Sunday, August 30, 2009

Going "green", creatively...

"CraftCycle" by Heidi Boyd (North Light Books, 2009) is my most recent book acquisition. It caught my eye because I really like found object & repurposed object art. One of the projects on the cover is a tote bag made of paper chains (like the gum wrapper chains I made as a kid). I definitely want to make one of them but it will probably take more than a weeks worth of time - I'll work on that in between other things and will post a photo when I'm done. I haven't settled on what I'll do this week - the book is full of fun ideas using all kinds of things. I'm going to restrict myself to using only things I already have - after all, it's all about using what we've got, not buying more!

Stampington & Co has a new publication, "GreenCraft" which is another great resource for projects using re-purposed & recycled items. And, I've recently discovered two more magazines that I love, "Green" (sustainable architecture and landscape design), and Boho, a "green' fashion magazine with a hippie chick flair. The contents of the last two magazines are great and an even better bonus for me is that they are printed on matte paper which makes the pages great for collage! Hmmm, seems I may have a bit of a magazine addiction as well....

Check back in a day or two to see what I've decided to make

Saturday, August 29, 2009


After about six hours, I've finished my necklace! It is a process that takes patience, for sure. It was nice to bead again, I can't remember the last time I made something this involved.

The photograph did inspire the color combination and I doubt that I would have come up with the palette of slate, lime, turquoise and dusty grape without it. The leaves represent the growth in the greenhouse, the gray branched fringes, the bare tree branches, the dark purple for the nighttime shadows and the blue for the moonlit snow.

The book, "The Beader's Color Palette" is full of amazing color inspirations and served to remind me that I need to renew my observation skills. I once took a seminar with the amazing doll maker, elinor peace bailey, who discussed the importance of the simple phrase "PAY ATTENTION". We pass by countless things every day without even seeing them! Here's to opening my eyes and slowing down a little to see and enjoy my surroundings!

We are going out to dinner with friends tonight, I think I'll wear my new necklace!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Itty bitty beads...

It has been a while since I've worked with seed beads - I forgot how long it takes to make measurable progress when working with such little beads! My project is under construction and I'm pleased with the direction I'm going in - looks like I'll be spending much of my Saturday with itty bitty beads!

I have other creative plans for the weekend - I'm going to finish the 35 four-inch mini quilts I need to make for an art quilt group exchange and wrap up several projects I have started for submission to Stampington & Co. for possible publication. I need to clean up my mess-monster of a studio too...

But, for now, I'll concentrate on getting my necklace done. I need to finish my project each week - the last thing I need is to create a new pile of U.F.O.'s (Un Finished Objects)!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Photo & Bead choices

It was tough to choose one photo out of 366! Here's a photo of the insipration photo I chose and the beads I'm going to start off with. I'm pretty sure I'll be adding beads as I make the necklace.

The photo is titled "Illuminated Greenhouse near Sauvo, Varsinals-Suomi region, Finland". Kind of funny that I looked at 366 pages of photos and selected the one on page eleven!

I was drawn to the photo because I like the contrast of the brightly lit greenhouse, warm inside, full of growing things, and the surrounding landscape in the darkness of evening, cold and snow covered with bare branched trees. The greenhouse represents hope for something new. My necklace will also be a contrast, not only of colors, but of the elements - green leaf beads among grey branched fringe, using both shiny and matte beads. The design is forming in my mind as I write this - I want to get started but Project Runway is on tonight! Having my materials chosen and a direction in my mind will be all that gets done for now...

I am SO looking forward to this weekend, two days in my studio - time to play! Lots of things I want to work on - could that mean that "Bookworm 52" is doing what I was hoping for??? Ahhh, refreshing to feel some creative energy again - here's hoping it stays with me...

Monday, August 24, 2009

A new week, a new project!

This week's project involves TWO books from my little library - "The Beader's Color Palette" by Margie Deeb (Watson-Guptill, 2008) and "Earth From Above" by Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Harry N. Abrams, Publisher).

"The Beader's Color Palette" presents fabulous beaded jewelry, alongside the photographs that inspired the color combinations used in the project. Most of us tend to fall into color "habits", frequently returning to similar color combinations or favorite colors. While it may be comfortable to work in our color "zone", it is more interesting and adventerous to break away and take a different path.

