Monday, July 30, 2007

Sunday in the cake factory.....

I spent a lot of time yesterday in the kitchen working on cake and flowers for the wedding.

These two pictures are the white royal icing flowers for the cakes --- all 125! of them --- ready to be packed into the plastic containers until I start placing them on the cake. It took me a total of about 4 hours to make all of these, and I got faster as I went along. I'm especially proud of the rose buds because I had to figure them out on my own.

One half of the wedding cake has been baked, wrapped and stashed in the freezer. I'm hoping to get 2 more layers baked today, which will leave me with only the chocolate layers to do. I'm feeling pretty good about being on schedule to get this done a bit ahead of time.

Progress is being made on the quilt design. Our work space for this project has taken over the dining room table (which of course puts a kink in our cooking overflow, etc. and leads to whining -- by me -- of needing a really good studio space and a bigger kitchen -- you know how that goes!)

We have worked out a sort of pattern for the progress on this. The DH is doing the drawing (except for the Japanese character, which I did), then he inks in the part he is happy with and I get to do the coloring. When we get all done with the drawing/coloring part, I'll be transfering everything to freezer paper. This will be another combination of paper piecing/applique/embroidery, and I'm already thinking about doing a whole other design for the quilting and doing that from the back.

Another afghan square completed late last night.

Laundry and baking await......onward!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

something completed!

This is Toucan IV. Every one of these has been a different assortment of fabrics.
This one again has the very cool "crown" above his eyes where I've brushed up the pile of the mohair.

Pretty neat!!

I'm refering to this as the moonstone bracelet.

This is the second in the series of pieces done by using beads as the "bezel" where most jewelry is done with metals.

The stones in this piece are (left to right): black onyx, white moonstone (with a carved face) quartz drusey, black agate and grey moonstone.

The beads in between each stone are black glass cubes and it has a pewter heart shaped toggle clasp.

While I had the tools and the stringing board out, I restrung this piece and made the neclace a bit longer.

Originally most of the necklace was made up of tube beads I had created in zipped peyote stitch, but it just wasn't quite long enough. I added some other glass beads, some crystals and some pearls to it, and I think it came out quite well.

Last night was my cake decorating class. This is a sneak preview of what I did in class. To see more about the other flowers from class, use this

Time to get busy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

to market, to market.....

Yesterday was our monthly Costco run, which means most of the day is shot for getting anything done in the studio. Our closest Costco is in the Denver area, so we're usually gone for most of the day .... we'll be really happy when the Costco that is under construction in our area gets finished (if we are actually still here to see it!)

I did get another piece of jewelry all set up to start working on. This will be a necklace made up again of a random assortment of cabbed stones and I'm using all greys and silver beads as the "bezel" work around these. The challenge here will be figuring out the "inside curve/outside curve" porportions when I put it together.

I'm hoping to get the bracelet that I had been working on finished today.

One thing I do get done in the car is knitting afghan squares. So, two more are complete and waiting for the next 10 for another box mailing.

Today there are more errands to do, royal icing to make for class (and wedding cake flowers), and other assorted chores....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

another order complete!

Here he is in all his glory. Pictures taken against two different back grounds (a process that goes on a lot in the photo studio).

I finished him up yesterday afternoon and today I'm mailing off the picture and the information to the customer that ordered him. Hopefully she'll call as soon as she gets the note and tell me to charge her card and ship him.

The last of the next bracelet stones were completed last night too. Next step is to string it all together. Since this one is all black, white and gray, I'll be going through the boxes for larger beads in those colors to complete the piece. Amazing how quickly this went together....WOW!

after struggling with the idea that even at 10K pieces (each of which would be 1 1/8 by 1 inch in size), the design didn't have enough detail to clearly distinquish what I was trying to do and not wanting to go the 60K pieces route (I'm really not THAT crazy!!), we went back to the drawing board. And I do mean WE.

