Tuesday, March 31, 2009

(mostly) mindless babble

no pictures of work accomplished yesterday

no I was not out wildly celebrating my birthday (the celebrating was done over the weekend)

but I did do a little shopping this morning --- for myself!!

my mother sends me a check for my birthday

it arrived on Friday and I sent it right along to the bank

this morning I found these two books on Amazon as used books for quite a bit less than cover price (an especially good thing for Complex Cloth as it is now out of print)

I induldged

I'll be watching for the postman with eagle eyes (as soon as Complex Cloth arrives I'll be returning the copy to the library) Having a copy of my very own means I can write notes in the margins and high light especially important paragraphs

(I remember somewhere some one telling me you it was bad to write in a book --- well, as far as I'm concerned, if I bought it, I probably decided I needed it in my library and I can write in it if I please!!)

meantime, yesterday I took the DH to the doctor to have the stitch removed from his finger -- the doctor wants to take another look at it tomorrow --- personally I can't see that the stitch did all that much to help the situation --- it's a big ugly wound still, but he does have complete feeling in the tip of his finger, which is nothing short of a miracle!!

By the time we got to the doctor's office at 10:00 a.m., we had already seen rain, sleet, HAIL and snow. When we got done there, the sun was coming out --- the joys of living in the mountains in the spring!

I did do a lot of work on the malachite/azurite necklace --- all of the stones have now been bezeled and backed, so today I will lay it out and start working on how to string it together

Today I'm doing the laundry --- time to get moving

Monday, March 30, 2009

Catchin' up from the weekend

My daughter and her husband and their two dogs were here for the weekend.

We had a great time together.

We made a trip to the hardware store to make notes on what materials they need for the deck they want to add to the back of their house (we'll be going up to help build it when it finally stops snowing!)

My daughter and I moved some things around in the basement (which I am trying to clear out), then she and her hubbie moved my loom upstairs for me.

She also brought me this.

They've been helping a friend clean out a grandparent's home, and this was in the house.

Her friend was going to just throw it away -- my daughter grabbed it.

See, the tip of one of the four flares is broken off.

Her friend looked at it and said "junk"

My daughter knew I would look at it and say "ooooh, pretty color, I can make things with that!"

So, this week pieces of the newly acquired orange-y glass will go into the tumbler with some pieces I got earlier in the week. A whole new batch of Rocky Mountain Beach Glass in the making!! (Of course there will be a whole month of listening to the tumbler chug along in the process --- there's just no way to hurry that process!)

On Saturday evening the kids took us out for dinner for my birthday (which is today, thank you very much). We went to a really nice Italian place in the area that serves as downtown in this little village we live in. The food was great, and so plentiful that we brought home 3 more meals worth to be reheated this week. (We could have just ordered our sodas and the appetizer and all been full!) It was a lot of fun.

When I woke up this morning it was snowing again --- BLEAH! We really, REALLY need the moisture, but I'm tired of winter -- oh well.

Today we're off to the doctor's office to have the stitch taken out of the DH's finger, then a stop off at the grocery store on the way home.

I'm still a bit "weary" from moving furniture and boxes, but I expected that. Even so, I hope to get some work done on the piece of jewelry I started last week, and finish writing the artist statement for the show applications that I need to mail by Friday.

The laundry can wait 'til tomorrow!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finding my niche

If you've read this blog (or any of my other ones) for very long you've probably figured out that I multi-task almost obsessively.

I like making jewelry and beaded objects and quilts and plush animals. I draw paperdolls and playing cards and greeting cards. I knit sweaters and animals and afghans and dish rags.

Most every kind of material is interesting -- wool roving, cotton yarn, gold lamé, rubber stamps (especially cutting my own), broken glass (run it through the tumbler!), colored pencils, markers, paint, glitter, stones, tubes of tiny beads, paper, cardstock, and any other item that strikes my fancy

ooooh, shiny thing --- pretty! now what can I do with that?!

Ok, you get the gist here, for a while I've been beating myself up over the inability to focus on just one thing. Especially every time I have to fill in those applications for art shows and select a catagory to enter in. I think of myself as a kind of renaissance woman --- I WANT to do lots of things and learn about lots of things and let the creative spirit guide me along from one material and process to another and not feel guilty about not being focused.

Part of this is having spent all that time in corporate jobs, where focus was important, it's still a hard thing to just "go with the flow". I need to give myself permission to experiment with all that as long as I'm actually getting something done in the end, not just wandering forever.

