Sunday, December 19, 2010

coop in progress

One thing Marian has consistently wanted for Christmas this year is a chicken coop to go with her "Pioneer Store". She has stocked her Magic Cabin tree trunk fairy home with most of the Kathe Kruse pioneer dollhouse family and lots of tiny store goods (Casey's woods, ebay, my childhood collection, Re-Ment miniatures, her own polymer clay sculptures, and a rather excellent yard sale find or two--like the cash register and sewing basket!), many of which fit perfectly on 99c Michael's wee wooden cabinets. I think I would have died of joy to have owned this set up. Since we moved Reuben's (never once slept in) crib out of her room, she has space to keep it permanently set up.

The family has a beehive and assorted animals out back; the self-sustained sort, they badly need a little flock of fowl!I spent two hours last night weaving mini chicken wire. I got quite good at it at the end, but it wasn't worth redoing the whole thing...I was quite tickled with it when I cornered Nathan to show him all the coop bits this morning.

*Ostheimer wooden chickens (The Wooden Wagon)
*my needle-felted nests & chicks
*my porcelain eggs
*(a happy find last week) polymer clay eggs-in-hatching and chicks that Marian & I made when she was still home after her bone marrow transplant, a never-completed "teeny tiny farm" (have you read the book?) project.
*a wooden box from a church rummage sale that will soon be the coop & ramp. I want everything to collapse and fit inside. Still determining exactly how...

A few more images for your enjoyment:

Friday, December 17, 2010

shop loaded!

I loaded up the etsy shop today with old and new: pots from both a firing I unloaded this week and the collection languishing on my studio shelf, wishing I had etsy energy to post. Now is the time, baby! Purchases made through this weekend will arrive for Christmas giving, and I'm happy to ship directly to a recipient as well (purple petunia purchases always come gift-boxed).

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Two completed handstitched honeys, for mailing off (new goal: tomorrow!):

One dragonflyModified from Wee Wonderfuls' Hand Sewing for Fun butterfly booklet.

I used both purchased 100% wool felt and recycled wool from my stash for this dragonfly, bound for the Frandsen cousin Reuben "drew" for holiday giving and his new dragonfly-themed room. The fabric in his wing insets is from Anna Maria Horner's little folks line, and although it was perfect for the dragonfly palette I imagined, I feared it was a bit feminine. So I embroidered a truck on his chest to make him look more manly. Moderately successful. But the baby he's destined for won't care :). Check out my inspiration photo, courtesy of my entomologist brother:One gray cashmere baby sealFrom the book Palm-Sized Softies. I really miss the sadly moth-bitten sweater that this seal was made from, but it's been well used. Remember this honey? Same sweater. Her owner sleeps with her every night nowadays. Triumph! She has a soft bamboo fleece muzzle and I filled her with polyfil so she would be washable. Good for one-year-olds.

Monday, December 13, 2010

panic time

Now is when I realize I've spend much more time PLANNING than DOING. Argghh! How to finish?? I thought I'd mail off my packages today, but yesterday we spent in the hospital (M woke up with 160 bpm heartrate. Awesome.)...and I can't blame that. Like I'd magically pack in 24 hours of work in that 8 hours that would have included church and lots of (appropriately!) mama time.

Working on stacks of slippers tonight. Soles: salvaged leather, recycled wool, new bamboo fleece:

I've only broken 2 needles on those babies! It's a lot to cram under my sewing machine foot, so the finished slippers aren't really up to my standard, so I have mixed feelings about sending them off. But they are very very warm :).


A favorite family decoration is the gumdrop tree. We had one growing up (did you?), and my brother found a batch of them for all of us a few years ago. After suffering losses, both Christmas gifts and gumdrop tree are high on top of our piano this year to keep them out of a certain young someone's* reach. I thought we were quite successful until I found this poor denuded sweet on the piano's key cover.A signature look: sucked the sugar right off that spicy thing.

*here's someone under the table, eating Nutella... Oooo: maybe Christmas will help this bitty gain a pound or so!

let it snow

Our advent calendar (faithfully curated by Audrey) gives us a Christmas-y task each day. Saturday's:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

peace wreaths

After seeing peace wreaths independently in the Pier 1 (Becci) and Garnet Hill (Valerie) catalogs, we decided we must make our own.

Hello, felted sweaters!

Piles of green squares are easily pushed straight on wire and formed into wreaths.

Hints & process shots:*I used 14 gauge galvanized steel for the larger wreaths, and both 28 & 22 gauge for the smaller ones, though 28 was too fine for the project; it neither "poked" well nor holds it shape as nicely. I used a needle to help the 28 before I found my 22 ;).

Bad photos (we crafted on a cold and dark day in Becci's studio):

So many fun gifting projects in the works. But now I'm very cold and must go to bed.


shop update!

OOooo, look left! That poor little neglected etsy shop has some pretty little bits again. Pottery has been trickling into the shop and will continue to do so for holiday shopping. I have several pieces still waiting on the shelves behind me, and a handful more that will be fired this week.

