Sunday, April 29, 2012

My New Sewing Table

Meet my NEW sewing table, designed, sized, built by my Sweetie to fit my available space.  Yahoo! It features a cut-out space so that my machine can drop-down into it, and I have a much wider space to support quilting.  Although I'm still using my clear acrylic free-motion table, the available space to support free-motion quilting is much wider.   The acrylic table fills in some of the space directly around the machine.   Nice!

As a comparison, here's the OLD set-up.  
Actually, this is an interim set-up since January 2012.  I used to have an old sewing table that I picked up off the curb in Madison about 20 years ago.  You can see it here underneath.   The surface was so bad (meaning the finish was coming off), I had to cover it with a piece of fabric all those years.  Although it had a slot where I could have dropped the machine down into it, the surface was so bad it would never allow for free-motion quilting.  In January, I decided to Get Organized, and I brought up the black desk top you see here.  This was also trash-picked many years ago with hopes of using it some day.  It turned out to be too big for my available space.   I couldn't get around it to use my Light Box, or the table to the right.  Hence, Sweetie built me a custom unit.

The adjustable medical stool is also new.  I purchased it in January from  None of the local office supply places had anything that seemed sturdy enough, so I went online.    When I brought in the black desktop, it raised my sewing surface enough to make it uncomfortable.  So I bought the adjustable rolling stool.   And I wonder why I never did it sooner!   
I used to have 2 chairs in my sewing room.  1 regular kitchen table-type chair with a back, and one with the back cut off, so it was more like a stool (also trash-picked). (Now you know my dirty little secrets about recycling!)  But having 2 chairs took up too much space.  The adjustable medical stool has been a big improvement because now I only have 1 chair in my sewing room, and I can easily move it to the appropriate workstation :
1. Sewing Machine
2. Light Box
3. Work Table
4. Ironing Board

 Here's the Maker, right after installation.  Thank you, Sweetie.  I appreciate it!

Here's a close-up of the actual surface.  He made it out of MDF (medium-density fibrerboard) covered with a combination of 2 stains (Cherry and Walnut) plus a coat of Polyurathane.
Not a Koala Cabinet, but it's mine.  And certainly affordable by comparison. 

Here are some of the additional storage units I purchased, and their placement.  This also serves as an additional support space to hold up a larger quilt, should I need it.

Now I can get to my Light Box again.   And now I should be able to do some sewing projects again.  These have all kind of been on hold while my workspace has been in flux.  I guess that just makes it a good time to dye and otherwise work in the wet studio!

Everyday Inspiration from a Small World

I am always on the lookout for patterns and textures.  I found this chunk of wood in the yard a few weeks ago.  I had to look twice when I picked it up : It looked like someone had carved a message into it.   Someone did, but it's a language I don't recognize / understand.

What do you think it says?
     Is it an old love letter?
     Bug History?
     Bug Stories?
     Trade records from bug culture?
     Schematics from an elaborate bug machine?
     Personal bug journal entries?

     Or just a hungry / nervous bug making it's mark in the world?

Beauty by Mail : Dancing Crow Disc

I was gratefully gifted with one of Dancing Crow's stitched textile art discs.  Yippeeee!

Every day, Lee Thomson practices her Art.  This year, she is thread-painting (or otherwise crafting) a 3-inch disc every day.  This one is from March 3, 2012, where the color theme was black-white-gray to reflect winter outside.   Because there are 365 in a year, she winds up with a lot of discs, so she's been giving them away to appreciative readers, like me. ;-)

I started reading her Dancing Crow blog a few years ago, when she was making a new fabric postcard every day.  As with the Discs, the size is small enough to do and finish in a day.  Hence a great way to practice her craft, explore new avenues, techniques, and ideas, without too much investment if it doesn't work out. Or another chance to practice another day, if it does work out. 

Although, I have not managed to adopt this admirable practice in my own life, I enjoy seeing what Lee comes up with every day.   I have enjoyed the ride as Lee shares her creative journey.   Please visit her blog and look at some of her work.  You won't be sorry!

Last summer, she did a series of chickens, and made them available as postcards.   I purchased the set, and framed them.  Now Dancing Crow's chickens watch over me as I'm working in my sewing room / studio. 

Just another example of how we inspire each other.  Thanks, Lee!

Monday, April 23, 2012


Just back from our biennial trip to France--in case you were wondering why I've been so quiet the past few weeks.  I always have to take some kind of handwork to pass the time while away from my usual creative space.   This year, I was working on an infinity cowl.  So far, I've used 2 skeins of this "Scottish Heather" yarn that has little sequins incorporated into it.   I love a little bling!   It reminds me of sparkling fish scales.  1 more skein to go ...   If I had brought it along, this would be finished now.  I used up the yarn I brought in the first week of vacation.    You'll see it again when it's finished.  ;-)

If you like that lacy look, the pattern comes from here.  (Thanks, Alicia for sharing the pattern!)  Each row has been a nice meditation, and not at all difficult if you know how to single and double crochet.   I never did get the hang of knitting, but I've been crocheting since I was a kid.  Actually--the last crochet project I did was probably when I was 18 years old.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Kim Klassen's Skinny Mini PhotoShop Elements Class : Day 8 Homework

 Today's homework involves reviewing what we've learned so far, adding filters, layers, textures and adjustments.    This is a photo I took last summer at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.  There are so many photo opportunities there!    I think the amendments improved the bird, but weren't so great for the Lass, so I decided to crop it down to just the bird of prey.

