Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Artful Thursday - Art To Go

Have you ever gone on a road trip and packed up some stitching to take along?
I have. I can't be without a needle in my hand for more than a day or two so I am always planning portable projects for when I am travelling.
Years ago I bought a "Project Pack" which was a small, pre-quilted "tote" that had two side pockets and in which you could stash a project or two to take along.
(I still have it but it's so icky I won't take a picture of it - picture dark blue calico from the 80s!)
In the latest issue of Handcrafted there is a reprint of an article by Rebecca Sower about her portable art studio and I was intrigued. What a great idea - don't pack a specific project, pack supplies and then be creative with what you find when you open the lid.
Just the thing for my Mom and I on our journey north.
So I got on Etsy and found this...

A vintage train case, just the right size, with a key and a working lock no less! (You never know - there might be craft bandits on that long stretch of road)

So I have started filling it with bits and pieces and stuff. The wooden bobbins I found weeks ago are just like the ones Rebecca used for thread in hers - yes, I shamelessly copied that idea! 

I'm not finished yet but then we don't leave for three more weeks; lots of time to add all manner of bits and bobs for sewing fun.
But I did think about how we would store our PHDs (projects half done - sounds like a degree in the making huh?) so I came up with my own version of the 1980s "Project Pack". Of course I had to make one for each of us...

This one's mine (recognize my initial? - that hearkens back to my days as a banker, where your initial is as important as your signature!) The linen is from my barrel diving escapade on Granville Island back in May. The label stamp was put to good use to make the frame for my initials and the bit of lace is from yesterday's misadventures with tea.

And this one is for my Mom:

My crude attempt at a monogram - did I not tell you in a previous post I have issues with art for my Mom that includes printing? I am either ridiculously stubborn or entirely forgetful! Anyway, as always, it really does look much better in person. And since she's my Mom, she'll like it anyway. (It's a Mom Rule - they always like what their kids make.)

So here they are, ready for our PHDs! A pretty nice way to store a project until the next camping spot... and they fit perfectly inside the little train case (finally, math that actually worked!)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Tea Party and Diane's New Shop!

Today I felt like sewing but the forecast here was for 34 degrees C which is about 94 F - sewing and pressing are not a whole heck of a lot of fun when it's hot and we still do not have insulation in the attic. The top floor where my work room is gets mighty hot late in the day (we have central air, but without insulation, it's a losing battle on the top floor!)
So I got busy first thing this morning and started on this...

I love turkey red with black and brown and although none of these prints are reproduction, they are reminiscent of the 1800s style.

Tonight I will get it layered and tomorrow morning I can quilt and bind it. I like it already but as quilting really does make the quilt I am looking forward to seeing what it looks like all done.

Once it was too hot to be upstairs anymore I thought it might be fun to have a tea party. Three different types of tea were served: Red Rose black tea, Celestial Seasonings True Blueberry and Celestial Seasonings Black Cherry Berry.
And I invited several pieces of lace...

The photo shows the first results: the white lace at the top is an example of just how white it was before dipping, the second piece down was dipped in the True Blueberry, the third down was dipped in Black Cherry Berry and the last one in the Red Rose black tea. 
I had hoped the blueberry tea would give something purplish but instead it's a clear pink while the cherry tea yielded a much softer one, which I had thought might be redder.
Not quite happy, I played some more.

The photo above is white lace on top and then red Rose black tea beneath; this time it was double-dipped but turned out not much different than before.
The next photo shows the same white lace but this time I added some of the black tea to some of the cherry tea and got a lovely brownish-pink, which I love! Too bad the picture doesn't show it off, but I am no photographer. If you click on it you will likely get a better idea of the colour.

And last week the DMC Linen Threads finally arrived and I picked up a few of them - I cannot resist linen in any form it seems.

And last but not least, I finally made it to the scrapbooking store in Vernon and picked up a label stamp I have been wanting for a very long time. I saw it there weeks ago and although I liked the design, I couldn't think what I would do with it. 
So, I left it on the shelf and patted myself on the back for showing such discipline.
The next day I knew exactly what I would do with that darn stamp. 

