Tuesday, November 29, 2011

what I saw(ed)

The other day while looking into the woods on my way to the mailbox, I saw a dead poplar that had lost its top.  I also saw woodpecker holes in the trunk of the tree.

I walked over to have a closer look and what should I see inside?  My favorite green-staining fungus at work!

I've previously worked with fungus-stained wood and was excited at the prospect of finding another piece that wasn't completely degraded.  This poplar was destined to become firewood so with the promise of green-stained wood before me, I grabbed the chainsaw and got to work.


I cut the tree up into pieces and hauled the piece I wanted to the house and split it into a more usable size with the splitting maul.

I could see that the green was mostly in the degraded part of the wood and it was unlikely that I'd be getting any decent pieces out if it.  Not like this small stick that I found just sitting on the firewood pile AFTER I cut down the poplar.  Just sitting there.  No cutting needed.

That figures.

It wasn't a loss though, while cutting the poplar on the band saw I noticed some interesting spalting and a mark that looks like an insect body on this piece.

It isn't sturdy enough to be a wearable piece, but I sanded and oiled it anyway, just to see what it would look like.

I love the spalting around the bug hole and the marks that look like petroglyphs.  (is that a monkey?)

You never know what's hidden in the wood.  Could be something, could be nothing, could be monkeys.

Monday, November 28, 2011

air Betty

I recently moved the little teacup birdfeeder I made next to the porch.  The Blue Jays have been visiting my feeders and I thought it would be nice to be able to watch them in the morning while I have my coffee.  Naturally the chickens noticed that I was putting seed in the feeder and have started hanging around waiting for some of the extras to drop to the ground.

This waiting has been fine for all of the chickens.  Except one.

One who is determined.  One who rises above the rest.

Air Betty.

Look at the admiring faces of her peers.  You can almost hear them chanting "Betty, Betty, Betty..."

I was most entertained this morning watching my little superstar, until this happened:

Okay, I found that pretty much hilarious.

On today's to-do list: find taller stick.

Hope you have a fun start to the week, everyone.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

ornaments set sail

This weekend I harvested some birch bark.  Earlier this fall we had a large limb fall and I've been meaning to get out and pull the bark off of it but just hadn't gotten to it.  When I went out there yesterday it became apparent that the mushrooms got a jump on the job.  That'll teach me.

It worked out alright though, I was able to harvest what I needed, and got to hang out with the fungus in the meantime.

A whole fleet of tiny canoes are headed off to Bookhou where they will be in the most excellent company.  If you're in the Toronto area, stop by and have a look, won't you?

I've been up to some other woodsy shenanigans this weekend that I'll share with you soon.
I hope you're enjoying your weekend and having some shenanigans of your own.

Friday, November 25, 2011

bawk friday

This morning 8 of the girls lined up on the step outside my sliding glass doors, pruning their feathers and  tapping on the glass.  Yesterday we gave them a plate of cranberries, stuffing, and pie crust leftover from our Thanksgiving dinner and  they enjoyed it immensely.  I'm pretty sure they thinking that if they looked pathetic enough I'd emerge with another serving.

Instead of black Friday, we're having bawk Friday perhaps.

Have a good start to the weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

dress-making or dress-tweaking maybe

A new project landed in my lap yesterday. 

My daughter and I were in one of the thrift shops in town looking for her holiday dress.  When she saw this one she gasped and declared this dress her "faaaavorite" and hugged it.  As luck would have it, it fit her perfectly, and the overall shape is cute.  The velvet is bright red and the top is white with a little line of faux pearls at the neck.  With a little tweaking it will be super sweet (I'm hoping anyway).  I'll be working on this in the next few weeks and I'll be back to show you more later.  A hint at what I'll be doing though, involves one of Nini's embroidery patterns (and btw, aren't her patterns adorable?  You can have any one of them with your choice of donation on her site, so check it out).

Last year I re-fashioned her dress from a garage sale find and an antique lace collar.  This too was velvet.  The girl has a thing for velvet.

Now I'm thinking that I need to make her a black Elvis on velvet dress.  I'll save that project for another day though.  Thank ya, uh thank ya very much.

What's on your plate today?

Monday, November 21, 2011

not quite chaos

Oh sure it might look like chaos around here but I'm not going to call it that.
I might be a plate-spinner.
It might just be the season.
Whatever the label, things are certainly busy around here.

One of the many projects in th eworks is related to the bowl of natural dyeing you see here. 

I'm eager to get this one finished up and show you.  I do so love the experimentation of playing with natural dyes.  All of the colors in this bowl came from only two dyestuffs, both left over from my snacks last week, combined with a little tinkering.  So much fun.

I know where each of these colors came from and though it may look like chaos, it's not quite.
Much to do, much to do.  I'd better get to it.

Have a good and non-chaotic start to the week.

Friday, November 18, 2011

wood(stove) fired pottery

I was staring out the window the other day, looking at the fire pit in the backyard and thinking about how I'd like to get some pottery fired before it got too cold out.  The woodstove plinked in the background, chugging away on this chilly day.  The plinking means the fire is especially hot and the plink, plink, plinks, eventually got my attention.  I turned around and looked at my woodstove in a new way.  (cue the romantic music)

Some of the clay beads I made were dry and ready to be fired so I figured I'd just pop one or two in the stove and see what happened.  They popped like popcorn.  Hmm.  Um, that's not what I wanted.  Not to be deterred, I took a couple more and let them warm up above the fire for an hour before I placed them in the stove.  This time I put them away from the direct flame and built a fire on top of them.  A few hours later after the fire had died down I pulled out two fired beads.  Hooray!

I was so excited I had to try again, this time putting in more beads, and the smallest of my little pinch pots.  I was a little nervous about the pot, thinking that if it were to explode and break the glass on the stove, my husband would find my shenanigans far from amusing.

Once again I let the pieces warm up before carefully placing them in the stove.  I built a good hot fire over them, and continued to add wood while this batch fired.  A few hours later I dug the pot, beads, and a few small pieces from the ashes.

I don't know how hot my woodstove gets so I can't say for certain, but the beads didn't soften when left in water so I'm going to call them bisque-fired.  The black parts aren't soot, they're reduction marks from the firing process and are permanent.  I love them!  I made these as stringing beads for my daughter but now I don't know.  I might like to string them and wear them.

I decided to use the tiny pinch pot as a planter for one of my succulent cuttings.

I think I'll fire the rest of the pinch pots out in the fire pit, but there's a good chance there will be more beads in the woodstove soon.  Plink, plink, plink...

Have a good and warm weekend everyone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

wordle...ah who am I kidding? Wednesday

If I keep talking through my "wordless Wednesday" posts I'm going to have to come up with a new name for them.

I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who stopped by yesterday's post.  You were so thoughtful and insightful with your comments and emails and it completely made my day.  I loved reading the varying points of view.  Thank you for having the conversation with me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

truth in the happy place

I've been thinking about Julie's post from the other day.  In it she takes aim at a blog world that shows only the rosiest of views, day in and day out.  She calls for more honesty from ourselves and directed at ourselves, and she's posting truths on her blog this week in response.

Her post made me think for a while about what I share here.  I'm not afraid to share my failures alongside my successes; recipes that don't turn out as planned, projects gone wrong, stories of unruly children...  I don't share all the realities of my life, but choose to show the moments that I find happy, inspiring, or at least entertaining.  This blog is my happy place and my honest place, just maybe not my brutally honest place. 

I have noticed the prevailing "life is perfect" vibe, it's definitely out there, but I mostly don't care.  I don't assume that everyone else's lives are non-stop joy, that everyone else's lives are perfectly manicured, even if they're trying hard to portray it that way.  For the most part this perfection doesn't make me feel inadequate, though the occasional twinge... maybe.  If you want to show me your happy, that's fine with me.  If you want to show me your mess, that's fine too.  A healthy mix of the two is probably just right.   

You know, that said, I will confess that I do cluck and shake my head at some of the design blogs that show meticulously arranged rooms, especially nurseries.  Whenever I see a nursery with a delicate paper mobile hanging just inches from the crib, a fluffy white rug on the floor, a modern cube side table with a single perfectly retro tin toy atop, sitting next to a book case with all of the books arranged by color...I laugh and assume that whoever owns this room hasn't actually had that child yet.  I chuckle, imagining how swiftly a seemingly immobile baby can learn to stand and shred that delicate paper mobile.  I imagine the moment when the child scales the bookcase, pours their grape juice into the white fluffy rug, or demands the plastic battery-operated farting dinosaur take center stage instead of the hip retro tin toy that matches the decor.

I want those of you who share time with me here to find it a comfortable place to hang out.  It's really satisfying to me when someone says "hey I learned something today" or just that they enjoyed a project I've shared.   I like making people happy.  Maybe Spilling-Ink has a point, perhaps we do have an "inner Oprah" who wants to cheer people on to a happier, better life.  When I wish everyone a good day at the end of my posts, I'm being sincere.  If I could surprise you with new cars and goodies hidden under your chairs, I totally would.

While I attempt to write this post I am sleep-deprived from tending to 3 sick children throughout the night.  The smell of bleach still on my hands.  The children who were vomiting like Linda Blair last night have regained all of their vigor and pep and I, working on less than 2 hours of sleep and feeling like a sedated sloth, just threatened to throttle one said child if he hit me with that Nerf ball one more time!!!   The irony is not lost on me that this is information I would not normally share, but today I feel compelled to.  Truth.

Have a great day everyone.  I mean it. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

apple and pear ornament tutorial

I'm trying something new, friends.

I've begun writing some pdf tutorials, starting with my little apple and pear ornaments, and am offering them for sale in my Etsy shop.  This one is geared towards the beginner and intermediate sewist.  For those of you that may not have easy access to felted garment wool, or who want to be spared the trouble of felting and preparing this yummy wool, I'll soon be offering a materials kit as well.

(apple and pear ornaments - make us!)

While writing tutorials is not new to me, (I've written several for various books and offer some free here on my blog), writing them to sell is new to me.  I'm hoping that by sharing my techniques I'll help more people fall in love with making things by hand, appreciate the beauty of using repurposed materials, and compensate myself (even if modestly) in the process.

As I mentioned the tutorials and kits will be found in my etsy shop, however my other completed works will continue to be in my big cartel shop.

Speaking of which... I have a few new pieces nearing completion and I'll be having my next shop update sometime in the last week of November, after the whole Black Friday craziness is over, and blood pressures return to normal.  Normalish?  I hope you'll find something for the art-lover on your list.

Have a good start to the week, everyone. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

clay play

I had the clay out and did some playing yesterday.  Tinkering, if you will.  Just for fun, just for me.  The sun even made an appearance.

It was just what I needed.


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