Friday, December 21, 2007

No photos please...

Is it too dumb to go into mourning for one's hair??

It had to go. I *know* this. This doesn't make me like it. But when you have to ask your daughter to put your hair up in a ponytail in order to get some exercise, and you can only reach your head with one hand... it's time for a haircut. I got an appointment with a very good stylist and tipped her well, because I don't actually hate her for cutting my hair off. (2 feet of it!) I might even learn to like it. Later. Maybe after my cast is off and I can do stuff for myself again.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I've really done it this time...

We are going to have to use our old treetop angel this year after all. I ordered some wings for the new one, and they are lovely, but before they arrived I broke my right arm in a fall down our back steps. Oh, that hurt! No sewing for me for a while, or at least until I learn to use a needle in my left hand.

Tomorrow I will be fitted for a new cast that will once again allow me to bend my elbow. Woo hoo! In the meantime, I am training myself to use my left hand rather well -- I look forward to trying out some new ideas after Christmas. I *think* I will be able to do them left-handed...

Gatsby is now firmly established as a housecat. He stalks and pounces on anything that catches his attention...

...even birds on TV. He has brought so much laughter into our home.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Aftermath

I live on the fringes of an area that was visited by a powerful set of twin storms last weekend. While we and our animals were stressed and frightened during the worst of the winds, we escaped with only some debris to clean up and a little water in the basement. Others were not so blessed. I am haunted by the images in the news this week of dairy farms in the Chehalis, WA area that were destroyed in the night by a flooding river. Feed, hay, even the cows... literally washed away. I can't imagine how Jake and I would cope if we were to lose our herd.

Cooincidentally, my husband's brother sold his herd earlier this month, and is grieving their loss as well. This is one of those times that remind us how fragile our lives really are, and I am simply grateful that we are able to continue on. For now at any rate.

On a lighter note, check this out.

Yes, that is one of the kittens that was dropped on our door last fall. One has disappeared without a trace, and another was hit by a car. This little guy came to the door of the house during the storm and sat there and meowed. Then he went to the front porch and sat on the table in front of the living room window and meowed. (The dogs were not amused!)

We finally let him in just to shut him up, and now we can't get him out again. Oh, we can pick him up and carry him out of the house, but as soon as the door opens he is in again. Like a shot! I suppose this means we now have a 4th cat.

I have been complaining for years about my ugly Christmas Treetop Angel. I made it back in the 80's -- it's fake rafia needlepointed onto plastic canvas. At the time I thought it was cute (WHAT was I thinking?!) but it really is quite hideous. So I am making a new one.

This is an angel from a pattern by Leta Benedict. I gave her sleeves and hair this morning. This afternoon I am off to Michael's to see if I can find some wings for her, and something to put in her hands.

I am looking forward to putting up my tree this year!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Two Finished Objects!

The past weeks have been maddeningly busy, but I did manage to finish Emma and Pin-elope between the bouts of madness. I made some rather goofy mistakes... er... design changes to both patterns, but I am still happy with them, and happier still to have actually FINISHED something for a change!

Emma's pattern was designed with seam allowances, but I constructed her with the template method, so she is a little wider than the original. If I make another one, I will add at least one layer of gesso under her paint as well. I don't dare sand her smooth now or I will take off her flesh. Ouch!

Isn't Pin-elope a delightful pincushion? He sits on the little table beside my spot on the couch -- I haven't misplaced my snippy scissors in weeks. Once I finished beading him, I looked again and realized that I had put the little pouf ball that forms his body on sideways. Oh well... he's still cute as can be. I will SURELY make at least one more of these.

Both of these patterns were designed by Jacque Uetz, and can be found at Dollmakers Journey.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Happy Fribetheweo!

That's "Happy Friday Before the Week of Thanksgiving", a new holiday inaugurated by my friend Kai, and the attitude adjusting thought I needed to face this weekend. Our church is once again hosting it's Christmas Bazaar... oh, excuse me, "Holiday Gift Market". Once again I have a table, and once again I know in my bones that nothing will sell, LOL! Jake and Lydia are manning the table for me today as I have to work, which is nice because I get stressed trying to convince people that my prices are not only reasonable but cheap, compared to the work and materials I use.