As I have discussed here before, I don't draw. Its a skill set that I wasn't given as a "gift", and I've never had the opportunity to acquire. My DH, on the other hand, does it REALLY well. So yesterday we held a collaboration meeting and he produced this drawing which is the size I need to be the centerpiece of the next quilt. He's working on the backgrounds now. Once he gets it all drawn and inked, I'll finish the coloring then I'll be transfering it to freezer paper to begin the piecing. Awesome!!

Today is our once a month shopping day, so we'll be out and about most of the day and maybe not get much else done (especially since it is HOT!)

time to get to it

Monday, July 23, 2007

I must be out of my mind.....

As you may have read here yesterday, I've started working on the next quilt project.

The idea was to create a graphic using my Photoshop software that would be what I want the quilt to look like, then run that graphic file through the software that creates a bead chart then use the chart to make the quilt from. My thinking was that if you can create a picture using little rectangular beads you could do it using little rectangular pieces of fabric. I thought it would be a good way to use up those pieces of fabric too small to use.

Well, creating the design was my "play time" yesterday. After doing a lot of "fiddling" in both programs, I finally created the graph. This is just one of the 15 pages of similar graphs that it will take to create the quilt. The pieces are small, but much bigger than the original graph which would have produced a quilt requiring 62K pieces (yes, that's 62,000!).

Hence the title of today's posting .... I must be out of my mind! However, unlike a quilt with similarly small pieces that I started MANY, MANY years ago (and finally gave up on); I do have a definate, fixed purpose here, so I'm much more confident that this will come together. And my box of small scraps will get smaller and this will give me a great backdrop for what I want to quilt into it as I'm excited.

Next step -- think about organizing into managable pieces (maybe piecing each page of the chart seperately then putting them together from there.

But first, there will be a lot of work done on jewelry like the last bracelet I did. I will be pulling out the stones and setting up some of those today.

The jester for the order is coming along -- finished the hat and the collar (except for the bells) yesterday, so I hope to get most of it done today.

Another hot pad is complete! Now I'm working on dish rags with the rest of the cotton yarn I have on hand.

Today will be full with laundry and house cleaning and a couple of errands to do.

off to slay the dragons!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

working on a new design......

As I said a few days ago, I have finished the quilt top I've been making for my daughter and her soon to be husband. I'm waiting for the package to arrive with the backing in it so that I can start on the quilting. So I spent a bit of time yesterday working out what I'm going to quilt (and where). This morning I copied the most intricate portions onto card stock so I can cut it up and use it as a template.

Doing the quilting is something I really enjoy, but it is something that I usually do at the end of the day when I can settle into my chair and relax (I don't have a quilt frame -- can't imagine where I'd put it -- so I just work in my lap).

This means that like with most big projects, I've got a big "gap" in my working sequence, so I'm already thinking about the next quilting project. (Until I check on rather the intended recipient reads this blog, I'll not be going into details) I can say that the working idea involves creating a picture in much the same way I do when I use beads ---- little rectangles of color all stitched together in the proper order. It would be a good thing if I can get the design work done in the next month or so because I could then start putting sections together while we're traveling to shows in September and October.

Speaking of shows, we were notified yesterday that we have been accepted in the Cider Days on Walnut Street in Springfield, MO, at the end of September. We had done this show a few years ago, and it will be interesting to see if my new stuff goes as well as the old stuff did. It does mean that I need to get some more of the new style pieces finished -- it usually sells better if there are more of the same style items to select from.

I have finally finished stitching all of the animals we have in process. I have been painting the toucan feet and the stick for the jester the past couple of days, so today I hope to get started putting the jester together. I got small (1/4 yard) pieces of the fabrics for the collar and the hat in the colors that the customer wants, and usually this hat/collar building doesn't take too long.

Friday night was my cake class. Click on the cake picture to read more about that adventure.

