Friday, December 31, 2010

So here's what happened...

We weren't looking for a cat, honestly. But as things sometimes happen, this little kitty found us. Jack and I each had separate plans to be somewhere else on the last day of 2010. But a truck battery problem intervened so that both of our plans changed. Instead, we took the car and our bikes to the paved bike path a half-hour from our home for a late-afternoon bike ride. Nothing out of the ordinary there. We do that quite often.

But there, in the back of beyond, near a horse trail assembly area, we saw a family with bikes pulled off to the trail side, petting a kitten. Once past, we both wondered why the kitten would be there... a remote area, no houses nearby. We were a bit worried. On our way back, we stopped to see if the kitten was still there. She was... she came running out from the underbrush to greet us. We sat on a bench with her and found her to be very affectionate, purring loudly. But she was a bit thin. We debated... what to do? We just knew we could not leave her there alone. It gets very cold at night, and there are coyotes and other possible predators in the area.

So it was decided. We would ride our bikes back to the trail head, load them up and drive the car to the horse assembly area which would take about 20 minutes. If she was still there, we would know she needed to come home with us. As we rode off, I looked back at her in the bike mirror. She looked quite forlorn sitting by the side of the trail which of course tugged at my heart. When we returned in the car, once again she bounded out of the underbrush, purring loudly.

Having nothing much in the car in which to carry her, I just held her on my lap. We were completely surprised that she showed no fear or resistance to being in the car at all! She curled up, kneaded with her paws, and just settled in for the ride. We stopped at the Dollar store on the way to pick up kitten chow and litter.

She set out to explore the house quite thoroughly, including the bathroom sink! She's a curious girl, and very loving. She seems completely at home already, and likes the sewing room. She can hardly believe her luck. Us, too... I think. As I said, we weren't really seeking a kitten. And yet... here she is. Her name is either Lily or Libby... she hasn't decided yet. Isn't she pretty?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Glitzy Things...

These two projects are reed diffuser bottles I made with the instructions provided at Roses on My Table, the mixed media art site I joined in November. These were fun to make, and once again I learned lots about art supplies and how to use them... and misuse them. I didn't even know the fancy reeds that soak up and diffuse the scented oils could be purchased as a stand-alone item. I'd only seen them in gift sets of diffusers. But they're available at the craft store in aisles heretofore unexplored by me. Well now I've made my own pretty gift sets!

The bird image was a freebie from Graphics Fairy, and the sunflower image was purchased as a download from Country at Heart. It's amazing to watch the how-to videos on the Roses site, which are made by instructor Christina Zinnia Gallher. I can only wish I had her skills in handling the materials. She offers many tips for making each step of the project easy and manageable. However, after I watched how to create the wired bead wrap for the neck of the bottle, I confidently set out to create my own. But before mastering the technique, I managed to shoot teeny-tiny beads all over the floor! I'm sure I'll get better at this.

Here are some close-ups of each bottle. You can see that some of those pesky beads actually wound up on the bottles where they belong. The yellow bottle still needs a charm added to the empty loop seen in the photo. I haven't found "just the right one" as yet. I chose a tangerine scented oil for a fresh, citrusy aroma.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Cozy Cottage in Blogland...

When it comes to quilting, one thing I always enjoy is the opportunity to make a single block or tow that will wind up in a quilt made from blocks by many makers. So over the years, I've contributed to a variety of raffle quilts, charity quilts, block contests, and the like. It's like having a little piece of yourself out there bringing comfort and joy to someone unknown. These house blocks are the latest of those efforts. Beth at Love Laugh Quilt came up with the idea of inviting quilters who have a blog to make a house block representing life in the friendly neighborhood of Quilt Blogland. She'll collect the blocks, put them in groups of 9 to 12, and then draw names to see who wins the blocks to make into a quilt. Participants were asked to include the address of their blogs within the house block, and the block is to measure 12" x 12". Simple guidelines. The rest is up to each one's quilty imagination. So here are my two imaginings. The blocks are due on January 1, so there is still time to make one!

Speaking of blocks and challenges, several years ago I won a quilt block challenge while on a quilting cruise. I made the blocks into a quilt called "Carribean Calypso". It was later displayed on another cruise. Unfortunately, the quilt didn't make it home from its last cruise to Alaska. Somehow, between the ship and the quilt shop where it was being sent, the quilt got lost. I still hold out hope that it will find its way back home to me. But it's been quite awhile. I posted the photo below on the Lost Quilt Come Home website. I still think about the quilt from time to time because it was so unique. It's pretty memorable with all that yellow in it! My winning block is the ship at the top of the center vertical row. And the yellow floral print by Patricia Campbell was the challenge fabric. Hopefully it, too, is currently bringing comfort and joy to someone unknown. I shudder to think of it mouldering in some forgotten warehouse in the port!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Wrote The Book of Santa?

