Sunday, December 21, 2008

Dingle Darling, a sleeping baby

I began this little guy over two months ago in Marilyn Radzat's "Leaf Pod Baby" class at That Creative Place, but, due to the distractions of the holidays and ill health, I just finished him yesterday.

Meet my Dingle Darling. He is exceedingly easy to make, so I'm afraid that I went a little berserk with the embellishments. Geez, I love embellishments, LOL!

"Dingle" is a new favorite word of mine.

Din"gle\, n. [Of uncertain origin: cf. AS. ding prison; or perh. akin to dimble.] A narrow dale; a small dell; a small, secluded, and embowered valley.

The Dingle Cradle owes more to Jean Bernard than Marilyn Radzat I'm afraid. Maybe I'll be bored with them some day, but right now I can't get enough of vine-y things and Paverpoled fibers.

Hmmmmm... I think, looking at this photo, that I want to add one more little pillow puff to the upper right. It looks a bit hollow there. I have a tiny bit of that hand-dyed silk velvet left. It is the most luscious stuff!

Copyright restrictions forbid me to offer him for sale on my Etsy site. That's OK though... he's so cute, I think I want to keep him anyway!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Down for the Count

I have been so sick these past few weeks. I thought it was a cold, but it just kept getting worse and worse until I finally went in to the doctor, who gave me some medicine, and now I am slowly coming back to life. Gads I hate codeine-laced cough syrup!

Normally I am a rock. I'm the one who takes care of the ones who get sick. This one knocked me down for the count. I am SO glad to finally be able to draw a breath without gasping for air. Needless to say, it has been a long 2 weeks.

Today I feel almost human again. I actually had enough energy (and lung capacity!) to get up and play with the last details on my Dingle Baby sculpt. I don't have photos yet as the glue is still drying, but you can be sure I will post them tomorrow. It was so much fun to play again!!

In the meantime...

...we have a snow day here in Oregon. I know it isn't very much (especially compared to what I have seen has fallen in the midwest - oh my!) but we don't get very much here on the floor of the Willamette Valley, so when we do, things pretty much grind to a halt. The kids are happy though -- their Christmas vacation has begun early!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Checking in

I will be posting photos soon of my latest WIP, which is coming along slowly. I wish I had more time for creating lately, but the reality of the situation is that our country's crashing economy is taking its toll on our business as well, and I am needed to do other things. We have been forced to lay off one of our workers, and Jake is picking up that slack.

I don't really believe that things will ever go back to what we believed was "normal", but I also know that God has us in His plan. There is a place for us; if not here, then somewhere else. Some days my faith wavers and fear takes over. I keep fighting though -- I do believe that "this, too, shall pass."


I have been spending my "creating" time to get serious about building up my Etsy Shop. I have been having good results this past month, which encourages me to keep at it. I plan on adding a section of books and patterns this week as well -- oh, how I need to reduce my library, LOL!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Day for Something Special

When I'm upset, I like to bake. It makes me feel as if I'm accomplishing something, the house smells SO good, and it makes everybody else happy. Usually I bake bread. I'm out of bread flour, so today I baked Apple Bars.

Apple Bars... what a pitiful name for something so sublime! These bars are seriously GOOD! If you try these, write me back with suggestion for a better name, OK?

Apple Bars

1/2 cup melted butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
2 baking apples, peeled, cored, chopped
2 cups coconut, divided
1 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" baking pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, white sugar, and brown sugar and stir well. Add the baking soda, salt, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and beaten eggs and mix well. then add the oatmeal, chopped apple, and 1 1/2 cups of the coconut (the other 1/2 cup is to sprinkle on top before baking). Last, mix the flour in thoroughly.

Spoon the very thick batter into the prepared pan and smoooth it out, then sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup coconut evenly over the top.

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until slightly browned on top. Check them at the earliest time as these bars must not be overbaked.

