Hey, remember a couple of posts back, when we looked at taking non-credit college courses online? [Creativity and Connections] I took a Coursera class taught by some instructors at the University of Florida, called Healing With the Arts.
The class took us through a module a week, covering visual arts, music, dance, creative writing, drama, and we breezed through many interesting forms of expression. Although my life was hectic during the time, I’m now on the final week of the class, and I found myself needing to submit a final project, so here I am.
At one guided imagery session, the instructor encouraged us to become acquainted with our own “Spirit Animal.” [Being a Harry Potter fan, I usually substitute “Patronus” whenever the phrase Spirit Animal is used.] During the actual session, one of my cats, Ponyboy, burst into the room and insisted on cuddling with me at the exact point in the guided imagery when I was supposed to come to a clearing in the forest and meet my Spirit Animal. So, he became, in actuality as well as in imagination, my Spirit Animal.
This video goes through the process I used to create a bracelet that has a drawing I made of Ponyboy, laser engraved on it. As shown in the video, you could make a drawing, reduce it or enlarge it, or you could use a photograph, or you could laser engrave a .pdf you found on the Internet. A client could change up the decoration on the bracelet, using colored yarn, different beads, or any number of variations. If the laser printer was used in a hospital setting, it would need to have some ventilation.
Altogether a very interesting class! I will keep going back to the journal I created for the class, and try to keep it going to stimulate creative projects that have other good, healing results!
We’ve each been sucked in to pursuits other than Crafting in the 21st Century recently: Skip has been moving wood into a new woodshed and pondering a new series of lectures he wants to do involving some of the many antique tools languishing about the place. Check out the trailer:
I’ve been consumed by my OTHER hobby, family history.
My mom passed away a few years ago, and although I’ve looked through the several boxes of her family history files here and there, it was just a few weeks ago that I felt that I should really get into it and do something with all the data that she collected during her lifetime.
In the boxes, I found letters to and from people who gave her pedigree information, notes from Historical Society meetings, receipts from Vital Records bureaux, from back to the days when first-class postage was 2 cents. She would go to a county courthouse or a library, and copy passages from books in long-hand, because there wasn’t a photocopy machine back then. [And her handwriting wasn’t the easiest to decipher, but who, besides me, can decipher it?]
She compiled a book about one of the ancestors, born in 1740, and now I have her notes and correspondence from that. Sometimes I’ve looked up things on websites, and been ecstatic at the new data I found about one of the ancestors, only to go to her files and discover that she already had that piece of information, for which she actually paid money to a record researcher, but somehow the information never got recorded on a chart or got lost.
She wrote out reams of family group sheets and pedigree charts. At the bottom of each one is a list of her sources. I can now look up some of the books she found, in Google, and many have been digitized and are available online for free. Awesome; if I can’t read her writing, I can sometimes look up the source and the page number, and voilá, it comes up online, like magic. I just copy and paste the URL of the source document on my online pedigree chart, and it is there for another cousin to search up and collaborate with.
Probably the site I love to work in most, is Familysearch.org. I love the Sourcelinker, the Search Records functions, the Wiki. And the site is free. How in the world can so much information be available to the public for free? I know, because I served as a volunteer support person for the site for 3 years. And, in that role, I became aware of the fact that the site carries a global tree, seeing as how we are all part of one big huge family, and anyone can supplant your data with their data, and you can’t cry foul about the outcome. So I’ve been transferring lots of the information I have into some of the other sites that have individual trees, which can’t be changed by anyone but the owner. Those sites are excellent, too. Family history has become such a popular hobby, and more records are being added all the time to help with the ongoing research.
It’s been great to find that some of my female progenitors also sewed, quilted, and crafted during their time in mortality.
This female progenitor grew up in New Brunswick, the daughter of a Canadian and a Scottish immigrant. She crossed the border to work at a textile mill in Maine, where she met her future husband.
These sisters came to the US with their family in 1912. They came equipped with phenomenal knitting skills!
I have the remnants of a crazy quilt made by this great-grandmother, in beautiful mauves and beiges and indigo fabrics.
Family history: another “craft” using 21st Century Technology to document and delve into the past! Amazing, isn’t it, how clear and beautiful are these photographs that have survived many decades!
Google “Mermaid Blanket” and, would you believe, you’ll get way over nine million results!
Mermaid blankets were one of the “it” gifts for Christmas this past year, for a girl toddler, teen or tween relative. Some were knitted, crocheted, and sewn from fabric. I didn’t jump onto the trend wagon, but I saw on Social Media that many big and little girls were posing with their fishtail blankies for the camera.
