Monday, December 12, 2011

giveaway!


I've been busy with pottery and etsy stocking and filling, and trying to squeeze in a little Christmas making, too. So many good ideas! I'm hosting a giveaway right now on a sweet Maine-based blog, bluebirdbaby. Lovely photography! Comment on this post for a chance to win anything in my shop.

Enter through tomorrow night, 6 pm EST.
Plus: a coupon code for 10% off through next Monday!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Christmas is coming...

Really the best thing about Christmas is having children along for the ride. I've noticed this since they've been around and conscious: every year I think, eh...Christmas really is not all that and this year I think it might fall flat. But their elation is deep and true and that little 3' tree of ours looks flat out magic every year.

Audrey is my co-conspirator and, at 13, eagerly striding towards hopes of clothing (a wool coat and fedora!) and electronics, but keeps looking over her shoulder at Toyland. Her current compromise is to ask for lots of logic puzzles so she has "something to do on Christmas afternoon." She is haunted by a story I told her of my own cusp-of-womanhood Christmas morning, when showing my new amethyst ring to my happily-playing-and-not-too-interested younger siblings for the tenth time got dull as dirt.

My first present from 10-year-old Marian has already appeared under the tree. I think last year she gave me six. We are makingmakingmaking together, including this little honey she sewed last night (from a recycled sweater, of course!) for her Calico Critters.
We took process shots because she's mulling over restarting I'm a Craft Artist, but, well, you know how the Goates girls are with their really very excellent plans...if we follow through, I'll let you know.
She's also getting a case of the galloping gimmees, with actual brimming tears over her conflict over snooping to see ("I want a surprise but I want to know so bad!") what Grandma gave her after the exposure made possible by this afternoon's incident (story below) and her insistence that she really must get Marie-Grace (the newest American Girl doll, whose name not only mirrors my Marian Grace's but has the golden brown hair and freckles to match and yes I bought her a month ago) or she will cry Christmas morning. I told her that this was not really the sort of behavior that would convince me.
Reuben and I sat in the Wegman's dairy aisle a couple of weeks ago for half an hour watching the suspended train, shifting positions periodically for optimal viewing. The big toddler paradox: an attention span so limited for some things and so vastly patient for others.

Reuben is a smashing little guy and wholeheartedly...everything. His full dedication to trains continues, as does his reluctance regarding the spoken word, though he did begrudgingly stoop to say "choco" last night when I was pretending obtuseness over his insistence for a glass of chocolate milk (and, noticing his mistake, would not repeat). He will be very good at charades when his days of parlour games begin. He communicates his desires and observations quite clearly. Tonight, for example, his gestures told me "No, that figure couldn't represent Daddy because he is much taller than that" and "Hey, Mom: join in the tickling and kissing and wrestling of Reuben! There is a spot right there on my tummy between Daddy and Audrey that I'm saving for you!"

Reuben has proven his dexterity with scissors (bad incident with a stack of Marian's careful tiny drawings last week), and I took advantage of that for a little Christmas package enclosure card collaboration at a friend's house this morning. He chopped and I mosaic-ed us a couple of trains. I love them so much! The card in the center is entirely his effort as he learned Gluestick (I did have to rescue a couple of pieces from a particularly sticky finger).

We belly laughed our way through a classic Christmas-with-a-toddler moment this afternoon. I was with Marian at the dentist office when I received a call from Audrey, home babysitting Reuben. He was HOWLING in the background. Audrey noticed Reuben had slipped away while they were watching TV in the basement when he came tripping downtown, happily clutching a new Chuggington train in each hand. He was not parted from them happily. And from whence came this fine addition to his extensive small train collection? He had unwrapped each of the 15 or so gifts under the tree to find the train pay dirt from Grandma Donna's early-shipped holiday offering. I think his third birthday earlier this month was altogether too fine a training ground for gift appreciation. Looks like we'll be honoring the old tradition of bringing out the gifts all at once on Christmas Eve or thereabouts this year (Audrey has a complicated algorithm for exactly when, taking into account when the girls get out of school for the holiday break, our tolerance for 24-7 tree surveillance, the amount of space under our beds for hidden gifts, and probably the alignment of the moon with Jupiter).

