November 17, 2009

Moss gathering and other projects...



I love moss, lichen and miniatures. It started with collecting some moss from my neighbor's yard (with her permission, of course).
Here is a plant that even I can't kill, right? Definition of moss and lichen here and here. It's one of those things they say is as old as dirt, evolutionary wise. So...I am thinking it can probably survive my feeble attempts at making it thrive (read: die). Anyhow, I am enamored of the miniature nature of these tiny, vertically growing, green lovelies. Terrariums here we come. A perfect excuse to felt more rocks, mushrooms and acorns for decoration. Throw in some little deer, bunny and gnome figurines and well, it's a party in a glass container. A trip to the dollar store, T.J. Maxx and the Home Depot and we were ready to make some terrariums. 

Materials, not so many really. Find a container, covered or not. I used a variety of them, covered glass, uncovered glass and ancient looking terracotta(T.J.'s) pots. Purchase rocks, (dollar store) charcoal bits, (home or pet store), and potting soil. The fun part is finding little items to add to your tiny forest. I had a myriad of those little figurines that come in the boxes of Red Rose tea. I even used a few cupcake decorations. Grape vine, twist in a covered container could look like a tree? I'll have to try that in my tall terrarium. Moss and lichen are found in damp, darkish spots in your yard. I found this site on Etsy, that sells a gallon bag of mixed mosses and lichens. It was very reasonable and there are enough plants for a small army of terrariums. Christmas gifts anyone?

Layer like this: 
rocks, about an inch or two
charcoal, a half inch (it will keep it sweet smelling)
potting soil
moss and lichen
decorative items

Water lightly, if covered it will stay moist and create a micro environment, misting at night and morning...so cool!
Keep out of direct sun and water lightly as needed to maintain a damp environment...not too much, though.

Oh, and if you decide to add a gnome, fairy or two, be sure to include some of these

Have you spotted the imposter yet? One of these terrariums is not like the others! Check out this link and the lovely embroidered
moss and lichen that Keyka Lou makes. I could not resist them. I think my faux moss looks wonderful next to the real thing. The only stitch you need to know is the french knot. I hope you will give one of these a try, they make terrific hostess gifts!





Natural Treasures Garland



When it was time to take down my "witches garland" after Halloween it looked a little bare. We had gotten use to having something 
seasonal hanging in the doorway to the family room. I had some beautiful hand tail spun wool and my own novelty spun wool and I came up with this idea.  A Natural Treasures Garland! I love how this turned out. It is delicate and subtle. More or less woodsy items can be added as desired. Here is a short tutorial if you'd like to make one yourself. You can do this before Thanksgiving, trust me it is quite easy!

Natural Treasures Garland

Materials

1 chunky home spun or purchased wool yarn (several yards)in an earth tone
1 novelty coordinating yarn (a few yards)
Size N crochet hook or larger (you could alternatively, knit (13 needles) a couple of long rows to span doorway)
2 small finish nails for top of casing in doorway
various natural treasures (the backyard was a "gold mine") I used:
pheasant feathers
cinnamon sticks
sedum blossoms
rosemary
rose hips
chive seed heads
small pine cones
small cedar roses
acorn caps
dried seed pods
grapevine
add whatever is in your backyard, even colorful leaves would be easy to include.

First I crocheted along chain of the tail spin yarn and double crocheted a second row. I strung it up on the same tiny nails from the previous garland and then added my novelty yarn to it, letting it drape a little below. Gather up your natural treasures and tuck them as you please into the little holes created with the crochet. A spot of hot glue may be needed here a there. I used the grapevine on top of the casing, tucking the ends around the tiny finish nails. It would look equally nice as part of the draping wool. You could use small ornament hooks to hang other items. I found it was easier to add things after the wool was hung, stepping back to check to the progress. Easy, right? I would love to see what you create! Have fun.

I am working on a Christmas version of this that is quite fun...I will post a how to when it is finished!




October 30, 2009

Look what I won!



I was fortunate enough to win this exquisite, embroidered, beaded heart brooch from Pat Eaton of Bird Nest on the Ground blog.
I wish you could see this in person, her work is amazing! Visit her blog and you are sure to be inspired. She even included these lovely extras...I plan on using them soon on another "heart project". Thank you Pat for your generosity and inspiration!

