Sunday, May 31, 2015

Shop local

So excited that my rolled paper sculpture (#5) was featured in a local publication of Washington County, New York, along with other artists. Shop local! It has already sold but I have more in my Etsy shop:

and a smaller one here:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Paper bridge

This is the coolest thing: a paper bridge, made of 22,000 sheets of bright, red paper, that doesn’t have a single screw, bolt or swab of glue holding it together.

Read about it here:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Support art education

A lovely blog post from another artist about art education, inspired by one of my Petal People. Thanks Debbie!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Carriage House Paper

Carriage House Paper just announced their summer workshops and I am oh-so-tempted to scoot down to Brooklyn and take one, especially this one:

Check out their website if you are interested in learning how to make handmade paper for yourself and are close to New York. Maybe I'll see you there!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Guerilla gardening

Love to see all the great ideas others have using seeds. Mine are the pea pods but it's interesting to see how many seed-related ideas have bombs and guns for the guerrilla gardening theme.

PHOTO CREDIT: Live Outside Blog

Monday, May 25, 2015


Apparently, a lot of bookbinding folks are finding my handmade paper and using it in their book projects, including the very enthusiastically named, "fuckyeahbookarts."

Need handmade paper for your handmade book project? I am happy to make very thin pages, very thick pages or anything in between!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Very excited that this website has reviewed my products, specifically my plantable paper hearts!

OK, I will come clean. There was a little negotiation in this review. This website contacted me and told me they would love to do a feature on me. They said that they reach 1 million crafters and artists who are looking for wedding supplies and they were creating a bridal tutorial for their community, yadda yadda yadda. Once I asked a lot of questions, I found out that I would have to pay $100 for the a video feature that their membership would get for free. When I told them that I have never paid for any advertising or promotion, never will, and couldn't handle the extra work anyway, we parted ways. But they came back later with a very nice review of my products and I didn't pay a dime. So it all worked out for everyone!

Friday, May 22, 2015

About me

Etsy recently had a forum post focusing on shop "About" pages, the optional page that gives customers background about the business, the artist behind the shop and any other details that the artist cares to put out there. After reading through a lot of the posts, I realized that my About page didn't accurately represent my journey, so I wrote a new one. Here she blows:

My mother stopped what she was doing, stood frozen and tried not to look alarmed. With a forced casual tone she asked, "What do you mean you want to make your own wedding invitations?" I had recently learned how to make handmade paper and was obsessed with making sheets and sheets of it. It took months of cajoling her before she finally gave in, probably because she had bigger fish to fry: I asked her if I could get married in the back yard of my childhood home…

That was more than 20 years ago and I haven't stopped making handmade paper since. After making my own wedding invitations (successfully, even according to my mother), I realized I could sell my paper. I signed up for my first craft show and kept doing them while I waited for the internet and Etsy to be created. When I left a decade-long career as a newspaper editor to start a family, I turned to making paper as a way to be creative and stay at home. (Thankfully, it grew big enough that it's the best excuse ever for never going back to work again. Although sometimes my family wouldn't mind a little less paper created in the kitchen and a few more home-cooked meals made there instead.)

My hippie sensibilities fit perfectly with this hobby-turned-business. I recycle 100% post-consumer waste paper to make my plantable papers and I use the freshest no-GMO wildflower seeds to spread the love. And I will tell you a little secret: I didn't do it on purpose, but my wildflower mixture helps the honeybee population because it includes many of the wildflowers that they prefer for pollen. (Hummingbirds love them, too!) #luckycoincidence

Now here is the fine print to make me sound professional and competent: I have built my business on custom orders and have made place cards, favors and invitations for hundreds of brides, corporations, non-profits and individuals during 23 years of business. My work has been featured in LA Weekly magazine, The NY Times Style Magazine, GreenCraft magazine, the Huffington Post, the book '1000 Handmade Greetings" by Lauren McFadden as well as countless blogs. I am tickled that my work has even been purchased by a celebrity!

I operate a cat-friendly studio — you should see what I have to do to dry my seed bombs without my cat getting them and turning them into a toy — with a fuzzy little guy who enjoys helping me package my orders, especially the part where I peel off the long strip of paper before closing up the mailing envelope. If you have allergies, let me know and I will make sure to package up your order when he is off trying to figure out how to retrieve a seed bomb that rolled under the couch.