Argh! Twice I made special trips to Vernon (it's a 40 minute drive) and both times the store was closed. Well, dear Reader, I finally got it.
And tomorrow I'll finally get to use it, with my newly-dyed lace and my linen thread.
I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight!

And just in case you can't sleep - my friend Diane and her daughter Holly have opened a new Etsy Shop called Cottage By The Pond and they have some pretty fabulous things for sale. Diane has been making pillows and cuffs that are simply stunning (I have one of her cuffs and it is just beautiful!) but they also sell PDF patterns of bags, scarves and nifty little totes.
And they are having a Giveaway so you really must go and take a look! Etsy is a great forum for buying handmade and you won't be disappointed with Diane's beautiful work.
Please, take a look and see for yourself!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Last Word

In the heat of the summer I am thinking of winter.
And the reason for that is because of my Sale which will be held at my house at the end of November. The date has already been chosen but I can't remember what it is.
And that's just fine. 
"How can that be fine?" you might ask...
Well, my friends, it's because I have not one, but two managers now.
And it all started with the fine fellows below...

I have had a manager for my Sale ever since the first one held here in Salmon Arm after our big move. In Whitehorse, YT, where it all originated, I managed just fine on my own. (Well, aside from the bootlegging the year I added Cranberry Cordial to the list of offerings - and the tiny detail of the Sale being held in the Yukon Government Leader's house that year. I just had to promise there were no Members of the Opposition invited...)
Anyhow, I digress.

I have a Sale every year but I am not the boss of it - my good friend Glenda is. I am not in charge of what I make or what I name my creations, nor the food I serve, nor the beverages. (For example, if I make Sangria, no kiwi - apparently it goes mushy!). Everything is up for argument - um, I mean, discussion and there is a meeting with beverages prior to the Sale where I am given orders, I mean - direction - as to what would be good sellers based on last year's feedback etc.
Another thing Glenda looks after is the tagging of the items. It's an important task she takes very seriously - that's when we argue about the name, the price and whether or not I will take orders for it if it's in high demand. 
Once everything is tagged, she arranges all of it.
Which brings me to why I now have two managers.
Last year, once everything was all laid out my husband came upstairs to check it all out. "Not enough cute stuff", he declared - "too many quilted things". "What about that snowman thing in your room?"
"Not for sale" I emphatically stated. I had made it for me and used all my favourite bits.

Glenda's ears perked up right away - there were more goods to be had. Off they went to discuss it further and came downstairs with my stacked snowmen in hand, pronouncing it just the thing to add the missing pizzazz with assurances that I was not to worry, I could easily make another for myself.
When the doors opened at 7:30pm, the snowmen were the first item snatched up, with multiple orders for more. 
On the heels of his marketing success, Marc has decided he should be a Co-Manager.

 Him and Glenda are meeting to discuss the merits of serving champagne to attendees, valet parking (it does get a little silly some years), gifts with purchase (I'm ahead of them on that one), mini quiches, a bargain basement for last year's leftovers and of course, how many of the Stacked Snowmen I should make for this year.

There will be no arguing about the name though - I've already christened them "The Abominable Snowmen"!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Fine Start

Well, for better or worse, I have finally made a start.
I have been thinking long and hard about what to make for the Swap; you probably thought since I was the instigator that I might have had an idea or two prior to the call-out for participants?
Well, you would have thought wrong. No idea, not even a clue. Just a wish to create. And not be alone.
I have learned over the years that over-thinking something does not work for me. At all. So I did what I always do, and left the problem with my brain and thought about something else. 
Sure enough, just as I was settling in to a great, long thought about how I could change my work room around to make it better for how I create, the ideas came. In a flood. Rolling in, one on top of the other, and I felt like I couldn't work fast enough!

I think I have mentioned before I never get the whole vision, right at the start. It is given to me in dribs and drabs - "Do this and it will be smashing!" the voice says. And I reply "Yes, but then what?" "Who cares?" is the response. "Do it and the rest will come."
Kind of like in Field of Dreams.
Annoying as all get out, but I have learned to trust it. 
So I played with my ribbons and this is what I have done so far.

