Puff, Puff, I'm Getting There

1/29/2011 03:01:00 PM Edit This 15 Comments »
Here's number 5 in the Mobile 2 project.  This is a puffer fish.  Here's what I know about them (not much).  They are, "chiefly tropical bony fishes which can distend themselves to a globular form and most of which are highly poisonous -- also called blowfish or globefish".  This according to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition.  Now don't get me wrong - I don't want the babe to have anything to do with poisonous fishes, But, the idea of a fish that can turn itself into a balloon appealed to me.  I also had these bright pink fabrics that I wanted to use in the mobile.

As for the construction of this little devil, I can say without any reservation that it is, indeed poisonous.  Here's the thing.  I found it quite challenging to construct a sphere.  The pieces that connect the top and bottom of the fish are shaped like footballs.  I had a very difficult time getting the points to meld into the seams joining them together.  After futzing with them for quite awhile and ripping out many a seam, I ended up sort of repairing and redoing them by hand after the whole thing was put together.  I'm not entirely happy with the outcome, but I'm satisfied enough to Let It Be (a John Lennon song, and the babe's middle name will be Lennon). 

So, time to meet Tetraodontidae (the one other thing I learned from the dictionary!)

A Star Is Born

1/27/2011 05:28:00 PM Posted In Edit This 12 Comments »
Nope, that doesn't mean the new baby has arrived!  It means that I've finished another little critter for the mobile!  This one is a starfish.  I made it out of felt and again, the whole thing is hand sewn.   Like the seahorse, I stuffed its points as I went along.  I was pretty sure that if I got the whole thing together except for a little "stuffing slit", it would be a devil of a job to get the stuffing into all those points.  Doing it as I went along made the stuffing process quite easy.

It measures 5 inches tip to tip.   The beads are sewn on, but I think I'm going to back and put a wee dab of glue under each one just to be sure it's safe.  The thing is, I know by doing that I'm risking ruining the whole thing, but what the heck - I have more felt!  So, without further ado, here it is!

Sea Turtle

1/23/2011 11:49:00 AM Edit This 15 Comments »
Critter number three is finished!  It is a sea turtle made of felt and cotton.  Everything but the head is felt, and the head is a cotton print.  He measures about 7 inches, stem to stern.  There were some definite challenges in his construction, but all in all, he wasn't very difficult to make. 

The pattern stitching on the top shell was a bit tricky.  Part of the problem was finding something to use to mark the pattern that would show up on the felt.  The fuzziness of the material rendered my usual fabric marking tools useless.  I considered basting the whole pattern by hand with a single strand of sewing thread, but decided that since the zig-zag stitching was so narrow and fine, I would have a devil of a time either completely covering the basting with the machine stitching or removing it later without disturbing the sewn pattern.  I tried one of my Prismacolor pencils, but no luck.  I ended up using a pastel pencil which I licked from time to time to make it leave a relatively bright, white, line ... (sorry for the yuck factor, but  the truth is not always pretty).  Once I had that done, making the other body parts was a snap. 

Now came the really hard part..... assembling it.  Here the problem was the thickness I had to sew through.   There were 4 layers of felt to get through for each leg and also the tail.  Since the sewing had to be done so close to the edge (leaving little tolerance for error), and since it had to be done by machine in order to maintain some semblance of the shell pattern, it wasn't easy and I'm not completely satisfied with the results, but I'm leaving it as it is.  I don't really think I can improve on it with my current skills and tools.  And besides, continuous ripping out of seams renders the felt pretty worn and used looking.

Now one last thing.  Logically this turtle should have its hanging filament (I'm using clear fishing line) in the center of the top shell.  But, if you're a baby on your back looking up at it, the sight would be pretty boring.  So, I'm thinking I'll hang it by the nose or by the tail.  That way as it spins, all sides will be visible.  What do you think?  Good idea or not?  Here's 3 views - top, side, and bottom to help you make up your mind.


1/20/2011 07:45:00 AM Posted In , Edit This 19 Comments »
We had a busy, fun, weekend with the visit of long-time friends.  They came to the local Bed and Breakfast to stay (our house), and stayed Sat. and Sunday nites.  We stayed up late (for us), ate and laughed and ate some more.  On Sunday we went into Ann Arbor to meet their son and daughter in law to celebrate a birthday.  We ate at an Ethiopian restaurant which I had been wanting to try for years.  It was a most interesting place inside - hand-painted light fixtures, native art on the walls, "basket" tables, and very intriguing food.  Our server wore what I assume to be an Ethiopian dress, and she looked quite charming.  We had a great time!  An added bonus was the discovery of a chocolate shop where all the chocolate is made right there on the premises.  Of course I had to get some.  I have 1 piece left that I so want to eat, but then it will be Gone!!  lol

Needless to say, I didn't do anything on the mobile, but last nite I finished the seahorse (I think).  It's made of suede, and the entire thing is hand-stitched.  Now it's true that it isn't very big, but sewing something this small took me quite awhile to do, and stuffing it  (I had to stuff it as I went along, rather than wait until the whole thing was finished) was a bit of a challenge as well.  I waited too long to begin stuffing the tail, and couldn't quite get the stuffing right into the end of it, but I decided that was going to be OK.  When I finished sewing and stuffing it, I decided to put some beads on it.  That's the part I'm not sure I'm finished with.  I rather like the simplicity of it, but I also have a nagging sense that its poor tail needs a bit of embellishment.  I'm thinking of maybe putting a line of the little green beads on it.  I think I might also put a single bead in each of the curvy things on the top of its head.  What do you think?

