Friday, September 23, 2011

Why we got new floors

When I was growing up, only people we considered "rich" had wall to wall carpet. All the houses we lived in had hard wood floors with rugs. So back in 1989 when we were building this house, we decided that we mainly wanted carpet. Now this carpet has been replaced once, but none of it has worn very well. Don't know it that is because of the quality of the carpet or the fact that we have three Scotties. Some people think Scotties are small dogs, but they really are considered medium size and boy do they have big feet. Especially when they've been out in the muddy yard and bring back in a half ton of mulch each. So we decided it is time for new flooring. It was a tough choice to replace everything with more carpet and tile or just hard flooring. Since the dogs are all older, and all have been having accidents regularly, we decided to go with laminate hard floor. I have to keep reminding myself of WHY! So these pictures will help me explain why...

This is Frodo, and no! those stains were not made by him. When the girls both had bladder infections last month, they both had blood in their urine, and I swear but no amount of Nature's Miracle will get that blood out. Chris tried Oxyclean and a scrub brush, but that stain kept reappearing.

This is our kitchen flooring. It is an old when the house was built. Chris has stripped this and scrubbed it so much that some of the pattern is a little worn. It doesn't look too bad, but we were just so sick of all those little squares.

The furniture is pulled out here waiting for the flooring guys to come, and in honestly this room is probably one of the best as the dogs are not allowed in there. When we had SkyeBlue and she dumped a big pot of dirt on this floor when it was brand spanking new and that stain is STILL there.

This WAS the dining room. We rarely have big dinners here anymore, so we've decided to make this into a studio so I can work on projects upstairs & let the dogs in. Oh yes, this was the room where sneak peeing happened until the gates were put up.

Here is Frodo looking out the back door. As you can see, we have towels to keep mud prints from getting all over the place. I so want to get rid of this.

Here is Chris staining the baseboards with someone wanting to help him. Arwen is always such a good helper. At least she didn't get her nose in the stain.

And here she is giving Chris a "reward" for doing a great job.

So this is to remind me of what this all looked like before the flooring. The team came and did the scheduled three day job in just 9 hours. It is amazing. We are still putting things together and IF the SUN every comes out again, I'll take some pictures to show the after. It is pretty dramatic.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

LIttle Folks Part 3

Today I want to share with you some of the pictures of the girls in the class along with the lovely trolls they have created.

Here is Ute with my almost finished female troll. She still hasn't told me her name.

I'm hoping to finish up the coloration on my dolls tonight and have then tell me what their names are going to be. I'll be taking them both to the next Time for Dolls meeting to share with the other gals. But, I need to get them done now as I want to take them to the Guilded Lilies meeting and try to get them to have Ute come in and teach for us.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Little Folks Part 2

After everyone enjoyed looking at Ute's Trolls (especially Stanley), Mary introduced Ute to the group. From the very first moments of the class, we all knew we were going to have a blast.

I sat next to Pam throughout the class. We had plenty of room to spread out. Evelyn sat next to me, and we had our "invisible" borders but you know what? by the end of two days everything was all over the place. The floors behind us had fabric, papers, scissors, and everything thing else strewn all over the place. But somehow we all found what we needed & semi kept the place organized.

Ute had me hold the camera and take a picture of us together. I think we'd just got back from lunch here. I was pretty well caffeinated and Ute...was just Ute!

Everyone jumped into work stuffing and sewing away. It was fun to share stories and gossip.

Oh and Ute even did double duties as teacher & waitress. Mary brought us "energy pills" or Dunkin Donuts holes. Like I always say "I've never met a donut that I don't love". I think everyone enjoyed these wee little bits of heaven.

Ute was sharing a hint on how to get the legs stuffed around an armature so the Little Folks could stand all alone.

Phyllis and Joanne from Glad Rags group were busy attaching ears to their trolls.

Ute it inspecting the great troll shoes as Carolyn is adding wrinkles to her shoes.

