Friday, December 30, 2011

Leaves done, mini collage

Well, Christmas is over, the cookies have all been baked (and mostly eaten), the cards have been sent and the wrapping paper explosion has been cleaned up.

So now its time to get back to our regularly scheduled works already in progress. And there are a bunch of them! I'll just blog about a couple of them today.

At the top of my "must get done" list is the underwater/mermaid piece. I've been sewing all of those pesky seaweed leaflets down and they are finally done, outlined and the backs trimmed out. Whew!
That actually took quite a while (last week or so) but I haven't posted cuz, honestly, how many pictures of gold leaflets on a royal blue background does a body want to see?

OK, well, here are a couple, anyway. But I'm only including them because I'm done with the little buggers.

First is the whole piece (more or less), laying (as usual) on my bed. Its a long, vertical piece so I think I will have to start taping it to a wall to give a more accurate rendition. This shot probably looks pretty much like the last picture I showed so here's a detail picture.

Hopefully you can see some of the stitching. I'm happy with them and happy to move on to the mermaid and other elements.

One of my New Year's resolutions is to to be more active creatively on several fronts: start more art, finish more art and sell more art. That includes getting organized and entering more shows. I slacked off in 2011 and I feel like I need to get back in the groove. Pulling entries together and getting them submitted is always a chore and inevitably takes 5 times longer than you think it will and this past year I just didn't have the energy. But I feel like I can handle it again so I got an entry submitted (all online) today (deadline is tomorrow). Its a collage based show, so its kinda a new sort of venue for me. I had 3 pieces already completed that I thought were appropriate and I reworked/finished a 4th one yesterday for inclusion.

Check it out! Its a little piece (see the energy drink pop top?) with bright colors and lots of itsy bitsy details.

I sure hope it (and its brethren) get in to the show, but supposedly I won't find out until the end of March or so. Keep you fingers crossed for me!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Card fail and then subsequent redemption

Well, it almost never happens, but this year's original Christmas card was a failure. :(  I liked the design and the finished card looked pretty darn good but production of 60 cards was just not to be.

See how nice they turned out?


Unfortunately, all of that lovely fine glitter clogged up the acetate stencil that I had cut and it became a constant battle of cleaning out the stencil every second or third spraying. If I didn't do it that often the glitter started filling in the narrow lines of the letters, dammit. So I did that, starting to grumble. But then when the stencil started to break/tear at some of the narrow places, I saw the handwriting on the wall.

It was just not going to happen. 20 cards? yeah, I would have toughed it out. But 60? no way.
Time to regroup. Remember: "its not a mistake, its a design opportunity". Right? Right!

Ok. Well, I already had a stack of pre-sprayed background cards so it had to involve them. I did not wish to go back to the drawing board and spend an excessive amount of time conceptualizing so I (guiltily) rehashed a designed from a few years ago with a textured paper star. An added plus: I still had some of that textured paper and was happy to use it up.

Here's my nice fat star template--I like him!

And here is my stack of textured stars. You can barely make it out, but they, too, have been sprayed with the gold glitter spray from Lowe's. Holding the spray can at a sharp angle while spraying allowed the glitter to get in the closer crevasses and not in the away crevasses, making for a nice effect. (You'll have to take my word for it; I know it doesn't really show up here).
A sheet of foam that I had saved from some shipment or other gave its life to make some little rectangles.
(extra points for recycling and keeping a piece foam out of the landfill)
And then out comes the glue gun and attaches all of that foam to the stars....
and then the stars to the cards!

And that is it. Whew--I'm done. Crisis averted. Yay!

 Time to start addressing those cards now...

Monday, December 12, 2011


Its been a busy weekend and I made a fair amount of progress on several fun projects. So here are some interim updates on three different works I've got going. {Don't ask me why I have so many projects going, sometimes it just happens that way. Just a little crazy sometimes, I guess.} And I'm not even going to mention the 3 different kinds of Christmas cookie dough that I have chilling in the fridge. gack! Never mind--you didn't hear that--

Anyway, On my large underwater piece, I sewed down some bias tape stems for some seaweed as you can see here. I personally love Clover iron on bias tape. Its so nice and curveable.  You still have to tack it down, of course, or it will pop off after some handling. The only downside to this wonderful stuff is that its difficult to come by in colors. Usually you only find it in black (folks use it for making "stained glass" quilts). Every once in a blue moon I stumble upon it in other colors and when I do, I snap it up. So I went to my stash and found some mottled light brown tape--perfect. Also a little gold for just a short stretch.

