Artist as Leader

Hey all, it’s been a while!

Things have been a little wild here, between shifting careers and finding time to be creative. I want to let you know that I am still around. Just a few updates for those of you who may not know me!

Artist and Maker

I identify as a female and use my preferred pronouns of she/her/hers. I acknowledge my privilege of my racial identity as a Caucasian and my privilege due to being of able-body and able-mind.

The past few months, I’ve been participating on a journey with like-minded individuals as we chase our dream projects and most recently discovered our identities as artist leaders. I know what you might be thinking, artist leaders? I know what an artist is, and a leader, but an artist leader? I will say at the beginning, I felt the very same way. I never associated my art practice with my leadership style. I thought they were separate. I thought my identity did not overlap in ways that I now know, they actually do. So what is an artist leader? Great question!

Artist leaders vary, the journey began with A LOT of self discovery. The opportunity to assess our privilege, our identity, and what’s important to us. My journey began with an introspective look as to how I became “Gracie Love”. In the beginning, there was just art. And my art lead me to build the brand of Gracie Love, of who I am as an artist. Bright colors, LOTS of patterns, and a bubbly personality. A lot like other creative individuals, my identity became entwined with my brand. After looking inward, there was still a lot to understand about how I could be an artist and a leader, together, as an artist leader.

Strengths and weaknesses were next. But let’s not call them weaknesses, how about opportunity zones? I knew as a leader outside of my artistic endeavors, I always was a leader through love and support, but now my lens was through my actions and identity as an artist. What were those strengths? What were those opportunity zones?

My strengths included developing instincts, experimenting, authenticity and most important to me failure and resilience. These strengths had connections to my artist identity, to my leadership identity, and fully embody my strengths as an artist leader. My opportunity zones included my passion, my discipline, and my rigor. These are areas that I let fall to the way side. I know my goals but I don’t always follow through and some times that passion is lost. My opportunity zones are ones that will benefit me as an artist leader and fully in my life.

I learned through this course and discovery process of myself as an artist leader, that there is overlap in many aspects of my life. There is a connection to the way I create art, the way I lead, and the way I contribute to society as an artist leader. So what is an artist leader? To me, an artist leader is someone who is self-aware, understands their identity and privilege, knows who their audience is, what their goals are, and how to accomplish those goals.

An artist leader may not always have the answers, but they will do their best to find them.

Until we create again,

Gracie Love

Pizza, but make it Valentine’s

White pizza and Buffalo Chicken pizza

On my way home from work, my partner texted me suggesting I should get a pizza crust ready. He had picked up the supplies for a buffalo chicken pizza, and knowing I’m the household skilled baker, that I could tackle the crust for us. Of course, the message ended with a thoughtful, “if you would want pizza?” If I want pizza?! Pizza has always been my biggest weakness. I would eat pizza for three meals a day, seven days a week. So of course I was in.

Now you may be thinking, “wait…I thought Gracie was gluten and dairy free?”

And I’m here to let you know, that pizza can be all of those things. Have I tried all of the different store bought crusts? Yes. Were they good? I will tell you right now, I do not have plans to buy any of those concoctions ever again. They just were not my favorite, so here I am, to help you accomplish your gluten and dairy free pizza dreams.

Start by gathering your supplies, I grabbed my most trusted pizza crust recipe. Prior to being gluten and dairy free, when the pandemic required a stay-at-home order, my partner and I purchased a 25 lb. bag of flour. Let’s just say, pizza was one of our go-to’s as we stayed home. So trusted recipe, definitely, but the concern was, how would a gluten free flour react in it? After some reading, Bob’s Red Mill suggested not to use their 1 to 1 Flour because of the yeast in the crust, so I grabbed my Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Flour.

Pizza dough recipe:

2.5 cups of flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour)
1 packet of rapid rise yeast (make sure it is GF if needed)
1 tsp of salt

Mix 2 cups of flour with dry ingredients and set aside

1 cup warm water (make sure it is not too hot or it will kill your yeast!)
2 Tblspn Oil ( I used organic Suncoco)

Add wet ingredients until combined (note, I did need to add more flour as it seemed really running). Knead 4-6 minutes until elastic. Set aside and cover, I usually place mine on my preheating oven to add to the rise. Let rise for at least 10 minutes. Then shape and top to your desire!

