Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Letter to the Unknown Crafter

Dear former owner of the treasure box,

I never knew you but enjoyed walking around your home and perusing the many items on display on folding tables throughout.  I hadn't planned on stopping but a friend told me about a good estate sale that was on my way to work.  Certainly a quick swing through the rooms wouldn't make me late on a Saturday.
The large hat box on the floor caught my eye.  It was overflowing with trims. lace, ribbon and ends of plastic baggies.  Marked at only $20, it looked like a good price for some fun fiber pieces to play with.  Before I could find someone to pay, I noticed a folding table piled high with all kinds of fabric and needlework.  Some little vintage needlepoint started my creative juice flowing.  How could I incorporate some of these in my projects?  The gentleman taking the money offered up the entire pile of stuff, along with the hat box, for a fair bulk price.  Not having time to sort through things, I agreed and his friend materialized with two garbage bags to haul my lot.  I watched all sorts of material be shoved into the plastic, include some yucky coated table cloths and discount store table runners.  Everything went into my trunk and  as I drove to the store I wondered what kind of person you might be or might have been.

It wasn't until the next morning - Sunday, my day off - that I unloaded my car to see what I purchased.  Not knowing the condition, I set up on the counter in my patio area.  Starting with the hat box, I pull out pieces of lace and trim and sorted them.  There were lots of pieces that were interesting in shape and texture and suitable for dying.  Some eyelet, some battenberg, a few doilies.  Pieces cut from old garments.  I imagined you saving bits of dresses that you hated to throw out.  I hope you don't mind but I think I may turn much of what you saved into bright colors.

I think I got to know you a little more as I went through the bags of needlework and home items.  I tossed the plastic coated pieces and will donate some of the mass produced items.  I will upcycle some of the needlework, because there was a lot!  I am imagining you did much of the needlework yourself.  Us crafters often enjoy the making and don't always finish the items and find them a home.  There are many needlepoint projects that were well done!   Many look like they were from the 70's, especially the crewel pieces.  It's the colors and motifs that give the hints!

So dear crafter (or collector) please know that these items that you kept for so many years - finished projects and pieces for future ones, are in a good home.  I have already started to enjoy them,, having dyed some pieces pink and some green.  Some may be used in art quilts, others perhaps to embellish garments.  The possibilities are endless!

(who has more supplies for 'endless possibilities' than she knows what to do with!)
P.S. I started playing with some dyes and this is some results! Pink and green pieces of lace and eyelet.  They turned out great!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Weighting for Rust

I really do create everyday. Very often it a small bit at night, but no day goes by that I don't do something.  I can't help myself, can you?  

Sunday is my day to play the most, and this weekend was no exception.  My son had surprised us for a visit from college the previous weekend and left all of his weight lifting equipment outside on our patio (in Florida.)  Rust appeared in areas and just called to me to dye with it.  So I did.

I grabbed the required supplies, which are always things I have around the house (and that does not happen often when the creative spirit moves me to try something new.)  Vinegar with water in a spray bottle, fishing line and fabric.  (Gloves may have been nice but I couldn't find any.  I am updated on my tetanus shot.)  

I wet the fabric with the vinegar/water mixture and wrapped it around the rusty areas.  Some pieces were scrunched, some were cut thinner and wrapped around.  Another was placed under weight plates. 

I let them sit overnight, spritzing it a few times to dampen it.  In the morning I unwrapped the fabric.  It was rinsed in a water and baking soda bath for a while to neutralize the rust and then rinsed again in clean water.  Some pieces came out better than others but I am excited by the prospects.  

Some pieces turned out better than others.   Not quite sure what I will do with the new fabric, but   I am liking the possibilities!  
(so is Stella! )

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Welcome 2016

Well January snuck up on me.
This past year seams to have zipped by, and no one in my household is complaining about that.  Not a super great year for everyone here, but we are all forward thinking so we welcome this new year with open arms!

Did you have a resolution for 2015?  Did you keep it?  I did.
I decided to set a new years resolution that was reasonable and attainable and I decided I wanted to get into the new millennium by finally setting up online bill paying and banking and I did it.  It may not seem like a big deal but it was something I had never done and I feel good about getting it ALL done.  I had thought about a few other things, like draw and journal every day but that was not going to happen.

Now that it's another new year I need to come up with another resolution.  I need to exercise but to set a regular schedule to stick to is never going to work, as much as it should.  I would like to try adding some yoga this year.  I have only tried it twice in my life but my mind and body seems to be telling me to do it.  Can't promise a set number of days a week so fast but lets try it.

High on my list this year is to up my art quilting skills.  It's another thing that is pulling at me - if that makes sense.  I am kicking off my new year with Craft Napa, an art quilting retreat in Northern California where I had a tough time choosing classes to register for.  There are only three days of offerings and I could have filled more than a week!  Can't wait!

I added some photos to this post that have inspired me this year. Places I visited, people I met and of course some of the quilts on exhibit that I am privileged to see have filled my iphoto files.  Didn't even know where to start but here a some that jumped out at me.  I look forward to having lots more to share in 2016.

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful For- and Defending - my Art and Craft

A delightful Thanksgiving.  
All together with both of my boys and both sets of parents.
Add some extra friends and we had an interesting, well fed afternoon.  I cleaned non stop as my husband cooked the turkey, pork, two homemade stuffings, sweet potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes. apple cake, and pumpkin cheesecake.