But I digress from where I was going with this (no surprise there)

This morning, as I was contemplating rewriting my "artist statement" to submit with a show application, I decided to go and check out the whole catagory of "multimedia art".

The usual definition that comes to mind now days has to do with collage or assemblage work combined with paints.

But as I looked around the "world wide web" I found some artists that have self named their work "multimedia". Oh look, there are other folks out there experimenting and creating in as many medias as I do (some of them even in the same ones I do).

I have had my eyes opened folks.

I am a multi media artist.

The joy of marking that box on the form is just this: If I can actually get juried into a show in that catagory by submitting pictures of the MANY things we do instead of trying to stick to just one, I also have the freedom to take to those shows the many things we do.

If I had any doubts about just how well this title fits, all I have to do is look at that indexing list on the side bar and see how many catagories there are.

Yeah Niche!

One completed, one begun

I finished this up yesterday.

Now I have to decide on a picture to submit it to the competition I designed it for.

I'm pretty pleased with how it came out.

Until recently I had never wanted to work with magnetic clasps, but the brass forms that I have put in some of these cuff bracelets are so expensive now that I'm looking for new ways to be able to still make the bracelets but cut the costs.

Soon as one beading project is finished, I start in on another.

Actually, I had started working on this a while back -- that is I had an idea to do with the three bottom stones (see they are already all bezeled with beads), but that idea didn't work out and I just set them aside for "later"

At the gem show last fall I picked up the larger stone at the top, but I just hadn't gotten back to this project.

And now the whole idea has been transformed and gone in an entirely different direction!

The 4 big stones are malachite/azurite. The 8 little stones are turquoise that has a lot of matrix. These are not stones I would ordinarily think about putting together, but I decided to just look at the color and ignore the labels, and it just works.

So today I will start building bezels around the 8 little pieces and the big one, then I can start working on the "joins" that will bring it all together --- the plan is for something that will include massive amounts of fringing as well --- I'm not sure I have enough beads on hand to even complete this, but I know how to get more if I need them.

After the great wool dying workshops of last weekend, I actually sat down and did some needle felting with all the wool I had dyed.

It's amazing just how purple these look --- perhaps the felting intensifies the color --- or the use of the complementary yellow

At any rate, these are ready to go on the birdhouse with the cardinal.

I'm going to do up a few beaded flowers too before I sit down with the Fabritac glue and fasten everything together.

This project has been a lot of fun. I'm thinking I need to wash some more of the wool so I can create some orange --- so I can do some nasturtiums to go with one of the other birdhouses -- maybe the one with the yellow bird.

We're having one of the Rocky Mountain area's famous "spring blizzards". The snow rolled in about noon yesterday accompanied with a lot of wind. At some points during the afternoon all you could see out the window was white. It was still snowing (really fine stuff) when I shoveled my way out almost to the street this morning to get the newspapers (actually I was surprised there even were newspapers to shovel out to!). It's heavy wet stuff, and had blown up and around until it was level with the door step in front --- but there's no snow on the back patio -- weird. Later this afternoon I'll be out trying to get the sidewalks and the driveway cleaned out.

Time to go get busy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some finished objects and another "no thanks"

I finished the beading yesterday afternoon -- whoo hooo!!

Now it's on to the backing (a double row of beads all the way around the edges.

Oh yes, and I have to remember to insert the magnetic clasp at the ends while I'm doing that.

As I was saying yesterday, this block for the afghan is now complete --- it took me about 45 minutes to weave in all the ends of the joins on this --- I'm glad I have used up almost all of that light blue now --- that's the one that is all little pieces about a yard long each (or even less)

I know, you're thinking "why didn't you just throw those away as pieces of string too short to use?"

Blame it on my grandma -- she taught me to knit with the string my grandfather brought home from the post office and it often was pieces of less than a yard long and we tied them together. Back when I was doing that though, we didn't bother with weaving in all the ends on a dish rag!

The next block has been cast on and two rows knit, so we are moving right along on this.

Yet another new doggie toy

My daughter tells me they have nicknamed these "the squid"

Up until this one I had made them out of a fur like fabric. This one is one leg of a pair of worn out blue jeans.

The kids and the dogs are coming to visit this weekend, so I thought it would be good to have a toy for the "Terrier-izor".

Yesterday we got another of those envelopes from a show we had applied to --- the "thanks but no thanks" kind --- only this group snuck up on me. It was still my envelope, and they didn't send my CD of .jpgs back, so as I was carrying it from the mailbox I was actually getting excited that we had got in. When I opened it and pulled the packet of paper out of the envelope, however, my check for the booth fees fluttered out of the stack and hit the floor along with my hopes of having successfully juried into the show.