I found a couple of remnants that might go together as a cute mermaid blanket. What do you think?
This size blanket is for a tiny four-year old. The blanket sheath is a polyester teal metallic mermaid fleece, 57 inches wide, remnant of .972 yard. The tail fin is from a remnant that I’ve had in the stash for eons, no idea where it came from. It’s a stiff, satiny, iridescent fabric that looks pink from one direction and purple from another. The saran-wrap looking flap on both sides of the tail is a Bumi Pearlized sheer lilac remnant just less than a yard in length.
No pattern was used in the creation of this project. I just folded the pink/purple fabric, double, in half and sketched a tail fin shape on one side so that the fold was down the center of the fish tail, then cut it out. Thus, the tail was symmetrical on both sides. Then I unfolded it and seamed it together on all sides except for the opening at the top. Then I turned it inside out and pressed it, so that the edges carried that fishy curve.
It would have been perfect if the pearlized fabric was the same size, so I could have just duplicated it and made a casing for the purple satin. But the pearlized remnant was smaller than the finished tail. So I played with the idea of attaching the pearly fabric as a ruched flap on either side of the tail, so it would flutter and swish like a real fish’s tail swerving around in water. Maybe a hair-brained notion, but there it is.
After ruching the sheet of pearl in several places (centers, sides, and diagonally at corners), I cut a slit in the top fold, and since the slit ended up being a few inches longer than the tail side of the blanket, I sewed a basting stitch around the edges of the slit and drew it together, pulling on the basting thread, until it matched the size of the satin tail. Then I sewed the pearl fabric on to the satin tail at the top. Turning the blanket fabric inside out, and matching it up to the opening of the tail, with right sides of blanket and tail together (a fabric sandwich of blanket, wrong side up, on top; pearl right side up, in the center; and satin, right side up, on the bottom) sewed tail to blanket in a 5/8″ seam, making sure the pearl material was lying flat at the seam line inside.
Continuing to play around, I hemmed the top edge with a rounded Short Serpentine stitch:
It’s still a little chilly at night. This can be a toddler blanket or a grown-up foot warmer. Or maybe the kids can use it as a costume for Let’s Pretend, maybe a little kid version of Cosplay.
While technically not a quilt, it is a blanket that is pieced together so it’s pretty close…happy #NationalQuiltingDay and hope to see how others celebrated the day as well!
Last week was our Spring Break and we did a whole lot of nothing.
Not complaining,,,not exactly. Our little “first world” problems are not really problems, but choices. We did a lot of householder-type things. And we helped and connected with some other people in our sphere of acknowledgement, ha ha, our little universe. How do you decide if a project is worthy of your time, talent, and trouble?
One thing I took on was to fix some pillows at the request of someone in my circle who takes care of an elderly fellow.
Someone in the old man’s life had done a marvelous job of creating the needlepoint canvases on these beauties, which now showed a faded frog (?) on a toadstool in the rain and a green polka-dotted slug (?) under a cascade of spring flowers. The pillows themselves looked to be handmade out of a sumptuous yellow wool fabric. But apparently a dog had used them for sport, and the stuffing was popping out of a number of unsightly shreds.
The first step was to undo. The manual equivalent of the “undo” link was to rip out all the seams so that the pillow pieces were left intact,
to be used as patterns for the replacement fabric. It turned out to be the first real workout I had with the lovely seam ripper Skip made for me, by turning it on the lathe (see kit here).
I also saved the cording that was inside the piping edges, two strips of piping for each pillow. The new fabric was a piece of cotton (as far as I know) I had in the stash.
The machine has a special foot that I love to use when applying mini-piping, the pre-packaged kind made by Wright’s, but that little groove was not going to work with this larger cording. So I used the narrow zipper foot, an attachment that is handy for a lot of tasks.
Next, I needed to sew the piping onto the new pillow backs, and then onto the side panels.
On the first pillow, I went ahead and attached the top piping to the side panel, then sewed the needlepoint panel on 3 sides to the sandwich of piping and side panel. The fourth side would be hand-stitched after the fabric was turned inside out and stuffed with the pillow form. On the second pillow, I sewed the piping directly to the needlepoint panel, then sewed the piped needlepoint piece onto the side panel: I believe this is how the pillow was originally made because I could see the hand-stitching that closed the opening in between piping and panel, after the pillow had been turned inside out and stuffed.
