Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- May 29, 2012

This has been a very creative week for me and I'm guessing that's why I have been attracted to many creative ideas and projects in my top ten list. There is almost always bright or intense colors that catch my eye, and when that doesn't work, there is always the needle arts to pull me in! This week the top ten picks include lots of color and needle arts, as well as a few finished-by-others items that will charm you to pieces. I hope I've found at least one item that will spark your creativity in the week ahead!

Crazy Quilt Stitches from Knick Knacks and Ric Rac

I always enjoy teaching crazy quilting class here in Colorado, so when this reference to the embroidery stitches fun to use in crazy quilting came my way, I knew I'd want to share it with you. The colorful presentation of the stitches just makes me want to dump my entire collection of embroidery floss and pearl cotton onto the kitchen table and start playing! You can find more information from Made with Love by Hannah. Enjoy!

Take a Sewing Class at Home

While we are talking about the fundamentals of embroidery, I want to share with you the wonderful new book I found at Landauer by Jan Vaine, Applique & Embroidery Fundamentals. This lovely book has such helpful photos and detailed stitch instructions that I think learning the 16 stitches included in the book will be very friendly, almost like have Jan right there beside you.

Message to Self

I thought that the message in this artistic print was right on target for me during the creative week I've had. It is tempting to follow along as a creative person because my mind is always seeking stimulation from other artists. This great poster on Olive Love Designs reminds me to express myself in my creative life! I also love how the hummingbird is gently flying while the other birds seem to be less serene. Perhaps being oneself is the path of least resistance...

Paper-Cut Garden is Architectural Creativity

I am always impressed by those folks whose mind works in three dimensions. Perhaps by saying this, you realize my mind tends to work in a flat, more 1.5-D sort of way? If you, too, are impressed with Mikro Store's architectural creativity, I hope you'll enjoy learning more about the 3-D Garden they've created. All of its natural imagery makes it a great way to combine slick materials with green places.

Irish Crochet Daisy Pin

I love the look of fine thread crochet and this brooch is a particularly good example of that. NothingButString on Etsy has included 15 petals on this flower, which is part of its charm I think: it looks intricate like a real flower. I am also quite fond of the leaf design in this made-to-order, handmade fiber jewelry. Well done!

Spring Garland of Flowers

As it seems I have embroidery and other traditional needle arts on the brain this week, I hope you will enjoy seeing this lovely silk ribbon embroidered wreath. I understand that there is a kit for this project along with Dupioni silk and a full set of instructions. I found this lovely item on a wonderful resource for fiber fans, the Tafa List. This particular treasure is the work of Lorna Bateman Embroidery, and I just love i!

Clever Organization Idea for Artistic Types

If you use pen-tip paints, dyes or glitters with any regularity, you will have empathy for the tragic "stuck in the bottle" situation I face from time to time. When I saw this clever idea on Pinterest, I knew it was perfect for my Nestle and Soar studio! You can find the full instructions for making your own storage "cookie sheet" at BeaOriginal.

Modern Mobile of Color

This is a case where a picture is worth a thousand words...French words, that is. I found this lovely, playful mobile idea on a French website, and the best I can tell you is that it is, in my rough translation, an homage to modern design, a good variation on a pendant light, excellent use of paper (tissue paper), arty interior design or a sculptural element for your office. Pretty fantastic! You may not be able to see the light bulb that is hiding directly behind the large red circular branch in the center of the piece, but it is there. You could make one of these swingy mobiles without the light and display it in the corner of the room where a breeze might make it even more playful. That last part I did not get from my high-school level interpretation of the original French...that is just what I plan to do with it! You can see the original source for this project here...voila!

Now for Something Completely Sublime

May I introduce to you the Vermonster, a stuffed animal monster that my kids would have adored! It is folk-arty and huggable. I love his eyes...each one looking up into opposite parts of the sky! This little monster needs a home: you can investigate adoption at Vermonsters109 on Etsy.

Funny Animal of the Week (in addition to the Vermonster)

You may not know what kind of animal this is, and neither did I until further investigation. It is a baby otter and I think I am in love! I adore the determined look on his face as well as his feet and soft fur. Have a great, determined, and silky-soft week ahead!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Landscape Series at Nestle and Soar

It is important to flex my creative muscles. It is also important to try new techniques and jump into that trying with both feet! Today in my studio I am trying new perspectives as I work on the second in a series of nine wall tapestries, each measuring 16" x 20", and each challenging me in many ways.