Ok, Ok, I'll stop now. You didn't come here to read me ranting!

This year outside vendors were invited to participate, so my little table looks a little small compared to their displays, but I am still proud of my offerings. I hope some of it sells -- I'm running out of room to store stuff!

This little person is "Pin-elope", another pattern I am testing for Jacque Uetz. Another fun and playful design I might add. I know it's a feminine name, but my little guy "feels" male to me. He is ready for his embellishments, but I've been too frazzled to concentrate. Maybe this weekend!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bad photo, but cute doll!

I am so happy with the way this little girl is turning out that I had to share a quick progress update photo. I want to varnish her hair yet (the flat matte paint doesn't look quite right) and take up a few tucks in her skirt so her lavishly embroidered bloomers show up a little better.

I have had so much fun creating her costume out of some vintage embroidered pieces. It was a challenge to find usable pieces that avoided holes and stains from some of them. If you look very closely at the bottom of her sleeve on the right you will see a rather large grease stain. Someone did something really nasty to what had been a beautiful table square...

Oop, I just noticed that I haven't finished her shoes yet either. She will also have a blue ribbon sash around her waist, but I don't have what I want in my stash so will have to make a shopping trip.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Bits and Pieces

After a week spent being in all kinds of places where I *had* to be, doing things I was *supposed* to be doing, I TOOK the time to play with dolls this afternoon. Jacque Uetz is letting me test a few patterns for her, and I have been bouncing from one to another all week, working on one while bits of another are drying. Lots of layers to let dry on these pieces!

It's just the kind of "crafter's ADD" style of working that I usually indulge in though, so I am happy as a clam. Today I painted the body and face of a very sweet little vintage-style doll named Emma. Emma is very different from my usual style, but I am satisfied with the way she is coming together.

She stands about 15" tall, and will be dressed in vintage linens. I bought some cutter pieces on eBay last week, and now the fun part will be deciding which ones to use for her clothing.
Here is a close up of her face. Hmmm... need to work on that hairline a little. Lydia says she looks like a little Japanese girl... The original painting design does not call for eyelashes, but I drew some in anyway. Now I am wondering if I should paint them out.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Maybe I was just in a strange mood when I answered the questions...

You Are 5: The Investigator

You're independent - and a logical analytical thinker.
You love learning and ideas... and know things no one else does.

Bored by small talk, you refuse to participate in boring conversations.
You are open minded. A visionary. You understand the world and may change it.

At Your Best: You are sharp, inventive, and creative. You have the skills to lead the world.

At Your Worst: You are reclusive, weird, and a bit paranoid.

Your Fixation: Greed

Your Primary Fear: Being useless or incompetent

Your Primary Desire: Being competent and needed

Other Number 5's: Bill Gates, John Lennon, Kurt Cobain, Bjork, and Stephen Hawking.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kitty Update

The calendar may say November, but yesterday afternoon felt more like September. A few people have asked me for an update on the abandoned kittens, so I took the opportunity of a beautiful afternoon to grab my camera and a handful of kibble and hunt them down. They had just been fed a little while earlier however, so weren't much interested in the kibble. "Amber" flat out declined to rouse from a nap and wouldn't come out of the calf house.

"Onyx" wondered why The Food Woman suddenly decided to lie down flat on her stomach. I imagine that, were I in his paws, I would be curious too!

The bugs in the garden were much more interesting however. He is by far and away the most energetic of the trio -- NOTHING is safe from his pouncing games.

"Pemberly" was the little shy one who hid from me under the floor of the calf house. He would NOT stay in a position for a photograph where he wasn't backlit, so we had to resort to a posed photo.

Thanks for your interest! I'll be back with a regular art post later in the week.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

I love Halloween -- it's just plain fun! I don't go much for blood and gore, but I kind of like the creepy, ghost-story-ness dress-up drama of it all. So, from our house to yours, I share my oldest daughter's jack o' lantern. Cool, huh? She draws the neatest dragons -- I wouldn't have believed it could be done on a pumpkin too!

