Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Scream

I have to admit that I have been really slack on the blog posting for several weeks now.  If you are one of my followers, I apologize.  It has been a turbulent time, making adjustments with life and family relationships and business.  Upheavals of all sorts, and at times I have been feeling overwhelmed with it all and needing to take time out.  Surfacing again has taken an effort, and so I am once again reminding myself that this is simply time for personal growth.

So much of the world as we have known it is in change and it is hard to find a foothold ...a way to ground and feel stable through the surging onslaught of waves of change.  For many people it is time to connect more strongly with faith in a greater power, and that is what I have been working on.  I have to let go of trying to understand and make any logic of the goings on of politics, economy, family situations, a mother with increasing decline into Alzheimer's dementia, a society that seems to lack a sense of compassion and morality, the predictions of the Yi Ching and the Mayan calendar, etc., etc.  I am feeling very like "The Scream" by Edvard Munch.  Enough ...enough already!

...And tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  So, out of all this negative fallout, we take time to find that which we are thankful for, and I find that I have plenty to be thankful for in spite of all the craziness.  Our lives are quiet enough and holding fairly steady, which is a blessing in these times.   Life can still be rich in the sense of potential and possibilities.  It is what we turn our focus too that allows us to feel safe and balanced.  ...And in that thought I can inhale more deeply and let the exhale wash me clean of the burdens and replace the scream with a quiet little song.

Tomorrow and every day, I hope that all of you who stop by here will also find the peace within and take time to nurture what is good and loving in yourselves and others.  One mixed media jewelry artist that I absolutely adore, Nina Bagley, posted a new necklace and her creative thoughts inspiring it.  She often creates tags with sayings on them and this one says: "gently polish every silver lining."   How wonderful this idea is.  How beautiful this thought feels when I breathe it in and it awakens the inner smile.  Yes, there is a little song inside that sings of love, compassion, strength and resilience.  And I am thankful!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Jacket Updates

Maybe you get tired of me writing about my 1980's linen Jacket, but I am so attached to this piece of clothing.  Ridiculous almost, but I do love it and wear it often but not so much as I used to.  It has sustained so much wear and now the fabric is giving out in several places.  Last week I blew the elbow out on my right sleeve when I bent my arm.  Big ouch!  It sat miserably ripped while I considered my options:  Should I retire it and use it as a piece of wall art in my studio?  ...or should I keep it going with more repairs?  Well, happily, I decided that wall art is off in the future.  Under intense inspection against a bright light, it was apparent that the entire right sleeve was seriously worn and thin.  Patching and reinforcement was needed to make it wearable.

First I took out the stitching at the back side of the sleeve.  This is a small man's jacket that my sons wore, so the two piece sleeve has two vertical seams.  The one at the back was in better condition than the other, and its integrity was intact while the seam under the arm had a few tiny breaks at the edge of the seam and would require reinforcing.  I left the cuff join alone, starting above the button slit, and opened it up to just below the armhole.  This allowed me to open it up enough to work easily.  I cut a piece of sheeting fabric with a pink striped pattern (in case of future fabric disintegration and show through), pinned it inside the sleeve, and then placed patches over the front inner elbow area where thinning was the worst.  I used a heart shape patch, and plan to embroider my grand-daughter's name on it.  ...Wearing my heart on my sleeve obviously!  The blown out elbow was "stitched" together with lengths of ribbon, looking for all the world like the stitch job one of my sons got in an emergency room by a seriously inept doctor after ripping his thigh on a barb wire fence.   On his leg it was pathetic, on my sleeve it's artsy.  Ah well.  I also used thin ribbon over another patch cut in a circle form wide ribbon In order to strengthen the top part of the sleeve, I striped thin ribbon about 1/2" apart to secure the lining and add stability.  To secure the lining where there were large open areas in design, I drew swirls and over-stitched them, filling in the spaces with spirals like my favorite artist, Gustav Klimt.

The results are stunning it I do say so myself, and now there are plans to "fill in" the rest of the jacket.  ...It sortof looks unfinished now.  But oh how magnificent it will be when I am done! 

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Friendship!

This past Saturday, a good friend and I got together and had a delicious breakfast at Cafe Strudel on State Street in Cayce, SC.  Becasue time flies and we both have demands on our lives, it had been ages since we last got together.  One of our favorite things to do is to have a "show and tell" with some of our artistic projects.  We both "oooh and aaah" over what the other has accomplished in mutual admiration.  I usually take along knitting and jewelry, and Barbara brings her hand-spun yarns and handmade books.  In recent months, Barbara has decided that selling wool yarn or wool products isn't the easiest thing to do here in South Carolina.  So, A few years ago she became interested in Coptic book binding.  She creates her book covers with various materials and found pieces, and binds real paper pages into a beautiful book.  She now has three locations that have her books for sale, and she brought perhaps a dozen to show me.  Gorgeous all of them.  The best part is that she presented me with a choice among them.  I got this red one that had caught my eye.  Its beautiful vibrant color and flowing design just makes me feel good looking at it.

Barbara was so thoughtful, and presented me with a beautiful deep rich burgundy dahlia, that was a prize from her garden.  It glorified our little table as we munched away at our breakfasts, talking the whole while.  How wonderful it was to be surrounded with such positive energy for a change.  Due to my mother's health and Alzheimer's I rarely get out for such an invigorating and refreshing moment.  Well, it made my day and truth be told, week.  Thank you Barbara!  She urged me to use the journal and not be intimidated by what might go into it, but I thought it would make a delightful way to add positive affirmations to my life.  So, here is my start Barbara... and thank you for being a good friend!  (...and I hope you will forgive me for hammering the faded flower)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What's A Deadline?

I am fighting a war with some wood boring critter that took up residence in the branch I was going to use for the "pole" to hang it from.  Even though I tried to scramble its brains by banging the branch hard against the concrete repeatedly, and practically soaked it with insecticide, yet it bores on.  (...Dastardly little fanged beast!)  Next I will try entombing it in a black plastic garbage bag and baking its little nasty self in the sun for a few days.  It's my stick you little fanged critter!

This off my chest, I have been held up in my scheduling plans by the stated annoyance.  The swing was to be completed by the end of August.  However, I need that branch to measure and tie off the cords.  So now the deadline is being pushed out indefinitely, but hopefully not beyond the end of this month, which is flying by already.  Imagine, ...being delayed by a bug.

Friday, August 31, 2012

No Moss Grows Here, But the Dust is Piling Up

Yes, it has been a busy and challenging summer so far.  Hard at work getting a small rental home ready to place for sale, I have been team director, painting and cleaning up a storm on every weekend.  Now that the end of this labor is only a few hours away, my body and spirit are clamoring for more creative pursuits.  I have never been so sore and exhausted in my life!  Pushing forward with smaller projects has been the plan all summer.  The sewing machine has been out for the duration and turning out a few things that I am very pleased with.  Because my bohemian style has been with me since college days, my friends and acquaintances have told me they can easily pick me out of a crowd.  Imagine my surprise when I was "forced" to shop a few days ago and I saw many wonderful garments that were of the Boho bent and on the racks at large chain stores like TJMAXX, Kohl's, Ross and Marshalls.  WOW!!!

Naturally, this bursting Boho assortment of goodies has me puzzled.  What is going on in the world that so many artful garments are appearing not only on the ready-to-wear racks but are also being featured on Haute Couture runways by Rodart, Jean Paul Gaultier, Kenzo, Emilio Pucci, Anna Sui, and many others?  There is a bursting emergence of designers that are selling through Etsy that are more moderately priced too.  After mentally pursuing this for a few minutes, it suddenly occurred to me that it's the economy!  Just as the pioneers made use of what was on hand, re-crafting and up-cycling, and the wonderful crazy quilts that eventually resulted in Victorian times, We The People are dictating fashion to the designers and manufacturers!  I find it very interesting that they are trying hard to imitate what is being done so artfully by women artisans all over who are using their brains to come up with amazing garments, jewelry, etc., that are one of a kind masterpieces.  I could also see that the sloppy cheesy assembly of a few years past has given way to better skill.  ...Really, how can a factory worker who does the same piecework hour after hour and day after day turn out terrible work?  (answer:  They have to try real hard!)

During the Art Nouveau Era, we had the same inspirational sense that is prevailing now.  Artisans were exploring in various mediums that were used together in very creative ways.  It was not unusual to find mixed media in the same piece.  Rules were broken and as a result, Art Nouveau became the most widely celebrated and favorited Era in fashion.  I came across a lovely statement by Kecia, author of Lemoncholy's blog, in my web browsing:
By removing perfectionism, I free my imagination to play and ultimately, this freedom results in whimsical pieces of grace and beauty.
I love this way of expressing creativity, as by removing perfectionism, we give ourselves permission to fail.  Why is this important?  ...Because it means that we are free to try ideas and techniques that may not work out, or that may result in a new way to approach and express ourselves artfully.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Making Progress Slowly

I absolutely hate housework, but sometimes it just can't be avoided.  At those times, we can all appreciate some helpful advice, and lately I am interested in teh "no effort" kind.  Here is a tip found on a blog a few days ago, that works really well.  I brought some stove pans home from a rental house and they were nasty, let me tell you.  Or rather, I can show you....  
Now, all you need to do is get a ziplock baggie for each pan.  I used gallon size bags.  Add maybe a tablespoon of household ammonia, and zip up.  Let them sit overnight, and voila!  The next day, it only takes a little rub off and they are nearly new looking, and I can't ask for more than that.  Here is the result...

I have also done a few crafty things, but neglected to do the photo documentation because I was running about the house trying to be clever.  It isn't always easy to be creative on a shoestring, and I was determined not to spend a penny on staging accessories for this little house for sale.  The idea was to create a spa feeling in the bathroom.  Candles, French milled soaps, flowers, and bubble bath all seemed to suggest that to me.  This is what I came up with...

Oooh, not the shabby old pitcher, but the wine bottle which now has a label for bubble bath, and the back yard branch transformed with some old paper rose buds.  This may have to grow out of the bottle, and that remains to be seen.  The fine soaps are fraudulent, merely empty boxes made form a template that I found here.  Using colored and patterned paper and a few vintage soap labels, I created a nice assortment of "soaps."  That little basket can sit at the sink.  The box, that is bare discernible, is a small box bottom that was recovered with two pages I printed off the net that had a floral design.  I altered the color and saturation to make them pale, and then dabbed them all over with a used tea bag.  This stained the paper and gave it an aged look.  When the paper was nearly dry, I pasted them to the box with tacky glue.  I had another label that I glued on the side front edge.  Next, I stole some river rocks from the back yard, and filled the box bottom.  I found an old votive holder with a new candle in it, and added that to complete the look.  It will sit on the back edge of the bathtub.  Not bad work for "0" dollars!

Lastly, I had the idea to complete eh kitchen look by making a valance for the window  over the sink.  I got some burlap and some fabric that matched kitchen colors.  I cut 3 rectangles of the burlap and fringed three sides.  I made a stencil of a heart shape and cut the fabric appliques using this.  I quickly zig-zagged the hearts onto the burlap with my sewing machine.  Next, I turned the top edges over a length of twine, leaving the length long enough to swag the top of the window.  That is already hanging...

 ...And thank goodness we are nearly done!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Twiddling Thumbs Gets Nothing Done

This week has been a time of resting up a little.  The DH has been on a mini-vacation since Wednesday, and both of us needed R&R.  We have been so busy taking care of things that have to be done that just staying home and having a movie marathon sounded good to both of us.  Unlike our past "stay-cations" in which we did a little bit of local traveling and sight seeing, we thought it would be easier on both of us if we did not try to take my mother out every day.  Now 97, and deeper into Alzheimer's Disease, we never know what to expect from her health-wise or in terms of attitude.   Also, I just don't feel like pushing a wheel chair even 5 feet in the 100* heat we are having.

So, you should know by now that I do not just sit twiddling my thumbs.  I have been busy working on the chair swing, patching the other pocket of The Jacket, and sewing up a tunic which is up-cycled from an old tank top, matching shorts, and similar color knit capris.  I have had these three items for years, but have not worn them in forever because they "got little."  I could have worn them, but I hate seeing a of any age woman stuffed into her clothing.  As far as I am concerned, it is seriously deeming to her dignity and speaks volumes on her self worth.  Clothing should add grace, mystery and beauty, and there ain't no way that defining every bulge and cellulite dimple does that.

Because the tunic took too much thinking as I designed it, I didn't take photos of the stages it went through, but it is easy enough to describe the process.  The first thing I did was to remove a label that was sewn to the front of the tank top.  I am not at all big on wearing someones labels on my clothing.  I knew I would slip up with this and made a few tiny holes in the knit.  Yes, this could be a disaster, but there is a great product called Fray Check that will stop unraveling in T-short knits.  I used to use it often on my son's T's because they always got holes where they were tucked into their pants at the front waistline.Then, I picked out a stitched on logo from the shorts.  No holes this time!  Next, I cut the waistband from the shorts, and cut the two front and two back pieces apart along the seam-lines.  I was careful to preserve the pockets.  The waistband is a folded ribbing with a drawstring, and I decided to use it along the waistline seam when joining the "skirt."  I actually cut it in half the long way, and extended it by sewing the two halves together, and then cutting it to fit the hem of the top.

For the skirt portion, I cut the shorts pieces straight down from the center front and back seam-lines, removing the crotch areas.  The legs of the capris were cut into elongated diamonds and sewn in at center front and back as well as the side seams.  I only needed to hem the diamonds as the shorts already had the hems.  After sewing the waistline together, all that was left was to thread the drawstring through, and then patch some pieces onto the holes on the front of the top.

I have already worn this over black capri length leggings and tank top, but plan to wear it under my Aruba sweater when weather gets colder, with either tan leggins or pants.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

THE Jacket Again

Well, when you just keep wearing a garment, it does wear out.  This is one I keep resurrecting every spring now.  This time it was a blown out pocket that required patching.  Here you see the hole next to the last repair that resulted in a lace applique.  A little tricky because it was the bottom of the pocket and I wanted it to be solid enough to push my hands into another 20 years.  So, I am going to take y'all through the steps I used.

Other than my sewing machine, iron, and the hole, here is what I needed for the repair...
  • iron-on woven interfacing
  • an old left-over flower applique with Stitch Witchery fusible web already applied
  • not shown: non-stick ironing sheet (keeps the glue away from the iron!)

1.  I cut the woven interfacing to fit the inside bottom of the pocket, all the way to the lace flower applique, which overlapped the pocket edge.

  2.  I cut the stitching along the bottom and side edge of the pocket so that I could insert the interfacing properly.  Then, I ironed the pocket (from the right side, following directions for fusing interfacing) to fuse the interfacing to the back side of the pocket.  Once cooled, placed the flower applique where I wanted it to be and pressed just the pocket (not the garment front) to fuse it to the pocket flap.  I lifted the pocket flap to sew on the flower applique.  This did require care so as not to be sewing through both the flap and the jacket front behind the flap.  Remember that it was already sewn down previously.  I did not want to  shorten or close off the pocket any further.  Luckily, I was able to sew it all in as planned.  The lines for the zig-zag design were drawn on to the flower piece with a white pencil.  I sewed some of them through both layers of fabric where the two appliques overlapped.  The flap was lifted away for the rest of the flower patch.

3.  Once that was done, I wanted to make sure that the interfacing would not separate from the fabric, even through years of pocket pushing and washings.  I assured this by stitching back and forth across the area where the interfacing backed the pocket.  All that was left after this was to replace the pocket in position and sew it on along the original pocket line.

Now my well-worn and loved jacket can keep on for another season, and hopefully years to come.  Every time I wear this jacket I am reminded of my beautiful granddaughter, who is now a grown woman.  In this jacket, she lives on as the tiny tot who was so enchanting and stole my heart.

For the story about this garment, read this blog:  THE Jacket story

Friday, July 6, 2012

Studio Re-Do #3

OK, so I have had many things going on and the studio is advancing at a snail's pace.  However, I managed a quick fix in very short time this morning that I want to share with you.  I have seen several photos on Pinterest that show off some clever use of homemade chalkboard paint.  Some are chalkboard walls, old silver trays, and some are just painted boards in a  frame.  I chose the latter for my project.  I had a nice gilded frame sitting around waiting for a picture to beautify, but no board to fit.  Taking myself off to the craft store, I found that the canvas boards were sold in packs and would cost me far more than necessary.  So, I grabbed up a white foam board for this project.  Now is where I get experimental.

All the Pins I was used un-sanded grout mixed with regular latex paint.  I had checked with the local Lowe's, and saw that a small bag of grout was about $13.  Not bad, but all the recipe called for was about a teaspoon of grout, and that just seemed ridiculous to me.  So, after a friend suggested that joint compound would probably work too, I mentioned I only had the already been mixed kind.  "No matter" said my friend, and I am glad I listened.  I had this big tub, and some deeply purple paint to play with.  I mixed about 1/2 cup paint with a generous amount of joint compound (perhaps 3 Tablespoons, I did not measure), and spread it on lightly with a small trim roller (though just about any way of application would do).  I smoothed it out afterwards with a very light brushing over the surface.  It dried very quickly, without much warping of the foam board.  I gave it another coat after an hour or so. 

 This is the result...

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Chair Swing

For months now, I have been coveting a wonderful chair swing I saw on Pinterest when I first joined.  It stole my heart!  After searching for a good hour, I came across the source as hamanica on Etsy, a company in Nicaragua.  Hand knit by locals, this lovely thing was ridiculously inexpensive, but after shipping costs would probably cost me an arm and a leg.  Anyway, with these being mostly one of a kind, I didn't think I could get the same gorgeous colors and workmanship.  I don't like buying and guessing what I will get.  So, I have finally gotten started on making one for myself.  If I get this one right, I will do it again in these gorgeous greens, purples and blues with the beautiful lacey front border, and even make some incredible pillows to match.

My own attempt is going to be made using some old macrame yarn which I am wrapping with fabric strips.  The yarn is a four-ply cotton, which is strong but soft.  In yet another lifetime, I did a lot of patchwork, so I have lots of small yardages of fabric to do something with.  I have chosen a few of those and have torn them into 1" wide strips.  Each strip gets wrapped around the yarn before I stitch it.  Using #35 gianormous needles, I get 2 stitches to the inch.  It's pretty slow work, but becasue of the size of the needles and lack of stretch, this is a bit hard on the hands.  However, because of the size of the stitches, the fabric builds rapidly.   Thank goodness!  I am just aiming for strong enough to hold and colorful, but I think it will be very cool when finished.  I will keep you posted on my progress! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Studio Re-Do Step #2

Well, I cannot lie, there has been too much going on the past few weeks to move forward with the studio.  I had to renew my business license, and that required me to take another course.  I decided on Past Life Regression hypnotherapy.  It didn't take very long, but I took my time.  It was more enjoyable than I would have imagined, and a book that was momentous for me was The Journey of Souls by Michael Newton.  It was amazing for me because from my own background it felt like the real deal.  Now, I just happen to believe that we all keep coming back over and over, and I also believe in hypnosis.  If you believe in neither, then this book would be meaningless to you.  If you are a believer, I highly recommend reading it.

Now that I have certificate in hand, and there is an itching for creativity again, I want to share this quick project that must have taken only 30 minutes to make.  It seems to be my lot that I will bring Mother Nature into the house when possible, and here is what has become of a branch that came down this winter.  I just neatened up the ends a little with a hand saw.  Then I used packing twine to wrap close to the ends, making a loop at each end before tying knots.  Being careful to preserve the abundant lichen growing over the length of it, I screwed in several cup-hooks that I rummaged out of the kitchen junk drawer.  Then, I decided where I wanted to place the screws it would hang from.  I did one end first, and then a pencil through the other loop and marked the wall for the other side.  I used my trusty electric drill and toggles for this task.  It could be done other ways, especially if the wall you want to mount this on is solid.  I am not very good about finding studs without piercing the drywall with a myriad of tiny holes, so I use toggles.  The plan is to get more cup-hooks and hang more jewelry.  I can also hang other things as it is quite strong.  ...And by the way, the picture of dolphins playing in sunlight streaming through the ocean depths was done by artist Louisa Brown.  She is a good friend and I have many of her earlier works on display in my home. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Knitting Again

Ages have gone by without a knitting project in the making.  I guess this is partly true because of the diversity of my interests, plus the stacks of already knit things, and the fact that the last project took me months to get through.  ...I just needed a break!  So, when I decided that I needed to go through my wardrobe and make some changes, I realized that I have a need for a  few lightweight cover-ups, and a very open knit top would be perfect.  Once again, my mentor and friend, Jane Thornley, tempted me with her new pattern, The Color Streams Wrap, which you can find on Ravelry or her blog.  The plan is to create this as a hem edge, and attach it to a mesh top-down sweater.  Ugh!  ...sweater immediately brings to mind something too warm and covered to wear for summer in the South.

Once again, I am indulging in shades of aqua, teal, turquoise and adding in a really intense electric blue.  The inspiration that juiced me up is an incredible Azurite geode I saw online.  Digging into really old stash this time, I am putting to use some yarn I  bought so many years ago, that I am surprised it is still good.  Forty!  That's how old the yarn is. Anyway, this wrap is made up of short rows, inserting wedges of color that break up the stripy-ness and give a sense of movement.  ...How cool is that?!!!  As I look at this, I think I will back up and remove some of that infinite grayness I am seeing.  I get the feeling that it is killing the spirit of lightness and brightness of this piece and going too dark for summer in the South.  ...I will keep y'all posted on my progress!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Since Time Is Flying, Shouldn't I Be Having More Fun?

Can you believe that it is already the middle of May?  I can't help but wonder where the time is going.  There is so much I want to do, yet I am barely done with the need to do's and the day is gone.  So, I keep reminding myself that time management is getting critical here.  Some things I want to do take only a minute or two, yet they get put off for ridiculous reasons.  For instance, remember the painted sun face sculpture I had in the last blog?  Well, it didn't look exactly as I wanted, and it needed repainting.  Spray paint is amazing and only took about 30 seconds with an hour's dry to touch.  The purple overlay took just a little longer, as a quick nearly-dry brushing. Then, my little engraved "Blessings" stone wanted to be gilded.  That took about 5 seconds for each of the two adhesive coats smeared on with my finger, and another 5 seconds to rub the gold foil on and peel off.  It took me longer to wash my hands!

So what is the real problem here?  Could it be that the real issue is gathering my energetic forces and focusing my mind on just being creative for a shorter period of time that I would like to have?  Really, when I get into creating, I hate having a timer on me.  Years ago when I was sewing show garments for the Burda Pattern Company, that is exactly what I did.  I analyzed each step of the creation and gave myself a time frame to finish.  I knew exactly how many minutes I needed to do everything from cutting to buttonholes, and I kept myself on schedule.  Back then, I had big blocks of time, now my day is broken up with just about everything you can imagine.  Some days, I'd like to hang a sign around my neck that says: "I am not available today, and if you ask for anything I'll bite."

With so many things that challenge us all these days, it is very easy to be in a constant state of distraction.  I often look back on the days when my sons were small, and it seems like I was superhuman.  There is a sense of wonderment at how the daily chores of cooking, cleaning, sewing, gardening, crafting of all sorts, raising puppies, visiting with friends, shopping, entertaining, etc., etc., ...all this got done with ease.  I had an intense focus on each pursuit.  Now, it seems everything wants to crush in and fragment that focus. 

...Does this dialogue seem to be going somewhere to you?  Well, when I write like this, which I refer to as "complaining to my best friend," I often find the answers upon re-reading what I have written.  The "best friend" is the little voice that resides inside my head and is always making comments in response to input.  Silly me, the answer is right there in front of me.  ...I am letting too many concerns trouble my mind from waking to sleeping!  And along with that is time management.  Does it seem as if clearing my mind will allow the rest to follow?  ...The mental focus needed to accomplish a task as well as the energy to carry it through?  Think of how much mental energy is spent on too much thinking and how it could be used for each and every thing we want to do.

I am not trying to sell this person's book, but after a quick Google on "how to get focused", I found this page.  There are some interesting points about the science of focus.  For one thing, distraction leads to boredom!  Well, who would have known!  Yes, I can agree with this.  When I am too distracted to start a project, I start to pace, and I recognize this behavior as a way to alleviate boredom.  That article even mentions pacing!  Science recommends that we do one important thing every day.  How great an idea is this?!!!  I would so love to list something new and important for every day of my life.  It is apparently very important to have focus cues (like creating blinders with your hands), and clear away clutter.  After all, clutter is very distracting by its very nature.  Those who claim to "know" recommend getting rid of it any way you can, even if it means pushing it all into a box to get it out of sight.  Well, I have to admit, I would need a whole lot of boxes and it would be much better to get rid of it, a monumental task.  But, there is no time like NOW to get started!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I mean addictions of the fun and harmless sort.  Like Pinterest.  Of course, if you consider not keeping your house clean enough for the white glove test, then that would be a more serious addiction too.  Well, I have been spending a lot of my free time there for a while now, and have built up some substantial boards.  When I have a few moments, I love going through my boards the way I used to pour through a fascinating craft magazine, completely entranced and inspired.  So much so, that I am beginning to get twinges of guilt at not using the time to be creating my own amazing things.

I started a board, ...well actually two three, of things I just have to make.  With summer's heat approaching, and decisions to make regarding what new clothing items I want to replace those that I know will appear shamefully shabby, or not fit me as I remembered as they come out of their storage places, I am planning new projects.  This time, rather than spend the summer in jeans as I await the loss of a few pounds in order to fit older clothing (as I have done for a few years already now), I am going to start a new trend for myself with layering.  This style is well known in the German tradition of "lagenlook."  It is  also very well established in the "shabby chic" styles that seem to be popping up everywhere.  I think this is a perfect way to take care of chilly mornings or evenings, and shivery air conditioning, and layers can easily be shed for sweltering afternoons.

 I am very taken with the idea of lightweight and gauzy fabrics.  I was thrilled to find a designer who made leggings of cheesecloth.  I daresay they would not hold up for long, but it gives me ideas.  I once made some wonderful elastic waist pants of silk gauze.  I had forgotten all about them, but they were the perfect solution for keeping cool with a matching hip-length wrapped and ruffled top.  With less than youthful skin tone (also known as crepey old lady skin), I wrestle with the thoughts of grossing out not only myself but anyone who might catch sight of my exposures.  Therefore, I do choose to cover up certain parts of myself but don't want to appear to be wrapped in a blanket or tented.  So gauze is a perfect fabric for hot summers.

Just yesterday, when my sweetie DH commanded me to "go shopping!"  I managed to find two great buys.  One, a cotton/lycra stretch lace long sleeve T-top at Steinmart, and another more solid yet see-through lightweight cotton long sleeve at Ross.  Both on clearance, I am excited.  Although they are both white, I plan to coffee dye the lace one.  Many people do tea-dying to age fabric, but tea-dyed fabrics have a much shorter life span than coffee-dyed.  I have not decided about the other top yet.  This will depend on what I choose to do with the rest of my wardrobe, and if I happen to drop food on myself while wearing it.

As some of you may have guessed, I have a very Bohemian sense of style, and I am ready to really let that out this season.  Because I am pretty much home-bound caring for my mother, I have quite a well-developed list of things to keep me busy.  My wardrobe will feature artfully created pieces that give me a sense of inspired pleasure to craft as well as wear.  So far, I have many old garments that I will be upcycling, as well as lots of fabric and trim scraps, old ancient unfinished projects to re-create, and loads of great ideas.The photo shows a hint of a pinafore top in the making.  Until a few days ago, it was a blouse for my mother that was left in pieces cut and ready to sew.  ...Left maybe ???25years??? ago????  Well, I do have a tendency to get distracted with certain projects.  The fabric is a lovely gauze, and the pieces were a generously cut style.  That may have been why this wasted away all these years, because my mother is a very petite woman who does not care for baggy clothing.  From the basic fronts, back and sleeves, I was able to cut new front and back, and pockets.  From a scrap I created a double ruffle flounce.  Adding in a touch of lace trim, a few fabric flowers, and it's looking quite fashionably shabby. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Giving New Life to the Porch

Just a quickie post to show you a very fast, fun, and funky decor fix for my porch.  I am still waiting for the storm of pine pollen to end to give it a good cleaning and it needs paint this year too.  However, after seeing a few ideas from others, I had the idea to use an old mini-trellis that was almost thrown out to provide a little privacy and beautify the view as well.  The neighbors behind me have recently turned their back yard in a plastic junkyard for their toddler, and I really do not like an unnatural view.  We bought our home 10 years ago becasue of the natural setting, a nearby pond and its wandering ducks and geese, the quiet neighborhood, the birds, and it seemed perfect.  So, to block out the plastic playhouse, two bicycles, 3 plastic push-mobiles, plastic basketball hoop, and plastic sandbox, I grabbed the trellis, slapped some paint (really just using up the paint on the brush, shabby style) and hung it from the braces holding a planter.  I wired on a pin-wheel, a prism, and two wire and glass dangles.  I can change the objects when the whim takes me.  I can use small flower pots or vases, sun-catcher mobiles, small wind chimes, ...really, the ideas are endless.  I have two more of these old trellises, which I plan to use, and more ideas for how to make them fun to come soon.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Studio Re-Do

Now, with taxes finally out of the way, I can let my brain wander back to creative pursuits and believe me there are plenty of ideas waiting to be born.  For an embarrassingly long time,  I have wanted to clear the clutter from my studio and create a wonderful space for designing and dreaming up new projects.  With so many creative artisans out on the web now, inspiration is often just a click away.  Feeling rather low a few days ago, as Murphy's Law seemed to be preventing me from the simple task of e-filing and printing out my tax forms to mail, I took a break on Pinterest and found a beautiful photo of Tammy Gilley's studio.  Imagine my joy at finding that she has blogged her studio re-do with before and after photos!  I could hardly believe that her studio was nearly as cluttered as mine where just walking through is a serious challenge.

I have decided that I am going to reward myself with my own studio re-do, and share the process with you here over the coming weeks.  With this promise, perhaps I will stay on track and actually finish.  I have begun my re-do with a very simple project to organize my growing stash of beads.  This has been part of a plan for a while now, and a reward to myself for getting through taxes.  I found a huge oil pan, the kind use use under a car that leaks onto the garage floor, for $12.  You can find these in various shapes and sizes, but this was the largest and the least expensive.  Also, and very important is that it HAS to be magnetic.  Take a small magnet shopping with you to test the metal.

Now then, since the pan is galvanized steel, it can be subject to rust.  Because of this, I did not want to screw it directly to the wall.  I had on hand some rubber faucet repair washers, and used them behind the pan to raise it off the wall (glue in place).  I used long screws that I had purchased complete with toggles and drilled a hole in each corner of the pan large enough for the screw to pass through easily.  Before gluing the washers on, I used the pan as a guide to mark the wall where holes needed to be.  After drilling holes large enough to insert the toggles, and getting the toggles hammered into the wall, I then held the pan in place and tightened down the screws.  As you can see, my pan sits right behind the door.  It is a perfect fit, and does not protrude to interfere with the door standing open.  I can easily reach any of the tins here, and the rest of the wall space is open for decor or other storage.

Next, all that was needed was to add the tins to hold the beads.  Since my daughter-in-law had already done a project like this for her spices in the kitchen, she had done the shopping legwork and I knew right where to find the best deal.  Michael's Crafts had them in the bridal favor section of the store in a tub holding 30 tins for about $17.  Since they were on sale when I went in, I bought three of the tubs because I have quite a lot of beads, and the pan will hold all of these and perhaps even more.  My DIL used magnetic tape for her tins, but I was concerned about the weight of the beads, and a quick inquiry with a salesperson confirmed that the tape was not magnetic enough to keep the bead tins from sliding.  So, instead I purchased small round magnets, a pack of 50 was $7.  

Using E6000 glue -in a well ventilated area! I placed a small dab of each magnet and popped it on the center-back of a tin. Patience is the next step.  Gotta give the glue time to set up properly before placing it on the pan or the tin will fall off the magnet.  ...Yah, I am not known for patience.  I had some tins that already held beads, but I highly recommend doing the gluing before filling the tins.  These tins are not very substantial, and will require gentle handling, so filling them before the glue just complicates things a little.

Once the glue is really set though, you are ready to have fun placing and organizing the tins on your pan.  I have not completely filled all mine yet, as I got so excited that I wanted to post this immediately, telling the world about the beginning of my studio re-do.  The plan is to organize them by color and type.  I can't wait to see them all in place, with an at-a-glance view of what is available for my projects.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

April Fools

So here we are, into the month of April and this is Fools Day. Taking a tip from the tarot, the Fool is really an innocent who has everything to learn and is wide open to all possibilities.  What a great way to start a month and even every day. It is like saying: this is the first day of the rest of my life. Becasue no-one is guaranteed an eternal existence, why not decide that each day should be a celebration of this gift of life we have been given and set out on a daily journey of discovery and wonderment. Even when life is seeming drab and uneventful, that is merely because we have chosen it to be so. Becasue I take care of an elderly mother, nearly 97, who has Alzheimer's Disease, more and more time is spent at home. Rather than spend time fretting about lost mobility and freedom to be impulsive about how I spend time, I find this the perfect excuse to pursue my artisan nature and research, craft and develop skills that I knew very little of before. The number of ways I can choose to spend my time now keep getting more abundant. Instead of a narrowing life, I choose to see life with adventure and openness to more wonders yet to be. It has been a good while since my last post. ...Blame it on tax preparation. Each year, I am absorbed into the pressures of doing a mountain of paperwork and exhausting my brain on the frustrations of an amateur's experience with QuickBooks and TurboTax software. I would be lost without them, but I do hate paperwork. I would so much rather be creating anything from jewelry, knitwear, food, faux walls, name it. I do manage to sneak in a few projects amid the numbers just to keep my sanity. 

This is one of the more recent jewelry pieces I finished, which I call Cinderella's Rags & Rhinestones, and it was one of those challenges that I often create for myself to give my mind exercise.  This photo, taken on my back porch, is something I am equally excited about.  I created the form from a cardboard box and using a stencil (from a Google image search), which I printed and traced onto the cardboard.  After carefully cutting the silhouette out with a razor blade, I painted it several times with Gesso.  The final coat was textured. As luck would have it, in the same box there was a smaller box with a slit in it.  I glued a paint stirring stick to the back of the bust form and inserted it into the slit, and "Voila!!!" here you see the results.  I can see from this experiment that I need to tweak the display form a little for better photos, but I am thrilled that I now have a spot that gets natural light and shows off the jewelry to better advantage.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

I Love Pinterest!

It's not often that I feel compelled to rave over some internet site, especially one that makes me spend so much time on it.  (tongue in cheek there)   However, after months of trying to persuade me to join Pinterest, that giant internet photo album, my son finally got me by pinning a few of my jewelry photos to a board on his page.  I know it was all ego, but I was curious.  Now, after only about one week, I find myself spending far too much time there.  ...Or am I?  As I ponder on this, I realize that Pinterest has done something that I would have thought impossible.  Using Pinterest is like being given a million dollars and told to go shopping for whatever you like.  Reminding me of my childhood, and that of so many of my friends, when we spent hours pouring through the Sears catalogs looking for things we loved.  We would cut out pictures of toys that we dreamed about owning, clothing, and anything else our imaginations could conjure from those pages.  Now, here I am again, "pinning" (a quick click process) favorite things as fast as I can to boards that keep multiplying.  Just as quickly as I can paste, someone else will see those things and re-pin them to their own boards.  Then, there are those who decide that they like your taste so much that they want to follow you.  Yeh, ...saves them the time of looking for things on their own.  I am finding that so many of my own followers, who are really a small growing handful, are all wanting to have secret little getaways, gypsy wagons to drive off into the sunset in, and rustic little cabins or grand castles (or both).  We all have crafty sides and DIY.  We all have fantastical imaginations and love faerie bowers.  We sew, we build, and that is the beauty of Pinterest.  Pinterest is the place where dreams are born and grow, built photo by photo.

Already, I have new projects planned and raring to go.  I have had an old clock body that is probably a hundred years old.  Gorgeously carved, and with burled walnut on its frame, my father and I tried to restore it many years ago.  It had been chewed by squirrels in an old garage attic.  I re-carved floral medallions and he built a new frame for part of it.  It was ready for "more" and yet I never could decide what to do with it.  Now, after Pinterest, I have the plan to mount a newer clock, that I have had in my kitchen, within its face, and use the bottom part where the pendulum would have shown as a tiny shelf for display.  Finally, after all these years, ...and all because of Pinterest photos getting my brain working in a different direction. .

Sunday, January 1, 2012

“Change your thoughts to change your life”

“Change your thoughts to change your life”

This thinking is having a profound effect on me lately. With so much negativity being broadcast at every turn, it seems I am faced with the choice of either diving deep into depression or focusing myself into living more positively and meaningfully. The choice is easy! …And therefore I am looking forward to a really great year! This morning while surfing through my favorite blogs, I found some photos on one of snowflakes on New Year’s Eve on Resurrection Fern's blog. They were in the pattern of Truth according to Messages in Water, work done by Dr. Masuru Emoto. So, to start the New Year off to a celebration of meaning, I am taking “Truth” as my keyword to live by for today …maybe the week …or even a month, because 30 days makes it a habit. For me, this means that as I define myself, I am an ARTIST!

I want every day to be filled with artistry and creative pursuit
s. I will start today with breakfast and a wonderful omelet. I will remain in Truth by speaking the Truth as I see it, by being creative, by expressing myself creatively and artfully and mindfully in every way I can imagine!
The process of achievement is really guaranteed through definition. So, today and forever, I am an artist. I am defining myself as talented, successful, fruitful, auspicious, profitable, thriving, and living a wonderful life I create easily for myself!