I have experimented with many different creative outlets but I always, always come back to papermaking. I am so grateful that I have been able to re-create the craft for myself, to make paper sculptures, cards, Christmas ornaments, all kinds of seeded paper products, wedding invitations … all of these different ways of using the same medium has kept me motivated and excited. Even after decades of making paper, I am still delighted by it. I hope you feel the joy and passion in everything I make!

Want to know more? Check out my blog:

I promise I will try to get better at the whole social media thing:

Follow me on Twitter:
Like me on FaceBook:

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It's all about the bees

Every time I think I have said enough about bees and their dwindling populations, something else pops up that I have to share.

And when you are done looking at that, go check out: "An Extraordinary Glimpse into the First 21 Days of a Bee’s Life in 60 Seconds by Christopher Jobson" at

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What happened at midnight?

250 views at midnight? What the heck?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Necessity is the mother of invention

I checked in on how my exhibit is going and found that I have sold so many greeting cards that I have empty slots in my card rack. I need to get more but it takes time for the printing house to order the paper and print them. Then I have to pick them up, package them, price each one individually and get them into the card rack. In the meantime, I don't like an empty-looking card rack. Luckily, I had a bunch of garden-related quotes on index cards that were scattered throughout my show. I gathered them up, put them in the empty spaces in the card rack and now the spaces look purposeful and further the message of my pressed flower art. The feedback has been so positive that I may print the quotes on better paper, laminate them and keep them in the card racks from now on. Love an idea that springs from necessity!

Another artist sent me this email, and referred to the quotes, which meant the world to me:

Dear Martha,
I want to let you know how impressed I am with your show. First of all the Petal People are delightful and bring a smile. Every aspect of the exhibit shows careful preparation and execution - the window display, the humorous comments by each picture, the reflections on gardening so cunningly placed in the card rack, and the most unusual and creative guest book I've ever seen! Thank you for enriching the gallery this month.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Fresh! Treasury

Yikes, I am out of stock of the green plantable paper stars that were featured in this treasury. Time to make more!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things...

Just a few of the delicious things that have made me very happy this weekend. First, the intoxicating scent of lilacs and lily of the valley, picked from my garden. I could never live in a place where these flowers don't grow.

My very favorite cold-pressed juice, made by a small, local company.

And an artistically-presented plate of sushi from my favorite restaurant:

I would show you the asparagus that I got at the farmer's market but it's already in my tummy! My senses are singing. I wish my whole life could be one long springtime of beautiful sunny days, cool nights, freshly-picked asparagus, the soft patter of an occasional rain shower, and the flowers of spring.

Saturday, May 16, 2015


It's been a long while since I have broken out my gocco printer and made something, like these cards. If you have never seen or heard of a gocco machine, it's a compact machine that is similar to screen printing. You take an image and burn it into a screen by using the flash of a special light bulb. The screen (with the image on it) is inserted into the gocco machine along with a piece of paper. Simply squeegee some ink across the screen and print your image when the ink penetrates the area that was burned onto the screen. I used to make handmade wedding invitations in this manner, printing each invitation individually. But gocco equipment has been discontinued and the ink and lightbulbs are now hard to come by. So I save them for special projects, like these cards. This tree is a versatile design because I sell it as is in the winter as bare trees. I add some paint to them, hand-painted on with a sponge, to make autumn trees with bursts of orange, red and yellow. I use a gold or silver pen to add little shiny balls for the holidays. There are some images and designs that are universal and everyone buys. A tree is one of those images.

I love printing solid images on old book pages for a really interesting card, and used the same image for this custom order of cards. Paired with a kraft brown envelope, these cards have a completely different feel.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Merritt turns one!

I was so happy to make the plantable paper butterflies for Merritt's first birthday party. This little baby went through an awful lot, including an early delivery and a few surgeries, to get to her first birthday. Her mom tied up my butterflies with a bag of soil in a chalkboard-painted pot that read "and 1 to grow on" and then attached "Merritt's Miracle Dust" (aka glitter) as a take-away party favor. Happy Birthday Merritt!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A cuppa

A California company — Reduce. Reuse. Grow. — has a Kickstarter campaign that I hope helps them to reach their goal and gain success for their innovative product: biodegradable coffee cups made from plantable paper that can be planted to grow into trees and flowers. After the consumer drinks their coffee, they unravel the cup, soak it in water for 5 minutes and then plant it. Or, if you’re lazy, throw it away and it will decompose after 180 days (or perhaps even start a flower garden at the landfill). According to, Americans throw away 25 BILLION styrofoam coffee cups every year. This plantable idea seems like a phenomenal solution. What I don't understand is how they can allow hot coffee to be so close to the seeds without the high heat killing the seeds or reducing seed viability.