Oh, and for some reason, every photo I took is a bit blurry, so I finally said, "what the heck!" and moved on!  Anyhow, here she is!

Mobile 2 Part 1

1/11/2011 08:31:00 PM Edit This 16 Comments »
I stayed home today because I was a tad under the weather (as some of you know, Tuesday is my day to work at the Health Dept).  I tried to just lay low, but being a rather high energy person, I had a hard time doing that.  So, among a few other little things, I made the first item for the "Undersea Mobile" for my grandson-to-be.  It's a fish. 

I chose a rather fancy brocade fabric to make it out of which was both good news and bad.  I'll start with the bad news, so I can end on a positive note.  I knew this, but conveniently forgot about it when starting this little guy.  Brocade fabric shreds like crazy when it's cut.   Also, I couldn't find my pinking shears, which would have really come in handy.   In addition, I couldn't find any new sewing machine needles, although I'm positive I have some.  I'm not an expert sewer (that's SO-ER, not sooer,) so even if I had found the needles, I wouldn't have known if they were the proper ones to use on  brocade.  But, I digress.  Anyhow, after cutting it out, I zigzagged the edges, then assembled it.  The first thing I did was put the fins in the wrong place, so I had to use a seam ripper to get them out.  A seam ripper on brocade isn't the easiest tool to use - the brocade wants to shred.    After a long time (with somewhat impaired vision, I might add), I got them both out and put them back in again - this time in the right place.  I then sewed together the two sides of the fish, only to discover that the opening I left to turn it right side out was actually the place where the tail was supposed to go, and I had sewed closed the opening which was supposed to be used for the turning.  Of course, the hole I left wasn't wide enough for the tail, so more seam ripping was needed to insert the tail.  Then, the whole thing was sewn closed, so once again, I had to rip apart a bit of the seam to turn it right side out! 

Now for the good news!  I turned that baby right side out, first sewed on the eyes and then glued them just to be sure they wouldn't come off, stuffed it, and sewed it closed.  I liked it!!  Then my sweetie came home.  I showed it to him.  After admiring it for a second or two, he said,  "It's eyes look a little creepy to me!".    I don't care one wee bit - I think it's cute!

What a Day!

1/10/2011 09:27:00 AM Posted In Edit This 12 Comments »
I wish you could see what it's like outside here today.  Besides the lovely snow, there's a beautiful coating of hoarfrost on everything.  It looks like every twig, berry, needle and leaf was magically crystallized during the night.  When the sun hits it, it's just dazzling.  It's like being in fairyland.  I'm not really sure what makes it happen, but my guess is that there was fog in the night and the cold temperature made it freeze.  However, what I really think happens is that the Queen of the Fairies passed thru and waved her magic wand, and voila - a magical, crystal, garden!

Yesterday, being Sunday, meant football games on television.  I'm not very interested in it (although, I must admit the game between Green Bay and Philadelphia was pretty exciting at times, even to someone like me who knows almost nothing about sports).  So, while my sweetie and Abby, our dog, watched the game, I did a couple of sketches during the short time I was there with them.  They're nothing special, but I'm pleased that I spent some time, however briefly, doing a bit of sketching.

The angel on the left is quite folksy with her mismatched wings and ropey hair.   We got her years ago as a replacement for the rickety silver Christmas tree star, but our sons, who were boys at the time, complained loudly and wanted the star back.  They are now grown men, and we're still using that tired, falling-apart star on the tree.   The one on the right is kind of elegant.  She is made of quite fancy material - the stripes are metallic, and her face is a piece of ultra-suede  with the features drawn on with ink.  She used to belong to my sweetie's mother, and I love her.

I hope your day is filled with beauty and magic!

The Waiting Room

1/07/2011 05:02:00 PM Edit This 19 Comments »
I had a wonderful time with my friend, Vicki, today.  We went to Ann Arbor to Hollanders (Vicki, are you proud of me?  I did this link all by myself!).  For those of you who don't know, Hollanders is a wonderful paper store that sells the most amazing papers, and they teach a myriad of book-making classes as well.  Vicki and I have taken some together, and we're planning on taking another one in March. 