The projects in the book are inspired from a wide variety of things ranging from the intense blue and yellow of a Hyacinth Macaw bird to vacation photos and ancient artifacts. The contributing artists include the wonderful Robin Atkins, whom I had the honor of taking a bead embroidery class from several years ago. Her work is beautiful and she is a terrific teacher - she has written a couple books of her own, I'm sure one of them will be included in my 52 week journey.

The second book I'm using, "Earth From Above" is a photography book full of images taken over a ten year period and include some fantastic images of farms, nature, buildings and natural phenomenon. The colors and patterns are amazing! It will be a challenge to select just one photo out of the 366 in the book.
So, this week, it is a piece of jewelry. I have just a few (ahem...) beads in my stash, it will be fun to choose the colors inspired by my photograph. Here's a picture of the cart I store my beads in - each color drawer contains beads in the coordinating color range - I finally feel like my bead stash is organized - it is SO much easier to find what I need.

I'd be interested to hear what your favorite color combinations are - drop me a note if you want to share.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Just under the wire!

It's been a busy week and I have barely finished my project by the Saturday midnight deadline! I was determined to finish it though and I'm glad that I did. My plan was to head to my studio early in the morning and spend the day making two purses but, that wasn't meant to be... a friend of ours needed some help with a serious matter and that was far more important. After taking care of that, I dashed to my studio to work on my project.... here it is!

I love my new purse - the photo is of me when I was a little girl. I like the look of repeated images and the mixed prints. The colors of the fabrics are very different than what is showing up in the photo - I clearly need to work on my photography and lighting efforts! The bag is really a chocolate brown with a blue stripe and the greens aren't as olive as they look here. The handles are pre-made leather ones, purchased at a quilt show. They were a little pricey but I love the way they look.

My studio is officially a total MESS! I never really cleaned up from last week and then I took out new supplies for this week... looks like I'll be spending part of next week digging out and putting things where they belong. Nothing like starting with a clean work table! My studio is pretty big (about 15' x 30') but I wish it was twice the size so I could have a dozen tables to work on.

I have already picked out my book for next week but I'll blog about that on Monday. I'm heading to a family reunion tomorrow - it's always fun to get together with my extended family.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Time flies!

Wow, is it Friday already? I had a little mid-week fun that made this week feel like it just melted away, faster than the Wicked Witch of the West when Dorothy threw a bucket of water on her!

In case you didn't guess, I went to see "Wicked" on Wednesday, thus the Oz reference.... I went with my best friend, Lisa, and my Goddaughter, Sarah. We met at Grand Central Station, cabbed over to the Museum of Modern Art, which was fabulous, then on to some great food and fun at Dave & Busters before walking to the theatre. Was I ever happy to sit down! The show was really terrific - it tells the "back story" of the Wizard of Oz and is vastly different than the book (which I read but didn't love as it was very dark and strange in some parts). We had great seats, center stage, front of the 1st Mezzanine so we could see a bit into the Orchestra Pit. Live music is such a treat.

Needless to say, my mid-week fun wore me out and I didn't get any studio work done from Tuesday to now! I have everything all lined up and am going to jump into the project tomorrow - I have to finish by Saturday night to stick with my one-a-week committment to myself. Can't be falling apart on week TWO!

Off to the ironing board to press my fabrics... more tomorrow, promise!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Here's to week #Two!

Week #2 is here and I am in the mood to do some sewing. I found a little bundle of fabric I bought at the Somers Quilt show in May and I think it will make a pretty purse.

"Designer Style Handbags" by Sherri Haab (Watson-Guptill, 2005) is the book I've chosen. I could probably make this bag without the aid of a book but I had marked the page as a project I wanted to do out of the book so, I'm finally going to do it! The project includes transferring a photo to fabric so that will add another techinque to my week.

By the way, we had a great time at our concert - very "Red, White & Blue" with Lee Greenwood, Charlie Daniels, & Billy Ray Cyrus. It was a nice evening full of tributes to our troops, veterans, and their families. Nothing like thousands of people singing "I'm Proud to be an American" and waving American flags. Our segue to Atlantic City was fun too, we even managed to win a little money while we were there!

