Starting over… 31 Days of Paper Cuts

Did you ever have one of those projects that
you just folded up and stuck in a drawer?

I have a few.

There’s an afghan that my grandmother began and I was determined to finish. And those super cute 1980’s-style cross-stitched Christmas stockings for each member of the family. (They have their own families now.) There are numerous scrapbook albums. and there’s last year’s 31 Days of Reading Aloud project. There are probably quite a few more, but I’m just going to leave it at that.

I’m pretty much all about making a Fresh Start.

So here it is… Starting today…

31 Days of Paper Cuts!


Stop by this month for an occasional look into my studio, a bit of history on the art of paper cutting and the various styles, tips about tools and techniques, new stuff in the shop, and some freebie patterns so you can try your hand at paper cutting! Starting tomorrow, if you click on the 31 Days of Paper Cuts button, it will take you to a list of all the posts!


How Does Your Garden Grow?

Sometimes a bunch of doodles…


…that have been hanging out in your sketchbook…


…will begin to sprout…


… and even blossom!


It’s funny how your creative ideas reflect
what’s been going on in your heart and mind.

“Bloom where you are planted” and “How Does Your Garden Grow?”
are two little ditties that seem to sum up the thoughts I’ve been mulling
over about being content with what we have yet, not growing stagnant….

…about enjoying this season but preparing for the next…

…about tending the garden of “Home,” and waiting
expectantly for that fresh new blossom to pop open…

…about “Thistle Dew-ing.”


Just put some fun new prints are up in our Etsy Shop to help fund some
of the Blooming and Growing projects escapades around the Frey house!

Click here to pop on over! 


A “Slow Down” sort of Day…

Sometimes you just need one.

A “Slow Down” sort of day.

A day to just do the next thing without
rushing or running or going or fretting.

The past few weeks, I’ve been working on
a new series of prints about “Slowing Down”…

…About enjoying the simplest things in life instead of
dashing through them or rushing past them…

Slowing down long enough to Pick Some Flowers.


Slowing down long enough to Listen to the Birds.


Slow down long enough to Hand out the Wash.


What sort of things do YOU want to slow down and enjoy?

(They might just become a print!)

Photo by our daughter, Kate, of Corner Chair!

Photo by our daughter, Kate, of Corner Chair!

On Living in Delaware…

I live in a small state.

It takes about 45 minutes to drive from the Atlantic
Ocean to the western edge of our state…
…Unless it is Summer and
“beach traffic” is involved.

It takes a little over two hours to drive from the
transpeninsular line that separates us from
Maryland, to the tip of the “Arc” that defines
our boundary against the state of Pennsylvania.

On our state seal, our official motto is
Liberty and Independence…


Delaware is called  The First State
because we were the very first state to
ratify the U.S. Constitution in 1787.

We’re also called The Small Wonderand that nickname is one of my favorites.
Except for some travel courtesy of the Navy, Hubby and I have lived
our whole lives in Delaware,and have experienced the
wonder of growing up in a very small, very connected state.

A state where…
…You can travel two hours and bump into someone you know.
…You are related to just about everyone in some way or another.
…You know your state senators and representatives by their first names.
…You begin making new connections by comparing old connections.

A state where friendships that you make can
open doors later in life that you never expected.


Yesterday, thanks to the encouragement of an old and dear friend,
our family was blessed to be able to spend some time with Governor Markell.

And, because The Diamond State not only shines as a “jewel among states,”
according to Thomas Jefferson, but also as a friend to other nations,
papercuttings made in a Sussex County farmhouse with a red tin roof
made it all the way to some very special people in Israel.


Special thanks to my friend Kathy
and to Governor Markell and his staff
for this very special opportunity!

Branching Out…

In the midst of a long-distance Mother-Daughter phone conversation, somewhere mingled with Design Ideas, Mommy Advice, Airplane Tickets, Business Brainstorming, Children’s Drawings, and Plans-for-When-We-Next-Get-Together, my oldest daughter Jordan and I came up with a Brilliant Plan. While we were talking about the possibilities for developing a single design, the idea of a Grand Collaboration popped into both our heads at just about the same instance! And so did a quote that we both liked…

Home is Where You Are

It’s been nearly four years since Jo’s family has been back on the East Coast, and a good part of our conversation was about  Jo, her Hubby Luke, and her boys Jack and Derik traveling back home to Delaware for a couple of weeks in the late Spring. We’d both been searching online for airline tickets, and let me tell you, the price of airline tickets for four people to go across the country is nothing to sneeze at… As a matter of fact, it could make one swoon and fall over in shock.  But, where there’s a will, there’s a way!

We gals had an Idea…
…Take that single quote about “Home,”
create some Art around it,
and get those designs on the website, post haste!

Home is Where You Are

Jordan was feeling rather artsy that day, and jumped in feet first,
and got the ball rolling by coming up with
a beautiful sketch in her loose, happy style...