My original pic.
Here is the apple blossom photo with several layers, textures, and other adjustments.  It's got more of an antique feel to it, now.   I wanted to blur out the background blossoms, but I guess I don't know how to do that yet ...  More to learn!
Here's my original photo taken last Spring. 

Sunday, April 01, 2012

KIm Klassen's Skinny Mini PhotoShop Elements Class : Day 6 Homework

 Here's the modified photo with Kim Klassen's "Old Barn Recipe" from her Test Kitchen.
Basically, we added layers, changed blending modes, and added a texture.  

This is my original photo.  What a difference, huh?

I can't tell you how helpful it is to have Kim's recipes.  At this point, I don't have the vision or the foresight to know how all the changes in levels, layers and modifications will work together.   
The Recipes also make things go quicker, as I have a procedure to follow to arrive at a desired end.

 Here's another one :  For this one, I added a soft light layer, added a texture in the background, and added the text ("A chicken in every pot")  at the bottom.  The trouble with text on a varied background is that parts of it can be obscured by the backgrounds.   The text color comes from the red pot.  I love that feature.  It takes all the guesswork out of picking suitable colors!  It could probably use a little more tinkering, but I have to move on with my day!

This is the original photo.  I took this photo in my friend Bob's garden last fall.  
He has real chickens who tend his garden, but I had to take a shot of this wooden one. 

Earth and Sky Triads : Another Candiotic Table of Periodic Color

The past few weeks, I've been working on dyeing the swatches for a 2nd Candiotic Table with 2 other sets of  primaries.   See the Brights & Naturals Table here.  Again, it amazes me how many colors can come out of 3 simple primaries (in this case 66 swatches per set of primaries).  And I haven't even gotten into shades and tones here--that's the next couple lessons.

If you're interested in learning how to do this, Sign up here for the online class with Candy G. at Candied Fabrics.

A few notes on the making of this table :

Sky Triad Primaries :
Lemon Yellow (ProChem)
Boysonberry (ProChem)
Sky Blue (Dharma)

Earth Triad Primaries :
Golden Yellow (ProChem)
Strongest Red (ProChem)
Deep Navy (ProChem)
Quite a range with all these choices, isn’t there?
Yes, I love color and texture, too!

* Lots of gorgeous dark, earthy colors -- blues, grays, browns.  Rich!

* Lots of nice purples in the sky set, too.

* It was a worthwhile exercise doing these extra 2 sets for the additional colors and recipes.  

*Some of the colors were so dark in the earth set, I thought they would get lost if I mounted in on black felt.  So for this round, I went with the recommended white felt.  However, the local felt that I was able to buy was not wide enough.  I didn't want to wrestle with a bulky seem rippling the background, so I butted the edges together and used a bridging stitch :

 However, I was afraid that might pull apart in future ...  so I found this fusible tape intended for joining batting.  It worked like 2 charms!   It seems strong and reinforces the seam, without adding bulk.  It also stays pliable.  I was also concerned about not making that seem stiff with additional layers of  fusible.  I think this was a good choice for extending the background field of felt.

Next lesson is color wheels ...

Liebster Blog Awards - Share the Love

Sheila B. over at Idaho Beauty was kind enough to grant me the Liebster Blog Award.  "Liebster" comes from German, meaning "beloved, dearest, or favorite."   The award is given to inspiring blogs with less than 200 followers.  I am honored and humbled.  As a chronic journaler, I share my experiences on this arts and crafts journey, I never really know who is out there reading it.    Thank you, Sheila.   You made my day!

Here are the rules for my 5 awardees for accepting and passing along this award:
  1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.
  2. Post the award to your blog.
  3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value.
  4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know they have been offered this award.
These are just a few of the blogs that inspire me, though I'm not sure how wide any of their readership is :

Bohemian Twilight : Life Through the Senses
I'm not quite sure who she is, or if it's a community, or what ...  but I do enjoy the Senses Shared aspect to her blog.  It makes me pause a moment and "smell the roses" in the midst of a busy day.  

Life in Color (Formerly Insights and Bellylaughs) - by Robin Mead
Robin seems to do it all!  Whimsical doodles bursting with color, journals, crochet, and polymer clay.  I do enjoy her work.  

My Sweet Prairie - Monika Kinner-Whalen
I came upon Monika last year when she taught a thread-sketching tutorial for 3 Creative Studios (RIP).  I won the drawing for participating in the challenge that month, and Monika sent me a beautiful fabric postcard.    She's a wonderful thread painter who uses inspiration from the vast Canadian prairies where she lives.   She does some incredible and inspiring work! 

Dancing Crow - Lee Thomson
I discovered Dancing Crow several years ago when she was doing a fabric post card a day for a year.  
Now she's working on a disc-a-day.  I was amazed with her determination and stick-to-it-ive-ness to her craft.  The everyday practice gave her a chance to really explore techniques and ideas, and to prefect them.  That--and she does some beautiful work!

Creative Explorer - Terrie
I discovered Terrie's blog recently through a challenge I was participating in.  Turns out, she has many talents and interests from photography to mixed media collage.  It's been a great place for me to discover new things for myself and take my experimenting in new directions.