Once again a letter that says "of the catagories of artists applying, the largest single category every year is jewelry, which means the competition for places in this category is especially hard." Is that supposed to make me feel better? (clue: it doesn't) Or is it someone's hint that I should submit my work in a different catagory?

Either way, we won't be going to Columbia, MO, for a show this year --- pfooey

So now I'm working on an application for a show in St. Joseph, MO. We have done this show -- in fact, we won a ribbon there in the crafts area, but last year when they put me in the crafts area again I told them "no thanks" --- I want to be in the arts area where a ribbon also means a cash prize, and better sales. I'm thinking about entering our work as "mixed media" instead of jewelry --- maybe that's a better description.

And so today not much will get done as there is shopping to be done and supposedly a big spring snow on the way for tomorrow.

into the fray!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Project Odds and Ends

Since the paint brushes were still sitting on the table, I decided to go ahead and get the storage roll made up.

This was made entirely of materials that I had on hand.

The fabric was left over from a tote bag I had made a while back, and the bias tape and the ribbon were pieces just hanging out in the stash box.

Each brush has it's own custom fit slot (which is why it took a while to get all the stitching done.

Now the brushes can be safely stored.

And after a soak in the Berry Blue Koolaid, the formerly Grape wool is much closer to the color I was hoping for.

Now that I have a pretty good assortment of colors, I'll be trying out the flower idea.

I've been working along on what I thought was going to be the last block of this project (see it there on the needle?)

Alas, it is not to be.

Obviously I was totally brain dead in my thinking about this, because unless I make this block a very, VERY, long run on one, it is definately NOT the last one.

This time I did make a drawing and pin numbers to all the completed blocks (ok, DUH, should have done that way before now)

Having decided that I will be doing 2 more blocks, last night I bound off the block on the needles and did the croKay around it. Tonight I'll be weaving in ends (that'll take a while, given that I'm recycling yarn and there are a number of "joins", especially in the light blue strip).

A couple of days ago I had an email from a new friend here in my neighborhood.

They have just moved here from Oregon, and when we were getting acquainted I mentioned that I use broken glass to create jewelry.

As she was unpacking, a bottle got broken, and she thought of me --- how sweet is that?

I'm really sorry the bottle got broken --- I can tell from the pieces that it was a really cool one. I'll have to be on my best designer behaviour to make some jewelry as neat as it was.

I'll be starting up a new batch of beach glass in the tumbler soon!

The card project continues!

While a lot of the card work until now was all done by hand --- pencil drawings followed by inking and coloring --- this bit of the cards can be done in the photoshop software.

I did these 5 this morning.

So, only 49 more to go!! (oh yeah, 14 of those will have to be hand drawn, but let me enjoy the moment here)

Along with all that I also did laundry, worked on the beading, and the Unidentified Christmas Project, cast on and knit the giraffe's nose

I'd say it was a pretty productive 24 hours!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Just didn't get as much done yesterday as maybe I could have.

Oh well, a day to rest is not a bad thing!

Here is the current state of the beading on the bracelet project. I have almost half of the green beads in now -- there on the right hand side. I'm thinking I may actually have this ready to back by the end of the week.

Here then are the results of the latest dye project.

This is white roving after a one hour soak in hot grape Koolaid.

It's so, so -- grape-y!!

I'll be mixing up another batch of blue to get this closer to the color I'm looking for (hopefully!)


The giraffe now has 4 legs --- no body -- or head -- or neck -- but 4 legs!

I have to admit the the spots on this were done entirely "on the fly" once I got into the increases and decreases that create the shape.

The chart that works beautifully on paper just doesn't work once you're working a row that goes "K2tog, k11, Kfb 4 times, k11, k2tog"

I'm beginning to understand why I couldn't find a pattern that actually did the spots during the knitting (and perhaps this explains the strange phenomina of the STRIPED giraffe -- which we know is just WRONG!!)

I suspect that I will run into this issue (BIG TIME) when I start in on the body with its odd shaping for the neck, but we'll see.

I have been working on the Unidentified Christmas Project too, but of course I can't show you that here.

rollin' along

Sunday, March 22, 2009

More from the dye pot, and making a rubber stamp

As you may remember from yesterday's post, I have been playing with dying wool with Koolaid this week.

After an extremely succesful batch, using a HOT batch of Koolaid (literally, I mixed the stuff in very hot water), I decided to have a go at using the same batch of dye (there was still considerable color in it) to dye another batch of wool roving.

Lesson learned --- it works much better if it's hot.

The pieces of roving on the left of the picture are the original color (the top one is a dyed roving I bought online, the bottom one is some of the blended Jacob Sheep fleece). The pieces on the right are after soaking for about four hours in the vat of cooled Koolaid.

I'm actually very pleased with the blue gray batch --- I'm thinking it will work well on a little bird.

So, still no purple --- the red was hardly changed. I guess I will be making up a small batch of grape to dye some of the Jacob Sheep fleece to get my purple.

We made a little shopping trip yesterday --- needed to pick up some things at the grocery store, and we decided while we were out we'd stop off in the local Hobby Lobby.

The fabric there on the left is for a project we're designing specifically for the State Fair this year. I'll be talking more about that as the design comes together.

The paint and that thing that looks like an enormous thin eraser are for the complex cloth project. My original idea was to get some of those white erasers, but it turns out that buying this block for carving was a better deal --- more square inches for the buck.

So, when I got home I decided I'd play with the idea and see just how difficult this was going to be.

In this picture you can see the progression of the project.

Top left is a print out of a picture of an aspen leaf.

Top right is the line drawing I made on tracing paper that is the "essence" of the leaf. By turning the tracing paper over (putting the original pencil drawing against the rubber) I drew over the lines and made the marks to be cut on.

Bottom left is the finished stamp (ready to glue down to a block of wood for a handle). I wanted to create something that looked like a sort of mirroring image side to side.

Botom right is the first stamping.

This is truly one of those "Did I Do That?!" moments. You know, when you see an idea in your head and you try the technique you think will work and it comes out even better than you imagined.

I can hardly wait to start stamping some of these images on the fabric!!

But first I have a maple leaf and some maple seeds that I want to make into similar stamps. Then I'll have to create a padded work surface to do that stamping on.

It's really exciting when something goes this well!!!

And lest you think I'm the only one that gets new toys when we visit the craft store, behold the new brush set we picked up for the DH!

We also got a new set of tube watercolors and some watercolor paper for him to play with.

The brushes are all laid out like that because I was measuring to make a fabric carrying case for these. Even though they were not terribly expensive, we believe in taking good care of our art tools so they will last longer --- if we do that we can spend our money on materials for making more art instead of replacing tools!

I had a nice piece of fabric left over from some bag making that will become the case for these --- pictures to follow dearies!!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Puttering about and working on a lot of different projects (so this is new?)

The purple beads are all in now -- yippee

Today I will begin the green fill

rollin' right along!

In order to make the flowers I want to use on the bird house, I needed to create some new colors.

In the left hand picture we see the yellow roving (stuff I bought pre-dyed from a place on line) and some of the freshly washed Jacob Sheep fleece.

In the right hand picture is the result of letting both of those "steep" in a vat of Berry Blue Koolaid for half an hour.

Lovely spring green and a really nice robin's egg blue. I'm thinking about putting some of the red roving that I have on hand into the vat and see if I can get a nice color to do violets or pansies with.

Quite a bit of time has been spent on this project the last couple of days.

I have finally gotten all of the numbers and letters set up, and I did a second version of 3 of the 4 suits.

These colors are definately more interesting than the first ones were.

So now I can do quite a bit of work in the photoshop program merging the letter and number files with the suit files to create the cards --- except for the face cards of course, which all have to be drawn by hand as each one is different.

Good progress being made here!

Remember this?

After spending a lot of time the last couple of days with the books on printing, dying, stamping, etc., on fabrics, I'm feeling real glad that I didn't get a lot more done on this project.

Why? you ask.

Well, it's like this -- the background is the color I want to use -- the idea was to use that whole split complementary color scheme, but this is another of those cases of having to "settle" for something that was actually available because no one else sees what's in my head to create it for me.

So what I'm thinking about doing is making some of my own rubber stamps --- using erasers, a scrap of left over wood and an exacto knife (I know, I know, be careful with sharp objects!) --- something small (about 2 x 2 inches) that I can stamp fabric paint onto the purple with to create something that looks like a "field" of fallen leaves that I can then applique over.

I have plenty of that purple fabric (I bought a yard and need three 10 inch squares for the finished project), so why not experiment!

I'll keep ya'll posted on the developments

Meantime, Nurse Elphie was in charge of keeping an eye on the DH yesterday.

She sat right at his feet, just lightly touching him for most of the day.

(and here we see my slowly improving skills at "doctoring" a photo -- or 2 -- by adding a drawing)

time to go make breakfast!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Further evidence

that life is what happens while you're making other plans.

