Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

The church we attend has kind of a modern design with this very bold, somewhat abstract stained glass window which stretches the entire length of the back wall of the church behind the altar.  The window faces east, so during morning masses, the colors are intense and glowing.  Although it was distracting to me when we first started attending church here almost 17 years ago, now I find it serves as a useful focal point for meditation.  Here is the portion depicting the crucifixion, something to ponder on today.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Altering Fabrics

For the piece I'm working on now, the "kimono," I wanted a range of yellow and green fabrics, and some with a little of both.  I pulled some from my stash, bought a couple more, and altered some others to get even more choices.  Above, I had this nice leaf batik with a pale ivory background.  I dyed a section of it with yellow acrylic inks mixed with water to get the piece on the right.

Below, I picked up these two commercial fabrics that looked almost hand-dyed.  They had some nice color variations, but I wanted a little more texture.  I stamped them with two different commercial stamps and acrylic paints.

This piece of sage green fabric had almost a flocked texture, with this swirl pattern etched into it.  I wanted it to have more yellow, so I painted in the swirls on one section with yellow acrylic paints.

The piece below is some sheer man-made fabric.  I knew it wouldn't take paint or ink very well, so I added some yellow stitching in wavy lines.

Here's another peek at the piece in progress with some of the stamped, painted and stitched fabrics.  So far I like the way it's coming along...

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Making Room

The calendar says it's spring, but the wind still feels like winter!  Even so, this week I washed and stored a bunch of fall and winter clothing.  I'm tired of wearing all those dark colors!  I've been shopping a bit for our upcoming trip and can't wait to wear some lighter and brighter clothing!

 On the downstairs front, my DH moved a bookshelf into my workspace and had to remove the top shelf to make it fit.  Now we have less storage space and lots of extra books.  (There goes that home library I always wanted...).  I donated a bunch of books to our Book Barn at the library...

I fit some of them on here...

But I couldn't get these from the library so I ordered them from Amazon!  Where am I going to put them?

 Then again, you can never have too many books, if you ask me!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Nesting Animals!

See what happens when you don't clean up after yourself?  Back in January, I started pulling fabric for my next project, which is going to be in a kimono shape.  Because of the tunnel book and "Nothing Gold Can Stay" projects, the fabrics have been waiting around for me on my work table, and animals are starting to nest in them!

I did finally get started on it over the weekend so here's a sneak peek:

At least the colors are cheerful (and perfect for St. Patrick's Day!  This morning we have a snow delay and my Tuesday classes at the library are canceled.  Maybe I'll have a few minutes to get in a little work before the day officially begins...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Look What Came in the Mail!

Got both my new passport and some ultra-comfy (I hope...) walking shoes!  Getting psyched!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Discouragement... and Hope

This week I've been bouncing around between the two!  I started off Monday morning determined to take a step in the right direction so I did something drastic:  I joined Weight Watchers online!  According to their plan, my goal is to lose only 6 pounds, and I've been trying very hard to stay within my daily points, but it's hard!  I'd really love to lose closer to 10 pounds, but I don't know if I have the will power... and tomorrow night I have a big retirement party to go to, as well as Easter coming up in a few weeks!  I'd love to be slim and trim for our trip to Italy next month so maybe that will be enough incentive to stick to it!

Later on Monday, I got a big disappointment.  Cloth Paper Scissors magazine listed the finalists in the Tunnel Book reader challenge and despite over 400 views and 8 positive comments in their online gallery, mine was not selected!  I wondered if something had gone wrong with the e-mailing of the photos - that's how surprised I was not to see my name on the list, and how certain I was that my mixed-media garden was one of the best there!  I felt angry and cheated - judging art can be so subjective - who are they to decide mine wasn't good enough?  I question their criteria - it seems like dark things are so popular these days, and mine was cheerful, innocent, and hopeful.  If I see a bunch of skulls and other ugly symbols on the tunnel books that make it into the magazine, I'll really consider cancelling my subscription.  I'm tired of ugly art being popular because it's different!

 But I tried not to dwell on it all week and moved on to my next projects.  After all, I make things because I enjoy doing it, not to sell magazines.  As a break from fabric, I began thinking about the next charm I need to make for the bracelet round robin.  This bracelet has a bird theme like the one I did last month, and the distressed "vintage" brass color of the chain is similar as well.  I purchased a mixed bag of bird charms in January in anticipation of these bird-themed bracelets, so I had the little dove in the bottom left corner in my stash which was a match for the chain.  The bracelet owner said she'd love to have little inspirational messages included if possible, and being it's a dove, I immediately thought simply, "world peace."

So I got out my polymer clay and began playing with ideas for a charm or bead representing the earth.  I decided to try making a cane, a technique with which I've had only mediocre results.  Here's what it looked like initially:

Then I squished it down enough so I could roll it like a log.  

After refrigerating it for a short time and slicing it up with a tissue blade, I got some reasonable representations of the earth.  I rolled the messier ones into earth beads that I might use for another project.

But I still wanted something that said "peace."  I thought about going out to the craft store and picking up a metal alphabet stamp set and some blank charms to stamp words on, but I resolved in January to Use What I Have, so I opted to try to imitate metal with polymer clay.  I mixed some gold metallic clay with some black to get that sort of distressed brass color, rolled it out flat, stamped it with my rubber stamps, and cut them with the mini cookie cutters, shown. 

The little Peace tags came out cute, but I'm not sure if I like the way they look with the dove and the earth discs.   

I don't have to mail this until April 1st, so I have some time to play around with some other possibilities.    Meanwhile, there's a new pope, tomorrow is Friday, and spring is on it's way - good reasons to be hopeful!  (Maybe I should celebrate with some ice cream....!)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Triptych Evolution

When I first got the idea to make a triptych inspired by the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay,"  I thought of the haze of color that first washes over the trees in spring.  I thought I would do three trees in the center of the triptych with this gentle wash of spring color,  and one additional tree on each side.  I thought maybe it would help illustrate the passage of time if the tree on the left depicted winter and the tree on the right depicted summer.  Hopefully the viewer would recognize the fleeting quality of spring so beautifully described by Robert Frost in the poem.

So I quickly stitched up this winter tree on Wednesday afternoon.  I liked the use of lace and the graceful branches, but thought it looked a little long and skinny.  It looked even less appealing next to the center piece:

When I began choosing colors for the summer tree on the right, I realized this was going off in the wrong direction.  I did a quick check through my stash and found some more of the white silk I used for the background.  I cut two smaller side pieces and painted them to match the sun streaks of the center piece.  I then stitched up two more trees.  This time, I used the tulle to illustrate the haze of color over the trees and machine stitched it in place instead of doing all that slow embroidery.  The piece has much more cohesion and still illustrates the poem pretty well.

 Below is a close-up of some of the trees.  I still like the one with the tulle (on the left) better than the one done with all french knots (and I am actually still somewhat mulling over the idea of doing those three center trees all over again), but all in all, I'm satisfied with the way it turned out.  A little more hand stitching and it will be ready to attach to the canvas!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pushing Through to Spring

The weather continues to be very wintery, gray and decidedly unmotivating!  Even though the lake is beginning to melt and the geese and robins are back, I still feel like crawling under a blanket with a good book whenever I get the chance.  Today I felt like I might be fighting off the cold that two of my daughters had last month, so I spent the day in my PJs, catching up on reading and rest.  I figured I'd better do it today, before Monday comes and I'm off and running again...

But I survived the Dr. Oz Detox diet (with some major modifications).  I have a pretty healthy diet, but my sweettooth is my weakness, and I realized I go to the sweets for lots of reasons other than hunger.  One thing I noticied about living on fruits, veggies, and nuts for a few days is that I didn't crave junk.  I also didn't get those energy swings they say you get from refined sugar.  It made me more mindful and aware of what I put in my mouth and I already found myself coming up with healthier lighter meals and snacking choices this weekend. But I also enjoyed eating hot food again!  Maybe living on smoothies is better left for warmer weather.  

Despite my malaise today, I felt energetic through Saturday.  In addition to stitching away on my "Nothing Gold Can Stay" piece, I spent some time housecleaning and some time arranging the new display shelves downstairs with my DH.  We had  taken these shelves down when we enlarged daughter #2's downstairs bedroom, and just got them back up.  It was fun going through all the old photos and vacation souvenirs and arranging them on the wall. We still have some more work to complete down there, including putting up molding and adding another bathroom.  One day at a time...