Wednesday, August 29, 2007


As usual, I'm overextended. I think my ADHD side does this to me on purpose to watch me run around in a panic. It seems like the busier I am at work, the more I need to work on craft projects to offset it.

And of course, when it runs, it pours. The grandbaby started school again this week, and we've all been scrambling to get everything in order and get into our routine. And my son asked me to keep his little shih-tzu, Coco, for a couple of weeks, since he's in housing transition. I'm crazy about her, but she's on my heels every second of the day and keeps me awake at night.

With the triple tasks of the job, my work, and home, I'm just feeling frazzled and overwhelmed. Here are a couple of things I've been working on this week:

I'm taking an online course at Quilt U on Landscape Quilts, so I painted these fabrics for practice:
Our instructor had an excellent tip for fabric painting: cover a board with contact paper, which I did. Typically, I try to paint on a plastic garbage bag, and the fabric ends up slipping and sliding. So then I have to iron the fabric onto freezer paper and all that mess. With this method, I covered a piece of foam core board with contact paper, and started out pinning the fabrics to the board. When I forgot to pin it and realized the fabric didn't slide, I was thrilled! After painting, I can carry the board outside and lay the fabric in the grass to dry. I used Setacolor for these (with a little Jacquard Dynaflo or Lumiere sprinkled on there and there). I was out of a couple of colors and didn't have to time to run out and buy more, so I worked here with what I had. I particularly like the salted piece (3rd from the left). The second lesson is available today, and while I'm anxious to learn how to use these fabrics to create quilted landscapes, I'm going to resist the urge to work on Lesson 2 until I've completed some other things.

The next project almost didn't happen. A couple of weeks ago, I pulled a fabric postcard out of the mailbox. It was beautiful, and I was excited because I've never received a fabric postcard before. But I was also puzzled; who sent this? Maybe it was the woman who so kindly offered to copy some polymer clay information from a book and mail it to me. In exchange, I sent her a little goodie bag with some fabric and paper snippets, a glass, copper-foiled pendant I had made, and some embellishments. I read the back of the postcard and realized that it wasn't the same woman. The message said something about looking forward to seeing my cards. I tried for a week to figure out what she was talking about; the only swap I had signed up for was a 3x3 collage swap that was due mid-September. I went through every email list I'm on, every Yahoo group, every notation on my calendar, and finally decided she was talking about the 3x3 swap.

In the meantime, I was doing some cleanup on my websites and Etsy store, and I thought I better double-check the email address I have listed with Etsy. I remembered that I had set up a new email address, which I hadn't checked in a long while (fortunately, I hadn't had any recent purchases at the Etsy store!). So I logged in, checked my email under that address, and saw pages and pages of messages about the fabric postcard group I had signed up for and completely forgotten about. DOH.

The postcards aren't due until November, but they've already started rolling in, and I figured it was best to get them done before my Quilt U class starts, which is much more intensive and time consuming. I had a small art quilt that just wasn't working, and so I had cut it up into pieces. One of the pieces became the design inspiration for my fabric postcards. Here is a completed card; 7 down, only 17 more to go!

The other project I may try to tackle this weekend is the 3x3 collage swap. Collage is not my strong suit, and I'm not sure why I signed up for this swap, unless it was to push myself (or punish myself!). The design process has been weighing on my mind. I'm not a design-in-advance person; I need to get started on the work, and the design comes out of the process. I know the pieces will take shape when I sit down to do them, but in the meantime they're nagging at me and I'd just as soon send them packing.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Loose Ends

This has been a weekend to finish some of the projects I had underway. I've been working on a fabric book for a while now--bits and pieces here and there, and it's finally finished. Most of it looks like hell, but I liked this project because early on I picked the theme of October, my favorite month. It actually took much more time and work than I expected, but it was fun. I don't think I'll be making any more of these, but you never know. Scroll down to the "From the Pasture" post on this page for more information about these fabric books.
The other project I've been working on for a while is this assemblage piece, called House of My Muse:


Yes, it's true, I did allow myself to be dragged (with only minimal kicking and screaming) to Galveston for a brief vacation with our wonderful friends, Denise & Mac. And, as always, I was very happy to get away once I remembered how to relax.

Of course, I realized the night before we left that I didn't have an appropriate tote bag to carry along all my art supplies, so I whipped one up. Fortunately, I had already created the block for the front of the bag, and it was just waiting to be put to use.

I hate the beach & water at Galveston; it's on a sandbar, so the water is brown and sea-weedy and the beaches are ugly. But I felt an incredible pull to the town itself; I love the houses, the feel of the island, the proximity to the water. And Moody Gardens was fabulous. I now have tons of sea-life photos from the aquarium to play with and turn into . . . quilts? glass projects? mixed media works? Who knows?

Anyway, I've posted more pics on Flickr--just a few. I have to find time to go through the digital images and resize and clean them up.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

From the Pasture

moooooooo . . .

My Moo cards have arrived from across the pond! They're every bit as wonderful as people say. I love the quality, the texture, the crispness of the text on the back, and the fact that I chose the pictures--pictures I had taken of my own work. I can't wait to start passing them out, and I seriously doubt that this will be my last order!

And no, I don't know why they're called Moo cards. But I do where you can get a set of your own:, of course.

On the work front, my job is still eating my brain, but I've decided I can't let that stop me anymore from working on my projects. I've fallen off my routine of devoting an hour every morning to arts and crafts, and it shows in my stress level (not to mention my crankiness level). Once that decision was made, though, I was having trouble with an even harder one: what to work on. So, I decided to weed out some of my recorded craft shows, instead.

The bad thing about a DVR is that it's really easy to record stuff. Lots of stuff. More stuff than I'll ever have time to watch. Even when I do have time to watch the hundreds of craft shows I record every day (ok, really only about 5 a day, but it might as well be 100 if I don't have time to watch them), I can't bring myself to erase anything because I MIGHT want to actually MAKE that project someday, even if it does require a blow torch, 20 tons of steel, and a hydraulic press.

Occasionally, though, I'm forced to "clean up" when we try to record something really, really important, like So You Think You Can Dance or Big Love, and then on playback realize that we've run out of recordable space and only have half of the show recorded and will never ever know why Lauren got voted off or Margene isn't speaking to Barb. As if that weren't bad enough, I then get "the look" from DP as she scrolls through the 60-hour list of recorded craft shows.

The fun part about "cleaning up" is that I get to watch all the shows again (some for the 4th, 5th, or 6th time). Plus, when DP asks whether I'm going to clean the kitchen tonight, I can always sigh and point to the screen and say, "but Honey, I have to get our DVR cleaned up or we'll never be able to record anything again."

Anyway, I'm whipping through the craft shows and reluctantly erasing those that require a blowtorch (even though you just never know what someone might give you for Christmas) when I run across Jan Bode Smiley making a fabric book. I know that I already have this show recorded and saved; in fact, I have Jan's book, The Art of Fabric Books. I've never made anything out of it, but I've spent many dreamy hours perusing it and admiring the pictures.

But suddenly it strikes me that I need to make a fabric book. RIGHT NOW. So I do. Actually, I started the book, and I'm still working on embellishing it. I'm not posting any pics yet because I want to surprise my DP. But I need to finish it before Friday because we're going to the coast for the weekend, and it will drive me nuts to be pulled away from a project after going so long without really being engaged in one.

Of course, I absolutely plan on taking a couple of things to the coast with us. Just my journal, some gel pens, and a pencil. We'll be busy playing in the sun and sand. Maybe some colored pencils. Oh, and my pen and ink. That's really all I'll have time for--a couple of quick sketches and some ink drawings. A glue stick. My moo cards, of course. My camera. And I suppose I could slip my fabric journal into a bag, along with some beads and buttons and other embellishments, some embroidery floss, some ribbon and . . . my gosh, who has time for a vacation? I have work to do!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Whirlwind Tours Continued

I'm still flitting from one project to another. I think it's because my job is consuming most of my time but all of my mental energy. Even when I find myself with a few spare minutes to play, I'm thinking about work and so can't really settle into or commit to a project. At any rate, here are some of the things I've been working on over the last week:

ATC backgrounds. I haven't made any cards in forever, but this was dyed paper-towel paper (from Traci Bautista's book, Collage Unleashed) so it was simply a matter of cutting and gluing. I'm not sure where to take them from here, of course.

Polymer clay: AAARRGGGHH. I've said for years that even though polymer clay intrigued me, I did NOT want to get into it, because the last thing I needed was another medium to work with (or to spend money on). Alas, my DP, who occasionally ventures brilliantly--if briefly--into the art world, decided she needed to play with polymer clay. Fortunately, it was on sale at Jo Ann's. Unfortunately, "on sale" is crafter's code for "have to buy tons of it while it's 1/2 price." DP made her lovely project, returned to her favorite past-time (watching movies) and hasn't touched the clay since, so of course, it's up to me to use it up. I have no idea what I'm doing, but that can be a good thing, I think, since there are no "rules." This is a small piece that was striated, and looked like a little ghostly landscape. I used some oil pastels to "paint it." I don't even know if there's any way to seal it now; I would add a polymer frame, but I don't know that I can bake it without ruining the oils.

Another poly clay WIP; I saw a woman on That's Clever (or was it Crafter's C-to-C?) make a large polymer angel over a copper mesh. I have copper mesh, I have polymer clay. Lots of it. So I made a little angel, then decided she needed a box to live in. I'm not happy with the box yet, but I'm not sure where to take it, so I'm setting it aside for the moment. I need to add arms to my angel, and I think I'll make a miniature art quilt for her to hold.

And finally . . . my first ever fabric postcard! I made the background using a technique posted by Wendy in the Cloth Paper Studio group; it's a great technique because I can use up all those little fabric scraps I can't bring myself to throw away. I'm mailing it today to my sweet Mom.

Wildlife update: the bunnies are on their own. We built a make-shift pen around them to keep the dogs away, then opened it up every night so that the mom could get to them and feed them. One morning, we happened to notice one sitting out in the yard; fortunately, we found them before the dogs did. We hunted and finally found a second one. After a lot of debate, we decided that they either needed to go back into the pen, or that it was time to leave. When I reached down to touch one, it zipped across the yard and under the fence to the greenbelt behind us. The second one didn't move, but when I picked it up it jumped and ran out of the same hole. We couldn't find the third one, so we were hoping it had already ventured out into the world. At first we covered the hole under the fence with rocks, but then decided that if they came back through another opening, they would need that hole as an emergency escape route if the dogs found them, so we uncovered it again. At any rate, the dogs are finally back outside, we've swept and vacuumed and dusted most of the hair out of the house, and life seems a little calmer now. The thing in the picture is my grandson's transformer action figure, which is bigger than the baby.