Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Here’s to a Smashing Good Year!


Did you keep a scrapbook or diary when you were growing up? I used to love to collect ticket stubs, images, and various sorts of paper items, and tape them into a leather-cover scrapbook from “the dime store”, as we used to call it. Well apparently, I still do! Recently I learned about the concept of a “smash book” in which paper lovers do just as I used to. The big difference is in the kinds of materials available today which add a lot more interest to the collecting and the “smashing.” I’ll give you a little tour of my 2014 Smash Book now that it’s time to start one for the New Year.


I tend to accumulate small bits of paper that I just love too much to part with. Things like attractive business cards, inspiring images… just bits and pieces, really. But the question remains, what to do with them? The smash book is the perfect solution. Instead of piling up in drawers, or being tucked out of sight in small baskets and boxes, they can all reside together in a meaningful and personal journal. I made mine using black cardstock cut to size, punched with holes, and bound with ring binders. So simple, and I can add pages as needed. Even the cover came from recycled mail art here, and created by Jan of Laughing Dog Arts.


Here are a few things that just can’t get thrown out partly because of the memories and partly because they are just pretty or intriguing. That toothbrush is actually a coupon to purchase an electronic device. It’s not that I have fond memories of my trip to the dentist, but that coupon caught my eye and came home with me. I already have a suitable toothbrush, so it came just because the image had such appeal. It’s hard to explain why I had to have it, so I don’t. Instead, I just “smash” it into my book and enjoy thumbing through from time to time.


Our guild newsletter had a photo and little article about me in it- into the smash book it went.


The book is a home for special greeting cards…


And colorful images… that chicken in the page below is from an original painting by Sonja Hagemann. I won some of her lovely hand-dyed fabric and the image was in the package.



Odd things find their way into the book, too. That’s a bread wrapper tab at lower right serving as a page marker.


Photos of a wonderful cruise to The Bahamas and memories of the quilt show held at a church in Nassau. The “keep calm” flyer was on my car windshield one day and seems to fit with this selection of photos. Some of the photos below were from art exhibits, but the photo of the cross is one we took in Yarnell, Arizona before the tragic fire that took the lives of 19 Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters there. The cross was located at the top of a very steep climb through boulders at the Shrine of St. Joseph there, and I it did not survive the fire. Seeing the image bring sadness, but helps to remember and honor the 19.


I won’t make you look at all the pages, but you get the idea. Images worth saving go into the smash book, and become a keepsake. it’s been an enjoyable project, and I thought I’d share it here.

Happy New Year, and many blessings for 2015! As always, many thanks for visiting my blog.


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Joy to the World…


I’ve always loved angels… stories about them, images of them, the whole concept of them! And I have a small collections of angel figurines that come out at Christmas. A few even stay out all year. But this trio of angels are the result of an online class called Journal Soup with Kate Crane. She taught students how to create interesting mixed media backgrounds, and then how to draw and paint these simple angel figures. I decided to recycle a plain white bag by painting my angels on it. It was fun to make, and I completed it by writing the words for "Joy to the World" around the outside of the image and on the gowns. I continued the recycling theme by tying the bag closed with ribbon and a strip of painted bubble plastic I had used to stamp dots on backgrounds. I filled the bag full of goodies and shipped it off to a friend in Pennsylvania. Below is a photo of what’s inside.


The “small business Saturday” in which shoppers purchase gifts in local shops and small retail businesses is an effort I like to support. So most of the items I’m gifting were found in art and craft galleries and craft stores. The Redbelly notecard came from Cedar Key Arts Center. Below it is a hand-made vintage-look necklace from Artisan’s Way in Melrose, FL. The "Shine" zippered pouch came from She Scrapbooks in The Villages, FL. I don't shop just on "small business Saturday", but pick things up when I visit small communities in the area. Grumpy Cat is the only gift that came from a big-box bookstore, but I couldn’t resist. Do you know Grumpy Cat? She’s featured on posters that say things like “If you’re happy and you know it, get away from me!” A very charming feline-her face just says it all.


