Friday, July 31, 2015

Word Scarves

So I had this idea.

One set of my new cardboard cutouts.
Actually, lately, I've had lots and lots of ideas.  Which I am very grateful for.  Because nothing makes me feel more alive than when my creative juices are a-flowing.

As you know, I've been working on felted scarves.  Lots of felted scarves - cobweb scarves, nuno scarves, pre-felted scarves.  In working with the pre-felts, I had this idea to make "word scarves."  Cutting out letters from prefelt and adding it to the scarves.

My favorite word.  The letters are about 3 inches tall, perfect size to show up well on a scarf.
So I ordered four different fonts and sizes of cardboard alphabets.  Last night, I cut out bunches of words and shapes.  In several different colors.

These symbols will be great in an abstract design.
Using the prefelts made everything easy to cut out.  

funky circles
It'll also make it easy to felt.  

I've seen several examples of abstract inspired scarves that I just think are amazing.  
Klimt inspired scarf by Pam DeGroot
Adding words will be my twist on that.  Sound cool?  I can just see a scarf featuring a favorite quote or poem.  Maybe mixed with flowers or paisleys or spirals or...

That's my kind of art.

Once the weather cools down a bit, I'll get some scarves made and post the results.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Allegan Antique Market

J and I spent Sunday at the Allegan Antique Market.  Held the last Sunday of the month during the summer, it's a great place to shop for unusual items.

Coin purses, about 5" by 5"
We haven't been able to go for the past few years.  But J was looking for an antique egg crate for her supervising professor, as a thank you for successfully guiding her through her MA degree in Anthropology/Archeology.  (Yay, J!)  I'm always on the hunt for embroidered, mirrored fabric pieces.  And, of course, we both love a good jewelry find.

A quilted scrap and a small purse
Right away, I found four fabric pieces.  And, marked at $3 and $4, what a great find.  The large mirrors on the coin purses are old and very heavy.  The quilted scrap is all silk, perfect to put into felting.  In fact, all of these pieces will end up in scarves or shawls, I think.  If my idea on how to do this works out.

Heavy resin trinkets
These little fifty cent trinkets will work perfectly in embroidery pieces.  I've been wanting to do a bunny necklace with lots of flowers.  I'm inspired by the rabbit living in our garden, who has so far eluded all of the cats and the dog by hiding in the center of the moon garden.  So, coming soon - a bunny necklace with a moon and lots of bright pink and yellow flowers.

Odds and ends - old earrings, buttons, and a barrette.
Not sure what the above will turn in to.  I think I'll add enamel paint to the stars.  That gold is pretty shiny.  The gray cameo is fairly large.  I think I might use it as a mold, especially for the center image.  The buttons are pretty cool.  It's so rare to find little boys included in pieces.  Price - $10 for all.

I just love this mixed media heart.  While hearts aren't my favorite design element, this will be fun to work with.  One side is copper, cut into strips.  The other side, I'm not sure.  I think it's resin within the frame, covering some fabric scraps.  Pretty cool at any price, but especially $6.

Enameled dragonfly.  Not old but very cool.
Needing a break from the masses of people milling around in 90 degree heat (with 60+% humidity, yuck), we headed into the barns.  No air-conditioning but lots and lots of jewelry vendors. 

Sparkly rose and a bright orange bloom. 
The smartest vendor at the fair had a large horseshoe shaped display of lots and lots of costume and vintage jewelry, with FANS all over her display.  Not only did the sparkly wonders make people stop to look, the cool breeze kept 'em looking.

My favorites of the days - a gorgeous leaf and a lily of the valley brooch.
We spent a bit of money here.  And time, looking at everything.  While I could have easily spent $500 instead of $70, I'm excited about the pieces I got.  The dragonfly will go in an embroidered collar piece.  The sparkly rose will be the centerpiece of a felted collar.  I'm going to mix the orange posy with other flowers in a big collar piece, maybe adding the leaf to this.  The lily of the valley brooch - well, I might just have to hang onto this for a bit and enjoy it myself.  It is my favorite flower, after all.

We also talked to the vendor about taking her broken bits and pieces off her hands.  In October, we'll go visit her shop.  That should be fun!

In three weeks, we'll head back to the fairgrounds, for the Michigan Fiber Festival.  Yippee!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Design Inspiration - Doilies

Since coming across a basket of my Grandma M's doilies at my aunt's estate sale, I've been collecting bunches whenever I run across them. 

So many doilies.  So many ideas.

Usually, I can pick them up for a dollar or two, depending on the size and fanciness.  I think I'll be able to incorporate them in my felting and beaded belts. 

Wouldn't this be cool in a window?  Or as a room divider.
I've dyed a few doilies, little ones.  Made of cotton, they take dye really well.  But, I admit, I'm partial to the white ones.  There's just something so elegant about them.

Love this.  I might have to make one.  Or more.

Doilies are so versatile.  Grandma used them under everything.  Even the ruffly ones that made your drink glass fall over.