On the pillow in the forefront above, I hand-stitched directly to the needlepoint canvas, which I didn’t really feel good about, because the machine-stitched one behind it will probably hold up better. I reused the original down pillows, which were scrunched-up a lot inside the smaller pillow casings. But apparently that’s how the owner liked them and they’re very cushiony.
The needlepoint panels were a little faded and soiled-looking, but I didn’t know if I should try to wash them. I finally went to the yarn store and procured a bottle of Eucalan, a highly recommended no-rinse washing preparation for wool and other delicate fabrics. As the brand name hints, it’s made from eucalyptus oil and lanolin. The lady at Yarn Works cautioned that the article shouldn’t be soaked in a liquid because that would remove the sizing from the needlepoint canvas. So I mixed about a spoonful in a bowl of warm water and dabbed a clean wash cloth in it, then wrung it out and gently rubbed it over the smudgy areas of the needlepoint. It didn’t come out looking brand-new; actually I can’t tell any difference in the color or brightness, but after it dried it smelled a little better than before.
I wonder what the story was behind those little pillows–were they made by his wife, who has been gone for a few years now? Or were they made by another family member or a cherished friend? I hope they bring to mind a little spring-time cheer!
Recently my wife “suggested” that it might be time to upgrade our countertops from 25 year old grey Formica to granite.
old Formica countertops
So off to the big box store to look at granite samples. Way too many choices!! But we found a sample we liked so we pulled out the check book and started what turned out to be a very efficient process, unlike any I have ever experienced. Soon after selecting the sample, someone showed up to develop a template for cutting the granite. A week or so later we got an email inviting us to go to Tallahassee to inspect our granite slabs. In lieu of making the trip we asked for photos and got a gallery of shots showing us what our slabs looked like. Once we approved the slabs, we soon got a call to schedule the installation. Two very experienced installers showed up, removed the old countertops in a manner so as to not damage them, so they could be recycled to a friend’s home needing new countertops, and installed our new countertops and cleaned up before leaving for home. The next day a plumber showed up to reinstall the kitchen sink.
This is when I got the bright idea to “upgrade” the kitchen cabinets by adding some wood trim to the cabinet doors. The cabinets, despite their age, are in great shape.
I picked out some red oak from the shop and milled out a piece about 3/16 inches thick, 1 ½ inches wide and long enough to fit on a cabinet door. I then picked out a couple stains which I thought might match some colors in the new countertops and passed this by my wife.
She picked the golden oak stain as applied to the red oak, two applications followed by a clear coat. After the selection of the stain, I showed my wife a selection of cabinet handles in the Lee Valley catalog. A copper and bronze handle seemed to be the best selection for working with the wood, countertops and existing cabinet finish. The wood strips would be applied to the opening edge of each cabinet door as an accent to the cabinets linking them to the colors in the granite.
After the handles arrived it was time to get to the wood working. Pieces of red oak were cut and milled to size, sanded and finished with stain. The plan was to fasten the handles to the wood strips and then fasten the wood strips to the doors. Of course the screws which came with the handles were too long, made for ¾ inch thick doors and not 3/16 inch thick trim. Off to Ace Hardware, where I found 8x32x1/2 inch machine screws to fasten the handles. Since the wood strips were to be fastened to the cabinet doors, the screw heads had to be recessed in the wood trim. I used a Kreg cabinet jig to drill the mounting holes in the wood trim for the handles. Using a Forstner bit set to drill to a depth approximately equal to the screw head thickness, I lined up the mounting holes with the Forstner bit and drilled a countersink for the screw heads.
After mounting all the handles, it was time to start applying these to the doors. I marked and drilled two holes on each door to allow screws to be inserted from the back of the door into the wood trim. I then applied thick CA glue to the back of the trim, sprayed the door with accelerator and applied the wood with clamps. When the glue had set, I drove screws from the back side of the door to further secure the wood trim.
We were both happy with the outcome. Now, on to the kitchen drawers, wood trim on the top edge of the drawer fronts with a matching bronze/copper knob.
One of the things I’ve noticed about crafting blogs and You-tube channels is that creative output sometimes comes with a price.
Our creative efforts (and sometimes the efforts seem monumental) don’t always get rewarded with multiple views, likes, and comments. Some of our You-tube videos are “monetized,” that is, they generate a little payment of a fraction of a cent whenever they get subscribers and views beyond a set amount. It’s exciting to go to the analytics page and see if our projects are popular, to see if some of our fellow creatives subscribe to our sites, or give us comments we want to respond to. And BTW I don’t know what happens to that fraction of a cent, do you? I’ve never, to my knowledge, gotten a check or deposit from Youtube, although there’s a couple dollars’ worth of views on the page once in a while.