Sunday, November 27, 2011

newsletter

AND:

I started a newsletter. Sign up on the left!

It will not by any means be a frequent one.
And it's all official through a service, so opting out is easy, if you're so inclined.

Ooh, so fancy...

my first coupon code :)


Monday only: 15% off all purchases until 12 midnight EST. Enter code CYBER15.


Also Monday-Wednesday I'll be selling at Shippensburg University's Holiday Art Sale. There are some talented students unloading a full kiln of work, all holiday sale-bound, as well as other work by Shippensburg art students and faculty. Drop by, 9 am-8 pm all three days in the Hoffman Gallery, Huber Arts Center building. (I'm working Tuesday, 1-3 pm & 6-8 pm)

ugh! is this blog turning all commercial? Must post soon!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

on Mitt Romney

This is a toughie for me. Allow an off-topic, non-crafty mini-rant and link. Or skip it and move on.

I won't vote for him because I disagree with his politics.
But I also feel like I need to vouch for him. Co-religionists and all, and it's obvious to all that his (my) religion is holding him back among certain conservatives, and that makes me crazy.

Forefront in my newly-blogging-again-tonight-anyway mind because I just read this great little article by a used-to-be-Mormon, which is a state perfect for the purpose because she (a) knows what she is talking about and (b) isn't feeling hurt or defensive. Just clarification-motivated.

Perfect.
http://www.the-broad-side.com/the-truth-about-mormons-and-mitt-romney

There you go.

oh, snap!

I intend almost every day to start blogging again.
I take photos with that intent.
Then I don't.
The computer is old and slow and my photo world is still in flux...and I'm just out of the habit, I think.
But here I am, with no interesting content, just a commercial.

I'm working a bit, and did one show in August (our town's Corn Festival, which is huge, but was kind of interrupted by our friend Irene and her accompanying rain showers), and have a bit of stock on hand. Enough to be, bit by bit, posting more in my shop and to do one pre-holiday show. For my neighbor, who is organizing. Thus:

Marcie Taylor of the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation of Shippensburg has organized the 2nd annual Christmas for Causes Holiday Craft/Gift Show. The event will be held on Monday, Nov. 21, 2011 from 6-8 p.m. at Corner Coffee, 240 W. King St., Shippensburg, PA 17257. This event allows local shoppers to get a pre-Black Friday start to their holiday shopping while helping local charities and non-profit organizations since a portion of all proceeds from the event will benefit causes designated by the crafters and other participants involved.

Local groups benefitting from this year’s event include:

Cure Crusaders Relay for Life Team, Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, Shippensburg Kiwanis Club, Shippensburg Produce Outreach, Lester M. Cline P.A.P.S. Fund, Shippensburg Women’s Club, Women In Need and Better Days Animal League.

The following items will be available for purchase:

Jewelry, homemade greeting cards, wine glass charms, repurposed wool mittens, hats and bags, knitted items to fit American Girl dolls, Christmas ornaments, Bonus Books, ceramic replicas of historic buildings, baked goods, and much more. Hot and cold drinks including coffee, tea and cocoa will be sold and Corner Coffee. Gift cards will also be available for purchase. Hey! She left off my pottery. Some friend! I think I'll take back using her foundation as my cause! J/K I have a selection of fairies, wood gnomes, and jewelry as well as some hair pins and believing buttons. Good times.

Questions? – Contact Marcie Taylor at 532-8922 or drewmichaeltaylor@pa.net

Come see me :)

And Happy Thanksgiving. We're going to Pittsburgh...because our plans cancelled on us. But I think this is a good new plan.

(I'm trying to take more of my product photos in-use, as in "look how this fits into your life!". What do you think? When shopping, do you prefer "catalog" or "fine art photo" styling?)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FRANDSENS!


