Thursday, May 27, 2010

Artful Thursday - Inspiration!

I am just home from spending four days in Vancouver, having seen and done some wonderful things!

It started on Sunday, Laura's 25th birthday, with a walk around the Seawall (all 9 kilometres!) and a beautiful view of the Scuba Girl.

An attempt at trick photography,
Laura kept trying to coax Marc's hand into just the right position so it would look like he was holding the statue in his hand - as Maxwell Smart famously said, "Missed it by that much!"

And the next morning a trip to Maiwa Supply on Granville Island to go barrel diving... "What's barrel diving you say?"

You have a choice of three paper bag sizes: $4.00, $6.00 or $10.00 and you stuff whatever scraps and remnants you can from the barrel into your bag with out ripping it. I had four assistants whilst performing my dive: one holding the bag, two holding fabric scraps I didn't want but needed to have out of the way while I dug deeper still, and one coaching. There was much discussion at one point, as I dug ever deeper, about the merits of holding my ankles and letting me go all in - idiots! The barrel is nowhere near deep enough for that but I did appreciate the sentiment. And commentary. 

This is a $6.00 bag full of linen and hand dyed cotton scraps, all organic.

And here it is all dumped out - the size of the pieces vary; most of the remnants are scraps from cutting out clothing but they are terrific for making little bitty things.

Now, on to my project for this week:
I had found a sheet of sticker paper for making labels on computers (which I have absolutely no interest in doing) and thought it might work well for making stickers, using a round, decorative paper punch I bought recently. I found a distressed ink pad and dabbed and smeared it all over the label page until it was pretty well all covered. I punched out a few circles first and then tried stamping them (see the reindeer and holly below) but had trouble getting the stamp centred properly. So, I got out my trusty stamp with writing and stamped that on the sticker sheet using black ink - then punched the stickers. Worked like a charm!

Here's a view of the sheet with some stickers punched out... easy as pie and the sky's the limit!

One of the best finds of the trip was the book "Treasured Notions" by Kaari Meng of French General; I bought it for the pictures of her inspiration boards. I wanted to do one so badly for today - it will have to wait until next week though, as I have much to do and am working tomorrow and Saturday. 
So to satisfy my urge, I laid out a piece of rough cotton I found in a quilt shop, and set out the stickers I just punched, a plain label sheet with a smudge of ink, the doctored up one, some ribbon I found in a fabulous store right across the street from where Laura and Steve live (the grey one in front has tiny taupe snowmen; if you click on the picture you will get a bit better view of them) and a carved wooden button I found at Button Button.

I have a great idea for an easy way to make the Inspiration Board and display it so make sure to check back next Thursday...
And finally, I'll leave you with one last picture - a table runner I finally finished this morning. It's from a purchased pattern, but I did muck with the flower. The original is a daisy of sorts but I wanted a country French feel so I designed a poppy instead. One of my best memories of France was the beautiful fields of red poppies and the blue shutters of Provence and this runner takes me back there every time I look at it; I am definitely keeping this one!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Winner!

I'm a few days late posting the winner of the stitched heart give-away - I have been so busy trying to finish painting the two bathrooms and get ready for our trip to Vancouver!
 We're off to see Laura for her 25th birthday and spend a few days with her and Steve seeing the sights. And shopping. And going to Granville Island. And walking the Seawall... oh right, the winner...

And the winner is...

It was an easy draw as there were only three names; great odds huh?

The comments are much appreciated though; it is always nice to get feedback. 
I am not taking my laptop but will definitely take my camera and next week I'll post a few pictures - maybe even one of the birthday girl herself.

So 'til Thursday!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Artful Thursday - Buttons Galore!

Thursday comes again and this week I wanted to play with silk fabric and buttons.

Years ago I saw a little ornament made with buttons that formed the shape of a Christmas Tree. All the buttons were the same and they were lined up in neat little orderly rows; it was very pretty.

I have collected a number of antique mother-of-pearl buttons over the years, but not very many of the same ones.

So I made my little Christmas Tree like this...

The background is blue silk and the buttons are a variety of vintage, and not so vintage, in shades of ivory and blue.

I cut two squares of silk, both 5 1/2" square, and laid out my design on one.

Leaving that to sit, I thoroughly pressed the other square and basted a piece of thin polyester batting to the wrong side. (This silk doesn't have a wrong side; I am saying that for design purposes only)

I used 3 strands of pale blue embroidery floss for the "tree" buttons and three strands of pale brown embroidery floss for the "trunk" button - you may not see the thread colours very well in the photos but they really are effective in real life. (If you click on the first or last picture you may be able to see it)

I started with the trunk button - just move it over on to the prepared silk square, ensuring it is in the right spot and sew it in place. The way I keep it all straight from there is to take the next row of buttons and lay them in place, above the trunk,until I have them right where I want them - then I put all but one back in place on the other square with the rest of the tree and sew the one I left behind in place. Repeat the process with each button, back and forth until the row is complete.
Then start all over with the next row and work your way up the tree to the star.

Here's a view of the back.

To finish, lay the two squares of silk right sides together and sew around all edges with a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a 2" opening on one side for turning. Clip all four corners and turn right side out. Stuff lightly and hand stitch the opening closed. 

I tied a bow with light green ribbon and sewed it to the front top corner, a 5" length of matching ribbon folded over into a simple loop is attached to the back, behind the bow, for a hanger and little mother-of-pearl button is sewn on to cover the overlap.

The star at the top is a charm I have had kicking around for a few years and had never found the right thing for it. I think maybe now I have!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Very Fine Seam Indeed!

Well here it is, my brand new look - hope you like it!

I think it is a much better reflection of what I do and I am excited about the change.

Karen of Valentine Design created it all from banner to background to side buttons and of course the post dividers (which I think are my personal favourite)! I think she did a splendid job of understanding just what I wanted in both design and colour.

So to celebrate I am having a give-away!

This lovely stitched heart is softly scented with lavender and can be hung by the ribbons or tucked into a drawer...

Just leave a comment telling me what you like best about my new look and on Friday night I will choose a winner!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Artful Thursday - "Ouch" the Snowman

My first pincushion was the standard issue red tomato and it came in the sewing box my Grandmother gave me for my 7th birthday.
My second one was a wrist pincushion I had for "Sewing and Textiles" in Grade 7 - I hated it!

A few months ago the store got in some cute pincushion patterns and having made a few I now have pretty pincushions all over my sewing room.

Has it happened to you that once you take notice of something, you see it everywhere? That's what I'm finding now with pincushions, and I have seen some cuties. I really like the ones that are little animals sitting on something: squirrel on an acorn, rabbit on a spring flower - you get the idea.

One thing I like to make is snowmen - so I thought I would make a snowman pincushion. But what would he sit on? Why, an ice-cube, of course...

Here he is on a dark background,

And again on a light one,

Detail of the ice cube - I embroidered snowflakes!

This is the back view. I covered the seam of the hat with a button.(The seam becomes visible when you fold up a brim)

A better view from the back.

He was such fun to make and all I knew at the start was that he would sit on an ice cube. In order to not have him too tall, and thus "tippy" he is composed of only two snowballs. I put plastic pellets into all three components (cube and both balls) as well as fibre fill just to make him more stable.

The twig arms are pieces from mint I dried last year and the scarf is knitted on tiny needles and is only 5 stitches across so it was quick to make.

I had no buttons small enough in the right colour for his belly so I stitched little snowflakes there too. (You can click on any of the pictures for a closer look)

The pins are meant to be stuck into the ice cube - granted there isn't much room for many but I think his cuteness makes up for the lack of practicality!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What's Doin'?

There's a lot going on in my corner these days - I have finally started on some much needed home renovations and have almost finished two of the three bathrooms. The To Do List is very long but I am glad to have begun.

I have also decided to renovate my blog - Recherche seemed like a good idea at the time (as all good ideas worth their salt do) but after many, many people asking me how to say it, and what does it mean, I decided things should be a little simpler. So I have found a blog designer, sent her a raft of pictures and she will give me a brand new look. My blog that is. Banners. Post Dividers. (Somehow right now I am thinking of the Beverly Hillbillies???? Are you, or am I alone in this?)

Anyhow, my new name will be "A Fine Seam" and in a week or two Karen will come up with something stunning and things will look a little different around here. You just wait and see.

Pretty good graphic image of fine seams don't you think? Get where I'm coming from?

I sent her this one as well - told her I like beachy colours - the ones where you can't always tell where the sky ends and the water begins; subtle, undefined.

(When I was picking paint colours I found I was gravitating to the ones in between the colours - where beige changed to grey and blue shifted to green - betwixt and between. And isn't betwixt a great word?)

This was another photo I sent to Karen - me and my hearts! I especially like the heart angel - both her body and her wings are hearts and I have been collecting buttons so I can make some for this year's Sale.

I have also enrolled myself in an online journaling course by Stephanie Lee - already I am loving it. Before quilting, before beading, before knitting and before glueing I remember sitting on a big rock in a vacant lot near our home, with my grown-up purse that either belonged to my Mother or Grandmother and, with a pen, made wavy lines in a notebook - I was writing. I have always wanted to write - trouble was, I never thought I had a story to tell.

Took me 45 years to learn their didn't need to be a "story" - I could just write.

And so now I am.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers and Mothering

Mother's Day has always been special to me because I have the best Mom in the whole wide world. She has taught me a lot of things that have stood me well over the years but the real reason she is the best is because she loves me.

And of course, that means everything.

I was remembering in elementary school when we would make something special for our moms - I always hoped it wouldn't have to have writing on it as my penmanship was not good, not good at all no matter how much I laboured over it.