This is the brand new hospital in our area. It's a bit farther away from us than the old one was, but still close enough that I can drive there in 15 minutes.

You might ask, "how do you know that?" Well, yesterday morning I got to find that out first hand (so to speak!)

You may recall that I said that the DH was going to build a bookcase to go with the bench he just finished.

Yesterday morning he was cutting some of the pieces with the circular saw.

Somehow the saw "bucked" and the middle finger of his left hand came into contact with the rip blade on the saw.

Shall we say that "rip" is the operative word.

See the red colored area on my little drawing? Well, that is the part of his finger that is basically -- well, gone, as in "ripped" off.

We wrapped his hand in a clean towel and headed out the door.

They took x-rays to be sure he hadn't hit the bone (that would have meant a trip to the operating room for scrubbing out to prevent a bone infection).

They were only able to bring enough together to take one stitch at the very top edge of the wound -- the rest will be a long rebuilding project for his body. The very tip of that finger on the side where the wound is has no feeling in it --- and may not recover any because he damaged the nerve there, but he did not cut a tendon either.

Lucky, very, very lucky!

So, several hours later he had a very large bandage over the finger, a 10 day supply of antibiotics and a tetanus shot (one of his least favorite things).

Guess there will be little break in the woodworking activities.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fabric and quilts and design

We've been making what I think of as art quilts for a while now.

Each of them begun with a specific gift purpose in mind (except for the angels there at the end that I plan to enter in the State Fair, but after that have no real plan for)

Each of them has been a new adventure, where I've learned a new technique, developed a new theme, etc., etc.

But there's always that issue of finding the fabric that I really want to use --- as in I know exactly what I want, I can see it in my head, but no one else has seen it yet, so no one has made it yet.

As you may recall from yesterday's post, I recently ran across a book about creating your own cloth --- not just that whole "throw it in the washer with rit dye" thing (although that is also a valid step possibility in the process), but the idea of layering techniques -- as in wash it with color then stamp it with your own hand made stamps then paint in some details then add foiling or stitching

All very exciting from the perspective of making a length of one-of-a-kind cloth

But what if I wanted, say 5 or 6 yards of the stuff, with a repeat

The possibilities of that seemed pretty remote

until I was looking at the blog of the author of the most exciting of the books I picked up

she was talking about something called Spoonflower. WOW!! You load up your artwork, you place your order, they print your fabric!!

This is very exciting, and full of amazing possibilities!!!

It boggles the mind (I may need to go lie down a while and contemplate all the things I could do with this idea!)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

movin' along

here, as promised, a first look at the bracelet I've just started working on

There on the left end I've done the orange parts (anything colored yellow will be beaded in orange -- I don't have an orange marker!)

The next step will be the purples then everything else will be greens

The plan is to submit this project to a color competition --- if I get it done in time and if I like the look of it when it's finished

Giraffes rule!!

At least this one has taken over the knitting beyond any thought of sanity!

Finished this back leg last night

I can report that the use of the cardboard yarn bobbins did make it easier, but there is still a certain amount of "detangling" that goes on

So now it's on to the last leg

whooo hoooooo

Under the catagory of "what's going on in the garage workshop", the DH finished this up and carried it into the house yesterday afternoon

You may recall my saying that we plan to move my loom upstairs, now that the piano lives at our daughter's house.

The bench is so I can actually sit at the loom -- and notice the very cool shelf --- or built in tray -- included in this lovely! That is so I have someplace to put shuttles, etc. while I'm working on a project.

He plans to make me a small matching bookcase too, so that my weaving books can be right there within easy reach.

The best part of this is that a lot of the wood he is using is stuff we're recycling from helping to tear out my sister's kitchen for a remodel.

Go Green!!

Late last week I put in requests for some books from our library (I love the way I can browse the card catalog online at all hours of the day and night!)

Anyway, this was one of the ones I had requested, and I can tell you it is AWESOME!!

Enough science to keep you out of trouble, enough imagination to stoke the ideas of those of us who are "science challenged".

She speaks in terms I get --- like "dying is like cooking, you need to make sure you have all the ingredients before you start"!

She also doesn't make it so expensive and scary that you are afraid to even try anything at home.

The way she uses layered techniques is really cool too -- and there is a whole section on creating your own rubber stamps out of things like those foam trays meat comes on.

And the reference charts for materials and techniques -- oh my! What more could one ask for?!

So now I'm wondering if I can get my paws on a copy of this book for my very own so I can fill it with notes (stickies and otherwise) and use it as a guide to some experiments of my own.

looks like I'll be browsing the used books on Amazon!