As a crafter/maker, you know that you must keep on producing…something, whether on a lathe, with hardware, the written word, paint, a sewing machine…something! Right?
We’ve revived the Knitting group once a week, and expanded it to include other crafts as well.
One focus that has come forth in the group is the making of greeting cards, mostly by Tricia and me. She went to a Papercrafting Expo and came back with some great ideas and a resolve to make all her own greeting cards.
Papercrafting is BIG! The amount of tools and materials available for such pursuits is staggering. Several companies sell monthly kits with items that, they advertise, you can make at least 10 cards. With all the scraps and options you probably have around from previous projects, you can probably churn out way more than 10 from a kit (which costs about $40). But when you go to the store to buy cards for an occasion, you’re going to probably spend $5 a piece, or more, if you can’t resist the really ornate ones. And several super You-tube makers vlog about the cards they made from the monthly kit, which can give you so much inspiration and ideas.
Here are a few that I have made in the past couple of months:
I learned how to use the leftover strips of card stock (hating to throw anything cute away) courtesy of Shari Carroll’s “Lovely Layered Cards from Top to Bottom” class on the Craftsy platform.
These were made from 1) plain cards (the pink and blue “borders” in the photo above are the actual pink and blue cards that the decorative papers were glued onto) and envelopes that came in a big package of 80 sets from Michael’s on sale for $5, 2) two 6×6 pieces of card stock that came with the SSS kit, cut down to size so the background paper looks like a border, 3) the sentiments came from a couple of clear stamps and Archival jet black ink, 4) some large sequins I had leftover from my grandmother’s sewing stash, 5) floral butterflies from Hobby Lobby that came in a pkg of 4.
The package of four floral butterflies and the package of 80 sets of cards and envelopes were each the same price; go figure!
We’ve been taking a break from blogging and vlogging, and it sure gives me a different perspective on life!
Changes in lifestyle–such as living through the aftermath of a hurricane, losing your vision, retiring from a high-paced career, or getting sick–can take a toll on the ol’ creative process.
Documenting our every creation adds a level of stress to each project. I like blogging; it’s Show and Tell for the Digital Age. But not having to immortalize an item via posting it, can sure be freeing. If the project does not live on in my [limiting] descriptive words, it still lives on as what it is: a creative accomplishment, a spark of ideas, a sense of wonderment, a nod for practical uses, shared audacity that might elicit a smile.
Here’s the latest, a quilt that finally assembled itself once I got on board with it…
I don’t think it would have come about if I hadn’t weeded out the fabric stash. I had a lot of fabric in there that was given to me, or that I had scooped up because it was cheap or free, and I didn’t really like it, I just kept it around “in case.” Well, that stuff was weighing down on me like a ton of bricks, creating obligations that I didn’t want to have. I had been thinking in terms of clothes I wanted to make, and it suddenly occurred to me, I hate most of the clothes I’ve made. I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them. All the time and effort and angst I put into apparel sewing, and with lousy results! I’m over it! Stage One was a giveaway, now I’m waiting for Stage Two, the Yard Sale, and then Stage Three will be jettisoning the remaining cargo to the local Thrift Shop or Goodwill. And I’ll be free! [wait, not stone-free, I’m keeping all the quilting cottons, of course.}
It is lying on top of a king-size bed, so it is pretty massive, the biggest quilt I’ve made from scratch, so far. The backing is 108″ wide cotton fabric from JoAnn’s, one large sheet of fabric with no seams down the center. The binding is a discontinued color of Wright’s Quilt Binding: I bought three 3-yard packages of it on clearance and I used all of it but maybe 6 inches. Whew! It looks gray in the picture but it’s actually a grayish light blue-green color.
I was coming home from the gym yesterday morning, and the outdoor speakers in the shopping center were playing the old Bertie Higgins hit, “Key Largo.”
Don’t get me wrong, I adore that song, even if it is a little on the schmaltzy side. It clogged my mind with vague recollections of the feast that was the original movie with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The song, although cute and memorable, is not in the same league as the epic movie.
Which brings me to my latest craft project, art journaling.
I was introduced to art journaling when I took an online class offered by University of Florida, called Healing With the Arts. It was fun, but I didn’t really accept it as a serious art form. Later I was surprised, astonished even, to discover that loads of people are out there art journaling, and there’s a giant craft market catering to those journalers!