I just received this great image. My family of origin plus married-ins and progeny. I love it so much!! The whole clan was together for the wedding of that gorgeous couple on the far right (the extra sparkly ones). We coerced the wedding photographer into snapping a couple of quick ones after the wedding breakfast--in the parking lot--so we'd have a family photo that wasn't so obviously a wedding one. We live all over, and together doesn't happen often enough.

I'm debating who is my favorite and right now it's a tie between Ian and Isaac, the twins in the front row...but then I see that extreme grin on Will's face, and then Marian's little fingers and Jovie & Irelynd holding tight, and Jason goofing off eating leaves... lots of personality here, and lots of people I love dearly. But mostly, this shines: genuine happiness on everyone's faces. I do love those real smiles; they make us all so very beautiful.

So, since the details are crafty and the event happened during one of my many blog hiatuses this year, I'm indulging in a few photos tonight.

I'm the oldest of seven children and this is the last one to marry. As I overheard Marian telling a friend, "I've been a flower girl my whole life!" We couldn't believe it was our last! I got my oldest-sister bossy on and insisted on two things: light habotai silk for our glorious gaggle of girls to wear to this August wedding and giant poppies for the wedding breakfast (which we, the groom's family, hosted).

The silk demand I followed through with properly. I dyed the silk

(note to self: a little salmon silk dye goes a very very long way!)
and sewed the big girl dresses (mine + one).
My mom sewed the littles (four more!).
The poppies my mom and sisters were left to do (they were not travel-on-the-plane-from-PA friendly!). I saw these on 100 layer cake and was just so very delighted. Demi, our bride, wanted vintage washed aquas and warm pinks for her wedding colors, so in a nod to that we pushed up the intensity with bright poppies and turquoise banners and word garland ("And then my soul saw you and it kind of went, 'oh, there you are. I've been looking for you,'" gleaned from Demi's pinterest board). We had a church gym instead of a manicured garden to work with, but the blossoms were just as cheerful inside (and probably more needed!).


Since most of the weddings I go to are as a sister dragging along travel-weary children, I love best to see all of our little ones beaming

and enjoying their aunt-crafted accessories


and the treats (the bluest cotton candy EVER, which miraculously washed out of the silk with ease!)
and just generally having a gay old time TOGETHER.

Even if they have to pose now and then.

Of course, the best part is getting a new aunt.
The more the merrier.
(and oh, this one's a keeper!!)

PS: one last crafty note
wedding bowls!



Tuesday, October 4, 2011

oh, they're crafty!

The first weekend in October is always triple-busy:

*Our favorite cross race (that's cyclocross bicycle racing, for those of you whose lives aren't taken up with such) in Hagerstown.

*My church's semiannual general conference.

*The best indie craft fair within a reasonable distance from me.

#3 always loses.
But this year A is old enough to watch the young 'uns while Daddy races and Daddy is quite understanding of the "me time" concept (indulges).

and #2 I caught Sunday and can watch/listen to Saturday's sessions online anytime.

#3 won! I bought Nathan a couple of birthday presents (tomorrow!) and found something for Marian for Christmas, but I'm afraid I bought for self.

Highlights:
*A t-shirt with the awesome logo above


*This fine sense of wonder print for my getting-prettier-basement (already framed-and-hung, which is a miracle worth wondering at itself):
*and these earrings. Wanted them since not going last year.... Very tiny and beautiful.
They have their own laser-cutting machine to play with. The Best. Toy. Ever.

Plus some other little things.
Like a great deal on the sweetest (and littlest) farmhouse EVER. Buy a similar one for more here: The Oak Leaves.

Some cards and such.

And free etsy bumper stickers, pins, lip gloss... Hooray for etsy!

(I rather regret not buying this set:
and the prettiest deer/tall pines wood cut from them.

Oh, snap! They were cheaper there, too, but by then I'd been quite the economy booster....)


