Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meet Valentine

Meet Valentine, my newest mascot. He was begun in an online class by Alison Marano in 2003, and completed just this morning. Actually, it isn't quite accurate to call him a Un-Finished Object, as the only original piece of him I was able to find was a single ear... Once I tracked down the origins of the ear however, I had to make the rest of him.

And hey! the ear is no longer under my cutting table. One more UFO completed!

It isn't often that a project comes together without a hitch, but this one came close. OK, well I *wanted* him to be blue, but no, the blues I picked out for him just didn't suit him. So, red/orange/fuschia it is.

This is also the first time I am completely satisified with a needle-sculpted head. My bio-rhythms (remember them?) must be in a good alignment or something.

Thanks, Alison, for a wonderful pattern.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Out From Under

Jake is in Seattle today, appearing at a meeting of the Board of Directors of our farm's Co-Op to speak on a matter of vital importance to the future of our business. I wish it hadn't come to this -- farming is hard enough without having to engage in political battles as well -- but I am so proud of him for being willing to stand up and fight for us.

In the meantime, I am home alone and not good for very much. In a fit of pure nervous energy, I sat down at my beading table, threaded up a new needle and got to work. I was determined to finish this doll TODAY, come heck or high water! No matter what happens in Seattle, something good was going to happen here today, LOL!

I started at 8:00 this morning and finished about 5:30 p.m. I am TIRED and my eyes are crossing, but she is finished at last. And isn't she just something else! She has emerged from under the cutting table and blossomed into full-blown reality. I am satisfied with this doll as I seldom ever am upon completing a project. I new I could do it; it's just that the end result is so far beyond my expectations that I am almost dizzy. So much for my sneering at sequins. I never will again!

Unfortunately, she is too big to fit in my little light tent, so I had to make do with a flash photo on the kitchen table. Sigh... she really deserves better! Anyway, here's a close up that give a little better view of some of the detail.

For my next trick, I will attempt something easier, like maybe brain surgery. On myself!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Dogged Determination

I shouldn't be surprised by how long this doll is taking to make-- I never have the least clue as to how much time ANY of my projects are going to take. But this one is off even my scale. Oh my!

I thought I could dedicate Sunday afternoon to the creation of her wings. Wrong! Here it is Tuesday and I have just finished them. I estimate that there are 14 hours of effort pictured here.

Her headpiece is all that is left now.

I WILL finish this doll!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wrestling with Issues

A long time ago, I began this doll in a class on Doll Street called "Asphidistra Flying" by Pearl Red Moon.

I got exactly this far before completely freaking out over the level of detail required to finish her, and quit. Had you asked me at the time, I would have told you that I had grown bored with her and it was time to move on to something else "for a little while..."

That "little while" has now been nearly 5 years. Meanwhile, she has sat patiently under my cutting table waiting for me to get un-bored (or braver!) and get back to work on her.

Both of my girls are now back in school after their little weather-induced mini-vacation, the daylight bulbs continue to work their magic on my energy levels -- if only we had had them years ago! -- and I have no money left to play with since we came home from Hawaii and can't afford to start anything new. I AM going to attack that pile of UFO's under the cutting table!

I paid all my bills and cleaned house Friday morning to give me NO excuses to shirk this work. The level of fear I experienced going back to revisit this doll really surprised me. On the other hand, the level of detailed information in this pattern is HUGE. I shouldn't be surprised that, being unprepared for it, I found it a little overwhelming.

It took me all afternoon -- over 4 1/2 hours -- but I did it. I created the textile for her dress and got it on her. Triumph!

Amazingly, I found the process to be almost hypnotic. I think I may have discovered another technique that I really really like DOING. The process itself that is, not just the end result.

This morning I finished the butterfly embellishment for the front of her dress and the beaded dangle that hangs from it. The camera flash has pretty much washed out the color of the beads, which is too bad because they gleam beautifully in and through the "petals" of her skirt.

I freely confess that I am blogging right now in order to stall for just a little longer before going back to work on her. The next step will be her wings, which involve lots more beading, and still more new techniques. Same for her headdress, but I am not even going to begin to think about that part yet...

I tell you, if I survive the challenge of making this doll, I will believe I can do anything. As a rule I enjoy learning new techniques, but all at once is becoming exhausting.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Instant (sort of...) Gratification

I had planned on working on 3 more half finished dolls this week -- 2 from Li Hertzi patterns that just need to have the embroidery finished, and one big one by Pearl Moon tht I finally feel brave enough to tackle. (Anyone who has made her "Asphidistra Flying" pattern will know what I am referring to!)


