Monday, February 28, 2011


I started reading The Long Winter last night.  I've been re-reading the Little House books, childhood favorites of mine, that I picked up second-hand and look what I found tucked in between page 50 and 51.

Luck!  It struck me as funny given that the passage on that page tells of the cows whose faces froze to the ground during a blizzard.

Note to self: no grazing outside until it's much warmer. 

Do you remember this image from a few weeks ago?

I had mentioned that I would have to keep my eyes open for a little dog head button to add to my Little House collection.  Well, much to my surprise, a sweet little button landed in my mailbox courtesy of the wonderful Nini.

Isn't it just perfect?

OK, and here is where you get to roll your eyes at me...I bought a button.  Yes, after unloading 100 pounds of buttons, I bought one.  But just look at it!  It's so cool.

There's even wash hanging on the line.  I had to have it.

All this reading has me itching to make green pumpkin pie and practice my stitching.  I'll pass on the red flannels though.  If you haven't read the books, you should.  If you're on Twitter check out HalfPintIngalls.  She has a new book coming out in April, The Wilder Life: My Adventures In The Lost World Of Little House On The Prairie, which I am going to have to order.

The temperature is almost up to zero here this morning and I'm crossing my (frozen) fingers that it hits the projected 27.  This winter is getting long.

Have a good and warm Monday, all.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bunnies, Buttons, and Buckling Down

I'm finally making some headway on my mound of vintage buttons.  After selling some and donating some, I'm down to one 56qt plastic bin-full.  It's still more than I need to have on hand but it's a start.  A few of you asked how I can bear parting with them and I can tell you that when I see what other people are making with them, it's easy.  Case in point, these little cuties from FeltedWoolies.

I dare you to look at these little guys and not squeal.  You squealed, didn't you?  They're utterly adorable, and check out their little button eyes.  huh?  huh?  Adorable right?

You can get your own in her Etsy shop where you'll also find some other adorable wooly creatures like this sheep. (who keeps begging me to take her home)

I hope you'll stop by her shop and check her out.

As for me, tomorrow begins my "it's serious" time.  I have an artist's mart at the Walker Art Center to prepare for and some projects to complete for an upcoming felt book from Lark Books and I need to buckle down.  I'll be putting aside my button destashing efforts for now and blogging might be a little less frequent for a while. 

(note: I really need a good whip-cracker to keep me on task.  Why oh why don't any of you live near me?)

I do have some new work completed to share soon.  (I keep saying that, don't I?)

Oh, and thank you to everyone who suggested uses for the nail polish.  Great ideas!  You guys are so helpful, thank you. 

Happy Sunday!

Friday, February 25, 2011


Ah nail polish.  It seems a million years ago that I used to paint my nails.  I think the last time I used to paint my fingernails was when I was working in an archery shop setting up bows and cutting arrows.  I used to get looks and comments, being the only girl working in a male-dominated shop, ranging from "is there a guy that can cut these for me" to blank stares as I adjusted sights and draw weights.  I painted my fingernails in bright red and Chanel Vamp to play up the fact that I was female, and to confound the boys who doubted my abilities.  I mean come on, I was a girl!  How could I know anything about bows and arrows?  Don't get me started.

Anyway, nail polish doesn't suit my lifestyle now, I mean I don't even have normal shaped nails from all that work on the belt sander!  I was feeling a little conflicted when I stopped at the dollar store (which is probably my least favorite store ever) to buy some.  I wanted some enamel paint to code my felting needles and figured some outdated nailpolish would do.  The dollar store delivered and I walked out with 4 bottles for $2. 

I couldn't help but think that if I were to paint my nails, that it would definitely be that greenish blue color.  Midnight forest?  Perfect!

So now I have nail polish to use up.  I have a feeling I'll be coding every tool in this place in order to use it up.  Do you have any uses for nail polish you can share?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Forest Birthday Celebration

Today is a special day for the forest friends who have come to live with me.  Their creator, Nanou, is celebrating a birthday.  A meringue mushroom feast was made and the story was told over on a new blog dedicated to Nanou's sweet forest friends.  Stop by and meet some of the other forest friends scattered throughout the world.

I think it takes a very special soul to inspire a sense of whimsy in people like Nanou does, and we here under the poplar and pine are feeling lucky indeed to have such an amazing circle of friends.

Happy Birthday Nanou! and a happy day to all of you!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sugar Snow Candy

What to do when mother nature dumps another 8" of snow on top of your existing mountain of snow?

Make maple candy.

Want to try it?  Check out this site for directions.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Bone Button Monday

Dem bones, dem bones, dem bone buttons. 

They might be a little creepy to some people, but I love them.  Bone was one of the, if not the, first materials for buttons.  It's easy to imagine early man carving these practical fasteners out of the bones of his kill.  They're reminders of a time when nothing went to waste.  When more sophisticated materials came in to popularity, they became the ornamentation of common people and peasants.

I relate to and celebrate their history and I appreciate their aesthetic also.  Creamy colors, obviously handmade details, and a weight different from plastic.

Some were dyed and achieved a beautiful brown color, not unlike wood.

Most were carved and drilled by hand.  This lovely below just shouts "handmade" and I can't help but wonder, by whom?

These with the bump on the back were likely turned on a lathe.

Historically, women would dye buttons using a variety of dyes.  I tried an overnight soaking in strong tea on these.  Below on the left is the  tea-stained buttons and on the right were the buttons pre-tea.  (the X button is an undyed button that slipped in)  The result is really subtle.

It was sarahracha's work that I featured the other day that inspired me to make myself a necklace.  I wore it while mopping.  (just for you, Marilyn)

Since I had all the materials out, I decided to make a few for my shop too. 

Natural and filled with history.  Just the kind of things I like to carry with me.

Happy Monday all!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Turkey In The Snow

Turkey in the snow
safe from autumn's glancing blow
feast, forage, and grow


Friday, February 18, 2011

Recycling Is Beautiful

I just had to show you a couple of lovely pieces made by sarahracha today.  My fellow EcoEtsy teammate had purchased one of my 1 pound vintage button grab bags and used her findings to put together not one but two beautiful necklaces so far.  I love that she had no idea what was going to be in the bag but was able to find some inspiration inside.  Her pieces came out beautifully!

This one has a mix of plastic, bone, glass, and mother of pearl buttons all crocheted together.

This fun green and blue number is reversible.  Clever!

She also makes other fabulous eco-friendly pieces like these recycled plastic bag baskets, cork trivets, and more.

I still have gobs of vintage buttons left so if you'd like a grab bag of your own, take a look in my lilfishextras shop.

I'm going to be taking this weekend off.  I'm getting a little frazzled around the edges and want to take a little time to sit down, read some blogs, reply to emails and comments, and regroup.

Have a fantastic, creative, relaxing weekend too, everyone.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Yes I Wood

After posting a photo of my Osage Orange pendant on Flickr last week, and waxing nostalgic about the wood, I jokingly said that I should do a blog post about my love of Osage.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought, why not?  So here's where I prattle on about my love of wood in general.  Bear with me. 

I really love working with wood.  And while I'm no expert yet, I love that I can haul something out of the woods and make something of it.  I love working in the dusty barn with the hum of the sander in my ears.  I love the smoothness of the wood, the smell, the versatility.  I love that if a piece doesn't turn out, I can use it to heat my home.  I am nothing if not practical.  Of course I don't love how much it beats up my hands, but it's just part of it.

I've been working with a few different woods lately; walnut and osage orange that I brought back from Illinois, poplar, birch, and oak from our woods, and teak that I reclaimed.  Reclaimed? you ask.  Why yes, reclaimed...from a vintage teak bowl.  When I cut it, it smelled like potpourri!

I love seeing the differences in grain and color.  In the photo below you see what the red oak looks like once it has a little bit of tung oil on it, compared to a non-oiled piece.

Below, you can see from left to right, osage orange, teak, black walnut, and red oak after they've been sanded and oiled.  The osage has a pronounced yellow color that's really cool.  The teak is a warm, even brown.  The walnut varies from light to dark brown.  Red oak has a warm golden brown color.

This is osage compared to red oak.

If you look really closely at this piece of oak in my hand you'll see a tiny shooting star.  Can you see it?

Combining wood and wool has been really satisfying for me.  I love the contrast of smooth and soft, hard and tactile.  It really speaks to me so you can probably expect to see more of this in my work in the future.

So tell me, what materials speak to you?


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