Monday, December 31, 2012

Vintage Parrot Pincushion

In my mom's treasures I found her parrot pincushion that I remember from when I was a little girl.  I just loved to play with it, pins and all.  My mom and all of her sisters sewed and all of them had these adorable birds.  I know this is over 60 years old but I have no idea how much older.  I know it didn't look new even when I was little, so if anyone has an idea when these common, please let me know.  Now it's missing some stitches and part of a tail feather!

Anyway, it's such a fun memory to me that I want to make some.  My first idea was to use some pretty felt that I made and use a Sizzix bird die to cut out the bird, but as I studied the original bird I think I can make a pattern and make some just like it.  I may even try duplicating it with the original color felts, too.   I don't want to take it apart, so I'll just draw around it - I think I can come close.

I will have to do some shopping to add all of the felt colors for the parrot, so tomorrow I will use my needle felted piece and cut out the other bird shape. I added some little goat curls to my piece of felt and once the bird is cut out I can add hand stitching and other embellishments.  It will be cute and fun to make tomorrow while the stores are closed.

I will be shopping Wednesday for the other felts and try to make several of the parrots.  These would be such fun gifts for my cousins as a little reminder of all of our moms.

So now that this is all decided,  I wish you a Happy New Year!

See you in 2013, with a bird in the works!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sammy Joins the Herd

Les Grande Dame "Sammy"
Glorious glorious day!  The sun is breaking through the clouds, church was filled with worship, scripture and music, the temp is almost up to 45 and we're going to be the proud owners of three, yes three alpacas. Sammy is joining Pancho and Lefty as part of our "herd"!

I looked up the definition of herd and I don't believe that three qualifies, but that's what I'm going to call it!  Just like it's a ranch.  What I've decided is a farm is for vegetables and a ranch is for animals, and I'm sticking to it!  I have nothing to verify that, it's my definition!  But now we can call our place Victory Alpaca Ranch!  (smiling and laughing)

The boys will be going through some halter training before they move here and we will be cleaning up the pasture and adding cross fencing so they have their space and we have ours.  I spent time googling pasture hazards for alpacas and found I have much work ahead of me.  Apparently there are more plants and grasses that are harmful than are healthy and I need to check our pasture closely!  So as spring heads our way and the pasture flowers begin to pop up, I will be digging up and watching for every sign of a bad guy!  Even bluebonnets are not a healthy snack.  Thankfully our bluebonnets are mostly in the front and out of their reach and our garden area will also be set apart from these inquisitive little guys.

They are apparently attracted to some trees and so I've got to double check on my Tea Trees (the ones that provide Tea Tree Oil) and be sure that it won't be harmful as they're bright green and will probably look very tasty.  The hope is that the smell will turn them off, but we may find we're transplanting some trees.  I've got to trim our oaks so that the new growth is out of the reach of their long necks and the back fence line has to be cleaned up too! And you're now asking yourself, "Why is she getting alpacas?"  Don't think I haven't ask that too, but I know it will be a very good thing once we've got the stall built, the fences up, the weeds gone and the trees trimmed!

I want them to be very friendly and be able to be used with children and compete in obstacle courses at shows, so I will also be spending a lot of time getting them trained to eat out of my hand, be happy on a leash and possible be willing to be dressed up for costume classes!  And still have time to paint and sew and oh, did I mention I want to learn how to spin!  Fiber that is - I will already be spinning out of control with all these fun things I'm doing.  (smiling and laughing again)

Anyway, as I said this is a glorious day that began with worship and will end with work and thanksgiving for our day, our energy and the upcoming members of our family - Pancho, Lefty and Sammy!  Don't tell Jack, he hasn't realized yet that he won't be an only child much longer!

Stay tuned for some creative posts and, of course, updates on our new boys!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blessings When You Least Expect Them

Sometimes you are blessed in the most unexpected ways and I certainly was a couple of weeks ago when I visited WC Mercantile in Navasota, TX.

The first blessing came as we entered the door and saw all of the fiber and yarn.  This is an amazing old building. Bill and I both love old buildings and we always love when someone has retained the original look while adapting it to their business.  It was filled with the most amazing fibers from all natural to a rainbow of dyed colors.  It was like walking into a rainbow.

However, the blessing didn't stop there.  The owner's little girl was playing in the back, as her day school was closed for the day, and she came out to say hello.  She talked to me for a few minutes and then disappeared into the back.  Bill and I wandered around for quite a bit soaking in the many colors and textures  of the fibers and then as we walked to the back to check out.  I saw this precious little girl working a big table in the back.  I popped over to admire her work and tell her good by.