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

Although I am dairy free, we are not vegan. So our buffalo chicken pizza was topped with Earth Grown Dairy Free Ranch, Daiya Cheese, Aldi’s Organic Chicken, and Organic bacon from North Country Smokehouse. My partner and I try our hardest to ensure we eat the best ingredients possible, so we shop organic as much as possible. Let’s just say, even he was impressed by the pizza!

Please note, this post is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. I’m just sharing some of my favorite finds.

I’ve tried a lot of gluten and dairy free items and have found, when possible to made in home, I enjoy it more. Better control of ingredients and an understanding of the process. Most store-bought gluten free crusts just don’t seem to have the loft of a traditional pizza crust. This recipe allowed for a more traditional taste. As far as dairy free cheeses, I’m still not convinced it is my favorite solution, but I have found that Daiya makes the best for use on top of pizza.

So go ahead and eat your hearts out, because pizza can be free of gluten and dairy.

Until we bake again,

Gracie Love

Eat your heart out

Grapes of Wrath

This past winter has been a tough one on us in East Tennessee, the winter storms have downed many trees and created treacherous travel conditions. Although the winter snow if beautiful, finding trees down on your property line creates a larger task: cleanup. Luckily, as we were clearing a large downed tree, we came across this giant bundle of grape vine that had been growing on the top of the tree. Why would I say luckily? Well, no one was harmed when the tree came down, and having an abundance of grapevine meant trying my hand at making my own wreath.

Tangled grapevine

In my past, I’ve made a variety of wreaths from many different bases. Having the base of a wreath be natural grapevine, means that the wreath is more environmentally friendly than Styrofoam or other wreath bases. A grapevine wreath can be d├ęcor on it’s own or can be decorated with embellishments from faux flowers to other items. The first step is to process the giant web of tangled grapevine for usable lengths. Some advice when processing wild brush, I wear long sleeves, gloves, and eye protection to protect myself. I grabbed my best pair of garden shears and headed outside.

When processing the vine, I tried to find the longest lengths possible, this makes it possible to create a larger wreath. Although some places recommend using similar sized pieces, I found that having a variety of thickness in the vines catered to my aesthetics. After cutting multiple lengths of grape vine, create a circle with a single piece. Weave the ends around themselves, it’s easiest to process the vine when it is damp. Mine had been sitting outside in damp conditions and did not need soaked, however you can always soak your grapevine for about 30 minutes to an hour to make it easier to manipulate.

Once your first circle is created, weave in other strands until you have the size wreath you wanted to create. While weaving the strands in, its best to create a tighter twist around the circle to keep all pieces connected. If your circle starts to look a little more like an oval, I found that by pushing some pressure on it from above to the ground helped make it round again. Keep twisting, weaving, and adding vine to your liking. I finished my ends by tucking in as much as possible and then closely trimming the ends.

Finished wreath

Once your wreath is the size and shape you want, it needs to cure. Curing allows for the moisture to dry out of the wreath and helps create a sturdier structure. Lay your wreaths flat to cure and let sit for at least 24 hours, however the longer you can let them cure the better. After curing, your wreath is ready to hang or become a canvas for additional decorations.

The best part about this craft?! Thanks to Mother Nature, it is completely free.

Until we create again,

Gracie Love

Ringing in the New Year

Do you have any resolutions this year? Or are you trying to find a way to adjust your lifestyle?

I’m not usually one to set resolutions, as I don’t want to find out two days in I’ve given up. However, I am all about adjusting my lifestyle if needed and even resetting my mindset. For 2021, my plan is to focus on self-care and being brave. At the end of 2020, I was diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). With that diagnosis, I went down the internet rabbit hole in finding information and learning about ways that I could more naturally lessen symptoms. That research brought to light that choosing to go gluten and dairy free would be the best maintenance plan for so many reasons. Although I am not a health professional, from what I researched and learned, I realized that choosing to make this lifestyle change could assist me in potential health risks associated with PCOS.