The rose ribbon was a very special one I bought many years ago at a lovely store called The Ribbonry in Portland, Oregon. It is from Italy and was a whopping $36.00 per yard - 8 years ago. It is the most beautiful ribbon I own, and I own very little of it!

I love the little snowman ribbon in this one - I found it in Vancouver this past May and it was pretty tricksy to weave the ribbons and keep some of them showing!

This one is much softer in real life - just cannot take a decent picture for anything and there is only so much photo editing one can do.

So there they are, four bases ready for the next step. I have no clue what the next step is yet as the little voice hasn't yet divulged it. And I have run out of ribbon ideas for the 5th one so heaven knows what divine inspiration I will get for that one.
I guess I'll just have to wait and see!

Several people inquired about the wax I mentioned in my previous post - it's called "Australian Made Natural Bee's Wax Furniture Polish" and this one is "Soft Black Stain". I got it from Cobwebs Antiques in Enderby, B.C.  and they use it to re-condition all the wood items they sell. 

Suztats posted her first Swap piece with a charming little poem so please go check it out.
And Diane was up to three swap pieces posted last time I looked so if you haven't had a gander at them, you must go there too! (I've linked to the latest one so you must look at the rest of her blog to see the others.)

I am adding a Swap Spot to my sidebar and will list all the blogs there for easy access so you can see what everyone is up to.

Me, I'll be waiting for more direction from my Muse... and in the meanwhile, back to my workspace ideas...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Dishes Issues

We have dishes issues in our house.

The first issue is one with guests - I don't use the dishwasher and that shocks most people into speechlessness. For about one minute, whereupon they launch into a dissertation on the merits of a dishwasher and how very odd I must be.
I hate dishwashers, and yes, hate is a strong word but in this issue, it's the right one. They are noisy, smelly, make the dishes feel funny and add humidity to the house. And they cost money I would rather spend on other things.
Give me a sink full of warm, soapy, fragrant water and a linen towel any day!

The towels are the second issue. My husband is the tidiest person I know and as soon as the dishtowel is wet, it's in the laundry. Great - who doesn't love a clean, fresh, crisp linen towel?

Which brings me to part three of the dishes issue - my kitchen is teeny and has almost no cupboard space, hence the dish towels are in the laundry room And when my dear husband takes the wet towel off to be laundered, he more often than not neglects to bring one back. So I am often left standing about with drippy hands.

So here's my solution. I saw this on a blog a long time ago and I honestly can't remember which one but she had some smashing ideas for things like this.

I found an old wooden crate at the antique store, sanded it and waxed with blackened finishing wax - the black in the wax brings back the beauty of the wood. (The last part of that sentence sounded like a Dr. Seuss story...)
I got some more linen and hemmed up another pile of towels, bought an olive oil dispenser for my Olive Oil & Coriander Dish Soap and added my scrub brush from Williams-Sonoma and Ta Da! 
The last thing was to put some thin cork sheeting on the bottom of the box to keep it from scratching the counter top, and to absorb any water splashes.
Now I have clean towels whenever I want them. And I tell my astounded friends that dishwasher paraphernalia would not look the same. So there.

Now on to other things.
Below is some beautiful lace a good friend brought back for me from her recent trip to Belgium - lucky me.

 I think the two wider laces above would be wonderful for those wrist cuffs like the beautiful one Diane Knott made for me!

More treasures from Belgium...

Yesterday I mussed and fussed with this journal cover some more. I am much happier with it and it didn't take all that much. I remembered one of the things I had learned in Collage Camp - if you don't like something, glue something else on top of it!

So I glued more silk carrier rods on top of the stitched word, added seed beads and buttons, a ruched flower (I can make other kinds but this one was already done and looked perfect), more lace and more buttons.

Much better!

The only trouble now is - it's a bit frilly for my friend's taste I think so this one will go in my Sale and I am off to conjure up something else!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Artful Discoveries

Last week I was in Chapters and came upon some moleskin notebooks... I have seen many  journal covers over the years but hadn't yet tried my hand...