Cool, then cut into bars like brownies. Hide them from anyone with a ravenous appetite. The first time I made these, Jake ate half the pan in one sitting before I could stop him. Oh my!

Remember those beautiful I views I posted last week? Well, this is what it looks like today. Combine unrelenting fog with a bad mood and too much to do, and it is most definitely a Baking Day!

Because this day is *so* gruesome, I am going to "kick it up a notch" and make these bars truly decadent by topping them with some Vanilla Butter Sauce.

Vanilla Butter Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons good vanilla

In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the butter, cream, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from heat, then stir in the vanilla. Serve warm.

(Go easy on this sauce; it is VERY rich and a little goes a long way.)

By the way, not everyone shares my opinion about the weather. Solomon the llama is quite at home in it. He's such a character - he saw me with the camera and had to come investigate.

And then everyone ELSE had to come see what I was up to.

I think they were expecting food rather than a photo-op, poor babies. Let's see... the white blob on the left is Firebrand the alpaca, then Julianna, another llama. Lydia's old pony Penny is front and center, and if you look closely you can see Julianna's cria Beatrice peaking out from behind her hips. And of course, there is Solomon, whom you have already met.

I'm glad they came up to see me. My mood improved quite a bit, and I noticed that even though I was cold and damp, there was still beauty to be captured with my camera.

Even in November my garden isn't dead - the spiders are still busy at any rate!

I hope you all have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Diana's Sprite is finished

My daughter's best friend Diana is a delightful young woman whom I have had the pleasure of knowing since she was... oh... about 6 or 7. She is intelligent, articulate, artistic, and when she and Alice get together I simply can't hear fast enough to keep up with their chatter. I am going to miss that so much when they both go away to college next fall.

This is Diana getting ready for Prom last spring. Their theme was a masquerade ball, but instead of wearing a mask as the other girls did, Diana chose to do hers with her make up and a few embellishments.

I was so delighted by what she did that I was inspired to make a doll. I know posted in-progress pics of this one months ago, but the loss of my sewing machine meant I couldn't finish her wings. It's back now though (woo hoo - my baby is home!)so this weekend I threaded it up with some Sulky Holographic and let loose and finished those wings!

So, without further ado, here she is, wings and all.

I am extra proud of the appearance of her hands. Sherry Goshon gave me a few tips last fall and I can't believe the difference those few tweaks make in getting fabric and wire hands to look natural and "real".

Of course I couldn't stop with just a little sparkly thread, but had to add some microbeads and glitter as well as some interesting fibers. Why stop when you're having so much fun??

The real girl is more delightful by far, but this little creation makes me smile.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day of the Dead Challenge Doll

Oh, how I struggled with this doll! Perhaps it was a certain internal discomfort with an unfamiliar concept, or perhaps I just didn't have a clue what I was doing, but almost every detail of her creation caused me headaches.

On the other hand, I now have a better handle on working with paper clay, and the basic techniques of tole painting finally "clicked". And I learned that pattern drafting isn't as complicated as I thought -- her whole costume was designed and drawn from scratch. I know, I know... princess seams are easy, but you have to start somewhere!

I really really like her in her "bald" state, but she doesn't look quite Dutch enough to suit me. What do you think?? (As always, please click on the photo itself to view it full size if you want to see more detail.)

She even has the proper footwear.

I looked ALL OVER the internet trying to find a pattern for her hat. I finally designed it myself by looking at photographs. It is made of silk chiffon -- the delft motifs are still clearly visible through the fabric. Those "wings" are starched within an inch of their lives, but are still a little floppy, so I will probably stitch in some fine wire so they are more posable.

She looks "Dutch" enough to me now, but I still really really liked her bald. Hmmmmm...

The buttons I bought for her bodice are gold colored. Once I held them up to get a preview of how they would look I realized that was a mistake; she needs white buttons. Back to the fabric store for me!