As we started to leave she came running over with her work of art in her hand, looked up at me with a precious face, smiled and said this is for you!  She handed me her creation and I was overwhelmed!  I could hardly say thank you I was so surprised and shocked - what a blessing.  She'll probably never know how much it meant or how sweet it really was to hand something she had made to a total stranger.

I wish she could know that it's a treasure to me, and that I have it hung on a cabinet in my studio.  A  daily reminder of the blessing from the heart of a child.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Where Do They Come From? And Why?

I started painting in January 2006!  I started with flowers on round stepping stones and then in the summer of 2006 "interesting" ladies started appearing in my sketch books.  I've posted various sketches of them through the years and even painted some of them on canvas, but they are rare these days and so tonight I ponder - where do they come from and maybe even why?

My mom questioned them and why I drew them.  She actually didn't seem to like them, but I continued to draw them.  My dear friend Emily encouraged me to draw them, to see where they would lead me.  She was experiencing a return of breast cancer and so many of them were bald and some had pink caps on, but most of them were simply strange.  All of them had long necks and huge eyes and some were a little scary!  But still they came and then it suddenly stopped! On a rare occasion one would appear when I sat down with my sketch book but not often and I actually began to miss them.  A friend ask if they were self portraits and I said I certainly hoped not!

Wild Eyed
I always sketch on a plane, it's that relaxation thing and this year while flying cross country suddenly one appeared, quite serious but still with those big eyes but a little less weird than in the past. Then on another flight a month or so later another one just flew out of my pencil and she looked exactly like I felt!  Crazed from all of the things going on in my life at the moment!  I used her as my blog profile picture until tonight. I think she's still my Etsy and Pinterest pix - might want to rethink those!  But as  I look at her I think I may put her back on here if life doesn't slow down a little as I think looking at her makes me take all of the "busy-ness" a little less seriously. She makes me smile and relax when I look at her.  In fact, how can you not laugh when look at those over the top eyes!

Tonight, right after I changed her, I had a desire to pick up my sketch book and look what happened, a new lady! They happen so fast, it's like they just have to come out of the tip of my pencil.  When I look at this one I feel like she wants to say something, but, of course, you can  relax she isn't saying anything!  That will be a relief to Bill who I'm sure thinks they're crazy and perhaps me too, at least a little bit!  For me they're simply relaxing to draw and fun to look at, often making me laugh out loud and wonder what I was thinking when I drew them.   I am pleased that their necks aren't quite so long and maybe they're even a little less weird!  Some of you might disagree with that assessment, but then you may not have ever seen the earlier ones!

So, now after a good laugh and relaxation, I'll go on to bed and wonder where they come from and when the next one will surface as I drift off to sleep.


PS Just occurred to me that she probably wants to ask me why I removed the crazy eyed, over stressed lady as my profile pix when I'm getting ready to add alpacas to my already busy schedule!  She may even want to say that I might be crazy!  But if that is it, I'll have to tell her that just like my sketching of ladies relaxes me, that's just what my alpacas will do - and they will make my life just a little sweeter!

Pancho & Lefty

Happy Day after Christmas!  I hope everyone had a wonderful day.  We started our day with videos of our little great grand-baby on his motorcycle that we sent him for Christmas!  He will need to grow a little, but that's good as they have lots of snow, so outside isn't available right now!  Next we watched Jack (our dog) open his gifts.  He always loves to tear open his packages, but never touches ours!  Smart little guy!  He got two toys and a Santa hat later in the day from a friend.  Next year he can wear his suit and his hat at the same time!

Our Christmas presents were a little big to put under the tree, a new building extension, two alpacas, a new sewing machine, and lots of tools for manland added over the last few months.  We thought about putting bows on everything that we had received recently, but decided we really couldn't afford the ribbon,  (laughing) so we just enjoyed our day and thought about names for the alpacas.

And, we've made a decision!  Yes we are definitely getting two alpacas and we finally decided on names!  This was not an easy decision and we enlisted votes through Face Book, but it's done! I've sent an email to Laurence and Donna to say yes and give them the names, Pancho and Lefty for registration so now as I sit in my studio and look out the window, I can picture them out there.

I've wanted llamas or alpacas for close to 20 years!  Of course, living in Bellaire, didn't lend itself to animals of this size and so I waited!  We've been talking about them now since we bought this house and property and the time is finally right.