I didn't get as much work done as I might have yesterday, owing to the fact that around 1 pm the post office delivered my copy of the last Harry Potter book. I'm not as fanatic as some folks, but I have already read 9 chapters. I'm trying to avoid going to places (ie book reviews, websites) that will spoil the ending for me, but I'm pretty resigned to the fact that since I don't just "hole up" and read straight through that there's a chance I'll find out what happens before I actually finish the book. Part of the fascination of this series of books for me (beside the fact that its a GREAT read) is the history of the author. Writing in a coffee shop because her flat had no heat, being rejected out of hand by several publishers, she is (like Harry himself) a study in perserverance. Talk about a role model for every as yet unpublished author on the planet! (yes, that includes ME!)

time to get moving on some other projects.....

Friday, July 20, 2007

Can you help with this project?

As you may remember from a while back, I have been saving plastic bags to knit into tote bags. I must admit, however, that since I have in mind making up several of these little lovelies before Christmas, I've encountered 2 problems. One is that I probably won't be able to collect enough bags on my own and the other is that about the only colors I get are yellow and orange with a few white ones thrown in now and then.

Sooo, here's my question for all of my readers: Do you have any plastic bags (colored stuff, not the clear ones from the produce section) that you would consider sending me? I would especially love to have interesting colors -- anything NOT yellow or orange, for instance!

If you'd like to contribute to the fun, you can email me at: webspinner51 AT yahoo DOT com and I'll send you details on where to mail stuff.

Thanks in advance!!

Yesterday I went back to working on the necklace I've been doing for about 6 months now. Every time I get one step finished I have to pause and think for a while (ok, sometimes for a LONG while) on how to do what I see as the next step.

I think I have finally figured out how to create what looks like a little waterfall over the back of the big stones with a bit of beading that combines ladder stitch, brick stitch, right angle weave and netting work.....I managed to get a magnificant ONE stone completed. I'm hoping the next ones will go more quickly.

Last night we attended a meeting of the local Mineral Club. We had been invited by a fellow that I purchased some very cool rock cabs from, and we decided that we should check it out. I took the latest piece of jewelry with me to show him the kind of thing I do with the stuff I bought from him and had several other folks admiring the work too. Nice! Their program was a lecture/slide show about crystals and how they are classified.....I can tell you that in this case I'm definately WAY dummer than the room, but it was nice to just feel uneducated, not stupid (my apologies if that doesn't make sense!) As a person that took only the bare minimum of science classes in high school (and NONE since), I can say I've learned more about geology in the past 4 years than any time ever before.....guess now I'm just more interested. At least some of what the fellow was saying made sense to me, and he had some of the most awesome samples of stuff I had ever seen.....a perfect crystal of iron pyrite that was about 3" across --- wow! Anyway, we'll probably go again and maybe get involved with a couple of their sub-groups -- the DH wants to learn to do faceting, and I wouldn't mind learning to do at least cab work so I could cut my own stuff.

Completed another hot pad -- this one is a small one ideal for wrapping around a pan handle or grabbing a pan lid. This one used up a lot of my little bits and pieces of yarn that were left over from some of my bigger projects.

This afghan square marks a kind of record -- I have made 50 of these! This is the first one for what will be the next box full.

Tonight I have a cake decorating class, so I best get moving and put the crumb coat on the cake!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A whole new look....

I finished the bracelet I had been working on for a couple of days.

The whole idea of this new "look" was to use the seed beads as if they were the metals that a lot of jewelry artists use to create their pieces.

In this case I have used 6 different stones (from left to right in the picture: ocean jasper, rhodochrosite, chrysophase, lapis, tiger eye and charoite) and used size 11 gold colored silver lined seed beads as the "metal" bezels around each stone. The whole piece is strung together using crystals as the spacer beads.

The bracelet is about 8 inches long and measures 1 1/4 inch wide at the widest points.

This is the most expensive bracelet I have ever put together, but I'm hoping that the "look" of it will enough of a "grabber" to make somebody say "I've GOT to have that!"

I had originally planned for the piece to have one more stone in it, but putting that one in would have made it too long for most people to wear, so it got put aside (already all bezeled) to use in another piece. Since this was the first one, it was just a guess how many stones would actually work in it, not knowing how much space the bezeling would actually add to the stones. For the next bracelet and the necklaces I have planned I will have a better idea of how to plan.