I would have never found this out if I hadn’t signed up for a free 2-week Craftsy subscription.
The old Craftsy had individual classes for sale, in many different categories, such as photography, sewing, woodworking, cooking, knitting, and various modes of visual art. They also offer kits and supplies to make some projects, and space to showcase your projects and interact with the community. The recently updated Craftsy Unlimited has a monthly or yearly subscription fee, for which you can access ALL the content (with a few exceptions.) And from time to time, they add in a few perqs as incentives to subscribe, such as coupons to buy some of their merchandise. I did subscribe in between two awesome perq campaigns, and got none (so much for my loyalty as a paying customer!) But I have been combing through the class offerings, which are treasure troves of techniques!
That’s where I learned that Mixed Media (including art journaling, paper crafts, card making, and scrapbooking) is such a big thing. I can see card making: you pay about $5 per greeting card at the store, so you might be able to save money making your own cards. And scrapbooking: you can make some really cute memory books for the family to delight in. But art journaling? It seemed to me to be a vast, deep rat-hole to throw your money down, a waste of time and resources that would only ever benefit your own selfish self. But crafters are jumping on the mixed media arts band wagon.
And mixed media art supplies aren’t cheap! Craft stores sell special designer paints and inks, pricey pens and markers, row after row of stick-on and stamp-on words and motifs in cellophane envelopes. One artist called them “sentiments.” Also essential to the craft is paper: you can buy pricey blank books, but some of the class instructors advocate using an old book as a (non-) blank canvas for your work, and even junk mail and newspaper advertisement pages can be covered in gesso and used as the basis for mixed-media works of art.
Each little project has a background, focal point, possibly other embellishments, and “sentiments.” I have to compare our generation with the Edwardian and Victorian English girls who busied themselves doing needlework, playing the pianoforte in the parlor, and painting with watercolors. We will possibly be remembered by our posterity for our inked-up oversize manila luggage tags bearing stamped-on messages such as “Life is better at the beach” and “Bloom Where You Are Planted!”
Thanks to Google, I was able to quickly find out that the French word for quilt is courtepoint. I have to admit, I’ve never ever seen or heard the word courtepoint before! Not that I have much of a working vocabulary for French anyway; my formal training in French words is limited to 2 years at Herndon High School back in the seventies…“Où est Phillipe? Il est a là piscine….”
But I have a family member who majored in French at the University of Florida. In fact, her grandfather was a French scholar and chairman of the languages department. Owing that French words and being a gator are dear to her heart, I designed a lap quilt around those two elements.
The design is based on the chants they make you do when you go to a football game. “Orange!” “Blue!” “Orange!” Blue!” et cetera. So in French it would be “L’Orange! Le Bleu!” Not exactly rocket science here, but… we’re talking…college football. Then, I added “Allez Gators!” Get it? The standard greeting in Gainesville, if you come across anyone who is dressed in orange and blue, no matter what the occasion, is “Go Gators!”
The stripes in the quilt were made after the manner of Edyta Sitar’s Mix ‘N Match Inspired Scrappy Quilting class from Craftsy. Fabric is cut into strips, then pieced together, then cut into the desired shapes: in this quilt, the shapes were cut from the Rick-rack template on an Accuquilt Go! Big cutting machine. And the green gator was just a freehand sketch.
Sitar has a recommended mix for this type of assembly, with 5 types of fabrics that blend well with colors, including a large print, a small print, a polka dot, a stripe,,,but I used fabrics that match up with the gator licensed collegiate fabric. Florida has a distinctive paprika-colored orange and a royal blue; you wouldn’t want to end up with, say, a Tennessee orange which has more yellow, or the Auburn orange and blue, which is burnt orange and navy blue. Totally different orange and blue. Oh, yes, there’s more to college football rivalry than prowess on the field, you have to get the true colors right. There’s room for some creativity, but one must uphold the standards, as set forth here.