And here are a few of my angels to say Merry Christmas, Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Some Wintery Sparkle…


We’ve been so busy lately with our daughter’s (continuing) move, that it occurred to me that I had not posted on my blog in awhile. I have been sewing and crafting in odd moments, but she’s found a permanent home and it’s time to get her moved from her temporary rental. We certainly are enjoying having her here in Florida, and I know she is happy with the change. Still lots more to do, but her new home is just right for her. And there’s lots of wall space so I can help decorate with some of my quilts, so that's fun! One project I was able to complete are these sparkly vintage-look cards. They were in a kit I purchased at a close-out sale. They were simple to make, or I should say assemble, really. The design elements were punch-outs and were applied in layers on top of a base image to get a 3-D quality. All of the embossing and imagery were already on the card. I just needed to add pop-dots and glitter glue.


The cards have such a nostalgic feel to them, and I like how they almost look lit from within. I had not seen anything quite like them before, nor have I since.


I can’t really pick a favorite, but this little bird lover is certainly an appealing and sweet image. However, the first two cards almost look as if you could step into the landscape, and are inviting for that reason. Better bring boots and a shovel though! Meanwhile, thinking I may have more time to spend on projects in the New Year and after the final move, I signed up for LifeBook 2015 which is a year-long art journaling class and group. Time will tell, but I’m hoping to learn more about supplies and techniques, and this class is full of well-known, fine instructors.


Speaking of birds, I thought I’d show you this visitor in our horse paddock from last week. It was not easy to get a photo, but if you study on it, you can see that it’s an American Eagle. So handsome, and he is a good-size fellow.  I’ll keep stitching and crafting… the clock is ticking toward Christmas!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Many Hands Make Light Work…


This pieced quilt saw a lot of hands involved in its creation. Quilter Debra Johnston started the blocks, I completed a few of them along with the help of another friend at a quilt retreat. Then I assembled the top which will become a donation quilt. Our guild has an active program through which quilts of all sizes are given to local hospitals and agencies. This top will now go back to Debra for quilting, and back to me for binding before it travels on to its new home. I really enjoy collaborative efforts like this one where I can contribute a part of the whole. It seems to be a true reflection of the “community” that quilting has always fostered.


I have a couple more quilts in the works, and my family and I traveled to Cedar Key, FL, to pick them up from the long-arm quilter. She did a great job and I look forward to sharing them with you here as soon as they’re bound. Meanwhile I’ll share some photos of the quaint fishing and arts community of Cedar Key. The colorful mural above is painted on the side of a building. It’s a perfect representation of this Gulf-side, island community which is known for its sunsets and pelicans. The little shack depicted in the painting still has remnants standing on stilts in the water. Each time we visit it seems to have deteriorated a little more, but still stands. Below is the artist co-op that offers the work of some very talented jewelry makers, painters, wood workers, textile artists, and more. I was very drawn to the exterior display of the prayer flags in a wide array of fabrics and colors. Very eye-catching, and right up my alley given the prayer flags I’ve made (shown here and here).



After a visit to The Salty Needle quilt shop and lunch at Tony’s, home of the famous Cedar Key Clam Chowder (award winning!), we stopped by the local park. They have a non-traditional tree that looks very appealing with its Christmas ornaments and clusters. After biking around town, we called it a day and returned home.

We enjoyed a really relaxing yet productive day! Now to get on with binding those quilts.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks…


Remembering family members creatively is one way I’m giving thanks this year. Thanks for the legacy and love of generations now gone, and thanks for creative gifts which bring me so much pleasure. This vintage photo from the 1940s is of my mother-in-law Ida Santelli Roberts and her siblings. I’ve always liked the carefree, summertime feel of this photo so I chose it as the centerpiece of a Crazy Quilt display piece. I transferred the picture to muslin, using a scanner and inkjet printer. And then the fun began, pulling together the bits and pieces of fabric, lace, and trims to frame the photo.


In this close-up photo you can see the array of fabric from silky decorator fabrics to cottons, and the assortment of embroidery stitches I worked to add contrast and interest. I find embroidery so relaxing, plus it’s portable so this project traveled with me. I have a couple of useful resources on embroidery stitches that provide plenty of ideas for the stitched accents. One is "Crazy Quilt Stitches" by Dorothy Bond, and the other is "Pocket Guide-Crazy Quilt Stitches" from Leisure Arts. Both are well illustrated and easy to carry along, too.


I also added buttons which took longer than I expected. Not to sew them on, but to find just the right ones. With all the buttons in the jar and other containers, it took some time to sift through and find ones that were properly proportioned, flat-backed, in the right color range… well, you get the idea! I also found a skein of metallic embroidery floss that was soft and easy to work with. I like the look of metallic thread, but it can often tangle, break, and fray so that I avoid using it.