Meantime, back in the "bakery", I have baked the top tier layers (6 inch ones) for the wedding cake and have them securely wrapped in plastic and tucked away in the freezer. On to the next layers!

So, work continues.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

moving along......

no picture but doing a happy dance -- the quilt top is finished! I was able to rescue my measuring faux pas and I think it was actually a design improvement! So I guess the next step will be putting the top/batting/backing together and start quilting (JUST what one wants to do in 90+ degree heat!) I'll probably spend the next couple of days thinking about just what sort of pattern I'll use to quilt it....maybe play with some tracing paper....I'm thinking feathers tho', its sort of traditional for the pattern.....we'll see

Now that I'm done with the top, I'm already starting to think about the next will be smaller than this oversize queen, and yes, another "design challenge"!

The pile of completed animals continues to grow. By the end of the week I should have a stack ready to hand off to DH for jointing (his hands are much stronger than mine, so he always does this step for me---bless him!) The painting of the Jester Stick began yesterday.....this is the tedious part, waiting between each coat of paint until it dries, but I've learned (from sad experience) that this is the best way!

I spent some time shooting new pictures of some of my pieces. The idea was to shot them all against a warm "skin color" to see if they looked better that way.

This is the malachite necklace I recently finished. Old picture on the left, new one on the right.

And this is the Autumn Leaves piece I did a while back. The older picture on the blue background, the new one on the beige.

Its kind of nice that all of the backgrounds for the pieces are now coordinated. I re-shot 16 different pieces to create a CD that will go with other information to a gallery in the Denver area for consideration. I've been fussing with this package for almost 2 weeks partly because I'm well aware of the "you only get one chance to make a first impression" issue, and I want to do it right.....

into the fray!

Monday, July 16, 2007

no "play day" this week

as we have only 33 days until my daughter gets married, and other things occasionally get thrown into the mix (like unexpected trips to Denver), I probably won't take another "play day" until after the wedding. There are lots of things to get done!

I finished the necklaces for the bridesmaids yesterday....lovely aren't they? The wedding rings (we ordered them wholesale for the kids) have arrived.

This week I will start baking the cakes and putting them in the freezer.

This cake was a chance to experiment with the jelly glaze, and it worked really well. More about what I did differently can be found here.

Finished another hot pad on Friday evening after my cake class. The stack of Christmas presents grows!

We're making progress on the animals that we are trying to get finished.

I have finished the sewing of the bear head for the new Jester Stick order, and DH has finished up the wood working, just need to paint the stick then start the assembling.

The new toucan is all stitched and waiting for his wire feet, and we have several other new animals in process.

All of the stones for the piece titled Let the River Run are now bezeled and backed. I laid them all out on the table and played with them until I was happy with the arrangement, then I took this picture so I will remember how I had them laid out while I'm working on the bead work that will be the streams of water flowing over them.

I also started working on the bezels around some stones for a bracelet. These are the stones I'll be using then I'll string it together with large glass beads in between -- at least that is the plan right now. This is a very different style and a kind of experiment, but so far I like it.

One more afghan square complete....I think I have enough to ship a box now...I'll be testing the box packing today.

Work on the Christmas sweater and the quilt have resumed.....I rescued both of them from my "boo boos" and I think both will be better for it.

time to get laundry and other stuff done.....

Friday, July 13, 2007

DUH times 2 and a small side trip....

well, I just knew it was going too well....

on Wednesday afternoon I was all ready to start putting the center block in the quilt I'm working on only to discover that my "to scale" drawing that I had been working from wasn't! The drawing showed that the center block would need to be a 24" square, so just to be sure I was ok, I had cut the piece 29" square. Unfortunately, I should have actually laid the quilt on the table and measured the opening instead, because even the 29" square is too small.

After a small amount of weeping, stomping about and gnashing of teeth, I pulled out all the fabric left from the block construction to see if I had enough of the fabric I thought would work best to make a "frame" around that center block and fix the problem....Nope, not happening. So, off I went to one of my local quilt stores (which had recently move into new -- and very nice -- digs) with a sample of the selected fabric to see what I could get that would work.