Ah, for the lettering…I could have used one of the cool Rivermill machine embroidery appliqué templates, but the problem there, is getting the individual letters sewn onto the quilt top one by one, with a pleasing amount of space in between each letter. If you’ve ever done calligraphy, using a Speedball pen and ink guidelines book, you’ll recall that every letter has a standard dimension, and the spaces between the letters are not the same. When you are appliquéing letters on a background fabric using machine embroidery, you’d have to know the exact dimensions of each letter and how far apart to space them. I thought it would be easier to just draw out the letters, then attach Wunder-under to the back of the lettering and glue it onto the fabric before satin-stitching around the edges. Easier said than done! Wunder-under consists of a piece of paper that has glue on both sides, one side having an additional backing paper. The idea is to iron it on to a piece of fabric, then peel off the backing, exposing the glue on the other side, then flipping the appliqué over and ironing that side down to another fabric. But to use that “easy” procedure, you’d have to draw the word backwards on to the Wonder-under first, which is something that the left-brained aspect of me, was unable to pull off.
So what I ended up doing, was sketching the word on the back of the Wunder-under, the crinkly, textured side that has the first application of glue to be ironed on, then ironing it onto the wrong side of the fabric, then cutting out around the sketched letters with embroidery scissors and an X-acto knife, then peeling off the backing of the Wunder-under and ironing it down to the quilt top.
After all the appliqué pieces were backed with the adhesive sheets and ironed onto the quilt top, I stitched around them with zig-zag or satin stitching to anchor them down. Then I starched both top and backing (both fabrics being white cotton), and quilted them together in random stipple stitching with orange thread, with a layer of poly-cotton batting in between. I sent off for some pre-wound orange bobbins on Amazon from a dealer who had originally bought them from Superior Threads, and I had no trouble with tension. Then I squared up the edges and applied a binding strip 2 1/4 inches wide, also cut with an Accuquilt die. I bet it would have looked great with rick-rack shaped edges, but I was chasing a deadline at this point, so straight edges it was.
Happy holidays, and though they didn’t even get a bowl game this year, Go Gators!
It used to be cotton all the way, however, there are so many cool polyester fabrics, it would be a shame to miss out on them. Am I right?
The idea for this Santa blanket came from looking through my fabric stash. The stash includes a big box of polar fleece, minky, minky dot and velour-type fabric remnants, mostly polyester or cotton-poly blends. Our local JoAnn store will roll up some fabric remnants for sale at 50% (sometimes 75%) off.
Most apparel remnants are less than a yard, but most Home-Dec items, including blanket-type material, can be a yard or more. I figure that one yard of fabric 50 to 60 inches wide is a good size for a lap quilt or a baby blanket. If less than .8 of a yard, it would look better pieced with some other fabric.
The main part of this Santa blanket is a high-pile red minky that’s velvety soft on both sides. I think it’s the ideal fabric for a soft blanket. The edges are trimmed with thick bands of white minky dot fabric sewn on right-side edge to back edge of blanket, folded over and sewn down, which are supposed to be reminiscent of the trim on Santa’s hat and suit.
The next is a takeoff on the Santa blanket, except the center part is pieced and backed. The top is made of 3 pieces of flannel (flannel is a cotton fabric) in red, black and white. The top was sewn, right sides together at two edges, to a piece of red minky dot fabric (polyester). Actually, the back is two pieces; I had to add a strip because the back wasn’t quite big enough. The big fabric cylinder was then turned inside-out. Then two wide strips of black minky dot fabric were sewn on the two ends with still-raw edges, folded over and sewn down, à la Santa blanket above.
I wasn’t very happy with the way it looked constuction-wise, so I decided this one is going to be kept on our couch, ain’t nobady’s business if I do. If I decided to give this as a gift, I probably would have put a layer of polyester batting in the center and quilted it together.
If not tacked together in the center (which this one isn’t), these layers of fabric will probably crackle with electricity when you shake out the blanket. I always worry about stuff like that. For instance, you see along the selvage, on really cute children’s pattern flannel and other fabrics, the buzz-kill warning: Not to be used for children’s sleepwear.
You can google this and find that there are several points of view: that some of these fabrics could catch fire easily. But then, commercial pajamas for kids have chemicals in them to serve as flame-retardants to the fabric in case it does catch on fire. I can remember my kids wearing sleepers that, when they’d been washed about a zillion times, really did crackle and spark with static electricity when they were romping around in them. Wonder if the flame-retardant chemicals washed out after a while? Wonder if the chemicals contributed to eczema? Wonder if shaking out these blankets full of static electricity could cause a fire?