Since I had the floss and needles out, I thought why not try making one of Teesha Moore’s “little pillow” fabric journals. They are so novel and free-form. Teesha has a series of tutorial videos on You Tube and shows a lot of examples of her method. She puts two fabrics wrong sides together, stitches around three sides, and then fills each “pillow” with some fiber fill. Then she stitches the last side closed and whip-stitches the edges, bringing the fabric from the back to the front to add contrast. Adding some embroidery and embellishments gives the pillows even more texture. Then they are whip-stitched together to form book covers, tote bags, or other projects of any size. Always in a hurry, I changed the sewing method by starting with two rectangles of fabric (mine are about the size of an index card) and one rectangle of fusible batting cut 1/2” smaller. I fused the three layers and then did the edge stitching. This is another portable project and it’s such fun to combine small bits of fabric in such a colorful way. I’ll keep you posted on this one. One problem I note- it’s hard to call each unit “done”. There are so many ways to add just a bit more. I have to call a halt and move on if I ever want to finish. And I do… there are plenty of projects in the works and I’m hoping their “done someday” day is coming!

And while I’m giving thanks, I’ll also say thanks to you for reading and following this blog. Your comments always mean a lot to me, and I appreciate your kindness and encouragement.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Back in Action…


This could easily be my perplexed look as I stare at the new computer screen while trying to rebuild all the photos and documents lost when my old one picked up the crypto virus a couple of weeks back. Fortunately I had quite a few things backed up on a passport device, but just trying to adjust to the new programs while finding the old stuff has been a nearly full-time job. Anyway, I have been doing a little- very little- in the sewing room. One thing I’m enjoying is the online course Radiant Faces. This project is the girlie-girl made in Christy Tomlinson’s class. It has tons of texture and many layers of paint, paper, stamps. I made mine on canvas paper so that I can stitch the edges and then include it in a fabric book eventually. It was very relaxing to work on, and I needed relaxing after the computer fail.


Another lesson in the class is taught by Tamara LaPorte. She showed how to make an “inner child” face. So this is my attempt. Tamara also uses a mixed media textured background. You can see my inner child is a little blue-eyed Catholic girl who loved cats and books- especially Nancy Drew mysteries. I read them all. I'm enjoying the different styles of each instructor.


And lastly, I’ve been making a pillowcase dress for Little Dresses for Africa. Nancy’s Notions has a free pattern for making the dresses which you can see in the photo along with a corner of the dress. The rose trim is a luscious piece I bought at our guild’s recent quilt show. I don’t know where that’s going to be used, but just getting it out and gazing at it fondly will work until I find a project. Thought you might like to see it, too. It is soft, and just beautiful! So I’ve been out of the loop of late, but trying to creep my way back. I have been able to visit blogs and read e-mail, just not post or send. But now- back in business!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Paper + Stitch = Plenty of Fun


Have sewing machine and paints, will travel. That was my motto when I signed up for Tweety Jill’s “Mixed Media Art Girl Cards” class at She Scrapbooks in The Villages, FL this past weekend. Jill brought the stamps, inks, stencils, modeling paste, creative ideas, and much more. So we were off. Four students learned to combine the paste, tinted with paint, along with stamps to create backgrounds on cardstock. We then added stamped images, sayings, and some messy stitching to complete the graffiti-style note cards.


The girl images are stamped, using Dina Wakely rubber stamps, either directly on the background, or onto cardstock, and then cut out and applied. The messy stitching details are added last. The machine does go nicely through the dried paste, though it slowed a little where it was especially thick. The card on the left is still in need of a saying. The envelope on the right is one Jill gave me after using it to demonstrate ink pads applied through sequin waste (punchinella), and spatter painting to add further interest to our designs.

DSCN4005 - CopyDSCN4002 - Copy

We were happily elbow deep in all the class supplies, and gave it all our spontaneous best. I still have traces of paint and ink left on my hands the day after, despite a thorough scrubbing. I forgot to bring barrier hand cream with me which really helps with clean up. This is an over-the-shoulder view of one of my classmate's work.


After creating three of the notecards, I spent some time stamping and creating elements that I can combine with other images for furture cards. It’s always fun to use others’ stamps that I don’t have at home. It's kind of like other people's fabric scraps- always more interesting than my own.