I am wrestling with myself over how much embellishment I want to add. On the one hand, the Dutch are a plain people. On the other hand, her costume is NOT authentic and the Day of the Dead is supposed to be over-the-top. Maybe a little embroidery around her bodice? Something in her hands? Definitely a neck ornament of some kind!

Still thinking...

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Beautiful Day

The poet may declare that a day in June is rare, but when it comes to sunshine in November in Oregon, that's about as rare as it gets. I got out my camera today to take photos of my Day of the Dead doll, but it was so beautiful I had to take it outside. What an incredible afternoon I had!

One of the cool things about living on a farm is that we share our little world with a LOT of other life. This hawk was just hanging out in a tree down by our creek. (Click on any photo to see it full size -- these small shots just don't capture the effect.)

He flew off when something caught his attention. I didn't think I would actually be able to catch his photo, but I did.

As I was walking around the barn, a blue heron flew by overhead. They are the most amazing things to watch in the air. There is something very prehistoric looking about them.

This flock of pigeons more or less lives on top of the hay barn. See the round thing casting a shadow in the lower right? That's a rock my father-in-law threw up there years ago trying to scare away the pigeons. That didn't work very well...

The cows don't mind them though.

And then there are the starlings that swarm everywhere. Generally I can't stand the rude, noisy, messy things, but they are so graceful as a flock on the wing... I have to appreciate the beauty they make too. (Starlings... ugh!)

This field across the road has had wheat, grass, corn, and hops growing in it in years past. Two years ago a vinyard was planted. The setting sun on the dying leaves shown like living gold.

I think grape vines have just about the most perfect leaves.

As I was admiring the leaves, this flock of geese flew over. They were having a high old time, honking back and forth to each other and swooping up and down their lines. Aren't they the funniest creatures?

If you turn around and look the other way, across our back field is Mount Angel itself, crowned by a Benedictine abbey. On a still morning we can hear the church bells calling the brothers to prayer. The "mountain" itself is only a couple hundred feet tall, but it stands all by itself in the middle of flat fields so it really dominates the landscape for miles.

The sun sets so fast this time of year. Looking back to the east I was able to catch the last little glimmer of direct sun just kissing the top of Mt. Hood. That's when I was reminded that it really *is* November after all and I wasn't wearing a jacket -- it got cold FAST.

As I turned to walk back to the house, I met Jake on his way in from the barn for the evening. He's pretty nice to come home to.

The Day of the Dead photos can wait until tomorrow. This day was too wonderful not to remember somehow.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Close, but no Cee-Gar

... as my Dad used to say, LOL. My little piece for a Halloween Challenge on one of my favorite groups tied for first place. In a run-off vote, it lost by *1* vote! I confess I would have liked to have won, but I'm pretty pleased with it regardless, and tickled to death that other people like it too.

The challenge was to do something "cute" for Halloween -- not beautiful, and it mustn't scare small children.


(Now, if you've been reading this for any length of time, you know by now that I don't do "cute". "Can't" might be the better word, LOL!)

Anyway, this little guy is based on an online class by Marilyn Radzat at That Creative Place for her Leaf Babies, though about the only thing he owes to her instructions by the time I got through with him is his pose. (If I ever get around to it, I will also rebuild his little coffin. I did the best I could, but it's really pretty crude.)

I have another Leaf Baby in progress, but he is currently suffering from a bad rash caused by unpainted texture medium, and is not ready for his close-up yet. Just WAIT until you see the little bed waiting for him!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Quick Update

I had hoped to post photos of my latest works-in-progress yesterday when my challenge was scheduled to be over, but my piece tied for first and is in a runoff voting to determine the winner. From what I hear, the voting is still tied, LOL!

Stay tuned!

Along those same lines, I hope YOU all voted today. No matter who wins, I am still so proud to have had a hand in choosing our next leader.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Words to Live (and Create!) By

This month's newsletter from Dollmaker's Journey included a quote that is too good not to pass on. They posted it as "Anonymous", but a quick googling found an attribution to Elaine Normandy. I have no idea who Elaine Normandy is but I like the way she thinks!

