December 7, 2013

felt birdie

Felt Birdie

Stabbing away at my third one of these every other night while watching tv. I'm giving them away as Christmas ornaments after I attached a braided embroidery floss holder through the back. I'm still struggling to get the needle in the right place, thinking I need to fetch an upholstery needle, long and with a hook to make it easier. It takes me about three hours to make one of these and I end up with a sore shoulder and numb fingers. Ridiculous right? But love them and so satisfying to stab at the fiber, it's cathartic.

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February 18, 2013

more ombre

Ombrefelt2
Feltedgauze

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February 5, 2013

ombre felt

Ombre Length
Merinoblend Width
Wollblends

Using Ashland Bay carbon, grey and blue faced leicester with tussah silk in an ombre blend. I'm hoping to make another zipper fold over clutch with this fabric. I started on a piece of scrim I'd dyed using elephant grey, one of the few dye projects that came out fine. I've had much better luck dying linen and cotton than silk and wool.

Ombre Prefelt
Merinorovingblend

My favorite part is laying out the fluffy bits, they are so lovely, dreamy and relaxing. (the bending over the floor part hurts though!)

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February 4, 2013

twilight grey

It felt like a dye day. I've got 4 ounces of silk, I used 24 cups of water, plus extra when dissolving the 1 teaspoon of twilight grey which I added first and then the three heaping tablespoons of salt. I'm following the silk dyeing directions from here. I'm also totally insane and am adding in some left over roving, likely about 3 ounces. I figure what the hell the dye is cooking so go for it. Cooking for 10 min up to 200 degrees, adding 1 tbl citric acid cooking for 10 more.

Dyesalt
Twilightgrey Silk
Dryingsilk Grey
Oye Felted
Greysilk Twilight

Well not such a good dye job yet again. It's all splotchy, too dark and too blueish purple not the neutral grey I was hoping for. I wonder if I should try a different order of dye events? I watched this you tube video on the subject and she just tossed in the fleece, sprinkled in dye, squirted in vinegar and she pushed and tossed and then added more dye and her roving didn't felt and come out all blotchy like mine. Dang! I'm going about this all wrong I guess. I also watched this video on dye solution recipes (1 tsp powder dye, 1tbl citric acid, 1 cup of water) think I'll give it try for next time. Also I think I need to let the dye simmer longer with the top on and then let it cool down naturally rather than dumping out the water and rinsing. Ok so new tips to try, experiment and experience will be my best method!

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February 2, 2013

pygora felt

Pygora Prefelt
Pygora Prefeltwidth
Length Pygoraprefelt

I started at 68" by 34", ended at 54" by 27". I used a white scrim layer, then lightly laid down ecru blue faced leicester, then the same but mixed with 30% sea cell which is shiny and gorgeous when mixed with the pygora locks which I sprinkled on top. Next time I will add a light layer of leicester over the locks to help them felt down. Many of the pygora clusters have locks sticking out which is ok, but wasn't what I was going for. I'm still on the hunt for a good source for pretty pygora locks and more information about felting with locks. It isn't as easy to wet felt locks. I think most people needle felt with them. I was also using a really mild soap, olive oil, and wonder if I could use something a touch stronger to really get the fibers to open.

Pygora Felt
Pygora Closeup

I love the result, so soft and pretty. More pillows to come I imagine. Though I think this fabric would make a nice detail or trim on a skirt, dress or bag.

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January 30, 2013

more felt goodies

Babybooties

I hand stitched a darling little pair of baby booties for a colleagues upcoming baby shower. It took almost as much time to figure out how to fold that origami crane! I found the bootie pattern on the purl bee. Next time I need to use a slightly thicker felt and be more careful about sewing in the elastic. I used a running stitch rather than the blanket/buttonhole.

Pygorapillow Chair
Pygora Pillow

I've been coveting a small nuno piece I made ages ago using a light weight open weave cotton gauze, merino roving and pygora goat locks. I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but it was so sweet and soft I kept petting it! Today I took the plunge made it into a little fourteen inch pillow with a linen backing. It's lovely and inspires me to make many more. I think some white on white embroidery would be lovely too.

January 29, 2013

zipper pouch process

I found a nice chunky 14" zipper with a cool pull at my discount fabric store and decided to attempt making a lined zipper pouch. I'd made one before but I had used an invisible zipper and it didn't turn out that well due to the zipper diving in the side seam plus I didn't top stitch the felt down on the zipper —lesson learned! This time I wanted to add an end stopper and top detail to the zipper so it would sit nicely on the top seam, I am much happier with the turnout on this one. I'm taking a sewing class at Harvey Milk Center and my teacher Leah has been really helpful guiding me in the right direction. She suggested I fold a 2x3" piece of the light weight denim lining and stitch it to the edge ends of the zippers. She was also helpful showing me how to sew both the outer and inner fabric to the edge of the zipper at the same time which eliminates an extra step. I used a 1/2 in allowance with zipper foot. Then top stitched 1/4 from the felt edge. My sewing teacher recommended that I felt a lighter weight piece of felt next time and add a fusible medium weight interfacing to help ease the bulk that happens in the corners. I'll give that a try next time. I think using a nuno felted piece of fabric would also work well, will give it a try.

Pouch Fleece

fleece before felting

Pouch Width

piece measured 11.5 inches after stitching, 12 inches including seam allowance.Pouch Measure
piece measured 15 wide.

Pouch Toptab
The 2x3 inch lining piece, folded in halt and stitched to outer zipper edge - that was step one.
Pouch EdgesPouch Lineupedges
It was critical to align the edges perfectly along the outer zipper edge and sew evenly. After turning you'll see this edge is the most visible, it needs to be practically perfect. Sew slowly!
Pouch Insideseam
inside seam view
Pouch Liningview
lining side view
Pouch Topstich
top stitched a quarter inch, I used the felt edge along side of the pressure foot. I had to pull the felt taught and I had ironed and pinned the lining to make sure it didn't bunch up.
Pouch Alignseams
It's also critical to align the zipper and side seams perfectly before sewing right sides together. Don't forget to open zipper and leave a 4" opening in the lining for turning right side out. I used a 5/8 seam allowance so I had fudge room when going over those bulky zipper parts. I broke a needle too, so again sew slowly and manually when going over zipper, backstitch too.

Pouch Seamallowance
Pouch Seamstitch
Trim all corners and remove bulk around zipper ends so it can be turned and lay as flat as possible.
Pouch Topstopper
Zippercloseup
Openbagflat
Foldoverbag

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January 21, 2013

reversible bag

Vivi Bagpink
Vivi Bagstripes
Vivi Embroidery

I sewed this reversible linen bag for Vivi during my first intermediate sewing class and finished it on my own a few days later. I added outside pockets. I found this tutorial very helpful, especially when I was trying to figure out the strap sewing.

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December 14, 2012

making felt

Ombre Roving
Soapy Wool Felt
Wool Felt Ombre
Felt Cases

For Christmas I made a few felt icases for the men in my life. They were well received. I'll be making a few more for. . .you know who you are!

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December 11, 2012

everything tote

Finshed Tote
Open Markettote

The Everything Tote from Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross.

Need 1 yard of each fabric. After cutting pattern pieces, 1 tote body, 1 tote lining, 1 or more pockets using body fabric ( I did two) , 2 bindings from outer and inner fabric, 2 handles from outer and inner fabric.

1. iron 3 sides of pocket with 1/4 inch seam, then fold down 1/2 seam for pocket's top edge and stitch across. Sew together with lining if desired.

2. place pocket 3 1/2 inches down, center pocket on lining fabric center. sew three sides and add any pocket dividing sections.

Pocket Placement

3. Fold the tote with right sides facing and sew side seams, 3/8 inch. repeat with lining fabric.

4. Create the boxed corners. 2 1/2 inches from corner. to not trim. repeat with tote lining.

Boxing Corners2
Boxing Corner

5. Align the inner and outer tote with right sides out. align the side seam and pin.

Pin Lining

6. baste stitch the arm area and pull thread to create gathers until the arm area measure 12 inches.

Gathers Band

7. prepare binding and handles. sew longs sides with a 1/4 seam, leave short ends open. Turn rights side out and press. Then press again in half to aid in stitching next step. On long handles tuck in raw short edge 1/2 inch and press.

8. Pin binding and sew as close to binding edge as desired on the lining side to secure the binding. Then fold over in half and stitch down on the right side. Repeat other side. Trim excess so it will hide nicely in the handle.

Sewn Band

9. Pin handles starting at side seam. sew from lining side to secure. Then fold over and sew right side down. Repeat for all 4 sides. Sew open edge at side seam closed by hand.

Sewstraps

excellent notes on pattern corrections here.

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December 10, 2012

color block felt

Colorblock Roving
Wet Colorblock
Colorblock Merino

Top: laying out roving
Center: wet felting
Bottom: finished felt

I had lots of fun felting this super thick piece. I used two layers of thin batting, two layers of corriedale and two layers of merino. Below are close ups. The grey is from my messed up dye experience. I'm happy to have used a bit of it.

Colorblock Pink
Colorblock Grey

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October 4, 2012

sewing class

Cocktail Napkins

I really am a class monkey (great site!) as I have signed up for yet another craft lesson. This time it's sewing again. I have taken sewing way back when and I loved it but then didn't follow through on my education. Hmmm that is become a reoccurring theme, uh oh. That issue aside I've been feeling like it would be helpful if I could just start creating some basic sewn pieces from my felt goods. I am thinking simply place mats, runners and scarves very simple straight line sewn goods. Then I'll see what happens from there. Since I forgot all I learned, and threading a machine and bobbin felt intimidating, I signed up for a ten week course at my local parks and rec center. So far it's going quite well, the teacher is knowledgable and charming. I think I'll walk away with enough know how to get the ball rolling — hopefully I'll even feel inspired! The above photo is the pin cushion I hand sewed on the first class and the cocktail napkins I machine sewed yesterday which are still in progress.

October 3, 2012

grey mist

Greymist Cottongauze

I dyed another few ounces of cotton gauze, this time with the grey mist and in my new larger dye bucket. Having this bigger bucket was really satisfying. After I got going I read the instructions for the calsolene oil, which is 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water before adding predissolved dye, but oops I had already added dye. Next time then. The mist is quite lovely though again a much cooler grey than I am seeking. I'll need to add in some brown or reddish tones to strike the right shade.

September 27, 2012

charcoal grey

Charcoal Cottongauze

I dyed another few yards of harem cloth today using the same recipe as last time:1/2 tablespoon (aka 1-1/2 teaspoons) charcoal grey dye, 1-1/2 galloons of hot water (aka 24 cups), 1-1/2 cups of kosher salt, 1/6 cup soda ash (aka 2 tbl, 2 tsp), then I washed with 1/8 cup synthrapol in my front loader. I want to work with this quantity of fabric and same dye recipes for a little while to create a baseline understanding. I then hope to start mixing up shades with dye combos and different light and darkness of dyes. These greys are quite cool and I would like to work on creating a warmer grey base for felted pieces.

September 24, 2012

safari grey

Safari Grey Gauze
I dyed a 6 ounce piece of cotton gauze aka harem cloth with the dye color safari grey. I used the dharma instructions 1/2 tablespoon dye, 1-1/2 gallons warm water, 1-1/2 cups kosher salt, 1/6 cup (2 tablespoons & 2 teaspoons) soda ash. I soaked the cotton cloth for twenty minutes then added the dissolved soda ash in thirds over the next fifteen minutes. I let the cloth soak in that for another twenty or so then rinsed in cold water until most of the dye was out. Then I washed it in hot in our front loader with the synthrapol textile detergent. The color is a drab warm neutral grey, definitely very safari khaki like though not quite as yellow. I like it and look forward to trying it again and adding more dye to see how it looks in a darker shade.

September 22, 2012

cotton & linen

Bleached Linen
Harem Cloth
Unbleached Scrim
Cheescloth

I'm a newbie to the fabric buying world so I don't know the types and weights too well. I've been seeking and experimenting with figuring out which natural fabric weights will work with felting. I'm attracted to cotton and linen more than silk, though I am told silk felts easiest. Photos above are: bleached linen (from Dharma), harem cloth aka cotton gauze (Dharma), unbleached scrim (Satin Moon), cheese cloth (Britex). These are all taken before washing. They do soften and shrink afterward.

July 25, 2012

cookin' grey

Greydyepot
Today I attempted my second go at trying to dye my own roving. Last go was a bust as my wool felted quite badly which I believe was due to too high heat and too much agitation. The color was lovely though! This time I used Dharma acid dye in silver grey. I used 2 1/4 teaspoons dye to 1 gallon water and 1 tablespoon citric acid with a quarter pound of merino roving and did my best to keep the temperature under 200 degrees. The color looks quite purple in the pot, I am hoping it will grey once washed and dried.
Greydyedroving

It's out of the pot drying and looks quite dark and with a lot of dark purple splotches, oh dear! it's not what I had hoped. The good news is it doesn't seem felted though may be a bit tangled compared to its pre-dyed state. I think I should have added the citric acid to the dye bath in a more even way, I'm guessing that is what caused the spots. The directions say cook for 10 minutes then add in citric acid and cook for 10 more. Maybe I should have dissolved it in a larger amount of water so it was more diluted? The other possibility is the dye wasn't fully dissolved before adding the roving? Clearly I'll need to get more roving and practice the art of dying!

After researching a bit more, the trouble shooting suggestions are to use a bigger pot so the dye water and wool can move more freely, stir more frequently, and check that the wool is truly soaking wet before dying (soak for 30 minutes before dying). I was too afraid to stir since last time the lot felted on me and I did not soak the wool I only wetted it — that's the likely culprit. I may need to get a 21 quart enamel dying pot since my pot is not nearly that big.

more dye instructions

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July 24, 2012

felt bird

Felted Bird
I've been needle felting this bird in between moments, mostly at night. It takes a long time to needle felt and it's rather tedious but also strangely relaxing. I do enjoy the repeated stabbing motion it's seriously cathartic! The bird hasn't turned out quite as angular as I'd envisioned, but overall it's been fun and I am looking forward to trying it again. I needled it in a very thick dense way so it feels really strong and sturdy. It weighs three ounces and is seven inches wide five inches high and four inches wide.

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May 22, 2012

hanging wool

Felt Pieces
Hanging Wool

I've finally put some wool work on my studio wall. It's interesting to experience the changes from holding a piece to pinning it up and gazing from afar. I'll be happy to pin them up and adjust designs while in progress now that I've strung this twine line.

May 21, 2012

roving + thread

Smokey Mountain Fibers
Eweniquely Ewe Fibers

I've just unpacked some new wool. I'm looking forward to working with the sheep's grey I purchased from a new-to-me vendor Smoky Mountain Fibers plus I bought more drab khaki, light & medium natural brown, and the ercu Blue Face Leicester from Eweniquely Ewe. There's some furious felting to be done!

Greenfelt Floral
Wooly Threads Order

My wooly threads order came in too so I'm stitching away on the green floral piece again. I've gotten farther than the first photo pictured above. I will post a progress update soon and log the crewel color numbers too.

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May 4, 2012

progress report

Crewel881 Inprogress2
Crewel881 Inprogress

I was just reordering some crewel and realized I didn't blog the color number of this piece I am working on. For the record it's appleton 881. My usual vendor was out of the colors I needed so I went with a new vendor, wooly threads, turned out to be a good find as the cost per skein was significantly less — perk!

April 19, 2012

more roving

Woolgatherings
I bought some undyed roving called corriedale and blue faced liecester mixed with sea cell from the etsy store wool gatherings. I used the corriedale as backing on the first pelt piece I made since it's a bit rougher to touch. I'm looking forward to experimenting with the sea cell which is beautifully shiny, slippery and bright. I think it will make a nice wavy stripe design. Next I want to find some mohair and other loose lock and fuzzy fibers to play with.
Eweniquiely Ewe
The other batch of colors I bought are merino wool top in carbon, celery, camel and saddle brown from eweniquely ewe also on Etsy. I blog these boring bits so I can remember where I got what —I need to exercise my memory as I can feel it slipping away. Time to work on a sudoku would help too.

March 3, 2012

embroidery basics

Embroidery Basics
Embroidery Basics Inside

I didn't exactly need this embroidery basics book since I have the amazingly thorough elegant stitches, but I am a serious sucker for japanese simplicity. I love the sparse and easy to understand illustrations throughout this little book. It's charming.

Lavendarfelt
Lavenderfelt2
Lavenderfelt Design

I've just started another piece as well. Since the sashiko is tedious I find that I need to have a few projects going at once and then decide each time which I feel like picking up. I started this one using the stabilizer method but decided to freehand embroider it once I realized that again some of the elements and line lengths I chose were too small or short for the fuzzy thick felt. I'm actually enjoying free hand more than following and stitching over a pattern. In this case the elements are organic so I think it'll work out nicely. I also adore this earthy lavender color of felt, I'll have to try to figure out where I purchased it or if I can replicate the color. I'm bad about keeping track of these types of things and I've purchased many little amounts from various vendors — oh Etsy!

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February 29, 2012

pink palette

Crewel Palettepinks
Pink Headband

I do like the pink palette combo of appleton crewel colors 144, 142, 751, 753 & 222 they work very nicely together. I have the 'handmade felt is precious' disease. I need to get over that! Now that I've completed the project I wish the petals were touching each other and the overall piece was smaller. I wanted the felt to show through the petal design, but I don't think it works as well as I had envisioned. Vivienne says it's a mommy headband, it's not for girls. Her sweet way of saying, I don't like it. It's true it's a bit too big. I ended up whip stitching the edges so they would look nice when viewed from the side edge which is what you see when looking at the wearers face. I haven't been able to remove all the stabilizer either which is quite frustrating. I am worried about washing it since the felt and thread are wool and will shrink. Maybe I'll be brave enough for a cold soak to see if the stabilizer will disintegrate once more time passes and I don't feel so attached to the hours I spent stitching. Hope so! I learned a lot on this one so it's not all a wash.

Happy leap day!

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February 28, 2012

old english

Crewel Samples
Crewel-Tapestry Samples

I'm thrilled to have received the Old English Appleton crewel wool samples. I will now feel confident about the color choices I am making. I felt insecure choosing from the website swatches. Fortunately I love all color so I figured I'd just collect a bunch and work them into something in the future.

Sashiko Inprogress
Sashiko Backside

I've had some progress on the sashiko embroidery design. It's a bit tedious and I still have a long way to go. I do like the look of it, though I wish I had made my stitched longer. Short seed length stitches get lost in the fluffy felt. Now I know. I can only hope the stabilizer will tear away easily so that I won't be left picking little bits out. That too is tedious!

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February 3, 2012

sashiko starter

Sashiko Pattern
Khakifelt Sashiko

I'm undertaking a new embroidery project. I love the look of sahiko patterns so I recreated a design I liked. I did a 14x14 inch pattern in illustrator and printed it out so I can embroider it on one of the pieces of felt I've made. I'm using the ashland bay khaki color merino piece I felted with crewel embroidery thread color 984. I imagine this will be a meditative process, ahhh can't wait to sit down and chill. If you find this posting because you were searching for a free sashiko pattern and you like this one, email me and I'll send you the vector file. < I'm big at bunny design dot com >

On another satisfying note, I also ordered myself a bigger piece of pool cover and a better roller. The last of the cheap rollers I picked up at Daiso broke last night — the ol' you get what you pay for story. The pool cover piece I have was a hand me down and it's too small and doesn't have squared or straight edges.

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February 1, 2012

galaxy case in progress

Av Feltcase Progress
Av Embroidery Closeup

I'm having some fun being crafty — my happy time! I hand felted some thick black merino and cut it down to size so that Mr. C's galaxy tablet will fit inside. I printed the Avantgarde logo onto some interfacing (you can see the white bits which I still need to cover or pull out) and I am embroidering it with crewel wool. It's fun and easy. I'm looking forward to pulling out the sewing machine and seaming this up. I'll post more progress soon.

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January 31, 2012

circle sampler in progress

Yellow Circle Sampler

I bought some variated color roving called daffodil a while back and felted it. I wasn't too pleased with the final color striations which was a bummer, though the merino felt is soft and lovely as usual, the piece looks too hippie funky for my taste. To make the best of it I decided to use the piece to experiment with various stitches and see how the combinations look together. I went with a circle motif. I'm not quite done, but I'm finding it quite fun to basically doodle with embroidery.

Buttonhole Detail

Here's a close up of the buttonhole wheels and couching stitches.

Circle Sampler Backside

And this is a picture of the backside of the work. I like it too!

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January 13, 2012

crewel color

Pinkfeltcrewelpalette
pink felt — scattered petals & seeds design
Stitches are stem stitch, satin stitch, seed stitch, fishbone stitch, with french and colonial knots.
crewel colors used:
rosy pink 221
rose 754
lavender 603
purple 542
Light green 241
khaki green 911
blue 564
light blue 562

Yelloscatter Crewelpalette
yellow felt — scattered seeds design
Stitches are mostly satin stitch with a few french knots.
crewel colors used:
canary yellow 553
peachy 708
brown 184
warm soft grey 181
creamy white 992
I bought these appleton crewel embroidery threads from wool and hoop.

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January 12, 2012

rothko roving

Dryceleryandwhitewool

This is dry celery fiber over an undyed white. At this stage it reminds me of a Rothko whose work I admire deeply. I really enjoy this first stage of slowly pulling the fibers an laying them criss cross each other. It's slow going and very relaxing.

Wetceleryfiber

Here is the same fiber now wetted with warm soapy water. At this stage I roll it over bubble wrap and with bumpy tools to agitate the fibers so they will felt. This stage of rolling and rubbing takes a longer time. I start out softly to make sure the layout stays intact and so that the edges don't roll onto each other. After a while I can really get into rolling quickly and with a lot of pressure. I do a pinch test to make sure the fiber is ready to go on to the fulling stage. I stopped taking pictures at this point. I'll follow through with more another time.

Drabkhakifelt

Here's a picture of the felted drab khaki which I mentioned in the previous posting.

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January 10, 2012

wool and soapy water

Ewemerinoroving
Drabkhakiroving

Doesn't the roving look like paint brush strokes before it's felted. It's really fun to pull the roving apart and gently lay down the layers. I find it very meditative. I just got a new batch of neutrals on Etsy from Eweniquely Ewe Fibers. They are all Ashland Bay merinos in celery, drab khaki, olive green and daffodil colors. The roving above is the khaki. It felted beautifully. I'll share a photo once I am back in the studio as I left it drying there. I've determined I need to start blogging about my felting process and pieces so I can keep track of source data and other bits of information I often over look. I am also keeping track of measurements and such so I can learn to be more predictable and consistent.

Feltbackgrounds

These are some of the recent felt pieces I've made. I plan to stitch them up after I find time to draw and paint some of the ideas floating through my mind — such meanderings I tell you! I need the luxury of consecutive uninterrupted hours in order to focus. It's very difficult to get that kind of time when you work and have children. I'd love a make art vacation!

Yellowfeltembroidery
Drawingonyellowfelt
Woolysupplies
Drawingonpinkfelt
These are the beginner pieces I am working on now. It's been fun to experiment and try different stitches and see what works for me. I need to come back to this posting and add the embroidery colors so I can keep track of what I'm using too. It's easy to get lost in a sea of embroidery floss.

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December 15, 2011

felt things

Needlefelt Robin

Needle felting takes far longer than you think it should — though I find every stab completely cathartic. I spent the night whipping up a robin ornament for Max's teacher also named Robyn.

Felt Barettes Studio
Felt Barettes Ballerinas

I also completed a few sets of felt pom pom-like barrettes for Vivienne's ballet classmates, Ella, Sophie, & Talia.

December 14, 2011

felted headband

Feltheadband Handmade
Feltheadband Closeup

Max has impressed me so much with his Christmas gift list for others. He came up with interesting ideas of things to give his favorite people and they are all tailored to their specific interests. I have high hopes he'll grow up to be to be a generous and thoughtful giver. For his friend Camryn he asked me to make her a headband like the one I made for Vivienne. According to Max, Camryn loves red and wears headbands almost every day so he's sure she'll like this design. Of course it would have been far easier for me to have picked her up something from the Five & Dime like we did for the other kids! It takes me hours to hand felt each of these pieces. I have to separately felt the red for the roses, the green for the leaves and the then felt wrap the headband. Later sew the roses, embroider the leaves, sew it all together and then needle felt any thin areas and hid sewing remnants. Hours to make I tell you! Camryn is definitely walking away with this years best gift of the bunch, if I do say so myself!

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April 22, 2011

felt tooth bag

Tooth Bag1
Tooth Bag2

This little bag has been weeks in the making. Max's right front tooth has been loose for weeks. It's on the verge of falling out any day now. We all take a turn wiggling it each morning and night. Max asked me to make him a tooth bag to keep a tooth in should it fall out while he's at school. He requested the color of the bag, asked that the tooth be above his name, and wanted the same snap as one on his dad's iphone case — which I also made and need to remember to post a photo of it. Max rubbed the bag across his cheek while telling me how much he likes how soft it is. He's been taking it with him to school each day in the hopes he will get to use it. Warms my heart!

January 23, 2011

tweet tweet

Firstbirdie

Loving felt. Avoiding work so I can felt a bird, not a good equation for the long haul. Oh dear. I'm feeling a bit addicted at present and needing another fix. I've started bringing my roving home. Uh oh. This is getting unavoidably serious. Max and I felted our first rocks today which was wonderfully fun. I've just wrapped my second headband — this one is a deep black. I'm dreaming of embroidered felt production and a world full of warm fuzzies.

footnote: wow these rocks kick my rocks ass! I feel like such a beginner.

January 18, 2011

wool pet

Feltedpenguin2

I'm deep into my love of roving these days. While enjoying a visit to my happy place I decided to buy this cute book called wool pets. Max is crazy about penguins, his beloved pillow pet is a penguin and he loves to read 365 penguins. He'd read it nightly if we'd let him, but as you can imagine I go a little batty with the repetition. He's also been jealous that I come home from my studio with new felt barrettes for Vivienne and none for him. Of course he doesn't want a barrette but he wants something. So that's the why and the how of my undertaking the needle felting of the above little penguin. Stabbing felt for two hours was cathartic and I found myself enjoying the sculptural experience as well. More to come perhaps? The little chickens, bunny and lamb are whispering my name.

Maxandpenguin

January 14, 2011

fun with felting

Woolroving
Pinkfelt
Woolflower Barrettes
Woolfelt Barrettes
Woolflower Barrette
Vivi Lexiheadbands
Woolfelt Barrettesii
Woolbirdie Barrettes

I've been having lots of fun making my own small pieces of felt and then fashioning them into decorative barrettes and headbands. I've only made a few since it's quite time consuming to make the felt as well as sew each piece, but I like the end result! I recently bought some prefelt, so I'll see if I can dye it myself and then felt it and if that feels satisfying and any quicker? Not that speed is my only goal! But you know I do like admiring a finished piece. I'm hoping to whip out some to sell at the preschool auction.

November 21, 2010

felted mice

Feltedmice1
Feltedmice2
Feltedmice4

Sometimes you don't recognize yourself. For me this is one of those moments. I spent two hours this evening needle felting these two mice. One for Vivi and one for Max. They can choose which one gets either, I don't care. However, I did care about the size, shape and quality of each as I endlessly stabbed both to perfection. I rather liked the process, though I found myself tripping on the fact that I was doing this at all. How on earth do I find myself here felting little rodents? Can't say. Seriously. Who am I? Nonetheless, many stabs later, voila. Mini felted mice. Go figure.
In good company...
chuska & more, some amazing samples keep clicking
Etsy
Fadeeva
darling book on the subject
I gotta start doing birds eh?
lauren alane
on flicker
dooby brain
crack o noon
martha

July 13, 2010

felting lesson two

Firstfelt Brightpink-1
Secondfelt Orangey-1
My first small piece of felt is the top photo. Clearly felt is difficult to photograph with an iphone. It measures 10 inches square. It's not fully felted since I didn't do a second agitation or drop it in a hot water wash. I actually like it loose and gauzy. My second image is of the larger felt piece I am currently making which is a pink and orange on a white background. It measures 21x14 right now but it will shrink by 30% once it's felted. I am hoping it will cover the small window in my closet which is 18 x 7.5. That strange little window has had an ugly piece of cardboard tapped to it since we moved in nearly ten years ago. It's about time it has a proper window covering. Though I'll likely just hang it with pins, so not sure how proper it will really be. Anyway, the felt is wet and still needs lots of rolling. The felt making process is very mediative, but depending on your mood that can translate to repetitive and tedious. I am enjoying it for now and having lots of stitching ideas.

I am feeling the pull of needle and thread. I keep thinking how lovely it would be to use my handmade felt to make darling little barrettes with crewel embroidered designs. Do I know how to crewel? Uh no. However I think I'll be stopping by a needlework store this afternoon or maybe Britex tomorrow morning to pick up some thread. I want to see if I can find wool thread with a matt finish to match the felt, I don't want to use the shiny embroidery thread I already have which I've used on a few knitted animals. I've just ordered alligator barrettes and some metal headbands, I've been spending far too long clicking through websites for tutorials on embroidery and headwear. Here's my reference list.

Lovely DIY headband tutorials by Altered Cloth (found by way of Sew Mama Sew)
Sewn Headband tutorial wide & narrow versions by Foofanagle
Felted rolled flowers by Craft Gossip lots of inspiration on this site
Felt covered barrettes and tutorial by Wee Folk Art
Fun with a glue gun, ribbon covered barrette tutorial by living with lindsay
Needle and Thread is embroidery heaven, wow this is an awesome resource
The Unbroken Thread embroidery blog
more patterns at Needlecrafter
Lastly, back to my first post on this subject for a few more tutorials, supplies and inspiration.

June 28, 2010

felting lesson one

Feltingclass
Lily Wateringfelt
Lily Agitatingfelt
Orangedyedwool
On a last minute whim I signed up for an art class at Sharon Art Studio in Golden Gate Park for the next four monday nights. The building is so sweet and I've been walking by it for years. Each time I take my kids to the playground I wish I was going into the stone studio too. I'm thrilled to finally be inside the space and taking an art class. I was interested in a number of different classes such as watercolor and monoprint making but the only one I liked with an open space just days before the class began was felting. So I jumped at the chance and Mr. C helped out too, thank you dear. Last night we dyed merino roving a variety of colors, I was on the orange team (yes, I suggested the color!) We cooked the acid dyes for 45 min at 175 degrees careful not to let the pan boil so our wool wouldn't shrink — yet. Then we tried our hand at a small felting square. We had to pull small wispy sections and over lay them three times in criss cross directions. Then wet it with a soapy water, cover in plastic and roll, roll and roll more using bubble wrap from a swimming pool cover and a small swim noodle. You can see teacher Joy-Lily doing it above. It takes so long that I didn't finish my project and I've had to take it for completion. I should be doing it right now rather than bloggin' eh. Getting right on that...

A few felting links I like:
Felting directions
Blackbird Design
Ume Crafts

Combining embroidery with felting is really intriguing to me. I've always wanted to try crewel embroidery, I even have a book on it and haven't done it yet. I'm thinking darling hair clips for Vivienne, she'd go crazy for some geeish boo boo ones!

Barrette supplies: snap, alligator and pinch, french clips and metal headbands
Barrette tutorial @ Angry Chicken
Barrette tutorial @ On the Creative Path
Rose barrette tutorial @ Purl Bee

Felt bowls are another item I'd like to try.
Felted bowls and more @ Papaver Vert
Felt bowl tutorial @ More Ways to Waste Time
Machine felting @ Knitty & little bowls too
DesignSponge felted bowl
Simple nesting bowls felt in washer & one more here

April 28, 2010

fishing pond

Fishing Pond
Max and I spent the night at my studio working on this sign for his school's May Festival which is happening this sunday. The letters are still yet to be glued and some fish need to be added. Not sure which midnight hour I'll get the finishing touches done — wish me luck.

February 23, 2010

hot type

Leadtype
I've thrown caution to the wind as they say and purchased a set of lead type from an Etsy seller called Salvage Nation — the fonts and style and sizes will vary so there you have the windy part. Fortunately the random set was only twenty bucks. I'm excited to see if I can heat them on my hot plate and press into wax works. I'm feeling attracted to visual poetry again! Now if I can just find the time to experiment. . .and write!

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September 23, 2009

calling an old love

Studio Desk
Paint
More Paint
When I unpacked my art boxes last, what was it March? Oh no even longer, it was January!, I found a big box full of oil paints, linseed oil, damar varnish, and lots of unopened matt varnish. I thought for sure all the oils would be dried up and unusable. I didn't fret too much about it as it's been twelve years so my expectations were not high, plus I haven't made art in so long I didn't even know if I'd want to paint with oils again or use photographs as my canvas as I had in the past. In fact I thought it would be better to choose a non-toxic direction (green brainwashing) so I gravitated toward water color. At the same time, I've been slowly building an encaustic studio. I've been dreaming about melting, smoothing, and carving into beeswax. With my most recent splurge at dick blick (thank you Sherry!!) and Flax, I finally have the tools and supplies I want to work with. I started by drawing on a wood panel with the intention of waxing over a painted image. Of course the water colors I've been using weren't satisfying on wood and they don't work with a gesso'd ground since the water won't absorb. I considered acrylics— but really? I've never liked them (I feel snobbish saying that!). So there I was face to face with my box of old and potentially dried up oils. I started opening them one by one to see if I could even get the tops off or if they were squeezable. Indeed they were! About 85% are not only fine, they are still lovely and ready to go as though time hadn't past. As I opened them I remembered how much I love painting with oils. I had a really sweet stroll down memory lane as I tested each one. The sennelier paints are by far my favorites as they have unusual colors and rich pigment but are suspended in more oil than the other brands and glaze really well. They also held up beautifully after all these years. I had to start melting wax and painting that very day. . .it starts with a single step as they say. I'm walking now.
Start Painting

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July 8, 2009

new studio preview

Studio326
This is a picture of the studio I've been working in. Over the last six months I've spent most of my time here working as a designer so not enough art has been made, but nonetheless I'm showing up and feeling closer to where I want to be someday. It's a teeny tiny shared space and the building is now offering private studio spaces on the floor beneath, so I've decided to give up my little corner of studio 326 and am moving into a little bit bigger solo studio come August first. I'm excited. I've been laying out furniture and drawing on the walls — in my mind. Living for tomorrow!
Blurry Sneak
Here's a blurry blow up from the image above and a sneak peak at the first watercolors I've been painting.
New Studio207
New Studio207-1
And these are photos of my new space — studio 207.

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April 4, 2009

encaustic supplies

Wax-Tools
Griddle Therm
Spend, spend, spend...making art with all these fancy materials is so expensive. I forgot how lovely the rich and rare cadmiums and cobalts are, and of course now remember how pricey all those silver gelatin sheets are too. "Ouch", but also " aaaahh" at the same time, what a rub. When I walked into Dick Blick I felt so at home, well, in heaven really. The isles of colorful paints, wax, pens and all the merry craft making supplies, papers and books make me so happy — it's almost dangerous. I feel quite the same way in a yarn store. I managed to spend way too much and on so little! I opted not to make my own clear medium this time around and instead bought a few bars plus some white, pink, red and brown to start, I found some great scratching and carving tools both metal and wood plus cheap brushes so I can dedicate one brush to each color as was recommended. I also picked up some small wood panels, an on sale griddle from Target ($30 pretty good eh?) and a thermometer so regulate the wax temp. I still need to get a heat gun, iron and some extension cords. I have to watch out for the amps all these electrics use, apparently, if you run the griddle and gun on the same circuit you can blow out fuses! I've been scouring my new studio looking for other outlets so I can avoid that?!

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March 22, 2009

encaustic workshop

Eileen Goldberg
Tracing Paper
I had an amazing day today. I was so happy that the encaustic painting workshop I took was awesome and inspiring. I'm in love with this technique and can't wait to try it again. The workshop I took was a whole day affair in the sunset studio of a very talented wax artist and ceramicist named Eileen Goldenberg (blog) She's a very warm and engaging person; a supportive, informative and knowledgeable teacher; and very generous with her help and studio offerings. You couldn't take a better class! I learned so much today my head is swimming with information, ideas and most importantly — inspiration.
Eileens Wax
Eileen's wax palette had me drooling! Those gorgeous warm colors are eye candy to me. I could smear 'em on my cheeks or just grab a spoon and eat them — super delicious!
Encaustic Paints
Above is the hot palette I worked from. Below is the brown dandelion ink stamp with the gorgeous smears that Max made while playing in my studio yesterday. I fell in love with it. Of course Max gave me such a hard time for wanting it and he loaded me up with rules about how I could use it. Sadly, I apparently screwed up and he was in tears when I returned home with my final piece in which I used his stamps. I just hope one day he'll like it — or at least forget all about it?!@#!
Max Stamp Smear
Below are the pieces I made while learning about encaustics. I'm attracted to the milky white of the clear wax and hazy dreamy depths that the layers create. I also loved collaging in images. One awesome trick Eileen showed was to print an image on tracing paper then dip it in the wax and seal. The effect is photographic yet painterly and beautifully translucent. I'm also wanting to explore the sgraffito technique. I love the results I've seen in other works, but I found it really difficult to remove the wax after filling in the channel. I need lots of practice to get it to look the way I envision it. i also need more time trying to smooth out the wax. But no matter, I had a great time trying and can't wait to wield a heat gun again.
Dandelion Encaustic
Sgraffito Progress
Sgraffito Dandelions

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February 24, 2009

beautiful brushes

Paint Brushes
It was a pleasure to unwrap my old brushes and sort through them and remember my old painterly days. What a lovely collection. The old SF Chronicle newspaper they were wrapped in was dated Friday, November 7, 1997.

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January 14, 2009

my new studio

New Studio
Now I've gone and done it. In the midst of the financial crisis and global markets melt down which has totally effected our lives both in our puny holdings and in our receiving actual pay checks — which we aren't!!@#%^&! I went and rented myself an artist studio. Huh?!!@#$%^! What was I thinking? We are living off savings right now and I'm spending extra rent (and supplies!) from my teeny personal savings on art?! We've got two kids to feed, a mortgage, credit debt I could go on an on with the giant list of bills — did I mention I live in super expensive San Francisco. Being an adult sucks sometimes! Oh my oh my, I'm following my heart here but my head says I'm "CRAZY!".

I seem to be in the midst of a midlife, post mommy, identity crisis mixed with the fear of death bed regrets. What's it all about Alfi? All that has been swirling through my head and I'm not on any medication. I need to make art just for therapy sake! I've been thinking for years about getting back into creating something — anything. I miss it. I miss my voice. I miss gazing endlessly at a composition. I miss being alone. I miss the process. I miss the introspection. I miss the smell of toxic chemicals. Yes, really! When I walked into the artist warehouse the smell of turpentine, photo chemistry, glue etc was similar to the warm happiness of smelling fresh baking bread— H-O-M-E.

Above is my "before" photo. It's just a tiny little corner of a shared space (but private in that it has a door with a lock) —it's something like 4 x 10 feet with some storage in the shelving behind the curtain. There are three other artists in the space. There's a young couple who make illustrated books (graphic novels?!) who sit in a parallel space with only doorway to glimpse into their world and a man, around my age, who is a sculpture and photographer who works right be behind me. It feels strange, but exciting. I have no idea what I will make. I think I may just sit and knit until I feel more relaxed. Oh and of course I'll be squeezing out as many hours as I can doing design work to pay for childcare. These are days.

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September 13, 2008

strawberries-a-gocco

Fresh Strawberries
Strawberry Stew
Jarred Jam
Ready For Gocco
Gocco Tags
Finished Tags
Strawberry Tags

No, I didn't print gocco with fresh strawberry juice, fun idea though!

While Mr. C made delicious strawberry jam from 6lbs of strawberries he bought at the tuesday farmers market (which he hand carried home across the city) I did a two sided gocco printing job, hand punched eyelets and then wrapped the jars with pink bows. It was a very long but satisfyingly successful evening!

August 24, 2008

gocco printing

Shower Concept Image
Above is the original image concept for Aunnie's bridal shower invitation. It's a simple message — pure and sweet — just like their love. Lexi and Rey have the real thing!
Pg-5 Gocco
Mr. C had a great idea, which was to print the bridal shower invites using our DIY gooco machine. It's the modern version of the japanese woodcut print. But oh my gawd, as fun as it is, it's really time consuming and a totally imperfect art.

Many thanks to my fabulous neighbor Yoriko who got this machine for me (xxoo!!) . Riso has stopped making them so I feel really lucky to have one. I found an abundance of supplies at ARCH in Potrero Hill, online you can order stuff at Paper Source.

After reading many tutorial's and examining these wonderfully helpful sites, we were on our way.
Felt Cafe Turorial
Get Crafty Tutorial
The Small Object Tutorial
The Lab Partners Process
e-How Process
gocco techniques
Happily Artwork
Here's the original xerox positioned in the screen, it was made haphazardly at our local kinkos and didn't turn out quite right. I bet using a laser printer would yield better results. There's also the gocco carbon pen to consider —though the ones that came with our kit are super fine tipped so big solids would be a pain to fill. In the future I now know not to try a distressed look without using a halftone screen because the distressing really didn't translate well. In the end it looked like we didn't ink the press properly rather than the vintage weathered look we were going for. Oh well!
Bad Gocco Screen
Bad Gocco Screen Hearts-1
One really important detail we learned was to NOT leave the original carbon xerox attached to the screen after exposure. The first screens we exposed by holding down the gocco for about 5 seconds. Afterward we left the originals attached for many minutes while we mixed ink. When we were ready to ink the screen we tried to remove the xerox paper original and found that the paper was so so so stuck it wouldn't come off and that the dark solid areas had cause a complete carbon screen fusion — see the hearts screen image above. We then did the exposures again and this time pulled the original paper off the screens as fast as possible, eh voila, see-through perfection! See below:
Gocco Screen
Next we mixed inks and then did the first pass of printing which was the pink hearts. The ink took a long time to dry so we weren't able to do the second ink run until early this am. In fact as I write this entry the cards are still drying.
Gocco Inks
Gocco Ink
Inked Gocco
Heart Cards
Final Cards
Final Card
The final cards are drying...keep an eye on your mailbox.

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February 28, 2007

basic beastie bunny

Beastie Love

Knit with No. 4 Addis in stockinet in the round using the magic loop technique, using 100% alpaca by Blue Sky in cream (color 000). The arms are 2x2 ribbing, knit flat, 40 sts for 4.5 inches, seamed with mattress stitch and then turned inside out. The bunny was knit in the round making crazy alterations along the way...and I've lost the papers with all my calculations and adjustments, urgh. I'll have to start the next one by dissecting this one and of course I'll write down the whole process in this blog so I'll never have this "I lost my homework" frustration again. This finished beastie is 17" tall, 7" at widest point across the face and legs, each leg is 3.5", ears 2.5" all increases and decreases run in parallel down the side seams. It turned out quite a bit larger than I expected and the arms need to be smaller in the next version. I'll either go down a needle size or recalculate, ok maybe I'll do both? I think I'll switch approach too and knit from the bottom up rather than the top down since I'm not that happy with the picked up stitches seam where the ears begin. And I'll need to be adding in color so the beastie is more charming and fun. Thinking striped shorts or a circle of color for the face background would be sweet. I was so focused on writing a pattern and figuring out all the "how to" details I couldn't manage color changes or instarsia, will try for next time.

sketch
design
progress

Stroller Beastie

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September 25, 2006

get socks on

Ele Socks

Max found some socks in my closet and I pointed out to him that they are the same socks I used to sew his elephant. He then went and got his elephant and put the socks on it. Darling little mind.

I must share some places I've been and remember them myself. Lovely images, poetry, crafts and children's clothes by Eireann at bara design. She has loads of great links and beautiful taste in images.

Wonderful sewn and knitted art by Lisa Solomon. Reminds me of the amazing stitch portraits by Claire Heathcote.

Boiled Arts letterpress goodies. Supply shopping at Crafty Planet. Sample these delicious crafts and illustrations at Flor De Papel.
Lastly feast on these yummy paintings by Kelly Lynn Jones.

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September 11, 2006

binh danh beauty

Binh Danh

Binh Danh3

Binh Danh4

Binh Danh1

While wandering through the DeYoung the other weekend, I saw a single, beautifully subtle photographic print on a banana leaf and was intrigued. Having just returned from Asia, the image really got to me and the strange printing process peaked my curiosity. The image I saw titled the story of bodhisattva was an image of a victim from the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia [there's a picture of it here]. It was quietly painful and eerily beautiful all at once. I quickly snapped a Treo pix of the name of the artist so I could check him out later. [Oh how I love thee internet! ] I've found some sites discussing his amazing photographic photosynthesis printing process {which he calls a chlorophyll print}, information on his content, amazing images, and critical discussions. I am really moved by the powerful historical images in combination with natural objects. The unique artistic pairing makes me feel the earth —nature itself — may record our history in the very fabric of its being.

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September 3, 2006

quilts of gee's bend

Deyoung

Denim Quilt

Quilt1

Quilt Detail

I finally made it to the new DeYoung museum today. It's only new to me, as it's been open for a while now. I was very impressed with the architecture both inside and out. The copper skin of the building is amazing and the beautiful copper leaf behind the donors names is rich and impressive, fitting. I especially love the fractured Drawn Stone by Andy Goldsworthy. His art is naturally poetic and in this case the earthquake fracture is equally disturbing. Sadly, I must complain that the DeYoung's security staff is ridiculously uptight [Max wasn't even allowed to sit in his stroller holding a no spill sippy cup!] and the overall museum design and operation perpetuates the "we're too high and lofty" inaccessibility of fine art which makes me depressed. Art should feel good, engaging and especially accessible. Boo to the snooty types. On a positive note, I was very impressed with the The Quilts of Gee's Bend. Most of the quilts were sewn from scraps of fabric often salvaged from worn-out clothes combined in extraordinary combinations of color, pattern, and texture. They've organized the show by fabric type — I love that detail. I also enjoyed viewing the quilts first and then finding the quilters portraits on the wall behind the opening blanket. For more information and images check out this site and this one too...more, more, more and more..

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August 17, 2006

jack the dripper

Pollack Drips

See how much time I just wasted! This was on today's daily candy, so you probably already saw it, but I can't help posting this silly site where you can paint your own Pollack.

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August 13, 2006

Oh Oh Ahhhhh

Graffiti Brush

Foliage Brush

Worn Brushes

The downloadable psd brushes created oh so miraculously by Jason Gaylor give me The Big graphic design "O." These are the best I've found and a real pleasure to play with. He offers amazing foliage, graffiti, and distressed brushes created with print resolution sizes in mind. I just love love love these. Jason, you are too cool for sharing these with the world! All of the above sketches made by moi sampling Jason's brushes. Seriously these are too fun!

How to create your own brushes: Photoshop > draw something or find artwork to use, then go to menu > edit > define brush preset > and let the stamping fun begin. A couple of links to add —here's a cool publication website with too much web design information to know where to begin but obviously it gives good linking: stylegala. And hree's a design and marketing blog with good advice: authentic boredom.

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June 6, 2006

art barn dreaming

barn1.jpg

barn2.jpg

barn3.jpg

barn4.jpg

barn5.jpg

barn6.jpg

barn7.jpg

I want one! Custom build out with a mural size darkroom, huge painting studio, wood shop, letterpress printers & type drawers, knitting couch with a coffee table & giant comfy side chair, lovely kitchen with island, industrial sink (toxic solvent dumping area - say out back), killer stereo system, lots of storage shelves and then 20 years of my life to play art barn. Ahhhh, dreaming.

June 5, 2006

cactus blossoms

cactus_flower.jpg

These gorgeous cactus blooms only flower for one week a year. In the ten years I've been going up to meee hubbies family estate {tee hee} in Healdsburg, I've only seen them three times. Simply magical.

May 25, 2006

sew crewel

crewel_embroidery.jpg

I recently read a posting on the Make blog about crewel embroidery. It caught my attention because the designs were quirky, retro and modern - especially for embroidery work. Wool and Hoop is selling little kits with original designs by artist Katherine Shaughnessy. She's also just put out a book called The New Crewel. If you read the reviews it sounds fabulous because it includes lots of up close shots and clear directions showing exactly how to do it. I really like the idea of learning this technique's stitches so I can do my own illustrations. Hmmm, another hobby?! !@#$%*^&!

Wiki's wise words explaining what crewel is: Crewel embroidery is an embroidery technique which is at least a thousand years old. It was used in the Bayeux Tapestry, in Jacobean embroidery and in the Quaker tapestry. The word crewel comes from an ancient word describing the curl in the staple, the single hair of the wool. Crewel wool has a long staple; it is fine and can be strongly twisted. The crewel technique is not a counted-thread embroidery (like canvas work), but a style of free embroidery.

May 15, 2006

sock elephant progress, part III

sock_elephant_final.jpg

Just about done, only the right hand (really foot eh?) stitch details to go. The only extra bit I added is the pink stitching over the trunk's end. I'm ready to start the kitty and already have the orange socks ready to snip. I purchased a similar pair to the brown ones used above. I got a bit of shock from my mentions on how much I paid for the thorlo hiking -only to be cut into a toy- socks. I really wanted them to be soft, thick, and hold up to a lifetime of machine washing and toddler wear and tear. My next sock shopping adventure may well be more frugal and defiantly more funky. Having gone looking for mens tube socks (a dozen for $18 - ok, I paid too much!), more tube socks, vintage rainbow striped, another good wigwam selection, and finally the biggest sized socks on earth I see there's a decent amount of raw material to work with.

May 14, 2006

wabi sabi goes zakka

pin_cushions.jpg

This is a bit of an addendum to the previous posting. I just finished reading a book on the japanese aesthetic wabi sabi and have a deeper appreciation for the overlooked beauty in the imperfect, broken and mundane. It's an interesting comparison to my new love of zakka which some consider japanese kitsch. I see an interesting cross over in that they can both be humble, flawed, and handmade. Someone could really sink their teeth into this and write a fabulous essay on the subject - please keep me posted if you go there. Maybe I'll circle back later. Anyway I hadn't remembered to visit wikipedia on my last zakka search but of course wiki has a great definition: zakka is the term for everything and anything that spruces up your home, life and outlook. On one level the zakka boom is just another in a series of consumer fads, but on another it's plugged into something spiritual. Cute, corny and kitsch is not enough. To qualify as a zakka, a product must be attractive, sensitive, laden with subtexts. And they link to this Tribune article discussing its elusive meaning and trend.

zakka_bunny.jpg

And now for dessert... see tasty zakka visuals from crafter extraordinaire Hilary at wee wonderfuls and then click here for good zakka & zakka mania portals, and the utterly adorable kita usagi.

May 9, 2006

sock elephant progress, part II

sock_elephant_progress.jpg

I've made excellent strides toward completing my first sock toy. Woo hoo and isn't he a cutie! I only have to finishing sewing the back of his right ear then it’s on to the fun embroidery embellishments. I do love to decorate. I may add some color to the end of his trunk or add stripe rings around his hands and feet. I'm not too sure yet, but this seems like a good opportunity to experiment. Next time I make a sock animal I need to make sure that my symmetry is a little better. The legs, torso and head are a little left leaningly wonky — but I'm hoping that makes him that much more adorable and obviously hand made. I just need more practice sewing by hand but mostly I need to slow down and be more patient during the creative process. I just get sooooo excited to see the results.

May 3, 2006

sock elephant progress, part I

elephant_bottom.jpg

Despite my ridiculously sore shoulder and wrist which should keep me from doing anything crafty or knitty (and yes dear I will call the dr.) I popped two advil and stayed up way too late hand sewing my first sock animal. I decided on the elephant — that long nose and those big ears — couldn't pass it up. I'm using a soft grey brown sock with dark chocolate embroidery thread. It seems to take forever to hand sew 'cause I'm first sewing it all with white thread and then embroidering the details, though compared to knitting it's going amazingly fast. See above, two legs and a body all done. The Japanese book is super easy to understand just from the line drawings. All the light grey shading means the fabric should be right sides facing, white means wrong sides facing - simple and brilliant. The rest is easy to copy from the pattern drawings and the darling pictures on the previous pages.

May 2, 2006

sock animal supplies

kitty_elephant_II.jpg

sock_supplies.jpg

I just received my first eBay purchase in the mail and I couldn’t be happier! Ages ago I posted an entry about a Japanese craft book I saw but I was hesitant to buy it since I had recently splurged on two amigurumi books while in Japantown. Just a few days ago I was surfing around and ended up in that same eBay store, Meukin, and the book I wanted then was in the final few hours of bidding so I jumped and bought the last copy. I got the rush a winning bidder feels while at an auction. I went and bragged to my colleagues, and their faces revealed just how much they could give a rats ass. Ok perhaps I revealed too much about my crafting fetish, oopsie. While out for lunch today I went into a sporting goods store and picked up some juicy socks and then trotted off to Britex to get some beautiful threads so I can sew my first sock animal. I'm waffling between the kitty and the elephant. I’m so excited to start, hope I can stay awake tonight.

sock monkey instructions

April 20, 2006

mysterious miro

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There are many aspects of Google to admire, it's amazing breadth, depth and stark simplicity to name a few, but one of my favorite little features is the logo transformations they create on special days. Google's definition of a special day goes well beyond traditional christian holidays to include many birthdays of important people who've shaped our world history. I love Google for remembering to include the arts and encouraging their millions of users to look.

Today is Joan Miro's birthday, a favorite painter of mine. He's so beloved that I named my darling black kitty after him over 13 years ago. I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that Miro always started a painting with a black canvas rather than the conventional white one. I adore Miro's whimsical poetic surrealism and I especially adore his magical titles such as A Dew Drop Falling from a Bird's Wing Wakes Rosalie, who Has Been Asleep in the Shadow of a Spider's Web; Stars in Snails' Sexes; or Ciphers and Constellations, in Love with a Woman.

read about Miro | view his work | view the MoMa's Black & Red site

April 19, 2006

crow about it

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Rosson Crow appears poised to be the next art world darling, or maybe she already is? Considering I just saw a little review in March Vogue, I'm thinking she's it. And for all the jealousy I feel towards this 24 year old painting superstar, I admit, I think her work is utterly fabulous. Her painterly mix of spacious realism and layered abstraction, gorgeous palette combinations, and intriguing mix of interior, still life, and historical political content keep me wanting more. Her work combines an unusual cross section of ideas. It pays homage to many painting masters — I see a lovely mix of Francis Bacon, German expressionism and Matisse-like interiors (the colors alone make my eyes weak at the knees) and at the same time the imagery is a Ritz Carlton Versaillesque sitting room meets Monet doing waterloo while Napoleon does waterlilies. I won't be surprised to see her mise en scene dressed in haute couture spread across the fashion and art world magazines flitting about the Parisian gallery-scape. And then a few years later we'll see her reemerge married to some New York or euro upper cruster slash nouveau royalty. Good for her (jealousy raising it's ugly head again). She has a wait list for her fresh out of school $16,000 pieces, so I'll just be over here admiring my little blog posting.

see more of her work | read her words

March 14, 2006

platen press II, part I

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I love letterpress. It's so satisfying to press the metal type into paper and then run my finger over the impression's texture and admire the lovely unevenness of the ink. Each print is a unique piece due to it's subtleties. It's really, really lovely. I can imagine a whole life where I spend everyday setting pretty type and doing short press runs. Well, for that matter I can imagine a life where I paint everyday too, which isn't much of a stretch since in my past life I spent year after year doing just that. Wah, I miss that. It's just a crying shame that it's so difficult to make a comfortable living making art. And I really know why people don't buy more art because I know how hard it is to just live and save enough for a good future, let alone feed your family and say go to the movies for a little escapism. It's tough to find balance in every regard...but I digress, this is really a posting about how fun it was to spend tonight locking up type, setting furniture and reglets, and doing lots of my own illogical (but works for me) measuring technique to center the paper within the tympan’s guides. I chose the type face styme in 18pt, and I wasn't that happy with it especially because the case was full of uneven "r"s. The two lined quote I chose was If I'd had more time — I'd have written a shorter letter.

February 20, 2006

gocco bee mine

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I didn't want to post my valentine gocco print since it was a surprise for my man. Now that heart day has come and gone I thought I'd share my "bee mine" illustration. Also in the image are some samples from my fellow classmates. (The image isn't great 'cause it's just Treo. My little Canon's battery is dead and I can't find the charger...) I'm still dreaming of owning a gocco, so I suppose I best just splurge and buy one off eBay? Sadly, I doubt a trip to Tokyo is in my near future.

February 17, 2006

everyday in ordinaryland

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Going forward is a matter of ordinariness. —Dogen Zenji

I just returned from part II of gocco class at sfcb. Teacher "Ivar" is a quirky duck and though he knows what he's doing and is definitely a gocco expert, his heart is surely not in teaching. Now that's no excuse for my lack of attention to detail as shown by my poor registration due to rough handling and time anxiety, but hey, it happens (to me often!). I'm frustrated by the registration process on the gocco, but I'm sure it's simply operator error and lack of patience. I should also lighten up since this is only my second attempt at gocco'ing. My first screen was missing the "s" in ordinariness, that sucked and the plausible explanation was that the registration guides were blocking the screen burn. After polling and determining that "ordinarines" was not an actual french word meaning "ordinary," I bought a third screen and re-burnt. I thank Ivar for giving me half price off the sfbc mark up. I wish I had had more time to re-ink and re-print all the sheets, but alas... If I were in my art barn studio I'd be up way past midnight wasting tons of ink and paper while searching for the perfectly registered print. It's probably for the better that I only had three hours. So what have I learned? That I should really take my time and focus on each print so the registration is perfect, otherwise why bother!? No new lesson there, just same old — same old. Attention to detail and clear focus are always the key qualities to a job well done. Too bad just having a good time doesn't make a perfect print.

February 7, 2006

readymade workout

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I took a fun little class last night at SF's latest craze craft gym. Never fear, the word gym is only meant to draw your attention to the modern interior space or as they say "a place to give your mind a creative workout." Happily, we only lifted petite spools of thread. Ironically the little studio is directly across from another invitingly voyeuristic glass space only this one was filled with hard core krav maga students. Over the course of our three hour class we watched the windows go from transparent to dripping with steam and then solidly opaque.

Our teacher Jane was a treat, as was Besty the 13 year old wide-eyed wonder kid. Besty put Janin and I to shame by whizzing through the "as seen in readymade issue #11" rocker tee shirt project in an hour and then sewing a skirt from another tee while we both labored through re-sewing, ripping and sewing again until we had the perfect fit. I'll post a photo of my tee after a little more perfecting.

February 5, 2006

amigurumi, how do you do?

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beyond cute! and I'm not talking about my darling little man Max (who is absolutely the epitome of cuteness mind you) you simply must see for yourself. Go click around the animguruimi avocadolite farm and let the pictures speak for themselves. smoochy smooch. New goal is to learn to read a japanese crochet pattern in my lifetime.

February 4, 2006

save gocco!

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I can't believe it's true! I'm so sad to verify that it really is impossible to purchase a gocco machine in California, on eBay and all the websites I have tried (excepting the large format primo pricey version). Now that I've been exposed I REALLY WANT ONE! Guess I'll be booking a flight to Tokyo (ha ha ha). I've just discovered how super fun (and possibly "for profit " as the box says) it is to gocco. I completed a class thursday night at sfcb led by a quirky rock-n-roll guy named Yvar. I fell in love with the ease and instant gratification of this tiny printmaking gadget. Gocco offered up some serious crafting fun to be had and I only had the opportunity to glimpse the possibilities. I'm linking to the save gocco site. Please visit, sign the guestbook and help save the future of this genius little tool.

January 31, 2006

down the rabbit hole

I'm falling in love...down, down, down I go through the rabbit hole. Sure feels like it. Normally I'd define myself as a serious skeptic and unbelieving in human change. But hey you grow up and figure out that you really know nothing about life even though you know so much more than you did. Am I making any sort of sense? I'll stop philosophizing and get to the point. I always hated stuffed animals. But right now I'm so enamored with knit and handmade toys I want to eat them. I'm just not myself anymore. I can hear the caterpillar saying "who are YOU?" Meander through these links and then let me know if you've been able to resists a few "awe" and "oh"s escaping your lips!

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jess hutchinson - So far in my research, I deem her the mistress of the most adorable and creative knit toys. I really want to get my hands on her patterns. I'm so sad that her book is sold out, wah.

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molly chicken's blog — these japanese handicrafts make me grin - adorable!

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Colobockle — these illustrations are super inspirationsal and sweet, yummy. they remind me a bit of Eric Carl, a childhood favorite of mine.

sigh. I would love to be living in my art barn right now. Fireplace roaring, lovely tunes floating through the air, hot pot of tea by my side and all the time in the world to create all the lovely things in my minds eye. dreaming...

December 15, 2005

letterpress III, Part III

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A long but fruitful evening spent printing the last part of our little book of quotes. My printing partner Jason and I spent most of the time perfecting our complicated lock up and adjusting the tight alignment and registration. We printed three of our pages all at once using a brown ink we mixed on press. It was a long set up, but a satisfying print run once we got it perfected. The class ran way over the allotted time, so we hardly had enough time to put our type back in the cases let alone clean the press. We weren't able to print covers and bind the books as we'd hoped. I'm going to attempt the japanese binding this afternoon, time permitting. I'm have to teach myself how to from diagrams...fingers crossed that I'll figure it out.

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December 8, 2005

tufte cookie

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I feel like my data integrity chakras were realigned today (my Marin roots are showing!). Thanks Mr. Tufte-info cookie. Edward Tufte's lecture was the kick in me old design arse I was looking for. The over arching theme I walked away with was " does your content have integrity and relevance?" or " get better content" (damn it!) "DESIGN CAN NOT SALVAGE POOR CONTENT." There's a quote I may frame or a mantra I may repeat ad nauseam. He also got my attention on "respect your audience" don't assume who they are (and therefore design for the underestimating least common denominator a.k.a "the know your audience" mentality). He reminded me to rise up and do better. Yep, that's the impression left on my bootie, thanks Eddie. I also walked away with three gorgeous books too deep with information to truly comprehend (ok I can, but I probably just won't cause life is short and there are so many pastries to distract my eyes and mouth). But I had a great time today, thank you, and I was reminded to care about my work even if I'm not getting any support from my colleagues, company or the outside world. Oh and I got a serious tickle from the "Tedious British Watercolor Exhibition" label in one graphic and Tufte's overarching hatred of PowerPoint. ME TOO!!!

December 7, 2005

letterpress III part II

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Still high from the clean up chemicals. Well, really just punchy from staying up way past my bedtime. Keeping this short, but I wanted to post the fun photos I took while printing my two color Oscar Wilde quote. It just worked out that one press was running a metallic pale pink and another an olive green. I'm loving the results. Yeah, finally some satisfaction. And again, I'm loving the art of letterpress. Worth every penny. The letterpress printer shown here is the Vandercook 4.

yawn. nighty, night.

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December 1, 2005

letterpress III part I

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My first question was, "Is there a job case for every state?" I wasn't sure if instructor Maia just didn't want to deal with me, the super heady questioning type of student, or if there really wasn't an answer... until now. Turns out the reason why it's called a California Job Case is a mystery even after you read the article I just linked to. I spent three hours last night setting four lines of type, sigh. Well, actually the first hour was a lot of talking about what we're going to learn and the job we'll create, which turns out to be a little book of quotes. And, as it happens, there was homework. Swell, first class starts with homework. I signed up early and my phone call was a short, simple, here's my credit card kind of transaction - no mention of homework. All the other students had been informed of the project and had come with their brilliant quotes in tow. Fortunately my fab "lifeline" lil' sister and beau were home when I called and quick with the suggestions. For the first quote I'm going with Oscar Wilde. I quickly scanned the room's cases and the type choice came easy, Palantino all caps at 16pt. It looks sophisticated but the serifs and caps make it a wee bit quirky. "ANYONE WHO LIVES WITHIN THEIR MEANS SUFFERS FROM A LACK OF IMAGINATION" I then struggled thinking I could find the perfect whimsical italic for the author line which when juxtaposed with the caps would say "Wilde" without actually saying it. But the Center for the Book only has a few font faces and within those, many only have a few random sizes. None felt right. I then searched every drawer looking for a dingbat, image or abstract shape that would inspire me or even just work with the quote and type size...NADA. I've since then decided to use a chrysanthemum floral polymer plate as a wallpaper background which I designed during the letterpress II class I took in August. That should give it a little texture and flamboyant interest while leaving all the umfph to the actual quote. I now had fifteen minutes to set my next quote, so ya, you bet I choose a short one by Pablo Picasso. "ART IS LIES" set in 72 point Michelangelo with one word on each line, left justified and the remaining text "THAT TELL THE TRUTH" set in 12pt horizontally centered to the right of the "IS". I didn't get it all done by 10 o'clock, so I'll be showing up early next wednesday evening to squeeze copper strips in between the lead spacers and hopefully keep my place in line for a two color job. As always, a late night was hard to manage the next morning, but then there's that creative after-glow I always enjoy. ah.

November 22, 2005

sweet bliss

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I started from pencil on paper, and yes it was far more satisfying than my wacom dependency. If only I had some pastels, brushes and a smock. Since I'm stuck at work, photoshop will have to do. I love Jill Bliss' sweet landscapes, so a little sham sham, copy copy, appropriatin'... I figure it's ok since it's for my own inspiration. Anything to make the painful slowness of work bearable and get me inching toward the art barn in my mind.

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