But if they can figure out what seeds can withstand high heat, it seem like they have it made, especially because the cups will come with seeds native to whatever region they’re sold in. Sounds like some delicious, deciduous cups of coffee for Californians! I hope the idea will spread to all 50 states.

More coffee cup facts from

* If you buy just one cup of coffee or tea in a disposable cup every day, you’ll end up creating about 23 pounds of waste in one year.

* According to a study conducted by Starbucks and the Alliance for the Environmental Innovation (April 2000), each paper cup manufactured is responsible for 0.24 pounds of CO2 emissions.

* Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day or equivalent to 146 billion cups of coffee per year, making the United States the leading consumer of coffee in the world.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Price increase

I don't know what happened this year, but my shop has hit a continuous momentum that has been unusual and stunning, both on the web and in my local area. I am getting so much traffic on Etsy that I get emails like this one:

I am turning away custom orders multiple times a day online because I am so booked up, I am saying "no" to local business right and left, and I can't even replace the products that I sell, online or in the cooperative where I have a large display of my work, fast enough. While I realize this is success most artists would beg for, I have found it overwhelming. The only thing I can do is nudge up my prices to slow demand. So I am beginning to tweak prices on certain products this week. I am assuming I will hit a slow season soon, and then I will probably question whether raising my prices was the right thing to do, but for now it is simply necessary for my sanity. If there are any products in my store that you have been considering, you may want to jump on them now!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

50 Best Bird Wedding Ideas

And speaking of birds, thanks to Emmaline Bride for including my plantable paper doves in their "50 Best Bird Wedding Ideas" feature!

Monday, May 11, 2015

When one door closes…

So my shoulder has been bothering me lately and the time I would usually spend making paper has been replaced by other things. Like saying yes to a spontaneous road trip to Vermont, a weeknight dinner invitation with girlfriends, and a Saturday morning spent banding birds… Yes, I said banding birds. I have a friend who is an ornithologist and he invited me and my family to spend the morning catching and banding birds. It's not an activity that I have ever thought about doing, or could have guessed I would get the opportunity to do. But I once remember a teacher telling me that in order to create art of any kind, you have to have varied experiences, meet new people and try new things. So, off I went.

I wasn't sure what to expect. I imagined crouching quietly behind a rock for many hours in the deep woods, rubbing the cramps out of my legs while I tried not to move, waiting for a bird to be attracted by some kind of bait and then trying to grab it with a net. I really couldn't imagine the process. It was nothing like what I thought and turned out to be a very robust, active process, not quiet at all. We didn't go deep into the woods and far afield. We walked into my friend's back yard and set up nets that were 30 feet long with special little pockets in them, suspended between two poles. He took his iPad and played bird songs that attracted the males because they came looking for a territorial fight. When the birds flew into the nets (they are so thin and black that they are invisible to birds and quite hard to see for humans, too), they hit the net, dropped into the pocket and got tangled enough that they couldn't fly out. We simply walked up, untangled them and gently pulled them out, then placed them in a holding bag like a little pillowcase. At times there were multiple birds caught in nets and we were running around getting them out.

It was a quick and easy learning process to use special pliers to put the band on their fragile little toothpick legs, take their weight (by inserting them into a toilet paper tube and putting them on a scale!), wing length and other data about them and then log the data onto a special banding website where other scientists can access the information should they catch the same bird. All in all a really cool day.

This nuthatch was the easiest bird to tag, along with the chickadees, because they are so small and easy to control.

This tufted titmouse was the first bird we caught after getting tons of chickadees and oven birds, as well as a bunch of nuthatches, so we were excited for a new bird. I pet his head to feel his tuft and it sprung right back up, a stiff little tuft of feathers. There are ways you can hold a bird to get control of them, by grasping the tops of their legs, but if they are mad enough, it's easy for them to get a peck in!

You know the sound a woodpecker makes when it is trying to find insects in a tree? Imagine that on your hand. My ornithologist friend called the morning a wrap after this gorgeous hairy woodpecker got a few too many good pecks in on his hand. In 20 years of tagging birds, he never had one draw blood before. Until today. It was really exciting, nonetheless. Catching a woodpecker is rather uncommon.

This blue jay was MAD about being caught and got so tangled up in the net trying to fight his way out that we had to use scissors and cut him out. It took about 15 minutes to get him released. What surprised me most about the whole scientific process was how much we pulled on their legs to band them and pulled on their wings to measure them, and stuffed them into toilet paper tubes to weigh them. Must be a stressful experience for a bird, even if it is not harmful.

The best part was at the end of all the data collecting, we just held out our arms, opened our hands and let them fly. OK, I wanna do it again next weekend!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

A special order for Mother's Day. My customer wanted a plantable paper butterfly on top of cards made from folded sheets of handmade plantable paper. Inside is a blank piece of card stock to make writing even easier, and it's all tied together with a sheer ribbon. It's fun to change things up and make a special request for a customer from their own ideas, rather than what I usually make. Keep 'em coming people! And Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Love letter

I still haven't come down from the high of my show opening last Saturday. It was an incredible event that left me full of all sorts of emotions. There were people who came from an hour away to see my show, even though I have never met them. There was an artist who cried as she told me how she knows of someone who bought my work for a dying person because of the joy and hopefulness that my art conveys. There were friends who came indoors on a gorgeous spring day - away from their families, gardens and many fun outdoor events in the area - and supported me. And there was a really crazy story about the cyclical nature of things that was amazing.** I feel like the world wrote me a love letter.

I was completely humbled by how many people told me that my work was light, inspiring, playful, whimsical, clever and just plain fun. (For my guest book, I left a dictionary and asked people to find a word that describes my show, circle it and then sign their name on that page. I can't wait to page through it and see what words people have chosen.) I had people tell me I need to wholesale my cards, sell them on Amazon, etc. Plus, I sold 6 framed pieces (always very validating) and many, many cards.

The energy created from this show will last me a good, long time. It was a beautiful day.

(Goofing off for a friend who wanted to take a picture of me in front of my work.)

** I was given a whole bunch of pressed flowers by a woman last fall. I wrote about it here: A customer purchased one of the pieces that was made completely of the pressed flowers that came from these lovely women. I was chatting with the customer and told her that all the botanicals in this piece were given to me by a woman named Rosy. It ends up that she and Rosy are very good friends. She adores Rosy and her family and was so delighted to have something that was indirectly from her. Crazy!! Things like this story happen to me all the time, which makes me believe deeper in the interconnectedness of everyone, everywhere. This connection is why I make art.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015

First bad review

I got my first bad review this week and I am bummed. I am not upset by the bad review (although it is disappointing since it is my first since opening my shop in 2008!), but that I let a customer down and caused her stress during a time that is naturally stressful: wedding planning. I had a tricky decision-making process to wade through. I injured my shoulder and it's bad enough that I am taking it really easy to make sure I don't injure it to a point of no return. I went back and forth for about two days looking at some large orders and trying to figure out what to do. I have some smaller custom orders that I feel like I can complete because I have enough lead time that I can make them in small amounts and not over-tax my shoulder. But this one particular wedding order was big. I had taken a deposit from her weeks ago and told her I was backed up with orders all the way until her deadline. Now I had about three weeks to her deadline, and I was not sure if my shoulder would heal in two days, two weeks or not at all. It didn't seem fair to wait and see, and leave her in an even worse pinch to find a replacement. And I knew I couldn't work through pain and a chance of worsening injury. I felt I had no choice but to deliver the bad news. I let her know the situation but gave her links to other business that make plantable place cards. Naturally, she was upset and showed it in her review. Of course, when you have just told someone that you can't make their custom order for their wedding, they don't thank you for giving them six weeks notice rather than two weeks. It still puts her in a horrible position. The bride may not know it yet, but I am confident she will find something else very easily. Plantable paper is a popular and growing trend, and businesses that make it are all over and multiplying like crazy, each one of us with our own unique spin on what we make.

Still, I have an unhappy customer and that makes me sad. It's a tricky business being a one-woman business owner. There is no back up plan, no disability pay, no sick day, no co-worker standing by who can step in and fulfill the order. When I accept a custom order, my customer and I are both showing a lot of faith and trust. I take that responsibility really seriously. But what can you do? Life happens.

