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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

I suppose I need to make my blog posts more often than once a year. After all, I'm not Santa Claus, I'm not the Easter Bunny and I am certainly not the Great Pumpkin, so I would think that as a mundane muggle type, I should stop by more often than once a year to catch up. The fact that I feel guilty about neglecting my blog tells me this is true and I should not let the dust mice collect quite so thick!



BUT - what a year, dearies. What. A. Year. It saw the birth of my second grand child, a bouncing healthy boy named Michael. My daughter is knee deep in diapers and toddler music and infant issues and all the angst and juggling required of a full time working mother of two. She may second guess herself at times, but I know better. She is an amazing woman and I couldn't be prouder. My darling Tori is a wonderful big sister (and at almost 3 years old, she has the vocabulary of an English major. To hear such structured sentences coming out in that baby voice is endearing to the point of heart ache.  Everything I was told about being a Grandmother is blissfully true ) and I am a very happy Nona these days.




Early this year my husband went through a total knee replacement and that has come with it's own set of challenges. The first round of surgery would not heal and he had to go in a second time to have it redone. The only thing they did not do was replace the actual implant. He is still, at the time of this post, on the cane but is making steady progress. Whether or not he will now let them do the other knee is up in the air. This has not been easy for him and he is pretty much all doctored out at this point.

SO - what does this mean for what is going on in my art room?  Lots of sewing, that's for sure. In the time since I have posted, I have created two Busy Books for Tori, I have finished at least three Bucilla stockings, I have taken an online class with the wonderful Pam Gracia of Soft In The Head, where I learned new techniques for creating a prim mouse pincushion. This was very exciting for me and I was very pleased with the results. I did do an ornament swap with Every Witch Way Lane last year, and I may try to pull one together this year.  I owe my blog a picture of the shadow box swap I did last year for my One Of A Kind Swap group. We will start with that and add some pictures of what I've been up to, with links to my Pintrist board which is where most of my work in progress pics have ended up lately. I hope you enjoy the sight seeing tour.


This is the fairy shadow box that I did for the One Of A Kind Swap group on FB. I used polymer clay for the gnome and fairy and mushrooms, I used a printed forest image which I modge-podged for the inside of the box, and reindeer moss for the ground. I lined the top with tiny led lights, with a box on top for the switch. All this was mounted inside a wooden shadow box that was bought at Joanne's - I think it was a 6x6 box. It came out adorable and I was very happy to give it to my swap partner. In turn she made me a fairy box inside a vintage case with sunflowers and lights. I love it.


So, what else have I been up to? I did a Flea Market Follies swap with Every Witch Way Lane - it was a lot of fun. We had to go junking to find something that could be morphed into a Halloween decoration which was sent out to a random partner. In turn we received a finished project from another random partner pick. Here is what I made from a set of unfinished wooden candlesticks I received. 


Here is what I got - I was super excited to receive my item from Cindy Tevis - she refurbished a three-faced owl planter into a vintage Halloween owl. I use him as a candle holder, although I don't use flame candles -the flame-less battery operated ones are much safer. I keep him on my dining room table year round and I love it.



I did try to keep up with the monthly blog sales over at Every Witch Way Lane - I don't know that they are doing them anymore, I know that Patrick Gill of Cre8tor's Touch has also been very busy himself with his family so I don't think there has been many events this year - we will see about gearing up again if Patrick is up to it. We will see. In the meantime, I wanted to share this project -  a large Jack O Lantern that I had a lot of fun creating cause it's filled with candy! My grand daughter was VERY upset when I would not allow her to attempt to eat any of it - my daughter dubbed it the "Toddler Torture Bucket" - very clever, my daughter. It's a perfect moniker and a dramatic piece. I still have it on display. 



I also did a Christmas swap, for both 2014 and 2015 - here is the Sing A Song Of Christmas ornament swap I made for Every Witch Way Lane 2014 - I received a set of felted ornaments from Karen Beaver - I don't have a picture handy but it was a very sweet ornament with lots of glitter flakes and trim and I was happy to add it to my Christmas ornaments. Hand made ornaments mean a lot to me and I just adore the Christmas swaps as wonderful opportunities to add to my collection and make someone else happy in the process. Win-Win, I say!


And here is an ornament I did for the One of A Kind Swap Group for 2015


And I got this in return from the lovely Gwen Kaufman of The Bear Behind - I can't tell you how much I adore this bunny. It is cuter than cute. 


I have to say that I have had a few disappointments where swaps are concerned over the past year or so - I don't want to elaborate beyond saying that those disappointments have cooled my passions somewhat for random swaps. Having said that I did do a swap with one of my group members as a special occasion kind of thing. She works hard for the group we belong to and I just wanted to do a swap with just her to show how much I appreciate that. Here is what I made. I adore making miniature food and candy from polymer clay.  I just love it and I'm learning new techniques all the time. I got to show a few off here. This is a super small jack o lantern -just for the record. I think it came out so cute and I still have a little jar filled with tiny gumballs and miniature starlight mints and itty bitty candy corns left over from this project. 



So that leaves us with the Busy Books, or Quiet Books as they are also known. I have been VERY immersed in this project, with a ten page and a six page book already done and providing lots of play time for my grand daughter. She calls them her "Nona Books" and every stitch, every knot, every pin stick, every moment spent at the art bench and the sewing machine has been paid back a thousand-fold in the love and delight of my granddaughter. Half the fun of these pages is collecting the fabric to be used as the page backing and binding. Every page has a theme and the fabrics are chosen for those themes.  I won't send you on an endless scroll of pictures here, save for the covers - 




The cover, with handles on both the back and front, serve to hold the book together, with a small strap that is fixed via velcro to the front of the cover - this turns the book into a little suitcase that Tori can tote around by the handles - I use grommets and a lacing method to bind the books and there has been a LOT of thought and planning that has gone into these- there are loads and loads of pictures on my Pintrist board that detail the creation and inspirations behind the pages, and I have one on deck for my grandson already - feel free to visit if you're curious. I promise you will be as intrigued as I am with these lovely traditional cloth books that are a priceless gift for a beloved child.



And that brings us to the Bucilla project. I completed a stocking for my son's girlfriend (they moved in together 2 years ago and have been doing well ever since. She is basically my daughter-in-law, we just need a wedding at some point I suppose. :)  ) and one for my new grandson Michael for his first Christmas this year. I also finally made one for myself - a gnome with a mushroom. How lovely and appropriate it that? I adore gnomes - I spent a year making gnome necklaces with mushroom earrings and selling them for a song on Ebay. I still have the first one I made - and I know there will be more one day. For now though, here are the latest additions to the Bucilla hoard - with the addition of my stocking, I have gotten one done for every member of my immediate family now, all 8 of them :)





So I know I've left out more than one project over the past year and a  half, but suffice to say I do keep busy and creative - and I love trying new things, which I got to do when I signed up to take a class in mouse-making with Pam Gracia of Soft In The Head. Here is the result and I couldn't be happier. In fact, I've ordered mohair and supplies, including lots of sparkling stuff for the pins that will go with the pin keeps and I plan on making several more before I turn my attention to something else. Here is Miss Mousie, or as my grand daughter calls her, Missy. My grand daughter was very interested in this project - she called it my "mousie craft" and FaceTimed  me several times while I was creating it to check on the progress. I can already tell how much she loves to create and make things and there are many hours planned for the art room teaching her all kinds of things. At almost 3 years old she is almost ready for her first plastic needle and plastic canvas. Remember those? Those big yellow plastic needles that we were given to use on the canvas? That was what, first grade? Second grade? School was very different then. Anyway, here is the result of my mouse class, complete with Victorian inspired stick/hat pins. 


