Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Full-Speed Ahead

The last several weeks have been quite challenging. First there was the week-long trip to Florida. Then, the realization that I only had two weeks left before I have to return to work (now down to less than a week—yikes!) from an 18-month medical leave (talk about scary; it’s like starting a new job!).

I have SO many projects I want to finish/start/work on before my time will once again be sucked up by my job. Plus, I’m still not completely recovered physically, so I’m trying to make sure I’m eating, resting, sleeping, and not pushing myself too hard (and with limited time and too many projects in the queue, that is REALLY difficult to do).

At any rate, I can check one item off the to-do list: this is my latest submission for the Fast Friday Fabric Challenge. I call it “After the Storm”:


You can read more about it on the Fast Friday blog.

Ok, now on to breakfast and another project . . . those minutes are ticking away!

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Pumpkin Patch Primitives Quilt Shoppe is having a great giveaway--27 (YES! 27!) fat quarters of fabric. In order to enter, you have to both leave a comment and post a notice on your blog. Here's the notice on my blog, and now I'm off to leave my comment for my chance to win. Good luck to you if you enter, and if you don't, cross your fingers for me to win!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Performance Art

By now, most of us have seen those videos of people making what I guess is called "sand art." This is one of the most amazing ones I've seen, though.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Vacation! Woo Hoo!

I've been on vacation for the first time in 3 years, and has it ever been fun! We've been in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the weather was unseasonably warm--90s during the day. The weather turned cool yesterday (high in the 70s), so I guess the timing is perfect, since we’re flying home today.

We got in some beach time, some pool time, and some snorkeling. Plus, we visited Butterfly World, where we saw lots of gorgeous butterflies, flowers, and birds.

It's going to take a while to sort through and edit all my photos, but I have a few to post now. These are butterflies and moths from Butterfly World:








And some plants & a waterfall:




And a cute little guy who was hanging out at Sailfish Marina:


I took a waterproof camera snorkeling, but unfortunately, the water was murky and I don’t know whether the pics can be photoshopped. After we took a break for a lunch then went back to snorkeling, the water had cleared up and we saw some beautiful parrotfish, trumpet fish, and lots of other lovely sea creatures. Of course, I had used up all my film :-(

After a full week of sleeping late, lazing by the ocean, and mingling with nature, I’m not looking forward to the routines of home, but I sure do miss my pups and my bed!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

She’s a Doll!

I may have mentioned before that I’m an adventurous gal. I’ll try anything once (ok, not ANYTHING—I do have enough fear and restraint to check me in healthy check). When it comes to crafts, though, I’ll try just about anything (except scrapbooking: I absolutely refuse, for reasons I won’t go into. Oh, and PMC silver clay. Not because I don’t want to try it, but because I’m scared of getting hooked into another expensive craft).

So when I strolled over to Joggles to see what those folks were up to and happened to see a class called “Lyric and Laurel” with Carol Murphy, and when I realized that those cute little dolls were made from wine bottles, and when I thought about all the wine bottles I have lying around (not because I drink wine, but because my friends, who drink a LOT of wine, donated all their bottles to me back when I was making those wine-bottle cheese trays), I thought, “aha! A way to use up more of my stuff!” Plus, I like to do something a little different now and then as a sort of mini-vacation from my regular arts & crafts pursuits.

Here, then, is my wine-bottle-doll, whose name is Grace:


I happened to run across this quote about grace, and I thought it worked well with my “girl,” so I wrote the message on a piece of parchment paper and included it in the bottle:

Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you'll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too. Carl Frederick Beuchner

Here’s a close-up of her face:


And of her bird:


I had a good time with this and now have a lovely muse for my craft room, and a reminder about the importance of being able to accept the gifts (of grace and other things) that the universe sends us—and sometimes, of the importance of reaching out and taking those gifts.

Addendum: When I added the label "art dolls" to this post, I thought I would take a little trip down memory lane and read my posts on the two fabric art dolls I've created. When I clicked the "art dolls" label, however, I was only able to find ONE of the fabric art dolls I've made. I've looked everywhere, and I can't find any mention of my other girl. I can't believe I've never posted her pics here! So, here she is, in all her glory. I hope she can forgive me for not debuting her to the world sooner:

Friday, October 2, 2009

Felting Fun

Well, I’m having a blast with the “new” felting machine, and since I realized I needed to lower the foam so that the fabric wouldn’t drag, it works like a dream.

I posted a pic the other day of a piece of felt I had started playing with. I added a little stitching on the sewing machine and turned it into a journal, and here are the results:




Ok, it's not exactly a journal yet, since I need to sew the signatures in (which I intended to do tonight, but I got sucked into the web and so didn’t actually get ANYTHING productive done, and now it’s time to clean the kitchen and go to bed).

Last night I ran across my Quilting Arts magazine article index, so I had to drag out all the back issues and peruse the articles on felting. I’m looking forward to a lot more fun with the felting machine!

Beading Stuff

I received an email from a blog reader complimenting me on my beading and asking for help getting started. I quickly pulled together some information for her, and then I thought, wow, what a shame that I can’t share this with other people who might find it useful. Duh . . .

So, if you’re interested in learning to bead on fabric, here’s a quick rundown of some resources (note: I’m sure there are lots of other great books, classes, web sites, etc. to help people learn to bead, so please feel free to suggest those in comments, if you like). I’ve pasted the email here with a few revisions.

Hi [Interested Beader]:

I learned to bead by taking a class at Quilt University ( called "To Bead or Not to Bead." Quilt U has very reasonable classes with lots of great information, and I've learned a lot from them. Susan Brittingham teaches this class, and she's a great instructor, but I don't think she's teaching it again until January.

If you want to get a book rather than take a class, I would recommend Beading on Fabric by Larkin Van Horn. You can read a little about it here:, but it's cheaper to buy it from Amazon. My local library also has that book, so you might check yours, too, to see what beading books they have.

I also found a great DVD at my library called "Mary Stori Teaches You Beading on Fabric." You can see a little preview on YouTube.

I actually started beading before I took a class or read a book. I bought some beading thread (Nymo D is what I use; don't use regular thread, since glass beads can cut it and your beads may eventually fall off; however, you can use dental floss, I've heard), some beading needles (these are very long, thin needles, but you can also use quilting or appliqué needles) and some beads. Then, I looked up beading on the Internet.

I wasn't very good at beading until I took the class and practiced a lot, but it was pretty easy to get started.

I just "Googled" beading on fabric and ran across these .pdf files that might help you get started:

You'll probably find a lot of other information, too, if you look around on the Internet.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if you have any questions, and good luck with beading! It really is a lot of fun.

P.S.: I also just ran across the site Beading Daily. It has tons of information and resources on all types of beading and bead-making.

P.S.S.: To see previous blog posts about my beading, look over the right under "labels" and click "beading."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A New Toy!

Yippee! I have a new toy!

Ok, I have a reconfigured-converted-really-old-but-practically-free-and-only-slightly-dangerous machine for needle felting!


Here’s the story: after cleaning and organizing my craft room a while back, I made a promise to myself that I wasn’t going to buy any more supplies until I used up (at least some of) what I already had. I can still take classes, but only if I already have all the supplies; and even if I don’t, I have to make do and improvise with what’s on hand. The only thing I’ve allowed myself is fabric, and that’s because I didn’t have much (really!), and I’ve got lots of plans for pieced quilts in the near future. And I’ll miss the Houston quilt show and won’t be able to stock up. And I found some really good sales on good-quality fabric. Really.

So anyway, I was telling a friend how I was looking for an old sewing machine to convert to a felting machine (so I could use that wool and silk roving, of course). And she happened to mention that she had an old Brother machine that didn’t work, but that I could have it if we (meaning my incredibly mechanical partner) could fix it. She didn’t know what was wrong with it, she said, but she had lent it to someone else who “couldn’t get it to sew right.”

I’m guessing the not-getting-it-to-sew-right problem was tension- or needle- or thread-related, because the motor worked just fine, and that’s the only part I was really interested in.

So I ordered a conversion kit online (ok, I said it PRACTICALLY free) for $50, and last night my sweetie set about dismantling the sewing machine and remantling it into a felting machine. There was a lot of banging and greasiness and one minor incident of needle-pricked fingers (hers), and then she was done!


This conversion kit doesn’t come with any sort of needle guard, but we (ok, the mechanical half of we) think we can rig something up and attach it to the presser foot bar. And yes, in the meantime I'm being VERY careful not to needle-punch my fingers, and I'm definitely not allowing the grandkids to use it.

When I tested the machine out last night, I was very disappointed that the fabric “dragged” on the foam. The fabric was actually felting TO the foam, a problem I hadn’t considered. I looked everywhere online to see if someone else had had that problem, but couldn’t find anything. I finally went back to the installation instructions and found an oblique reference to the problem of not having enough “control of the fabric” if the needles were going too far down into the foam. To gain “more control,” the instructions said, just raise the mechanism higher on the bar. Of course, that didn’t work, since the mechanism is as high as it can go on the bar and still allow the wheel to spin, so I pondered the problem all night, in between thinking/dreaming about all the stuff I could needle felt. Around 4 am, I realized that if you can’t raise the mechanism, you have to lower the foam. Problem solved!

This morning I gathered some of my “supplies” together—wool and silk roving, thread, yarn, sheers, felt, etc.,


and proceeded to play:


(yes, I know, very ugly, but we’re going for technique here, not design). I tried felting on plain habotai silk, which gives it a really cool rouched or gathered look; then I threw on wool roving and yarn to see if it would stick. Next, I took a piece of acrylic (craft) felt and started felting wool and silk roving onto it, then added more yarn and more roving:


Lots of fun! I think I’m going to do some stitching on the “flowers” with my sewing machine, then cut them out and add beads to the center and . . . I don’t know, maybe applique them to something.

Then I’m going to try to remember all those cool projects I kept running across that caused me to think, “I really NEED a felting machine!” If you know of any, feel free to send them my way!