Art is too much fun
to be restricted to those
who are good at it!

Is that great or what?! This is my new motto, LOL.

One more quick thing for today... I joined a new Yahoo! group for polymer clay artists last month and am having so much fun there that I want to include a link to their homesite. Visit The Fairy Studio to find lots of inspirational pictures and some really useful links.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pictures, as promised

Mondays are my favorite day of the week. I don't have to go to work, Jake is at work, the girls are in school, so if I have my act together I have a whole day in which to make art and play to my hearts content. This morning I got everything done and sat down and finished painting my Tree Spirit Box. Oh, how I love this box!

I chose my paint colors to go along with the colors of the interior, put on some music, and just went at it. When the time came to add the embellishments, I didn't notice that one of my tubes of micromarbles had been corrupted with glitter, so the effect is a little more sparkly than I had intended, but I'm not sorry. A little extra sparkle never hurt anyone. :-)

Here's a full front view...

and the full back.

If you remember the earlier posts regarding this piece, you might recall that I embedded a small face in the trunk. You can't see it by looking directly at it, but if you peek in from the side...

you are able to glimpse her peacefully meditating amongst the branches.

Unfortunately, I broke the clasp on the box from handling it. Does anyone know where I might find a replacement?

Ifinished my Halloween challenge piece as well (completed, photographed, AND entered on time!) but I can't put it up here until after the challenge closes Friday night. Not only that, I have another WIP in full swing, but it's so closely related to my Halloween piece that to be safe I will save that for later as well. Oh, it's going to be a fun week!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Life Happens

Sorry for the long absence. Life at Cascade View Dairy has been a bit topsy-turvy lately, and blogging sort of slipped a little on my list of priorities. Briefly, as everyone who doesn't live under a rock knows, the economic climate in this country is a little scary right now. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but it seems like farmers get hit first and worst every time.

We made the difficult decision last week to lay off one of our workers. This man has worked for us for the last 12 years, but we just can't afford to keep 3 workers full time anymore. I don't know what Jake has inside of him that makes him keep going, but he loves this life and wants to continue, at least until the girls are safely settled in college. And I'm crazy about him, so I guess we're all going to just keep on keeping on.

For as long as we can anyway.

In the meantime, my Art still happens too. I have been working like a fiend on a challenge project that's due today. I've had such fun with it -- I can't wait to share pictures.

My Tree Box is nearly finished, and so is the Tide Pool figure, but I haven't had a chance to set them up for photos yet. Soon, I promise!

And just to show that Life isn't all Doom & Gloom, I am posting some pictures I took last night at halftime of the Silverton High School Homecoming football game. Alice was elected to the Senior Court, and I can't resist the opportunity to show her off a little, especially since I don't have any other photos to share this week, LOL!

Ooooohhh... I love that car!

Her escort is a little grubby because he is the team's quarterback and had just come straight from the field to the car. Alice says he was too nervous about getting dirt on that gorgeous Chevy to relax and enjoy the ride.

Of course we all had to run down to the sidelines with everyone else and give her a hug. It was a gorgeous night for football.

Silverton won by the way, 41-10. It was a good night!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More leaves, branches, twigs... when will it end?

Sorry for deleting the comment button after my last post -- a spammer found me the other day, so I just wanted to make it harder for any more to crash my blog. I put everything back to where it was today, so PLEASE leave me a comment!

(Don't you just wish that the people who work so hard at spamming would use their energy and talents toward something... if not more useful, AT LEAST less annoying!?)


I added leaves to the tree and thought "it is good". At least when viewed from the front. When I turned it to a different angle I realized that my tree looked more like a peacock's tail -- all gorgeous arcs and curves until viewed from the side, when it showed as totally flat.

