It's spring - that time of year when sheep are shorn and their wool is celebrated by so many fiber festivals across the country. I'm looking forward to attending the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival next weekend. Even if you're not into yarn, spinning, or knitting, these fiber festivals are sure to give you lots of great food and plenteous opportunities for people watching! My kids enjoyed the cider donuts and sheep dog trials at one festival. I always enjoy perusing countless booths of vendors selling all sorts of unique items (not just yarn!).
How about a little Fiber Festival Bingo? Print it out and take it along to hone your people-watching skills. Or keep the kids busy while you shop for yarn. Don't know where to find a fiber fest? This list has hundreds!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Hi there! Life has been full to overflowing lately! I haven't had much time to get around to anything creative outside of trying to figure out what I can whip up for dinner in 30 min or less. This weekend my daughter and I were able to tackle a couple of projects - I can't wait to show you pictures (whenever I find camera batteries!). Coming soon!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
My grandpa is turning 92 this week! He's been a farmer all his life. In fact, he's lived in the same house his entire life! Just think about that - 92 years in the same house! Of course he's not out plowing fields anymore, but I know he'd love to be driving his trusty blue Ford tractor if he could. Since he can't climb up into the cab anymore, I thought I'd do a painting of it so he can still have "Big Blue" close by.
This tractor is older than I am - as a kid I can remember him telling me how the hat the dealer gave him when he bought this Ford was the most expensive hat he ever purchased.....but it came with a great "free" tractor! Over the years he's modified it - built a cab to stay warm while plowing snow as well as giving her a few new paint jobs.
My dad sent some reference photos of Big Blue as she stands in the barn. Thankfully he included a few different angles so I could see what was hiding behind the posts. Since I knew Grandpa knows every inch of this tractor, I couldn't fake any of the details!
I have never attempted a watercolor painting of this detail before - I am so surprised how it turned out! I think I've found "my voice" artistically. Painting with a teeny tiny brush and getting all those shadows and details just right was immensely satisfying. You could say I even felt giddy while painting! What fun!
Happy Birthday, Grandpa! I hope you enjoy your painting!
Sunday, February 17, 2013
A Sharpie Seek-n-Find! The kids did almost all of this on their own - it's a project from Creative Doodling and Beyond by Stephanie Corfee. My daughter started with a few cute little drawings of items that represent her interests, then asked her 3 brothers and me to add some of our own. I guess they knew Dad would never draw anything, so they took the liberty of putting in a few doodles to represent him, too!
A lot of extra doodles and designs filled in the gaps, just to make it harder to find each item. We typed up a list and attached it to the final artwork. Of course the enthusiasm for the project ran ahead of the planning - the kids finished everything then realized they needed a frame. Thank goodness for large floating frames! We could sandwich the poster between the glass and not worry about finding the exact size. (And when they tire of it, they can easily swap it out for a new drawing). Bonus.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
All those old jeans with worn our knees have new life! I finished this USA recycled denim quilt this afternoon and LOVE it! The denim makes it very heavy and snuggly.
If you want to try something like this, be warned: it is a labor-intensive process! I enlarged one of the kids' US maps, carefully pieced and cut out each state, then traced that paper pattern onto Heat-N-Bond. Cut each state out again and ironed it onto the wrong side of cut up jeans. Then each state was cut out again and ironed it into its final position on the background cloth (which is a heavy canvas duck cloth). I tried to use a variety of denim colors and some interesting details like pockets, seams, even the holes! In a flash of inspiration I made Lake Obi-Wan-Kenobi in Florida out of a hole (yes, I do know that's not the name of the lake, but I can never remember the correct name for the life of me. Okinabe? Ochikawee? It will probably remain a Jedi-lake in my mind forever).
For the quilting I wanted to try messy stitching around each state. This was a great way to learn how to manage and maneuver all the bulk of a quilt under the needle. I'm pretty new to machine quilting, but feel like I can advance to the next level (whatever that is) after this project. The messy stitching freed me of all need for precision and perfection - and it was a ton of fun! I threw in some zig zags and loops whenever I felt sassy. I was a little worried about how the stitching would go through the thick denim, canvas, and batting. A heavy needle was just the thing - only broke two needles.
For the back I used a variety of stash fabrics plus a bandana print. I searched high and low for a good bandana print and finally came up with this one from someone's stash on etsy. Sorry, I don't remember the name of the print.
After stitching down each state, I was queen of the free motion quilting. The oceans are a torrent of hurricane-esque swirls, and Canada is covered with loopy vines. All caution was thrown to the wind and I even tried a bit of FMQ lettering! I practiced with a marker on paper first to figure this out.
I probably broke every rule on how to make a quilt on this one - pretty much made up my own process along the way. It was so much fun! I can see more applique and messy stitching in my future. I'm sure the boys will have their toy cars zooming across the country before long, and perhaps even a few notes will make their way into the pockets.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Babies - everyone loves them! And what's better than one baby but TWO? Double the squishy lovey-ness. I had the joy of attending a baby shower for twins this weekend. It was such fun, especially since many of the people attending made their gifts for the mom-to-be. I knew quite a few people would be sewing/knitting/crocheting goodies for the little ones, so I decided to do a painting. You've seen my sketches and details already. Here is the finished project!
This is a loose translation of a verse from Psalm 128. I used a version that we sing quite often in our worship services. I learned a lot in painting this - like how much I do NOT like to do lettering on a textured canvas! I struggled with my paints as well. Good materials make all the difference! Painting faces is completely out of my comfort zone, but I had lots of time while fighting bronchitis to sit in bed and practice. I have a sketchbook full of happy little faces now! Way back in my illustration classes our prof often told us to find a style that worked for us, but was flexible enough to show variety. Faces have always been a challenge for me, so I'm still seeking my own solution. Not a lot of variety in these kids, but it keeps the focus on the text.