The first piece in this series (above) and the centerpiece of the group of nine tapestries is the first photo in this post. The next two photos show you the second piece in the series, and I'm calling the whole group Tree Party. If you look at the right side of photos 2 and 3, you can see the beginnings of the background foundation for the third tapestry in the series. Do you see how they connect? I am no longer working one piece at a time in this series...I am working three at a time to better create a horizontal connection within the group. I'd love to know what you think!

I am probably about eight hours into the second tapestry and I want to have it complete on May 28th to show my peers at the Design Exploration in Golden. I'll be sure to post a photo of the finished piece! When it is complete, that will be two down and seven more to go! There will be birds involved in the entire design...but that's probably not a surprise. Wish me luck!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- May 15, 2012

There is an element of silly in the fantastic items I've found for this week's top ten! A silly owl, a cupcake extravaganza, and a water slide for adults -- and have you ever held a giraffe in the palm of your hand? Silly is a good thing. I believe I am far too serious for my own good, so unleashing a little silly attitude is a healthy thing to do! What is your favorite outlandish or goofy thing to do? 

Henri Owl from Wassup Brothers on Etsy

From Russia with love, this wide-eyed creation is sure to be a family favorite. Henri has movable wings that are attached with buttons, so this is a great friend for the older child. He is almost 16" tall, so that means he's old enough for grand adventures! No two Henri's are the same as they are all made with a variety of fabrics and textures...I love that part about this wise old owl. The Wassup Brothers have many fun items to enjoy on Etsy.

Embroidered Heart Brooch from Bella Celestina

I love an artist who gives her jewelry names...this felt heart is called Clara and she's ready to wear! Bella Celestina has used vintage fabric and a vibrant turquoise felt for this charming pin. It would be great on a simple scarf or used as a bow on your next fancy gift wrapping. Clara is about 2 1/2" wide, so she's a show-stopper. Love it!

Hand cut Customized Paper Art for the True Romantic

I love this paper cutting and I admire the patience of this papercrafter from England, Louise McLaren. When I study the intricacy of this piece, especially the tiny leaves with stems intact, I'm very impressed. This personalized heart and bird cutout would be ideal as a wedding gift or an anniversary present. It is striking in its simplicity in the black frame. Well done Louise!

Sunflower Lino-cut Bamboo Box from Acorn Artz on Etsy

I love a little decorative box to hide my trinkets and ticket stubs! This lovely bamboo box by Kathleen Kerr in California is a lovely option for all those who enjoy nestling their treasures inside of safe places. This sunflower design is Kathleen's original work and the box lid is a lift-off lid, which is my favorite kind. It is also a substantial size at 4" x 11" x 4"deep...perfect to fit my preserved Mother's Day corsage.

Natural History Art on Art Propelled

This photo of an eggshell collection is a scientific statement that moves me as a lover of birds. The varied colors and sizes of the eggs are interesting, and then the similarities are charming, too. I found this Art Propelled image from Tumbler by way of Pinterest and the originating source doesn't go any further than that. I thought you'd enjoy seeing the collection...I know that I have!

Cherry Blossom Tree Mosaic made entirely of Cupcakes!

When I bake cupcakes, I usually end up with about 15 decorated beauties to share. Of course, I bake two dozen, but after I drop one, eat one (or two), and watch a few more disappear before the big event, there are usually about 15 cupcakes to offer my guests. Well, there are over 10,000 cupcakes all decorated and arranged into a mosaic of a cherry blossom tree...and what do you want to bet...they are also delicious! The bakers from London's Crumbs and Doilies are responsible for this fun display for a Japanese TV show. Love it!

Inflatable Playground for Adults (or yeah, and kids), too!

Playful water sports are popular, even in land-locked Colorado. I can see an inflatable water playground like this one on a lake near my home. Wouldn't this be the best birthday party experience? I think I'd make it a requirement that you have to swim well enough to get yourself out to the inflatable playground in order to use it...if you look closely though...there is a baby swing in the lower-left hand corner of the playground! Cool!

Rustic Pine Wood Journal by Crearting on Etsy

The Tree of Life is burned and painted on this fantastic hand-bound journal from Inga Veilande in Latvia. She has used a natural pine and 160 journal pages from brown recycled paper for this unique and charming journal. It is 5 1/2" x 4" and she is happy to engrave names on the cover for you. This is a journal that is sure to become a family keepsake for generations to come! I love it!