In the spirit of the evening, the girls and I watched "The Nightmare Before Christmas" and waited for Trick-or-Treaters. (We actually got some this year!) I took the opportunity to finish up my charms for the FDA swap. I can't wait to get mine -- they are destined to be featured on my "Charmed One" doll I posted a month or so ago.

They are made of 4" squares of Tyvek which was zapped with a heat gun then pressed between 2 rubber stamps. They were then threaded on eye pins and accented with crystal drop dangles. I had to stabilize a few of the pins with glue. When I disguised the glue with glitter, I liked the effect so much I added glue to all of them. I wish the glitter showed up a little bit better -- I mixed up a bit of gold and a bit of green Art Glitter which made a beautiful rich blend.

Can you tell I like sparklies?

Finally, I want to share this sequence of photos I shot over a span of about 10 minutes from my front yard earlier this week. This month's full moon rise over Mt. Hood was simply breath taking.

I hope your Fright Night was delightful!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bits and Pieces

I meant to post these over the weekend, but my body told me I needed rest, so I have done nothing much more than nap and read since I came home from work on Friday. It did me good -- I am feeling like myself again today.

This is the doll I received in my "goth swap" from Kate Erbach. Isn't she wonderfully weird and adorable? I notice cool things about her almost every time I look at her, like the sheer skull fabric of her skirt, the neat lacing of her faux leather overskirt, and her little pet on her shoulder. I tried to get a good photograph of the skeleton dangling from her left hand, but I guess he is shy. He kept turning away from the camera... Thank you Kate -- you have restored my faith in swapping!

It is finally cool enough in my upstairs clay room to play with my clays without having them melt in my hands, so I have been diddling around with some techniques I learned from Christi Friesen's books. These ornaments (which are much more green than they appear -- very Christmas-y!) were inspired by a discussion on FabricDollArt on the Victorian style of Christmas ornaments. I don't much like Victorian -- too fussy -- but I like these. Thanks ladies!

Beadwork Magazine has put out a special issue called Step-by-Step Jewelry, which includes another tutorial by Christi for these Turtledoves. They look small in the photo -- the one on the right is actually nearly 5" long. They were SO much fun to make!

And speaking of fun to make, this little guy is made out of glow-in-the-dark clay. He was inspired by the work of Pat Graham, "dancingbuffalo" on eBay. I have never yet been able to win an auction for one of her pieces, so gave it a shot myself. He turned out pretty cute, but he did freak me out the first time I saw him dangling from the necklace rack in my room in the middle of the night. He really DOES glow, and brightly too.

I have been doing a lot more spinning since I began working. It is such an easy thing to just sit down and begin to spin. No set-up and no clean-up involved. I am going to have to think of something to do with all the yarn -- I am running out of places to put it!

This beautiful stuff is special though. It is a silk/merino blend in exactly the colors of the inside of a pink seashell. By the time I finish spinning the bump I have, I ought to have enough yardage to knit something fine and lacy. In the meantime, I just like to touch it!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Eye Candy!

She is home at last! About a year and a half ago, I joined a round robin project with a group of my internet friends. We each made a torso with a head, chose a color scheme, began a travel journal, and sent the whole thing off on a "Colorful Adventure".

I purposely picked colors about as different from what I am used to playing with as I could get: black and silver, with accent colors of orange and verdigris. Verrrry cool, but a challenge to work with. (Each of the artists who worked on her mentioned in the journal how outside-the-box the color scheme was for them. Hee hee!)

"Flabbergasted" about covers how I felt as I opened the box. I see more every time I look at her.

But wait! There's more! She came home with a journal of her travels. Each page is a beautiful piece of art in itself.

I made the cover and the introductory pages using my chosen color scheme. I may have mentioned it before, but Quinacridone Nickel Azo Gold is now one of my favorite colors of paint. Transparent, yet rich, almost good enough to eat!

Here is a little sample of the pages inside.


I feel so incredibly blessed by the wonderful, generous women who poured so much skill and effort into making such INCREDIBLE art for me. Thank you all!!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's That Time of Year Again...

...when things go bump in the night. Usually it's just the wind, or maybe a barn door that isn't quite closed. This time the noise was on the front porch, directly under my bedroom window. I *told* Jake I wasn't imagining things, and I wasn't.