I have been finding myself drawn to my studio a bit more - exactly what I was hoping when I started this blog project. Check back in a couple of days to see what I'm working on!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Week one wrap up...

I stitched and glued some of my fusion sheets together for this collage. Here's a picture of the finished project - I mounted the fusion sheets on a 12" square stretched canvas.

The fused sheets I made last night turned out great but, when I ironed all of them I noticed that some of them looked a little bubbled. My guess is that I didn't get the layers completely wet when I made them (though there was sure a lot of water on my work surface!). They will be fine to use, I'll just remember to wet them more when I make more in the future.

For this collage, I machine stitched two pieces of silk fusion together and stitched on a piece of cotton fabric that I had painted Lumiere circles on (I used the round erasers that are made for white erase boards - I love using them for painting dots! Available at Staples, three sizes to a package). After the paint dried I used an ultra fine point Sharpie to draw messy circles around the dots. I love the way it turned out! I'm using that fabric as part of the blocks I am making for a 4" square quilt block exchange.

The small squares are folded book pages - on top of them are small pieces of matboard that I inked & stamped. The colorful paper is from the watercolor paper scraps I save and the whole bundle is tied together with red waxed linen cord. I made about a hundred of the squares - another addition to my stash of ready-to-use embellishments.

Alot of people are always looking for what a piece of art "means" and, honestly, that is something I often struggle with. I recently read an article where the artist said that art often has no definiable "meaning" - it just all looks good together. I find that pretty freeing.

Week Number One has gone well, I think. I am feeling encouraged about moving forward with "Bookworm 52" and am excited about doing my next project. So far, I'm feeling like this was all a good idea ... here's hoping I'm still saying that 51 weeks from now!

Off to New Jersey tomorrow for a concert & overnight at The Water Club, sister hotel to The Borgata - both with the smooshiest, cushiest beds with big piles of pillows and super-soft sheets. Always a treat. I'm already thinking about Sunday mornings room service!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


My attempts at silk fusion were successful - I've got several sheets of beautiful, soft, sheets that feel like a cross between fabric and soft paper. It was very easy to make so I decided to spend this evening making some more so I have a little stash for future projects. Since the materials were out, part of the mess was made and the instructions were fresh in my mind, it was easy to jump in and make more. I'll post some photos of the results after tonights batch dries overnight.

Making "extras" of things is something I always do. I like having a pile of things that I made myself to work with - dyed fabric, special-effect watercolor papers, small assemblages, etc. They sometimes sit for a long time in a box or jar, waiting for me to find their "home". On the rare ocassions that I cook I do the same thing... two meatloafs are just as easy to make as one and six quiches aren't much more work than one. Keeping the freezer stocked with home-made, quick to thaw and eat food allows me much more time in my studio on those evenings that my husband doesn't feel like cooking.

I've got a couple of projects in mind for my silk fusion sheets - I'm hoping to get them done and posted Saturday morning before we head out of town overnight. It is an interesting material with a lot of possibilities - come back to see what I make!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Beginning Project #1...

So, where to begin? Trying to pick one book out of hundreds could take me forever.... I started out perusing the titles and looking for slips of paper sticking out of the top of the book (meaning that I had marked the book for something that interested me). I began pulling books off the shelves until I realized that all I was doing was confusing myself! I put them all back, thinking of a better way to make my selection...

Then I thought, sometimes in life, one must just take a leap - so I turned around three times, closed my eyes and stuck my hand out. The book I touched was "Fabric Art Workshop" by Susan Stein (Creative Publishing International, 2007). The back cover shows photos of the steps of silk fusion and I just so happen to have a little box full of silk fusion supplies that I have never done anything with. PERFECT!

Here's a photo of some of the goodies in the box - I'm going to work on creating some fused pieces tonight and will leave them to dry overnight. I don't know what finished project I'll make with them, time to figure that out later!
One of the things that I like about this book is that it is pretty much an encyclopedia of surface design & fiber techniques. There are just a few pages of finished projects at the back of the book. The instructions are concise with clear step by step photos. Definitely a book that I will re-visit.

Off to fuse some silk fibers!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On being a bookworm...