After that was done, I spent some nice, contemplative time laying out the leaflets of the seaweed--quite a few tan ones, some yellow and a few gold ones cut into 6 different sizes. I want it to look like some of them are catching the light underwater and flashing it back at you.

Obviously, I have a lot of leaves to sew down now. I'll be doing some raw edge applique to accomplish that. Since I fused all the leaf fabric to some Pelon Shirtailor interfacing, I will have no trouble doing that with a narrow satin stitch. I got a few of them done over the weekend but by no means all. Its fiddly work and I can only concentrate for so long before I start losing my focus and start getting sloppy.

When that happens, I have found that its just no good trying to "power through" or some such. I'll just make more and more mistakes and get supremely aggravated. Maybe even have to pick out some stitches. Which I hate doing, but I'll force myself if I've made a botch of things. At least in this medium you can do that unlike other media.

So when I exhausted myself on the leaves, I took myself off to the kitchen to design this year's Christmas card. Keeping it simple this year and no textiles, either. Something with some spray paint and an acetate stencil seemed the way to go.
Here's my sketch in the actual card dimensions on the left. I'm seeing lots of glittery gold. I bought some holiday spray glitter at Lowe's last weekend and I'm thinking that it might be just the thing.

And here is the acetate sheet half cut out. I'm not a big fan of working with an Exacto knife, but I worked slow and steady and kept it together and did an ok job of making a nice stiff stencil.

And then, since I've had a several sales from my etsy site recently, I worked on replacing some of the inventory of my biggest seller: business sized envelopes. So relaxing to trace and cut these out and then so fun to fold them and watch them become an envelope. Its a simple thing but I get a big charge out of it for each and every one.


When the weekend was over, I felt so accomplished. Even though I didn't get anything technically completed, I still was deeply satisfied.

And its just as much about the process as it is about the product, isn't it??

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Doggie sweater

Well, its finally getting a little cool here in central Florida so us humans are donning our hoodies and maybe even thinking about a sweater (in a month or so, anyway). The corgis have long since laid down their winter fur (you'd think it was the arctic or something) so they're all prepared and then some.


If you're a miniature pinscher and cold weather is a'comin, you are none too happy, seeing as how you have no fur to speak of on your tummy and not much anywhere else.

May I introduce the smallest member of our household? This is Gidget, a rescue doggie (like our other two).

She's my daughter's dog and loves to cuddle and be fussed over and wear clothes (really!). And, of course, she gets cold and is always looking for that really warm spot to curl up in and have a nap. One day, I came home and went upstairs to take her out and she did not greet me at the door when I opened it like she usually does.

I soon saw the reason why--she had found Fiona's sweatshirt on the floor, pawed at it and crawled into it until she was all snuggly and warm. When she tried to get out, she left via the sleeve and this is how I found her. Oh my, I laughed until I cried. She had wormed her way halfway across the room and had only managed to wedge herself in even tighter. Poor thing was mortified so I liberated her right away (after I ran and got my camera).

So even though she has some store bought clothes, I decided a nice custom made knit sweater would be just the ticket for this little girl. That way I could compensate for her exact dimensions and really cover most of those bare parts and use up some of the odds and ends in my stash as well. So I got out my double pointed sock needles and a variety of cotton, silk and linen leftover yard and started knitting away. No pattern--I'm winging it and living dangerously. I suppose I could have searched for a pattern online, but I'm pretty confident I can whip up something appropriate. Here's the early progress: knit in the round from the neck down, some short rows in the chest and then leg holes on some stitch holders.

Here's a close-up of the yarn. I'm knitting with two strands: a beige/white cotton linen yarn (I had 3 balls of that) and something else (one of my many little oddballs that I compulsively save). Knitting with the cotton linen yarn blends all of the oddballs together despite their varying weights and colors/values so I'm pretty pleased so far.

So stay tuned--this will be done soon and I'll post the finished product up close and being modeled as well. :)

Underwater under construction

Hello all! I'm finally back in the swing of things so I have several things to post about. Yay!

After many moons, I have picked up my under water quilt once again and decided to just get a move on. I had been strop piecing the background with various shades of royal and navy blue, but had gotten bogged down (=bored) with endless blue, blue, blue strips, strips strips. I had made 6 strips and sewed them together but they were not wide enough for the dimensions I envisioned. Bleah!