So here I am almost two months in and I’ve been able to stick to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle. Being brave was one of the first steps I faced in choosing to change my dietary habits. Luckily, I have a lot of friends who are great gurus on the subjects and assisted me in navigating good substitutions. However, with this lifestyle change, I am also focusing on eating less packaged and processed foods. So as part of 2021, my sister Gabby and myself, are going to also start adding recipe creations. Most of these will be our beloved baking recipes converted to a gluten and dairy free version, but who knows what we may discover.

Does the start of the New Year have you making plans? Scared you won’t stick with them?

Here are my tips on tackling and staying with those plans:

  1. Be Brave
    • Creating a new habit can be so hard. Realizing you have a plan or even a glimmer of an idea is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really want to kick-off the new year with a lasting habit, be brave. By being brave, you can be honest with yourself. You will know where you are starting and where you want to go. Taking the first step is the hardest part, and bravery is the way to get there.
  2. Share Your Story
    • This does not mean you need to tell the world, you just need to tell yourself! Share your story with who you are comfortable with and when you are comfortable sharing. The first step in realizing your plans can be simply by writing them down, just for you. The first step could also be by sharing your plan with the whole world via Instagram. The sharing part is important, but the size and scale are up to you.
  3. Love Yourself
    • This such an important part of the process. Many times resolutions fall to the wayside when we get busy or we just simply don’t want to do it anymore. If life gets in the way and your plans fall to the wayside, do not beat yourself up. Instead gather yourself, ground yourself, remember to love yourself. Find a way to get back on track, if that is what you want to do, if not, find a new track. Loving yourself is such an important aspect of a new journey, finding ways to stay in tune with who you are and what you are attempting to accomplish succeeds because of self-love.
  4. Keep Your Eyes on The Prize
    • If you know me, you know I am very competitive. Although you do not have to be competitive to succeed in your goals and dreams, you do need to remember what you will gain when you accomplish your goals or plans. I like to think about this accomplishment by, “keeping my eyes on the prize”. Your prize is your goal or what you will gain, this is important to remember every step of the way. Even with a complete lifestyle change, the prize could be what you are actively gaining. For me, my current prize is that I already feel healthier having changed my dietary habits for 2.5 months.

As 2021 begins, remember it’s okay to take it easy and not dive right into a new change. Listen to your body, listen to your needs, and discover what will work for you. For me, this year will be a focus on tuning in to my needs and more importantly, being brave.

Cheers to 2021,

Gracie Love

Deck the Halls

Looking to add some handmade flair to your holiday decorations? Look no further.

This year has been full of so many yarn crafts. My partner suggested I keep all of my scraps in case I could ever use them in the future. As pretty as these colorful scraps look in mason jars around our home, I felt they needed a better life. To all my fiber followers, this craft is perfect for those left over odds and ends that you just can’t seem to throw away.

All you need is some clear ornaments and your yarn scraps. I added some glitter I had laying around for some extra twinkle.

When picking out ornaments to fill, just make sure to find ones that have tops that are removable. This ensures you are able to fill and seal them.

Create along by:

Remove top

Fill with as much yarn as you want

Add any extras like glitter or confetti

Replace lid. Add wire or string to hang.

This easy craft is perfect for the whole family to create along with and can add to those extra special holiday memories for years to come. Even better, create these as gifts to give to loved ones. Add names or an inspirational word with a paint marker and you have a one of a kind gift.

Deck the Halls

There’s no better way than spreading good cheer through a handmade holiday.

Happy crafting,

Gracie Love

Season’s Greetings

What better way to greet someone to your home than a seasonal wreath? Although you may not be hosting guests this year due to the pandemic, your front door could use some seasonal sprucing up. This year I fell in love with a large container of pink and mixed metallic ornaments at the store. Luckily for me, my partner was more than happy with the change in ornaments on our tree. The pack had almost 50 ornaments, which is way too many to cover our tree. I knew just what to do with the extras and have created this tutorial for you to add a touch of the season to your front door.