I grew up in the tiny town of Shrub Oak, New York. It is still a pretty town with maple tree-lined streets and American Flags on the telephone poles along Main Street. My formal education began at a charming two story brick school, Shrub Oak Elementary School. And, right next door was the Shrub Oak Public Library - a place we walked to once a week during grades 2, 3 and 4.

Wow. A whole BUILDING full of books to choose from! I was always the kid with a huge armload of books who needed gentle reminders from the librarian that we were only allowed to borrow five books each week. Charlotte's Web, James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were among my favorites. I would crawl between the pages and became completely absorbed in the stories. I remember bringing a flashlight to bed so I could read my books between the sheets when I was supposed to be sleeping (right, like my Mother never noticed the glow under the blankets, LOL).

Then, my parents purchased a set of World Book Encyclopedia and the Childcraft Library. Book #9 of the Childcraft Library was the arts & crafts volume and I made every project in the book - many times over. My parents encouraged reading and always praised my creative attempts. I destroyed countless bars of soap attempting to carve the turtle shown in book #9!

Through all of that, a bookworm was born.

Book by book, I have created a little library of my own that includes hundreds of books, a small portion of them shown in the photo here. Between my love for books and all things creative, I have built a wonderful resource for just about any technique you can think of.

So, what's the point of all this rambling about books? Well, it brings me to my project, inspired by the wonderful movie "Julie & Julia".

Through the years, I have read books, been inspired by them, marked page after page of projects and techniques I wanted to try, then got distracted by a zillion other things and the marked projects never got made. I now realize that what I need is a PLAN.

So, for the next 52 weeks, I will make one original project a week, each inspired by a different book in my library. Along the way, I'll blog about the projects I'm making and will share my thoughts on the book I'm using. My goal is to accomplish three things: 1) To create a year's worth of interesting, original projects; 2) To continue building my skills; and 3) To improve my computer skills through uploading photos and posting to my blog.

That's it in a nutshell. 52 weeks, 52 projects from 52 books. The name of my project is "Bookworm 52" and I'll be posting several times a week, ending with photos of the finished project. I hope you enjoy following me on my journey - I'm looking forward to your feedback!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Inspired to blog...

Several of my friends have been pestering me to start a blog and, until now, I've resisted. After all, don't I already have enough to do? And, who in the heck would be interested in what I write?

Well, tonight I went to see Julie & Julia, the delightful movie about a woman who started a blog to record her cooking journey through Julia Child's cookbook. I loved watching the two stories unfold - mostly, I enjoyed the "stick-to-it-ive-ness" of both women. Both women passionate about their work, equally patient and stubborn as they worked towards their goals. I saw a lot of myself in both of them (not the ability to cook, however) and it all got me to thinking about my creative journey and where I have been for the past couple of years...

For several years I was in a very productive, creative mode. I made countless dolls, quilts, and collages. I painted, drew, journaled and sewed. Every night after work I would head to my studio, my mind filled with ideas, my hands itching to get to work. Heck, I even churned out projects for an eighty page book while recovering from a hysterectomy! Nearly every month I would find my work included in a new magazine or book and I was having a blast.

Then, quite suddenly, my beloved mother became very ill. She needed me and I wanted to be with her. Any energy I had previously devoted to creative journeys was hers and I gave it freely - finding ways to make her smile was far more important to me than any project I would make. I know that she felt loved and cared for by her family and that was all that mattered to me. Mom passed away in September 2008 and I miss her deeply. Throughout my life, Mom made me feel like anything was possible and she always believed in me - truly the "wind beneath my wings".

Since the beginning of the year I have been trying to recapture the creative energy I used to have. I've done some projects but not with the energy I had before. Part of me was starting to accept that it is because I've gotten a little older, a bit busier at work, and maybe just a little lazy. Then there is the rest of me, still bursting with ideas waiting to become reality, my hands still longing for the feel of fabric under my hands and paint under my fingernails.

I needed a kick to get me going and I think the movie I saw tonight was what I needed. I've decided to embark on a journey that I will be posting about on my blog. I am still thinking through the details and will post more about this tomorrow.

Until then, if I've peaked your curiosity, come back for more in the coming days to see what I'm planning and how it all unfolds. One thing you can be sure of, it won't involve cooking!