As I was browsing the internet this one evening last weekend, I came across Sherri Lynn Wood's awesome tutorial on how to sew curved seams and something just clicked! I cut my long 6 strip wide panel in half, sewed it to itself to make a 12 strip wide piece and then cut it up into gentle curves.

Those got inserted between swatches of some of the same solid fabrics I used in the strips. et Voila! A lovely, shimmery underwater background in the size I wanted. Sherri is hosting a Mod Mood quilt archive for folks that have used her technique and are making a Mod Mood quilt--check it out!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Recycled Art, finished at last

     Sorry for my month-long absence, dear readers. Its been a busy time at work, but today I was finally able to get some work done in my studio. Nothing new, mind you, but I did some good solid work on 3 works in progress. Sewed some more strips onto the 8 Gerbera pieces and made a sleeve and pinned it onto the Blade Garden quilt. And then I decided that I absolutely had to finish the recycled materials piece. Its been sitting around for a month or so, unfinished and crying out for something. Wasn't quite sure what, but something.

       So its been sitting around and I have been trying out different doodads and this and that and just haven't been happy with any of it. So I decided that today it was do or die. And after trying out a bunch of different recycled items to keep with the theme (and because you know I save all sorts of interesting stuff, of course) and here is what I came up with. You can see I ended up adding a cool beer bottle cap, two energy drink tabs, a cut-out phrase from an Altoid tin and a couple of fortune cookie fortunes. And, if you check them out in the close-up shot, you can see that they are appropriate for a piece of art.

So here's the final list of all of the recycled materials that I used in this piece. All were found around the house or used my me or my family:
-vinyl from some bedding packaging
-a piece of fabric from a repurposed vintage t-shirt
-a used dryer sheet
-bread twist ties
-beer bottle cap
-energy drink tabs
-phrase cut from an Altoid tin
-fortune cookie fortunes

Yay! I'm so pleased with it. After all of the additional items I tried (and it took me about over an hour messing around with all sorts of bits), I really liked this combination of items for their color, texture and diversity.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dealing with a large scale print

So all of you quilters out there know the siren allure of a striking large scale print fabric in the quilt fabric shop and then the inevitable crushing confusion of "now what the hell do I do with this??" when you get home and start to plan/sew. Hah! I have succumbed to this too many times to say. I'm particularly fond of the designs of Jane Sassaman and Kaffe Fasset. Love those large, unusual florals! And the bright vibrant colors! Man, its just addictive. I can't help myself--just gotta have'em.
I have a couple of strategies that seem to work pretty well.  What I do is make a large border with it or focus in on the individual motifs and use them in the center of your blocks. I've used both of these strategies in this traditional quilt. A huge Gerbera daisy head is in the center of some of the blocks, just left whole and unpieced. The border is a lovely chard leaf print and is also left whole and unpieced. I call this one Tropical Floral Sunset Major and it currently lives in the somewhere in the Tampa area.

Here's another quilt with large scale prints. One in the center of the round insets in the of the blocks, and a couple more in between the blocks and then another surrounding the blocks. This one is called Solar Mandala and is quite large (like, about 7 feet across or so). In fact, it grew so large that its the only quilt that I've had to send out and have quilted for me. It was just too big to manage for my regular sewing machine (needed a long-arm).

So, currently I'm working on something a trifle smaller and easier to deal with--8 small wall hangings with a large Gerbera daisy in the center of the single blocks. No, not the same Gerbera print as above. But, yes, obviously I love Gerbera daisies. They are so sunlike and happy. The cool (and challenging) thing about this print was that these flowers were on a black background. And you know how I feel about brights and black, right? right? Its AWESOME! What's not to love?? So here it is in all of its glory. Great. Lovely. what the hell do I do with it?
Keeping this one simple and relatively small--I've trimmed out individual daisies and framed them with strips of bright matching or contrasting funky fabrics. Then a frame of black and then strips above and below in a random sequence.

Unfortunately, the colors didn't reproduce well. Sorry! But you can see the progress. I'm chugging away at these. And since I'm just sewing on straight strips on top and below, its pretty easy to sit down and do some pinning or sewing for short quick periods of time. I'll post again when I'm finished with the tops. I'm thinking they will look striking in a groups. And with 8 to choose from, there will be a lot of ways to combine them.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A post-modern composition of household ephemera

I've been reveling in the whole recycling thing lately, as you may have noticed, what with the opening of my new etsy shop and all. So a couple of weeks ago I thought I'd challenge myself with a project constructed out of completely recycled and rather nontraditional materials.