So the notebooks followed me home and provided inspiration for this week's project. The impetus was a desire to make something for a special friend I will be visiting up in the Yukon next month. 
The collage course I'm taking relies on photo transfers for part of the design which is a bit of a challenge for me as I don't have an ink jet printer - but I do have fabrics with pretty prints!

This will be the bookplate page - I'm not quite finished, thinking about what else I want here...

This is the overleaf of the bookplate page - perhaps a Table of Contents in waiting?

This was a straight-across envelope pocket in it's first life  - I traced a curve with a bowl, cut it along the line, glued some lace along the inside of the curve and then stamped it; not a girly stamp, but still nature-inspired.

Little keepsake envelopes so she can tuck away special treasures.

Not quite finished, but getting there. I like the silver corners and just need to "crimp" them in place. The squares behind the buttons are hand-dyed silk carrier rods. (I need to play with these a lot more!)

I can't honestly say I am very happy with this piece but it's the same old thing with me - I am seeing it for what it isn't rather than what it is. I had higher hopes for it, loftier expectations and so far it hasn't lived up to them. I don't know quite why that is, but it's just left of centre.
Does that happen to you? Big ideas, great inspirations but the workings fall flat?
This is for a special friend who is going through some very troubling times and I wanted it to be something amazing; I think perhaps I was too attached to the outcome.
There is still time though, so I'll put it away for now and let time and distance work their magic, and hope I will one day see it for what it is rather than what it isn't.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bloggers Are Creating!

So here we go!

A few thank yous are definitely in order: first of all, to Diane Knott and to Thespa for both blogging about my proposed Swap - if it hadn't been for them I don't believe it would have happened; I am beyond grateful!

Here are the participants:

Diane Knott of Diane Knott's Musings

Susan of Suztats

Dorthe of Den Lille Lade

Tina Marie of Patina Marie

Genevieve of GM Glitterglass

Elizabeth of Elizabeth Creates

Marie of Spun By Me

Lucille - Lucille has not yet started a blog; she is a quilter, fibre and embellishment artist extraordinaire (and is also quite likely to be annoyed with me for saying so!)


I am thrilled and honoured that you would all participate in this swap; I have been to all the blogs and can attest to the outstanding work that each participant will contribute.

Ladies, I think we're in for a real treat!

And so, to reiterate:

All artworks will be 5" square

You'll send 5 pieces in for the swap and will receive 5 pieces in exchange

You may use any medium or media you wish, or a combination - it's all up to you!

Please try to have them to me by September 6 (If you post them from anywhere in the USA by Sept 1 they should be here around then, give or take a day or two).

I will do the Swap and send parcels back to each of you within two days of the receipt of the last parcel, but will keep you up to date as they arrive.

I have been pondering the workings of the swap and will email all of you with a suggestion that I think will give a completely random result. I am always open to suggestions though so please feel free to voice your thoughts - it's our swap, not mine.

I am so thrilled!

Let the creating begin!!!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Artful Bagging

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while now may recollect me sometimes writing of my once a year Sale, held at my home, sometime toward the end of November. In fact, one of my Artful Thursday projects was the making of the price tags for this year's event.
This year is the 20th Anniversary of my very first Sale and so I am doing a few things to make it extra-special.
Today I designed this; a fancy little shopping bag with a cute hang tag!

I found some lovely brocade-type fabric on sale (buy one metre, get three free - yippee!) and it was 60" wide to boot! I made a box-style tote bag with a fabric-covered cardboard bottom for extra sturdiness. (I made it extra quick by gluing the fabric to the cardboard.)

Front view of the hang tag...

Back view...

The hang-tag was as simple as can be. I tore two fabric squares the same size and then cut a square of Heat 'n' Bond Ultra paper-backed fusible web. The fusible web is an easy way to "glue" two pieces of fabric together. 
I cut the Heat 'n' Bond 1/4" smaller than the fabric squares, fused it to the wrong side of one piece of fabric, peeled the paper off and then fused the other piece of fabric to that, wrong side down.
The flower is ruched muslin and is glued on the tag, with a button glued in the centre.
I punched an eyelet in the top corner, threaded through enough cord to make a hanging loop and finished it off with a seam binding bow glued over the eyelet hole.