Quote from e.e. cummings

As a nature lover and romantic, I've loved the poetry of e.e. cummings. His work was both lovely and controversial and always lead to far-reaching conversation. I found this handmade and simple verse which appears to be hand stamped into metal. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with being myself.

Funny Animal of the Week -- Petite Lap Giraffes!

I thought at first I was looking at a stuffed animal. In fact, I decided to include two photos of this amazing creature because the first one I found was so unbelievable! You are looking at a Petite Lap Giraffe that is bred at Russia's Sokoblovsky Farms. The adult PLG is 30" tall and weighs less than less than 10 pounds! They eat distilled water and bonsai tree leaves. The folks at Sokoblovsky Farms report that they love being indoors in air conditioning, as well as listening to classical music. Grooming is easy...one bubble bath per week! That wraps up my silly ideas for this week. It is silly, isn't it?

If you were to adopt a petite giraffe and bring it to a party on the inflatable playground, you could seal the deal by offering decorated cupcakes in the shape of a tree for refreshment...yeah. That would be epic!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Decorate your Walls with Pretty Vintage Frames

Peaceful Pause needle felt in vintage scroll mid-century frame
Modern vintage style is a popular trend in today's home decor. Many folks love to up-cycle, shop the bountiful Internet, and use their DIY skills to create a space that is uniquely their own, and vintage frames are often at the top of their wish list!

Re-purposing vintage frames is a special category of up-cycling because frames are generally sturdy and can live more than one lifetime without the use of carpentry skills. While up-cycling a piece of furniture may require power tools and a gallon of paint, to up-cycle a vintage frame is much more simple: all you need are some cleaning supplies and spray paint!

In my fiber folk art studio in Colorado, Nestle and Soar, I use vintage frames to display my contemporary wall art, and this mix of styles is one of the great examples of how vintage frames add playfulness and style to home decor. In my fiber art I create needle-felt images of birds and trees along with other eco-chic imagery. This kind of green luxury home decor is a great combination with up-cycling, and if you sew, embroider, or quilt, you too can add a vintage frame to your next piece of fiber art! It makes sense to me to re-use a wooden frame when I have created a lovely needle-felt tree or bird instead of buying a new wooden frame -- it feels great to conserve resources as I present a modern vintage style to customers.

If you are ready to up-cycle a vintage frame for your home, here are a few tips you need to know.
Quality craftsmanship matters: look for frame joints that are not loose or damaged. Set the frame on a flat surface to make sure it is not warped. Look at the back of the frame to make sure the hanging mechanism is stable, and if it is not, can you add a suitable replacement?

Glenn Ellen Afternoon needle felt in vintage metal Italian frame
Know how to clean the frame: is the vintage frame embellished in such a way that a good cleaning with ruin it? Will you need to strip the old finish to make it look great in the room you have in mind? The vintage frames I use are often gently cleaned, dried, and then repainted using four or more coats of bright spray paint.

If you shop for your vintage frames over the Internet, does the seller provide photos that show the back of the frame? Are there some close-up shots to let you see the stability of the joints and texture of the surface?

Some online sellers package four or more frames as a group. Buying groups online has pros and cons. Many of the frames I use are vintage Italian metal frames, and the larger ones can be heavy, which makes shipping expensive! I've had a lot of luck going to our local indoor antiques commission mall where vendors from all around the area share a large building with individual booths. This lets me hand-carry the heavier frames home and I can basically make my own "group" of frames from a wide variety of shopkeepers. Painting multiple vintage frames the same color and then displaying them on one wall is a dramatic decorating touch!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- May 8, 2012

Spring is definitely in the air here in colorful Colorado! Yesterday was very rainy and today is very sunny, so my flowers and my new Chinese Plum tree are very happy. I'm happy, too, especially now that I've looked at my file of top ten items for this week! What a bright and cheerful group of handmade treasures from talented artists in a great variety of places, such as Maryland, Ohio, Turkey, Denver, and France. I love sharing the work of these talented men and women who also love the beauty of our natural world. I hope you enjoy this top ten and a lovely 8th of May where you are.

Elegant Beauty in this Fiber Brooch from France

The rich colors and nubby texture in this fiber jewelry are lovely and I'm sure they will be a conversation starter! The wingspan of this copper underwing moth brooch is 5" and the body is over 2" long, which makes it a true statement piece. Perhaps it is more truly a conversation stopper than a starter, which is fabulous! For those who prefer, there is also a mechanism on the back for hanging this piece in your home. Love it! You can see Blue Terracotta on Etsy here.

Little Bird Ring from Maryland

My hands are small and the rings I wear need to be petite, especially since I work with my hands all day in the wool. This tiny brass bird ring can be made in any size to fit your hands perfectly, too! The delicate design showing the feathers on the wing and the tail make this ring pretty special. I understand there are matching earrings...sounds perfect! You can see Proteales on Etsy here.

Tangerine and Plum Butterfly Pillow Case from Ohio

I love how this Etsy merchant has thought through all the important service features for her customers! She has made this luscious hand dyed and printed pillow cover and she's made it very easy for you to order it and care for it. To me, that's a lovely pillow and a lovely shopping experience! How much fun is that!? You can see Giardino on Etsy here.

Tour des Trees Fundraising Event in Oregon

We've all heard about the Tour des France, but for all you tree lovers in America, this is an awesome alternative! The 2012 Stihl Tour des Trees will launch in Portland, Oregon on August 5th covering a 585-mile route. This visually scenic multi-day bike tour will take the riders through Oregon's coastline, vineyards, and high desert, with Mt. Hood providing a sweeping landscape. Since 1992, the Tour des Trees has raised more than $5.5 million dollars to fund a variety of research projects, including educational programs, all geared toward keeping urban trees and forests healthy. What a wonderful way to do good!

Eco-Friendly Fibers from Ohio

I've found a fun place to shop for yarns that do not have many if any synthetic ingredients! There are certified organic yarns in a variety of colors as well as recycled natural fiber choices. I love the feel of silk, cotton, corn silk, and bamboo. The Yarn Market is for those of us who are "environmentally aware knitters and crocheters!" That sounds right to me. Oh, yes, these yarns are also beautiful.

Chinese Plum Tree in Bloom from Denver

Keep the blooms of Spring alive all year long with this charming hand painted mug from Feisty Owl Studio in Denver! This popular Etsy shop will hand paint your tree mug to order using porcelain paint. This non-toxic paint stays put in the microwave and dishwasher. You even get to request a larger mug size, if you'd like! It sounds like the perfect recipe for an amazing cup of coffee to me. Well done!

Soft Flowing Spring Green Scarf from Turkey

This lovely batik cotton scarf is lightweight and a perfect accessory for a warm Spring or Summer day. Depending on how you wrap the scarf from Mediterranean Lights on Etsy, you will see deep green, spring bud green, or soft yellow and white near your face. I love how versatile that will be for any wardrobe! Scarves really are a popular alternative to necklaces for many women...I like bringing out the green of my eyes with a soft scarf.

The Paper Art of Helen Musselwhite in England

Helen is a force of nature in my estimation. Her paper cutting, folding and construction techniques have such a solid delicacy when finished. Don't you love her use of color? The many layers that she uses to build her scenes are a fascination, and I think it would be wonderful to see a show of her works in a gallery. They would probably have to rope-off a viewing line so that everyone could get up close enough to take a turn seeing her detailed artwork. Sign me up!

Spiral Garden Path

Spring is the right time to clean up the walk ways and paths around your property, so this little DIY idea keeps popping up on my to-do list! I love the playful way the small rocks were used to make flowers and spirals. This would be a fun project to work on with kids or grand kids...especially if they would bring me all of the materials I need so that I don't have to keep trying gracefully to stand up from sitting on the ground. That's the hardest part...the getting back up again part! This path would make a grand entrance toward your front door. Love it!

Funny Animal of the Week

I don't know why I think it is kind of spooky to have a kitten outside. I've never owned a kitten, and I guess I just assume that if they are left outside, they will run away, never to be seen again. I feel happy when I look at this funny kitten, and in my imagination, her care-taking human is just beyond the camera's angle, ready to scoop her up and keep her safe and happy. Yeah, that's what I think. This is a really cute picture when I think of it like that. I really like how the cat is standing like a farmer, surveying her garden!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Tree Party" Design at Nestle and Soar

It has been very busy in my studio this week! I am getting ready to frame my latest needle-felt fiber art...I've named it Tree Party. I like the spirit of these colorful birds as they come together to chat and party in a tree for a bit. And like any really fun party, there is lots of diversity amongst the guests...makes for better conversations! This fiber art for the wall will be 16"x20".

