"If you hear a voice within you say, 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." --Vincent van Gogh

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Infusing Color

I am tired of brown, green, gray. No offense to those lovely colors, but the bleak winter landscape has been weighing on me. Maybe it was the cold spell we had, I don't really know. I decided what I needed was some color - bright, vibrant, and warm - to bring me some enthusiasm.
I hadn't painted dryer sheets in a while,so I decided this was a good place to start. Look at these beautiful colors! An instant mood lift.
But then, what to do? I decided to take a stab at making coffee cuffs ... you know, those cardboard sleeves you get with your hot beverage-of-choice so you don't burn your hand? I have a fabric one that my friend Carolyn made for me a couple of years ago and I use it every time.
This is actually the second one I made. The outside is painted dryer sheets, free motion quilting and some beads. The inside is hand dyed cotton. This one is laced up with yarn to keep it closed.

This next one is the first one I did. I had a little trouble with getting the shape right and had to re-do it a few times. Still, I think it came out nice. An unconventional nod to Valentine's Day...

I satin stitched this one closed, which was no easy feat on my machine. I love my machine, but it lacks a free arm ... and stitching inside a small circular shape without one is a trick!

Now I need to test them out ... coffee with a friend sounds like just the ticket! Then I will make more and put them in my etsy shop.
I wonder if maybe I am missing the Caribbean? Spring will be here soon! In the meantime I'll enjoy my soft sweaters and warm socks and get my color fix through paint.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A few finished projects

I got a new netbook ... it's so darn cute! But I haven't loaded my photo software yet, so I wasn't able to adjust the lighting on these photos. They are a bit washed out, but I wanted to share anyway.

This is a necklace I made (for myself!) from a piece of seashell that I picked up in Grand Cayman. It's my first real attempt at wire wrapping. I thought it turned out pretty well, though I've got a lot to learn in that department. It's a fun souvenier and means more than anything I could have bought in a gift shop.

This is a piece of complex cloth that started out as the striped piece in this post. I have worked with a group of three other fiber artists for the past year+ to create complex cloth. We passed our pieces around and each added something to it. This is my latest piece, and I love it.

I finished my second t-shirt quilt. This one is smaller than the last - throw size. Even so, it was more difficult because many of the "t-shirts" ended up being UnderArmour-type volleyball jerseys and they were a bear to work with. I have now added an exhorbitant extra charge for shirts of this type to my price list. I hope I never have to deal with one again.

And finally, these are on my kitchen window to remind me of warmer days ... sand collected, left to right, from Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Cocoa Beach. I love the colors and how each one is so different. I might do some beading and wire wrapping on the jars. I haven't decided yet.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Card Ornament - TUTORIAL

Well, wow, I was surprised to find so much interest in this little project. Thanks to everyone who left a comment ... I hope you'll give it a try. Maybe start a new tradition!

I tend to err on the side of details, so don't be put off by the number of photos and wordiness of my explanation. It's not that hard. I'm including a lot of tips ... things I've learned through experience over the years. And no, I did not mislabel my ornament (first photo) - this is a closeup of the one I made in 2008, to show you how I label them. The rest of the photos follow my process for making the ornament for 2009.

So, here we go!

You will need:
*cards (at least 20 ... although if you have less than that, you can still make it work)
*compass and scissors
*ruler or straight edge
*white glue
*small length of ribbon
*paper clips

Dust off your geometry caps! I do this the old fashioned way. Yes, you could use a paper punch and have nice exact circles, but I like the flexibility that making my own templates gives me, and it's much easier to get that pesky equilateral triangle if you use a compass. Read on!

I use the back of one of the cards. I set my compass to a 1" radius which gives me a nice 2" circle ... you can make them any size you want. A 2" circle will yield an ornament that is about 4.5" in diameter.

Step 1: Draw two circles.

Step 2: Without re-setting your compass (it's very important to keep the same measurement that you used to draw the circles!), place the point of the compass anywhere ON one of the circles. Make a mark, further along the circle, at the point where the pencil intersects the circle.

Step 3: Now move the point to the intersection of the circle, and this little line you just drew, and make a second mark like the first.

Continue around the circle in this manner. You should end up with 6 marks, and if you kept your compass at the same measurement, the last mark will line up with the first.

*TIP: Trust me, it's not as complicated as it sounds!

Here is what your marked circle will look like:

Step 4: Using your ruler or straight edge, connect every other mark, across the circle, to form an equilateral triangle. Use the photo as a reference ... you will only use three of the six marks that you made.

Step 5: Cut out the unmarked circle, and the triangle.

TIP: If you are good at keeping track of things, you can use these templates year after year and never have to make new ones! Somehow I always end up making new ones ...

Step 6: Using the circle, cut out images from your cards. You will need 20 circles to make one ornament. If you don't have 20 cards, you can cut more than one circle from each card.

TIP: I deliberately choose trendy images if I have them, because these are the ones that will represent the year and be fun to look back on. Imagine what the cards of decades past would look like now!

TIP: OK, this part is a little tricky to explain, but as you actually work through the project, it will be easier to understand...

In the next step you are going to use the triangle as a template to fold the edges of the circles. Half of the triangles will point UP and half will point DOWN (as seen in next two photos). Some cards will lend themselves to one or the other. The point is, you want the important part of the image to be inside the triangle. For example, the word "Joy" lends itself to the triangle pointing UP. If the triangle pointed down, the J and Y would get "lost" on the folded edges outside the triangle.

This photos shows Santa ... he lends himself to the triangle pointed DOWN because the widest part of the main image is across the top of the circle.

Some cards with all-over prints can be used either way.
I separate my cards into two groups of 10, based on whether I think they will be UP or DOWN. In the photo of the 20 circles, above, the top two rows are UPs and the bottom two rows are DOWNs.
As I start to make my pieces, I may change some around, but you need 10 of each, so it is helpful to start this way.
(that was a long TIP! stay with me here ...)

OK ... what step is this? 7???
So, you place the tringle on the circle. Each point should touch the edge. This is the santa card from above. Now fold the card inward, using the triangle as a hard edge to fold against. I fold all three sides down for a snug fit around the triangle, rather than one side at a time.

This is what the circle looks like after it is folded.

Fold ALL the circles ... remember you need 10 pointing UP and 10 pointing DOWN. Is it making more sense? Keep reading ... the hard part is over!
TIP: I always fold the all-over prints last. This way the cards that have a specific direction get folded appropriately and I can fill in with UPs or DOWNs as needed to get 10 of each.

Step 8: Arrange your pieces into the components of your ornament.
*choose 5 UPs and arrange them into a circle, top points to the center. (top of photo)
*choose 5 DOWNs and arrange them into a circle, points to the center (bottom of photo)
*take the remaining 10 pieces and arrange them in a straight line, alternating UPs and DOWNs.
TIP: I try to arrange them so that I don't end up with, say, three snowman together, or all the white pieces in one place.
Step 9: Glue each section together. Use white paper glue (Elmers, PVA, tacky glue ...). Spread a small amount of glue on one of the tabs (the part you folded around the triangle) and connect two pieces together. I use a couple of paper clips to hold them in place while the glue dries. Hopefully you can see what I mean by the photo.

IMPORTANT: Tie a piece of ribbon into a loop and insert it into the circle formed by the 5 UP pieces before you glue it closed. This is how you hang your ornament!!!
This is how the top of your ornament will look while it dries...

and here's the bottom ... now do you see the importance of the UPs and DOWNs? It keeps your images all facing in the proper direction when you assemble the ornament...

Step 10: I have to apologize because apparently I neglected to take photos of this step, but I think it will be pretty clear ...
The strip of 10 cards (alternating UPs and DOWNs) is glued, first to the last, to form a ring. This is the center of the ornament. Once the three pieces are dry, glue the top to the center ring, in the same manner, using paper clips while the glue dries. Then glue the bottom to the center ring.

When the glue has dried, remove the paper clips and you have an ornament!
If the gaps/holes where the cards all join bother you, you can use more glue and squeeze the points closed, using clips to hold it together. You could also glue gem stones over the holes for some sparkle. They don't bother me, so I just leave them there.
The last thing I do is write the year on one of the bottom edges of an UP along the center ring (see first photo).
I hope you will try one. I think that stitched, and stuffed, they would make a fun baby toy if they were made out of fabric. Maybe I'll try that one day!


Friday, January 8, 2010


Every year, after Christmas, I turn these ...
into one of these ...

I date them, and hang them as ornaments on our tree. I just love them. It's a keepsake of holiday wishes, and I don't feel guilty that I'm not "keeping" all those cards! (I do use the rest for other projects, and recycle what I can't use).

These are some of the ornaments I've made over the years. Leave me a comment and let me know if you are interested in a tutorial. If there is some interest, I will happily publish one.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


While doing a little blog surfing recently, I came across Attic 24 ... a blog written by Lucy in England. I was drawn in not only by the gorgeous colors, but by her stunning crochet work. I used to crochet a lot ... oh about 20 years ago! And I have been toying with dusting off my hooks, and Lucy's blog was just the encouragement I needed.
Using one of Lucy's patterns, I stitched up these lovely flowers. (maybe my photography skills will improve this year ... one can hope! ... sorry about the poor photo quality). My good friend Carolyn is an avid quilter and knitter. She makes fantastic dishcloths, and dreamy warm socks, which I love. She passes on the ends of her skeins to me, and I have quite a little collection, which was just perfect for diving into for this project.
so I gathered up some yarn, and dusted off those hooks (miracle of all miracles, I was able to find them without too much stress!) ...

and I spent a little time with Lucy. In addition to the flowers, above, I also made some of her teeny tiny flowers and a few leaves (the largest flower is about 1.5"). I just love them. They are quick and easy and oh so cheerful.

I wonder where this rekindled passion will lead me? Thanks, Lucy, for the inspiration!

Friday, January 1, 2010

0102 2010

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I'm happy that it's 2010. I love the look of that number. Here's to hoping it will be a great year. To start it off, I thought I'd share some photos that inspire me. They are from our recent vacation to Florida and the Caribbean. Enjoy!

beautiful patina on this cannon in St. Augustine

love this color combo!

THIS is why sapphire blue is my favorite color

funky cool marble mosaic

sunset in Mexico

ummm... yeah, what's not to love?

more impossibly gorgeous water

and yet more - I never tire of it

how's this for a beach? (Grand Cayman)

sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico
and the sunrise of a new year! Happy New Year.