One of the reasons I like going to this quilt store is that the folks there are great...very friendly and helpful. While they didn't have anything EXACTLY like the piece I was clutching, after my explanation of the situation, she did find me a great piece that is the same colors, just a slightly different pattern and considering that all of the pieced blocks are made of a large variety of patterns, it works. So, I bought 2 yards of the stuff, the plan being to cut wide strips with the grain to create a frame around that center block (which actually is a really good looking thing) and then to cut the rest of the yardage on the bias to create the binding (necessarily on bias because it is all those double wedding ring curved edges).

So, I have escaped this little "design opportunity" crisis without major anguish, but DUH! Measure twice, cut once!

And then there was the sweater. I've been knitting blissfully along, smirking slightly and feeling superior that I was almost half way up the first sleeve, and it is a Christmas present, and it was going so well, etc., etc., etc. Then the fact that I was only able to get gauge with this yarn and these needles in one direction caught up with me and bit me in the butt. There I was, only half way through the sleeve and finding that the front edge was already the full length it was supposed to be when finished....Uh, DUH again! Obviously there will be a trip to the frog pond (rip it, rip it) in my future here. Nuts!

About that time I got a phone call from my mother telling me that my dad was in the emergency room because he was having trouble breathing and they were going to keep him in the hospital over night. So at that point, I tossed my afghan square knitting into the car and away we went to Denver.

In the car on the way up and back, I finished 2 more afghan squares. That means I only need to do one more and I can pack off a box to the group. A good thing.

And my dad was doing better, they will be adjusting his medications I think.....

So, today I have a long list of things I need to get done (longer than I can possible accomplish) so I'll just have to redefine the order of importance and put some of them over into tomorrow....

time to get moving!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

working in slow motion.....

yesterday was one of those rare days when it was actually humid here in the high desert.....and the wind was blowing like crazy so there was a lot of dust in the air too.....sort of feels like you're breathing under the surface of a mud puddle....ICK!

We went off to run a few errands -- a trip to the hardware store for a dowel rod so I can make the second jester stick for the order I took over the weekend -- a visit to the grocery for milk and such -- stopped by the place where I'm scheduled to begin the final cake decorating class on Friday and found that unless 2 more people sign up by then, the class will be cancelled....NUTS! Hopefully there are just folks that operate on "last minute" time.

I went through my smaller pieces of fur and found something I can use to make the latest jester head from. These pieces take just a little fabric, so I hate to cut into something that is big enough for a whole bear. After the trip to the hardware store, the stick is in process, so we'll be able to paint/stain that soon. Still need to see if I have enough stuff to create the hat and collar or if I will need to make a trip to the fabric store for some pieces.

Progress is being made on the toucan. I'm ready to attach his beak, then all that will need to be done is to stitch the back seam and sew up the tail feathers. Since I will be setting up the sewing machine for a couple of other projects, I may do the tail pieces that way.....they are pretty basic, no extra fancy piecing required.

I finished another afghan block, now only 3 are needed to be able to mail off a package. At the current rate, about this time next week it should be in the mail.

hopefully today I'll get more done!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Play day and pain day.....

I took Sunday off and played with some new things. To see my experiments with Art Cards, use this link where I "show and tell" those projects.

Yesterday morning when I woke up the muscles over my right shoulder blade were just screaming, so I spent most of yesterday using alternating hot and cold packs and trying not to use those muscles....I think I may have slept in an odd position or something.

I did finish one more afghan block, so I now have 9 finished -- need 4 more to have another full box to ship off.

This is the front and the back of another hot pad complete. Really nice color combo here.....these are so much fun to do and sort of "brainless"....once I get that first chain foundation done I can work on these while I watch TV without getting them messed up.

I have completed the center applique block for the wedding I just need to get the fabric for the back and I can start quilting.

The lady that had ordered the jester stick called and ordered a second one! So I will be rearranging the work order and starting on that piece as soon as I finish stitching the toucan that is in process now.

time to get moving!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Saturday, July 07, 2007

I felt that!