We have had a spell of spectacularly nasty weather here in the Northwest this week. Both of my DD's have been home from school since last Thursday, and I just haven't been able to achieve that state of UNINTERRUPTED concentration I need to work on something new and fairly complicated. I decided to dig out some my sunniest scraps and "whip up" something simple and pretty and cheerful.

This is elinor peace bailey's "Keeper of Memories" reduced to 75% of original size. She is about 6 inches tall. Her flesh and the lining of her skirt are kool-aid dyed silk charmeuse, her body is silk duipioni, and her hair is the last of some spectacular "mermaid" colored mohair. (I must find some more of that stuff!) I had intended to finish her in an afternoon, but as usual, I got a little carried away.

It was so much fun and SO satisfying to make a doll of this kind again. It passed what might otherwise have been a long afternoon, and really revved my creative engines. I think I am really FINALLY ready to attempt to tackle "Asphidistra's" costume!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

More finished objects!

Now that the holidays are over I am out of excuses for putting off my Round Robin committments, so I have devoted myself to getting them done this week.

This lovely by Jan Demetralis is constructed on a jigsaw puzzle piece. She posed quite a "puzzling" challenge for me. (Sorry, that's a dreadful pun, I know, but I couldn't resist!) WHAT was I going to do with her??!! I confess that I was a little unsure if any kind of pattern had been laid down for her -- her face is so beautifully realistic, her lower body somewhat less so, and her torso is like something out of a surrealist painting...

This IS an "anything goes" project however, so I decided to just let it percolate in the back of my mind for a while...

An idea broke through while we were on vacation. I decided that the little extensions that I had originally seen as sort of proto-arms would now become the shoulder pieces of a fabulous coutour gown (though someone else is going to have to create said gown...) and I would give her arms from the area where I visualized her shoulders "should" be.

Really though, are there any real "shoulds" on a doll like this??!!

The arm construction I used was designed by Pearl Red Moon for her "Ancient Icons" series of dolls. The upper arm, lower arm, and hand are each sewn and stuffed seperately of kool-aid dyed silk charmeuse, then joined together with bead joints. The fingers on each hand are made of bugle beads tipped with seed beads.

Speaking of the "Ancient Icons", I was motivated by working on Jan's doll to finish my own little objects. They've been sitting under my work table for... well, the lessons are dated March of 2002, so let's just call it a long time!

All the green one needed was her yarn hairpiece. The first one I made was way too bulky for her. This one is still a bit bulky, but I like the look.

The red one... now that I look at the photo I don't think I'm quite finished with her yet. I think she needs something more around her face. Perhaps some draping after the same manner as the green one. I'll think about it...

I am particularly proud of her pants. The first pair I made for her were simply dreadful. I didn't know anything about machine embroidery back then and didn't use a stabilizer under the fabric and ended up with a mess. This time I created a base "fabric" of fusible Angelina fibers, backed it with some water soluble stabilizer, and embroidered it with some simple machine stitching over silk ribbons. They look fantastic in real life, though you can't see much in the photo. Sorry for the focus issues -- no idea what went wrong there and I'm too lazy to go back downstairs and take another one. I'll post another better pic after I do some more beading on her.

Getting There...

In between getting my end-of-the-year tax prep paperwork done, hanging out in the repair shop while some recall work was done on my Jeep, and running ordinary errands, I haven't found much time to work on projects yet this week. Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! It is all good and necessary stuff that I do, but alas, not very much fun at all. Fortunately, this little wall project is highly portable, especially now that I have finished the machine work.

I added a border of freely cut turquoise squares, some machine stitching to hold them down, and then added some funky yarn in spirals on the leftover yellow bits. I especially like the true red binding -- it holds it all together nicely.

NOW the fun begins... beads! I found these big red glass squares at Michael's last week. They have a sort of dichroic effect that makes them shimmer on the inside with a touch of gold. I don't know if they really are dichro or not, but they are pretty cool. A little heavy, but the canvas backing on this piece seems to be supporting the weight pretty well. Another evening of handwork and it should be finished and ready to mail.

I am cutting my computer time short this morning and I am going to go PAINT, before yet another interruption rears its ugly head. In the meantime, take a look at this photo. This little hawk (not a red-tail) has been hanging around the yard for a while now. Yesterday he was sitting on the fence holding his wings out like a young lady in a full curtsy to the queen... He flew away just fine after about 5 minutes or so, so I don't think he is injured. Anyone have any idea what the heck he's doing??

Saturday, January 06, 2007

A burst of energy

I have been on an absolute rampage of activity in my studio since we got home. It is most unusual for me to be so productive so deep into winter. Perhaps a few days of tropical sun has been good for me, LOL!