Et Voila!

So now all the design details are worked out - I just have to make 14 more... I am thinking I will give these to the people who spend $100.00 or more. Just a special little thank you from me!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Very Good Browse

Yesterday my daughter and I spent a lovely day together, browsing around all sorts of stores from here to Kelowna and back again. I was coming up empty-handed until the last stop; my favourite little antique store in Enderby never fails to offer up a treasure or two...

I was thrilled to find these metal topped bobbins! I have three of a different style that I picked up in Skagway, Alaska in about 1991 or thereabouts and had not had any luck finding any since. Lace, buttons, a little cork-topped jar, vintage postcard and tiny oil can for sewing machines rounded out my purchases.

Today it's back to work for me; I am knee deep in the workroom. I have already hemmed four new linen towels that are now drying in the sunshine (that sizing is darn hard to get out!) and then I decided to tackle this:

I think I am finished with it now but you never know; collage is one of those things that even weeks later you can go back and add more. I think I'll live with it as is, but the Sale isn't until November so it could still undergo a change or two before then.

I had fun with this part - bits of threads from washing fabrics, tiny buttons I swiped from my stash for angels, plus twill tape and lace. Doo-dads, clumpies, rippin' and a-tearin' are all things I have learnt about in the Collage Camp Class. This piece didn't start out with that idea in mind but I'm glad I switched gears, even if only a little bit at a time.

I am still hoping for a couple of more people for the Swap I posted about below this one. So far, Diane of Diane Knott's Musings and Suz of Suztat are on board with one other that is a "maybe". I'm pretty sure most of the visitors to my blog are well aware of what a fantastic artist Diane is and Suz does some of the most beautiful tatting I have ever seen. She has been working on tatted snowflakes... I'm wondering...
So if you are interested, remember - they don't have to be quilted or of any particular technique; 5" square is the criteria and the rest is up to you!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

If You Want To Dance With Me...

I love the Beatles. And Chuck Berry. 
So when I was thinking of asking if there might be anyone out there that would be interested in joining in on my latest brainwave, well - this is the line that popped into my head first, "If you want to dance with me?"
A song first recorded by Chuck Berry and covered by the Beatles.

I saw this in a past issue of Cloth Paper Scissors and thought it might be a springboard for a fun Christmas project class down at the store. The plan is teach it in two parts, the first being all about foundation and design ideas and the second on embellishment techniques. And from what they have learned, the participants would make enough of these little squares to swap and come away with a unique Christmas/Winter wall hanging. 
The ones in the magazine have a bird theme, which you can see in the close up below.

So, here's what I'm looking for:
I could make all the squares for the sample myself, but I'm not sure people would get a sense of how dynamic and interesting these can be when made by different artists.
I thought perhaps some of you might be interested in a swap where you would make five 5" square "quilts" with a Christmas or Winter theme. (I am calling them quilts for lack of a better word but they don't have to be quilted, or even made of fabric for that matter.)

You'd have to send them to me, to arrive not later than September 6th, I would then swap them all and mail the collections back to each of you.
I would absolutely not be using your design to teach from; it would be shown as inspiration only. I am very particular about copyrights and infringements and your work would be protected; I would just like to be able to show the class participants a piece containing varied work by varied artists.
If you're interested in participating, here's what you need to know:

- the deadline to arrive here in B.C. Canada is Sept. 6

- the "quilts" must be 5" square and of a material that fasteners of some sort can be attached to by the recipients (the samples above have eyelets)

- you can use any technique or materials you like - it does not have to be a "quilt", I just don't know what else to call them

- you would have to make 5 squares for this swap; they can all be the same or different - your choice!

- the theme is Christmas/Winter

If you're interested in playing along, leave a comment letting me know by July 7th, and if you have any questions or concerns let me know that too. I'm kind of making this up as I go so am open to suggestions!