Or should I say, I FELTED that!

This is the result of taking the piece of wool/mohair I had knitted up and tossing it into a washer full of blue jeans in hot water.

The original piece of knitting was 45 inches by 26 1/2 inches. The resulting piece of felt is 17 1/2 inches by 12 inches. Why is it that the length-wise side shrunk down 10% more than the width-wise?

I'm not exactly sure either why we have the "wavey" sides, but it shouldn't be a problem considering what we want to do with the stuff.

So now, since this was a project of the DH, its up to him to create a pattern that will work with this material.

We went to Denver yesterday for our annual trip to the Cherry Creek Art Festival. You can read my thoughts about the experience by using this link.

In the car up and back I was able to finish 2 afghan squares.

I just love the way the patterns of color ebb and flow when you knit with a varigated yarn, it keeps the knitting of the same size and shape from getting boring.

and so, its time to get moving.....

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Did you celebrate?

Because the 4th was smack dab in the middle of the week this year, we spent a very quiet time at home yesterday.

We listened to the music and fireworks programs on TV, and from my vantage point in the family room I could look out the patio door and see some fireworks in the sky above the hill behind our house.

I was watching carefully to be sure the neighboorhood law breakers (the ones shooting off fireworks which are illegal in our city) didn't set the field behind us on fire (since the new owners can't be bothered to mow it down!)

I have been working on a new teddy bear head (this one has brought about a lot of unpleasant language and flinging of things, but I think we finally got it). Today I will be working on creating a body to go with him.

I also worked on the quilt for my daughter, a sweater I'm working on and finished another afghan square.

This makes me think of sherbert---lemon and raspberry---mmmmmm, yummy and cool on a hot summer day.

On the whole it was a pretty good day.

who knows what trouble we can get into today!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

maybe its the "dog days"

but I'm feeling a bit "out of it" with my work in the studio just at the moment.

I can (happily) report that this little guy has been packed up and is waiting for tomorrow's mail pickup.

He's going off to a new home. Quite an accomplishment since the history of this piece is that it was an "experimental" head (Dr Frankenstien anyone?) and it had been in my tubs for so long I can't even find any record of the pattern or what it became next! There is something to be said for saving this kind of pieces tho', as this order came together really easily!

Something to be shown for being in the douldroms with studio work, however.

I finished the plastic bag tote bag. This cutie is big enough to hold all of the "necessaries" for knitting a sweater, including the pattern, the extra yarn, the tape measure, etc.,etc.

And all created out of plastic bags, most of them from the newspapers that we get daily.

Now the question is, what do I do with the next bizillion plastic bags I get? I just hate throwing them away, but if I can't figure out another project, I'll either have to throw them away or we'll be 6 feet deep in them......mmmmmmm, we're open to suggestions here folks!

Another afghan square has also been completed....I like this bright yellow with the bright varigated....looks nice!

The next one is this same yellow with a pastel-y yellow, lavendar, white varigated. Looks very different. Its fun playing with all these colors.

Since I am very close to having the quilt top completed, I'm starting to think about what sort of quilting pattern I'll use on it and what sort of back I'll put on. I'm leaning toward a small yellow/blue floral for the back. I was in the local fabric store yesterday where I can get just plain white or unbleached muslin in the very wide fabric for a back, but that is just so ORDINARY! I really do like a print for the back but every print they had in the wide fabrics was just WRONG! So, today I shall take a trip around some on line sites and see what I can find. Failing that, there are quilt shops near by that I can go and look in.

Time to get moving.....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

turquoise piece is finally done!

Ta Da!

I finally got this all strung up yesterday afternoon, and it looks pretty good.

I especially like the fringes and the look of the tube beads which I made out of seed beads in the same colors as the turquoise stones, even with the little matrix-y patterning.

Using the little slivers of coral along the sides of the main medallion and a few at the center of the necklace was pretty cool too.

So after I finished this one, I did some work on the River piece. A good place to spend some time while I think about other projects (I'll eventually get it finished this way!)