Lindy Rojas Photography is awesome

You guys, I have been crazy busy recently. It is not the fun busy that I like to participate in… it’s the “ugh, Life, why are you doing this?” kind of busy. But, right before the crazy started, I got to meet with the amazing Lindy Rojas. Not only is she a totally talented photographer, but she is one of my dearest friends. She’s the kind of girl who will go garage sale-ing with you in the morning, craft with you in the afternoon, and then help you make dinner in the evening. No joke, she is so legit. So when she moved to El Paso I was super sad – for me… cuz I am selfish like that. When she visited CA in May I was so excited to see her. When she offered to do a photo shoot with me I was over the moon. Here are a few of the amazing shots she took:

April woman looking down close up -illistyle.com
April woman looking left green shoes - illistyle.com
April from illistyle.com

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the shots she took. But this might be the best thing:

Lindy Rojas Photography - illistyle.com

A photo of Lindy, taking a photo of me, taking a photo of Lindy. OMG we’re so Meta.

And yes, Lindy is that cute preggers. And I swear I told her not to get on the fence while pregnant, but the woman is dedicated to her craft and assured me that she was safe. And yes, we do crack one another up all the time. So if you think I am funny, you will love her. Promise.

But seriously, you should go check out her other work. She does families, bellies, babies, and all sorts of awesome. If you are in El Paso, Texas or Southern California she is the photographer you need to use.

LindyRojas.com   :::  Facebook

You should totes name drop April @ illistyle so she knows where all this love is coming from.

creative lifestyle blogger southern caifornia - illistyle.com
(This is not a sponsored post. I just think this woman’s work is amazing – hello, look at what she did with this hot mess.)
Sandia agua fresca - illistyle.com   Trash Can Decals - illistyle.com   Lemon Bars - illistyle.com

Starbucks Card Mural

Way back in 2006 I created a piece of artwork for a dear friend.  When we both lived in California we would get together once a week.  She and I used to meet 1/2 way between our houses, always at a Starbucks – for all the obvious reasons. Well, when she bought her first home I knew exactly the piece I wanted to make for her.

The Starbucks Card Mural

Starbucks Card Mural - illistyle.com

Overall Dimensions: 40″ w X 48″ h

I used 6 – 16″ x 20″ Canvases

341 Starbucks Cards

The creative process

I laid out the canvases on the floor and laid the cards down around the perimeter. I wanted a completely straight edge to frame the work, so I laid that down first. I then hot glued the perimeter cards, ensuring that where the seams of the canvases met I glued a card over the seam to make it invisible.

 Starbucks Card Mural - illistyle.com

I did not glue the card that covered the seam to both canvases because I wanted my girl friend to be able to easily remove the piece and pack it up if she wanted to move it to a new home later. (Good thing I did because she is now in home #3.) Which means that I made the piece so that the canvases are hung individually, but fit together with cards over lapping two canvases.

 Starbucks Card Mural - illistyle.com

After creating and gluing down the boarder, I then filled in the middle of the work. I went canvas by canvas and placed the cards down.  I did not want any of the same card design right next to one another. I also wanted the red and light blue cards to be prominent in the piece so I used more of those cards. After laying out the cards I hot glued each of them down, again making sure I covered seams and allowed the canvases to be independent of one another, meaning they can be separated without destroying the piece.

That is me {in 2006} with the finished artwork.

This was a serious labor of love. First I had to collect enough cards. I put in a call to everyone I knew and talked to all my local baristas. I had them hold on to old cards for me. They were super gracious and gave me handfuls of old cards. People were wonderful. I collected over 3,000 cards. Over time other artists have asked to dip into my collection, which has been amazing. I love to see what other artists create with the same medium I have used. When we moved to Roatan (read about that here) we sold almost everything. We still have a few pieces of furniture in someones garage… we also have all my husbands books from his church office and we have the plastic bin of bucks cards. I know it sounds strange, but I still see so much potential in those cards… plus, someday I want to do a Starbucks Card mural for myself (or for myself and 7 other people – the math might be shaky on that one, but 3,000/341 is about 8, right?)

 When I originally created this piece I had no idea how collectible Starbucks card were. I also had no idea what a huge fan base they have. There are whole websites dedicated to collecting Starbucks Cards. It’s crazy. If you heart bux you should check it out.  This is one of my favorites.

Do you have a special Starbucks card?

xoxo-April

Featured Artist – Stitches of Love

Oh how I LOVE this group of women!  I may be a little partial because I get to hang out with these lovely women every week. My dear friend Deborah, who is also a missionary here on Roatan, belongs to this amazing church in Oklahoma. Last year the church told her: “We feel like the Lord is calling us to donate sewing machines to you.” Deborah said, “I do not sew. But, if the Lord is speaking to you… um, ok.” So Deborah had all these machines. And the amazing women of her church also brought fabric and thread and scissors and everything a proper seamstress (or 4 proper seamstresses) would need. We are totes spoiled by the Lord. So, Deborah had these machines … and then Deborah had ladies who wanted to sew but had no machines. So Deborah asked in our Bible Study, “Does anyone know how to sew?” And since my mom taught me a thing or two, thanks ma, and I had made few skirts, headbands, and curtains over the years… and even matching Christmas PJ pants for the family (oh yeah, you know I did… that will be a new yearly tradition for us for sure, so cute) I said “I kinda know how to sew.”

So now I get to work with 5 of the loveliest women I know. Unes, Doris, Marta, Suri, and of course Deborah. It’s pretty interesting to see us all there together. Two gringas, two black island ladies, and two Honduran ladies. 3 cultures, 2 languages, and 6 women who all love Jesus. It’s super legit how the body of Christ works together.

I found this great pattern from the lovely Novita at verypurpleperson.com and I love her for freely allowing people to use it for commercial use.  Deborah provides the meeting place and the machines, we got some super cute fabrics and the ladies sew (in reality they do not need me, they are super talented women!) and then I go to short-term groups visiting the island and sell the bags. So we each have our role to play. The ladies set their price for the labor for the bags and then we add the materials… each bag is ONLY $10, and this is totally a fair-trade item. What?! I know. The women are able to work as much or as little as they need. They are able to work when they need to so that they can still care for the needs of their families. These women are all wives and mothers and some are even raising their grandchildren. This is a blessing to them to be able to bring in income to their families on their own terms,  getting to use their natural talents and without having to work 10 hours per day. This is a luxury most locals on Roatan will never have.

So, check out the amazing things they create:

Bag-collage

 

ONLY $10

I personally own and carry the orange one shown above on the chair (and as a side note, can I just say how fun it was to model the bags?)

Also, check out the super cute headbands the Sistches of Love ladies make:

headband

ONLY $5

and they make child sizes! I wish the little girl would let me put it on her, but when I asked if she wanted to be like Mommy and model a headband she said “Um, nope.” So I had to respect that boundary. Lame.

I don’t know how I am ever gonna sell these because I love them all and want them so badly! But that is why the hubs has control of the money… because man cannot live on headbands alone. Though I think I could try.

Check out the tag that goes in or on each items too:

Stiches-of-love-tag

BTW this is the only photo I have of our ladies because they are so shy. They do not want their photos taken… not like some people… and by that I totally mean me. So this is a photo of Unes. Isn’t she beautiful? Each items gets this tag and the person who made them items signs it. It’s so cool when people see the bag or headband and then read the tag and go “Wait, Suri made this? This is her signature?” It totally makes my heart happy because people are connecting in their hearts with the women who they have never met. It makes my heart happy.

So of course now you’re like: I want one too. How do I get one?

You have two options: Come to Roatan or email me and when I come to the states I will bring the bag you want. I would do that for you. Seriously.

Email me at: [email protected] or leave a comment below.

xoxo-April

 

Featured Artist – Lori and Mi Esperanza

featured-artist-mi-speranza

A few weeks ago, before I went on my wonderful State-side trip (you remember, a wedding, crafting with the bestie… you don’t remember? Click here or here or here to see some of the things I was up to.) But before that I got a chance to go over to the mainland to the capitol city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Another missionary friend and I flew over from Roatan to attend the Women Of Purpose Conference. Let me sum up by saying: amazing. I adored the conference and the women there. If you are a female missionary in Honduras, drop me a line and we will meet up at the next conference in November – FYI it’s totally free: food, lodging, everything. Seriously amazing. But, one of the biggest blessings of that weekend? Hands down. Lori. You may not know who Lori is, so lemme introduce you… Lori is one of those instant BFF women. One of those women you meet and say to yourself “Oh yeah, we will definitely get along well.” Someone could literally drop you in the murder capitol of the world and I would feel 100% safe with her leading you. Wait, that’s exactly what  happened… We landed in Tegucigalpa, the murder capital of the world (heres the BBC article,) and met Lori’s husband, Mark. Yes, we got in the car with a stranger… sorry mom! Mark drove us to their home and we had coffee and chatted and we met Lori. Then we got into her blue 1970s vintage Land Cruiser with no seat belts and felt totally safe. We laughed and joked as we sped around little back streets as we headed to the conference.  I just realized, this section of my post should totally have a different title block:

 

why-i-love-lori-title-block

That’s Lori. Her smile is so inviting. I know you want to be BFFs with her now too. Which I am sure she would totally be down with. That’s how wonderful she is. So the above picture is of Lori in front of the door leading into the Mi Esperanza shop. It has a sign on it that says “electroterapia.” That translates to: Electrotherapy. What?! Yes, Mi Esperanza is located in what used to be a hospital/rehab center. When I say used to, I mean that I am pretty sure the beds and medical equipment are still there, but the patients are not. Things work differently in Honduras. I seriously expected Lori to open that door and to see this:

electrotherapy-vintage-photo

But thankfully, Lori and Mark and some friends renovated that room and turned it into this: A boutique for all the creations of Mi Esperanza.

Mi-Esperanza-shop-wall

Mi Esperanza is Spanish for “My Hope” and began in 2002 with a vision to provide assistance for women in the villages surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras. They now providing micro-business loans and skills training to women living in extreme poverty. Many of the women are single mothers who are supporting their families without any type of assistance or opportunity to change their life circumstances.  Their lives are about survival and trying to meet the most basic of needs of life; food, clean water, education, healthcare and shelter. Women living in extreme poverty simply do not have opportunity for education, in turn they do not have the knowledge they need to succeed in business or help to get their families out of poverty.  Mi Esperanza provides free training in three separate areas: computer, salon, and sewing.  Offering women the opportunity to obtain a skill offers them the tools to open doors to a self-sustaining life.  Research and experience shows us that women in poor countries are more likely to spend their income on food, education, and healthcare for their children (which is really not so different than the priorities that most mothers have worldwide.) Education is a long-term investment that lifts entire families and communities out of poverty. When the family income is in the hands of the mother a child’s chances of surviving increases by 20%.  (according to the United Nations 2011 report) This is why economic opportunity for women is so important to ending the extreme poverty that cripples communities in the developing world.

Enter Lori and Mi Esperanza. Training is provided in the respective field: computers, salon, or sewing… along with basic business skills, and the women begin to see that they can make a difference in the lives of their family members.

Maria-sewing-class

 

sewing-class

Above is the sewing teacher, Maria. She is a legit tailor/seamstress. She teaches the women all the skills they will need to one day succeed in the sewing business, from simple fabric cutting and machine work to pattern making and finishing techniques. When the women graduate form Mi Esperanza many will go into their respective communities and become the seamstress or tailor for that area, with great success. A few who live near the training center are invited to join the Mi Esperanza team as seamstresses, who create bags, purses, and clothing for the shop. The women set their own prices for each item (to ensure they are being paid a fair wage.) All proceeds from the sale of items in the shop go back into the Mi Esperanza training centers. It is a beautiful thing: these women who were blessed with free classes, now have jobs to provide for their families, plus their work is going to fund the education of other women and will help lift other families out of desperate situations. It’s the circle of love. Love gives and gives and gives. It reproduces it self over and over from one person’s life to the next.

vintage-machine

Check out some of Mi Esperanza’s beautiful creations:

bags

Here’s the amazing clutch I got for myself:

 my-clutch

It is extremely well made, durable, and so so cute!

All of Mi Esperanzas amazing products are available on their website: http://thewomenofmyhope.org

Go check them out, and remember that every purchases go to help fighting poverty in this generation and the next.

xoxo, April

Featured Artist – Britteny Bennett

Britteny-main-image

I am so excited to introduce you all to an amazing artist: Britteny Bennett. Britteny is well known on the island for her paintings and mixed media pieces. Britteny was also an absolute favorite of all the cruise ship tourists that came through Made in Roatan, the amazing non-profit artists co-op where I used to volunteer (read about that here.) Everyone who sees her work loves it. And everyone who meets Britteny loves her! She is absolutely charming. I got the chance to meet up with her at her studio in Sandy Bay.  Her studio is an artist’s dream: perfect road visability, located near her home, light, bright, and cool. It’s amazing. Can you hear the jealousy in my voice? It really is amazing.

brittenys-caribbean-women

Britteny is a Roatan native and third generation artist.  Britteny grew up watching her father and grandfather carve wood and her mother sew.   When she was younger, Britteny’s mother told her stories of how the island women used to make clothing from flour sacks (just as woman in the United States used to do) which inspired Britteny to try her hand at sewing and design.  Originally, she thought she wanted to be a fashion designer. She even had a runway show here on Roatan featuring 25 dresses. After attending a term of fashion school on mainland Honduras, Britteny realized that the life of a fashion designer was not for her. She returned to Roatan and began waitressing. One evening a customer invited her to a local art show at Waves of Art Gallery in West End, Roatan.  There Britteny saw the works of the artist Virginia Castillo, a Roatan native. Britteny was instantly taken by Virignia’s use of fabric in her paintings.