October 7, 2009

Autumn...my favorite season



We spent Sunday afternoon in the yard, preparing it for the winter onslaught that is Upstate New York. The pool will be closed soon. The garden furniture is put away and any remaining annuals in their pots are looking pretty sad. Still, the perennials are are wealth of beauty in a fading sort of way. Shabby chic hydrangeas are the nicest, changing into various shades of green, blush, deep purple blue and the older blooms, a lovely pinkish beige. The cone flowers are only cones now, and the butterfly bush struggles to put out it's last purple flowers. Plenty of red rose hips on the climbing pink rosebushes, of course the mums and burgundy yarrow are at their best now. Japanese lanterns are a pop of color in the back by the fence, where my holly bushes are shiny and dark green, waiting for their turn to star in the winter decor. I am hoping the birds will leave just a few of the blood red berries appearing on them now. All of the above as well as the delicious herbs still flourishing will make gorgeous arrangements. I love to use hollowed out pumpkins for the fall leftovers of plants. I concentrated on using the hydrangeas, there were so many! I cut the flowers and wired them to a wreath frame. They will dry, hanging up in the kitchen window. The moss from my neighbor's yard is destined for my terrariums. Here are a few of my gatherings so far...

I will leave you with these thoughts for I must go bake something apple, quickly.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. " ~George Eliot

"No spring nor summer beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one autumnal face." ~John Donne

September 11, 2009

Another Bear, the sailor...




I have finished making the "sailor" bear for little S. I am really pleased with this very big bear, he is more than 24" tall. He is going to live in a warm place and I thought the sailor outfit (a childlike interpretation) was appropriate. Imagining a resourceful bear, looking for an adventure in play, I wanted a paper folded hat. It is actually made from interfaced muslin that has the comic pages transfered on strategic areas. It is not only a sturdier alternative for an active boy, but is a reminder of the city it came from as well as the date it was constructed.  A simple sailor's collar and fishy heart completed the costume. He has a wool felt heart nestled inside his stuffing, with the child's name and date. S. will give him a name! My uncle was delighted with him and will be delivering "sailor bear" for me to a very special boy in his life. 

P.S. I was having fun with Photoshop in the first picture!





September 9, 2009

Norwegian Purl for Continental Knitters

This is for the continental or "picking" knitters out there. I hated purling! It always felt awkward for me and slowed me down a bit.
I had this odd way of "throwing" when I needed to purl, using my left hand to throw, ridiculous, I know. We probably all have some unusual habits when it comes to knitting or crocheting. I am convinced it is a combination of how old we were when we were taught and if we were quite young (me, for instance) our imitation of the teacher, accomplished in a way that our (my) immature fingers could manage. Does that make any sense? Over the years I became quite adept at making the end product look tensioned evenly, but it wasn't pretty to watch. I was told that everyone does it differently, but I still felt slightly embarrassed in front of other knitters, who somehow "got" the continental purling technique down pat and were just as quick and fluid with it as their garter stitches.

Enter...Norwegian purling! Here is the youtube.com video that changed everything (as far as purling is concerned) for me. I believe it was featured in a whipup.net article that I received in an email "round up". I will not attempt to explain it in detail (just watch), but the basic idea is, this stitching method let's you purl without moving the working yarn to the front! If you hate to purl, give this a try. You will have to practice it, but once you have it you will love it. Now I rib and cable like a pro...let me know if you decide to try it.







September 8, 2009

Beautiful Felted Vest




I just love the beautiful felted vest made by Margo (Her Majesty Margo). The colors are magnificent, the cut of it is perfect. She made this vest as part of a workshop given by Myfawny Stirling, another incredible artist. I can only hope she will give another workshop soon. Wet felting is a glorious process, in which all sorts of transformations take place under your hands. It has an ancient history in many cultures, of course, functional as well as decorative, but todays artists are stretching the boundaries in the most extraordinary ways. Incorporating various materials, such as the silk in Margo's vest, known as Nuno, is one of my favorites. Silk, another ancient medium, adds a strong but light dimension to dense felt. An oxymoron for sure, but the results are undeniably
remarkable. Thank you Margo, for sharing your workshop experience and the gorgeous result of your endeavors! Check out some of Margo's other work here.

August 30, 2009

Creative Time




Having the flu in August is not fun. It set me back a week or two. I fell fast and hard and my husband and the boys followed. I just hope this is not a bad omen for the coming winter. We are all feeling better now, sort of. Each one of us in various states of recovery. Ian is not happy that he will have his wisdom teeth taken out on Tuesday...yet another melodrama. I am just glad that there is another week before school starts, thanks to the late Labor Day this year.

What has any of this have to do with creative time? Despite feeling rather lousy, I have been productive with my drawing pad and sorting things out. I also was able to complete several projects I had started. The most important being the shower gift for E. It was to be a Poohish sort of bear (based on the "real Pooh, now residing in the children section of the NYC Library), a little free motion stitched pillow and a appliqued laundry bag to wrap it all up in. The "grand-mom to be" was taking it to Boston this weekend for the baby shower...hope you liked it E. Hugs...

While I had the sewing machine out, I thought I would make another bear. Oh, and cut out a third for little S., made a few more ceramic cups with the Jane Austen quotes, spun some wool for dyeing, helped Bella make her first quilt( she picked out all the fabric, helped cut the squares, laid them out in her preferred order, stitched for the first time on the sewing machine), and free motion stitched a dragon pillow for Colin. The drawings I worked on were for a collaborative effort with my friend M., a very talented potter, and some beaded necklaces that will be Christmas gifts....shhh!

So there you have it, creative time. I think I need a nap...

August 1, 2009

Leaves With Scraps...Tutorial




I stumbled across this wonderful blog, CAROLYN SAXBY MIXED MEDIA TEXTILE ART, and wanted to share it with you. She has generously provided her readers with an excellent tutorial on textile leaves made with scraps (we all have them, I am sure of that).
This kind of crafting appeals to me immensely and these leaves can be used in so many ways, on jewelry, book covers, clothing, or with some beautiful fabric flowers, such as these. Aren't they gorgeous? I can hardly wait to start making them. A stockpile of these will certainly get the juices going. Of course, you could make something other than the leaf shape or color. How about a larger piece of base fabric to make a clutch or jewelry bag? Let's see what you can come up with...skills needed are minimal, and you could even stitch the whole thing by hand. 

You will enjoy looking around in her blog she is a very talented fiber artist. Thank you Carolyn, for sharing!



July 19, 2009

Beads!


Two weeks ago, as I was browsing in Hobby Lobby, they had a fantastic 50% off sale on most of their beads. I wanted to try my hand at making a multi-layered pearl necklace with some vintage glass and a unique pendant that I have. Glass pearls would be perfect, I love the way they feel. There were so many to choose from, but I bought several sizes of the off white ones. I also bought a few strands of the black pearls, they were lovely. The weight and sheen is so nice. They were a great buy at half off, so I stocked up. I know a few girls who might like these necklaces! The other beads I bought will incorporate nicely, they were a periwinkle faceted glass, again in multiple sizes. I will share pictures when I have finished them.

If you need inspiration for a design, the Beadin' Path is the place to go. I stumbled upon this site and it is a great find. Just look at these earrings. They have tutorials and material lists available. You can click what you need right into your basket. Way, way to easy...and dangerous! Go there and see for yourself, there are pages and pages of free designs for earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, as well as, how-tos on basic beading. These pieces would make the perfect gift.

So, jewelry has been on my mind lately, especially the handmade lovelies!  This one is from my summer swap partner, Ellen of Village Fiber Works. I have been wearing it a lot lately and receiving many compliments...thanks again, Ellen.

Here is the picture of the fiber necklace I made for her. She loved it and I was so glad. I definitely want to make more of these. It was fun to use my wool singles and my felted balls (courtesy of Woolly Fabulous). 

Go make yourself something fabulous...and don't forget to share!










July 7, 2009

My Little Artists


Here is my little Luke, age 6 giving a "Mario 3" drawing instruction...is this cute or what? He loves to draw and does it constantly. 
The love of art is genetic, of course and Nana encourages him in his endeavors!







Luke's cousin Colin is also a fine artist, and was invited to a special event at a local college, he won first prize for his "jewelry" entry!
He created this video presentation all by himself and sent it to me, he was 8 years old at the time. He is a computer expert as well and I ask for his expertise when I am having troubles with mine! 

I am so lucky to have these two "knuckleheads" in my life!!! Nana loves you, guys!


July 3, 2009

Elephant Needle Felt Sculpture








A wonderful Japanese book called Felt Zoo inspired me to try a needle felted sculpture. I have been needle felting for some time, but other than a bead or rope, I have never tried a three dimensional object.  It was a challenge but very enjoyable. It was completed in an afternoon. Mr B. has been collecting elephants for quite some time and I am always on the look out for a new medium to add to his obsession. This was a Father's Day present along with some very nice Pro-V golf balls. He really loves it and I do too. We decided together that she had a definite female personality. Her name is "Binky", not my idea...??? 

It may sound a little scary, but I really think the dolls and other toys I make, become alive to me. They all have a distinct personality that seems to tell a story. Okay, hmmm....

If you have any interest in trying needle sculpting with wool fiber, I would recommend this book. although it would be great if you could translate Japanese, as with most of their excellent craft books, you don't need to. The illustrations are easy to understand and dimensions are given in metric. There are many books out there on the subject as well as internet tutorials, and of course, various objects to create. This particular book had a wide variety of realistic animals with delightful details. I am tempted to give this chipmunk a try. Our cats will love it!




June 22, 2009

Crocheted Knobs


Here is a really beautiful project. Check out these crocheted knobs, from Pickles. They are not hard to make and use a very simple crochet stitch. While you are there check out the rest of this wonderful site! A small detail like this can really make a difference. It would make a great gift as well. Let me know if you try it, okay? Thanks Pickles!
Here are few more tutorials you might like:


June 17, 2009

Felted Rocks, Rock!!





I can't stop, help...I can't stop felting rocks, backyard rocks, beach rocks, dollar store pebbles, stones found on walks. It is insidious, I thought I would just do a few to add to my nature table, ha! I was soon looking for all kinds of rocks and begging from friends if they happened to have a very "stony" backyard. I would warn you not to try this at home...but I know you will, anyway. They are just too beautiful to resist, especially after they are embellished with embroidery. Simple french knots with hand spun wool was my choice for these. The possibilities however are endless. I have seen these around the blogs for a while now, and everyone asks "WHY?".
Artist do not have to have a reason for anything I have decided. There! 

Just in case you insist on a function for these beauties, I have come up with one. At least for the smallish ones (for example the size you find in the "floral" aisle of the dollar store, used to line vases). Before felting I add a small powerful little round magnet (Hobby Lobby or other craft store) you can glue it first to a flat side with E-6000, but it really isn't necessary(unless you choose to felt by hand, let set overnight first). The felting process will keep it put. I have felted some by hand, and some by machine, both give great results. Thank you, Design Sponge and Resurrection Fern for the excellent tutorials.

The picture above is one of my black felted rock magnets, on a metal blackboard...say that three times, fast!  If you make some, functional or not, will you please share a picture here?

June 15, 2009

The winner is...


The winner of my little giveaway is Heidi, from Digital Misfit! Congratulations! I have sent you an email requesting your information so that I can mail your goodies to you, right away. Thanks to those that participated, I will definitely be doing this again soon.

P.S.  Mr. B chose the winner in a random draw of names.

June 13, 2009

Felted Sunflower Door Hanging















My daughter Kate was trying to find something unique to hang on her front door. She wasn't sure about a wreath, and she could not find one she liked. I told her I would come up with something different and here it is. This is a picture of it on my front door, while it was drying. Her door is a soft red color and not quite as large. It will show up nicely on her door. I used a 7 inch metal ring and crocheted around the edge with hand spun wool in an apple color. In the center I crocheted green wool chains in a grid pattern attaching across the circle. The intersections of the grid were tied with "seed" colored wool. This arrangement provided a way to also hang the sunflower, the metal ring gave it stability.

The next step was adding the golden wool crocheted fringe, this was attached with matching thread. Into the washer it went, and sixteen minutes later, it was felted. I crocheted a 5 stitch i-cord, and large leaves with some bulky green single yarn. They were also felted. To assemble I inserted wire into the i-cord for about 14 inches and wove some green florist wire into the leaves, so that I could shape them. The leaves, stem and flower were sewn together with strong thread. Done.

I hung it up to dry and was getting a little attached to it...but, alas Kate liked what "I came up with" and took it home!

I have been busy...having fun!






























Here is the knitted, felted teapot I made for little Ava. I used this pattern from the Pattern Box.
You can download it for a small fee. It is worth it. The pattern has clear instructions and is easy to make in an evening, at least the knitting part. Isn't it adorable? Ava loves it, yeah! Now, if I can just get her to use the handle for pouring. It seems it was good to the last drop! I cannot decide whether to needle felt the teacups with polka dots as well. What do you think? I kept it simple and knitted my own version of teacups...no handles or saucers. However, the download pattern includes the matching teacups. The wool I used was Paton's Wool, I have used this colorway before and it always felts perfectly. The pumpkin shade is so cheerful.
If you decide to make one, I would love to see your version...enjoy!


June 1, 2009

Giveaway!!


Hi, today is give away day. I have selected a few things that I hope you will like. First is a felted vessel made from crocheted hand spun wool, with a flower that has a vintage button center. It measures about 4 inches high and 4 inches in diameter. The colors are not as bright as in the photo. Second is a knitted and felted wool heart, also about 4 inches in diameter. Next, is a beautiful stitch marker, handmade by my daughter, Lauren. Finally, I will include a yard of hand crocheted fringe trim. The trim is crocheted with a very nice acrylic yarn that is very soft. I chose this yarn in case you decided to use it on something that will be washed. 

So there it is...just leave me a comment and a way to get in touch with you. If you would like a second chance then link this page to your blog, then let me know! I will choose a winner at random on Sunday, June 14. Good luck!!


May 30, 2009

Giveaway on Monday!


I have decided on a "giveaway" and will tell you about it on Monday! The art community has been so generous to me, it is time to give back. Check back for the details. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

May 22, 2009

Vintage 1929 Sun Bather with Hat

Yesterday, I told you about a project I had started. Well, here it is. I was inspired by an old photo of a lovely model from 1929, with a very large hat. It was such fun to work on. I sketched an outline of the photo and scanned it into my computer. I adjusted the size in Photoshop and lightened the lines quite an bit. It was then printed onto computer printer fabric and fused to the background. The ticking stripe reminded me of a cabana and I had some left over from Isabella's doll bed mattress. It was the first time I had tried this method and it gave me a very nice "underpainting" to work from. I sandwiched the top with thin cotton batting and more ticking for the back. It was small enough to just pin instead of baste, and I stitched all together around the fused portion several times with heavy black thread. Now I was ready to do the same for a horizon line. Finally, I free motion stitched around the under painted lines. The painting was done with watercolor pencils and watered down acrylics. I heat set it with an iron when it was dry. I used a black micron pen, which is permanent for face details. The hat was crocheted using some hand spun linen/flax I picked up on Ebay a while back. It was tacked in place. I love the dimension the hat adds. The piece was trimmed and bound with a purchased bias tape, again I just happened to have the red in my stash. To hang it, I sewed an ironed flat piece of bias tape across the top back. I slipped in some doweling and added a simple crocheted chain from the linen. Done.
The back door is stylin' now. Welcome summer, bring it on!
P.S. Don't you love it when that "middle of the night idea",  actually turns out the way you wanted it to?



May 21, 2009

A Summer Welcome


Hi, I am just popping in to say I will share my new project soon. I was inspired by this picture of Dorothy Sebastian and one of my Mom taken in 1962. Please don't ask me to explain how I get these things into my head. I just know that when I do...I must create?
Whacko.

My back door entrance needed a little love. The new door has been awaiting paint for quite a while now. Does anyone one else just need to be in the mood to paint? The door is a nice satin black, inside and out. I also painted the door jams and molding on the garage side black as well. It draws the eye to the entrance and not the recycling, bicycle, sports equipment, worktable mess. Sort of.
In my opinion it needed a piece of art, too. Since it is almost summer, the pool is open...and we use this door most of the time, I thought a bathing beauty, circa 1929 done in quilting, free motion stitch, paint and crochet would be a pretty welcome. Have I piqued your interest? I promise to post a picture tomorrow of the finished piece! I'll try and dig up that picture of my "hot" Mom at the beach also! Sweet dreams...

May 16, 2009

Mr B.'s new toy!


My husband's birthday was a couple of days ago and among his "loot" was a new Flip Video Camera. This camera is amazing. It is the high definition version and it will shoot about sixty minutes of video and it is really small. It has a built-in flip out dongle (the little doohicky thing that you plug into the fire wire slot) to instantly download, the battery recharges as you do and it will fit onto a tripod just like our NikonD80. Apparently, this is a pretty "hot" item. You can check out this site for all the other techno geek stuff. I just think it is very cool and very small, you can take it anywhere. I hope he lets me borrow it for future live action tutorials! (Now you are in for it!)

If you decide to get a Flip camera, make one of these...just in case you have some great action to shoot and do not have a tripod with you. Heck, make one for everyone you know who likes to take photos. I always feel awkward and shy about bringing a tripod with me. Yet, it is so important for good photos, and video. This little gizmo (another high tech term) is brilliant. 




$1 Image Stabilizer For Any Camera - Lose The Tripod - Watch more funny videos here

May 11, 2009

New Light Box

Yesterday Mr. B. made a light box for me! We used this tutorial from Drawings in Motion.  I still have to work out a few things, but this box makes a great difference. In under an hour I was photographing. This is a very inexpensive project with great results. Visit Amy's site for lots of inspiration! The Mother's Day card from yesterday was one of my first attempts...just couldn't resist playing with the Photoshop filters. The best part is when you are finished for the day it comes apart easily to be stored, brilliant!