That, my dears, pretty much brings us up to date. I always have fun creating new things and learning new things, and even though I may not visit here as often as I should, that doesn't mean I haven't been busy. There are many projects on the horizon for me, including several paper mache Christmas projects, a paper mache Halloween Parade lantern for Tori for her Raggamuffin Parade this year, as well as a Where the Wild Things Are felt plushie mobile for Michael that will convert to a Busy Book set complete with a page for his book once he outgrows the nursery. Every day is a new day and a new chance to create! Thank you so SO much for taking the time to read this - feel free to leave comments, they are always so nice to read. Until next time, stay creative!







Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Making of a Monster

April was a very busy month for me. I had taken on not one, but THREE challenges. The first was a fantasy theme swap for my One Of A Kind Swap Group. We will talk about that in another post, however. What I want to talk about in THIS one is the monster swap and monster challenge I did for April. I belong to a small but very sweet swap group called the Golly Ollie Dolly Swap Group on Facebook, and for my first swap with them, we did a monster doll swap. Now, the theme for April's Every Witch Way Lane monthly challenge was "Monsters In My Room" - so I did companion pieces for both based on the same design. Here is what came of that notion.

First we need an idea, right?  Well, I don't know about you, but when I was a child, my room was a magical place. A crowded place, yes, with three sisters and myself all sharing one room, but that did not stop the magical folk from visiting. The fairies danced on our windowsills, the gnomes moved our shoes around while we were asleep. The menahune whisked away any cookies we were foolish enough to leave out at night. And on occasion, when we were forgetful and negligent about such things and left piles of laundry on the floor or worse, our closet doors open, a monster would visit.

Those times were very frightening, let me tell you. Mom and Dad had long gone to bed, my sisters would be fast and safely asleep under their covers and there I was, awake, with the shadows alive and moving and whispering of the terrible things that hid within them. The pile of laundry that was left on the floor would take on sinister forms - a leg here, a tail there, and are those horns? I would bring the covers up to my chin and stare at that laundry pile, holding my breath until I was sure I was going to pass out, letting it out slowly and carefully so as not to draw the attention of whatever was lurking in that pile of clothes. I would stare until my eyes threatened to water, not daring to blink for fear of missing a movement, until I could not stand it any longer. At that point, I would yank the covers over my head, whisper a promise to the gnomes and menahunes to leave cookies out tomorrow if they would just keep that creature in the laundry pile at bay until I could safely deposit the pile into the laundry bin as I should have. Eyes squeezed closed, sure that I was going to suffocate under the covers anyway, I would eventually fall asleep.


And always, the next day, after carefully hiding a few cookies under the bed where they would not be found and eaten by any of the humans I lived with, I would go to pick up my laundry and put it where it belonged, only to find that half of my socks were missing. Never mind those small rumpled shadows under the bed that were no doubt the missing socks. Never mind the fact that my jeans seemed to have something stuffed inside one of the pants leg, no doubt another of the missing socks. Nope. This was the work of the dreaded Sock Monster - that moving, shifting shadow within the laundry pile that caused me so much distress last night. He was not after me after all, he was after my socks!! And judging from the state of my little laundry pile, he got what he was after. The Sock Monster was unpleasant and got us into trouble for allowing him to make off with our socks, but he was nowhere near as bad as the Monster in the Closet. That, my dears, is a story for another time.



So - here is the idea.


I've always believed that there is a Sock Monster that just loves to eat socks. I mean, where else do they all go? I have an entire drawer full of socks that are missing their mates, and I have scrounged and searched every corner of my laundry room, my bedroom, inside the couch - nothing. They vanish. They just up and vanish and at this point, I absolutely believe that there is something big and nefarious that carries them off in the middle of the night because it finds them delicious. So, for the challenge, I came up with the big green guy below. Since both groups called for monsters for their challenges/swaps, I would use the same design for both projects.


Now, all that I need to do is make a doll for Golly Ollie and a piece of some sort for Every Witch Way Lane. No problem, right? The first thing I needed was a pattern, So, I built a paper monster.


I then made a paper pattern for the doll based on the paper build, and bought myself some good quality felt from Joanne's with matching thread. I also ordered 4 large buttons from an Etsy shop that I would use to secure the arms and legs with. This is my first attempt at a soft doll, but I had a good idea of how I wanted to accomplish it so I was confident I could do it. Just not so sure if I was going to finish in time. I was also on vacation for 2 weeks in April with a road trip to Florida with my daughter and grand daughter planned to bring the baby to meet her great grandmother. At first I was going to just pack the doll up and sew it by hand while I was on the road, but common sense prevailed and I ended up finishing it on the sewing machine before leaving for Florida.



First things first. The eyes. I wanted to make realistic eyes for both, and so I turned to polymer clay and resin for that. The eye for the paper clay sculpt was easy, but what about the eye for what was going to be a soft body doll? How best to mount that eye? Here is what I came up with.
I made the doll's eye in a slight convex shape so it would sit well atop the soft rounded form of the monsters face. I also made a "rim" around the eye, and poked lots of holes in the polymer clay all around it with the intent of sewing it into the head using those holes.



I baked them and the used resin to pour into the iris of the eye to give it a lens affect. As for the eye for the doll, I cut a ring of felt and stitched the eye to it after it was good and dry.


I used the sewing machine on the doll, and I was VERY glad I did. I must have put in 12 solid hours of work to get this monster done. I put a single stitch into each of the socks in his paws, with the one in his mouth just kinda stuffed in there. I really like the way he came out, and was happy to ship him off to my swap partner just before leaving for Florida.





Not too bad, hm? So, now off to Florida to bring my beloved girls to see their Grandma and Great Grandma. It was wonderful to see my Mom again. I miss her very much, especially now that I am a Grandmother myself. Here we are, four generations.


So, now back to New York and the waiting Every Witch Way Lane project! Another sock monster. Here is the first glimpse of him. And yes, that is the fairy fantasy light box that I made for my One of  a Kind swap group in the background. I have to say it came out adorable and I may have been a complete brat and kept it for myself if it wasn't destined for one of my favorite Facebook friends - Dana Blume of Blu Beagle Designs - you can visit her Etsy shop here - https://www.etsy.com/shop/blubeagledesigns. 
She returned the favor, and sent me an absolutely amazing fairy light box in return that I will treasure for years to come. Those fairy light boxes are the reason I do swaps. 
But, back to the monster, yes? Here you see I actually glued a screw to the back of his eye. The armature is a very dense tin foil armature over a large wooden dowel. I wanted him to be strong and sturdy. The eye was screwed into the tin foil and held very nicely.



Now on to paper clay.


As you can see, I also screwed his feet and his tail down into the base, enough though he was pretty sturdy to begin with - there is a heavy wooden dowel that was glued into a drilled out recess in the wood base - the screws in his feet and tail added all the insurance I needed to be certain this sculpt was going nowhere without it's base.





He is now ready for antiquing with black gel and then glossing with Triple Thick. I adore that stuff!!





And so, my sock monsters are born!! The doll has been sent off to Kim of the Golly Ollie group and the paper clay version is currently available for sale on the Every Witch Way Lane sales site. Please visit us there to see all the monsters on parade for this month. Maybe you will even take one home with you!! 


The socks in his arms can be removed and rearranged or replaced with your own socks to make him truly yours. I had a lot of fun with these guys, and I am pretty pleased with myself for taking that sketch and building on it till I had two very complete projects, both on time. 

Thank you for visiting - next month's theme for Every Witch Way Lane is Day of the Dead. I'm hoping to get that project done in time - wish me luck!!

Hugs and Peace

Arlene



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Ace of Pumpkins







I've been super busy lately, taking on not one, not two but three separate projects for three different groups I belong to.  I will post them each separately as I finish them, but up first is my Ace of Pumpkins tarot box. 

My "alpha" group, Every Witch Way Lane, has devised a plan to make creating fun for it's artist members and fun for it's collector members as well - the monthly theme challenge. Every month through the end of the year, there will be a new theme challenge with a poll available on the blog site to vote for your favorite submission. The winner will get a special commemorative prize from the group founder and leader, Patrick Gill and first page rights on the sales site when the items go up for sale on the 15th of the month. March's theme was "Witches Spells" - my contribution is a polymer clay tarot card box, complete with tarot cards titled The Ace of Pumpkins. 

I wrote a poem to go with the box and am delighted to present it here for you, my dear readers. 




An Evening At The Carnival

My girlfriends and I were out for the night
To the carnival in town and the midway lit bright
Good things to eat there, and rides built to thrill
Games of chance and the shows, we had all evening to kill.

Then there in the center of the midway it rose
A tent of bright silk with a sign that disclosed
"The future belongs to the daring and brave
Enter here, my friend if it's answers you crave".

A question, a query, a mystery to ponder
Into that bright tent I ventured to wander
It took a few moments to adjust to the room
Dark and smoke-scented, with just a touch of deep gloom.

A table in the center, set with a cloth and a candle
A man with dark eyes that threatened a scandal 
My heart skipped a beat and my hands felt so cold
"Sit down, my dear girl" he said as his teeth flashed with gold.

So I sat, my eyes wide, as he reached for a deck
Of brightly painted cards, my nerves now a wreck
"So, my dove, what questions would you ask of me here?
Think of it as I shuffle, don't be timid, my dear!"

And so I thought carefully on what question to pose
A chance for a mystery's true nature to expose
But all I could think of was "Would I find real true love?"
"Would Cupids sharp arrow soon strike me from above?"

The man's eyes flashed with laughter, his amusement so deep
"Ah, that question! I hear it so often, I recite it in my sleep!!"
He chuckled and dealt several cards in a line
And laughed as The Ace of Pumpkins fell in the candlelight's shine.

"Now here is a card that says you will be blessed!
Happiness, wealth, true love and all the rest!
I see by the cards this is your most lucky day
Now three coins for my troubles, dear, the exit is that way."

So I left with my heart still beating so fast
And wandered the midway, wanting the night to last
And there I met him over at the goldfish games tent
The man who would become my husband, my true love's intent.

Years pass, we are happy now with a family and friends true
A career for us both, a home, children and a dog named Baloo
And over the mantle a single card framed in shining bright gold
"The Ace of Pumpkins" hangs there, a beloved promise foretold.







And so here is the box that I created - the design is the Ace of Pumpkins from the tarot deck - it is recreated here in 3-D relief from polymer clay.




 It is currently available for sale at Every Witch Way Lane - just click on the Sale Site below to visit and have a peek. Thank you so much for visiting - I hope to see you again soon!



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Monday, March 9, 2015

Bucilla - The Big Stash

I have always loved to sew. Always. Ever since I can remember. I would take whatever little change I could find and head down to McCrory on Kissena Blvd where there were row after row after row of brilliantly colored embroidery floss that could be had for less than a pack of bubble gum. I loved standing there just gazing at all those delicious colors, my head filled with the flowers, butterflies and rainbows I would create with them. My love for sewing has stayed with me, and while I have never loved the sewing machine or mastered the art of following a pattern, I still have my embroidery hoops, my baskets of thread, my tins of beads and my collection of needles.

These days my love of sewing has been kept stoked with the help of these Bucilla kits which I discovered a bit over a year ago. I've made a handful of stockings so far (see my previous post) but I also promised a mentor that I would post pictures of the kits I have already in hand waiting for their turn. Here they are, in no particular order.


This is my Bucilla stash - I know it doesn't look that impressive but it represents hours and hours of waiting work.



This is what is in those boxes - these are all stockings:









These are tree skirts. The snowman is for my daughter and the train is for my son. I'm actually super intimidated by these tree skirt kits, but I am determined to do them. 





And this is an advent calender for my daughter. This is another kit with so many, many, MANY tiny pieces, it is very intimidating, but again - I WILL get it done. 



And so that is the Bucilla stash. As I start and complete them, I'll keep a work in progress log and share.  This post is for Debbie of And Sew Forth - check out her AMAZING YouTube videos on how to do a Bucilla stocking - it helped me get up the courage to cut into that first piece of felt and feel like I could actually do these and do them well. Thank you Debbie!