Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's in the Mail

I just realized I have been really bad about showing the postcard swaps I've been in!  I belong to a couple of on-line groups that trade postcards pretty regularly.  Sometimes someone suggests a theme and sometimes not.  So here is what has been going on lately.

rightsideupFor this first one, the theme was "Blue".  Ha!  Do I ever have a lot of blue in my stash!  I was experimenting with a fabric technique from Threads Magazine (In the "Master Class" regular feature by Lois Ericson in Issue #140).  It involves laying fabric on a grid (like a cooling rack from the kitchen) and poking the fabric through holes, then ironing a fusible backing on to it.

bluefinished I made two (as you can see from above), but this is the one I sent to my partner.   You might notice that this is not exactly the same as the first photo.  Why's that?  Well, it's because I ironed the backing on upside down!!!  You know - the part with the lettering on it!  Oooh boy.  Well, it looks good either way - right?

So.  Moving right along.  The next swap was an "open" theme, so I could pick whatever I wanted. 

P2250018 I started out with lace bits and other snippets for the background.  These bits were mostly left over from Serafina's wings.

P2280023 Then I found a clipart of bird silhouettes and picked three goose shapes.  These shapes really appeal to me and they made a great applique for the postcards.  After some hand embroidery, I stitched a fringe-y yarn to the edges and there you go! 

P2280024 Here is a close up of one of these.  I sent one off to my swap partner and the others to a couple of friends for birthday and such.

Now, the real purpose of these swaps is so you receive cool postcards in return!  So what have I gotten?

P3070002 This one from Debbie S.  Some cool layering and quilting.

P3270012 And this one from Gina (after a detour of sorts.  Thanks for persevering, Gina.)  Gina does some nifty crazy quilting.



One of Sarge's recurring questions is, What are you going to do with this stuff?  In the case of postcards, I have the answer.  I put them into a small photo album - 6x4 inches is the perfect size - and I enjoy looking at them!  Even the album is fun to look at.  P3250010


All those fibers are from a tag swap I was in a couple years ago.  I keep the album on my worktable and the postcards are easy to leaf through when I need a quick break and/or uplift!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How About Those Goals?

Time for a review.  Seems like it can't be six weeks already, but I guess the calendar doesn't lie.  Maybe.  Except when the calendar says it's this close to April . . . and we are getting snow!!!!  Well, that makes a good day to sit inside and bring you up to date on this year's goals.

To review the previous posts on Goals, you can just click the goals link in my sidebar and browse the last couple of posts.  Here is how I'm doing now:

P22300141.  Decide on a theme and develop a design or mockup for the Hoffman Challenge.  In progress.  I pretty much have a design, and I have been tweaking a head design.  I call this photo "Ladies of the Choir!"  Still lots of work  to do on this one, though.  It will be a carry-over.


2.  Decide on a UFO doll for this month's doll club meeting and get him/her finished.  Done!   The doll I worked on was Aengus and he is finished and posted about here.  Probably should start work on another one, but not just yet.

patchblocks3.  Continue working on pages for the Take It Further  book.  In progress. This is getting closer to completed, but I'm down to mostly hand work.  That will take longer.  So this is another carry-over.

4.  Baste and quilt the unfinished Halloween quilt.  No progress.  Aarrgh!  Apparently I am a bit afraid of this project because it keeps getting shuffled to the bottom of the list.  Time to face the music and get on with it.  Yeah, another carryover!

JanFeb5.  Choose an embroidery Block-of-the-Month pattern  and stitch January and February.  Done!  In fact, I am currently working on March.  This task will join Stitch Explorer as an on-going, year-long project.  It will only show up on the ToDo list if I get too far behind.  Oh!  And I will prepare a post to tell you more about this project soon.

6.  Take part in the March fabric postcard swap with my Yahoo group.  Done!  While checking this one off the list, though, I realized I haven't put up any pictures.  I'm working on a post to remedy that oversight.  Photos in the next couple of days - I promise!

So, about half and half.  Not bad, not good.  Definitely room for improvement!  I did get a bit sidetracked during this period.  I had not planned on taking the Boxmaking class, for instance.  Plus, every day life does tend to change our priorities, doesn't it?

For next time, I have those carryovers. . . and a couple of other fun things planned.  Here is the new list.

  1. Stitch an envelope for a Mail Art Exchange with Stitchin' Fingers.
  2. Continue working on Take It Further.
  3. Get going on the "dreaded" Halloween quilt!
  4. Make a quilt top for Quilts of Valor (QOV) as part of the local Quilt Guild project.
  5. Design the prototype for my Hoffman Challenge entry.
  6. Make a doll with a wire skirt, something I have had in my head for wa-a-ay too long.

Sounds interesting, huh?  I will be back about May 8 to report on the progress for these items, as well as the two on-going projects.  Fun pictures coming up, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Another class project

That title might be a little misleading . . . it's not another class.  It's still the Creative Boxmaking class I've been taking.  But I couldn't say "Another Box" . . . well, it's not a box!

vasesIn fact, it's a Vase - two of them.  These vases are made using the same techniques as one would use to make a box, though.  Sue does a good job of making the class interesting by having us make something a bit unexpected!

tall-vase The tall vase was made by layering tissue paper with Gesso.  Basically the same process as I used on the outside of the first box.  This one gave me a chance to correct my mistakes the first time around, which was basically not using enough Gesso.  This is really a very messy process when done right - my lab assistant demonstrates just one of the issues below  - but it is really a pretty surface when completed.


(No, pugs do not come with white spotted muzzles!)


Here is a closeup of the other vase.  I made this one smaller (more like a basket) because I have these acorns and other seed pods that needed a home.  The outside surface of this "box" started out as a brown paper bag.

 lacingHere you can see that I punched holes and inserted eyelets (LOVE that Crop-A-Dile tool!!) and then laced the sides together using a coordinating yarn.  It would look cool with leather lacing, too.

I have the next box under construction now.  I might finish it before the last lesson comes out, but don't hold your breath!!   I am keeping pretty busy with all kinds of projects.  Plus, it is almost time for another Goal Review.  Yikes!  Six weeks already? 

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Another Box

Here it is the end of the third week of this class - and I am finally posting pictures of my second box!  It's not that I am falling behind (really!), but the first set of photos I took were awful!  Today I tried again - much better.  I really need to study up on lighting!


This box is in the shape of a house.  Very cool, huh?!

P3110005 For the roof, I layered and fused some fabric scraps and then candy wrappers.  A final layer of chiffon helps keep it all in place.  In this picture I was "auditioning" fabric for the walls.  Too bad those kitties weren't quite right!

P3160005Doors and windows were cut from the scraps of the roof fabric then stitched in place.

P3160004  The roof lifts up to reveal the box contents.  I'm thinking chocolate would look good in there!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Trellis Stitch

Last month I posted about the Stitch Explorer project - or stitch-along, or challenge, or whatever you call it - I am part of.  Well, this month the stitch was the Trellis Stitch.

This is a stitch that I don't remember having seen before.  It is different enough that one would remember it!  It is great for adding some dimension to your stitching!

trellis-top Here are the few samples I stitched.  I tried different threads as well as different shapes.  Starting with the big red circle and moving clockwise:  perle cotton #8, perle cotton #5 (two examples), single ply wool, Caron Watercolours single ply (two examples). 

trellis-sideIn this sideways shot you can see more of the dimensional quality.  When you stitch back and forth (or around) without decreasing or anything, the stitches stack on top and develop height.  On the three circular pieces, I decreased at different levels to vary the height.   For the rectangles you can do a couple of different things.  For the square, I attached the end of each row to the fabric as I stitched, so it hugs the surface.  On the twisted piece (left) I stitched straight up, and then tacked just the end stitches to the fabric as a last step.

trellis-close  In this closeup, you can almost see that the red circle has a tiny "bump" in the center.  I wasn't decreasing enough!  The brown one - it looks like a Hershey's Kiss! - is a much smoother decrease.  Practice makes perfect!

I really like this stitch!  I found it very relaxing to stitch it, even in the beginning when I struggled to do it correctly.  As I learned to work the stitch and relax, it was more soothing.  It's also very interesting to watch the shape forming!  I plan to do some more experimenting with this.  I know it is a stitch I will use once in awhile.  It certainly adds interest to the work! 

There are several stitchers taking part in Stitch Explorer and many of them have blogged their experiences.  For those of you who do not embroider, or who haven't been following this project, I am listing some of my favorites.  These are worth taking a look at!  And I will definitely be doing some more experimenting with this stitch myself!

That's just a small sample!  Anyone who is interested in hand embroidery really should be reading Sharon's blog.  Not only does she share her own work, but she frequently posts links to sites with lots of eye candy and information.

This month we are looking at Assisi embroidery.  One of my favorites!  I can't wait to get started!

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Meet my latest doll, Aengus.  He was a UFO - Un-Finished Object - but not any longer!


There are two stories about this Aengus.  One real and one make-believe.  Of course there's a make-believe story!  That is what it's all about, isn't it?

In this reality, Aengus began about seven years ago (I can't believe that - 7???).  The very first time I took a face-to-face doll class, one of them was from Jill Hamilton (the other was from Sally Lampi, but that's a story for another day).  We made paperclay heads in Jill's class.

jillsclass  This photo was taken at the end of the day with everyone holding their head mounted on a stick!  (I am front row, left and Jill is front row, right).  Jill made some amazing part human/part animal figures and she was a great teacher.  Unfortunately, her web site has been "disabled" so I cannot point you to a place to see them just now.  Maybe later.

wizard02But, back to Aengus.  I painted his head and mounted it on a body shortly after coming home from the class.  I added arms and legs a bit later.  Oh, I had wonderful ideas about what I wanted this doll to be!!

But first, I needed to learn to make a hat.  Then, I needed to make boots.  Those called for more classes and books.  At one point I wanted an authentic early European look, so lots of research went into that idea.  Then I fell in love with The Lord of The Rings (LOTR) movies, and he must be a character from that tale.  How can I add hair?  What about a cape?  Of course, real life got in the way as well.  Things like retiring and moving half way cross the country!  Yes, all that time, this poor guy sat on the shelf.  Patiently waiting his day in the sun - or something like that.

closeupThis is the face of a patient man!

Last month, my doll club's project was to bring an unfinished doll and work on finishing it.  So, his time has finally come.  I think I might have the experience now to give him a proper costume.   I dusted him off, and gathered fabrics and tools.  At club meeting, I made his hat!  Woohoo!  Of course, once I got started, it was hard to stop!  Over the next two weeks I spent every available minute working - and planning when I couldn't be in the workroom.  When I next surfaced for air, there he was!  Obviously on some kind of quest.  But who is he?

Part of the fun of making dolls is researching and choosing a name.  I wanted something Celtic.  When I read the story of Aengus from Irish mythology, it seemed to be just right.  The part I like is about Aengus falling in love with a girl (in his dream in some versions) but not knowing who she is.  His family searched all over for her (at least three years, depending on the version again) until she was found at the lake of the Dragon's Mouth.  There is more to the tale - magic and enchantment - so you may want to follow the link above.  It has a happy ending!

outside-modifiedI think this doll looks as if he is traveling afar, trying to find a lost lover.  Although that doesn't quite fit into the myth, I think it's close enough! 

I have made other heads from paperclay, but I guess there will always be something special about this first one.  The others have not had that amazing nose, for one thing! 

Now to clear away the debris from this creating frenzy and choose my next project.  Quilt blocks, I think.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pretty Box

I'm taking an online class from Sue Bleiweiss called Creative Box Making for the Fiber Artist.  Yes - I'm taking another class!  I was going to take a break from online classwork, but this class looked way too interesting to pass up.  And it is!

box1 This box is from Lesson 1.  I used copper screen for the window spaces.  I had some in my stash - purchased for a clay project that never got off the ground!  Not sure I even remember what it was now.  Jeesh! 

boxtop01 This is the view from the top.  I found the paw print at a scrapbook store (it's a brad) and the color is close enough to copper that I figured it would work. 

This is a cute little box, suitable for holding something with a fragrance like lavender or scented candles.  But not for lighting the candle!  Very flammable - Yikes! 

I've been wrapping up a couple other projects.  Still some details to finish up, but they will be ready for posting in a few more days.  Here are a couple of "teasers."







Stay tuned.