Her Mama, on the other hand, was a tad bit slower, and took a couple days
to produce a matching papercutting in her somewhat-tight, in-the-box style…


And then we set to work to produce a sweet line of prints and cuts that we’ll be
selling on our Etsy shops and websites to help play for those tickets!


Click Here to Purchase on our Website!

Or Click Here to Purchase on Etsy!

And don’t forget to stop by THIS POST and leave a comment to enter my current Giveaway!

Adding a Little Value…

My Mom, my brother, and I had an impromptu thrifting adventure last week… They were in a second hand shop about ten minutes from home, and saw some things they thought I might like and called me to come check them out. So I did… Not quite what I needed, but we hopscotched down the highway to several other shops, and at the last shop I found something I wasn’t expecting to find, but definitely something I could use in the art room…


Sitting on an overflowing shelf were three “shapes,” a sphere, a pyramid, and a cube. Just what everyone needs, right? Well, immediately I knew what to do with them… They would be perfect hands-on thing-a-ma-jigs for art classes to help students learn to draw three-dimensional shapes. I’ve been wanting to buy a set for quite a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it, and here was a small set of three, for only $4! I didn’t know how heavy they were until we picked them up to carry them to the counter. Once I brought them home, I realized their intended purpose. The cube had the original tag from (insert famous brand store name) that said “Set of three paperweights… $58” Well! As you can see, we soon put them to their proper use while cutting backing paper for frames! Though I would have never paid $58 for three paperweights, it sure did feel good to know their value.

“Value” means “how much,” and in most cases we think about money or worth when we hear it. Value is also an element or building block of art and design. The last two weeks, we’ve been experimenting with Value in art class… the amount of lightness or darkness an object has. We discovered that extreme darks or heavy shadows can allow the light areas of a work of art to become focal points. And we played with making tints and shades by adding white or black to paint to create some interesting contrasts…


To add a bit more “Value” or “worth” to my Home is Where the Heart Is design, I played around with it by fancy-ing up the border. My favorite papercut border is a bit lacy or icy-looking, but it adds several hours to the cutting process, so I usually reserve it for “one-of-a-kind” paper cuts. But… if my new “assistant” can help with the snipping, I could add that border to the design! Sooo… I re-cut it!


What little things do you do to add value to your daily work?


If you missed my last post… There’s a Giveaway to sign up for…
Pop over and leave a comment!

Expanding a Design…

We’ve been filling quite a few special orders around here, and it’s been difficult for me to switch gears and get some new designs “up and going.” I find it hard to strike a balance between producing old designs and playing around with new ones… Either the former or the latter takes over, and something always falls between the cracks. However, the idea of “Home” has been consistently coming to the front of my foggy brain, and a new design has recently emerged…


I’ve been wanting to try cutting something larger with my brand new Silhouette Cameo, and this is the first cutting of this design that came “off the press,” so to speak! When I learned about the Cameo, I had mixed feelings. Something similar to how the lacemakers, weavers, and spinners must have felt when the Industrial Revolution hit and factories began making in a few moments what took them hours, or even days to create. Watching that amazing machine cut away at paper had me and my entire family standing there in awe… And in my mind I was thinking “I’ve just been downsized!”

But then I tried to look at the other side of the coin.

I’ve been cutting paper for almost a quarter of a century. Every day. I love it, but must admit that I often fuss about how my eyes hurt now when I push them beyond their daily limit, and  grumble about a sore arm and neck when I’ve been doing lots of papercutting. Maybe it WAS time to take on an assistant. So, during the rest of March, I’m going to play around with this design, exploring the many ways that it can be expanded into products… and hopefully make the best use of technology in the process. Stay tuned!

And… A Giveaway!

The above electronically-cut papercutting
Home is Where the Heart Is
(Mounted on Lime card stock, Fits an 8″ x 10″ frame)
will be given away at the end of this month!

Leave a comment on this post to enter…

…You can include ideas for ways to expand this design if you’d like…

… And we’ll have a drawing on March 31st to determine the winner!

How do I love thee?

Are you getting geared up for Valentine’s Day?


I didn’t realize it, but over the past year I’ve been decorating our new
hand-me-down bedroom with some really sweet memories!


I didn’t want to “over do” the decorating,
or just quickly fill the room with a lot of “things,”
but as special little treasures caught my heart
I tucked them in our room, sort of here and there…


Some have a REALLY special place in my heart,
like this tiny little painted rock…


…which I got for my 12th birthday…

…from Guess Who?



Sometimes a little trinket like my rock will be
tucked away in a box or drawer for many years.

Or maybe a special card will be saved…


We just added a few new designs to our shop…


…Just in case you haven’t found the perfect card yet for your Valentine!


Bear with us…

Hey Folks!

I made the crazy decision this week to switch our main website
from to…

 …and somehow managed to do it with only two tech support calls!

But now the pages aren’t working, so I may need to make one more call.

Unless it’s just because today is the “switcheroo day”
and the dust hasn’t quite settled down yet.

That’s what I’m hoping.

E-mail might be a bit weird for a day or so also.

If anyone needs to contact me, you can do so at…

thistledewmercantile (at)