DSCN4015 - Copy

These are a few of the girls, and envelope embellishments I’ll incorporate. I can hardly wait to see what they will become! By the way, I photographed these cards on a beautiful piece of hand-painted fabric I won from the 100th post on Sonja Hagemann Designs blog. It's just lovely, and I'm not sure yet what it's going to become either.

DSCN4001 - Copy
DSCN4004 - Copy

And here’s a glimpse of Jill’s teaching station with a few more of the sayings and images she demonstrated. The four hours of our class flew by, and I still needed to shop. The clearance corner yielded up a few treasures, and I got a small  Gelli plate for printing on paper and fabric plus a couple of gift items. This shop is worth a visit if you get to central Florida. All in all, this was a productve and creatively satisfying day. I hope to take more classes from Tweety Jill- she’s great fun and her ideas flow non-stop.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Here, there, and practically everywhere…


That's where I seem to have been. September into October has been a rather chaotic time for us with our daughter’s move from New York, and things are just starting to settle down. All of which means that I’ve not spent a lot of time sewing and crafting. But I’ve spent a little time … which is a great help to keep me in balance. This fish is a collage project made by my quilting friend Joanne who joined my guild for a 3-day quilt retreat the week following the two spent on the road with the big move. The fish is a bit collaborative as she invited all of us to add refinement and details to the piece. She left the workroom and we really got into it, cutting small motifs from everyone's fabrics and jazzing up her fish. Joanne and I used to work at a magazine together so I told her we wanted to give her something to edit! She had to travel back to PA, but she’s already reassembling the fish and will share a photo when it’s complete. I got several quilt projects moved along toward completion, but nothing fully done. It felt good to hear the hum of the sewing machines and conversations in the workroom though. I find that very soothing.

cat bed

One project I did complete at home is a pet bed for the local animal shelter. Our guild makes dog beds and cat hammocks, filling them with fabric and batting scraps. I had placed this one on the floor to fluff and redistribute the filling evenly. Look who had to take it for a test drive! Lily gives it two claws up.


This post seems to be the all-animal, food, and travel edition. With some cooler fall weather, we took a bike ride in Melrose, a lovely community not far from here. There are several galleries, and a new one called Artisans Way had this Blues Brothers display on the lawn. Clever and eye-catching.


And look- the building fell on the witch! Those ruby slippers are mine for the taking. This was an interesting place with lots of lovely jewelry and art pieces. A return visit is on my agenda.


I’m not sure if this looks as appealing as I found it, but lunch was an unusual and very tasty combo of smoked salmon and asparagus in a wrap with black beans and rice at Blue Water Grill in Melrose. Yummy.


Another nearby place I visited recently is Crone’s Cradle Conserve, a sustainable ecological preserve and organic farm. They hold festivals a couple of times a year and feature local produce and foods. I’d been meaning to visit for several years, but was previously put off by the l-o-o-n-g drive down a narrow sandy track to reach them. But the drive was worth it. Tours of the farm and greenhouse were available along with a buffet of foods like goat, wild hog, gator, vegetarian dishes, desserts, and herb iced teas. Visitors bought a ticket for each dish we wanted to try.


I have lived in Florida for awhile, but had yet to try gator meat. So here is my gator kabob. Ummm… tastes like chicken? Actually it does. It’s very mild, though a bit chewy. I left, picking gator from my teeth. Better than the other way around, right? Because they are eco-friendly, the staff served meals on glass plates, with real sliverware, offered beverages in mason jars, and used bandannas for napkins. A pretty presentation, and a very interesting place.


Jake the resident cat kept me company on the adjacent chair while I ate, and never requested any gator.


Here’s another reason I sometimes find it difficult to get things done- my "helpers". Scooter is resting on the fabric, and Lily on the cutting instructions. Both love to maintain a paws-on approach to my projects.


Joanne and I also spent a day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park when I picked her up in Orlando, and I was reminded of the Tibetan tradition of prayer flags, and how I need to make some more. They are small and satisfying projects to just get my hands on fabrics and try interesting new techniques.


We were fortunate to get a look at this gorilla crossing the stream on a fallen log. He was quite entertaining. By the time Joanne got her camera ready, he was showing his backside to everyone! She got a great shot- ha! Back to more quilting and journaling soon I hope.