And while we’re on the subject of polyester fabrics, there’s a new contraindication going around: shellfish are eating little pieces of plastic that they find in their natural habitats, which are in turn passed on to us at the dining table. Researchers have found that one source of the tiny plastic particles in seafood is run-off water in which polyester clothes are washed. Here’s one article.
We could wall ourselves off from all polyester and acrylic contamination: wear only organic fibers, eat only organic foods, wash with soap that doesn’t contain exfoliating pellets of man-made whatever. Or maybe it’s too late for that? Maybe it’s a step in the ultimate direction of The Singularity, where mankind becomes one with machine…it starts with our food sources ingesting plastic, and then little by little, those plastic components creep into our metabolisms, our anatomies, our selves?
Decorating for the holidays: I’m all for simplifying!
Last year, the kittens were less than a year old at Christmas, and we knew that if we brought an 8- or 10-foot tree into the house, it would get crazy in here. This year, Ponyboy has beefed up to about 16 lbs and when the three cats go racing around the living, dining room, and kitchen, he can be a formidable projectile. So we don’t think we’re ready to go back to a real tree, and got the plywood cat-loving tree we made previously, down from the attic.
The coffee table needed some bright color…lucky for me, I had a cache of remnants that would fit the bill.
I started out with a whiteish piece of fabric, which I thought might work for a center square to machine embroider something on. I ended up giving this Urban Threads design a go: it’s a dirigible-driven sleigh for a steam-punk Santa. Then I squared up the fabric to the design, trimming the block to about 9 inches.
Of all the suitable remnants I had lying around in the hoard, I chose a bright red glitter cotton one, a polyester plaid shot through with gold metallic threads, and a polyester shiny metallic green fabric with diamond-patterned raised stitching.
For the lining or backing…I thought something gold would be good–preferably something I had in the stash that was already wide enough so I wouldn’t have to piece it. I brought out several…
Jackpot, of course I picked the one that was wide enough. I pinned it, right sides together, to the pieced and stitched top, sewed around the perimeter, leaving a fist-size opening, then turned the inside out and pressed the edges. Then I stitched around the edge of the finished square.
On the wall above the mantel in back, is what Skip calls…the Family “Palm” Tree.
College football got off to a slow start this year, thanks to hurricane season showing out at the same time. But a few of the games Florida has played so far, we managed to win! Amazing, considering…considering…well, you know about the things everyone is saying about the Gators.
Curiously, one armchair quarterback we know (who shall remain nameless) sustained an injury in the armchair region that we noticed about the time of the Tennessee game. Not sure if it was before or after the fracas* during that legendary Hail Mary play in the last few seconds of the game.
But the large cranium (which is full of knowledge, I admit) that usually resides on the breach of leather seen above, sure seemed to expand with happiness at the outcome of the next game!
We had to do something because a bad case of the bighead was making a hole in the furniture around here. For a craft project, I could have made a doily to drape over the chair…but that would make us look like old people who sit in the house all the time watching TV with their cats….Hey, wait a minute…
But also, crocheting a doily takes time. I wanted something quick, that would be ready by game time next week. Which is…today!
I used cotton batting, one thin layer, sandwiched between two layers of blue cotton fabric, and quilted together with Superior Threads’ New Brytes in a day-glo orange color. This thread is thicker than the average thread, #30 3-ply, it says on the label, which I thought might be a good thing. But when I ran a bobbin, it started rolling rough-shod onto the spool, which I know from experience, is not a good start.
I decided to do free-motion machine quilting, since they were little projects. It’s been such a long time since I’ve done machine quilting, I had to live through a learning curve.
When this happens, I go through all the possible reasons for it: rethread the top thread, check the bobbin tension, wind a new bobbin, install a new needle, but ultimately, I just have to turn off the machine, then turn it back on.
Ironically, I had recently read an article by Superior Threads about tension. The graphic included in the article was very informative, but ultimately, turning the machine off, then back on, worked.
After many rippings and re-doing of the quilting, I squared up the corners and added shiny orange blanket binding. The iron-on decals were purchased. Yes, I did break a few needles while quilting through the thick decal patches. The teensy quilts are attached to the backs of the La-Z-Boy chair head rests with Velcro tape from the hardware store.
* Fracas is a funny word. I can only picture it being uttered by a big, burly hard-boiled detective in a crime novel. The American pronunciation rhymes with “rake us.” But, I was watching something British on TV, when I heard them say “fracas” in British, which is pronounced “frah-cah.” Which rhymes with ha, ha!
Even with mounting stress going on in your life, like the aftermath of hurricanes, with loved ones out of the range of communication for days on end, and some loved ones visiting the ER, and painful betadine burns in your eyes, you gotta eat.
It’s something that you can take control of.
A while back, when all the courses on Craftsy’s web site were on sale for about $15, I bought this course Cooking For Two.
My reasons for shelling out money for an every-day-type-of-cooking class: 1) we seem to be wasting a lot of food due to lack of planning. 2) I wanted us to eat more vegetables and fruits. 3) I envisioned it as an activity we could do together, instead of watching reruns on TV in the evening. The instructor, Carla Snyder, really knows how to make tasty food! I’ll add a 4th reason: If I can only scarf a small amount of calories a day without piling on weight, then let me spend it on food that tastes really good.
So far we’ve made pesto sauce, sautéed gruyère-stuffed pork chops with mango salsa, chicken breast with lemon caper sauce and kale, and rib eye steaks with roasted root vegetables. All dishes were super delicious, and so much fun to do!
Oh, by the way, don’t think that we’re such great natural artisans and crafts-people that we breeze through food projects. No, we (I) make bone-head mistakes in this arena as monumental as any we’ve (I’ve) made in the shop or sewing room. I screwed up the garbage disposal by shoving a bunch of woody plant stems down it, so there were a few hidden costs to these dinners…what with the plumber having to make a house call…and while attempting to grind some pepper into the fry-pan on the stove, the grinding doo-hickey broke off the bottle and sent a bazillion bouncing peppercorns into every nook and cranny in the kitchen, as well as flood the pan. I like the taste of pepper, but wow, man.
steak and roast carrots, potatoes and red onion
Sorry that these photos show the dinners just after we started digging in, rather than the stylized views of the meat glistening on the plate in its caramelized crust, next to a neat bed of side items either marinated, sautéed, or oven-roasted. The photos of the three dinners bring to my mind R. Crumb’s comic “Let’s Eat!” Google it and see if you agree.
I hope I’ve conveyed in this post, that cooking together has been fun! Too bad you can’t taste for yourself how good the flavors are!
We’ve been sidelined lately; our individual creative wellsprings have been diverted into other busy obsessive thought-patterns, as we…
try to understand and cope with the limitations of the macular degeneration diagnosis and hold out hope for the treatments
shift our schedules to accommodate the items that we believe have higher priority now
get back to work after an eventful summer, applying our new, more restricted itineraries
try to keep up with the local and national news, which is heart-stoppingly scary most days
madly inventory and prepare for Irma-geddon, which is set to move into our living space in the next 48 hours!
Good news: I think we’ve gotten through the “anger” and “denial” stages (if we want to put a Kübler-Ross slant on what we’ve been going through).
Good news: Skip is very positive, proactive, and realistic about our limitations and strengths. We don’t always do what other people want us to do, but we have good reasons not to. Trust me . 🙂
Creative projects get sidelined, when the focus shifts to survival. Nancy Zieman, one of my favorite “sewing personalities,” who has inspired me, and administered some virtual hand-holding on many a project through her easy-to-understand books, patterns, and video content, announced her retirement last week, in her blog post. For this, I want to weep and wail, and gnash my teeth, but we have to move on. Maybe Hilary Clinton is an exception to that last sentence: she makes lots of dollars and grabs a significant share of the national news for dwelling on her storied past. [Am I the only one who, now that she says she’s not going to run for office again, doesn’t want to hear about her big campaign loss? I want to hear about the heroes who went out and helped people and animals rebuild after a hurricane!] But for my own peace of mind, and to find a new creative project to embark on, it’s time to move on!