So... I added some more branches.

(Full disclosure: this photo has been altered to enhance the contrast and show detail.)

Woo Hoo, now it's looking good. I especially like the way the face is somewhat obscured. This afternoon I added some smaller twigs, and I hope to add the last leaves tomorrow when the branches and twigs are stable enough to work on.

Yesterday, I was about to give up. Today... I'm pretty happy!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Fitting it in when I can

I have made more progress on my Treasure Tree Box than what shows in these photos, but if I wait until I can take more photographs, I will never manage to get a post up this week. It has been yet another tempestuous week, but I still found some time to work on my creations. I think I would go insane if I couldn't...

I took a better shot of the finished inside cover to share.

Now that the inside is complete, I can start applying embellishments to the outside. I had an image of a tree in my mind, so I began by applying a web of roots.

Then I drilled some holes, added a little wire for an armature, and began building the tree.

I haven't taken any more photos of later progress, but I'll try to get some up in a day or two.

How's this for an excuse for being distracted though?

My daughter-in-law and granddaughter came for a visit this weekend and it would have been downright inhospitable to disappear into my studio. We both had fun playing with my camera though.

The camera strap was the big attraction for her. Never fear... I'll teach her which end is the fun part when she's older. For now, I just like making her grin.

Monday, October 06, 2008

The First Week of October 2008 - a Rant

Last week was a doozy for sure, and I'm not even talking about the stock market. As I sat down to think about what I wanted to write in this post, I'm a little amazed that I am able to think about it calmly. If I had *known* what the week would bring, I would have stayed in bed.

In spite of the fact that the Oregon Rains came early this year, we got our corn crop safely harvested. It's all cut, siloed, and covered with no delays and no accidents for another year, thank God!

I had a cold and felt like @#$%^&*( all week. Ugh! What made the sinus issues even less fun than usual this time was our neighbor's new "bird cannon" which goes off at irregular intervals every few minutes. It's not that loud, but oh! when you have a headache...!

My sewing machine is STILL in the shop. I drove to the city on Saturday to demand its return, but there it was still in pieces on the work bench. I have no idea what is going on, so I raised the roof a little. I hope I managed to light a fire under SOMEBODY. Time's a-wastin' and I need to get a costume put together for my DOD doll before the challenge deadline.

Fortunately, I still have a healthy supply of Paverpol, Aves Apoxy, glue, and paint. :-) She now has her "wooden" shoes at least.

Our TV died. (At least my little 25 year old b/w portable is still usable for another few months so Jake won't miss his beloved football.) I miss the movies I put on for background noise, but at least I was able to use the time to work on my current rotation of projects.

So, what do I have to share this week? Messes, that's what. I haven't managed to actually FINISH anything, which might be contributing to my crankiness, but Progress Is Being Made, so, oh well...!

Below is my 4th attempt to create a believable illusion of sea foam floating on the wind on my Tide Pool piece. I mentioned the rains came early here this year -- I think the humidity is affecting the Paverpol's ability to harden enough to stay in place without drooping. If this doesn't work, I will put her aside until we have a few drier days. So far, so good though.

Here's another little Mess-In-Progress I've been playing with. I always have little bits of apoxy left when I work with it and I hate to waste it, so I've been adding the little dibs and dabs to the inside cover of this box. This weekend I decided it was pretty much done, so today I am painting it. The colors complement the piece of hand-dyed silk velvet that lines the bottom of the box. Note to Self: Next time, paint the lid THEN add the velvet.

I don't know how well you can see them, but the brownish bits on the tinfoil are little accent pieces I sculpted that will fit inside the bottom of the box. When these all dry, I can varnish them, glue them in, and get everything ready for a sprinkling of micromarbles and glitter. Ah, don't you just love sparkly stuff!!

I've got one more picture for you -- a close-up of the inside cover of the box. Do you think I might have gotten a little carried away? ...hee hee...