Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Fairy Ring Crown Completed

Finished my fairy ring crown this morning and I am so happy with it! Somewhere along the line I'll do a bridal version all in shades of white.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Process of Painting

This is the painting I'm working on now. It's really helpful to me seeing it reduced in a photograph. I'm past the worst point, that part when the painting looks pretty awful and I just have to take it on faith that by the time I'm done it will work out. I don't know rather it's just the way I paint with acrylics but it seems to take a certain number of layers to get the effect I want. This reminds me of a talented friend of ours who went through a phase of giving up on his paintings too soon, to the point that he restarted one painting so many times that he finally gave up on it. This was a terrible shame because each one had some really good elements. As in so many other pursuits, it's probable that he would have learned more from sticking to it through the tough spots. Even if the painting still didn't work out, it would be worth it. I've heard it said that you have to love your painting enough to make some bad ones to get to the good ones. The universe won't strike you dead for making a crappy painting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Carnation Hair

Here's another way to use a carnation made from a sweater ribbing. She has one carnation on top. The sides and back came from the cuffs which were only partially rolled up.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Osprey Have Returned!

Wow, what a gorgeous weekend! As usual, I heard the osprey pair before I saw them. I'm so happy they're back. I've resolved the issue of how to garden this year. Quackgrass Acres has moved from the community garden to our back yard. In the long run I'll have 4x4'raised beds but the spot needs to be cleared first. We have a row of hemlocks on the side of the house that have been killed by insects. Our son's old tree fort is up there too. We need to take down the fort to recycle the wood and get rid of the hemlocks. This isn't going to happen overnight. So for this season I'm container gardening in 18 gal. storage bins. I got the first one going today with peas and lettuce. A dead hemlock branch made a nice trellis for the peas. The soil is so nice, a combination of soil from a decomposed wood chip pile and some manure leftover from last year. And it's darn near rock free. Community gardens are great but not for me. First, it was just too big for me to manage on my own. Second, it was across town. I'd rather be able to wander out and garden for 15 min. a couple of times a day. This is going to be a lot more manageable. Now if I could just remember where I put the leftover seeds from last year.

Friday, March 19, 2010

I Believe in Spring

After a winter that seemed endless spring really has arrived. These daffodils are in the warmest spot in the yard so they open first. I am so happy to see them! Every time I walk the dog I keep looking to see if the pair of osprey have returned to their nest on top of the cell phone tower down the street. I usually hear them before I see them. Having them for neighbors compensates for the ugliness of the tower.
Our home is a bit odd because it can feel like two totally different places depending on if you're looking out the back windows or the front. The back drops off steeply to the Naugatuck River, a spit of land with the rail line that runs between Waterbury and Bridgeport and then Coe Pond. Since we are high above that, the view is wide open, a great place to look for summer rainbows. By contrast the front yard is small, the road is busy with a stop light close by and there is a big restaurant across the street. We have a vacant lot on one side and that's where the garden is going this year. Last year I had a space at the community organic garden but it really got away from me. If I have the garden right here I'm much more likely to keep up with it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sweater Rib Carnation Instructions

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
You know me, gotta use every scrap! Here is an easy way to use the waist ribbing from a felted sweater to make a pretty carnation. This works best with a typical K2, P2 ribbing. Carefully cut the ribbing from the sweater and cut apart the halves. Trim the ends along the edge of a raised rib. Fold and pin the strip in half lengthwise matching the ribs. Thread a large needle with strong thread. Give it plenty of length because you'll use be using it to baste and sew the flower. I use the old fashioned way of measuring a yard. I make sure the threaded needle is long enough to reach from my nose to the end of my outstretched hand. Baste the strip without shifting or puckering the ribs. Now cut between each raised rib to just under the line of stitches. Gather the cut strip to compress the petals and tie a knot but don't cut the thread. Start rolling and sewing the petals into a flower. Once you get past the first bit you don't need to sew all the way through, just into the previous row. It will naturally want to get a bit domed as you go and this is fine. This will give the blossom depth. Tie off the end securely and you're done.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fairy Ring Mushroom Crown

When I do craft shows I like to wear one of my hats but if it's a warm day or indoors, I get too hot. So I came up with the idea of a fairy ring crown. There's a lot of work going into this project but I get to keep it so that's OK. Most of the dark green base will be covered with felt moss and I'll have green vine-like dreads looping down from the sides. This isn't something I'd have for sale in the booth but I would take custom orders. It would be so much fun to make one for a wedding! Now I'm taking a break from sewing to work on painting. I also have a call for submissions from a greeting card company to work on. But what I'd really love is a nap. Stupid time change!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Mason Jar Painting

This is the latest of my paintings, delivered to the Greene Art Gallery last week. The one I'm working on now is a vertical 11"x14". Before Kathryn got the finished one on the wall someone expressed interest in the same idea but in a vertical format. I aim to please. Dan already sold his big red painting of jars and glass marbles. I'm not surprised, it's a great piece of eye candy. Makes me want to paint bigger. Maybe I don't have to worry about the sluggish economy? Yesterday I heard from a greeting card company looking for submissions so that's percolating in the back of my mind too.
I've been running around this morning, cleaning, getting pictures taken to list more mushrooms in my etsy shop and then to get groceries. I need to setttle down and paint this afternoon.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Finding My Balance

I used to beat myself up over having so many interests. It was the old why can't you concentrate on one thing and really get somewhere with it argument. And I had picked up the idea that if I wanted to have success with my painting (serious Art), I should keep my other projects (*gasp* crafts) out of sight. I just don't believe that anymore. The internet has opened so many new opportunities for us creative types. More to the point, I need to work on all my different projects to find the right happy balance for myself. It seems to be my nature that when I'm painting I start pining for my wool projects and when I'm constructing hats I start to wish I was painting. The key here is having enough self discipline to keep all the work moving forward. As long as I do that I can bounce back and forth between mediums, keeping my level of interest up in all of them. I've learned that if I go too long between paintings I end up having to warm up those skills again and the work drags. It's a bit like when I learned to drive standard after years of an automatic. I made sure to drive everyday because I needed the practice. I didn't do gallery painting for years when I got into sculpture, so it's a similar situation. So today's picture is a batch of new mushrooms to be made into tabletop gardens. I've also been working on another mason jar painting which is coming along nicely. At the moment, I have achieved balance.