Thursday, January 27, 2011

Draggin' the Line

He's my muse I think - Robert Service. 
I love this picture of him (you've seen it here before); it just looks to me like he's on his soapbox, telling someone, anyone, something important, something that really matters... there's an earnestness about him that appeals...

and it seems, mayhap, I'm on my own soapbox, of sorts...

Sitting here in the quiet lamplight of the family room, sipping wine and coming off a very busy two weeks, with three more days to go before there comes a break.
Feeling at a bit of a loose end..

As I wasn't teaching on this schedule I signed myself up for a few online classes and am also feeling the busyness of that, along with two jobs and a burning desire to get back at some long overdue home renos. Not to mention having opened an Etsy shop, deciding Yoga Everyday is a good thing and that I would like to get back to writing letters. Somewhere in the midst of that was a desire for contentment. 

(my son, stretching after a triathlon - I see it as powerful imagery!)

I'm not feeling overwhelmed, that isn't where this is leading; I'm just looking at things differently - I've heard yoga can do that to you, but I also might be inclined to vote for the wine...
I'm thinking about what I want, what I really don't want, what makes my heart sing and what drowns it out...

 In that vein, today I was pondering the differences between "personal" and "personality".
I am of the mind that when I write here my personality may come through, but I often think it is not very personal. I'm not really sure why - I guess because this blog stemmed from a desire to be a part of something that completely intrigued me, and the belief that it should be about what I do rather than what I think, or feel, or hope for...
I have to say though, the blog posts I enjoy elsewhere are always the ones that are the most personal.

I don't even know where I am going with this except to say I am more content in my busyness than I ever thought possible, I am so grateful everyday for the life I have, I enjoy this corner of my world more than I could ever articulate and I can't believe so many of you continue to come to read my thoughts and that some even choose to answer back.

I know I will never be all I could be, there are words in me that will never be said, more ideas than can ever be brought to fruitition, and ideals that won't always be lived up to. 
That doesn't mean it is a life less lived. 
Maybe when we just sit and enjoy the world in which we are, maybe that is the life best lived.

As I wrote this post, the lyrics of the song Draggin' the Line came into my head over and over again - check it out ... I first heard this song in the early 70's on a K-Tel LP and they are as relevant today as they were 40 (ugh - really, 40?) years ago - and the video is pretty good too.

Tommy James and the Shondells had some of the best songs ever; who didn't lament a   teenage love over the refrains of Crimson and Clover? Or wish some teenage boy was lamenting over you? Best slow dance song ever.

Well, the wine is almost gone now and my thoughts are settling...

thanks for listening

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lazy Beast

Fresh bottle of wine, new attitude.

Me that is, not Bozzy!

Photoshop is a truly humbling experience, but then so is this cat...

He is so daft, as soon as he hears the door to the stove open he comes running. And if his pillow isn't already parked in front of it, he'll sit in the spot and stare at you until you fetch it.

About a half hour after this picture was taken he was sprawled out, head off the pillow on one end, legs and tail dragging on the floor at the other - methinks yet another, larger pillow is in order.

It took about three days and thirty tries to get this edited, texted, re sized and saved. It wouldn't upload to the blog, so I fiddled and saved some more. I saved it under so many different names: Bozzy 1, Bozzy 2, Boz 1, B 1, (you can see an abbreviated pattern developing) and so on, and so on... and the one that worked?


Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Under Construction

Hello Monday!

I wracked my brain on the weekend, trying to decide what I wanted to tackle today. When a pile of things artfully stacked in the closet of my sewing room came crashing down on my I was "struck" with an idea.

Several years ago I was reading an issue of Junk Market Style magazine and came across the niftiest message board made out of a swing-out clothes drying rack. I searched high and low in the antiques district of Calgary, hoping to find one but all I came across of interest that day was a printer's tray. 
(I must admit, I had no idea what that was and had to ask!)

So I took it home, cleaned it, stained it and did this...

(the guy on the mountain top is my son - he thought I might like to see where he went one day when he had told me he was going out for a "long walk"!)

There were no dividers in the tray - it came empty so I just sanded, stained and varnished it (the wood was in pretty bad shape so there was no way to leave it natural), and then attached fold-back clips with decorative upholstery tacks.
The hanger is bathtub chain bought at The Home Depot. The old gent helping me was a little taken aback to find out what I wanted it for but once I explained it to him in detail, he helped figure what would be the best size and then how to attach it to the back. (Every time I went there after that he would always stop to ask what I was mustering up now!)

It's hanging in my sewing room, right next to my sewing machine and is a great place to hang all manner of cards and photographs, and little bits of paper I want to save. (The picture at the bottom is of a good friend from the Yukon on the left and myself on the right.)

When I went to hang it on the wall I didn't like the nail showing and as I had no ideas of how to camouflage it, I made this dried flower arrangement to conceal it.

I liked how it looked so much I went back and bought a second tray!

This one is divided so I thought I would do the same clips in the top and cork for the bottom.
I stained and varnished it a couple of years ago and then stuffed it in the closet waiting for a rainy day.
Today when everything fell on me I decided a snowy day was good enough!

I cut the bulletin board cork to size and attached it with Contact Cement (I absolutely love the smell of Contact Cement, which used to make my mother mental when I was child - I was always trying to get into it!)

My "girl hammer" which is pretty much useless for anything except push pins (a gift from my son in the hopes I won't hurt myself - I'm a wee bit clumsy).

So I got out the big hammer and am ready to bang those pins in place. In the meanwhile though, I got to work on the dried arrangement for the hanger...

an assortment of "stuff"

dry florist's foam with the base branches in place

filling in, adding other greenery

the end result

I added a piece of driftwood from Marsh Lake, pine cones, dried seed pods and raffia bow. 

Once I get the tacks hammered it will be all ready to hang - just have to figure out where I put the leftover bathtub chain when I cleaned my room a few weeks ago... I know I just saw it... 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A New Idea

I find artists often write a lot about inspiration.

They write about where it comes from and what they do when they get it, whether they jump right in and create, or jot notes down in a treasured ideas book before their newest idea is lost in the busyness of a creative mind.

"Inspiration Inspires" is what happens to me. 

Every new idea I get leads to at least one more, and that usually leads to others, and so on until my mind is a whirling dervish (I love that expression!).

When I made the little torn muslin stocking before Christmas, I was so taken with the effect that I began to wonder what else I could rip and tear. After working on it one afternoon I put it on a pile of crazy quilted stockings and the wheels started turning - why couldn't I crazy quilt with torn fabrics?

I think part of me really didn't want to try it because I kept arguing with myself about it - went sort of like this:

"Can't do it - crazy quilting fabrics need to be all angled, and you can't tear fabric that way."

"Well, I could cut it, and then fray those edges with a pin, a nail brush and small sharp scissors to cut in to the fringe - "faux ripped" I'll call it."

"Maybe - but what about the decorative stitches that go over the seams? Huh? How about them?"

"Stitch them just to the side of the torn edge, far enough away so you see the fringe but close enough they seem like a design unit - and following that edge will help keep the stitching straight, even without a seam."

I love how it looks! It's exactly how I was picturing it in my mind during the argument, half of which wasn't even necessary because the pieces don't need to torn on an angle; three of the sides get overlapped by the adjacent fabrics anyway. (You might have to look at it close up to understand what I mean here)

Necessary or not, I love that back and forth in my brain, the puzzling it out and oftentimes I find my brain has over thought it, as in this case. As soon as I started actually working on this heart, I realized that issue was non-existent and the rest just fell into place.  

The rose is made by twisting and coiling one strand of pink Perle Coton #3 and one strand of white "Spring", tacking in place as I went. The knot I used to join the threads together formed the centre of the rose; that knot was another "problem" in my mind but my fingers knew just what to do with it when I started.

I am pretty happy with this one so far but need to get it finished - it's for Debbie's Swap over at the Mosaic Magpie and I need to get it to her by February 7.

No time for any more arguments!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Pretty in Pink

How nice to get up this morning knowing the first thing on the To Do List was to do something fun - I don't get days like that very often.

Every since I lifted my head from quilting and discovered the world of mixed media I have been entranced by cuffs. I have seen many on other blogs like Thespa's, bought a beautiful white lace and sea shell similar to this one from Diane and finally decided today was the day to try my own...

here's the start of it... 
(much better looking if you click on it!)

I started my foundation with these:

green silk and black velvet lace, layered onto a lightweight fusible interfacing

a mixture of silk fibres and ribbons

buttons and beads - you'll notice most of the buttons have a sort Art Deco sensibility to them. I was trying to capture that sort of effect with the cuff but you really only see that in the pink silk fibres that are gathered in the centres. I wanted to use the buttons above but they wouldn't sit right - I used the flower flat beads instead. And, they match the centre button - bonus!

Here it is again with a black surround - I think I prefer the white one in the top photo...

I'm not finished yet - lots more to add to the front still and then I have to line it and add the closures. I'll be sure to post pictures when I'm finished!

Speaking of photography - I laughed at some of your comments on my previous post - seems Photoshop isn't friendly to many!

I edited these pictures in iPhoto because I needed a break from thinking so hard - aannnd, the online course I'm taking starts tomorrow. Then I can get serious with it!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Art and Accomplishments of Perseverance


As an ox, as a mule, as a true blue Yukoner.

You have to be stubborn to live through six weeks of average temperatures  of -35 degrees Celsius. I've done that more than once, more than twice even. Which is partly why I don't live there anymore.

But when I picked up, packed up and move to sunnier, warmer climes, I brought my stubbornness with me.

Good thing too, because I have just met up with Photoshop.

Holy Cow!!!

This post is really supposed to be about my friend Diane Knott who sent me this for Christmas...

a beautiful lavender filled pincushion

It smells heavenly and looks even better. 
I have had it for a few days, which is exactly how long it has taken me to figure out how to edit the photo and get it uploaded to my blog. 
You just can't show a lovely gift like this with a crummy picture and as my picture-taking abilities are sadly lacking, I need the photo editor in a big way.

It has been a humbling experience ("Help" and I are not friends - I ask you - how do you get help when you don't even know what to call what it is that you want to know!!??!)

Anyhow - I persevered and this what I did!

I love pictures with words and I have wanted to do this for a very long time!

I can't even find the original, unedited photo, so the one at the top is how it looks after some doctoring and the one directly above is my first attempt at adding writing.

I am so pleased to be able to show you Diane's lovely work for the gift that it is.

Diane, you have inspired me beyond measure and I am so grateful for your kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity. 

And to the "cussedest land that I know" - 

I am grateful for teaching me that giving up is not an option!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monday's 'Musement - Wired!


What I'm about to post is not quite what I had in mind for today.... a few things got in the way today.... more on that later, for now, here's what I've been up to...

I bought this issue last Spring and promptly drove an hour and 15 minutes to the nearest Michael's to get some supplies - I was that inspired!

These little clay hearts by Becky Shander are so sweet and since general instructions were provided...

I found the clay, the ink, the snowy goopy stuff (which is downright nasty to work with), wire, and beads.

I made the clay hearts the next day, managed to get them painted and "snowy" over the next week and then they sat... I was at the hard part... 

wire and beads!

I can bead just fine with a needle and thread but jewellery techniques - I know nothing. As evidenced in the picture above, which you will have to click on.

But I'm trying to finish things and these babies were on the list...

First I cut the wire too short, then I tried to form the hanging loop freestyle (that's why it looks like a squashed melon), managed to get two beads on and realized the second wire was to short.
Start all over again...longer wire, use care when forming the loop, get all three beads on, then twist the wire and manage to squish the loop, which can't be unsquished. 
Cut the wire, pull the beads off and start again.

Cut an even longer wire, form loop around a pencil, all three beads on, wire nicely twisted and trimmed, ready to put through hole in heart.

The third time really is the charm!

Hole through heart is sealed.
Poke open with pin, coat beaded hanging loop with glue and insert in hole.

"faith" tells me if I persevere I will get it right

"dream" of a perfect hanging loop 

Jewellery making is serious business I have discovered, and now I would like to do more. But first I need to perfect my loops...

So back to my best intentions.

I bought Photoshop Elements 9 last Thursday, only to discover I didn't have the right operating system on my computer. After a bit of back and forthness with the local computer store I was booked in for an upgrade today.

So the first thing in my way of Monday's 'Musements was no computer... until suppertime.

I loaded Photoshop whilst trying to conjure something for dinner and managed to get both done, reasonably well. Started playing around a bit after until my dear daughter poked her head around the corner at 7:15 and said "Gym?". Ick.

But I went, and dreamed of lovely edited, enhanced pictures as I stumbled along on the treadmill.

Next week I'm going to Staples for supplies- I am in need of the "easy" button!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Funday

Oh I've had a good day!
It's a wonderful thing to be able to say that, to have had one in which I have so thoroughly enjoyed myself. 
Some days, when I'm making things it is such a struggle. I feel... well, almost like I've side-stepped the universe in a way. Everything is just slightly - off, not quite connected. My mom used to say I was out of sorts when I felt like that. 
Those days are not the best days for creating.

Today was a good day though. 
I am making gifts for our exchange at work; we're doing it after Christmas as we make the gifts, and beforehand we're just all too busy. 
The sun is shining (which always seems to help!) and everything is coming together just as I had envisioned. That's the universe's gift to me.

Here's a sneak peek of the bags...

very simple





I still have to figure out the tie, but otherwise they are ready - next to make are what will go in them...

I have also sorted out my Mondays - I knew if I waited long enough the right plan would come to mind. I have to be patient with my head sometimes...ideas come as they choose...

I'm calling it "Monday's 'Musements"
It started with wanting alliteration but every "m" word I thought of didn't seem quite right; too cute, too lofty, too egotistical-ish, too vague, until I started feeling like Goldilocks.
 So, I decided if you said "Amusements" really fast it would sound almost right. Then I decided to drop the "A" and add an apostrophe. That led me to looking up the dictionary definition of "muse" to see if there could be added layers of meaning, which there definitely is. I read all about Zeus' daughters the 9 Muses, artist's muses and musing in general. All of which made me decide this was the right choice. Never mind the "amusement" meaning! (Sometimes I tend to over think things a wee bit...)

Anyhow, Monday's 'Musements it is.

Now for content. (No, this didn't take anywhere near the time or thought to figure out!)

It can be about quilting, stitching, crafting, cooking, painting, writing, photography - whatever I want as long as it's creative. Sometimes I might do the post in a tutorial format, other times it will be just to show what I tried. 
The idea is to try things I haven't done, techniques and projects that inspire me and stretch me and lead me to new ideas.

I'm really excited to begin!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Artful Thursday - Finale

And here we are, at the end.

Artful Thursday was a year long "challenge" put forth by Julie of The Adventures of Bluegirl in early January 2010.
The challenge was to take the time to play with those projects or techniques that have intrigued you but that you haven't got around to - an artist date with yourself if you like.

I joined at the beginning of March and have enjoyed myself immensely; I have played with new techniques, new materials and new ideas as well as re-visiting some old favourites...

sachets with simple patchwork and seam decoration

embroidery, using pinstriped fabric for the guidelines

I didn't experiment as much as I would have liked, but I did finally get to muck around with collage techniques, for which I am very grateful - 
what a wonderful playground that is! 

I can't say enough about the value of that weekly date with art, knowing you have to do something, play with something, create something and I am not ready to give up that part of it. 

So, I am going to recycle and re purpose it to something else, 
something that will push me in different ways. 
I'm going to change the day to Monday though; I've always liked Monday's best and this way, I can have the weekend to get inspired - and even start early if I want ; )

I still have to think of what I'll call it and any "rules" I want to impose, but whatever else it is, it must be artful, inspirational and provoking.

I'll keep you "posted"!