Friday, February 29, 2008

Where Does the Time Go?

Feels like I just posted yesterday. But that was Sunday - and today is Friday!! So what happened? I know I worked on some things and it seems that every day was busy. And what do I have to show for it? Not a lot! But here ya' go.

I was able to get some piecing time in and my lapquilt is ready for borders. It's based on a 9-patch block so was not too difficult, but has taken a long time because I only work on it when I'm between projects. Which is not often! I noticed that I seem to collect a lot more thread lint when working on a quilt than on anything else. Has anyone else noticed that?

It's time to get back to working on dolls. In fact, I have three or four patterns and ideas waiting for me. I've been working on a frog design and found some great eyes for him. This is the muslin "test" and I tried the eyes in all positions. They fit at a slant and you can make him cross-eyed or not. Kind of cute. I also found the perfect fabric: green (of course) hand dyed and a really wild red plaid for his vest. Starting to get excited about this guy, so once I hit the production phase he should go fast.

In the meantime I am working on the final project for Sumptuous Surfaces class. Had some trouble at first and have done quite a bit of picking out stitches. Then I ordered some specialty yarns that must have come by way of the horn of Africa! Of course, I was waiting impatiently. But they are here now so I should be able to take some pictures soon.

Today I did some experimenting with stamps on fabric. I used the Jacquard paints and am really pleased with my results. I should have a picture tomorrow. Or the next day. Er, eventually!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Good Weekend

We had a nice weekend for a change. Two days of sunshine! And I managed to finish off a few more projects. The work table is looking good and I'm ready for some new ideas.

First I'll show you the finished book doll. I showed just her face the other day. This is what we worked on for this month's doll club meeting. It is a pattern by Elise Peeples, but of course we each do our own thing, although I think Elise would actually recognize her pattern from this one. Doesn't always happen that way! I had to decide if I was going to put something in the book or leave it blank for capturing future thoughts. Going through some photos from last year, I thought this would be a good place to put reminders of our doll club activities. So that's what I did. She's quite colorful, isn't she?

Another project was taken from the book "Beautiful Quiltagami" by Mary Jo Hiney. As I've mentioned before, one of this year's goals is to actually use the wonderful ideas in some of these books. I have had this one for a couple of years, but don't remember actually ever reading it! And while I was working on it I decided to use this month's Take It Further colors - which gives me TWO challenge pieces done this month. Of course, with the photo of my piece next to SharonB's color chart they don't look very close, do they? I promise I DID try to match the colors. I used the hex code for each color and looked it up on a DMC floss conversion chart. Then I matched fabric to the floss. Really!

Well, that's not all. I have also started stitching on my Sumptuous Surfaces color lessons piece. Had a bit of a struggle deciding how to represent my chosen design. It's part of a photo by Robert Creamer called "Fairchild Jade 2005" which was featured in a Smithsonian magazine last spring. But once I realized that I am not trying to copy this piece, but am using it as an inspiration only, things started coming together more easily. Will have to see if I can keep the momentum going!

So, this has been a really productive month for me. I don't expect it to last, but it's been fun so far. One plus to living in the country and having a very cold winter is there is not much going on to distract me from my workroom. Spring is coming, though. Oh I HOPE so!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Finished Another One

I finished page 2 of the Tome today. Wahoo! Another project finished on time. And there's a whole week left in this month! Oh yeah - er - well, there's supposed to be a little doll in that pocket. And - uh - I haven't started it yet . . . BUT, the page is finished!

I wanted to do something about my grandmother, Ursula. When I started going through photos, I discovered I have very few of her - and none of her alone. Next visit with my mother I will have to see what she has. But these photos will do fine for now. The oval one is a 4 generations shot taken when my baby was about 6 months old - so 1970. Apparently I was in my "country girl" mode at that time. Pigtails? Good grief! The little picture (which doesn't show up at all well here) is of my grandparents Ursula and Leslie a few years later. On the other side of the page is one of my favorite photos of all. It is my mother and grandmother taken when they graduated from college. It was right after the war and when she realized she could graduate, my mother asked her mother when she was going to finish her college degree. When they checked on it, they discovered that Ursula had earned enough credits to get her degree at the same time. The local paper did a special interest piece on them and this was the picture they ran. Well they were farmers and the reporter must have thought carrying an empty bushel basket looked authentic!