Create-along and make your own ornament wreath

To create this wreath, you will need hot glue and Christmas ornaments. Place ornaments in a circle depending on how large you want your wreath. It may be easiest to have a large bowl or circle shaped item to hold all of the ornaments. Use hot glue to connect each ornament in a circular fashion. I found it easiest to use a sharpie to mark the perfect connection when I started to add more ornaments to complete the circle.

Once your wreath is glued and connected, add a ribbon so it can hang. I chose a beautiful blush velvet, but pick what is perfect for your preference. My ribbon was larger so I chose to create a smaller finished look by gluing it together. I then added to cuffs for some visual detail and my wreath was ready to hang.

I chose to hang my wreath inside on a mirror. The possibilities are endless for places to hang your wreaths and the ability to bring matching decor around the home is endless. I know that for future holiday seasons, I will make sure to pull out this wreath and spruce up the space inside our home with some matching decor to our Christmas tree.

Thanks for creating along,

Gracie Love

Sweater Weather

As the weather gets colder, what better way to enjoy those snowy days at home than with the perfect pair of earrings. As a self-proclaimed polymer clay junkie, I couldn’t think of a better project than to show you how to knit with clay. All you’ll need for this project is a space to work on, polymer clay, and some simple tools. The best part about clay knitting?! It’s a lot more forgiving than working with yarn and needles.

Tools and supplies:
Clay roller
X-acto knife
Nail or pintool
Cookie cutter
Polymer clay
Finishing tools

The first step is to condition your clay. Conditioning polymer clay makes it easier to work with, I condition my clay by pressing it between my hands. If your clay is too stiff to do this, I usually will roll my clay multiple times until it starts to feel more flexible.

Conditioning Clay
Conditioning Clay

After conditioning your clay, it’s time to begin. Roll multiple skinny snakes to act as your yarn. Try to keep these equal in length and thickness for an even looking knit. The best way to roll a long snake in polymer clay is to move your hands across the snake as you create it.

Rolling Snakes

Once your snakes are made, you are ready to knit. Choose two snakes and press them together at the top. Twist the snakes clockwise and press every once in a while to ensure they stay connected. The second set of snakes, turn counter-clockwise, this helps you make a knit stitch look when they are stacked together.

After you have enough snake twists built, you can start clay knitting. Slightly press together twisted snakes that are twisted oppositely. Keep connecting until you have enough for what you are creating. At this point, I recommend rolling out a very thin slab and laying your clay knitting on top. Use a roller to lightly press down the clay knitting to connect it to the block. For rounded edges, use plastic wrap over the clay when using a cookie cutter to get the desired shape. Bake according to the instructions of your polymer clay and finish to your desire.

I finished my sweater weather hats by rolling a ball to create a poof. I used a nail to lightly create a dotted texture and then placed a hole in each piece to be able to connect the hats. I added sterling silver earring backs and wore these around the fire. Although we may not be able to go anywhere during the pandemic, who says you can’t dress up to stay in?

Thanks for creating along, I’d love to see how you chose to clay knit. Share your photos in the comments or #createalongwithgracielove on social media.

Until next time,

Gracie Love

A New Thanksgiving

Hi friends,

I hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend while staying safe and healthy. Ben and I had Thanksgiving with just the two of us at home. This year was our first adventure of cooking a Thanksgiving for two but also in making an allergen free meal. I recently have chosen to change my eating habits to a gluten and dairy free lifestyle due to a health diagnosis. Lucky for me, there are so many resources and healthy substitutions out there. Even luckier for me, a man who loves butter more than anything in the world is supporting my lifestyle change by pursuing this new gf/df lifestyle.

So Thanksgiving was full of adventures even though we stayed home in Tennessee with just the two of us.

