Thursday, January 31, 2013

I'm a little Death Cap short and stout

 I don't know why that is running through my head, but it is.
A little Death Cap (short and stout, I am deadly so spit me out) that I'm finishing up today.

 Just a teeny little guy based on the Amanita phalloides, the "World's Most Dangerous Mushroom".  How's that for a distinction?  The thing about these guys is that they supposedly taste pretty good.  It isn't until days later that you start getting sick and then you wake up dead.

Of course this guy is just wool so we won't try to eat him.  His cap gets its pale green from the batch of dyeing I did with St. John's Wort supplement.  He'll be mounted on a base from the Alder in my yard and offered to a friend who I think will appreciate his creepy inspiration.

Monday, January 28, 2013

miscellany on a Monday

My youngest decided to wake me up 6 times last night.  Bad dreams, bathroom breaks, general wakefulness all called for a visit to mom.  She's fresh as a daisy this morning and I feel like something the cat dragged in.  Even coffee isn't cutting it.

I finished up that snowy stone from yesterday and it's on its way overseas.

After getting great colors from the St. John's Wort supplements, I thought I'd try the Black Cohosh that was in my medicine cabinet.  It wasn't as successful, but did give a yellow-tan color.  The smell though, oof.  It isn't a dye I'll try again.  Not indoors anyway.

I'm trying to remember to watermark my photos after seeing several of them without attribution on various sites.  I'd like it if I didn't have to, but it seems some people won't play  nice.

My birthday is later this week and I treated myself to Maya's book.  I managed to wait until yesterday to open it, even though it arrived a while ago (such restraint!) and it's even more wonderful than I had anticipated.  I'm finding that I'm slowly reading my way through it instead of thumbing through it from the back to the front like I normally do.  If you've thought of picking it up, I'd say go for it.  And if you buy it from her Etsy shop you can even get it signed.

The urge to create is so strong for me right now.  I feel like I can barely contain it.  After hemming and hawing for several years about the role my art plays in my life I've decided to give it my all.  I want to do some larger pieces, apply to shows, and see where it takes me.  There, I said it.

 This is a sight I never tire of.  Keeping chickens is a daily lesson in gratitude.  No matter what's going on in my day, pulling an egg out of the laying box always makes me grateful.

Here's wishing you Monday finds you well-rested and ready to start the week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

stitching a snowy kind of stone


Today I'm finishing up a stone.  Certainly a reflection of our snowy landscape.

Rumor has it we're supposed to get up to near freezing today but back in the negatives this coming week.  Winters certainly seem long around here.  

It helps to have things to look forward to so I've schedule just such a thing for next weekend.  In the meantime, coffee and sewing helps too.

Wishing you all a lovely Sunday.

Friday, January 25, 2013

dyeing with St. John's Wort supplements

 It started with a tomato plant, a stray seedling that popped up uninvited in my anise starts, and another day of the temperature weakly venturing above zero.

I haven't ventured outside much lately besides my daily chicken and duck-tending and I miss my walks.  And I miss gathering things for dyeing.  So when my eyes landed on the tomato plant, I thought hm...maybe I'll do a little indoors dye-gathering.  I did experiment with the leaves and when they gave very little color I started tossing other things into the pot.  Ultimately what gave me color and a pretty good surprise was something I had in my medicine cabinet.  St. John's Wort pills.

I knew that the plant itself can be used for dyeing but I wasn't sure if the supplements would have the same effect.  I started pulling the capsules apart and dumping the contents in the dye pot (I wised up a little later in the process.  If you do this, cut them with stout scissors lengthwise, much faster).  I didn't have any pre-mordanted fiber on hand so I just sprinkled some alum and cream of tartar in the dye pot, stirred it all up, and added my wool, cotton, cotton floss, and silk.  I let it simmer for about 30 minutes and lo and behold, color!

The silk took up the most color, turning very dark green, almost black, but the cotton performed well too giving shades of olive green that are more vibrant and lovely than they look here.  The wool took on a more brownish shade of green which too, isn't reflected well in the photos.  The color on the cotton faded quite a bit in the drying process so I'm going to let the pieces sit in a sunny window for a few days and see how fugitive the colors are.  

It makes me wonder what other colors are in my medicine cabinet.  If someone hasn't already done it, someone please visit your local herbal supplement aisle and dye with everything you can find.  It isn't the project for me, but oh how I'd love to see a piece constructed with medicinally-dyed fiber.

I should mention that there was another unexpected side effect of this particular dye pot, and that is the lingering aroma.  It was very reminiscent of marijuana.  Just the smell though, no other "effects".  Thought I'd mention it so you can plan accordingly if you decide to try this.  I would schedule that dinner with the in-laws another day.

Have a great weekend, everybody.  I hope you get a little time to experiment too.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

cocoon stone

I had a few hours in the house alone yesterday.  That may not sound like a big deal, but let me tell you, it's a rare event around here.  I enjoyed the solace and did some stitching.
 I included a few glass and stone beads under the stitches.  When you push on cocoon form you can feel them move beneath the surface.  That's really appealing to me because one of the things I love most about creating this kind of art is that the observer is not only allowed to interact with the work in a physical way, but is encouraged to do so.

This piece will be available in my shop shortly.

I hope all of you are staying warm.  We're anticipating a *high* of -10f tomorrow so I may be cocooning myself.  In blankets.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

the cat has no sense of humor

 I made a few finger puppets this holiday season.  Some chickens and a couple of cats.  The kids seemed to like them.

The cat, not so much.
He is not amused.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

completed stone - eml in Wisconsin

When Ellen from Wisconsin sent me her stone I knew immediately that I would need to incorporate some element relating to dragonflies in it.  I've gotten to know her a little over the past few years and I know dragonflies are a passion of hers.

I didn't want to stitch a literal dragonfly on her stone, but instead wanted to bring a touch of dragonfly to the design. 

I chose a blue that reminded me of the dragonflies I see in my yard, and used stitches to suggest the structure in a dragonfly wing.  What I wish you could see in the photo, but can't really, is that the thread I used is iridescent and shimmers when you hold it in the right light, much like a dragonfly wing itself.

It joins the growing gathering of stones.  Thank you, Ellen, for sending it to me.

I've gotten a few more stones in the mail, thank you so much to everyone who has sent one.  I still need more so 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!

Monday, January 14, 2013

stone finished and duly fortified

I finally figured out where I was going with the stone I was stitching yesterday.  It certainly doesn't match the grey of the day.

I think it might be magic because the sun is out today.

It's in my shop now.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to the day.  I am feeling especially fortified today after an amazing breakfast.  The ducks surprised me with an egg so I had an omelet with goats cheese and smoked salmon, some steak, and toast.  (well, I had part anyway, I shared.  Begrudgingly.)  To think I almost had a bowl of kashi instead.

Bring on the Monday.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

a nose-thumbing stone

 I sat down yesterday to stitch on a stone.  I pulled the lovely turquoise merino out of my stash and intended to use subdued shades of white and grey, reflecting the weather outside my window.  I had icicles in mind and a cup of tea by my side.

Instead, it seemed my subconscious was thumbing its nose at our grey weather and I reached for bright orange, yellow, and green instead.  I have something close to a circus stone going on with those colors.  I kept asking myself "where am I going with this?".  I still have some more stitching to do so we'll see how it ends up.  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

birds nest fungi brooch

I've completed a new brooch, this one inspired by the tiny birds nest fungi.
A fanciful collection of bullion knots, french knots, and a few beads too.

The wool was some from a local shearer that I dyed in an autumnal mix of browns and rust.  The base is a piece of poplar branch that I dried so that the bark would remain in tact.  I love the bits of lichen attached to it.

A very earthy, natural piece.  If you know someone who shares that unique aesthetic, this piece is now available in my shop.

Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, January 11, 2013

mold and moss brooch

I managed to finish up the brooch I was working on yesterday.  It's reminiscent of moss and mold, no?

I set it into a base I made out of a fallen poplar branch.  I left some traces of bark on the edge, and made the shape natural and organic-looking, but sanded smooth.  I try to make things that I would like to hold in my hand, and the combination of wool, stitches, and wood make it just that for me.

 I've put this in my shop already and hope to have a few more pieces on a more regular basis.  I'll be sure to blog about them here and mention them on facebook and twitter too.

We did get that freezing rain last night so we are hunkered down today.  The kids have a pile of clay on the counter and are making pizzas and bowls. (mmmm clay pizza... )
I have a cup of coffee and some pie.  (mmmm coffee and pie... )

I hope your weekend is cozy too.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

just a pretty good day

Yesterday was one of those good days.  The kind that allowed me to get some groceries in the morning and still gave me time to work at the band saw, do a little felting, make a good dinner (artichoke heart and goat cheese grilled cheese with homemade beef soup and green tomato pie for dessert, yum!), read stories with the kids, and finish up the day with some sewing and tea.

My days have not been that randomly productive in a while so I think I appreciated it even more.

Today the weather is above freezing so I once again took advantage of the (relative) heat and cut a few more pieces at the saw.  Our barn is not heated so anytime I can avoid aching-from-the-cold fingers while cutting, I'm happy.  Nimble fingers at the saw are always a plus.

We're expecting freezing rain tonight so I gave the chickens and ducks extra bedding, brought in some extra firewood, and am preparing to hunker down if need be with my family, some sewing, and the leftover pie.

Sounds okay to me.
Happy Thursday to all of you.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

completed stone - dlw in West Virginia

Another stone completed.  This one was sent to me from Lisa (who writes the blog 'in the boon docks') on behalf of her grandson, David, from West Virginia.

The color is earthy, like clay and dirt, supporting growth and greenness.  Just the sort of things my own boys love to explore.  I hope you like it too, David.

 Thanks so much for joining me in this project of mine.
My hands are eager to stitch so there will be more soon and a few pieces for the shop too.  Soon.

Have a great day, everyone.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

completed stone - smph in Alaska

A stone completed.  In the aftermath of the holidays, the quiet act of finishing this stone was soothing to my overstimulated soul.  This stone came to me from Sherry on the shores of Larsen Bay, Alaska.  That view on the postcard?  That's her yard and her stone was gathered from there.
 It's little wonder her stone was so soothing to stitch.  I think it carried some of its beach-side calm with it.
I used a golden yellow wool on her stone and let the blues of the water and the pebbly texture of the beach inspire my stitches.  I was also inspired by her island location and found myself stitching an island of yellow amidst the blue.

The gathering of stones grows.

I made a mail run the other day and oh how I love opening up the PO box to see packages of stones waiting for me.  The stories some of you are including with your offered stones have moved me so.  I only hope I can do justice to them.  Now that the holidays are over I'll be able to work more consistently and I'm eager to show you more soon.

Thank you to everyone who has sent a stone off or have helped spread the word.  If you or someone you know would like to send one to me, you can find the details HERE

Thank you!


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