I had quite a time sorting through my button collection to find just the right buttons. In fact, I wound up sorting the buttons into categories and colors. Now I have a nice box full of ziplock bags with neatly organized buttons. Just too, too efficient!

I even had time to do some beadwork on my doll club project. It is getting close to finished. I decided I want to print some photos for this project and then I can put everything together and there will be yet another finished item. Oh boy, I am on a roll now!

Monday, February 18, 2008

February TIF Done!

February's concept was "What are you old enough to remember?" I guess I am a member of the TV generation because a lot of my early memories have to do with television. It was a new and entertaining media and certainly made my little world larger. I remember that most of the variety shows were live and sometimes commercials were too. I remember when cartoon shows had a host. I remember seeing Johnny Carson on Name That Tune. I remember when it was OK for the kids to sit in front of the TV all evening - as long as the homework was done.
My brother (who is 4 years younger) and I were reminiscing about the old shows the other day. We mostly remember the same things - probably because he was born about the time our house got a TV. I can remember a time without it -- barely, but he cannot.
I had a grand time looking for black and white television pictures on the web. Of course I can't use them all, so finally narrowed it down to these five. Plus an old fashioned vacuum tube. I don't know if this is an actual television tube, but they looked sort of like this, so this is what I chose. Technically, many of these shows were broadcast in color. But it was many years before I knew anyone who could afford a color set. So, to me, these were B&W shows!
I printed my selection onto inkjet fabric already prepared with adhesive backing. I also printed the tube and the words "Black & White Television" onto Extravorganza. The picture does not show it, but the layer of organza adds a soft blurring to the print. Once all the pieces were fused together I did hand embroidery around the pieces. If you want to do hand work on this type of printable fabric, plan to embroider just one or two layers if possible. The tube is layered over four other layers of fused fabrics and stitching through it was really a bear! Be sure to have your pliers and band-aids handy! I did try a variety of stitches and a small variety of threads. After a trip to the craft shop, that is. I started gathering threads only to discover there was not one inch of black in my stash! How strange is that?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sumptuous Surfaces

I decided to give this item a post of its own. I have been taking a class on-line called Sumptuous Surfaces. On Friday I finished my first piece. We have talked quite a bit about design principles and how different threads and stitches work to convey your concept. My original design was about bone health, but as I worked through it I realized it has more to do with aging not so gracefully. I wanted to show a contrast between youth and healthy bone and the more chaotic brittleness of aged bones. And the final result shows me that there is a beauty in the chaos. We are always telling each other that older women are more beautiful and interesting, but I have trouble believing it sometimes. I think I will frame this for my bedroom so I can be reminded each day that older is not uglier. It is beautiful -- just in a different way.

Man, that's way too deep for me! I did not intend to get all philosophical in this blog. Sometimes you just can't help it I guess. Art deals with life and life can get pretty deep.

One last comment. If you ever sign up for an on-line class, be sure to participate in the forum or bulletin board or whatever discussion tool they have. I have taken classes where all I did was print out the lessons and take it from there on my own. The interaction between teacher and students and among students really adds to the courseware and it's worth that extra time!

Doll Club

We had our February club meeting yesterday! It seems like a very long time since we last played. We met in November, but it was a small group and it was the "Open House" meeting, so I guess it's been October since we had a "play date."

This group of dolls are the results of a parts swap. Each member made the parts for a 12" doll and we placed the parts in paper bags then drew the parts for our project. There were all colors and styles and some were harder to assemble than others. I wish I had a better picture, but perhaps someone else will come up with one. I think these are amazing!

This month we started working on book dolls. We used a pattern by Elise Peeples for a small doll shaped book to put pictures or drawings in. There were lots of ideas floating around. I love going to club meeting because everyone is so creative and we get so many new ideas from each other. We also picked up fabric and the pattern for next month's project. We are calling it Over the Rainbow and the challenge is to use all six colors plus something from our stash. I will have to do some digging through my piles. I KNOW I have some multi-colored prints in there somewhere! We are beginning with the same pattern and fabrics, but if I know this group that will only be the starting point. I can't imagine us ending up with dolls that look anything alike. Should be fun and this will surely get me back on track to make cloth dolls!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Feb 12 Review of Goals

A couple of days ago I promised to post my 6-week goal review. Are we ready? Deep breath. Let’s see how things are going.