I spent a few hours this morning doing the free-motion stitching on the wall hanging. (It measures
12 1/2" square, by the way.) While the stitching went well, I had problems with the pieces of background fabric lifting while I was working. I am NOT happy with this particular brand of fusible... it didn't fuse worth a hoot. Fortunately the stitching will hold everything in place by the time it's all done. Still... GRRRRRRR!

The next step will be to add borders, and THEN I can begin adding the embellishments (rubbing hands and giggling maniacally...!) I had to go to Michael's today, so while I was there I picked up the beads you see scattered around the flowers, and some yarn that I'm not sure what I am going to do with, but it just blends so perfectly. I didn't really want to spend any more money on this piece, but the beads were *too perfect* and I couldn't pass them by. Sigh... This is why I will never be rich...

Hmmm... I also see that the detail stitching in the stems needs to be much more visible. How did I ever design anything before I could check my work with a camera??

My dear friend Kai asked about my painting...

Here you go Kai. This is what I have so far. (I did this much just before we left to go on vacation.) I wanted good dark outlines in the underpainting so that, as I add layers of color, I don't lose my drawing. This is where I stopped to let it dry.

My next step will be to correct the shape of her shoulder and ribs on the right side, and to begin to add a foundation color. Mid-range flesh tones for the skin, and local color for her shirt and pants.

I have NO clue as to what I'm going to do about the kitten. I think I need to read up on how to paint fur...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Aiming for "Country French"

This is the first stage of a wall piece I am working on using the instructions from the latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine. My color scheme is based on a piece of "Country French" style fabric. I think I need a little more red, but I'm happy with the design so far. So far, so good!

The image is abstracted from a photo of a vase of gerbera daisies -- cutting out each individual blossom took me all afternoon! Thankfully, I had the whole house to myself today, and all the housework and bills caught up, so I had freedom to really play.

The next step will be to add free-motion machine stitching. That's going to be fun, but will have to wait until tomorrow. My back and eyes aren't up for any more close work today.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Aloha... and so glad to be HOME!

Our family's Christmas gift this year was a biggie -- 8 days in Hawaii! We last took a "real" vacation in 1996. It's not easy to make all the arrangements to get away from the farm, but this year is Lydia's senior year in high school, so a family vacation has become a sort of "now or never" thing. I'm so glad we decided on Now!

These photos are all from my digital camera. I also shot 7 rolls of film with my 35mm too, which I am now waiting to get back from the developer. Talk about anticipation! I'll post some of those another time if any of them turn out.

Christmas in Hawaii is a long step away from our traditions! We spent Christmas Eve in Waikiki beach and simply basked in the warm tropical breezes when we weren't body surfing in the waves. I took along a big fat book and actually found some time to read it!

This fellow was selling surfing lessons on our beach. He seemed to be doing good business too. I HAD to have a photo of him, because I will probably never see anybody like him on Christmas Eve ever again, LOL. The pigeon was just a lucky bit of good timing.

Our hotel room was nice, though small for 4 people. We all spent a lot of time on our little balcony just looking and looking. We could see a little slice of the ocean to the left, a big swath of *very* upscale shopping directly in front, and to the right was a residential area that swept up the side of a mountain. It was particularly impressive at night, when everything was lit up for the evening.

I still say the Christmas lights felt weird. I know they celebrate Christmas in Hawaii too, but it should be cold when the lights go up. I guess my world is a little small...

My favorite day was when we took a guided kayak tour. It was BIG fun, even though Jake and I capsized our kayak 3 times. We got the hang of it in the end though.

It took a little over an hour to paddle out to our first stop, the little island in the photo below. It has been set aside as a bird sanctuary, but all the birds are away this time of year. Our guide explained the geological history of the islands, and pointed out some of the things in the tide pools one wouldn't ordinarily notice, this little sea urchin for one...

Our next stop was back to another beach on Oahu for some snorkling. OH! How I WISH I had a camera capable of going in the water! I saw puffer fish, angel fish, parrot fish, clown fish, and TURTLES. I loved the turtles. No eels or sharks though. It would have been so cool to see some of those, but I didn't dare swim out too far. Isn't that water beautiful? So very different from the grey and choppy surface of the Pacific here on the coast of Oregon.

I'm throwing in one last photo for Lydia's sake. We had lunch at Planet Hollywood one day, and she was thrilled to death to see this sign on the wall and so of course I had to take her picture in front of it. My dear daughter is a HUGE fan of dinosaurs in general and the "Jurassic Park" movies in particular. (Her nickname at school is "Dino Girl", if that tells you anything, LOL!)

It's not the best photo I have ever taken, but she is very happy with it and wants a big printout for her scrapbook. Sigh... On the other hand, it's not often this easy to thrill a teenager, so I guess I should be happy!