Here you can see what sparked my interest: some vinyl plastic from a mattress zippered bag, some dryer sheets and....bread twist ties! In all different colors, aren't they beautiful?? No? Well, I think they are interesting to look at and the colors are bright and compelling. Let's just see what I can start with all of this trash, hmm?

First, I cut the vinyl apart, saving the zipper for another project. I was glad to get it--finding really long zippers is really difficult at my local sources.

Then I straightened out the twist ties as much as possible and started laying them out vertically on top of the vinyl and a used dryer sheet, tryingto spread out all of the colors. I really love how these materials play off of each other in texture and origin.

So I just kept on going until I had all of my twist ties laid down and composed. Some vintage sheeting fabric was added as a backing layer for a little more depth.

Very nice! Now I had to fix the twist ties down without losing their spontaneous feel. The sewing machine was definitely out the the question, so I carefully hand sewed the twist ties down using large stitches.

I finished it with some white foam core (which then got smudged, dammit, so I have to get some more). I think this will look really inviting in a shadow box frame.

I think I'll call it: "A post-modern composition of household ephemera."

Oh. That was the title of my post. Well. How about that?


Friday, September 02, 2011

Shameless self-promotion

Hi all, 
Well, the title says it all--sigh. But I figure if you're reading this, you're interested in my doings. Been pretty busy with my day job lately--boring stuff like putting food on the table and endlessly shuttling kids around. I have started on a set of eight simple wall hangings with a botanical theme. I'll take some pictures and post soon, I promise. Seems like I am just able to squeeze in a scant 20 minutes here or 45 minutes there to actually sew a little. Luckily, although there are 8 of them, they are all of a really, (and I mean REALLY) simple format so the sewing is pretty mindless. The biggest part of the project was cutting all the strips. They should be pretty cool, though--similar in format to my Tribal Kat series. Lots of black in these too.

Anyway--news about my art on another front. I was contacted earlier this year by Anne Futterman Collier who was writing a book entitled Using Textile Arts and Handcrafts in Therapy with Women. She wanted to interview me and include a couple of my pieces in her work. She wished to feature 2 of my favorite pieces: Our Lady of Creativity and Nocturnal Sojourn (which you see here above right and to the left). I happily agreed and we corresponded via the magic of email. The book should be out in December and I look forward to getting a copy. If you want one for yourself, click on the link above and pre-order from Amazon. I think it sounds very interesting. 

Well, I thought that was the end of it, but no! Last month I was contacted by the publisher and was asked if thye could use one of the images on the cover of their upcoming book catalog. Well! How cool! Below you can see the image they will be using--nice, huh? (black always makes colors pop--I'm just a sucker for black and bright colors). Unfortunately, I made not a dime for either use, but it is good exposure and they do credit me. Maybe it will pay off in the long run somehow or other. I am a big believer in Karma, after all.

More soon!

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Postcards and Energy Drink Jewelry

Hi all. It's been a low key weekend for me. My kids are gone this week so I'm taking it easy and enjoying not cooking or driving anyone all over creation. The dogs are following me around wondering where everyone else is and just staring at me all the time. Poor guys!

Spent most of the days making some additional postcards for my order that I'm bring in to the shop at Winter Park tomorrow: Earth Inspired Living. Here are a couple extra that I made that ended up in my etsy shop.

The ladybug postcard was cut from one of my daughter, Fiona's, t-shirts. So cute it was on her when she was 2 (sigh) -- and it makes a pretty cute postcard too.

Here's another postcard I made today. This one is cut from a t shirt donated to the cause from my lovely sister, Helga. It features some Texas bluebonnet flowers and is a little more grown up in theme.

Once I got those out of the way, I used up the very last two energy pop tops that I had to make a matching pair of earrings to go with the necklaces I made last week. They are long and dangly and, being made out of aluminum, extremely light weight. Fun!

(I'm also pretty proud of the picture itself. I think it looks pretty professional, if I do say so myself.)

Now...I need a new supply of multicolor energy drink tops. Anyone got a stash that they're willing to donate?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Energy Drink Jewelry know I save all sorts of odds and ends that catch my eye, right? I've posted previously about my quilts that featured (among other things) fortune cookie fortunes, vintage buttons, snaps, hook and eyes, rubber o-rings... well, the list goes on and on (just wait for my bread twist-tie piece!)