When we got up the next morning, the most pitiful mewing sound was coming from ... somewhere. I thought one of our cats had been shut in a closet (it has happened before) and spent quite a few minutes looking for the source of the sound. Eventually it occured to me to look out the window, and then my heart did a flip-flop. There were 3 little kittens sitting on the rocking chair on the porch.

OH! I get so mad when people dump cats off on our farm. Usually it's an older cat that has outgrown its cuteness. At least they have a chance of surviving. These babies are only about 8 weeks old. They are quite clean and rather chubby so I know they have been well cared for so far, but how on earth does ANYONE think that teeny-tinies like these have a hope of a prayer of surviving on their own?

I want to grab these people and shake them and scream "Do NOT count on the Nice Farmer to take them in. He already has 5 housepets and has threatened to leave home if wife or daughters bring home any more!" Sigh...

We caught these 2 right away -- the black one is a charmer who likes people, and the gray one was just too hungry to care -- and relocated them to the calf house along with a bowl of cat food. It's warm and dry in there, and the guys can usually be counted on to leave the leftover calf milk behind for the barn cats.

It was a challenge to catch the third one, but eventually she got hungry enough to come to the food we left out and so we took her to join her littermates. She was unwilling to have her portrait taken, but my camera caught her anyway. See her under the stall floor way back against the wall? Poor baby... I don't blame her for being frightened.

I saw these beautiful spiderwebs under one of my birdfeeders, and just for the heck of it, because I had the camera out already, I played with some more of the settings on my camera. I snapped over a dozen photos, but these 2 were the only ones that turned out. (Note to self: put a dark background behind misty spiderwebs.)

I wish I could make art like this!!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Long week, short post

After a week spent sniffling, sneezing, and basically denying the obvious, I finally went home sick from work on Friday. Gotta love the start of cold/flu season. Sigh... at least I got it over with early, and hopefully for the WHOLE season.

If nothing else, the forced inactivity gave me the opportunity to do some handwork on a swap doll I want to finish this week. Meet "Tanith Ravyn", adapted from Patti Culea's pattern in her book "Creative Cloth Doll Beading."

It took me several tries to get a face I was happy with. I still think this girl's eyes are a bit too big and too far apart, but Jake is crazy about her. I didn't think he would like her at all, but he surprised me. He is a bit upset with me actually for sending her away. I guess I will just have to make another one in the same style for him.

She still needs shoes, but she'll be ready for the mail this week.

That's about all I have the energy for now. I HATE colds!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Even though I haven't been posting, I continue to create. There is just so much going on this time of year on a farm that I haven't had time to sit down at the computer and play with my blog.

In order to prove that, yes there IS a Klimt doll-in progress, I decided to post photos of her as she is at the moment. She is coming along, and I am SO happy with the way her costume is developing. I am less pleased with her wig -- I think the Tibetan lamb is just too fine in scale for a doll of this size. Unless I change my mind, the lamb will become the wig for the severed head, and I will make another wig for her, probably from a fine mohair yarn.

Her beaded collar fits perfectly, and I love the way the bugle beads on the "band" of her belt disguise the raw edges of the fabric. I didn't want to do an exact copy of the jewelry in the painting -- I doubt I could if I HAD wanted to -- but the effect is really good. She needs an armband yet and something on her feet and she's done. Except for the severed head...

I am a little burned out on her at the moment, so I am taking a break to play with a Halloween themed doll.

I wonder if Jean Bernard would recognize this face as being from her lovely and serene "Mother" mold??

This eeny teeny hand is from Sherry Goshon's "Cinnamon" pattern. It took me 5 tries to get 2 decent hands. I don't know if I will attempt anything that small ever EVER again!

I have to go back to work today, and there is still a huge pile of ripe tomatoes on the counter in the kitchen. I'll be back though.

Monday, September 10, 2007

John Denver didn't have a CLUE what he was talking about!

Remember the 70's song "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" that starts out "Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back..."? I am here to tell you right now, that that statement is total CRAP! Behold, our feedwagon...

It SHOULD be upright, attached to a nice little Ford tractor, and moving back and forth through the barns feeding our cows. Except that it has a broken axle, and our faithful repair guys don't have a replacement part. Here's hoping that it comes in SOON!