On Saturday night, Pam had reservations for us at Papa Joes. It was probably the most delicious Italian food I'd had. Mary wanted to start with dessert, but we all instead had drinks. I had this great dish with sausage and meatballs. Ute had something with chicken livers in it. I think I saw some lasagna and chicken on the table along with bread, bread, and more bread! Vera had some fish entree that smelled delicious. All the time, we talked and laughed and just enjoyed our time together.

Tomorrow will be the next part showing some of the troll heads and parts.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Little Folks Part 1

I belong to another doll group in Ohio based in Akron called "Time for Dolls". Two of my friends (Pam and Mary) started this group for local doll artist to get together, learn from each other & once a year have a teacher come in to teach. This year, the group chose Ute Vasina to teach Little Folks. I had taken this class from Ute back in 2009 at AFIC, but I was so exhausted by the second day of class that it was hard for me to focus. So this time I decided that I would be relaxed & refreshed so I could enjoy the class & actually learn some new techniques that my fried brain did not store away. I drove up to Akron Friday night & stayed with Pam. Pam, Mary, Ute and I went out for a nice dinner and to catch up on each others' lives. After a couple adult drinks, it was bed time, and I just slept like a baby. Next morning it was time to have some fun.

Pam had found a great place for us to have class. It is called Craft Akron and was a great spot with lots of room for the 15 of us to spread out. The lighting was perfect and there were plenty of outlets for our sewing machines and Ott lamps. Ute had us do a little homework before the initial class. I was able to do a little more than she wanted as I already had a edge up knowing what she expected of us. I had all my parts stuffed, but Ute told me my heads were too hard so out came the hemostats and out came the stuffing.
We spent the morning needle sculpting the head. I love large noses on my dolls so this one got an extra big honker, and then Ute showed us how to give our Little Folks lots of wrinkles.

I actually made two heads as I wanted to get two dolls done. Here they both are with eyelids and ears attached. Look at the adorable teeth. Ute's secret was shared with us all.

This is the female doll I wanted to create. Doesn't she have the greatest boobs? Yes those nipples are 6mm glass pearls.
Here she is all clothed and ready to pose. I forgot to bring brushes to class so she hasn't gotten her coloring yet. I'm going to wait until I'm at home & can put down plenty of papers to catch all the chalk dust.

On the second day we made shoes for our Little Folks. Most people sewed up the shoes using cotton fabrics, but I had this great Spiderman t-shirt that I bought at Goodwill and thought it would be perfect for shoes. So Ute, showed me how to make these shoes with t-shirt material and glue. It was fun to see all these pairs of legs with shoes attached drying on the coffee table. Carolyn did these cute polka dot shoes. Adorable.Here are the two dolls I made at the end of the second day. The female has purchases shoes from a couple years ago. I knew I'd find something to do with them one of these days. Don't you love the shirt the male troll is wearing. Guess where I got the material from? Shocks! My niece had given me a bag of one of a kind socks, and when Ute saw this one sock she just giggled with glee saying wouldn't it be perfect for my sleepy eyed troll. Well, yes it is.

Stay tune for the next couple of days as I'll post more pictures about the Little Folks class.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Bead Soup Blog Hop Partner

Hurrah! The day has arrived. It is the Bead Soup Blog Hop Event. Lori Anderson has done it again with another fantastic ride throughout the world connecting people together. The challenge was to partner people up and send out a bead soup consisting of a focal piece, a clasp, and/or beads and spacers. Then with what your partner had sent you create a piece of ART. Here is a link to click on to find out about the Official Bead Soup Blog Party. And here is the link to start the amazing blog hop with 362 artist.

My partner is Gaea Cannaday. Here is her blog with picture of her beautiful ceramic pieces. She has an Etsy shop with her beautiful pendents for sale. But if you really want to be amazed, then you must check out her webpage. I'm just in love with her Day of the Dead pieces and can see myself purchasing some of them in the future. Now for the fun part. Gaea sent me a lovely package with my favorite color palette. I got a handmade ceramic pendent with an acorn as the main focus. She also sent color coordinated ceramic spacer beads and a handmade clasp.