How many mice can fit on a quarter?In a size-6 ring?These little sweethearts had their silk cord tails glued on yesterday and will post soon, too.


Marian and I discovered this perfect little visitor to our patio table.
She carefully placed her finger next to it for a photographic scale,
alerting her little brother to its presence.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

catching up...OCTOBER!

When I haven't been blogging for awhile, one thing that keeps me from returning is this deep-soul need to CATCH UP. And since I never have time to write 53 posts, then I don't write any. Tonight I gave myself a nice little pep talk, and marched on in to the computer, planning on doing a bit of etsy work (I'm Ba-ack!) and two blog posts: adding the photos to the last post (already written in October) and deciding on one holiday-project one. Too bad, so sad for me and my beauty sleep. I have to fit this in, just one afternoon in October:

Interesting little ancestral fact: the first Goates to immigrate to America was a master gardener. My father-in-law says for the king of England, but I haven't seen that substantiated. For a big ol' English manor house, definitely.

Well-known present-day fact: my Goates is not. Hates gardening, yard work, and anything related. He blames the forced labor of his youth.

Another well-known present-day fact: I'm easily distracted.

Anyway, it all means that our yard is usually a bit on the neglected side. We're kind of lazy groundskeepers, and have an affection for the wild world, anyway. Sometimes we like to let little start-ups grow. Like this little sumac. It started growing right along our courtyard fence, and when I noticed it at the end of last summer, I thought I'd just let it stay there through the end of the autumn because sumacs put on one fine color show. Which it did, that one-foot-tall little bright guy. Then winter, then spring, then busy, then l-o-n-g road trip, then home, then WOW-THAT-THING-GREW!, then, well, it was nearly autumn again! So we gave it a kiss and let it stay and while it's still in an awkward spot, oh-my-great-autumnal-goodness am I glad. Sunshine captured and delivered straight to my soul. It glowed for a couple of weeks and even the neighbors commented :).

This view from my kitchen sink, for example.Marian asked me to bring down the easel for her one afternoon and worked to capture a bit of the glory. I loved this with all my sumac-sunshine-autumn-and-child-loving soul.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

owl papercraft (and wee giveaway!)

**I wrote this post (including the disclaimer just below) over a month ago. It's _so_last_season_ now, but I'm going to go ahead and post it anyway, and the Reuben's-birthday-from-afar giveaway is still good, too, even a month late. One week for entries; drawing on the 14th!)**

(Nathan cleaned up our computer last week to help it run faster and accidentally deleted something that makes my photo editing software work. Photos when I figure that out or switch to something else--Picasa?. Decision and work pending; I need my beauty sleep.*)
*kind of a joke but we're having family photos tomorrow and I look old just now.

Last week was full of Fall Festival; this week is full of Halloween and another one of those Philadelphia trips (regular follow-up visits for my medical kids). I realized yesterday that my October buffer was OVER and a week from tomorrow is baby boy's second birthday.

We're so excited he made it this far (cancer, begone!). So delighted to have him with us (love child!). His toddler-ness is exhausting me, but I'm living out the cliche and fully panicked that he's growing up and leaving that behind. I'm currently on a mad search for a plain green hoodie, so dropping in on lots of baby boy clothing zones and those infant sleepers and soft little knits are pulling at my heart strings.

We're having a celebratory birthday open house, owl-themed, and today was the papercrafting day. I pretend not to like all the expensive scrapbook-related paper gadgets, but went crazy with Becci's cuttlebug for most of the day

First, owlish invitations: I have a giant roll of brown kraft paper, and trimmed sheets to run through my printer and then crank through the cuttlebug. It was good fun for both Reuben and I.I succumbed to the temptation of the embossing power and made a fat pile of little gift tags for Christmas. They are lovely and it was fun and it took a lot of time. Sorry, birthday party. Sorry, laundry.I was also very excited to carve a little owl stamp. With Marian's guidance, I worked on owl sketches while we waited in various doctor offices on Monday (a Philadelphia follow-up day), and chose the most cheerful one. I've carved a few stamps before (here, and more recently), and while it's not a major talent of mine, it's a satisfying and versatile little project that I recommend. A very pretty tutorial here.

transferring the design (place a pencil drawing face down on the eraser block surface and pencil-rub the back)
carve, then...
sample stamping!
mounted on disk (the reverse, stamped size is SO CUTE, but unphotographed. Too bad for you). These little owl thank you notes will be in 3x4" bags, ready to hold our party craft: acorn owls, of course!. I wrote a little "thank you!" inside in brown ink to match the owl, with a block R in his favorite green on the back. I designed them so they work as thanks-for-coming notes from us, but can still later be re-used/personalized/passed on by the recipient.Happy birthday to Reuben! As a celebratory gesture, I'd like to give away a wee owl set:
* 6 wee owl thank you notes
* 2 wee wooden disks, stamped in brown ink with my cheery owl
* 1 acorn owl

It's kind of awesome.

Comment below with a why-Reuben-is-amazing sort of sentence or two and I'll randomly choose a winner. If I don't already have it, leave me an e-mail address so I can contact the winner.