Goal #1: Participate in the Take It Further challenge
How am I doing: I completed the January color challenge and got a start on the January concept. February’s concept pieces are fused and now ready for embroidery.
Lessons Learned: I have some pretty ambitious ideas and a lot of things to do in a month’s time. I need to simplify my designs if I want to stay successful in this challenge.
Next Step: Finish the February TIF piece. I would like to do both options each month, the goal will be to do one and a second one would be “extra-credit.”

Goal #2: Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project
How am I doing: Got page 1 finished – only it wasn’t in January! February’s is ready to go.
Lessons Learned: Again, I need to simplify somewhat. Also, start the Tome earlier in the month. These are usually quick techniques (especially the ones I’ve done before) but a little time management wouldn’t hurt!
Next Step: So start page 2 already!

Goal #3: Complete the Hatmaking class
How am I doing: Lesson 1 – the pillbox hat – was completed on time. And Lesson 2 – a goucho hat – is also complete. Pictures will be available soon.
Lessons Learned: This is one area where I need to get more elaborate! The pillbox hat is very nice – and very dull. Embellishments don’t take very long and they can make a huge difference.
Next Step: Stretch my embellishment muscles for the next hat in March

Goal #4: Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at lease once a month
How am I doing: I used the Clover Quick Yo-Yo Makers in my January TIF. This month I will be exploring the different types of photo print fabrics in both TIF and Tome.
Lessons Learned: This is the fun part! But maybe I need to plan ahead a bit. February’s technique is almost by default because the Tome depends on photos.
Next Step: Make a list (oh, how I love lists!) of possible books and gadgets to choose from.

Goal #5: Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity
How am I doing: This one has been harder. I’d say that the hat lessons are doll-related, but that’s almost cheating. I have one doll in test muslin but it has a long way to go.
Lessons Learned: I tend to get over-involved in projects that don’t really apply to any goals. I don’t want to abandon everything else, but I do need to monitor my time more carefully.
Next Step: Get that muslin tweaked and start working on the final piece. Doll club is this week so that should help shift the focus.

Goal #6: Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up
How am I doing: I have an idea and some rough sketches for the Hoffman Challenge. This week I completed Judy Skeel’s Edwardian Hat for the Doll Crafter and Costuming magazine challenge.
Lessons Learned: I think I like making hats! I never wear them myself, but that could change. One never knows. I learned to master taffeta and pulled together some embellishment that is not boring.
Next Step: Got to buy the Hoffman Challenge fabric. Duh!

Goal #7: Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress
How am I doing: Here it is. I’ve done it!
Lessons Learned: Time, time, time. I have some great aspirations and may not have the time management skills to pull it off. The review is helping, so I will stick to this agenda and see how it develops.
Next Step: Next review March 25

Glad that's over! Next post we'll be back to pretty pictures - I promise!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Goals and Resolutions

Last week SharonB posted a question about goals and resolutions. As I’ve been thinking about the her question and comments others have made, I realize that I do not consider Goals and Resolutions to be the same thing. A Resolution is more like a long-term target and is generally pretty broadly stated. I.e., I will lose x pounds this year. It deals with the result, not the how. A Goal, however, is much more specific – and several goals may be geared to the same resolution. A goal could stand by itself, but if you look a bit deeper you usually find it is a step toward something bigger. Sometimes I do it backwards and set several goals before realizing what the overall target is! But when I think about it, things seem to fall into place. Oh yeah! That’s what I wanted.

So, why am I nattering about Goals and Resolutions? Especially since I claim to never make resolutions! Well, one of my goals this year is to do a 6-week review of how I’m doing with my Goals – and by extension, my – er -- Resolution. One thing I learned during the years as a supervisor is that goals need constant monitoring if you don’t want to get lost in the jungle! Did you ever work your tail off and then realize you really did not accomplish anything? Been there!

