Tea Towels

Passion Project


When it comes to decorating my house I have one simple rule: it must function and it must look good. It’s one rule because there’s no choosing between them – it must be both.  We live in an old mill house (1919 to be exact), and our part of the house is just over 600sf.  When you have limited space you cannot afford to have things that just look pretty and take up space, and (call me superficial but) likewise you can’t have ugly things because they’ll likely be on display… all the time.

Which is what gets me about tea towels.

HT-TeaTowels2I go to shops such as Anthroplogie and drool over their beautiful tea towels, only to come home and find that that’s all they do: look beautiful.  They spread lint all over my dishes and then leave them half wet.  It drives me insane. Not only are they costly, but they’re rubbish!  And that my friends, is why I decided to take matters into my own hands.

After doing a bit of research I found that linen is one of the most absorbent fabrics, most GOOD tea towels are a linen/cotton blend.  I wanted to make sure these worked, so I tried both the 100% linen and the linen/cotton blend and the pure linen won by far!  My sister and I did a test run last week and there was no lint and no water.  So they function. And to make them pretty, well, if you know me, you know that I live for stripes and polka dots so it was a no brainer as to what the pattern was going to be.


I loved hand painting, sewing and playing with the patterns, thinking about what they would look like hanging on the oven handle or kitchen island, and I even added a little ribbon on the back so they can be hung too.

I haven’t been this excited about a project since, well, I can’t remember.  But bottom line is that these have been an absolute joy to work on and I hope that you will enjoy using them too.  You can now buy them in my very own shop, or you live in Bend, they’ll be on sale at Armature Bend, and at Craft-O on December 13th and 14th at the Old Iron Works Arts District.

Close Up Patterns

I’d like to thank my wonderful husband  who drove me around Portland looking for supplies and my incredible studio mates (Kelly, Karen & Gabe, Leah and Wallis) at Armature who have all shared in my excitement and really encouraged me to make these!



When Friends Fall in Love

Passion Project, Personal, Photography

Kat + Cam

It’s a wonderful thing watching your friends fall in love.  I have known Kat for about 7 years now, and over the last 3.5 years (the time I’ve lived in the States) we’ve gotten to know each other even more, talking about life, work, marriage and everything in between.

Kat and Cameron have known each other since college, they’ve always been great friends. But after spending last summer in Europe together something changed, and all of a sudden a different conversation was taking place.  There were some logistics that needed to be dealt with, she was here in Bend, and he was in Hong Kong.  And a 13hr time difference that meant extra effort to make it work. But they did it. And when Cam moved back to the States this summer, he didn’t waste any time in asking her to be his bride… and so he put a ring on her finger and they set a date.


I’m so excited for these two, and it was so much fun taking their pictures. Kat knows I’m not a pro, but like taking pictures so she asked me to do their engagement shoot since their wedding photographer is in Hawaii.  My skills have a long way to go, but it sure is a privilege and a hell of a lot of fun to be able to use them for things like this.

Eli + Jana: An Engagement Shoot

Passion Project, Personal, Photography

IMG_7180 copy

I am not a professional photographer. Nor do I claim to be one. But I don’t think it’s a secret that I love taking pictures.  Over the last two years I’ve stopped taking so many because the idea of spending hours editing all of them just became overwhelming. But when my brother-in-law and his fiancee asked me to take theirs, I just couldn’t say no. And it was SO much fun! We got there a little late for the ‘golden hour’, but we got some pretty good shots.

I shared their story of how they got engaged last month and posted their wedding mood board, so it would be just rude to not share their engagement pics… how happy do they look?!



Enjoying My Obscurity + Passion Projects

Passion Project

HeylenThienes -Roar

This weekend, I realized three things: I need to enjoy my obscurity, I need to work on side projects to rekindle my love for design every now and again, and I need to make more things with my hands.

I’ve been reading ‘Steal Like an Artist’ by Austin Kleon, and in his ‘The Secret: Do good work and share with people’ chapter he talks about how we need to enjoy our obscurity and the freedom it allows us in doing whatever we want as there’s no pressure – leading to fun, random (side) projects, that inspire us to do other great things.  Being fairly new to the blogging world, I would say that yes, I’m definitely obscure, I don’t have thousands of readers and it’s mostly my friends and family that read this blog, which is great because those are the people that hold me most accountable.

But this sparked something  that led to the other two things that I realized. And I decided to go back to the thing that actually got me started in graphic design, the love of fashion magazines and collages, getting my hands dirty;  so I picked up my copy of Vogue from March 2012, grabbed my scissors and glue and took over the dining table. And you can see the results above and below. HeylenThienes-March While I don’t think I’m going to be the next collage artist, I did really enjoy doing this, and I specifically enjoyed the idea of being obscure, it had never occurred to me that I’m working on something so special,  what I do with my time and skills is unique and constantly growing and getting better; and even though my work is not famous and  sometimes it’s frustrating  to be ‘unknown’, it’s fun to be obscure and allow myself this freedom to grow naturally.

 Top: Illustration from a Manalo Blahnik ad, Bottom: Mila Kunis for Dior.