But it certainly made me feel better when another customer left this review today!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


While I am very happy that people are finding my work on the internet, I must say that I am confused as to what a lot of these sites are. The Find? Indulgy? Uncoverly? Syle Unveiled? Elfster? They seem to be similar to Pinterest where work is somehow tagged and favorited. And while I am questioning these things, how did I end up with a YouTube video of my products when I never made a YouTube video?


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Melanie and Cameron

I was married in my parents' backyard, in the same home where I was born and raised, under trees that my father planted when I was a baby. Rather than buy expensive flowers from a florist, we planted a variety of native plants the year prior to the wedding so the garden was bursting with flowers not only for the wedding but also for years afterwards. Tables were simple, with watering cans as flower holders. We set up lawn games, like croquet, to play during the reception. A musician friend who is a guitarist wrote and performed the song to which I walked down the grassy aisle. And, of course, I made my own handmade paper wedding invitations. So I am partial to garden weddings held at home. Melanie and Cameron had a wedding that was close to my heart. They got married in the house where the bride grew up and all the little details were created by the bride and groom, and their friends and family — except, that is, for the plantable paper that I made!

Photo credit: michelle edmonds photography

In the brides words: "We decided to have our ceremony and reception in the backyard of the house that I grew up in. I have great memories in that house and it made for a very intimate wedding. My parents worked tirelessly throughout the summer tending to their wonderful garden to make it picture perfect for the big day. In addition to all of his hard work in the yard and help with crafts, my dad found the time to build a beautiful cedar arbor for us to be married under.

"I wore my grandmother’s wedding dress that she wore when she married my grandfather in the 1950s and I carried a handkerchief that both my mother and sister carried on their wedding days. In keeping with our love of family and history, Cameron used his grandfather’s ring as his wedding band and we decorated the dance area with family pictures and old postcards.

"As vegetarians and nature lovers, we wanted to make our wedding as environmentally friendly as possible. We had re-usable glass mason jars for drinks, vegan food, vegan cupcakes, and plantable wildflower seed paper for our favors.

"We ended the night with a lavender toss as we made our way to my Dad’s 1957 Chevy (that the groomspeople decorated so well), surrounded by our beloved family and friends. It was a perfect day filled with love and lots of laughter that we will not soon forget."

Monday, May 4, 2015

Loot bags

Thanks to the blog, Help We've Got Kids for featuring my seed bombs as part of their story on "18 Junk Free Loot Bag ideas." As we approach end-of-the-year parties at school, I agree they are a great idea to use where the usual focus is often on food or candy, especially in this age of food allergies. You can also use them at birthday parties that usually feature plastic junk that gets chucked into the trash - and our landfills - within a day of the party. You don't have to worry about cavities or food sensitivities with seed bombs, and it's OK if they get thrown away. They are biodegradable and grow flowers!

And don't forget about my plantable paper apples for your teacher appreciation gifts!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The view out my car window

My day-in and day-out work life takes place in the studio I have at home, but several times a month, I have to "commute" to "work" at an artisans cooperative where I am a member. (As part of membership, every member takes a couple of shifts at the store every month so that we can take a high commission on our work and not pay anyone to run the store.) It is a bit of a drive through farm country as well as little villages, and hills and valleys, but the scenery is so gorgeous in upstate New York that there is always something stunning to see or a new season of colors to witness. I wish I had a picture of the time a herd of cows had escaped from a farmer's barn and stopped in the middle of the road, followed by the red-faced farmer who couldn't get them to move. It was one traffic jam that made me smile.

Some pleasing scenes from my commute.

I love the color on the roof of these buildings. This particular day, I came over a knoll and there were some dark clouds in the distance that really set off the blue. But by the time I slowed down, got my phone out, turned on the camera and took a picture, my angle had changed and the wind had moved them.

This is one of my favorite houses. It is named Windswept Farm and I have admired it every time I have passed it, for at least 15 years. You can't tell from the picture, but every window has a little electric candle in it, and they are always on, night and day, summer and winter. Makes it look so cozy and welcoming. And below, the view of the Saratoga Monument far away in the distance as it overlooks the rows of apple trees in the apple orchard where I have gone apple picking every year for 17 years!