Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Felted Sweater Bubbles

Yay! It worked! I was a little worried that I had spaced the bubbles too close together. Since I had already felted a piece of this sweater successfully I thought the only problem would be if there wasn't enough felted wool between the bubbles to make it stable. It took just as long to remove the buttons as it did to elastic them in. I'm thinking of using it for the brim of a hat. I'll back it with another layer of felt and needle felt them together to make it stiffer. Other projects are moving ahead but my plan is to make gingerbread cookies today. It's a dreary day here and I'm hoping the scent of gingerbread will make up for the lack of sun.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buttons Buttons and More Buttons

I'm finished with my pre Christmas craft shows and have started on a bunch of new things I wanted to try. This technique is one I've done before but never on this scale. It's a way of felting texture into the knit fabric. I'm tying buttons into the wool before felting using the little elastics that are made for corn rowing hair. After felting I'll remove the buttons. Where the button stretched the fabric tight there will be an unfelted bubble. This is most of the front of an extra large man's sweater so it's going to take me a while. I'm curious about how many buttons I'll end up with in there but not curious enough to sit and count them! The small tumbled stones sold for flower arranging work well too. The bigger ones can be too heavy and end up ripping the material. I've got this idea to do some needle felting between the bubbles to add color. I love to layer techniques like that. The other thing I've been ruminating on for quite a while was how to make round felted cords from sweater wool. I'm tired of crocheting hat ties and the felted cord looks a lot nicer. Woolyfabulous, whose work I love, has a tutorial for sale in her shop, http://www.etsy.com/shop/woollyfabulous?ref=ss_profile. I have a strange attraction to reinventing the wheel so I set out to figure it out for myself. My friends were into wet felting so I had a pretty good idea of what might work and it did. But out of respect for Woollyfabulous, I'm not going to post the details. I'm sure her instructions are great so unless you're into reverse engineering like me, save yourself the effort and buy them!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Doodling is a Gateway to Illustration.

This image from the Philbrook Mueum of Art has been making the rounds on Facebook. I think I'm going to print it out and put it on my son's door. I'm beginning to think we'll have another serious artist in the family. The way that art is taught in a Waldorf school rubbed him the wrong way because he already knew what he liked before he got there. I'm not saying it was bad but it was a their way or the highway situation. I was worried that it had turned him off of art permanently. But over the last year or so he's gotten back into it. He has developed the self discipline to set goals for himself and keep working toward them. Our high school offers business courses and he's taking marketing, for which he'll get college credits if he passes the college level final exam. Their current assignment is to develop an advertising campaign. The girls are doing "mens" products like condoms and the boys are doing "feminine products". His is for Tampax and features a young woman swimming in the ocean. The tagline is "Don't be shark bait when you menstruate." His teacher loved it. I think he should submit it to the company.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Painting in Progress

There's still a good bit of work to be done here but I'm taking a break. I have a craft show tomorrow and I want to finish up some things for it. I let myself get too tired Wed. Well, there was a lot that I couldn't have avoided and after working so hard on making it to the gym regularly, I wasn't going to give that up. I hit the wall on Thursday and just had to take a nap to get through. Today I feel like a new person.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Thirteenth Head

Are you superstitious? What are the little things you do every day to avert the evil eye without even thinking about it? I'll admit to throwing a pinch of salt over my shoulder when I spill it and always putting the sugar in my coffee before the milk. I once read a post from an artist who always put a penny on the ground in front of her booth to bring good sales. Recently, I bought a dozen styrofoam wig stands to use in my booth. I already had the one that I painted and glued to a pedestal. That's the one used to get pictures for my etsy shop and the plan is to cover and paint the new ones once things slow down in the new year. Loading up for the first show with all these great new hat displays I realized that I now had thirteen of them total and that bothered me but I shrugged it off. My booth looked great. The wig stands brought the designs to life. Unfortunately, it felt like we were having this fair in a ghost town. If tumble weeds had started rolling down the rows it wouldn't have surprised me. Shift ahead two weeks later to my next show in a town that, thanks to our autumn nor'easter, had been without power for over a week. I was not particularly optimistic getting ready for it but I woke up feeling happy that morning. I had accepted that it would work out however it pleased and I was just not going to worry about it. As I was unloading my stuff, the fancy head on the stand unbalanced, hitting the pavement and the pedestal broke in half. I chucked it back in the car and thought," Oh well, that takes care of the thirteen heads problem." This show rocked! I couldn't believe it. Small venue, on a Sunday, first year show right after the storm and sales were great even though attendance was not that heavy. So what do you think? Was the universe giving me a helpful shove when I dropped the thirteenth head? I'm not taking chances. From here on it's twelve or fourteen and up, but never again will I have thirteen heads in my booth.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Productive Saturday

Feels like I've gotten things done today. I've been working out with my husband and I got my own gym membership today so I can go by myself if he's busy. My car is mostly loaded up for the American Made Craft Show tomorrow in Chester, I've gotten some more time in on the sewing machine and I have a 16" x 20" toy telephone painting started. Could it be that I'm a little nearer to finding a reasonable working balance in my life? Of course, it's always a work in progress. It's funny how things can work out. I've been mulling over how to do a top hat for my Halloween costume - the Mad Hatter, of course! But I wasn't thinking about it when I stopped in the thrift store today. We needed a lamp for the living room since the knob broke off the old one and we've been turning it on with pliers. They finally had one I liked, and then it dawned on me that I could use the lamp shade as the structure for my top hat. Excellent since I was planning to keep using the larger shade from the old lamp and didn't need the new one. I use this lamp shade as a swift when I need to turn a skein of yarn into a ball. The skein sits on the shade. I put the lamp on the floor, unscrew the finial so the shade will turn freely and away I go winding the yarn into a ball. My husband and I love Halloween so, naturally, we produced a kid who isn't into it at all. I kinda let that put a damper on my celebration but this year I've decided to get dressed up and hang out with my friend who lives on Main St. in Newtown. It's a trick or treat hot spot, unlike our house. Nobody comes here at all. I was going to take pictures today but I'm having trouble with the camera battery. These pictures are recent anyway. I'm really pleased with the pendants on this one. They are made of the seams that are leftover from deconstructing the felted sweaters. It pleases me that I keep finding ways to use almost every scrap.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Tools of the Trade

This is the painting I referred to in my last post. It's almost finished so I took a picture to get a feel for what else needs to be done. The background needs to be worked on and the raised trim under the crayon window is just a black band at this point. When the box was printed they covered the whole surface in red first and it peaks through the black in places that have been worn. Once that's in, the box will be more interesting. Thank goodness for NPR. I like to listen while I paint. It really keeps my butt in the chair longer.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Doing the Procrastination Tango

I'm frustrated with myself. I have a pretty nice painting nearly finished and I need it done for the next gallery change over. Of course I've been procrastinating terribly, letting it build up into this big thing in my mind. Naturally, I can think of a thousand more exciting projects to work on. It makes me wonder if I just don't want to paint at all but I'm not ready to say that. I've been going to the gym every morning for something over two months now, which is a good thing. I feel much better and I've lost weight. The down side is that I come home so relaxed or tired that I could happily sit and stare at grass growing. I was hoping I'd be past this by now but I did up some of the weights recently. So instead of painting I made two new crocheted hats because they're something I can do in that state of mind. *sigh* Time to pull up my big girl panties and finish that painting. Self discipline is truly the hardest part of being my own boss.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Coffee and a Sewing Machine That Works

Here's the first new hat made almost entirely on my new 1935 Singer machine. I'm so excited! This machine makes sewing fun again, unlike the two modern machines I wasted my time and money on. And I didn't even try to sew anything heavy on them to begin with! I think that once I could see that this really was going to work I could finally admit to myself how very tired of blanket stitch I had become. Hopefully, I'll be able to do the stuffed animals on the machine too. I'm upstairs cutting out a bunch of hats. This should go a long way toward dealing with the problem most makers bump into when they try to make money - There is a limit to the number of of widgets that one person can make in a day. Saturday is my favorite church fair at the First Church of Christ in Redding CT, so I'll get to see how this new work goes over. Then it's back to painting so I finish a new piece for the next gallery change over.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Boldly Stepping Into The 20th Century

After hemming and hawing over rather to get a sewing machine that can handle sewing thick wool, the decision has been made. Thanks to my wonderful husband who found this beautiful 1935 Singer and got it for me I can make that next step. I worried needlessly that I'd have to compromise my designs to increase my productivity. Now I'm excited to develop new hat designs that will make the most of what this baby can do.
I had my first show of the season on Saturday. It was good to see the booth set up with the new banner and expanded range of products. I want to make some changes before my next one in two weeks. I never did make those hat stands and I really need them. The design is getting simplified even further to match my woodworking skills.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lots of Yummy Elderberry Jelly

Elderberry jelly is by far everyone's favorite around here and they'll be glad to know that this was a good year. I was much more organized than in previous years and picked berries as they ripened. That meant checking once a week for about a month to get them at their best. When I bought the twenty 12 oz. jars at Goodwill I thought I'd never fill them all but I very nearly did. The big jar is for my friend whose kids will sneak into the kitchen and eat elderberry jelly with a spoon. Who needs bread?
I keep coming across natural dye information that suggests using elderberry as a purple dye and last year I boiled up a dye bath from the leftover pulp from jelly making. I made up a test piece and put it by the window to see how it would hold up. Not well. Within a month it was a blah brown. Really, pokeweed dye holds up better and that dulls out too. So my advice is, don't bother with it. Make jelly.

Friday, August 12, 2011

It's Elderberry Season!

Sponge Bob has his jelly fishing and I have elderberry season. Jelly making! Jelly making! My enthusiasm level is about the same as his. The elderberries nearest my home were decimated by the birds but I can't really blame them after the hot dry summer we've had. Just imagine how good those juicy berries must have tasted to them. My super secret spot (just kidding, it's on a busy road.)is looking wonderful though. The birds there either don't like elderberries or the abundance has overwhelmed them. I've got 7 cups of juice in the fridge from my first pick and most of the bushes still needed a bit more time to ripen. I'll be making the jelly I give as holiday presents but I do want to try a pie this year.
The steps involved in getting that jelly made are a good bit of work. Normally, I hate being hot and sweaty but somehow, when I'm picking berries or boiling jelly, it doesn't bother me. It feels so satisfying to have made something from start to finish. Finding the wild fruit was a treasure hunt, so was the great deal on twenty canning jars from Goodwill. As if tasting divine weren't enough, elderberries are loaded with vitamin C and have been used to boost the immune system for eons. When I give it to my friends and family I do so in the hope that it will help them stay healthy through the winter. Here's a link to the recipe I use: http://simplyrecipes.com/recipes/elderberry_jelly/ I've been using cider vinegar in place of the lemon juice and it seems to do just fine.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Hat Stand Prototype

This is the prototype for a hat display that was inspired by my Mom's Swedish Christmas tree candle holder. I made it from glued up layers of cardboard from the big cereal boxes we get at BJ's. I don't think that the cardboard would hold up well enough, plus it was a lot of work considering I'll need at least 25 of them. So I'll be making them from the recycled masonite my husband brings home from the museum. Every time they change an exhibit the old cases get trashed because they don't have room to store and reuse them or they wouldn't be the right size for something else. He's built all sorts of projects around here from the stuff. Anyway, these come apart to stack flat which should make for easy transport.
I taught my last crochet class at a local summer camp today. That's paying for two more 4' adjustable fold up tables. Bit by bit, this booth is coming together!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My New Banner

For people like me, it's Christmas in July because we're busy making inventory for the fall and holiday craft shows. It's also a time to revise my booth , especially since I keep making new things that need different displays. In my case, everything must fit inside my New Beetle. It looks like a clown car whenever I unload or pack up at a show. People can't believe how much I squeeze in there! It does get a lot easier when I do indoor shows and don't have to bring my tent.
My banner is hand lettered on a piece of recycled canvas from a stash of fabric a tenant left behind in a friend's garage. It would have been quick and easy to order something from Vista Print but this has a lot more personality and I enjoyed the project. Next up I'm trying a couple of ideas for hat stands.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

How to fix A Lumpy Felted Sweater

You've just pulled this awesome felted sweater out of the dryer and you're so excited to make something with it but, oh no, it looks like a piece of fried bacon! Relax. You can fix this. The two yarns used to knit the sweater in the pictures did not shrink at the same rate, the black shrank more than the magenta. It didn't cause a problem in the checked areas because the color is distributed evenly. But in the pinwheel pattern there are long black floats that tightened up and made the fabric pucker. Here's the fix:
On the wrong side, carefully slide the blade of your small scissors under the black floats without catching any of the magenta wool and snip them. Take your time so you don't accidentally cut through the magenta layer. Then give the whole thing a good shot of steam on both sides with a hot iron. Now gently pull and stretch the piece until the pattern looks straight and give it a press. Since the sweater was well felted, snipping the floats hasn't really weakened it. Problem solved! This sweater also came out too fuzzy and a bit linty and it's obscuring the pattern so I'll give it a going over with my trusty clothes shaver.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Larger Than Life

I'm delivering this painting to the Greene Gallery today. This was really fun! It's the first in a series of larger-than-life vintage toys I'll be doing. I've got a sweet vintage metal box of crayons to paint next, more phones and some Ohio Arts toy teapots after that.