And it’s about time for my 6-week review. Plus, another tool for success is to make your project open so others can see what you are doing. If it’s a secret no one will know when you go off course and give up. So, you all get to watch and (I hope) cheer me on.

My “target” for 2008: Use my weighty collection of resources (books, nifty gadgets, etc.) to develop my design and hand embellishment skills. For years I bought lots of goodies with the excuse that I would have them for when I retired. Well, here we are! The goals that contribute to this target are:
1. Participate in the Take It Further challenge
2. Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project
3. Complete the Hatmaking class I took four (!) years ago
4. Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at lease once a month
5. Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity
6. Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up
7. Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress

OK, now I’m committed (or should be committed, as the case may be!) and it’s too late to turn back. In the next post I will let you see how the progress review goes. Stay tuned.

And when I don't have anything else to do (Ha!) this is what I work on. Slo-o-o-owly making progress.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Stargaze Tome progress

These pictures are the cover page for Patti Culea's Stargaze Tome that I finished earlier this week. I posted in-progress pictures earlier (here) and I am quite pleased with the way this turned out. Once I drew the faces it was really easy to finish them up. I auditioned lots of different hair options - at one point they had green and purple hair! - but these worked out just fine. I really like the platinum blond. Doesn't she look like a 50's movie star?
I also optioned several different kinds of beads. I have quite a stash, you know! The two necklaces actually started life as full-size necklaces. The puka beads (on the right) were a full necklace of puka shell chips that I bought at the fair. I know that buying just the beads would have been much more expensive! The round white beads (on the left) are painted wood and made up the "support" beads on an old wooden necklace I found in a thrift shop years ago. I bought the necklace because the focus beads are large and look hand painted. Very pretty at least. Never dreamed I would find a use for the rest of the necklace!
Now I am ready to start page 2 of the Tome. It involves photo transfers. I have picked the photos I want to use, but they need to be scanned into the computer. I have one of the all-in-one type printers which is pretty handy. BUT (there's always a but!) once you have used the scanner part, the computer does not recognize the printer! Everything has to be turned off for more than 30 minutes so the electronics forget everything before one can print. What a nuisance! So I save scanning for evening, just before bedtime. Then computer and I both can rest and start over in the morning!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Finished A Project

The last couple of weeks I feel like I have not finished anything. Just keep starting new projects until just deciding what to work on has been a hassle. So today I decided I was going to finish SOMETHING!

And I did! Wahoo! This piece is my sampler from last year's Take A Stitch Tuesday. Every Tuesday, SharonB posted samples of a stitch and where to find instructions. Even though the challenge is over, the weekly postings are still available. I was not officially part of that challenge because (1) I did not have a blog until November, and (2) I was never caught up with the rest of the group! But I tried all the stitches and kept print outs of all the instructions.

It makes quite a big notebook, so today I turned my sampler into a book cover for the instructions. Now I have a nice reference book for a wide variety of stitches. Sweet.

I spent the rest of the day working on the Stargaze Tome front cover. Gosh, I'm tired but there's still some work to go. The ladies don't have faces yet! That's the fun part, so I'm looking forward to my next trip to the basement.

P.S. This is blog number 25. Not a big number, but a milestone nonetheless.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

February Take It Further

Sharon has announced the February challenge and it really started me thinking. The concept option is "Old Enough to Remember" - or that's what I've been calling it. Go here to see what Sharon had in mind.

Like most everyone else in this challenge I have spent the last couple of days digging into some of my early memories. I've walked around several ideas and discarded several others. For example, I learned to sew on a treadle sewing machine. And the kitchen at grandparent's farmhouse still had a hand pump to bring water in. I remember that the ice man still made a few deliveries on our block . . . and a shy little girl with big brown eyes could get a sliver of ice on a hot day! I remember going to the corner drug store and getting a coke from the fountain - with an extra squirt of syrup. That will curl your hair! Oh yes, I also remember home permanents. Ugh! The same drug store had a tube tester - for when your TV blew a tube. And if you couldn't figure out which one, the repairman actually came to your house!!!
Oh my, now I am feeling old. Guess I will have to go do some stitching therapy. It always works!