Love this!  You could put any color behind it, to match decor.
I think part of why I love doilies is because they remind me of spirals, my favorite design symbol.  And, the fact that they're handmade.  By lots and lots of people, of all ages and all backgrounds.

A pillowcase!
So simple.  Yet so complicated.  Like any good piece of art.

This might be overkill on the use of doilies.  But can you imagine it at night, lit up?
Now, if only my fingers liked to crochet.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Dreaming Dreams, Setting Goals

I've actually had time this summer to be a bit reflective.  I've been thinking lots about my life: places I've lived, people I've known, things I've accomplished. 

And I've realized that the saying, "Your thoughts create things" is really very true.

Here's the next thing I'm creating: a studio.

From my Pinterest pages, of course.  Not sure my neighbors would appreciate the colorfulness of this, though.
Actually, I dream about tearing down the garage and getting one of those 14 x 30 foot sheds put in its place.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  

A general idea, but with more, bigger windows.
I'm using the garage right now, for my felting when it's too windy to be in the garden.  Those little wisps of roving are not wind-friendly.  It works.  I've got things organized so I can move around.  But, it's ugly.  Lots of junk in the garage, lots of boxes.  And a distinct odor of animal.  Probably bigger than a mouse or chipmunk.  Maybe dead.  Maybe not.

Not exactly creativity inspiring.

So, I dream.

Pinterest, again.  A bit too opulent, possibly.  But charming.
I dream of a space that's big enough to stretch out in, to contain all of the projects I have in mind.  A space where I can leave project out on the table.  Where I can have a design desk, a picture window big enough to take advantage of the garden view.  A place I can go putter in, during the middle of the night, without waking everyone up.

How fun is this!  Not big enough, though.
 I'm practical.  I have an 800 square foot house.  While I'm not a pack rat, J is.  Part of the studio would have to be storage.  And, I need to repave the driveway.  And, I'm not even sure we'll be living here this time next year (job changes, possibly).

But, THIS.  This is the studio I want:

Mine.  Please.
I even love the colors.

Of course, this outside studio isn't too bad either.  Provided there's no wind.

Backyard garden, mid June.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Glass Garden

We've been working on a big custom order for one of our favorite accounts, Glass Garden.

Sample of one of Glass Garden's wire worked pendants
We met Kathy and Mark at a show last winter.  Great people.  Great glass.

Love this bracelet!
We've been adding beaded bezels to some of the cabochons.  So much fun, especially to work with such gorgeous colors.

A piece of Glass Garden dichroic glass that we purchased years ago, before meeting up again at another show.
About five years ago, we bought some dicro cabs from Glass Garden.  We had the last two pieces in the winter show.  Kathy and Mark were in a booth nearby, and recognized their work.  

Another piece from a few years ago.
So glad we met up again!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I've had several nice Etsy sales in the last week.  Good news.

I think it helps that I just relisted a bunch of stuff.  Pieces that were out in galleries that came back unsold.  Pieces that I've finished recently.

Two of the pieces that sold were designs I put together a few years ago, which then got pushed to the waiting pile as I worked on other stuff.

Recently purchased
The above piece is a cool chunk of ceramic I found years ago in an antique shop (I think in Vegas).  I've had it in a baggie with these chunks of turquoise for quite a while.

I think I've written before about how I work in batches.  About 3-4 times a year, I spend a few days putting together LOTS of designs.  All sorts of designs, from big collar pieces to simple cabs.  I glue everything down (527 glue - the best), then separate out the pieces I want to felt.  The "to be felted" pieces go in a separate bin, waiting for the days when I just need to stab a sharp needle into something.  Bead embroidery pieces go in another bin.

And then I start working on the pile.

The other piece that's headed to Alaska.
Right now, I've got about 80 designs in waiting.  And about 50 felted bracelets.  And a big order of dichroic glass bezeling that needs to go out ASAP.  And two really really cool collar pieces to put straps on.  And about 30 necklaces to felt and 25-30 belts to felt.  Not to mention all the nuno scarves.

It helps to have piles.  I find that once I "see" the design of a piece, I rarely forget what I wanted to do with it.  Even if it's years later.  (The above pieces are examples.)  But to set up designs, I have to be in the right head space.  I kinda zone out, move stuff around, wait for that creative "click," and then move on to the next design.

When all I want to do is bead or felt, it's great to be able to reach into the design bins, pull out a few projects, and go to work.  When I have a pile of 9-15 designs done, I start edging. Then, I have a little wooden box (about 4x6x6) that I put pieces in, waiting to be strapped.

Once a piece is strapped, it makes it to the photo shoot pile (which never ever ever seems to disappear).  I tend to shoot pictures and do Etsy listings all on the same day.  Hence the 9-15 at a time.  

Also headed to Alaska.  It started out as an earring design, but then I changed my mind.
So, sometimes a piece doesn't make it to the top of the design pile and gets mixed in with new design ideas.  I'm excited that these newly completed pieces found their home so quickly.  It shows me that the designs are on the right track and that good things come to those who wait.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Day Lilies

Out of sorrow comes beauty.

That's what I was reminded of today.  Mom and J and I went to Hickory Haven Daylily Farm this morning for their annual lily sale.  The owner, Anna, goes to Mom's church.

One of the many lily plots,
Anna's husband Steve cultivated the lilies in the garden for 35 years, developing many new kinds.  In March, he passed away from liver cancer.

If I remember right, this bloom is about 7-8 inches across, with multiple buds on each stem.
Yet, Steve's presence was everywhere amongst the flowers.  

Like this little guy, just hanging out.
His wife greeted everyone who came.  His sons and nephews and nieces dug up and cleaned the lilies as people waited in the gorgeous gardens scattered around the house and grounds.  Two golden retrievers also welcomed everyone and went from person to person, spreading the love.

And his flowers scented the picture-perfect summer day.

Lilies, everywhere. 
I bet there were over 300 different types of lilies, most in bloom.  Just a riot of color, accented by a veggie garden, multiple perennial plots, big maples and oaks, and a cornfield in the background.

Magenta and lime green!
As I sat on one of the many benches scattered amongst the garden, I was struck by how life goes on.  Maybe we're lucky and we make things that live on after us - children, flowers, jewelry.  But really the things are just placeholders for the love that was there.

Coral with a touch of yellow
As I waited for my lilies to be dug up, I watched people interact.  A teenage son being pulled into a hug by his mother, laughing together.  Steve and Anna's grandsons - maybe 3 and 4 years old, being taught how to dig up plants by their dad.  My mom, talking quietly with Anna and another church friend whose husband also died this spring.  People of all ages walking through the gardens, gently touching blooms as they made their choices.


That's what I noticed.  More than the world keeps turning through an endless cycle of birth and life and death and rebirth, there is resilience.

I think this might be my favorite.  At least of the pictures that J took.  :)
Life does go on, to bloom again and again and again.  And I'm so grateful to have flowers like this to light the way.
At the entrance to the backyard garden.
J and I brought home 26 different types of lilies.  Twenty-six!  And this barely makes a scratch on all of the ones available.  These will make a beautiful display next summer, and even a few this fall.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Good Medicine

Laughter.  Joy.  Wind.  Red.  Looking to the horizon.

A camel?

“And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet, and the winds long to play with your hair.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Days, Twelve Scarves

Michigan finally decided that nice weather would be good.  Mid 70s, no wind, mostly sunny.  Perfect felting in the garden weather.


Mama, modeling her first scarf of the day.
I made two scarves on Friday.  One mottled with blues and purples, one similar to Mom's above, only using a piece of a cream colored sari and light pink roving.  (Sorry, no pics of those, mostly 'cause I'm too tired to go out in the garage, bring 'em in, and shoot pictures.)

I made two scarves on Saturday.  One is not at all what I was going for and will get torn apart/reworked into something else.  I was going for ruffles and instead got a mess.  But at least I think I know where I went wrong.

The other one, using a piece of teal sari, will be a practice piece for some of the embroidery I want to do.  I think it's fixable.

Sunday, Mom and J joined me in the scarf making.  Mom and J each made one for themselves (of course), then six more for sale.

Mom, modeling "hers."  This will go great with her red winter coat.
Once we got a rhythm going, the process went pretty fast.  Or at least it seemed fast, 'cause we were laughing and joking and talking to each other and the wrens in the pine tree next to where the tables were set up.  Oh, I love those wrens.

And my day's helpers.

This one is J's.  Very understated colors - pinks, purples, touches of green, yellow and blue.  Perfectly square and even edges.  Of course.
We stuck with cobweb scarves today, since there was a touch of wind.  Anything fancier and we would have had roving all over the yard.  Plus, the cobweb scarves will be a perfect weight for summer/early fall nights.

I think this one looks tye-dyed.  And it's SO soft!
Love the color mix of this, as well.  Great year-round colors.
J fixed us a wonderful dinner - ribs and smashed potato salad.  I was whipped, with all the running back and forth for supplies, with setting everything up.  But energizer bunny Mom said "One more!"  She might be 78, but she's no slacker, that Mama.

This is a paler yellow than it looks here, with touches of white sparkle woven in.
So, we did two more.  And, honestly, I think these turned out the prettiest.  The yellow, above.  And this, which I think looks like a cloud.  Perfectly cobwebby.

I'll try to do more pictures of this beauty, once it's fully dry.
Sometimes, lots of time, simple is best.

These scarves are all pretty simple.  I look at LOTS of samples on Pinterest and Etsy.  And while I look forward to doing fancier pieces, I think these simple scarves will go over really well in this area of fairly conservative dressers.

Most of these are headed to Flat River Gallery (Lowell, MI) on Tuesday, along with some new beadwork.  Our beadwork has done really well there since the beginning of the year.  I'm hoping that these will, too.

On Wednesday, we'll start working on stock for September shows.  Busy busy busy.  And very very blessed.  I am treasuring this time with Mom and J.  

Life is good.