Take a close look at this photo... see what the men used for a jack? That is a stump of a walnut tree we cut down 8 years ago because it was rotten. I have no idea why that stump is still hanging around, but thank Heaven it was. When you need a prop fast, you grab what's at hand and what works. It makes a good photo too, if you're into farming horror stories...

On a brighter note, my tomatoes are ripening in a Biblical flood right now, and we will have lots of soup this winter! I also have a nice crop of basil that I am putting up as pesto and freezing. Oh, if you could just smell the aromas in my kitchen right now...


I finished Nancy Anne. The Fine Crackle I used on her created a subtle and beautiful antique effect that I am really really pleased with. It makes the whole doll. I wish I had been able to find a fabric for her dress that looked a little more old-fashioned, but bright colors are what's "In" right now, so I did the best I could with what I could find. It's a very pretty fabric, but the scale is a little large I think... I also think she's beautiful, but I am SOooooo sick of her. Poor thing... I don't want to have anything more to do with her for a very long time indeed, LOL!

And, just because I was outside, and the camera was outside with me and it is a fabulously beautiful day in spite of its challenges, I decided to play with the macro setting on my camera. WHAT FUN! Special thanks to Sue K. and Judi W. who actually inspired me to read the complicated parts of my camera manual!!!

I discovered that it's difficult to focus precisely with macro -- what I see in the window is not necessarily what will show in the photo. Also, flowers blowing in the breeze are not the easiest subjects. I took nearly 30 shots, and got 2 worth keeping, which isn't so bad as it's all digital. I love this freedom to play!! I managed to catch my bees feasting in my flowers. Don't they look like they are enjoying themselves?

They especially like my "Graham Thomas" rose bush...

and the thai basil. Heck, *I* like the thai basil too!

Monday, September 03, 2007

"Charmed One" is finished

In celebration of the last official day of summer, the girls had their 2 best friends over for an afternoon of frivolity and eating. Oh my, I would feel young again if I weren't so TIRED, LOL! I didn't think I could get a chance to get a doll done today -- I had a zillion other things to do -- but this evening I just sat down and DID it. The girls popped in some "Miss Marple" DVD's, so I took the opportunity to listen in on their conversations and get some hand work accomplished. I still have some clean up to do in the kitchen and the laundry has gotten behind, but she is DONE.

I am thinking in my mind that I would like to do a beaded fringe under the ruching at her neckline, but then I think back to all the beading I did on my Klimt doll and I tell myself not to be absurd. Maybe some other day... in the meantime, she is DONE.

I had hoped to use her to display my own personal charm bracelet, but as you can see it is broken, though none of the charms are missing. I wonder when that happened...

I also managed to apply the crackle finish to "Nancy Anne". Now I need to hunt down my satin finish varnish and seal her, then she will be ready to dress. I WILL finish 2 dolls this week... if I can find that darned varnish!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

WIP's updated

I've been grabbing every available moment to work on these dolls... this one has 2 layers of gesso, and 2 layers of paint, each of which needed to dry and be sanded before the next could be added. That takes time! Fortunately, each layer went on pretty quickly, and I have plenty of opportunity to let things dry undisturbed now that I am working. sigh...

I just did her face today. One last step yet... I have decided to give her a crackle finish. We are going to the State Fair with the girls this afternoon though, so I will do that tonight when we get home. I wanted to get this "before" shot up before I added the crackle though, so I can observe the change without having to rely on memory.

Her name is "Nancy Anne" in memory of my mother. Mom would have loved this doll.

"Simply Charming" is coming along as well. I had to make an emergency run to Michael's for another tube of Texture Magic for her hair, but I am satisfied with the way it looks now. It was just too skimpy before. I don't know if you can see them in the photo, but I have embedded little flat backed Swarovski crystals in her curls. The effect is very charming...

I had made her a set of sleeves before, but they were too skimpy, so I took them off. I don't dare touch her now though until her hair is completely dry -- I've already squished one of her curls... Another set is in the works and ready to add, and then all I need to do is add the embellishments to her base and give her some charms to display and she will be done.

Could it be possible... will I *really* be able to finish TWO dolls in one week??? we shall see. Stay tuned!