So today I went back in time and made something special to take to her tonight...

A little lavender-scented crazy quilted heart with my favourite hand stitching. I even stitched a little tag and yes, I struggled. It seems the medium doesn't make a difference!

And here's a view of the back - I was so happy when I found the little heart buttons.

Today is also a day I reflect on my own children; what our relationship means to me and of course, what it might mean to them. I was so happy when I became a mother and have been grateful everyday for what they have brought to my life. They have made me happier, kinder, and smarter than I believed I had the capacity for but most of all, they make me aware; aware of the gift and beauty of life and love.

Friday, May 7, 2010

When You're Three and Afraid of Fairies

Twenty-two years ago next month I was travelling down the Alaska Highway with my Mom, Step-Dad, daughter Laura (3) and son Joey (1). Mom and Harold were up to the Yukon for a visit and the kids and I were extending it by going south with them and Marc (my husband) would pick us up in Castlegar two weeks later.

The first night we stopped at a pull-out for the night (a flat, gravelly patch off the highway for all you Southerners) and Mom requested we kids (me, and mine) go outside while she made dinner. Funny isn't it how you are always a child while your Mom is in the world?

Anyway, to keep Laura occupied I took her over to a little creek, not more than a foot wide, and said "Let's look for fairies!".

She burst into tears and pronounced she didn't like fairies - at all. And that was that. For twenty-two years.

And then... a fabric company licensed Cicely Mary Barker's Flowers Fairies...

At one of the Demos at the store I threw out a fairy challenge and seven people took it.

Two weeks later we had this!

So I made matching fairy hearts for all the participants to thank them for playing along.

If you haven't heard of the Flower Fairies you must check them out - they have their own website... but if you have a really warped sense of humour, you might like this!

And in case you didn't guess, the Fairy Flower Press is mine!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Artful Thursday - A Floral Garden

The sun is out and flowers are blooming, even in my studio!

The other day at work I was re-arranging some things and came upon a stash of little pre-made ribbon flowers. I usually like to make my own but these were pretty cute - and very little - not something my shaking fingers can easily tackle! Jan offered me a few packages to bring home and play with...

So I grabbed some fabric with tiny flowers in pretty colours...

Cut a stack of 1 1/2" squares, and pieced them together to look like this. After it was all pieced, I fused some very lightweight batting to the back and trimmed 1/4" off all four sides with a pinking blade on my rotary cutter.

I chose a matching green embroidery thread and using one strand of floss, quilted diagonally through all the squares. I did this by hand, but if you want a well-defined quilting pattern you should do it by machine.

Centre on your card front (these are pre-made but you can easily make your own from any colour card-stock) and attach it with either a glue stick or double-sided tape. Glue a little ribbon rose in each corner and that's it!

The little oval medallion in the centre (photo at top) has a "punched" centre and I free-cut the outer white oval from card-stock. I used a glue stick to hold them together and then attached that to the centre of the "quilt" with glue as well.

And there it is, a quilted and be-ribboned flower garden that will bloom for a very long time!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Organized Chaos

In a very early issue of Victoria magazine there was an article about a woman who collected antique textiles and once a year she would invite her friends to her home and allow them to purchase these beautiful treasures. Every piece was lovingly arranged to show it to it's best advantage and she served an array of artfully presented hors d'ouvres and baked goods along with specially selected wines. I thought it sounded wonderful and wished I was one of her friends...

So I decided on the next best thing and that would be to hold my own yearly sale in my home and invite all my friends. This year marks the twentieth anniversary of my sale and I want this year's to be the most special of all.

I usually don't begin preparations in earnest until Fall, and even then the invitations aren't made until November, but I have already begun - in fact, I began a month ago when my daughter Laura was here for a visit. She wanted to help with something and as she had already done enough baking to last us a month I set her to work on my Sale invitations. They are now all done except for the printed information regarding the date and time.

Last week I had an idea for the tags. I had some printed while still living in the Yukon and as I had them make 500 they have lasted for a long, long time. I still have enough to last a few years more but I want a change.

I had seen images of all sorts of little dyed tags; some were stamped, some had lace or ribbons and pretty jewels attached, and some had all of the above; plain or fancy, take your pick. But I like making my own things and this is what I came up with...

I found some manila tags in the local stationery store and although they had several sizes to choose from I thought they were all too long for their width. So I chose a size that had the right width for little price tags and began by chopping off half an inch from the length of each one - much better!

After dyeing them with a slurry of coffee grounds, instant espresso and a shot of vanilla I let them dry for a whole day. I have a stamp with French script so I stamped each one, front and back - pretty already!

I hand cut all the little papers and glued them on so I would have a place to write something and then tied all the little ribbon bows (all 80 of them!) and glued them on. Then I just had to add the string for tying them on.

I liked them so much I decided to make some more but this time I will leave the length alone and then sell them as gift tags.

Cute huh? And way too much fun to do!