The foundation of this piece is raw-edge fabric patchwork with machine quilting. The leaves are appliqued wool sheet felt with hand beading. The birds have a variety of decorative sewing or beading--I've used wool throughout--except for the green bird in the middle, who is felted with silk fibers.

The last studio photo shows a variation of this design that I'm making as a pillow top. I've included two bright blue and gold birds in this piece, and it is still in progress...I'm guessing it is about 50% complete.
I'd love to know what you think about these new designs!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday -- May 1, 2012

May Day -- May Day! I always think of birds and flowers on May 1st, and today is no exception. There is a robin nesting in the crook of our rain gutter again this year and that is always a herald of Spring to me in May. This week I was able to find many bright and organic items that help keep my May Day mood going. Perhaps before dinner tonight I'll have a chance to plant a few more flowers along the winding path to our front door...
until then, I hope you have a chance to enjoy my top ten Tuesday finds. Happy May Day to you!

Sweet Needle Book by Fiber Luscious

As a sewing teacher, one of the first projects I teach is making a needle book. Maybe you aren't in the mood to sew just now? Jill Verbick-O'Leary from Wisconsin is happy to make one for you or your favorite sewing fan using contemporary applique and machine quilting! This bird needle book measures just over 3" square/6" wide when opened. See all of Jill's great fiber items at Fiber Luscious!

Verdigris Feather Brooch

Finding a lost feather is considered by many to be good luck. I wish I could find this lovely handmade stunner! Not One Sparrow in Pennsylvania makes this lovely vintage-inspired brooch in shades of gold, turquoise, and green. It would look lovely on the lapel of a coat or on your favorite felt hat!

Bird-Lover's Wheel-Thrown Casserole Dish

 One Clay Bead on Etsy, which is located in Asheville, North Carolina, makes this lovely casserole dish in one of my favorite color combinations: turquoise and brown. This casserole holds 2 quarts and the lid can be turned upside-down in dish for stacking. You can bake or serve in this nest-topped dish, and she even has coordinating pieces in her shop! This would also make a great gift for any upcoming summer wedding.

Living Tree Sculpture

The folks at Cornell University have a great resource for any of us who love sculptural tree elements in our yards. I know it sounds ambitious, but I have always dreamed of having a tunnel of trees for the grand kids to play under! This living sculpture website it a good place for us to start!

Fine Art Print from Contemporary Earth Art

A stack of vintage books is the perfect resting spot for a sweet golden bird! The blues, golds, and browns of this contemporary print by Laura Sue are home decor trends that I love. The image is 8" x 10" and is sold unframed, which to me means I could select the perfect frame for my family room! Visit with Laura Sue here.

One-of-a-Kind Reading Chair 

I love curling up with a good book. This bright chair from Anthropologie looks like the perfect place for me to do just that! Upholstered in unique vintage kilim fabric, no two chairs can be alike. The curvy arms look perfect for when I'm knitting...my elbows need space to move around! Love it!

The Mighty Live Oak

Uninvented Colors on Etsy has taught me that the Live Oak tree is named that because it remains green year-round. How much would I love that! She also tells me that this tree is the southern symbol of strength, and when I look at the graceful canopy of this tree, I can feel its strength. This fine art photo print comes in five sizes and would make a striking image in most every home. Gorgeous!

Bird's Nest Necklace Tutorial and Finished Item

One of the very best features of the Internet is access to helpful tutorials, and today my top favorite one comes from Sarah Ortega of Poppy and Pine. While you can buy a finished nest necklace directly from her great shop on Etsy, she has been gracious enough to teach you how to make one, too! Her nest design is special because of its simplicity...it looks like it will be smooth against the skin. The variety of bead "eggs" you can include is endless, so I have a feeling that once I begin making them, I'll have trouble stopping! The tutorial link is above, and it is included as Number 11 on a list of 25 tutorials...have fun!

Origami Birds

I stumbled upon a company in England that sells these charming paper birds. Cox and Cox has a number of lovely bird-themed home decor items. These paper collage birds are hand crafted from printed antique notation and script, with little beaded eyes. Use the clip to perch them on napkins or flower arrangements. Some come with their wings open and some with their wings closed.

Funny Animal of the Week

 I think this elephant ranks right up there with a dancing purple elephant. I never thought I'd see an elephant water ski. If this image is computerized fantasy, I may still have never seen an elephant water ski! It's funny to think about though!

Thanks for stopping by,