Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Directions

I love so many different crafts that I have a hard time focusing my energies in any one direction. I've come to the conclusion that if I don't know who I am, then no one else really knows, either. The last couple of weeks have been hard for me because I feel lost (creatively speaking).

I feel spread too thin with the things that I want to do. Not really surprising when you consider all the crafts that I do on a regular basis: spinning, dyeing, needle-felting, crochet, sewing, jewelery-making, doll-making, book-binding, quilting, embroidery... I need to decide what crafts are for me, and which ones I'd like to share (via my Etsy shop). I get such positive feedback on all of my crafts that it makes me happy to share them all, but...I feel scattered...uninspired. Like a Jane-of-all-trades, master of none.

I'm currently working on two new dolls for my Etsy shop. They are tall, slender elves from the same pattern that I made for the Peacock Elf, and, like that doll, they will be clothed with considerable detail. I love creating dolls, though I'm often strapped for inspiration, and I find that dressing them is fairly frustrating. This is really the direction that I would love to take with my shop. I think. =)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Good Things Come

Most of my crafting is on hold right now as I rearrange my space. I asked my husband for a very big birthday gift this year - dedicate an entire room to my crafting. He is so wonderful, and is working very hard to get this completed.

He inherited a lot of furniture when he bought the house from his parents, and I added even more when I moved in. We could have opened a B&B with so many extra beds... So, we are trying to find room to store the furniture until we can get rid of it. There's just the two of us, anyway.

Ah! I'm so excited to have my own crafting space! I've been using my living room floor and I'm really sick of seeing the clutter (I suspect that my wonderful, patient husband is, too). With a clean living room, I'll also be more motivated to 'Push Play' with Tony Horton. I do love me some banana rolls! I have high hopes that this will be a veritable cascade of Awesome as the tidiness begets more tidiness and motivation for other Good Things (cooking, exercise...).

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tiny Is Cute

Like so many other people, I think tiny things are cute. Downright adorable, even. And, the smaller the object is, the higher its potential for producing squees of joy. I like books, therefore, tiny books cause me to make that embarrassing sound. Thank heavens no one was around to hear me this afternoon as I finished seven of these tiny treasures (not all are pictured, of course). These are for my Etsy shop, but I'll be making another for myself after having such a hard time keeping my hands off this batch (especially the one with the crystal!).

It was a great way to use up some scraps of leather (I knew I saved them for a good reason) and findings from my stash. There are 40 pages of hand-torn, white linen paper in each journal. Each measures approximately 1.5"x1.25"x0.5".

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Comfortably Numb

Shortly after I received half a pound of beautiful, hand-painted wool from Superhooker in a swap, I nearly cut off my finger with a steak knife. Of course, it had to be one of my index fingers. *sigh* Needless to say, I wasn't spinning anything for a while.

I'm 3.5 months healed, but I still have some loss of sensation in the finger...and a wicked scar. The doctors said that the ~1 cm wide, ~2 cm deep wound hadn't severed the nerves (WOW!), so I've got that going for me. I may, eventually, regain all of the feeling in that finger. I'm so used to it now, though, that I rarely notice the numbness anymore.

Yesterday, I decided to end the stand-off with my spindle, and started pre-drafting some of that gorgeous fiber. Yay! My finger still remembers how to draft! Back to spinning just in time for the Michigan Fiber Festival this weekend in Allegan.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pretty As A Peacock

Beth8144 and I danced together in the Invite Your Partner 16: Summertime Swing swap on, and we agreed to swap dolls. She loves peacocks, so, naturally, she received an elf with a peacock-inspired costume.

The doll was from my own hand-drawn pattern, similar to Ghilie's poppet, but much taller and thinner. I try to mix up pattern pieces so that no two dolls are exactly the same shape. Similarly, the patterns for the clothes are tailored to each doll individually. Her outfit consists of an under-robe, a skirt, a bustle, a corset and slippers.

The under-robe is black lace and has a ribbon belt. That same lace is used on the lower edge of the corset and is covered with free-motion stitching in a stylized feather motif (that is repeated throughout the costume). The corset is two layers of royal blue and white satin. Blue ribbon is laced through satin loops at the back, and tied above the bustle. The skirt is also royal blue satin, but overlaid with emerald chiffon and quilted in the feather motif and trimmed in vintage lace. Snap closure at the left hip. The bustle is where I went overboard with the Gibbous-styling. A champagne satin base is drowned in chiffon, Chantilly and vintage lace, organza, more satin and peacock feathers. The 'eye feathers' are circles of fabric with burnt edges. The fabric for the slippers was quilted with lace, ribbon, chiffon and organza before being cut and sewn into slippers.

I don't usually like making doll clothes because the seams are so tiny and there is so little room for error. However, I really enjoyed creating the clothes for this doll. I can only attribute it to the freedom of the style I chose to work with. When there are no rules, there are no real mistakes, just artistic decisions. =)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

So Very Unimportant...

I was just trying out new templates and fonts for my blog page, and I figured I 'd try the one you're now seeing. Cute? I like maps, and I was getting tired of the same old font...I like it. Anyway, when I saw that I had the option of a font named 'Trebuchet,' I totally squeeed. Shameful. The reason is this PC game that my husband occasionally plays with the sound on. During certain 'ages,' I hear his little soldiers (it's a game of world domination, of course) shout out 'TREBUCHET!!!' and a city collapses into rubble. It always makes me giggle. It's like that Snickers commercial, with the football player who thinks he's Batman...when I'm feeling sassy, I turn to Gary and tell him that "I'm Batman!" Some things just tickle my funny bone. So...enjoy my newest favorite font: Trebuchet! Fight on, my friends!

On a crafty note: I'm working on new doll for a swap. I'll be posting her when she's in her new home, as my partner knows very few details about her.

I have also been very inspired by Gibbous, recently. I love the character that these designers impart into their clothing and I have so much respect and admiration for their art. A few weeks ago, I received the free-motion foot I had ordered for my sewing machine. I attempted a Gibbous-inspired hat the next day. It was done in just a few days...leaving me with a gigantic sense of accomplishment, an even greater respect for Gibbous House than I had previously possessed (hard to believe, since I'm madly in love with them!), and a desire to do more, dare more and achieve more.

Have I mentioned that I like hats? It's a weird obsession I inherited from my grandfather who would bring me hats from every corner of the globe (he used to call me 'Ahab' after I took a liking to the keffiyeh he brought back from Egypt). My hat came together from scraps of blue herringbone wool, silk neck ties left-over from a bag, vintage trim, hand-cut vintage shell buttons, vintage plastic buttons, antiqued brass chains, a pearl, a sprocket, an Uzbekistani eye-bead, and lots of stitching. The colors imbue the piece with a subtle, patriotic vibe (made it just in time to wear on Independence Day).

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Different Sort of Canvas

I've been making journals for a while, now, and I'm always looking for new techniques to incorporate into my books. I noticed, on a swap partner's Wist, a journal that had been illustrated. Ink on suede. It reminded me of a tattoo. There is something intriguing and seductive in an inked hide. I wanted to try it.

A very good friend had recently donated a few pounds of beautiful suede sides to my crafting stash - the perfect canvas for this endeavor! I cut a bit off to test a few different pens to see how they looked and for color-fastness. I decided that a super-fine tip Sharpie would be suitable. It was! But, it also dried out a brand new pen. I'm going to try an India-ink pen next time around. I hope that it will go a little further than just one journal. Side note: a traditional Sharpie may bleed all the way through the hide.

I'm really happy with the flowing vine-like drawing that I covered this journal (and others) with. I'm really not much for doodling or sketching, unless it's chemical structures and such...there's an idea....

Sunday, April 25, 2010


I was reading a thread on recently that made me think about the origins of my craftiness. It took a lot of thinking, and I realized that I would have to go back a long way to define a beginning. A long way...

...all the way back to my some of my very first memories...4 years old and attending a very unique preschool. Curious how the earliest memories are of the things that we created, the things that we puzzled out and presented proudly for all of the world to see. These are the things that grace our parents mantles and adorn their walls as badges of honor. My earliest pieces of childhood art included paintings using straw, egg-carton-flower bouquets, and coiled clay pots. My mom still treasures these things - she saved it all.

I learned how to use hand-tools about the same time that I learned to sew clothes for my dolls. There were so many home improvement projects that my mom had me help her with...we papered, paneled and painted the walls...laid a solid oak floor...made cabinets and tables and a fence and a brick patio...electrical, plumbing, gardening, etc. I learned how to do all of those things before I was 11! I tried cross stitch when I was about 7, but it never held my attention. I made my first stuffed animal, a bunny from a kit, when I was 8. Mostly, it was re-purposing old clothes into clothes for my massive stuffie collection and Barbie dolls.

Not much has really changed. =)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Elvish Poet - Teaghan

My newest doll is finally finished! Let me introduce you to Teaghan. She is an aspiring poet still searching for her inspiration. Her journals are empty, and she has set off to find the words that will fill them.

Teaghan the Elf is a one-of-a-kind cloth doll from head to toe (I drafted new patterns for her body and clothing). Her hair and shawl are made from my hand-painted, hand-spun yarn. Her bag, books (the smaller one is just 2.25" tall!), shoes, and corset are hand-stitched leather. I gave her several earrings and lots of other brass, pearl and glass adornments. Her sun dress is batik cotton, and she's wearing a pink and white lace petticoat.

I'm so pleased with how she turned out. It just feels good to have made a doll that is so unique and lovely. It was actually difficult to stop adding details to her costume! Teaghan, at 19 inches tall, is the largest (and most time-consuming) doll that I have ever made. I would love to share her with my peers on, but I won't - she's for sale, and I don't want anyone to think that I'm fishing for sales - though they would probably appreciate the amount of work that went into her. However, I have no compunctions about sharing the link to my store in this forum:

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cobwebs and Lace

Up until now, my spinning has produced lovely, fluffy yarns. They were also really thick and uneven. I love those qualities, but it takes a lot of roving to make thick yarns and it's hard to fit more than a few dozen yards on my spindle.

For the last couple yarns I've spun up, I pre-drafted the crap out of the fiber. The result: yarns that turned out fingering weight and smaller! Success! My pride and joy is this skein of cobweb weight wool. I hand-painted the black and white mill end roving in shades of blue, and got all 240 yards (47 grams) to fit on my spindle.

This yarn is being turned into a lacy crocheted scarf. But, it's only halfway done (hence, no pictures at this time).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

New Adventures in Bookbinding

I’ve been a bibliophile for as long as I can remember, and this love extends to blank journals, too. I learned how to do some more traditional bindings a while ago, but I always admired the leather-bound journals I saw on Etsy and in the bookstores. Who doesn’t like the look, feel and smell of leather, right? I just never knew where I could get some nicely textured leather, or how to go about using it if I did find some.

Recently, I joined Round 2 of the Quick and Easy Swap, and my partner (superhooker) had this great suede journal on her wist. Yay! A ready-made excuse to hunt down leather and a tutorial! (I quickly found both.) It was so much easier than I thought it would be, and has quickly become my binding method of choice.

I made a mini ‘practice’ journal (something I always do is make a prototype) out of some gorgeous, dark red leather and banana peel paper. I stitched on the metal gear for a little ornamentation (tried gluing it on…no such luck). It measures 4.5”high x 3”wide.

The journals I made for my swap partner are made from a rich, coffee-colored leather. The large one is filled with straw paper and each signature is covered with double-sided scrapbooking paper (lots of sea life, maps, partner’s favorite colors, damask prints, etc.). The small journal is filled with ‘Stardust’ drawing paper (white with flecks of colored fibers thrown in). Both are stitched with linen thread, waxed with beeswax, and have metal gears attached to the leather straps. The large journal is about 6.75”x5.75” and the little one is the same size as the red journal. (And, based on the swap guidelines...the big journal really is a medium! I swear.)

I’m having a hard time putting that little red journal down. I take it out occasionally, just to ‘pet’ it and turn it over in my hands, open it and wrap it back up. Haven’t written anything in it, yet…waiting for a really good reason. I’m such a dork. It really is a great style, though. It lays flat when it’s open, so you can write into the margins…it’s practically water-proof…it’s okay if you bend it a little, ‘cause it’s flexible…it’s really, really easy to get the stitching tight and secure…you can attach stuff to the pages and the cover will still expand to contain it…and, you can add more signatures if you need to!

Monday, February 1, 2010

An Elf By Any Other Word

Months ago, I decided that I was going to create a truly original doll. I finally got around to drafting the patterns - no small feat for some one who can't draw - and, after three days of sewing, gluing and crocheting, the elf was created and clothed.

She's an elf of some sort (she isn't telling me anything, yet)...most likely associated with the winter weather that we've been experiencing. Her frosty, violet eyes sparkle with mischief, and her white skin and chestnut hair reflect perfectly the snow-covered trees of our woods. She's dressed in a relaxed, Victorian-inspired skirt and blouse. Her underbust corset is quilted wool herringbone and lace. The necklace and rings are brass, crystal and coral.

Her actual form was inspired by an MTV cartoon that, when I was 12 or 13, I would stay up late to watch...Aeon Flux. The characters were not of human proportions - their bodies more like caricatures with narrow waists, wide hips, and long arms and legs. Her chest, unlike the cartoon, is mostly flat, though. She stands 16.5" tall.

I know her name! *jumps up and down with joy* She is Lilwen (it means 'white lily' in Welsh). Her cousins (still in progress) will be in my Etsy store beginning late March to early April.