Wednesday, December 31, 2008

End of 2008 = End of Goals?

  clockThe end of the year.  Time for a -er - year-end review.  I'm sure you noticed that I skipped the last 6-week review.  Yes, I know that you have followed my progress - and failure to progress - with intense interest and counted the days until the next review.  (Do you detect a hint of irony?)  Well, December arrived and Christmas preparations - and what can I say . . . .

Well, for the one person out there who might be interested, let me give you a quick overview of this year's goals.  If you look at the Labels over on the right, you can also click on "goals" and read the previous posts.worktable

My goals for 2008 were really very ambitious.   There's  something about the idea of a fresh start that gets my head spinning and I loose track of what might be reasonable.  But I charged ahead and outlined seven specific goals to work on and achieve through the year. 

diggingAbout halfway through the year (before that if I want to be honest!) I realized that the goals I had chosen and the system I was using was not working out.  I heard this phrase once:  "If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging!" and decided on some revisions to the program.  I also reviewed what I had learned from the "failures" and decided a lot had to do with staying flexible.  A less rigid set of goals helped get me through the rest of the year.

For this final review, though, I will return to the original seven goals.  While some of my goals were left behind in the rush of daily living, I did remarkably well with others and I think my overall target of "developing my crafting and artistic skills" was reached.

TIF-collageGoal 1: Participate in the Take It Further challenge.  This project has been pretty successful.  I have 13 (and a half) pieces completed, so I've done even better than one every month - even if December isn't done yet!   And wow - was this ever a learning experience!  Perhaps I will have a post on that later.

2. Participate in the Stargaze Tome group’s Tome Page-A-Month project.  and 3. Complete the Hatmaking class I took four (!) years ago.  Both of these fizzled out in April or May.  I don't consider them UFOs yet, though, and expect to fit them into 2009.

4. Use a book or tool to explore new techniques or refine un-mastered skills – preferably incorporated with the other goals – at least once a month.  I have experimented with a lot of new techniques, including free motion stitching, melting fabrics, using gussets in doll faces and bodies and journal making.  I've also brushed up some embroidery skills and reviewed design principles learned many years ago.  Not a bad list!

MrToad-close5. Keep doll making as a focus for my creativity.  Although  this year has not been as productive as some others, it was still a decent output.  I believe I can count eight finished dolls, including Mr. Toad for a library exhibit, and Pegwyn for the Hoffman Challenge.

P7130014 6. Enter the Hoffman Challenge – and any other appropriate challenge as they come up.  I think I did very well with this goal, since Percy and Pegwyn earned an award for Most Humorous.  I also entered an Edwardian hat into Doll Crafter and Costuming's challenge and got second place.

7. Review the above 6 goals every 6-weeks and blog about my progress.  This one was the "control" and - as mentioned above - I missed just one review.  It was after deciding to stay flexible, though, so I'm not going to count it against the final results.

Well, I'm ready to put 2008 to bed.  It was a very interesting year for me and I really did accomplish a lot of "crafty" things - even if not quite I had planned at the beginning of the year.  Trying to predict the future has never worked too well for me!  I have some thoughts for 2009 and am preparing a post for the new target and goals.  There's that fresh-start attitude again.  Let's see if I can keep my head on straight this time!

Hope you enjoy your New Year's celebrations, whatever they may be.  It has been quite awhile since I've made it to midnight, but I think I have some goodies stashed somewhere, so I plan to "celebrate" in my own way!  See you next year!  (Don't you just hate it when people say that - as if you haven't heard it before! Duh!)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

November TIF

So - better late than never? I have to say that the November challenge started out to be almost too easy. I should have known that would be the "kiss of disaster"!

Let's start at the beginning . . . SharonB posted the November challenge here. She challenged us to use typography (letters, numbers) as an inspiration. That led to lots of fun playing with fonts and WordArt and then distortions in photo editing software. I realized that I would have to stop the playing eventually and so I came up with a design using the letter "W"

letterW This sample has been slightly distorted already. Then I tried some different repeats and rotations. More fun! That led me to this:


With that as a starting point, I started designing the fiber piece. I masked off the W shapes and did some spraying and dying of the basic cloth. Then I layered it with chiffon and stitched around the W's and also in a grid for the background. So far so good.

My plan (using the term loosely) was to burn away the chiffon so that the W shapes would contrast with the background which had been altered with stitching, paint, and so on. I dug out a couple of heat tools . . .

. . . which is where things went wrong - so wrong! It seems I am not entirely trust worthy with things that burn! Of course, some folks would think to test the technique on some scraps. Ha! We don't need no steenkin' tests!PB290022

At this point the back of the piece looks pretty good!

You can see it coming, can't you? Not only are there burned spots (all the way through!) but the chiffon melted into a nice, HARD, plastic film. So much for a lovely contrast between foreground and background! closeup And that brownish color does not quite match the gold!

I'm not ready to give up! I just happen to have a newly purchased package of clear glass beads. Please note that at this point, it was still November! Sigh.

OK, enough talking already. Beadwork just takes more time. Here it is - the finished piece. Ta da!.


What to name it? "Ode to the Letter W" - or perhaps "Don't Play with Matches" - "How to Bead Your Way Out of a Hole" ???