After lunch we  went to a store that sells Stuff.  I know, that's  a bit vague, but you just never know what will be there.  For $11 I got 4 handmade book covers just waiting for the signatures to be put in,  1/2" of 8.5 x 11" paper suitable for making signatures, a beautiful 8 x 10 box covered with handmade paper, a pack of blank notecards with envelopes which can be drawn on,  a fold-it-yourself envelope made of handmade paper which I will use as a template, a large piece of suede to use for making books, 6 upholstery fabric samples, also for making books, a bag of wine corks to give to a friend who makes trivets out of them, a little bag of various seashells, and 4 large, colored, wooden beads which I may use on the baby's mobile!  Whew!!

Next we went to the Salvation Army where I spent $3 on 3 hardcover books which have cool covers that someday I hope to turn into books.   What a haul! 

The very best thing I got today, though, was the gift of laughter..... and while it cost nothing, it was priceless!

So, the only art I have to share is the wee drawings I did yesterday while waiting for my blood to be drawn.  I have a little sketchbook in my purse that I only use when I'm waiting.  Most of the drawings were done in medical waiting rooms.  I've had the same book for many years (I don't spend a lot of time in places like that), but I do love doing the rapid sketches, never knowing when my model or I will be called in.  So, here they are..... BTW, the guy with the ponytail was done at a different time, but I discovered  a blank page that needed to be filled.  You may have seen him before!

Mobile 1 to Mobile 2

1/06/2011 02:48:00 PM Edit This 13 Comments »
Two and a half years ago when our wonderful grandson CC was born, I made a mobile to hang above his bed.  I made 5 little animals out of felt, then decorated an embroidery hoop and fixed a hanger of some sort to the top ... I forgot what I used.  Anyhow, since the mobile is in Nashville and I'm here in the Mitten, I went looking for any pictures of it in order to get some idea of how I did it.  The reason I need to know is that sometime around March 1, we will become grandparents again (yippee), and I've been asked to make another one for the new baby boy.  They asked me to use an underwater theme this time!

I have some ideas about what and how I'm going to make the critters, but I wanted to see what I did to assemble it all the last time.   I thought you might be interested to see what the first one looks like, and when I finish the next one, I'll give you a look at that one too - (first I have to start it ... good plan, don't you think?).

So, here's a couple of pictures of it.  Ironically, I still can't see what I did at the very top of it, but there's enough there that I'm sure it won't be too difficult.... I probably shouldn't have said that last thing - you know how that goes - it's like inviting trouble!

This time I'm going to use a larger hoop so they're not quite so crowded together.  What do you think? 


1/04/2011 08:37:00 PM Edit This 10 Comments »
On Tuesdays I volunteer for our County Health Department.  My job is fun ... I answer the phones, direct people who come in to the proper places, and sometimes they give me simple assignments to do.   None of the assignments are technical or difficult, but they can be very time consuming for the staff which is working with limited resources and a very limited number of employees. 

Today I got up at 4:00 and did a number of things here at home before I got ready to go to play.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I have a very hard time keeping up with my email - right now I have 89 unread emails, and that's after spending about an hour going thru them just before I started this post.  Most of them come from one of my favorite online art groups (Everyday Matters ... I was going to post the link, but it took up 3 lines!!) and consist of very wonderful and interesting links to blogs which I love to read.  My good friend, Vicki, somehow manages to do it all, but  I just keep falling further and further behind.  OK, enough about that ...

After I got home, had dinner, got the car loaded  with the recyclables (together with my sweetie) which I will drop off tomorrow, cleaned up the kitchen and walked the dog, I did 2 quick contour drawings.  I know - they're not much, but it was really all I could manage, and I'm determined to do better at both regular drawing (or whatever) and posting to my blog. 

So, without further ado, here they are .... now I'm off to take a nice, warm, bath!

Happy New Year

1/03/2011 02:46:00 PM Posted In Edit This 21 Comments »
It's been way too long since I've posted, and I've missed it.  Well, it isn't just the posting I've missed, it's all of you.  I've also greatly missed  playing with art.  But, I'm back, I'm in fairly fine fettle, and I'm ready to move along the path of creativity once again.

I'm getting back in the groove of exercising (I didn't stop using my treadmill,  I just haven't been doing it as regularly as I want need to).  I used to go to a Yoga class regularly, but for a variety of reasons (including the fact that my teacher is now 45 minutes away) I stopped doing it.  Today, however, I ordered a Yoga DVD which is supposed to arrive tomorrow, and I'm really looking forward to starting to do it again!

We were blessed to have our whole family together for Christmas again this year, and being with our wonderful grandson was a true gift.   He'll be 3 in April and  is more interesting and more fun the older he gets.   They live over 9 hours away, and it's just Too Far!  I cried off and on the whole day they left, including laughing and crying at the same time that night when our son called to say they'd arrived home safely.  We'll see them when our new grandson-to-be is born (due March 1).  We'll drive down as soon as labor begins and scoop up our little darling to wait with him for his brother to be born.

So, here are 3 sketches I did of my right hand.  I find hands very difficult to draw ...... who am I kidding?  I find everything hard to draw! 

I wish each and every one of you the very best for the coming year .... peace, health, and happiness!