Monday, October 3, 2011

available


Starting to fill the shop again. I finished a kiln-load in August, but my entrepreneurial spirit is, um, rather lacking...

Six new listings tonight and more to come :). Shop or just peek here.

This little sweetheart probably needed better scale in the photo: a quarter makes a perfect lid!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

it will never come again

We are newly DIRECTV customers, and I admit with only slight discomfort that I love the DVR. My first DVRing. It is enabling me to watch all the new fall shows I want, without children's bedtime conflicts or husband's sports interference and bringing excellent side benefits like this quote from Emily Dickenson, courtesy of Mr. Cyr on NBC's Parenthood, explaining to the parents of his new English students his desire to make studying the Romantics a fun memory:

"That it will never come again

is what makes life so sweet."


I'm trying to live more deliberately, but I forget sometimes. My children's health problems threw me into survival mode for so many years. I sometimes hunched and cowered in that giant consuming hole in my life, and sometimes crept around the edges of it, and if I was a half-hearted housekeeper or non-meal planner or didn't dress for a couple of days, well, hey, at least I was still moving in a somewhat forward-facing direction. I don't have that excuse anymore. The chasm is out on the horizon now, and I have just this time. This is not where I thought I'd be at 37. I am not who I thought I would be when I was fifteen. But that story is getting kind of old with over-exposure and this is the story now: my choices brought me here. My children brought me here, and they are so good. I have excellent friends, a smashing family, health benefits, and employment (well, the husband/sugar daddy does, and he is an excellent sharer). That is good. And cancer's trace on our life is currently limited to 3-month MRIs and a matching pair of "cancer sucks" bumper stickers. That is lucky. So I want only to be a half-hearted housekeeper or found in yesterday's tee because I am engrossed in train track building with my 2-year-old or have a really great book to immerse in on the porch swing or am busy deciding on the font for my moss graffiti. Because who am I? I'm a woman who thinks too much of fear and of guilt, but I don't want to be. Another gem from Parenthood, the so-beautiful Bonnie Bedelia to her fearful daughter, "I mean, there could always be an issue if you want there to be an issue. C'mon, relax! You, know, enjoy yourself." "Who can do that?" "What's stopping you? What's stopping you?" I know fear and guilt will always be there with me, but I want to look them in the face and accept them and not give them more power than they deserve. I want to be good, but I want the motivation to be my good desires and a desire to see and enjoy the goodness in life. I am a woman whose house number is written in moss on her front porch (coming) and who has friends who think spending a misty morning gathering moss for said project and photographing colorful mushrooms on the Appalachian Trail (current) is the best choice for a Tuesday morning. BECAUSE: the juxtaposition of colorful fungus-brought-by-late-summer-rain


and first-bright-leaves-falling in such a green, green world will not come again this year.

And the morning (we and they, together in the woods, these woods that make me want to stay here and where we know fairies hide-live-dance) was incredibly sweet.


(I am also a woman who wants to keep this moment and share it with you...unlike the character in CBS's Unforgettable--currently being recorded by the DVR so I can sit and write this instead--I have a very friable memory. So, blog, hello again...so many projects and moments to share and keep and I am building an identity here!)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

two and a half

Two and a half. My arms wrap around you on this blessedly mild summer evening. We rock in the porch swing of our little brick bungalow in the trees. The air is heavy with the earthy smell of a pending rain, much needed after an unusually dry June. Snaps of thunder accompany the few straggler fireflies, lifting their little green lights high. My hands drift between your slim pajamed-ed back and bright golden hair; when I ruffle it, I can smell the warm sunshine scent of you. Intoxicated, I inhale greedily. You play with your wooden train across my chest while I sing "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" and "My Heavenly Father Loves Me" ("Whenever I hear the song of a bird, or walk by a lilac tree....I'm glad that I live in this beautiful world Heav'nly Father created for me"), then fail (again!) to remember the words to "All Eyes on You" (Justin Roberts). Then we swing and swing, past our "reasonable time," freezing the sweetly typical moment for gray and graying days.

Friday, April 22, 2011

TRACKS!

Reuben self-taught a deep and abiding passion for trains via Thomas the Tank Engine and that love is deep and true. Most days, he spends at least an hour building tracks and pulling an assortment of engines and cars around, and loves for us to join him. I think building toys are especially nice because they give older siblings and parents something to DO when trying to play with I-still-prefer-parallel-play toddlers. We acquired some fancy tracks for Christmas and a whole bin full of extra tracks in a miracle-of-a-hand-me-down, and the more complex set-ups that these allow often leave us with this situation:After some browsing, I found short attaching segments to purchase in a couple of places online, but decided to wait awhile. Their price alone wasn't too horrifying, but when you add shipping...a familiar dilemma. I thought I'd wait until there were additional things we wanted to purchase from the shop. Or a holiday for the giving. I remember kind of wishing in passing that I had a router so I could try to make my own matching tracks. Then one day it occurred to me to work with what I had: lots of tracks!

On one 8-inch straight track segment, I could trace out 4 joining pieces, using another track as a pattern: two each of male/male and female/female segments.I tried to wait until I purchased finer-toothed blades for my scroll saw (I only had some 12ers from a thick-wood project last Christmas; the poor saw has been neglected...), but then decided one afternoon I would be happy with rough results and cut just one.
The blade I used didn't make 90 degree turns very well, but after a little sanding work with my Dremel, it fit neatly enough.
Heady with success, I purchased a new set of blades...well, a week later. Busy along with heady along with forgetful. But the next cuts were cleaner
and up to the challenge!
* actual basement action shots make up in cool what they lack in photographic excellence ;)

At Audrey's request, I tried cutting a curved segment into two shorter ones as well, but centering the link placement correctly was more difficult than I thought (ie, they only fit with a good shove. More Dremel action! Or a do-over). Just thought I'd let you know in case you want to try ;).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

a good peek

I gave two mugs away last week, as an early (very early) birthday gift to my sister-in-law (she tried to buy it and that was just silly), and in a promotional trade with bluebirdbaby. They made very brief appearances in the shop, but are some of my favorites (well selected by those tasteful ladies!), so I wanted them to be on record somewhere. Here! Want a peek inside?

Meet snail trail and seafoam bunny:



I had planned to do a small clay bunny tutorial this week, to partner the felt bunny one, but had the delightful luck of having my mom visit from across the country and a lot of less important things went on the back burner (but maybe not enough of them because I took her to the airport this evening and am now heartbroken).Interested? I try for smooth forms that might-not-break in heavy use for inside my surprise mugs, and am particularly pleased with my bunny methodology. It works just as nicely in paper clay or Sculpey.

felt bunny tutorial

My first introduction to Waldorf toys, and really my first serious peek into the world of excellent little "natural" toys was through a Magic Cabin catalog. The mother of one of Audrey's friends suggested I'd like it, and I spent hours on my very slow dial-up connection peering at little beauties that I wanted, but especially wanted to make myself. It took me a long time to figure out how to do this. Materials were initially a problem: grand materials like wool felt are much easier to find now than in 2002. My start was slow, and initially swung through much wee fairy making but I was permanently hooked. Long introduction to say this: WOOL FELT BUNNIES!

I spent hours searching for a pattern for little felt bunnies like some I had seen in Magic Cabin, but never found one, and so drafted my first little animal pattern in 2006: crouching bunny! I wanted to share it for Easter making, but, ahem....well, now shared for last-minute Easter making, or perhaps just spring-making. Or next-year Easter making....

In an effort to cut down on my scrap paper using-and-losing, I trace my favorite original patterns in the pages and back cover of this excellent book, which I recommend. It boasts many other grand wee felt ideas:You may reproduce this in several sizes if you would like, though I warn that much larger or smaller, this pattern doesn't translate quite as well (my 1" and 8" versions, for instance, were awkward: okay but made me wrinkle my nose). My actual pattern measures 2 1/4" across the side bunny piece. Wish I had mad computer skills, or the software, to make you a clever and neat .pdf, but you'll have to manage by either printing one of these versions or tracing it directly from your computer screen:Materials:
thread (matching + floss for nose), needle, tail fluff, wool, felted sweaters (my mom's choice) and wool blazer (my choice);

stuffing,
wool bits left in my washer after felting thrift-store sweaters

and mini brads for eyes.
Using these little scrapbooking brads for eyes was the brainchild
of my friend Stephanie. They're an excellent mini alternative to safety eyes.
I have drawn pupils on other colors, but really like black the best.
When all you can find is a mixed batch (or they are much
cheaper that way), Sharpies work their usual magic.

Pin and cut the bunny pieces (two of the side piece).
Then cut ears in a contrasting color. I cut mine smaller than my mom's; you may choose to line either the whole ear or just a part. I may have made her make hers different, so you can see the difference ;).
If you have sewn wee animals before, it might be obvious how to assemble the bunny pieces. If you haven't actually used the word "gusset" before, then you might want a little extra detail, so here goes! I use a whipstitch to sew felt, making flat seams by sewing on top. A really great tutorial on handsewing felt can be found here:
http://www.futuregirl.com/craft_blog/2007/01/tutorial-hand-sew-felt.aspx

The skinny hourglass shape is the gusset: it gives the head and body roundness while preserving a slim neck. You want the tip of the gusset to line up with the tip of your bunny's little nose, like thus:
Felt can (will) stretch a bit out of shape as you sew it, so I've found that a good way to help my gusset line up nicely is to start at the neck (the skinny bit), here:
Holding the pieces flat against each other, stitch from the neck up to the ear. My pattern (oh so cleverly, eh?!) adds three-dimensional ears in one "bunny side" piece. Clip the ear from the tail end, one-half of the way along the base (peek back at the pattern photo to see exactly where). As you stitch along the head, when you get to the ear, fold it in half lengthwise and stitch it in place to make a neat little ear. The view from the back:
and from the front:
Continue stitching from the ear to the tip of your bunny's nose.
Then turn, and stitch from nose-to-tail on the other side, pausing to clip-and-stitch the other ear in place as well:
pinch the ear
Halfway there!!
a mid-task noodle-break, captured by Marian :)

When you reach the tail-end of one side, carefully line up the two sides exactly opposite each other, and begin to stitch the remaining tail-to-neck section. One edge may seem to be longer than the other, but if you hold and ease it into place, everything works out.
This is a good time to add the eyes, while the reverse of the fabric is still accessible. I think the mini brads are a slick eye solution, but you may also use a French knot or just a small stitch with black floss.

The final piece to be added is the base. Again, I start stitching at one of the corners to facilitate lining everything up neatly.


Pause stitching when you have about an inch left and stuff firmly. When I stuff, I finger-massage the upper seams to help them lay flat and round out the bunny's curves.

Finish stitching. The tip of the base curves up in back when everything is attached:
Now attach the tail fluff. I've sewn on a bit of cotton ball to be "authentic" (you know: "Here comes Peter Cottontail, hopping down the bunny trail..."), but this time chose wool. Fold a bit of fluff so all of the ends are tucked under neatly, and stitch it on. Little stitches along the ends hide in all of the volume, or you can needle-felt it in.
I like to add the little ear linings last, though you may do them earlier. I used to glue them, but have started stitching those in as well.

(Or, like below, just propping them in because the light is fading and you need to take photos while it lasts but really need to go onto your motherly responsibilities instead of sewing and chatting for another hour, which is not time wasted, especially with your visiting-from-Idaho mom who taught you to sew & love it in the first place, but yes, those kids do need to eat and that's not just them being selfish.)

Basket-ready bunny!

If you make a bunny, do send me a pic. I'd love to do a bunny-gallery post!

This pattern is also adaptable to other critters. Peek here at the beaver and squirrel my friend Sally made: http://daisy-chaincreations.blogspot.com/2010/01/other-two.html