Last year we added three sheep, well, they're not actually real, they just look real and so I've had some people ask me if the alpacas will be real!  Yes! I promise these will move around on the property without my having to pick them up and move them.  Ha ha

We now have to get our gates done at the front and do some cross fencing, so they know where they belong!  Now if I can just remember that they belong in the back field and not in my front yard or immediate picket fenced yard for Jack!  Bill says it will be more difficult for me than them!  He's so right. We just added an area to the back of Bill's barn for them and have to finish it too.  The rails need to be added and the straw put down on the ground and then they can move on in!  For now they will stay with  Laurence and Donna at Bluebonnet Hills Alpaca Ranch and I will go and visit!

At least now I won't need to drive down the road to look at the neighboring animals and I'm excited about all of the company I'm going to be having in the near future.  I look forward to everyone coming out and meeting them in person.  Didn't know how much alpacas would increase visitation!  That's a very good thing.

So now I will close and get busy on some other projects - working on next years Christmas card and have a bunch of birthdays this month and next - so I will post again after I see them on Friday and hopefully with some very good pictures.

Until then, happy creating!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Alpacas in our future? Hope so!

White one on right!
Yesterday was a fun and exciting day!  Bill and I visited an alpaca ranch to look for a possible addition to our family!  Actually it will be two, they don't ever come in singles as they are herding animals.  We looked at about 65, not all for sale, but have decided on males.  We (I) really don't want to get in the baby business, I just want pets and fiber, so males would be best for us.

 We have pretty much settled on a young white one, great fiber and very good conformation and deciding between a solid brown one and one with some white on his face.  I want at least one white one because the wool can be dyed and I want that versatility.  They all were adorable.  It's been very hot here in Texas so the cold air today had them very frisky and it was fun to watch them run around and play.

When we said our good byes, we headed to a wool shop in Navasota - WC Mercantile - and what a surprise!  It was full of beautiful wools and in nearly every color of the rainbow, no way more than the rainbow!  Of course, I had to buy a few things to bring home.  Not for sure what they will turn into, but right now they're just beautiful to look at and their time will come.

Fibers in back and felted fabric in front.
I was so excited about wool that I came home and pulled out some product I bought at Festival in November and sat down at the felting machine.  A friend had given me some really nice black wool scraps she had used for a dress and I had wet felted it (washed and dried it in the dryer) and so I used it as a base and this is the result. Now do I use it for a small purse or a pin.  The colors make me think of watermelon even in this cold weather, but they're also really nice winter colors.  Once I decide and get it cut I can then begin embellishing with some hand stitching, some beads and more.  So much fun.  I'm so thankful for all of the artists, Liz, Ruth, Judy, Sally, the list goes on forever, that have come into my life the last few years teaching me to do so many different things.  Felting, stitching, beading - oh, what fun on a cold winter's eve.

Be back with more soon!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Building Blocks for Aiden

I love this time of year, except that there's always way more to do than there is time!  I have so many projects I want to do right now that I can't choose what to start first, so I decided to finish some adorable blocks for Aiden/Katie I started in early summer for Christmas.  I say Aiden/Katie, as I'm not sure whether they're going to be for play or display!  Might be more of a gift to the mother than the little boy, but we'll see.  Stampin Up offered these boxes a year or so ago and I got some knowing I would have a use some time!  And sometime arrived this summer.  It wasn't the easiest thing to do - I had 5 blocks A I D E N and then I had to come up with other 5 letter words and/or 4 with a picture i.e. duck and I drew a duck for block 5.  It was a puzzle, but it was fun.

 Just a few more coats of finish and they'll be ready for the Christmas box.  I hope they enjoy.

Note:  Archiver's bags are great for protecting your work surface and a great way to reuse a plastic bag!

 Now back to the sewing machine to start a stitch bible! Perhaps, the next real project will come to mind as I watch the different stitches my machine will make!  My friend Liz Kettle showed me how to do this and a new class I just signed up for "Stupendous Stitching" on Craftsy gives it as the first lesson,  so I'm going to get started tonight and see just what my new machine can do.

Next post : Stitch Bible - See you soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Craft Room to Studio - The Transformation

I mentioned this the other day, either in a post, to a friend or on Facebook, but I think the most important part of changing the name of my work area from craft room to studio is the mental picture that is formed in my mind.  As a craft room I just don't take things as seriously and I don't look at what I do as art.

I thought it was the word craft, but I looked up the word craft and found the following: 1: skill in planning, making, or executing:dexterity and 2 a: an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill and 2 b plural: articles made by craftspeople

I looked up the word crafter and found the following synonyms: artificer, artisan, craftsman, craftsperson, handicraftsman, handicrafter, handwork and tradesman.

So, now we know that the word craft is not the issue as craft = art!  So the problem with craft room and it's effect on me is the word room.  Room just doesn't sound as artsy as studio.  This is just me and really it has no bearing on what I will or will not create (at least I hope not), but I do like the ring of it and so it shall be "the studio".  Perhaps this comes from the magazine Studios that comes out four times a year from Cloth Paper Scissors, but whatever, it's now Bev Ann's Studio and it's all cleaned up!

I finally was able to move my new Bernina into it's place and am having fun playing with it.  My goal is to do freehand quilting using my photos and original art to make wall hangings, table runners etc.  Small items, no king size quilts for me.  However, I'm not saying never, because I know what that can cause, so I'm just saying what my goal is!  Ha Ha - learned that from the "never want to sew comment" and so hopefully, I've expressed this in a way I won't have to eat those words, too!

My first effort was to make square of fabric, batting and backing and just freehand stitch!  Next was a plain piece of fabric that I drew a pencil shape of a flower on and then I began by practicing on a fun diecut dress from Sizzix.

This die is new and I just think it's adorable, so I cut out one, adhered it to the base fabric with Misty Fuse.  How did we ever get along without this!  Anyway I digress, I made a sandwich and began to stitch around the design and then tried to echo the dress outline, moving on to freehand quilting the remainder of the block.  As you can see, I have  long way to go before my echoes are clear and evenly spaced, but a girl's got to start somewhere.

I had a class all day at It's A Stitch, my local Bernina dealer, and I learned a lot and had lots of fun and laughter.  This machine is so different from any I've ever used and I have to learn to relax and let it do the work!  And, so when I got home it was more practice.  This time I started with a flower I had painted on fabric, just trying to outline the flower and do some thread painting, but I wasn't pleased with the thread I had chosen and so I moved on to another practice piece.

One of the women at the shop suggested that I pull out a fabric with a distinct pattern and practice outlining the design and so I did.  I inherited my friend Emily's fabric so I have so much to choose from and I think I found a perfect piece.  I have yards of it, so I will be able to practice for a long time!  Emily and I were soul mates when it came to buying!  If one yard was good, then 20 would be so much better!  Ha Ha  No that's really not funny, that's sadly the truth!  But looks like I will have a chance to put her fabric to good use and I won't need to step into a fabric store for a long time.

Oh, my gosh, I forgot all about my "studio"  here's a picture of before (with all the stuff out of my closest - forgot to take picture before I began the process) and after!  For those of you who had recently been in my "room" you can see a huge improvement!  For those of you who have never seen it, I'm sure you are saying, Oh my gosh, she has sooooo much stuff!  You see the condition of the room is all in perspective and mine is that it's all cleaned up and a "studio".
PS: This is just a small shot of the room - I'm saving the rest for an article on "hoarding"!   LOL

Gotta go, my machine is calling to me!

Crafty hugs,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Words Should Always Be Covered In Chocolate!

A very dear friend once told me she always covered her words in chocolate, so if she had to eat them she would enjoy them!  This is very good advice and I'm so glad I listened to her. Thanks, Deb!

What was it, a month ago that I said I've found what I really enjoy and it's not sewing!  Well, what do you think I got at the quilt show?   Yes, I am the proud owner of a Bernina!  Now, it's a baby one - not one of those big multi-thousand $$$$$$ machines, but it is a Bernina.  Why you ask?  Because I've decided I want to make small quilts.  (I know what you're thinking - I just said sewing wasn't my thing) but I've now decided I want to make small wall hangings with both photographs and painted squares and quilt them.  Oh, how good those chocolate covered words taste!  Ha Ha

  Now don't think I've turned my back on those saws, I have not!  I just cut out a new piece for my front door last Sunday.  I have worked on it this week preparing it with colored papers.  I've added a ribbon and bow to the bottom package and will add  more ribbon and bows to the rest of the gifts, and it will be ready for decoration day.

Wood Cutout

 Ready for Bows

And, that brings up a whole other topic - Thanksgiving Day.  My sweet husband and I have gone to "Autorama" every Thanksgiving evening for over 20 years and they changed the dates.  There is no Thursday evening show this year - I can't tell you the disappointment that flowed through our house when we discovered this tidbit of information.  But recovery has been quick and we shall use Thursday afternoon to put up our outside decorations, or at least get started. Friday we will do Autorama and Saturday, I will be in a sewing machine class all day!!!!!  Sounds like a great holiday weekend to me, with much to be thankful for this year, as always.

But now back to the reality of today!  What to do with the new machine?  Every inch of my craft room is covered!  Way too many projects going on at once and to be honest, just way too much stuff.  And so my new machine sits on my dining room table as I gut my room and rearrange, redecorate, get rid of much and make a place for this new treasure.  So as much fun as this is, I must stop, get off of my fanny and head back upstairs and face the mess!  The soon to be organized, great to look at and even greater to create in studio!  I mean it's going to be soooo neat and it will deserve the name studio!  Pictures to follow soon.

Friday, November 09, 2012

What? It's Almost Thanksgiving!

Where does time go?  It seems like only yesterday I was cutting out witches legs and shoes with a pumpkin or two for good measure and now it's November and less than two weeks from Thanksgiving.   I had so much fun with the shoes and the legs and a blast with all of the little goblins that came to our door.  

Our little dog Jack wore a Halloween T-Shirt and loved greeting at the door.  Now if I could just train him to give out the treats!  Ha Ha - he'd eat them all!  We had around 60 little ones this year but none as cute as little Bentley.

Aren't they fun!
I painted a large pumpkin for our front door (left) and two smaller ones for the two other front doors!  Don't ask - I think I may have mentioned before that we have a main front door and two smaller ones.  I painted the backs of the small ones to be Jack-o-lanters and the fronts to be plain pumpkins. When I turned off the lights after the last little trick or treater, I flipped them over, brought in the legs and the shoe, hung the large pumpkin on the door - instant change to Thanksgiving/fall theme!  Quite proud of myself for the double duty on the small pumpkins.

And now it's on toward Christmas!  I've drawn some cute plans for a door decoration and I want to cut out and make some other items for the yard - just two weeks and we'll be changing over to Christmas!

Again, I say, where does the time go?

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I finally had some time in my craft room yesterday and got the back sides of my pumpkins finished.  You saw the fronts in my last post and here is the back.  In my earlier post I said I was going to use Martha Stewart decals, but traced some instead and painted them  I just wasn't for sure how decals would hold up over time!  Now I need to drill holes nd add the wire hanger and get them on my doors. I have one more to make - front and back for  side door.

I've put my witch legs into a pot and so now it's just add the wires and the front of the house will be ready for Halloween.  I am going to do one large pumpkin for the front door.  It will take the place of the witch shoe on November 1.  Can you believe we're talking about November 1!  I was going to make some candy corn to place along the sidewalk - beginning to think that will be added next year!  Haha Time just flies by way too fast.

I have pieces I want to make for Christmas, so I'm already in the planning stages those.  I want one large piece for front door and two or three smaller ones for the other doors.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Rainy Day Helps Pumpkins Grow!

What a dark rainy day!  Held off on the trip into town for the plywood and worked with what I already had started.  I put a base coat on the pumpkins to block out the woodgrain and began to paint!  I have the front of two medium pumpkins complete and I love them.  I said complete and that's not quite true - they are painted!  I still need to add the wire for hanging and add some of those adorable little curly cues.  The back is now orange and the stem painted and I'm going to add the face decals later tonight or tomorrow.  With the rain I want to let the pieces have some extra drying time.  They're in my craft room, but still, really dry is very important.

I headed out to "manland" to help Bill for a few minutes and here came another downpour, so I cut out a couple of small pumpkins to make pins!  You know for your coat or jacket.  I think they would be super cute on a blue jean jacket!  Bet you get to see one modeled soon!  Right now they're drying - got them painted and now I wait!

I learned something else today!  A life lesson of sorts.  My mom loved to sew and my cousins do too!  Judy, who will be here in just a few weeks for the quilt show loves to sew and she has fabulous machines.  I would like to love to sew, but just don't.  I can do it and I used to do it well, but it just doesn't give me joy.  I bought a felting machine a couple of years ago (quilt show) and thought I would use it constantly, but it's not what I thought it would be, no joy!  But, today when I turned on that saw and began to cut out these little pumpkins, I suddenly knew how Judy feels when she sews!  Guess all that time in my Dad's workshop as a little girl set this in motion, but I just love it.  I love the smell of the wood as it's cut,  the sawdust, even the sound of the saw as it cuts through the wood! And painting well, that's the real joy of my life!  I love the feeling of God moving my hand across the paper or now the wood!  To God be the glory for through Him comes true joy!

I did two small 3.75" x 5" watercolors - one represents abundance - okra (freezing the extra at this point) and a cornucopia of veggies - representing Thanksgiving - my favorite holiday!

I'll be back soon with the back of the pumpkins and hopefully the large pumpkins painted!

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