My immediate family obviously knows what I do for a living/hobby and my parents stop by my shop often.  Everyone else - not so much.  Some of our guests had never been to our home so they had to get educated.  Piles of quilts decorate chairs throughout and bowls of Wonder Clips and thread sit on tables like a candy dish at Grandma's house.  It's after we show them around the house and they walk in to my craft room/ studio and walk around as if it's an unkempt cabinet of crafty curiosities that an explanation becomes necessary.  

Spend some time with me and get me talking about my shop and my passion for what I do and it is clear how much I love it.  I can talk for hours about the quilt industry and all of it's variety and possibilities.  

One of my husband's friends seemed to appreciated the creative chaos.  His ex wife was apparently a crafter.  When he saw my sewing machine he said "wow, that's a dying craft."  I love the fire that lights and continued to tell him how many billions the industry rakes in every year; the worldwide popularity; the international visitors to my shop who gush at the choices and displays.  I pulled out different quilts I had made and the collage quilt that I am binding until I felt that they 'understood.'  

After my speech and show-and-tell we all sat down for a digestive chat and my dad brought up a recent post  I shared on the StitchCraft Facebook page. It was the process of artist Susan Carlson and the creation of her huge fabric collage crocodile.  A pretty amazing video and I was please that even the non-quilter was intrigued enough to watch.  That prompted me to bring the discussion to the true artistic aspect of our world.  The website of David Taylor is a favorite gallery of inspiration and the reaction of my son and his friend was as expected.  "That's a quilt Wow."  Like the end of a Thanksgiving feast, I was satisfied. 

I am thankful for all of our staff and customers who give me the joy of getting to work each and every day.  I am blessed to be surrounded by creativity.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Post Card Art for Fall

I am careful not to commit to swaps and exchanges that I cannot keep up with.  I would never want to be 'one of those' people - the 'flakes'.  Twice yearly iHanna coordinates an international postcard swap and it is one that I never miss.  Making ten postcards and sending them to ten recipients from parts of the world is fun.  What I receive in my mailbox in return never disappoints.   Here are the postcards that I created and sent.  I started with Gelli prints using colors I recalled from the changing  trees in Massachusetts.  Shades of reds, purples (from the maples) and oranges.  

Check out iHanna's DIY Postcard Swap and the creative people who participate.  Join her mailing list to find out when her next swap will be!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Junk Journaling

I am around fabric all day every day and love every minute of it.  But sometimes as you may know I need to revert back to my original love - paper.  Art journaling is a therapeutic joy.   Book binding is a fascinating art.   Junk journaling throws it all together in a fun way!

I baked some brownies for my son one evening a couple of weeks ago (Betty Crocker, as I am no scratch baker!)  The empty box in my hand felt like a perfect size for a journal (am I sick or what?!)  I  decided to make it a true junk journal - only using leftover supplies - so I covered in with some old book pages and used bits and scraps that came from others in swaps or were left over from other projects.

Extra bits and pieces of Gelli plate printed papers and washi tape added some color here and there.
Five signatures were bound in with waxed linen.  All I have to do is add something to dangle.
Have to admit that I really love how it turned out!  The brownies were sweet and so is my journal!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

My Name is Johanna and I am addicted to crafts

You are too?  Then you understand. 
Being addicted to crafts doesn't make my life unmanageable.  It makes my craft room unmanageable at times but it makes me so happy and makes me a better person.  I have long extolled the benefits of crafts and hobbies and how it HELPS people.  In our shop we all laugh and say that quilting is cheaper than therapy.  While it is not a substitute for a great therapist (highly suggest that you know one, if not 'just in case') it is such an amazing addition to sanity, stability and happiness. 

This is the latest project coming out of my craft room.  Judy Neimeyer's 4th of July.  Love it, don't you?  It will be the next donation quilt for the Gold Coast Quilters Guild, with tickets being sold for a chance to win it.  Thank heavens I had fellow guild members help with piecing the blocks together.  When I have a project with a deadline I am hesitant to work on anything else, even though I have new toys, projects and ideas piling up like a creative queue.  

The storm before the calm was pulling all of the foundation papers off of the back before it goes off to the long arm quilter.  What a mess (but it's a relaxing process.)

What now, you ask?  

This is a big birthday year for me and I set a goal for myself.  I want to expand my talents and abilities and become an art quilter/fiber artist.  There.  I put it out there.  I will find time for myself to explore new techniques and mediums.  I have signed up for a retreat this winter with teachers that I admire.  Look forward to sharing these adventures.  In the meantime My craft addiction is taking me outside of the quilting genre into paper and other mediums.  Have you seen the planner world lately?  I have always kept and carried planners.  Now there are groups, websites and products to embellish and journal in the planners.  I made my own leather travelers notebook.

Natural leather that I stained red and cut to fit the inserts I chose.  I am enjoying this new journal.  I have inserts for a calendar, to-do list and notes and ideas.  A necessity in my life.
What's NOT a necessity in my life?  This new 'toy'.

It's a loom!  A fancy loom that was given to me by a customer.  I took a weaving class a few years ago using a little portable loom made from PVC pipe and loved it.  When I was asked if I new anyone who wanted a loom I jumped at the chance to explore this fiber art further.  I had no idea how beautiful (and large) it would be.  It is going to be a project to learn how to use it.  Did I bite off more than I can chew with this?  Hmmmm.  In the meantime I will sweep up the paper, clean my craft room and start playing with something new today.  Anything new that is sparking your creativity?