So what did our Thanksgiving spread consist of if I can’t have gluten or dairy in my life? Thanks to Audrey at Mama Knows Gluten Free, Ben and I were able to make everything we love to eat on Thanksgiving. Our meal included: turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, cranberry sauce, creamed corn, rolls, stuffing, and green bean casserole. Our meal was fantastic, and I shrunk most of the recipes down so that we did not overcook. Take a look at our gluten and dairy free feast:

While the dinner rolls did not come out the best, luckily my pie experiment did. If you know me, you know I’m an avid baker that has made many cookies, pies, and cakes in my life. This March when flour was hard to find, we purchased a 25 lb. bag and by October nearly all of it was gone. I made many pandemic pies, biscuits, and so much more. Thinking about how I could go gluten free and flour free made me panic at first, but luckily I have a gluten free guru in my friend Hannah. Hannah mentioned some great flour substitutes and ones to stay away from! So as I wanted to use my original and favorite pie crust recipe, I subbed the flour for gluten free flour and subbed the butter for non-dairy plant based butter. For the filling I used almond milk, pie puree, brown sugar, a variety of spices and a pinch of salt.

And my goodness, it turned out wonderful. I even enjoyed the pie the next few days for breakfast and dessert.

Now that I’m facing a new lifestyle that is gluten and dairy free, my blog will shift to include recipes and lifestyle. This journey is important to share with everyone and I’m happy to say my sister Gabby, an expert baker, is already up to the task of converting our favorite recipes to allergen friendly.

This year has been really tough on all of us, but one thing I know. I am so incredibly thankful, everyday, for the people in my life that support and love me.

What are you thankful for?

Stay tuned for some more crafts that will be perfect for those chilly days ahead. And seriously, check out Mama Knows Gluten Free for some great recipes.

Until next time friends,

Gracie Love

Feeling Thankful

The season of giving thanks has arrived and what better way to celebrate than with a themed craft. There are so many things I am thankful and every November I strive to be grateful for all that is around me. Although this year may look very different due to the pandemic, I felt it was important to add a special addition to my wall decor. Although Thanksgiving is right around the corner, hopefully this craft will inspire you for future creations.

This craft features fake leaves and wooden circle; the variety of materials are the perfect medley for a fall feeling. Learn how to create your own bow and even twine string in this create along.

The Endless Movement

Watch our award-winning showreel

Thanks for stopping by for my create along, I look forward to creating more with you in the future.

Take care,

Gracie Love

Spooky, but make it cute

October has arrived and what better way to feel festive than with a garland fit for the season?!

Today’s #createalong features this DIY Ghost Garland. Looking for that perfect instagram worthy decoration? Look no further with this BOO-tiful decoration.

Spooky, but make it cute.

To start, a few things you’ll need:

-Print out ghost shape
-White and black felt
-Sewing pins
-Hot glue gun and glue sticks
-Needle and black thread
-Optional: pom-poms

What’s great about this decoration, is that most any ghost shape will do. In fact you can even change up the ghost style to add dimension to your garland. To spice up my garland, I added fun pom-poms in between my felt ghosts.

Step One:

Cut out ghosts using white felt. Create as many as you want, best in odd numbers so one can be centered when hanging.

Pro tip: double up your felt to cut two pieces at one time for a matching pair to sew together. This also speeds up the process.

Step Two

With two pieces of felt together, use a blanket stitch to sew the pieces together. Make sure your stitches are even and maybe even practice on some scrap felt.

Blanket stitch close up

Step Three

Continue to stitch all the way around until you reach the bottom. Important not to fully close the felt since you will need to stuff the ghost with poly-fil.

Stuff the ghost and then continue using the blanket stitch to close the shape. Tie off at the end with a secure knot.

Stuffing the ghost

Step Four

Cut out small oval shaped eyes from black felt. Remember you can always double up your felt when cutting to make both eyes the same shape.

Use hot glue to attach the eyes to the felt.

Close up: hot gluing eyes

Step Five

Using your black thread, now you can create your ghoulish garland. Measure the length of garland you want and double up the thread for strength.

Attach your ghosts by sewing through the shapes to place on garland. I alternated pom-poms between my ghosts for an added decor touch.

When finished, tie your end strings and hang around your home!

Finished ghost garland

Ready to create your own? Download this template for instructions and a ghost cut-out to start with!

Thanks for creating along, I hope you had a ghoulish time creating with me today.

Until next time,

Gracie Love