We like being creative and doing projects for the fun of it. When it gets to be a competition, that can introduce stress. And suddenly I don’t like doing stuff like that as much.
Having recently “retired” from a volunteer job I was doing for the past three years, I wanted to find something new to do. Did I want to go back to school and pay thousands of dollars to get another degree? No. Did I want to get a part-time job? No. I could just do creative stuff with more frequency and intensity. Sounds good in theory, But I would need to self-motivate,
I was Internet-surfing and found some free university classes, which can be accessed from the Coursera ap or web site. I signed up for Healing with the Arts and Personality Types at Work. So far, they’ve been rather transformative!
Note that the courses are free but unless you pay the certificate fee, you may not be able to access every section of them, like the quizzes and the peer review. What’s not to like about that? No quiz and no peers judging or criticizing your work, YAY! However, I may heed Skip’s point of view that if you feel the instructor is doing a great job and you are benefitting from their time and experience, you probably ought to go ahead and pay the fee.
I’ve done some journaling on my own, and some with prompts from Julia Cameron’s Walking in this World, one of her great self-help books for developing creativity. I like looking within to boost creativity, and also looking at other blogs and videos for inspiration.
In these online classes, I guess you could hide from the teacher and your fellow students, but you could project your true persona, too. You get to be creative and interact with like-minded and different-minded sympathetic people, and no one is grading you or goading you. No one is competing with you. No one is trying to change your mind about something you feel strongly about or maybe don’t even care about. It’s for fun. It heals your psyche. You won’t get fired if you create something ugly. You don’t have to hawk your wares. You won’t get your idea for a great project, that got you 10 You-tube views, hijacked by another You-tube personality who then gets a million and a half views. Your friends with their fine arts degrees won’t look at your picture and say, “That’s very…interesting...”
Sometimes you need to give that creativity a little jump start!
I’m loving an article in the current issue of Threads magazine: “The Lost Art of Piecing.” This is what my former blog, Project Remnant Review, was all about, pursuing projects that can be made using fabric remnants. Somehow I’ve felt that deep down, a project from remnants is maybe, second class. It satisfies my inner cheapskate. But when I make an item, I know that I didn’t start from scratch, visualizing the finished project, then purchasing the fabric that would make it a stand-out…instead, I “made do” with something I had, and which I no doubt bought at a reduced rate, too. These things I don’t mind. Apparel sewing is nothing but a big experiment for me.
Sometimes I will see parcels of fabric at the remnant rack, that I believe I have some of already, home in the stash. In that case, I might buy the remnant and add to what I have, opening the possibilities for making something out of that fabric.
Take this skirt, for instance:
I had a little remnant of this that was less than a yard. So when I saw the Vogue pattern V8882 for a pleated, full skirt with a sash, my hopes to make a cute outfit for Valentine’s Day were dashed, because View D of the pattern asks for more than 5 yards of material. I got on the Internet and looked at the store where I originally bought the remnant to see if there was any more of it anywhere, and it referred me to my local Joann’s, which had only 4 yards in stock.
I went and got the 4 yards, but I didn’t have enough to make the article, without piecing fabric together for some of the pattern pieces. This skirt has an interfaced hem facing sewn to the bottom of the hem, then blind-stitched. I pieced the hem facing, since after all, it will be underneath and most likely will not be seen unless the wearer wants to go all out Moulin Rouge, with the high kicks.
The sash is also a remnant, of sheer fabric. Rather than doubling the fabric, folding it, seaming and turning, like the instructions said, I used one piece of the embroidered chiffon for each sash end and hemmed the edges of them with a 2mm hemming foot.
This top, view E from Vogue 8792, was intended to be made from the same fabric, with pieces cut on different positions of the fabric grain. Instead, I made it from two different but similar remnants, one with the multi-colored stripes and one of white, gray and orange stripes. And instead of matching fabric for the neckband, I used black rib knit.
Like the top, this dress was intended to be pieced from two different fabrics, or the same fabric. I’ve seen lots of dresses like this in the middle-age and plus size clothing catalogs I’m apparently a target audience to receive in the mail, I guess because the black panels at the side are supposed to give an illusion of slimness.
And then there’s this project, Butterick B4597 View C. The sash/scarf was a remnant, of double-sided red and grey plaid. But the dress fabric I thought I had plenty enough for this view, and I must have screwed up cutting it out to where suddenly, the last pieces to be cut had to be pieced. The two backs could not fit on my remaining fabric, so I pieced them so that there was a seam across the waist area in the back, which made the zipper area at the seam a little bulky, but I pressed it down hard and top-stitched the seam, then top-stitched the neckline and front slit to make it all look intentional.
Here’s the pattern:
The finished dress reminds me of something Guinan would wear. I like it although the Ponte knit is really more suited to cooler climates ….on Valentine’s Day here it was in the 80’s. I have also made this dress before, a few years ago, as shown in this former blog post.
Happy Valentine’s Day! Our garden is about 3 months old now, so we wanted to post a little something to show the progress.
It’s exciting to roll with the possibilities, puzzling to respond to the problems!
Fresh, wonderful, veggies and fruits
Interesting new recipes, tried-and-true old recipes
Reading about gardening, talking about it with friends
Combining rows of plants that are compatible
Something has been nibbling on the cabbage leaves
The Savoy Cabbage died off for some unknown reason
What to do when it gets cold enough to freeze
Here’s a tiny documentary of our progress:
Meanwhile, we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labors.
The quinoa burgers recipe came from the cookbook Eating the Alkaline Way. It has some unusual ingredients, but we found it to be very tasty! (Even Skip! Normally he can’t even pronounce the word “quinoa” without a smirk, haha!)
I got this little circle-making attachment in an after-holiday sale at A-1 Sewing, our local Husqvarna Viking store, and I’ve been trying to get some projects going, so I can make use of it.
First off, I used it to decorate some window coverings for a superadobe building. (If you want to see more about this particular building, go to this PlenitudPR website under the heading “Bio-construction.”)
You may see this photo and think, “But that looks like a pillow, not a curtain!” True! The proprietors (who happen to be very dear to us) mentioned that their superadobe house could sure use some window coverings, that the windows to be covered were like portholes, about 12 inches in diameter and some were more oval-shaped than round.
They were currently using pillows to stuff in the windows. We came up with some options that did not work, then a few that were more useable.
This was the first attempt: it looked like a big circular potholder. I used white blackout fabric for one side, batting in the middle, and fabric on the other side, and edged it with double-fold bias binding, with a little strap for pulling it out. Unfortunately, you can see here that it was not quite big enough to plug the hole.
For the second attempt, I tried out a new design, sketched here:
The diameter was increased to about 26 inches, the center circle was padded and sewn around, and the outer circle was supposed to slide into the cylinder of the wall thickness to be held in place. But again, this design didn’t work well, although they were able to fold it a certain way to keep it from falling out, so it was somewhat useable, see it in the next pics:
The third attempt included the brown dragonfly “pillow” shape shown above. Since they were already using pillows, and that worked…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? I increased the diameter to about 16 inches and added a lot more fleece padding. Since the diameter was larger than was usable for the circle-making gizmo (maximum diameter for that is 10 inches), I did snap it on anyway and sew some circular designs in the centers of the covers, to quilt the fabric and batting layers together in the middle. The attachment comes with templates to make circles, 4-petal flower shapes, or 6-petal flower shapes.
And I should be glad to mention that PlenitudPR is an organization that teaches and promotes sustainable living, so we kept that in mind and used fabric remnants for our window covers, and thus kept those leftover pieces of fabric from potentially clogging the landfill.
It’s the day before Christmas Eve (Christmas Eve Eve) and we decided to make a crafty Christmas present we’ve been wanting to make ever since Thanksgiving, when some of our grown children showed us how to do it and asked for dad’s help.
Natural-edge log tea-light candle holders were easy, earthy, and a breeze to make. We have a big pile of firewood out back, which probably won’t get burned any time soon since it’s been in the 70’s and 80’s this and the past few Decembers. And we have a pile of Yankee tea-light candles with delicious-sounding names like Christmas Thyme, Gingerbread Maple, and Christmas Cookie. I bought a bunch of them online for a friend’s son’s school band fundraiser, but you can also get a bag of tea-lights from the dollar rack at CVS pharmacy (although they may not smell as good!)
Skip explains all the steps we took to make a couple of these things, in the You-tube video:
They look good as single candle holders, completely natural with no embellishments, or grouped together and tied with a ribbon or raffia.
Thanks for all the interest and love this past year. We wish you a very happy holiday the next few weeks, and hope for the best for each of you in the coming new year.
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts