Thursday, October 27, 2011

Puppy Therapy

My next door neighbor's yellow lab, Sophie (Cassie's best friend pictured here) had a litter of 8 puppies about 4 weeks ago. We spent some time socializing with them this weekend. It's like therapy. There's nothing that can lift your spirits like being in a room filled with adorable, curious puppies! Here are some cute shots I took.
When we got there, the puppies had just woken up and were beginning to play. They were all over the place, climbing on the girls and chewing on their clothes and shoes.
At one point, I sat down and two of the yellow ones came along and climbed into my lap. Out of the 8, 5 are yellow and 3 are black.
They are already eating soft solid food and drinking water from a bowl. They have sharp little teeth and like to chew on anything and everything!

After a good 20-30 minutes of playing and eating, they start to get sleepy again. They settle down next to you or climb up in your lap.

Look at that face!

These four have chosen this favorite corner of the kitchen for a nap. They are just too cute! Luckily, my friend has asked us to come back again soon to continue socializing the pups!

Friday, October 21, 2011

More Autumn Inventory!

As I mentioned in my previous post, last night I held my "creative playgroup" at the library. The women were very enthusiastic and willing to experiment and play with all the materials I brought. We especially had fun playing with the stamps, inks, and pearl-ex powder. This afternoon when I finally sat down to do something creative for an hour or so, I started putting away all the materials from last night, when I decided to play around with everything a little more on my own. I managed to come up with some new color combinations with some of the various stamps. As you can see, I'm even planning ahead a bit and getting in some wintry motifs!

Of course, I was partial to the autumn-toned pieces. I made a bunch of them so I can use them for charms on some of the bracelets I hope to finish up soon. But I also attempted getting two pieces to match close enough to be a pair of earrings - and I succeeded! I think the key is breaking off two same-size pieces of clay and working them together, step by step, rather than completing one and then trying to make a second just like it. Anyway, look what I came up with!I used metallic gold clay with the copper pearl-ex powder and added a few glass beads to the hanging wires. I added these to my etsy shop tonight, but I liked them so much, I made an extra pair for myself!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Busy Week!

I feel like I've been running full tilt since my last post on Saturday! The girls have been busy with activities, I had a few extra programs this week at the library, and I have my adult evening craft program tonight ("the creative playgroup for women") - we're making polymer clay beads and charms. I took 15 minutes here and there to stitch these leaves onto the heavy interfacing to turn them into autumn coasters. What do you think? I like them, and they're fairly quick to put together. Next time I'll cut the fabric before I print the leaves; it took way too long cutting the fabric up into neat 4-inch squares after they were printed!

I have an opinion question for anyone out there reading this: In the past, I've covered the top of my fabric coasters with a fusible vinyl to protect them. I'm wondering if I should do that here. These are not pieced, so they may not need as much protecting, and I think people may prefer to be able to feel the texture of the fabric and stitch (I know I do). But they are not as protected without the vinyl and may be in danger of being stained by wine, coffee, etc. (Maybe I should go with the vinyl...) Anyone out there got an opinion? I'm looking forward to getting these posted on Etsy...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Painted Leaf Prints

On weekday mornings I'm usually up before 6, making sure the girls are awake, emptying the dishwasher, getting various breakfast and lunch components together. On weekends I have the option of sleeping in a bit, or getting up at the same time and getting in some very valuable creative time while everyone else sleeps in (even the dog!). This morning, I did the latter, and started a new project that I hope to be working on in the next few days.

Of course, it's hard not to be inspired by the colors and shapes of the leaves this time of year. I never get tired of them, year after year. The last few days I've been picking up leaves of a particular size, but a variety of shapes, to make these prints on fabric. Someone from Cloth Paper Scissors magazine suggested using an old phone book for this type of painting and I have to say, whoever it was is a genius! I painted the leaves with paint (I used Pebeo Setacolor) with a foam brush...

and then pressed the leaf onto a nice homespun cloth. When the page in the phone book gets too messy, just turn to the next page and keep going!

I only used two colors of paint (buttercup yellow and oriental red), and mixed them together in various proportions to get a variety of shades of yellow, orange, and red. In the past I've always used cheap craft store acrylic paint that I've treated with a fabric medium. It always suited me fine, but now that I've used the Pebeo Setacolor paint, I'm hooked! The colors are so vibrant and deep and the texture is so smooth and creamy - just lovely to work with. And I love the results! I found myself just doing one more, and then one more after that! Now I can't wait to get to the next step in the project. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Trying to Add Inventory

Now that I have an Etsy shop, I'm trying to add items to sell! I've read that you're better off adding one new item per day rather than adding all your items at once. This way you get listed on the "What's New" list, and it's possible your items will be noticed more. And even though I have several other bracelets I can list, it's difficult to find the time to photograph them well and get them listed. I also wanted to list more autumn-themed pieces like the one above - it's been laying around my "almost finished" pile for two years now - but first I had to finish it! I put it on my blog back in September of 2009 (see it here) when it was just the collage - no borders or finished edges. Today I bought a stretched canvas with the intent to attach it to that somehow, but the premade sizes weren't quite right (the orange felt rectangle is 10"x 6"). I ended up backing it with the two different burlaps and adding the decorative hand stitching. It definitely looks much more finished and professional than it did! I even like this photograph of it - but I neglected to sign it! Better get back to the sewing machine, stitch in my signature and rephotograph it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Perfect Fall Fun

Cassie was so excited yesterday when we put her "going out" collar on that she jumped into the front seat of the car before we could stop her! She must've sensed we were going somewhere fun - and she was right! It was the perfect day to head over to our favorite orchard, Stewart's Fruit Farm in Granite Springs. They've been family-owned and operated since 1886 and it's our favorite place to pick apples.

We thought we might even be too late to get good pickin's this year, but there were plenty of apples still on the trees. I'm always amazed at the abundance in this orchard. It's like Eden, with boughs bending under the weight of the heavy, ripe, fragrant fruit.
We picked, and picked, and picked!

Luckily, Mark doesn't mind carrying the overflowing and very heavy bag back to the car.
After we finished picking, we followed our noses to Stewart's new bakery. Mmm, the smells that were wafting out the doors were just heavenly - butter, sugar, and fruit all mixed together! Although I have a real weakness for cherry pie and I'm sure theirs was delicious, I managed to content myself with just the aromas. They're free, and they have no calories!
Now we have plenty of apples to make into pies, crisps, and muffins over the next few months - one of the best things about fall!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Open for Business!

Announcing the grand opening of my very own ETSY shop! Above is the banner I created this week using the free program called "gimp." Do you recognize the background? It's a section of my "Waterfall" piece that was in the show last month. I've been ruminating on my "brand" - colors, font, the general image I want to project. I think I've captured it, between the flowing and sparkling fabric "water," to the coppery lettering.

And below is my new mascot! I've made several versions of him, but I definitely like this one the best. I sponged copper acrylic paint on the wrong side of a commercial print fabric, then fused it to a pale green felt. This prevented a lot of fraying that I get with just the fabric alone. The real coup was his spine ridges. In the past, I've tried to cut them out by hand with a scissors, but I always wanted to try to incorporate rick-rack somehow. I have yards of a very small pale green rick-rack that I painted with the same acrylic paint and stitched along his back. I think it's a vast improvement. I also managed to get a bit of an expression on his face. What do you think? Isn't he cute? I'm using him as my "avatar" instead of a picture of myself. I think it says more about me and my art than my own face would.

I also decided to take a leap of faith and donate 5% of any profits to a non-profit research foundation called "Project Seahorse." The worldwide seahorse population has been dwindling rapidly over the last few decades and Dr. Amanda Vincent founded the organization to study seahorses and work with fisherman around the globe to prevent any further damage to their populations and ecosystem. I just love seahorses; maybe it's because they almost seem like something imaginary, like unicorns, only they're real. They're just so darned cute and interesting to watch!

So anyway, hop on over to my new ETSY shop (I'll have to add a link on my blog somewhere soon) and tell your friends about it too! Every purchase helps save the seahorse!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Daily Commute

About 10 days ago I hit a cement obstruction with the car (ugh) in a parking lot (it's only about 10" high and I couldn't see it!) and we've been managing with one car since then. It should be back on the road today, but meanwhile I've had the chance to bike to work a few times. I'm lucky that I live so close to the library and am able to get there in less than 15 minutes by bike! First, I head down the road and down this big hill...
Then I hop onto our bike trail. It's one of those converted rail-to-trail bike paths, and just down the road from our house!
Then I stay on the path for a while, probably less than a mile. It's very shady and quiet, a nice way to start the day.
Finally, I cross Rte. 6 and head up a small hill and I'm on Lake Mahopac! Another short trip down the road and I'm there! It's a nice morning trip, but it's dependent on the weather, which has not been very cooperative lately. Also, I'm not always as energetic on the way home, after a long day at work.
...And I've got to get back up that hill!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Weekend Fun

Here are some photos (courtesy of my husband Mark) of the Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze at Van Cortlandt Manor, where Halloween is already in full swing! They advertise that there are over 4,000 jolly jacks on display, and it certainly looked that way! Some of them, like the one above, look like they were done by local school children - so much youthful energy, enthusiasm and imagination! Below is a shot of a field filled with glowing jacks of all sorts - some were scary & creepy, but there were also animals like cats, even characters like pirates, devils, and clowns. Mark shot the two photos below without the flash so you could get a sense of how they glowed in the dark, but of course the shots are a little blurry because it's hard to hold the camera still enough for the shutter speed. The shot below that shows the manor glowing with eerie lights and images of the Van Cortlandts (I assume) carved into pumpkins too.

There were even jack-o-lantern dinosaurs. The first was taken without a flash, and the second one with a flash. It really illuminates the construction, but takes away from the magic, doesn't it? I really liked some of the displays that featured carved pumpkins hanging from the trees. These are carved with butterflies and really looked enchanting floating under the trees in the dark. There was a similar display carved with fairies with dozens of pumpkins carved with mushrooms and flowers below. I really liked these towers of pumpkins carved to look like sunflowers. There was a similar display that resembled a cornfield filled with crows. It was really amazing! After oooing and aahing over everything for about an hour, we headed home for birthday desserts! Yum!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Two Birthdays

We are celebrating my youngest daughter's 11th birthday today! We have some fun things planned, including having an early dinner at Olive Garden and then going to "The Great Jack-o-Lantern Blaze" at Van Cortlandt Manor this evening. Hopefully the rain will stop before then...

Meanwhile, I have another good friend at work who shares this birthday (I think I know about 5 people total who all have birthdays on October 1st. Guess what fell nine months earlier - New Year's Eve!). I made her these cute button earrings. She's a real bead and jewelry buff. I thought the range of purples and grays in these would compliment her wardrobe. Also, the fact that they're made with buttons and not beads just might make them a unique item in her jewelry box. Fun!