Maybe your next creative project, and mine, will feature helping someone else who is recovering from a serious loss…
I became interested in antique tools in about 1983. My interest narrowed to Stanley tools in approximately 1985. At this time I was fortunate to become acquainted with Roger K. Smith and purchased his book entitled Patented Transitional and Metallic Planes in America 1827-1927 published by the North Village Publishing Company in 1981. This began a long period of communications and Stanley tool purchases with Roger. I vaguely remember him telling me that my plane purchases were going toward supporting his children’s college expenses. Roger was extremely helpful in my passion of learning more about antique planes, their use and history.
The history of the Stanley Tools companies is well documented and I would encourage you to explore the details of the evolution of this company.
What I am presenting in this video is background information on the Stanley No.1 smoothing plane. In future videos I will discuss the other planes in my collection. I started out trying to collect one example of each Stanley plane type. This proved to be very difficult and extremely expensive, so I randomly added to my collection over a period of ten years.
In the photo below you can see the trademark on the iron of one of my Stanley No. 1 planes. The video will show you more photos of this particular plane. This V shaped logo on the iron is identified in Roger’s book as a Type 11-1910-1920. There appears to be a ‘B’ on the frog and lever cap, a forging mark for an unknown foundry which showed up on Stanley planes from 1899-1902. This would indicate that the plane may be older than the iron’s trademark would indicate.
The spring under lever cap became rectangular in 1869 and was banjo shaped prior to that.
The other trademark showing on my other number 1 plane’s iron dates that iron from 1907-1910. There are no other marks on this plane.
The Stanley no. 1 smoothing plane was manufactured from 1867 until 1943. It is 5 ½ inches long with a 1 ¼ inch wide blade. It is constructed of cast iron with a rosewood handle and knob. The finish is generally Japanned. These planes can sell for anything from $1000 to $2000. There are counterfeit versions of this plane so the buyer must beware!!
According to the Hans Brunner website:
“Without doubt the most famous of all Stanley planes never had a lateral adjuster, never had any number markings. Some models have B or S cast into the bed, others have no markings whatsoever. Early types have a beaded rosewood front knob and a short handle spur. Later types have a slightly longer handle spur and a lever cap embossed with the Stanley name.
Problem areas: fork and (depth) adjuster nut damaged or not working. More obvious damages include: overhang under handle broken off; chipped or enlarged mouth, cracks and chips to sides, damage to top of frog. That one sounds obvious but I’m just as dumb as the next guy when it comes to checking a plane. No matter how good it looks: Always take the lever cap off and check the frog, always turn the plane over and check the overhang under the handle and the mouth.”
In Wood Magazine issue No. 1 Sept/Oct 1984, we find some additional information concerning the history of the number 1 Stanley plane:
“Stanley tools represent a major category of collectible tools, and can form the basis for a rewarding and stimulating hobby. One of the most desirable of Stanley tools for the collector is the diminutive Stanley No. 1 bench plane. This tiny, 5-1/2” long plane poses some interesting mysteries for the collector. First, what was it used for? It’s so small-that even a craftsman with a small hand finds it uncomfortable to use. And second, for a tool that was manufactured in abundance over a 73 year period (1870-1943), why should it be so scarce?
As to the first mystery-its size-the explanation is relatively straightforward. These planes were designed for use by elementary school woodworking classes, and were used in the introduction to the proper care and use of woodworking planes.
The second mystery requires a more hypothetical explanation. With the advent of U.S. involvement in W.W. II came the need for scarce raw materials by factories involved in the rapidly increasing war production industries. Those with memories reaching back that far remember that not only were civilians in general involved in paper and fat saving drives, among others, but schools and other institutions also were called on to collect and donate large amounts of scrap material.
The widespread draft also was a factor. Shop teachers, especially at the elementary school level, came into short supply overnight, thus freeing up the tools and materials formerly used in their courses as vital scrap. Since the majority of No. 1 planes produced were to be found in schools, a large number of these planes were absorbed by the wartime scrap drives.
In case you’re thinking of purchasing a Stanley No. 1, be prepared to pay between $400 and $650 for an example in good or better condition. Also be sure to buy from a reputable dealer who will guarantee the plane is genuine.”
See more images in the video:
In my next video, I will discuss the Stanley No. 2 plane. I will also discuss the January 3, 1985 letter I received from Roger K. Smith detailing his approach to restoring and caring for transitional and metallic planes.
Using current technology to create 19th Century crafts