Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Day of the Year

The sun is setting on another year. After a false start on Tuesday, the in-laws left on Wednesday. The Christmas decorations silently sit around us, waiting to be put away. There is a mountain of laundry to conquer.

I would have liked a few more days here at the end between holiday events and the beginning of the new year, as it is a time of reflection of what has occurred throughout the year and what has been accomplished. For me, it's also time to check what got done on the many to-do lists and what didn't. A time to make new goals and lists for this new year coming. An activity for which I have yet to have the time. It's also the time that I want to get everything in the house organized and cleaned for a fresh start to the new year (I don't usually accomplish much in that endeavor but it goes on those lists). All in good time.

Now it is time to wish you a Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

On the Trail

We had a beautiful day one day last week. The sky was blue and sunny. The temperatures were in the low 40's and we decided to get out of the house. We drove to the outskirts of town and took a walk along the muddy Oregon Trail. Even though it is winter, there are still colors, plants and patterns to see in nature.

Monday, December 27, 2010

4Q Gallery's last days

Just wanted to give you a heads up that this is the last week the 4Q Gallery will be open.  It will be open Mon. - Wed. this week.  Check it out, if you haven't already, and the blurb about me and the gallery over on the Boise Weekly Cobweb.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Winter Solstice

Did you see the lunar eclipse last night?  Anna wanted to stay up to see it.  It was suppose to be around 12:30 to 1 a.m.  I didn't want to stay up and went to bed.  I did not hear Anna come in to wake up Frank.  But I naturally woke up at 12:55 a.m. and said, "Cool, I'll go see the eclipse." 

It was a beautifully clear night.  We were worried because there had been clouds throughout the day.  But there was the moon with a reddish shadow across it.  We had to step out on our upper deck to be able to see it straight above.  Even in pajamas, slippers and a sweater, it didn't seem too cold to me (it was probably in the thirties).  We'd stand outside for awhile looking at the pretty sight with lots of stars and the cool air on our face, then come back in for a little while.  Frank discovered that if we lay down on the living room floor with our head right in the very corner of the room by the windows, we could see it from inside.

It was so peaceful and beautiful, a wonderful way to celebrate the solstice.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I dropped off the commission piece last night and they liked it!  They wanted to hang it as soon as I had unrolled it.  I do have to say it looked great in their space.  I was too tired to set up lights and stuff to take a really good picture of it before I delivered it.  But here it is on my design wall. It turned out very, very close to the original drawing. It is about 49 inches square (for some reason it doesn't look very square in the photo), the biggest piece I've done.

Now it's time to pack up the sewing stuff again and turn the studio back into a guest room.  Frank's parents and Uncle Bob arrive tomorrow.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Big Sigh

It has been a little like "Silent Night" on this blog lately.  But behind the scenes has been like Christmas Eve for the elves at the North Pole!  I have been working like crazy on my commission piece.  Some might ask why wait until so late to start.  I did not procrastinate.  I had so many other commitments, events, visitors, etc. that I just really couldn't start it until last week.  I was confident it would be done because I knew I would do whatever it took to get it completed on time.  I did and it took a lot!

Last week I was only able to spend about 24 hours working on the piece because I had to work at the gallery a half a day, do a demo at the gallery one night, get at least the 2nd floor cleaned up and decorated before my book club meeting on Saturday, wrap and mail gifts, go to a meeting, take Anna to get a haircut and other daily things.

This week on Mon., Tues., and Wed. I spent 11-12 hours each day working on it and about 6 hours yesterday.  At one point, I was on the verge of a break down.  I missed yoga, Nia and racquetball at the beginning of the week and have been living on diet Coke and chocolate (until the chocolate ran out).  It always amazes me that the things you need most in times of stress are the first things you give up.  Yesterday, I felt I was far enough along to go to my Nia class and play racquetball and I really, really needed it.

Frank and Anna have had to put up with me this week and I am grateful to them.  Frank told me the things I needed to hear when I needed it and knew when to leave me to myself.  Anna tried to cheer me up when I was stuck on a problem and unhappy.  They both had to endure mac and cheese and pizza dinners or make their own.  Hopefully, I can make it up to them by making fudge.

I drop the piece off tonight and I really hope they like it.  If not, then I will just bring it back and that might be a little hard.  But as Frank said, "This is a learning experience."  Oh yes, it has been and I will share my thoughts with you about that a little later.  I think I need a little distance from it as this as been a very tough roller coaster week for me.  I'm ready for a little "Peace on Earth" or just a little peace in my mind.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Recycled Holiday Ornament Tutorial #2

I know it is almost too late to be making holiday decorations now, but here goes, anyway. Tutorial #2.

Cut a cardboard tube leftover from wrapping paper, toilet paper or paper towels into sections. I used scissors to do this and it did get squashed a little, but I was able to make it round again. You could try using an Exacto knife if you don't want to squash it. I had some leftover from the window project which were painted. You can paint yours or leave it au naturale. Here is what it looks like.

The next step is for an adult to do. Make evenly (somewhat) spaced slots around the edge of the tube in the middle with an Exacto knife. It should look something like this.

Next, I used some big paper clips I had leftover from one of the elementary art lessons I did a few years ago. But you could also try using strips cut from plastic lids or containers, or cardboard strips from food boxes. You just want to make sure it is something a little stiff. Push the paper clips or strips into the slots. You will end up with something like this.

Then I cut some circles to go inside the tube from some food boxes. Some I decoupaged on wrapping paper or magazine pages, but I also left some just the way they were. You will need to cut two circles, one for the front and one for the back (you can trace the inside of the tube to make a template before putting in the paper clips, if you want). If you would like some variety, you can cut shapes out of the circles.

When you have the circles the way you like them, you will put glue on the backs of each and glue them to the paper clips and each other (sandwich the paper clips). I suggest using tacky glue for this as it works well for gluing disparate materials together. This should be enough to hold the paper clips in place, but I also put a little white glue on the outside edge of slots to help reinforce holding the paper clips in.

Below shows the back of one I made where I left the food box just the way it was. My grocery shopping one week was largely based on the color of container. There are quite a few things with red containers or boxes.

After this point, you can glue more things in the center of the circles to spruce it up even more. Some ideas are buttons, bottle caps, stickers, a smaller circle cut out of a different container, beads, etc. I recommend using the tacky glue again, unless it is a sticker or paper item.

The selection of beer for that grocery shopping week was based solely on this very cute polar bear cap.

Tie a string around one of the paper clips, hang and enjoy.  A bunch of these would look great in a window.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Recycled Holiday Ornament Tutorial

I just wanted to give you a quick tutorial on one of the decorations I made for my Winter Window. It's super simple and uses recycled materials.

Start with some plastic lids from yogurt or butter containers (or whatever else you can find). You can also use the bottom of the container if you choose. Cut off the edge of the lid (or cut circle out of bottom of container). Make sure the piece is completely flat. Then cut lines in toward the center, about halfway in, all around the edge. Be sure to cut an even number of lines. You should have something that looks like this.

If you want two layers, do the same for a smaller circle. Then, bend one "arm" forward and one "arm" back, alternating all the way around the lid. You can also cut the "arms" into different shapes to create variety. Now, you should have something that looks like this.

Next, you can put a piece of string, yarn, fabric or pipe cleaner around the lid between the arms. Tie or twist and trim ends. You can also do the same for the smaller circle if you want.

Find different items, such as pieces of old wrapping paper, colorful food boxes, cut felt pieces, etc, to decorate the very center of your ornament. Cut a slit in the center of all the pieces and push a brad through all to hold it together. Punch a hole in one of the "arms", tie string to hang and enjoy your decoration. On the first picture, I used a piece of scrapbook paper for the center.

If you want a two-sided decoration, just put two lids back to back. After placing the brad through (and opening prongs), you can glue something over the prongs to cover. Here are some I did for the window.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Demo Day

I just wanted to let you know that I will be giving a free-motion stitching demonstration at the 4Q Gallery this Thursday from 6-8 p.m.  The gallery is at Eighth and Bannock in the Idaho Building on the basement level near Superb Sushi across from the inside stairwell.  If you are not as busy as I am (or even if you are), stop by and say "hi".

Monday, December 6, 2010

What do you mean it's December?

And how could it possibly be the 6th of Dec. already?!  The holidays aren't just sneaking up on me,  they are running me down and moving on out of sight. 

My parents left on Saturday and the guest room has been converted back to the sewing room.  Time to get down to work.  The Christmas tree has been purchased, put up and lighted with new LED lights (they just don't have the same warm glow as the old ones, even though they are "warm white").  Decorations are still under the stairs.  They will get dragged out this week so the house will be nicely (we hope) decorated for my book club meeting on Saturday.  Boxes with presents were mailed today.

Today I finally started the process on my commission piece.  First I enlarged my sketch on the computer.  Here I started taping all the pieces together.

Then I labeled each section and made lots of registration lines (you can't really see that). The edges of all the papers will be a nice reference for lining up the straight grain of the fabric.

After that, I was ready to cut apart the sections for templates. I will add the seam allowance when I cut out the fabric.  Since this will be the front, I need to make sure I flip the piece over to face the wrong side of the fabric when cutting.  I cut notches at the registration marks so I can see them from the back. 

This is not the way I usually work, so I'm thinking of doing a section with printed fabrics just to make sure it's going to work before I cut into my dyed fabrics.

A good start today, but the timer is still ticking.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snow Day #2

No school today. It is only the second day in Anna's eight years of school. She was pretty happy. We got about eight inches in the last 24 hours. I slid into our mailbox with my car last night, but we managed to get it back into the garage, eventually. We took Frank to the airport this morning without incident. It's much better to enjoy it at home, than to drive in it.

Anna and I had to work to sled down the street, but there were plenty of people having trouble getting back up our street today. Our neighbor almost ran into our mailbox, too. But I had shoveled a big pile of snow there so that is what stopped her instead. Even the mailman had trouble and had to call in back up. We did not go anywhere else today.

"Yippee! No school!"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

White Saturday

I hope everyone had a peaceful, safe, yummy weekend.  I try not to participate in Black Friday events because I really don't like crowds.  But we did venture out to downtown Boise on Saturday in the snow.  First we had a nice lunch at P.F. Chang's and then we did a little bit of holiday shopping. 

While out, I tried to find and take pictures of the other businesses that participated in the Window Winter Gallery display.  I wasn't able to get to all of them but here are a few of the windows.

This was done at the Brick Oven Bistro.
These cowgirls were at the American Clothing Gallery.
These people were wearing their colorful glasses at Artisan Optics.
This was at the Mac Life store.
This was at The Chocolate Bar, which we also went into.
Inside we found delicious things and I even found a high heel I wouldn't mind owning!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Window Completed

Yesterday, Anna and I managed to install the Winter Window at the Idaho Historical Museum. Lucky Anna was out of school and was roped in to help me (I did pay her and she wanted to help anyway). It took us three and a half hours. I think it looks very festive, for now. I just hope the blizzard will take it easy on my work.

First, we painted a couple of "candy cane" poles on the window to help "frame and contain" the design.  Anna did one and I did one.
After painting, I screwed in the poles to the window frame.  I already had all the strings ready so then it was just a matter of threading and anchoring them through the holes I had drilled in the pole.
The above is a cardinal made from felt scraps with twisty ties sewn to its wings to keep them "flying".

Anna with the finished masterpiece.  Because the windows are dark, you can see it from pretty far away.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Winter Window

Back in October, I signed up to decorate a window for the Downtown Business Association and Boise City Department of Arts & History's Winter Window Gallery. They match artists (and pay them) with downtown businesses to decorate their windows to make the downtown more festive for the holidays.

Before I knew which business I was assigned to, I had some ideas about creating a 3D display instead of just painting on the windows like many do. But I needed to see which business I would get. I was assigned to do the windows for the Idaho State Historical Museum. And the contact person was someone I knew from yoga class (what a coincidence).

We met to look at and discuss ideas for the windows. The challenge with the museum's windows is that they are tinted and are dark. Even holding a piece of notebook paper right next to the window on the inside was not very visible from the outside. Total bummer for me and my ideas that were brewing! I looked and we discussed options. I discovered I could do something on the outside of the window because there are screw holes on the sides of the windows at top and bottom for the museum to be able to hang banners.

New ideas started to form and I also found out that their featured exhibit in December will be "The Power to Play -- From Trash to Treasure". It is an exhibit of toys made by children around the world who are poor and use trash to create play things. This was good because I wanted to use recycled items and it would tie into the exhibit.

I went home, researched ideas and drew a sketch for the approval of the museum. I would create different items (i.e. snowflakes, beads, birds, etc.) from recycled materials which would hang from strands of fishing line on the outside of the windows (tied to poles that would be screwed in at top and bottom of the windows).

I've been spending many hours working on these components. Since this is going to be on the outside, I've been concerned about weather conditions. I've coated cardboard and paper items with a coating of Mod Podge and spray clear acrylic to make them sturdy enough. Some things are made from plastic and fabric so I am not as concerned about those.

The strands are ready and I install everything tomorrow morning, just in time for the BLIZZARD that is expected to hit Idaho on Tuesday and Wednesday. Yes, I predict much rain and snow and wind for the month of Nov. and Dec., the amount of time this Winter (and I do mean WINTER) window is suppose to be up).

Below are some of the component parts (will post tutorial later).

This picture below is a test piece. It is just part of a component that is made with two layers of thick paper glued together and coated with Mod Podge. It has been sitting out in the snow and rain for two days and still is managing to hold up. So that gives me hope that this whole thing I have spent many, many hours working on is going to hold up through the weather.