as they become available. Wishing you all a joy-filled, inspiring and fulfilling 2014!

*If you’re a retailer looking to stock this product, you can request the ‘MPG 2014′ catalogue by calling 1.800.638.9622 or request it online.*


Quite literally on Cloud9

It’s been a long time coming, and I’m so happy to finally announce my fabric line with Cloud9 Fabrics!! Do you know how hard it’s been to hold these cards close to my chest and keep it on the down low? VERY. But the collection debuted at Quilt Market this past weekend, and so I can make it official. Big yay!

I’ve been dreaming of having a fabric line, and have admired Cloud9 Fabrics for a long time. I had my heart set on working with them, they sat at the top of my list of ‘dream clients’ and so when we signed on to work together I was over the moon! Like my face hurt from smiling so much. Their fabrics feature artists like Lisa Congdon, Eloise Renouf, Heather Moore of Skinny Laminx, Rae Hoestra, the very talented Creative Director of Cloud9 herself, Michelle Engel Bencsko… and so many more! So I’m totally stoked to be included in such an incredible group of artists.

For now, here’s the little emblem for the collection which is called Grey Abbey, and is named after a small town in Ireland, close to where my mum grew up. Ireland holds a very special place in my heart, and many of my patterns are based on the antiques that my grandmother has in her beautiful home there. So I thought the title quite fitting. The collection features a really nice mix of tossed and structured florals with some vintage flare, in two colour ways, and I can’t wait to show you… soon! The collection will be hitting the market in early 2014 — stay tuned for more updates!

As always, thank you all for the support, it’s so very appreciated!

Southern Charmers :: A client visit in the Carolinas

Recently, I was invited to Rock Hill, South Carolina by a new client that I met at Surtex. I was really excited to go because when I met the folks from Springs Creative they were the warmest, loveliest people, so I knew I would be in good company. When they told me that I would be staying at the ‘Homestead’ I was really curious, and I felt like I was about to embark on a Southern adventure.

They also invited another artist who I had the great pleasure of getting to know — the fabulous, incredibly talented and charming Jennifer Paganelli of Sis Boom. Her eye for colour and pattern is awe-inspiring, she has truly built a name for herself and she was great company!

The Homestead was incredible, and when I saw my room, I felt like a princess. The former family home of the company founders, the Homestead is now a guest house, and I’ve never stayed anywhere like it. It was like staying in a museum, in fact, they actually have a curator on staff. In this case, I think pictures will speak louder than words (below).

Springs has a long history in the fabric industry, and they work in the former cotton factory which has been converted into offices, which are beautiful and so inspiring and house an incredible archive library that was better than any textile museum I’ve visited, with thousands upon thousands of textiles, well-preserved by their amazing designers Suree and Len. You could ask Len for any kind of obscure art or style, and he could take you to exactly where to find it in a matter of seconds. I was like a kid in a candy store. They have a huuuuge selection of fabrics from the 20th century but also some gems from as far back as 1246!! I could have spent days here. See just a small sampling of some of my favourites, below.

As for what the trip was all about, I can’t say much about it but can offer up a hint: it involves the world of quilting. We were meeting with buyers from a really amazing retail store in the US, and Springs put on a fabulous presentation of our art and made us feel so welcome. (I was so thrilled when I saw that they’d actually taken a cake pattern that I’d designed and had a baker bake a cake based on the design!) The whole thing was a success, and that’s all I can say for now… I swear, the hardest part of licensing is keeping quiet about things that I’m super excited about!!

On the way to the airport on the final day, we stopped the car over for a moment to look at a nice building, and not a second later a man pops up at the side of the car, with a head full of white hair and wearing a full seersucker suit and asks in a true southern drawl “excuse me, ma’am, do y’all need any help?”. Talk about a Southern gentleman. Coming from a bustling city where disrupting the flow of traffic for more than a few seconds would warrant a long honk or the hurling of insults, it was the perfect end to a wonderful trip. A big, gigantic thank you to the lovely, lovely Susan and all the staff at Springs Creative. It was an unforgettable trip. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

(Click for larger images)
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Work/Life 3!

I’m thrilled to be included in Uppercase magazine’s Work/Life 3 illustration annual, which is out now! I’m a big fan of Uppercase and if you’re an artist / designer / creative / maker type, then you’ll love it too. I saw last year’s issue and thought it was fabulous, so I applied for this edition and was so happy to be included. Artists are interviewed and are then given a brief based on that — for me, my brief was to use my love of baking to create a new series called ‘Home Sweet Home’. And the images below are what I came up with. I don’t get to bake as often as I’d like these days, but it’s a real passion of mine. And I love all the beautiful ingredients and tools and vessels you get to work with.

Always a good exercise to work to a brief. Up until a few months ago, my work was all self-directed. But more and more, I’m getting brief-based work and it really forces you to shake things up and push yourself past your comfort zone! I’m happy with how these turned out, and you’ll see one of them on greeting cards for Madison Park Greetings one day soon!

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Resurfacing (a personal note about getting stuck in a creative rut)

This summer was an incredible time for me for new opportunities —  I could see my business growing and it was amazing and thrilling and fulfilling. I had been so busy working on brief-based assignments that I hadn’t had a lot of time for self-directed work. And to be clear, I am 100% aware of what an amazing problem to have. It’s kind of insane.

So I hadn’t been finding a whole lot of time to just play around and doodle and assemble patterns purely for fun, for myself, self-directed. After finishing up a few projects, I was super excited to dive in and just let the ideas pour out of me. For the past year, I’ve had my head down developing new work morning, noon and night in preparation for Surtex — I’ve been in such a groove. So I sat down and put pen to paper and… nothing. I tried to employ a few of my tricks to kickstart things. (Walk away and come back with fresh eyes. Get away from the computer. Look at other work that inspires me. Go buy some flowers. Change my scenery.) But nothing was working, and I was getting increasingly frustrated with myself.

After having some successes (small to some, huge to me), I now realize that I had really started to psych myself out. I started to think maybe that was all just a fluke. Maybe I was just channeling some limited-time-only creative kick and now my window is over. Maybe I’m a one-trick pony. It was really getting in my head. Ultimately what happened was that I had to try and turn my inner business lady off and realize why I’m doing what I’m doing. It may seem silly to some, but I absolutely love patterns. I am passionate about them and have been my whole life and when I discovered that I loved creating them myself, it was like a light was turned on inside me. After throwing myself into the business side of things, I was getting distracted from the thing that mattered the most — I needed to stop thinking about the future, about success, about what my next moves are, and remember that this is just what I love to do.

The other important lesson that I learned is that creativity is a fire that must be stoked. If you keep it up, keep the coals hot, you can hop back in and start one up so easily. But if you neglect it and let it go out, it’s a whole lot more work to get back to where you were. So keep those fires stoked! And I hope you enjoy my newest collection (more coming soon!). Thanks for reading!

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