At first, I was just in a daze as I could not even wrap my brain about how to take all these lovely treasures and turn them into a piece of jewelry. Number one, I don't do any stringing at all. Number two, my abilities to do wire working is very limited. So I was stumped. Then I thought to myself, that this IS a challenge. I could possibly get some other beads from my stash, add some nice complimentary spacers, get out my book on how to do some stringing, and throw together a piece that would met all the requirements...BUT...none of that would satisfy me. Deep inside, I'm a bead weaver and that is where my thoughts went to next.

My strongest technique is bead embroidery. I thought of taking the pendent, gluing it down onto a base, doing a round peyote cage, then embellishing it with other beads, then putting it together on a strung chain with the clasp. Sounded good, but really is that a challenge. So that idea was thrown out too. Next, I played around and realized that to make this a true challenge for me I needed to plan (I know...Chris is amazed that I'm saying I planned this design) exactly how I wanted the complete piece to be finished and drawn in my new notebook. I've been having a blast since Bead and Button experimenting with Right Angle Weave (RAW), so I thought this was to be my challenge. I was going to do a whole bead weaving piece using RAW and a bit of peyote to make a necklace worthy of this amazing pendent and the blog party.

I started out by using RAW to cage the pendent. I used size 8 and 11 seed beads and short Magatama drops. Then using the same color I charted out a RAW necklace to compliment the pendent. I tried incorporating the ceramic spacers into the actual necklace design, but either my skills aren't practiced enough to give it a nice clean look, or my initial design was flawed. I had half the necklace portion completed with sections of woven RAW between the spacers. It looked horrible, so I tore it all out and got back to the planning board. I decided to forgo the ceramic spacers this time around and just go with the RAW necklace hooked into the pendent. It looked great especially when I used two of the ceramic spaces to join the RAW necklace and the handmade claps together. At this point the necklace with the joined pendent looked nice, but nothing spectacular, so I decided to add the ceramic beads along the bezel of the pendent. Wow, that really made the piece look finished. I was happy.

Yet, I still had more ceramic beads, so I decided to just the same weaving design in the necklace strap to construct a bracelet using the original design plan having the ceramic beads between sections of RAW. This time it looked better, but I still need to develop this technique a little more to make it look more uniform and smooth.

All in all, I've really enjoyed this challenge which has taken me into a new realm of actual planning a design, drawing and writing down idea, working a prototype, and making decisions on how to construct something unique and challenging to the skills I already have. It has made me want to truly start designing more pieces of art pulling in more skills I know and learning new ones to slowly develop a talent in jewelry design. This was definitely not an easy task, and I see if I do indeed want to become a jewelry designer I have to study, experiment, and be prepared for failures. And all in all, keep laughing!

So now I'm going to spend a couple weeks checking out each of these 362 Artist blogs. I hope to take my time maybe visiting 10-20 a day. Join me in circling the globe looking at some delightful pieces of jewelry.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


While I was sleeping this afternoon, Warren from Land of Odds called & told Chris that I was one of the semi-finalist for the Illustrated Tapestry. I'm thrilled to pieces. Sorry, but can't show any pictures yet until the Land of Odd's website is posted. I used Patricia Cornwell's book Black Notice for the Mystery Book cover. I had fun putting it together challenging myself to use all these blues. More about it later this month.

I'm off for the weekend to visit my friend Pam in Greene/Akron. We are taking a class with Ute Vasina called Little Folks. I can't wait. I took a class with Ute in 2009 & had a blast. I just can't wait. I need the time off to relax as next week the floors are being replaced in the whole first floor of our house.

Check out my blog on the 17th for the Bead Soup Blog Party. 362 artist are participating this year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Meet Tibbs

Last week was the deadline to send in our challenge piece for the annual Beading for a Cure. This is the fifth year that I've participated, and the colors for 2012 were a real challenge for me. I think a month before we actually got the purchased kit from Betcey at Beyond Beadery, I was hoping and hoping "no blue, no blue, no blue"! Well alas, it was blue with browns mixed in. I sat for days starring at the colors first off trying to figure out what would be my added beaded per the rules that would make all that blue less cringe factor to me. Up until this kit, I really haven't worked with blues that much. Oh, I've had to make kits up for classes I taught at Byzantium with blues as most students either like blues, purples, or greens while my color choice runs to either earthy tones or bright bright colors of Fall. So there was this blue starring up at me. I got out a color wheel as I'm trying to expand my color choices and nothing struck me. So I did what I always do when I'm stuck, I just go and look at everything I have getting immersed in the sparkle factor. I pulled out my sequins at the marigold was put in a pile of maybes. Then I opened a bin of vintage German glass cabochons that I bought...well, I don't remember where I got them, but one with a amber orange hue caught my attention. I played with it among the blues and browns and thought it might be the one color I hadn't thought of. So I pulled out a bin of Delicas and there in a plastic tube was this squash colored orange that not only matched the glass cab but seemed to make the browns want to dance. So colors were picked.

Now to figure out what to do with my colors. I toyed with making jewelry, but at that point I just couldn't decide if it was to be a big necklace, a cuff bracelet, or something else. I think I was just really burnt out on making a doll from 2011 BFAC challenge where I made a doll over 24 inches tall totally encrusted. I believe I was also a little disappointed that for such a large doll covered with pearls and crystals the final auction bid was less than $200. Could it be that it was too big of a piece, or my needle sculpted face wasn't pretty or cute? I find that most people are drawn to a beautifully painted or sculpted face. And since this is a challenge besides an auction to raise money for colo-rectal cancer research, I found to make a pretty or cute type of face would be perfect for me. I've been toying with smaller faces that had more delicate or even child like features. The last two collaborations with Chris with our "Space man" and "Bot vs. Boy" used my new pattern and more defined needle sculpting for a "sweet" face. I thought I'd use that pattern and make it more into a doll that could be held in with out spread arms. I also wanted to work more on needle sculpting fingers and palms in a smaller scale, so that too was another challenge for me. My third personal challenge for the 2012 BFAC was to go back to another needle weaving technique besides netting to cover the limbs of the doll. I decided to go totally peyote! I had done a couple smaller dolls about 4 years ago experimenting with using free form dimensional peyote to cover a rounded doll form. I got out my old instructions I'd written for an article that never got published and sat studying them to get an idea on where to start. Well, to start is to just START! I began by using a peyote stitch to encase the German Glass Cab (learned this from Beki Haley at the Tahoe Bead Retreat and from a couple kits I purchase from her). Then I just began sewing down beads in a random pattern and let the flat peyote take over my needle. Next thing I knew the whole body was covered with a rag tagged free form patchwork of colors.

I made three heads for this doll picking out the one that had the sweetest expression. Then my favorite part...beaded hair. This time I used a netting technique combined with stacked stitch to create a head of luscious hair. I actually did run out of the one blue color from the kit and was lucky to have Betcey send me out another tube. Now one thing, I'd never used before were the magatomas. I had no idea what to do with them, so I sewed them down in a random pattern to give more dimension to the work. Now, after taking classes with Carol Wilcox Wells in Milwaukee this past June I realize how much more those magatoma can be used to create interesting embellishment as I'll reveal in the next two weeks (I've been having a blast experimenting with them along with my new love-Right Angle Weave ).

The doll was done, and as I looked into those wee eyes I found a name being whispered in the back of my head..Tibbs. And HE said HE was definitely a HE. So this is TIBBS. He should be in Kate's hands this week. He does fit into the hand. He's 14 inches long, 6 inches wide with a 2 inch depth. He's heavy, but still feels nice when lifted up and adored. Oh yes, he definitely wants to be adored. I hope he does well in next year's auction. Hopefully, but incorporating a more pleasing face to my doll someone will open a deeper pocket next year and want to have Tibbs come live with them while helping out our charity.