At least now I can get started on the December challenge while it is still December!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I made it!  The memory book is finished, wrapped, and under the tree.  They don't call me the Princess of Procrastination for nothing! (I wanted to be Goddess of the Last Minute, but Robbi Joy Eklow has already taken that title.)


So here is one last "teaser" photo.  My dad was a Shriner and I did a facsimile of his fez for the book.  Those french knots represent jewels on the original lettering and emblem.  I did - briefly - consider doing some beadwork.  But Jeez!  I need to retain some sanity!

Mom will receive this book tomorrow and I hope it is a good gift for her.  I'll have a box of kleenex nearby, just in case.  After things settle down I will share pictures here of the book itself.

Now, I am going to enjoy Christmas Eve with Sarge.  As a child I was eager to get to bed early so Santa could get here sooner.  Maybe we'll try it this year!

Merry Christmas to you all.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Doing It The Hard Way

That seems to be my motto.  I'm not sure why!  If there is more than one way to do a task, you can bet I will choose the harder one!  Not on purpose, mind you - I am usually trying to pick the lazy way!

Case in point.  Working on the memory book, I decided that prairie points was the only way to frame this photo.  No real reason; it's just what I decided.  I'm making it up as I go along, you know! 

Two problems came up right away:  (1) working with small squares of fabric would be pretty tedious, and (2) I've never actually done prairie points before!  But - I have worked with ribbon before, so let's make a prairie point-ish ribbon border!


Now, I'm not about to cut individual strips of ribbon.  So you will notice that the inside loops are MUCH bigger than the framing loops!  With two colors I would fold one, stitch part way, loop around the other color and fold, stitch, loop.  Repeat.  I'm pretty sure that this method took just as long as real PPs would have taken.  Nonetheless, I persevered ('cause I'm stubborn that way) and following a careful trim we have a decent border.


And a layer of ribbon to cover the cut edges . . .


Uh-oh.  I hate wasting ribbon!  (Yeah, like it's so rare and expensive.  NOT!) 

PC190002  Most of you would probably just toss this little pile of scraps.  Not me!  Now I am working on figuring what to do with very short scraps of ribbon!   I'm sure I'll come up with something - and you can bet it will be the most tedious, difficult, and frustrating project I can think up!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A Peek at My Current Project

Christmas is just about wrapped up.  I should get the last things done tomorrow and then there will be five days to finish up this project.  And high time, too!

Since June (!) I have been planning a fabric memory book to give my Mom.  She knows I'm working on 'cause I had to raid her photo albums (er, boxes!) to get most of the things for this book.  Then I rashly mentioned Christmas!  Crunch time!!!!

I have three pages DONE!  Fourth page was so-o-o-o much fun to do that I have to show you some of it.  Just bits and pieces, but it's the fun stuff.




I printed these wedding photos on silk and then stitched them to the background fabric.  That ribbon on the large picture was a real pain to stitch.  I used the sewing machine and I know it would have been faster to do it by hand!  Live and learn.  I haven't done silk ribbon embroidery for quite awhile and forgot how much I enjoy it.   And dressing up the corsage on the small print was so easy and looks so great! 

Gotta get working if I want to finish this book, tho.  Now, if we should happen to have a snow storm on the 24th . . . .  But I can't hope for something like that!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Little Entertainment

I've been pretty busy working on Christmas projects.  But the other day I took some time out to play with Jake.  As I was digging through a box of holiday fabric and such, something fell out.  We had to take advantage of the distraction, didn't we?





This blog is supposed to be craft related, so I don't include Jake very often.  He is always helping me, though.  Some of the better ideas came from him!

If you enjoy looking at pug pix and reading about them, here are a couple of my favs:

Art is Life . . . Life is Art 

Clover's Adventures

Outside the Lines

Pug Network

The Pug Posse

We will return to our regular crafty posts next time.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

'Tis the Season

I've been pretty busy lately.  Really!  The problem is that I've been working on Christmas gifts.  Some of the recipients do read this blog - at least once in awhile!  Since I don't want to spoil the surprises, I can't post very many pictures just now.  Bummer!

So I dug around in my pictures from earlier this year.  And I actually found something that I made for myself! 

Remember this?


I showed you this a few weeks ago as a preview of what I would be working on.  This stitchery was actually framed and hung on the wall at one time.  Come to think of it, it was one of a pair.  Hmmm.  Wonder where the other one is?  Well, times and fashions change - and in my case the houses change, too - and this piece no longer has a place on the wall.  So I decided to "re-purpose" - a buzzword for today's crafter!

PB190009 And here is how it looks now.  It's a portfolio - in case you are wondering.  Here is the inside . . .

PB190007 all packed for my quilt guild meeting last month.  Then I switched contents and took it to doll club.  Very handy.  I will definitely have to make some more of these!

The idea and instructions for the portfolio is from Terri Stegmiller at Two Creative Studios (click on Free Projects, then Folder/Folio).  It is fun to make and you can use your favorite fabric and techniques to make it your own work of art.  A really quick project, too.

I'm off to work on Christmas again.  I am about to start on some decoration-type projects, so I'll be able to post pictures of those.  And the gifts?  There will be pictures eventually!