Well, I had these energy drink pop tops*--I really love their iconic shape and their cool metallic colors. I wanted to make some jewelry out of them and finally came up with this design employing an aluminum chain and some wire wrapped links and beads.

I got to have a lot of fun picking out the bead combinations that went with each top keeping up the rainbow vibe. An added bonus is the nice little jingly sound this necklace makes at every movement. I think I'll make another one, too!

Clearly this is a recycled craft, so OF COURSE its for sale in my new etsy shop! See Rainbow energy drink pop top necklace for more details!

* and, no, I don't drink them--they are vile and I can't get past the smell of them, thank you. But my sixteen year old son does like them very much and has graciously collected them for me.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The notorious penis cookies

Well, it was a fun and productive day in the kitchen and so I thought I'd share it with you. Hope you all get as big a kick out of it as me and my daughter did. :)

So the other day my daughter came home from the mall with a penis cookie cutter! (from Spencer's of course) Well! I mean! Sigh. So, ok, I got on board. A perfect opportunity for some mother daughter bonding! So I decided to whip up a batch of my mother's butter cookies. These have been a favorite in our family from way back. Of course, usually I make these as Christmas cookies but, hey, you know, you can roll out any shape, right? Right? And they're still good, no matter what!

My mom got this recipe out of the local newspaper maybe 50 years ago, more or less. They're simple and good and full of butter. Yum!

Mom's Butter Cookies

1 cup room temp butter
1 cup sugar (I usually use 1/2 cup of white and 1/2 cup of brown sugar)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/14 cups sifted AP flour
extra egg yolk or two for glaze and sprinkles if desired

Cream butter, gradually add sugar. Blend in egg, salt and vanilla extract, beating well. Gradually add in flour, mixing well. If making thumb print cookies, form into small balls and mash down with your thumb on un-greased cookie sheet. If making cookie cutter shapes, refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Take quarter of the dough out at a time (put the rest of the dough back in the fridge while you're working) and roll out to an even thickness 1/4 inch thick or so. You will need a fair amount of flour to keep this buttery dough from sticking. Keeping this dough chilled and well floured is the key to successful rolling out. As you cut out the shapes, place the snippets in a pile and save for the last batch.

Here's our first sheet of penis cookies!

HA ha. We snickered a lot the whole time. Too funny. Now for the decorations. I like to put a glaze on prior to baking for some shininess and to help various sprinkles adhere. Usually I use an egg yolk mixed with a little water or milk. Left as is, it makes a nice yellow color (duh) which is great for Christmas stars. Add a drop or two of food color and you can go red or green or whatever. Fiona wanted some chocolate glaze so I added a teaspoon of cocoa and two of powdered sugar and mixed really well to one of my yolks. Then we got out our collection of sprinkles...

And Fiona went to town with various combinations of all of the above!

After some thoughtful decorating we ended up with this lovely first batch. They are now ready to go into the 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes; there should be light golden brown edges (and bottoms) to the cookies. No brown on the top, please, that makes them a little too crispy.

And here they are out of the oven! Let them cool on the pan for a couple of minutes, then remove them with a spatula and let cool on a rack.

I hope you enjoy this recipe--let me know if you make it! No matter what the shape.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Maps + Butterflies + Envelopes

I took the day off work today--my day job that is! But I did work all day on finishing up a bunch of crafts, taking pictures of them and uploading them to my new etsy store. So what was I up to to with all of those maps and butterflies???

Vintage map butterfly note cards, of course!

Here's a set of four that I made out of vintage National Geographic maps. They are a larger size and have matching butterflies and envelopes. I also made some of these in a smaller size using white or cream card stock for the cards.

Looking through my stash I saw that I had some lovely translucent vellum envelopes left over from a Christmas card project from years ago so I snagged those for this set. I just love the see-through aspect. So pretty and unexpected.

Of course you remember my business envelopes from a couple of posts ago, too, right? You saw them in their nude, ungummed state.
I have since glued down their sides and. . . wait for it . . . applied a lickable gum adhesive on the flap so you can seal it like a real envelope: Crafter's Companion Envelope Gum 2 Fl Oz CCEG1; 3 Items/Order  How cool is that?

I tried it out and licked one closed--yup, it really works!

So obviously I've been busy as a beaver and now I formally invite you to check out my new etsy shop: Think of it as a digital open house! Here's a smattering of the items I uploaded: