Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday busy-ness!

Well, it's happened again...Christmas has snuck up on me and I am counting the hours as I bake cookies, address cards (fewer this year), email friends, and make a few last-minute gifts. I wish I had time to create something hand-made and unique for everyone on my Christmas list! But time does not permit, and so this year I kind of "cheated" on some of my hand-made gifts and let my washing machine do the felting for me! When making a few wooley pin-cushions to sell/display at my next show, I made them big enough to have an extra slice off the top to make a wool geode pin. They turned out so cute, here's a few of them in the photo below right; and yes, I gave some of them as gifts! I'll be teaching this technique a couple of times in 2009, so stay tuned for that.

Hope your Holidays are merry and bright! See you in 2009!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Altered Couture Magazine Project

Only 38 days until Christmas - are you ready? Or are you still looking for that perfect gift for a special friend? If so, you might be interested in my newest designs I created for Altered Couture Magazine Winter 2009. These simple accessories are both trendy and practical, and best yet - they're made from things you probably already have on hand! For a sneak peek, visit their web-site http://www.stampington.com/html/altered_couture_winter09.html My designs are on their home page, the "Coming up Roses" set. My daughter was the inspiration for this sweet set, and I kept it quick and easy to make! Enjoy!

SAFF Fiber Show

In October I attended my first BIG fiber show in Asheville, NC. What a treat! I signed up to be a helper in a class about painting wool fibers, and that was a great experience. The teacher was wonderful, as was the class; we learned all about dyes, painting the wool top, the kind of stove to use to steam the fibers, etc. I even got to join the class in dyeing my own wool fibers! (see photo at left) And it was pretty interesting to be the helper as opposed to the teacher; I spent much of my morning carrying buckets of water from the barn to the little overhang where we did our dyeing outside...good thing I'm a country girl! ^_^

I also made a special needle-felted wrap to wear to the show (see photo at left.) I made the wrap from black wool, then needle-felted my original tree design to the back in Merino wool fibers. I then added silk leaves I hand-dyed with some luscious Colorhue dyes I got from June Colburn at one of the shows - these dyes are great, they're so easy to use! And I love the wrap, I've worn it so much since I made it, it looks great on every body and is so warm and flow-y!

Nuno-felted Scarf Class

In October I taught a nuno-felted scarf class to a group of very talented gals from Winston-Salem, Faith and Mooresville. Sara was kind enough to host the class in her spacious home,and we were fortunate to have beautiful, sunny weather. I brought kits for the girls to choose from in an array of colors (see photo at left) in hand-dyed silk chiffon, merino wool fibers and some novelty fibers, and the girls also brought a few of their own fibers to individualize their scarves. We rocked and rolled all morning, and by early afternoon, each student had a beautiful hand-felted silk scarf to wear with pride! At left is a photo of Gail and Sara modeling their gorgeous scarves. Well-done, ladies!

Fall Show Update

Wow!What a crazy, busy, wonderful fall it's been with so many great quilting and sewing shows, workshops and classes! I can't believe it's been 3 months since I last blogged, but that just shows how hectic things have been around here. I was fortunate enough to be a part of several awesome shows up and down the east coast, both vending and teaching, and I couldn't have done it without my wonderful friends Alby and Debbie. They were with me keeping the road hot and helping me through thick and thin, setting up and tearing down booths and meeting all sorts of interesting people in between, even a couple of 4:00 a.m. fire drills! We dined with Carol Cypher one night, the very talented fiber and bead artist, and she was so down-to-earth and full of advice on all sorts of things like writing, getting published, etc. We had the opportunity to hear Marianne Fons speak, and how she and her friend Liz Porter got started years ago with kids in tow but with a dream...sound familiar? We met June Colburn and marvelled at her soft-spoken words of wisdom, and we drooled over Sue Spargo's gorgeous hand-dyed wool. All my students were amazing, from the sweet little 10-yr. old girl who made the most perfect wool beads, to the young lady who proudly sculpted her "pac-man" beads with big wide smiles, from the beginnig sewer who painstakingly worked hard on her Santa, and was so pleased she bought kits to make more for Christmas gifts, to the expert dollmaker who put her own spin on her Needle-felt Santa, and all the girls who skipped dinner to make big luscious needle-felted lily pins and proudly wore them to the show the next day - my thanks to you for making the shows so very, very special!

A highlight for me at one of the shows was when some of my creations were modeled by "volunteers" during a wool lecture I gave; a huge thank you to those who graciously gave their time to show off my designs in front of everyone at the show! My wearable art never looked so good!

I also had the opportunity to create a special sample showcasing my talents for the Faculty Display at some of the shows. I created an original wall hanging called "Wallflowers", shown at left. First, I drew a stone wall, then created the wall from different shades of Woolfelt appliqued to a dark wool background. Then, I needle-felted all sorts of different kinds of orchids separately, and I nuno-felted orchid lips from hand-dyed silk and merino wool (you can see them all lined up.) I sewed the lips to the petals, and after appliqueing stems and leaves to the wall, sewed the dimensional orchid blossoms on top. I needle-felted dark brown wool "dirt" in between the Woolfelt "stones", and needle-felted harmonizing fibers to the lower part of the quilt to represent the decaying at the bottom of the wall (in contrast to the beauty of the flowers.) The final touch was some green yarn "Spanish moss" stitched randomly on the quilt. Lots of research went into those orchids, I'm telling you, I felt like an orchid expert after finishing that quilt!

I also had some "orchid lips" left over, I had made a few extras so I could pick and choose my favorites, but I hate to waste anything. So I made a little flower pin out of the leftover lips, sewing them together for flower petals with a button in the middle. See the photo at left, amongst the peaches from our tree (yes, I finally got around to picking those peaches!)

Altogether, it was a most exhausting, exhilarating autumn, and I look forward to returning to the shows and both seeing old friends and to making some new ones._

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Opening ceremony in Beijing

I was headed out to pick peaches yesterday evening on our last tree when I remembered the opening ceremony of the Olympics was about to start. Well, I'll just watch a few minutes of that first, I thought; little did I know, I would be on my couch mesmerized by the show for the next 3 hours!

My first clue was the countdown: 2008 drummers playing and twirling in harmony to music, and then a visual countdown as we saw an aerial view of drums lit up to form 60, then 40, and so on until they reached 1 and everyone cheered; the cameraman found one drummer who breathed a huge sigh of relief; his part of the show was over.

Ony 13,000 performers to go! And they covered all the bases: singers, dancers, children in traditional costumes from the 50 different parts and people of the country, proudly participating in the most important day their country has seen in a very long time. It was absolutely, stunningly amazing! China put on such a show, and the people worked so hard to bring to the world a positive view of their country: as this year's motto says, one world, one dream, we could almost believe it for the next couple of hours. One of the highlights of the show was the little boy who survived the May earthquake in China and rescued some of his classmates walking with Yao Ming carrying the flag in the parade of nations, a bare spot on the side of his little head, a hero's badge of honor. (The U.S. looked very smart in their coordinated suits and hats in that parade, BTW!) And then the closing ceremony, the lighting of the torch: the flame was passed to 8 honored athletes (8 being a very lucky number in China, thus the opening date for the games of 8-08-08)The last athlete was then hoisted into the air, where he "jogged" airborne around the upper edge of the "birds nest" stadium (think about those Chinese movies where they sword-fight in the skies) in front of a visual "scroll" that unfolded beside him on a huge screen that ran around the entire upper edge of the stadium until he reached the enormous cauldron, which he then lit with his torch. Then ensued the largest display of fireworks I have ever seen! All in all, a breathtakingly beautiful show, I can't imagine how many people it took to put together such a visual work of art for all the world to see.

And I couldn't help but think, quilters also do this! I was fortunate enough Thursday night to visit the Asheboro Quilters' Guild, where they presented a quilt they had made to their local hospital for the new cancer wing, and what a work of art it was! Again, several of the quilters had worked together to create a beautiful quilt, with so many special details: dimensional floweres, embroidered birds, scenic mountains and clouds, a picket fence, even a quilt within the quilt, all parts working in perfect harmony to bring beauty and pleasure to the viewer. Something to think about besides what lay behind the doors at the hospital, this quilt was a work of art, sweat, and joy, and what a sense of pride these ladies must have felt! Just goes to show how much good we can do in our own back yard, working together to bring a little joy and hope to our community. I hope you're able to do that this year as well.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A "Green" Idea

What a busy month July has been! After months of gathering fabrics, embellishments and supplies for several quilting and wearable art challenges, the last few weeks have definitely put me to the test in getting them finished by the deadlines - all of which seemed to fall this month. As usual (and like many of you I suspect), my design ideas far out-reached the actual time I had on hand to complete all the projects I wanted to. But I was able to do a few, and am happy to report that one of my designs was accepted for an upcoming issue of Belle Armoire Magazine, and also my Wallflowers wall hanging was juried into the Pennsylvania National Quilt Extravaganza, an awesome show this September I will be vending as well as teaching (for more info visit their web-site at www.quiltfest.com)

My most recent endeavor was a wearable art ensemble for the Hoffman Challenge 2008. I have entered this contest once before with a simple paper-pieced purse similar to my Han-di Sak pattern #138, which ended up in their traveling exhibit for a year. But many of you know, I love wearable art! And so I decided to create a jacket and dress ensemble for this year's challenge; the fabric was so gorgeous this year! I particularly loved the peacock, and my outfit ended up being very green (surprise! only my favorite color) not only in color but in the newer sense as well. I did of course use the challenge fabric along with a soft heathery celery woolfelt I had for the jacket, and I bought a rich contrasting batik that set off both of these materials. But then I dug through my stash and found a wonderful teal taffeta that matched the batik fabric beautifully, as well as a cream silk I used for the dress bodice, a recycled dress zipper...I even "re-vamped" one of my old college drawings for some graphics on the dress. And borrowing on one of our old favorite board games, I titled my piece, "Ms. Peacock in the Parlor with the Pipe", a tongue-in-cheek reference to the "Clue" game.

I'm including a picture in today's post of the peacock pin I made for the jacket lapel. This was quick, fun 'n easy to make! I just drew out a teardrop shape on Woolfelt about 4" long x 2-1/2" wide, couched assorted fibers on it radiating from the peacock "eye", needle-felted the eye over the fibers, couched a darker fiber around the eye, and sewed it to a Woolfelt lining, turned it right side out through a slit I cut in the back, and voila! Instant embellishment, and it's great for using up all those little bits of decorative trim too pretty to throw away. And that's my "green idea" for the day - enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

I Felt the Challenge!

Today I had a meeting with a wonderful little art quilt group I get together with once a month; we had each received a "fortune cookie challenge" back in December, and this was the big day the challenges were due. Well, being such a "wool-aholic" (have you had your daily dose of fiber? ^_^), I decided to do some nuno-felting, and so I made another silk 'n wool scarf, this one in a brilliant fuchsia silk chiffon with indigo, wine and celery merino fiber accents with just a touch of Angelina thrown in for a little pizazz. I loved the way it draped, but it needed a pin, so I made a wool "geode" pin to hold the scarf in place. I guess I got a little carried away when I ran across the matching fuchsia fibers, and so I found myself wet-felting wool beads last night to make matching earrings and a bracelet to wear with the scarf. I was definitely feeling the challenge as I burned the midnight oil to complete this whole wet-felted set of accessories! By the way...I got lucky with my fortune; it said "You are original and creative", which applies to most every quilter and stitcher I know! Anyway, see below left for a photo of the nuno-felted scarf, pin and matching wool beads jewelry, maybe you'll be inspired to challenge yourself, too!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Bead Show

Have you ever been to a bead show? When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was to go through my mom's or grandma's jewelry box...what a privilege! With pearls, rhinestones, onyx, all sorts of great 50's costume jewelry (which BTW is hot stuff now!), it was like digging through a treasure chest, and I dreamed of being a princess and being able to wear such beautiful finery.

Well multiply that times a million, and that is like a bead show: rows of tables covered in strings and bags of gorgeous beads in every color, size and shape imaginable, what a feast for the eyes! The Bead, Gem and Craft Show I attended yesterday at the Cabarrus Arena was just incredible, I've never seen so much glittering eye-candy in one place! My eyes feasted there for about 3 hours as I found the perfect beads to go with my fibers for my wool beads kits, check out a sample in the picture at left. Some of you know that I've been invited to teach at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Chantilly, VA and also the Georgia Quilt Show this October, and they've requested I include beads in my wool bead kits, so I have the perfect excuse to engage in one of my favorite activities...shopping! I'll be gradually adding beads to some of my wool bead kits, and will even have a few at the Clemmons quilt show this weekend (see my Schedule page on my web-site for more info on the show.) Anyway, the vendors and folks at the bead show were so nice, they have invited me to teach the wool beads when they bring the show back at the end of September, so I'm going to try and squeeze that in...I'll definitely be going back either way! You should check it out...even if you don't make jewelry, beads are a great embellishment for your quilts, wall hangings, bags, and wearable art...and what better place to find exactly what you're looking for than at a bead show! For more info, you can visit their web-site at www.americangemexpo.com

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

June News

What a busy couple of weeks it's been! Last week I visited the super-nice and oh-so-talented Lake Norman Quilter's Guild, and it was like a family reunion, I just love those gals. We talked about needle-felting and wet-felting and then broke out the wool 'n fibers and played, I'm telling you, those girls are fast learners! They made a beautiful array of needle-felted heart pins and everyone's was different and so pretty, you can see my sample in the photo next to my nuno felted scarf. And yes, I made the scarf, too, it's wet-felted from some very yummy hand-dyed crinkle silk that I hope to be carrying soon and also gorgeous colors of merino wool fibers. I love how it feels, it's kind of sculptural, yet light as a feather and drapes beautifully.

And this week we all piled in my mini-van and went to see Billie Lauder in Kernersville, what a fun program that was, we laughed till we cried, she is so funny. Who knew you could do so many things with simple squares and triangles? And the Kernersville group were the perfect hostesses, they had snacks and drinks arranged for us "weary travelers" like a 4-star restaurant, I've never seen so many home-made cookies in my life, yum! They were extremely gracious to all their visitors, of which there were many who turned out for Billie's special presentation. A truly enjoyable night; I especially enjoyed seeing all my quilting friends there, some of whom I only get to see at shows and such, it was great catching up with everyone. Can't wait to see who turns out for the Clemmons show June 13-14, I know those girls have been working hard to put on a great show...maybe I'll see you there!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Saturday "News"

Welcome to my new blog! I'm so excited, my daughter came in for a visit and set it up for me; now I'll be able to share my "inspirations" with you on a more regular basis!

I do have some new things: first is my "Needle-felt Flower Pin" I'll be teaching at Ben Franklin Crafts on May 17 by request from the girls that were in my April needle-felting class. You can view a photo of the pin on my Schedules page of my web-site, of course you can make yours any color and Bonnie has some gorgeous new colors of wool fibers in stock! Come learn how to make this easy pin, you won't be able to just make one.

I'm also nearly done with my newest "Cuddle Buddies Quilt" pattern, so be watching for that on my web-site in the next few days. Can you believe this is my 50th pattern? And that's not including magazine projects etc. Speaking of which, I have 2 magazine projects coming out this month, I'll keep you posted on those as well, some fun new things to make!

I learned something else this weekend; some of you know that my daughter is specializing in Japanese and Asian studies. Well, just out of curiousity, we were looking at the Chinese "Year of..." web-site, and guess what the animal for my year of birth was? You guessed it, I was born in "the year of the Sheep"! I guess it really was fate for me to end up all about wool! ^_^