Brittney-Bennett

Britteny felt so moved by Virginia’s paintings that she decided to give painting a try herself.  Having never painted before,  her first time putting brush to canvas she felt unsure, “I didn’t know I could do it, and when I did… I was amazed.” Britteny recalls with a smile.  That was back in 2010, and two short years later this self-taught artist has painted well over 20 canvases just in her “Caribbean Ladies” series.  These fabric and acrylic pieces depict a moment in the life of island women in traditional dress.  each peice in the series varies in size and ranges from $30-$200 US dollars.

Britteny is a hard-working artist. She is in her studio/gallery every Tuesday-Saturday from 9am-6pm.  You can visit her there or on her Facebook Page.

 

Britteny-Bennett-Studio

 

 

 

Featured Artist – Adam & Rusty Fish

illistyle readers, I am so pleased to have you meet Adam Hunt, Roatan island’s resident metal artist.  Adam is a native of England and came to Roatan while on a backpacking tour of the world.  He left knowing that this island would be his future home.  He has now lived on Roatan over 4 years and has already made a significant impact for the better.  Adam is full of life and has a warm and friendly smile. He is the kind of person who makes you feel totally at ease.  Adam says he “loves to make something that has been discarded and turn it into something more beautiful than is has ever been before.” Specifically, Adam and his team of 17 employees at “Rusty Fish” recycle oil drums and sheet metal  and turn them into art, from necklaces and magnets, to wall hangings and advertisement signs, and everything in-between. The artisans cut, assemble, and paint each piece by hand at Rusty Fish’s outdoor workshop.

Transformation-larger

The message of Rusty Fish is “love will set you free,” and Adam desires to help create more “love, joy, and happiness, for all.”  To that end Adam periodically does one of his favorite applications: art installation.  True story: When I go up on Valentine’s Day I drove down the road and noticed Adam had hung painted metal hearts from different trees all over the island.  He wanted to spread the love on Valentine’s Day and found a way to show his love through his artwork. I personally was so overjoyed to see how much he loves the island and I was completely encouraged to demonstrate my love with actions and not just words, like Adam had done. Adam has also decorated the island for Christmas and his public art can been seen in a permanent installation in Sandy Bay: the “Love Tree” is decorated with 100 hearts strung from the branches with  a sign that reads “Esplendidas Frutas” below it. The literal translation is “Splendid Fruit,” and love is the most splendid fruit indeed.

Rusty-Fish-jewelry-maker

From small pieces……

Adam-and-giant-fish

…to LARGE!

 

Rusty Fish is available for sale at Waves of Art Gallery in West End, Roatan, Honduras. And online http://rustyfish.com/shop/ If you are interested in purchasing in bulk, please contact Adam directly at (504) 9947-8975.  He would love to meet you personally, open the Wholesale Store for you, and help you find the pieces for which you are looking.

For more information and to see additional pieces (but by no means the entire collection) of Rusty Fish artwork, please visit rustyfish.com

Moleskine Custom Creations

I have always loved office supplies. You drop me at Staples or Office Max and I am good for like 2 hours.  Leave me with some money and I am good for at least 3 hours :) I also adore beautiful design. The geniuses at Moleskine have brought those two loves together in an amazing marriage of good taste.  Artists purchase the classic black notebooks and use their talents to create a work of art… that you can buy and use! Artists inspiring other artists! This is a beautiful thing.  Check out my favorites:

people-i-want-to-punch-in-the-face-moleskine

Created by: JULIENDENOYER of Spain

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map-moleskine

Created by: HAYDEN KAYS in the UK

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lacey-pen-and-ink-moleskine

Created by: BMARIA of Romania

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embroidered-hipster-glasses-moleskine

Created by: DENKIAI in the USA

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blonde-lady-moleskine

Created by: AZREENCHAN in Malaysia

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I am all about supporting the arts, and office supplies. Both of these are causes I can get behind. To see the full (and ever changing) collection, visit: http://artistmarketplace.moleskine.com/en

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WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE???