Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Twelve by Twelve Reveal Day

Today's the day for the final Twelve by Twelve reveal day.  Make sure to check out all the "Sweet" quilts as I'm feeling a little bittersweet.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Crafting for Christmas

What a busy month it has been.  The craziness begins in late October around here as we get ready for Halloween, followed closely by two birthdays.  Then, of course, comes Thanksgiving.  This year,  Thanksgiving weekend was also filled with the EtsyRAIN Handmade Holiday show in Seattle. The next weekend (actually Thursday-Sunday) was the Bainbridge Island Studio Tour. And finally, I did the Fremont First Friday Art Walk this last Friday.  And every spare moment in there I was creating.

Above is a photo of my space during the Bainbridge Studio Tour.  We were at the American Legion Hall so I'm sure you can see the bingo board behind my booth.  I did my best to give it a homey feel.  I even stole a bookshelf out of our pantry and a kitchen cabinet from the garage.  Every time I redesign the space.  This year it only took me about four hours.  I was the volunteer studio host, so I was the first to arrive (and breakdown all the chairs and tables from Bingo) and the last to leave.  I brought a few things to work on, but spent most of the time fiddling with things.  The best compliment was that it felt like stepping in my living room. Unfortunately, my living room is currently no where near that clean.

It was a fun weekend seeing old friends and customers and new friends.  I met two wonderful ladies who want me to do a creative party for them and their friends.  I am going to bring all the supplies and we are going to create some mini mixed media quilts.  I'm very excited about the opportunity.  I also met another woman who invited me to come over to the Fremont First Friday Art Walk.  I dragged my husband with me and we had a grand time sharing my work with a whole new crowd.  Now I'm done with shows and I only need to worry about my Etsy shop for the next few months.  Adam has made me  promise that I will work on my inventory all year instead of waiting until Halloween and working nonstop for a month.  I think the family was missing having MOM around even though I was technically here.

I made a lot of new things for the shows this year.  I finished most of the large journals I started. I do have about 10 beaded covers done, but ran out of paper to sew together in the insides.  Luckily that shouldn't take too long once I find a chance to work on them.  I also created smaller journals.  They come with either watercolor paper or regular bond paper.  I listed the remaining ones in my Etsy shop, but I'm thinking many of them will turn into gifts at the end of next week.  I also had to make Treasure Tea Boxes, two of every color.  I did sell out of blue and could have used more, so I will keep that in mind for next year.  The Mixed Media Art Quilt Kits were also a hit.  One couple bought enough for the whole family to do together on Christmas afternoon.  I love that idea!

Another fun idea I had was Stocking Stuffer Art.  I left some of my little art quilts unmounted instead of making them into cards.  They are just fun little pieces of art.  You can frame them yourself, turn them into pins or magnets or decorate a package.  They could be ornaments or just little gifts to make someone smile.  Today's task has been to work on listing the remaining ones in the shop.  I really do love working with all this color.  Each little piece makes me smile.  The only problem is that there is so much that I want to do and the time is flying way to fast.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Painting, Painting, Painting

This last weekend I spend way too many hours free motion quilting.  I don't think I blinked nearly enough because my eyes are still feeling the effects.  I needed to get as much done as possible though because I only have two days this week with the kids in school full days.  Conferences start tomorrow, which means I only have about an hour and a half from the time I drop off the younger kids to when my older daughter gets home from Junior High.  I can get somethings done with them home, but I really wanted to try to get the painting out of the way.  Yesterday was painting quilted fabric, fabric and paper.  This morning was fabric paper.  Luckily I still had some quilted fabric and fabric paper in my stash, so I didn't need to do all the colors.  Now  I'm ready to move onto the stage of making gift tags, boxes, cards and a few larger pieces.  Make sure to notice the piles of clean laundry accumulating in the background -- I'm sure the mountain will only get bigger before someone gives in and helps me fold it. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On the Way to Art-O-Mat

I really have been working.  The problem is that I haven't taken the time to document what I've been doing.  I manage to grab the camera and snap a few pictures, but they have been slow to make it on the computer and even slower to arrive here.  Last Friday, I sent off a big box to art-o-mat -- 100 Dreams, 100 I Felt..., and 60 Bits and Pieces.  I used all the little boxes I had and they fit just perfect in the box.  Now I don't have to worry about these for a while and I can concentrate on getting ready for two craft shows in the next three weeks and stocking my Etsy shop.  I feel sorry for the elves this time of year.  It can all feel a little crazy, but its fun and I love seeing the stacks of goodies I've created.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Beaded Journals -- Another Step Closer

Much of the beading is done, well, about half of my prepped covers.  I made the mistake of keeping track of the time it takes me.   Each cover is about an hour giving it my half attention. I'm sure I could finish faster if I wasn't watching a movie, reading email, or hanging out with the family at the same time, but I need something to keep my hands busy during those times and this is a lot more productive than playing collapse on my phone.  At the rate I'm going, each journal is going to take about 3 hours.  Then I figured the materials at about $15 each.  I'm glad I like to work for minimum wage!

I took advantage of the clean table this morning to work on the inside pages.  I start with 30"x22" sheets of Kilimanjaro 140lbs 100% cotton watercolor paper. I tear them into pieces 11"x7.5" and fold them in half.  Then it's four folded sheets per signature and four signatures per book.  I managed 10 books before my back and arms were aching.  The tearing gets my back and the folding gets my arm as I push down to get a crisp fold.  One day I will have a nice high work table in a beautiful studio, but for now I'm content to use the dining room table. 

Next on the agenda is sewing the signatures together and assembling the books.  I am so glad that I love the process!

Beaded Art Journals -- Step 2

Somewhere along the line I lost track of this post and never finished.  For your enjoyment, the journal covers and their beads.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Blue Morning

My dying sessions lately have embraced the fall colors.  Today I decided I would play with my favorites instead -- blue, turquoise and a touch of purple.  I love how these all turned out.  The colors are so bight and cheery. Plus the blue sky is peaking out as an added bonus.  

Dyed wool batching in the kitchen

When I dye wool, I start with a piece of felt approximately 14" x 40".  This allows me to get several 12"x12" piece after any shrinkage.  I place the pieces in pyrex baking dishes.  I will then either add the dye dissolved in water, sprinkle on powder or drop concentrated dye over parts.  It then goes in the microwave to get nice and hot.  After sitting in the dye bath and then being rinsed out, it goes for a spin in the dryer to get out as much water as possible.  I just need to make sure I don't operate on autopilot and set it for a full wash cycle.  I did that once with a custom dyed piece -- set it to heavy duty and left to pick up the kids from school.  I couldn't figure out why it was just finishing as we got home.  I found a piece of felt about half the size it started as.  Whoops.  Luckily, the thick dense felt was exactly what she needed and it worked out for everyone.
Felt waiting to go for a spin in the dryer
Here is what the pile looks like after coming out.  I managed to dye 11 different pieces today.  I was hoping for the purples to be a little more purple and a little less violet, but I'm not going to complain about the vibrant colors.  That just means I need to make time for another dye session soon.

Slinky checking out what Mom has been up to all morning
 Keep an eye out for these to be popping up in my Etsy shop over the next few days.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Art-O-Mat Time

I was so excited to open the mail Friday and find a check from Art-O-Mat.  I love getting checks in the mail! And I love being part of Art-O-Mat!  Along with the check was a request for more.  I haven't made anything for them since spring so it was no surprise.  

I started with prepping the base for my "I Felt..." series.  It involves hand dyed wool with ribbon sewn on.  I embellish the pieces with fabric paper or various odds and ends.  Then I add a feeling with with letter beads.  I do my best to match the embellishments and the feeling.  I have a good time coming up with ideas.  The challenge comes when I run out the common letters and have to get creative with the words.  

I also needed to make a lot of fabric beads for my "Dreams" series.  I start with little strips of painted fabric and glue them around a straw.  I then wrap them with various yarns.  I made sure to prep a big pile before my son's soccer game.  I found the wrapping very helpful for dealing with the tense moments of the game.  

And of  course, this is what happened to my house while I was busy working away -- eight loads of laundry waiting to be folded and chili that exploded on the stove.  And there's also a pile of IKEA furniture hiding under there waiting to be put together.  (Hopefully by the end of the week my daughter will have a wardrobe so she can finally put away all her clothes instead of them being stacked on the floor.) 

P.S. I'm happy to say that five loads of laundry have been folded and put away and the stove is mostly cleaned up!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Beaded Art Journals -- Step 1

This morning it was time to get off the computer, stop messing with the camera and actually start making something.  Sometime after my son's last birthday I learned that he was rather disappointed that his sisters each got a beaded art journal for their birthdays and he did not.  I had no idea a 7 year old boy would want an art journal, but I should have known he wouldn't want to be left out.  Since his birthday is coming up soon (along with the holiday craft shows) I figured that I should get to work making him one.  I sold all the ones I had at the Summer Bainbridge Island Artist's Studio Tour.  A woman came into my booth and bought them all.  She had bought one last winter at the studio tour and her friends raved about it.  She came back specifically to buy more for all her artist friends and wanted to make sure I would have more again this winter.  I don't want to disappoint her so I started 28 more.  I got as far as cutting the paper and fabric and fusing some of the fabric on.  I ran out of wonder under so I will have to make a trip to town before I can finish the other half.  Probably best anyways since my fingers are a little tender from getting too close to the hot iron as I stretched the fabric around the paper.

The nice part about these journals is that I can work on the beading away from home.  I create a mixture of beads in a little tin and its very easy to transport.  Most of my work either needs the sewing machine or I have the embellishments all laid out and I can't more it until everything is sewn down.  I'm often waiting in the car for the kids to finish their various activities so I figured I better get something productive prepped.  Now I only need to get the beads together (and I better clean the bathrooms a little before company comes over -- hopefully no one will look too close!) and I am all set to go.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Photo Shoot

I decided that I wanted to try a photo shoot this morning.  I am hoping to get some good, interesting photos of my work to create a promotional postcard for this upcoming craft show season.  I want something I can give people to advertise my etsy shop and remind them to shop with me again. I want to show a variety of my items so they can see the possibilities.  I was thinking little vignettes since I love organizing my work by color, but I'm not sure if that is working.   

I'm now realizing that photo styling is not my gifting.  Plus, I don't have the right lighting set up.  I'm often trying odd angles so avoid glare.  It doesn't help that a lot of my work includes metallic paints and shiny embellishments and my kits and gift tags are packaged in plastic boxes.  I tend to be one who learns by doing, so I think I am going to have to just take a lot of photos and hope that something turns out. Only problem is I have to volunteer in my son's class this afternoon and my daughter has a cross country meet.  I'm not going to finish and get everything cleaned up before it is back to mom duty.  Hope my husband doesn't care that we can't see the dining room table.  Maybe that's a good excuse to go out to dinner tonight?

Here are the best of what I've got so far:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Beautiful October Weekend

We've been having an unusually beautiful October in the Pacific Northwest.  The days are sunny and in the low 70's.  I couldn't ask for more.  I rarely get a chance to work on my art during the weekends.  The kids and my husband are home and we always have enough events and projects to fill up the time.  

Instead of working on my own creative dreams, I help my husband take a step towards his own.  He has many hobbies, including woodworking, metalworking, electronics and most recently, home brewing.  The big problem is that his shop currently looks like this:

And as you head in, its even worse.  Nothing is getting made in there.  His hope for a long time has been to move out of the garage into a separate building.  We then can convert the entire two bay garage into a rumpus room / brewery.  We have a pool table squeezed into the other side and have to use short sticks to avoid hitting the walls.  But soon we will have one large room where we can have people over.  The kids can hang out in the house (our friends have a lot of kids!) and the adults can be out in the garage.  Everyone can have a good time and we won't be on top of each other. 

This weekend we finally took the first step towards making this a reality.  We added a floor to our old goat shed.  The goats moved out several years ago when we were planning on selling the house.  That didn't happen and its been used for storing snow tires and bikes every since.  The floor went in surprisingly quickly.  We didn't start until after soccer Saturday and were done before lunch Sunday.  The clear roof provides a lot of natural light, so it isn't a big deal that there aren't any windows.  The power right now in an extension cord from the garage, but he can live with that.  Now he just needs to move it.  

After finishing with the shed, we tended to the 15 gallons of plum wine we have brewing.   This is the first time we have tried wine.  The three batches have varying amounts of sugar which should affect the  sweetness and amount of alcohol.  Right now they taste a lot like a mimosa.  Hopefully everything will work right and we should have some tasty beverages after a couple months.

And our final creative project for the weekend is watching grass grow.  Well, not yet, but soon.  My backyard has been dirt the entire summer.  Somehow we never found the time to plant the grass after regrading so water would flow away from the house instead of in the crawl space.  Finally last weekend we made it a priority. It's been so dry that I am out there watering every day and searching for sprouts.  By next summer I shouldn't have nearly as much dirt in the house.  Wishful thinking, I know!