I did! Well, sort of. For some time I've admired all of the creative books made by mixed media artists. And I've known that I had a book in me, too. Maybe even more than one! At any rate, here it is. The Book of Santa. This is a gift for a quilting friend who loves Santa Claus, and has a collection of Santa-related holiday decorations. She received it in her Christmas package last week, so it's safe to show it here now.

I carried the vision for a step-book like this one, using the S-A-N-T-A letters, around with me for awhile. Gradually I pictured how to sew each letter onto a cardstock base, and then add all of the various paper elements and embellishments. This photo shows the inside, page 1. I took a large plastic bin and tossed in every usable "Christmasy" thing already in my supplies, along with some purchased embellishments. So every page became a potpourri of ribbon, paper, gemstones, glitter glue, paper text, scrapbook paper... you name it.

I even tried out some new methods learned as I continue exploring mixed media. The star shown here is my attempt at a Zentangle-type design. The icicle is a scrap of fusible-backed fabric trimmed with a decorative-blade rotary cutter. And the little flower/snowflake on the left is a piece of dyed tatting. A friend from the Citra sewing and crafting group gave me a whole zip-top bag of her tatting rejects. You don't find many needleworkers who tat anymore, so the pieces were a gift.

A Dover CD of vintage images came in handy, and I had to try out the Crop-o-dial Eyelet Setter on some of the pages. Buttons and fabric text, paper shapes and paint pens... that's a mighty big plastic tote that holds all this stuff!

I wanted a bulky and festive fiber binding for this book, so again I gathered up ribbon, fabric strips, yarns, buttons and beads. Another friend gifted me with a bag of gorgeous feathers from his exotic birds. He found some beauties around the farm yard, and this green feather was just the one to tuck into the binding.

I found a series of charms that spelled out WISH, and added them to the binding. It seemed to fit the theme nicely... Santa is all about wishes. And the letters go well with more tatting and the pearl drops.

Every page took some thought and deliberation as well as application of the various elements. So I "built" the book over time, working on it little by little. Since this is my first book, there is plenty to learn about page composition and techniques. But I must say,this was a fun beginning.

And I heard him exclaim as he drove out of sight... Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! The end.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

What's Better Than Santa??

More Santas! These Santa-Boyz are now completed and are joining the first Santa I made, shown here. The three of them have traveled around the house, posing in various spots to find just the right place to hang out. The two new Santas began on the dining table, probably in hopes of a snack.

Then they found their buddy and hung out in front of the Yule Logs quilt and holiday pillow. You can't see it well in the photo, but the gold-trimmed Santa is a bit of a leaner. He may need his stuffing rearranged a little before I call him done. I love Old World Santas, and this pattern is quite simple, requiring just basic sewing skills. The pattern link is in the eariler post. Our daughter Joanna is visiting Florida for a few days from New York, and has claimed the green Santa to take home with her. So he got finished just in time to travel north. They're all under the tree right now.

There are a few more Santas like this short gold one around the house, too, helping to make it festive for the season. Joanna and I visited Epcot at Disney World when I picked her up in Orlando. The trees and decorations there also helped put us in the Christmas spirit! The tree below was a small one at our Coronado Springs hotel. It was lovely with those pink poinsettias around the bottom.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More Christmas Fun...

I made these domino pendants as part of a project on Roses on My Table, the online art group I joined last month. Dominos! Can you imagine? I've never done anything quite like it. But Christina Zinnia Galliher, the instructor, offers comprehensive videos on the site that walk through every step. So I learned to print images, use products like diamond glaze and stamping inks, along with jewelry bails. And I hope I learned to copy the "badge" from the Roses site in case you want to travel there to explore a bit. If I've been successful, you'll see the R.A.I.L. badge to the left of this post. If not... well, I'll try again.

The images on the dominos are from the Dover Vintage Christmas Cards CD-Rom and Book. I think the most difficult part of the project was selecting which images to work with. The book has more than 200 nostalgic images to choose from. But you can see from my earlier post about the Angel Memory Box that I am pretty taken with angels. And the last post reveals that I'm partial to Santa, too. I'm happy with the results of this project, given that it was my first attempt. And I'm definitely planning to make more of these. I'm envisioning images of cats, dogs, horses, quilty things... lots of ideas.

2010 has certainly been a year of learning for me. Just three examples are creating and maintaining this blog which gives me great pleasure, mastering new techniques for creating art-style quilts, and learning several mixed-media techniques and projects. I've been able to take classes online and at quilt shops or retreats that have truly expanded my creative horizons.

I'm most grateful for the opportunities I've been given. And I very much appreciate your reading and commenting on the blog entries over the course of this past year. It's very encouraging, and I enjoy sharing the photos and stories with you. More to come... the journey continues!