Monday, April 29, 2013

ready to tackle the week

The snow is melting, the ducks are now swimming instead of skating, the cold that plagued me early last week is gone, and I spent a glorious weekend at my friend Kit's talking and walking and... talking.  A lot of really great talking.  I feel refreshed and ready to tackle this week head-on.

She and I have talked before about a collaboration between us, and we've put that plan into action.  She made me two of her famous Jacabobs out of wool I dyed using natural materials and I'm going to stitch them up.

They look so innocent with their sweet naked pastel faces but their brother could probably tell them his war stories after having been on my workbench.  But shh...let's not worry them unnecessarily.  It will only pinch a little...

Hope your week is off to a great start too.  Enjoy your day!


Sunday, April 21, 2013

"Minnesota in Spring" brooch

 I was inspired by our lovely spring landscape to make this new brooch, titled "Minnesota in Spring".  I've needled some lovely white Ramboillet wool into this scene, reflecting the splendor out my door.

I set it into a base I made of hickory wood.

Here you can see it against the landscape that inspired its design.

Even my children have been finding inspiration, and my youngest boy just completed this painting he's called "Drift".  I think he did a great job.  He even has the scale down perfectly.

I kid, of course.  I do think I'm in the throes of cabin fever.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend, wherever you are.

Friday, April 19, 2013

just a little sick of snow

Mother Nature dumped another little gift on us yesterday.  Another foot of snow in spots, on top of the pile o' plenty we had already.  School is cancelled so you know it's a big deal.  School here doesn't close for anything under 8"  of snow.  But it's been blowing and the roads are ick, so here we are.

See that pathetic lump in the right side of the picture?  That's my oldest son, flopped down, having a little pity party.  (you know it's bad when the kids don't even appreciate a snow day)  We're all a little sick of it.

Someone forgot to bring the hallway rug in after they swept yesterday.  Oops.

So while my creative impulses seem buried under this snow too, my need to organize isn't.  I'll be trying to get my workspace a little closer to finished.  I've got a pot of chili in the crock pot and plans for snow cream tonight.  The kids have their paints out and then there's plans for a movie fest in the basement tonight.  Not what I had planned for this weekend (a much-anticipated visit has been cancelled) but really now that I've got it all typed out it doesn't look so bad.

I hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend too.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

completed stone - vp in Hungary

I received this lovely stone from Victoria in Hungary.  In her note she said that she gathered it from the river Danube where she used to work as a stewardess on a hydrofoil.

I knew immediately that water had to play a part in her stone so I mixed up some fibers in watery colors.  I added some stitches that spoke to me like ripples, spreading out, occasionally encountering an interruption.

 Victoria mentioned that she has discovered needle-felting and that she finds it an interesting and healing art.  I couldn't agree more, Victoria.  Thank you for send me your stone and for sharing your note with me.  (If you're reading, I didn't get your email address with the stone, if you would contact me at lilfishstudios(at)gmail(dot)com I'll update my records so I can contact you after the stone project is completed.)

 I have over 50 stones already but I'd like to add more to the project.  If anyone else would like to send a stone to me, I'd love to have them.  You can get all the information on this post HERE.
Have a great day, everyone.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

dyeing with acorn caps

This time of year there isn't an abundance of dyestuffs to be found, but in the semi-thaw we had last week my kids gathered up a bunch of soggy acorn caps from under one of the oaks.

I wasn't sure how much tannin they would still hold after a winter of heavy snow but I stuck them in a quart jar with water anyway and let them sit for a few days.

They made a good dark "tea", telling me there was hope, so I put them in the dye pot and let them simmer with a little more water for about an hour.  After straining them out, I added a white cotton t-shirt, a small amount of unmordanted wool, and some white and previously-dyed (with red cabbage) cotton floss.

Each picked up the nice golden tan from the acorn caps, and once dipped in an iron solution (let a steel wool pad sit in a cup or two of vinegar overnight and you have an iron solution) the golden tan deepened and turned towards grey.

The results are nice, with a look like driftwood or my old weathered table. (my photos are not capturing the depth of color, sadly)  For those of you that would like to try natural dyeing, this one's an easy one to start with.

Monday, April 15, 2013

kitchen tinkering

I spent the day yesterday tinkering in the kitchen.  A couple of new recipes were tried, among them these...pickled duck eggs.  

Boiled eggs are left to sit in a mixture of vinegars and spices. I'll get to sample these in a few weeks and I can't wait.

Did you whip up anything new in the kitchen this weekend?


Saturday, April 13, 2013

checking in on the mushroom installation

I went to check on my mushroom installation this morning, riding on a new blanket of snow.  Riding?  Yes, I was feeling a little lazy this morning and opted to take the snowmobile out to the woods instead of the snowshoes.  There will be time for quiet contemplative walks later but I have a lot to do this morning so the snowmobile it was.  Ah, the smell of 2-cycle...

 Anyway, the mushroom is still hanging in there in the tree.  The bit of snow stacked on its cap hides the fact that a good portion of it has been chewed off by some visiting critter.

The green wool has started to fade considerably but it doesn't appear that whatever was trying to burrow beneath it has done any more excavating, at least for the time being.

 Many of the gills are missing, as is the veil.

The wool is pulling off in places in long straggly locks.

You can see in this photo the transition from fall through winter.  It started off standing proud, then something started to nibble on its veil and cap a little, then it started to lean as something dug in its green moss, and finally to its snow-laden state.

I love watching this progress.

I just had a quick visit then headed back to the house, pausing a moment to watch the smoke rise from our chimney, and note that I needed to sweep off the solar panels, and and and...

 And to wish you all a peaceful weekend.

Have a good one, everybody!

You can see the progression of this piece 

Friday, April 12, 2013

shipping and rolling

A huuuuge thank you to all of you that stopped by my shop update this morning or who helped spread the word.  All of my work has found new homes and I'm thrilled.

I'll be busy packing and shipping these out and then I'm thinking about heading to the woods with  my snowshoes.  Mother Nature so kindly dumped a good 6-8" of new snow on us yesterday.  I figure if you can't fight it, you might as well roll with it.  I think I'll go check on my wool mushroom installation and get some fresh air.

I hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

amethesyt mushrooms and a shop update to come

The glass is cleaned, the base is finished, and my amethyst mushrooms are finally completed.

This is my largest mushroom scene to date, measuring about 14.5" to the top of the glass and 10" wide at the base.

 This scene is a reflection of the darker corners of the woods.  The oft-overlooked little scenes that play out beyond our gaze.  The sort of scene you'd have to really look for in order to see it.  

Mushrooms doing their job, decaying a log beneath the moss.

 A spider taking advantage of a downed twig to catch its dinner. 

It seemed fitting that this darker scene have a darker base as well.  I took a large chunk of oak and planed it to size.  I applied a vinegar and steel wool solution and watched it combine with the tannins in the oak to form a dark finish.  Being careful to leave the shape organic and bumpy, I sanded the surface smooth and applied a layer of natural tung oil and local beeswax.

Rather than glue this scene into the base, I sewed it instead, much like I did for my 'Stepping Stones' piece.  I found that my needles weren't long enough for this job so I made one by shaping and sharpening a piece of wire.  It was by no means a fancy needle, but it did the job. (sometimes you have to do what you have to do)
Though I'll be putting this piece in my shop, it makes me want to keep it and build a room around it.  Stacks of books, a big leather chair, an air of mystery...

This piece, the other small terrariums, some brooches, and my 'Stepping Stones' piece (I know a few of you have asked, and I've decided to sell it) will be in my shop tomorrow morning (Fri, Apr. 12) at 7am, central time.  If you'd stop by or spread the word, I'd very much appreciate it.

Have a good day everyone!  If you're getting the snow like we are today, hang in there, spring is coming.  (keep saying it over and over...)

Monday, April 08, 2013

amethyst mushrooms nearly completed

I'm almost done with my latest mushroom terrarium.  The weather is a bit dreary and isn't doing my photography skills any favors so I'll have to share better pics later.

I've finished with felting and now I just need to complete the wood base and wait for a new glass dome to arrive (the last one arrived broken).  I've chosen a chunk of oak that I've had in the barn for a couple of years for the base.  It's a hefty chunk left from a tree that was felled when we built our home.  I counted 57 rings on it before I started sanding.

I'm planning to do a shop update later in the week and will have more info soon.
Today I'm switching gears (again) and have stones on my table, including some from my project.  Lots to do.

I hope your week is off to a great start.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

boletus bicolor mushroom terrarium finished

 That little mushroom I showed you in yesterday's post has been completed.  It was inspired by the bicolor bolete (as clever Karen noticed yesterday), a lovely and edible mushroom.  I took a little liberty with the hue (hey, that's an artist's prerogative).

I added a slimy little friend, who I adore.  I had so much fun making him that I actually giggled while needling him into place.

I also added some pebbles and sporophytes in the moss, a signature touch for me.

I set this one into a piece of chokecherry from our woods.
You can see I'm gradually working a little larger.  Just wait until you see the next piece I'm working on.  It involves these:

This one will take me a little while to finish but hopefully I'll have a good start on it by this weekend.  I can't wait to show you when it's done.

Enjoy your day, everyone.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

captured - verdigris toadstool

Aww, look what popped up on my table yesterday.  The first mushrooms of the year.

I do so love making these little guys.

Needle-felted wool complete with pebbles, sprouts, and even a velvet mite.  I set it into a base I made from aged oak.  I left a little character in the wood, including some bug trails and knot holes.  The mushrooms have stitched caps.  All in all, only 4" tall.  Just a tiny bit of happiness.

The sun is out today so I'm feeling cheery.  Hope you are too.


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