27 November 2010


Zentangle motifs in fabric
Due to a bit of inconvenience (electrician rewiring areas of our house), I was freed up to make a pilgrimage to Prairie Quilt in Hennessey a week ago. I went solo this time and kept myself entertained with singing along (loudly) with my favorite CD of praise music. To compound the crime, I recorded myself via my new Android app—AndRecorder. (I haven't listened to the audio files yet and hope I can be charitable.) That said, I'm betting GweNaomi was happy to miss this trip.

I think I officially looked at ALL the fabric this time. In addition to a handful of fat quarters, I found four little quilt square kits and fabric with Zentangle Patterns! Does that make the whole trip worthwhile or WHAT!? Although the first one I found was in browns, I later found these blues in another area and they photographed better. Before checking out, I edited down my pile of fat quarters from fifteen down to ten (plus three pieces of cut goods). Oddly enough, the ones I put back were mostly ones I saw when I first came in the door. When I come away with an assortment like this, I always wonder if there is a repeating theme/pattern to my choices. What do you think?
The day's bounty included half-yard cuts of my already made purse fabric.
It felt like I was doing a little 50's-60's time traveling with Sputnik. Then I moved into this dark, bold-n-gold space. Interesting. I even contemplated if the ladies working at this store could tell lots about the personalities of the quilters who come through there, based on their fabric selections. I suspect my selections most say I am not working on a quilt at all, which is true. For now.

Baby J was born on Sunday, January 21. She's a beautiful young lady and her parents are beaming! Next up, our church family awaits the births of Lady Smith and Baby P next spring!

New life for old...
Another project I've had in mind was what to do with my old journals. I started keeping one back in 1977 and stayed with it inconsistently for more than 20 years. There comes a point where they've done what they needed to do and can be released—but how? Hmm. Hmm? Hmm! Paper-making! Several months ago I ran many pages of journals through my cross-cut paper shredder and saved the shreds in two BIG Hobby Lobby bags.

Next in the process is to use a blender to pulverize the shreds, mixed with water, into a pulp slurry. Surprisingly it wasn't gray or white, but a very neutral green which reminded me of that 'eye-ease' paper from steno book, columnar pad, and lab/engineering grid paper days.
BIG NOTE TO SELF: Hold down the lid on the blender very securely because when an unchewed wad finally hits the blade, the mass will erupt everywhere.
Did Maytag his THIS in mind?
After the pulp contains no remnants of the paper, I poured it into a plastic dishpan. In 'normal' paper-making, this is where one would stir the pulp to align the fibers and then dip their framed screen into the mixture. I didn't make any of these screens but got the bright idea to pour the pulp through one of my clothes dryer's flat drying racks. Okay, I used two of them. I let them drip dry over the sink for awhile, so the drips from the uppermost rack would not drip 'holes' into the still wet pulp below, then slid them into the dryer closet for at least 24 hours. I ran the heated cycle a couple of times then just let them air dry.
Note the screen texture on the edge.
And voilà! The finished sheets are very bumpy and have very low tear resistance. But they're writable-uponable (my made up word). Without all that water, the paper dried to be mostly white. More than paper, it reminds me of the fiberboard molded drink carriers you get at drive-throughs to carry up to four drinks. I'm going to investigate some more techniques, find out how to strengthen the paper, build a couple of small frames, and try adding color, leaves, petals, etc. Hey, I might even wind up making something with the paper—how about the cover of a gratitude journal?

More than anything, this process mirrors my own redeemed life—shredded, crushed, mixed, poured out and made anew—ready for my new story to be written. Thank you, Jesus.

16 November 2010

Placed and Paged...

First, I absolutely love this new tool I've added to my arsenal, MSC Scoring Board. Thanks to it, I've had much more success scoring card stock for different paper projects. I learned about it from a blog I visit for ideas.

Last week, a friend who hosts our ladies community group I attend asked me to make place cards for our fall dinner party this Friday night. I had great aspirations to formally hand-letter proper, pretty little cards, but one new set of markers and pages of practiced names later, I remembered script computer fonts for a time such as this. Yep, I copped out. That said, I spoke with our hostess and got an idea of her place setting/table color scheme.

I was going for a rich, layered look. One trip to Hob Lob, and I gathered supplies—foiled card stock and vellum in both gold and a dark bronze. (Oh, and that set of calligraphy markers I wound up not using this time. Used my 40% off coupon. [By the way, did you know you can show their online coupon to the cashier from your web-enabled phone to get the discount? No need to print and take in coupon.]) From 12x12 sheets of card stock, I got nine cards per sheet. I scored each 4x4 square at the two-inch mark. I printed names out on the inkjet paper onto the gold velum. The dark bronze vellum ran through my Gypsy/Cricut and cut out small circles. Then I cut notches into the folded card and inserted the dark bronze semi circles to hold each person's name, sort of like photo corners. I taped them down securely with Mavalus tape. (This stuff is great—I keep a loop of it stuck to my top kitchen cabinet door for holding recipes when I bake.) One of the benefits to hand lettering the names was I could add new names up to the last minute and they'd look like everyone else's. Oh, well. I know it's going to be a fun time with great gals! 

Zentangle Sketchbook

After the Zentangle class in October, I've been looking for 'just the right' sketchbook to collect and practice patterns. After several 'maybes,' I found a sure thing. Again, Hob Lob to the rescue. Not only is a square format, the paper inside has a nice amount of 'tooth' for sketching/inking. Additionally, there is a clear plastic pouch in the back—perfect for holding printouts of numerous Zentangle patterns for quick reference or inspiration.

Then my left brain took control of the situation. Certainly I can't be left to having all that free roaming white space—gotta rein it in, or at least keep it in tidy, manageable formats. What I need is templates—oooh, aahh... Yep, it's THAT bad. So I measured the pages; got on the computer; created several different formats based on various column widths; and printed them off on plain card stock.

Again, using my scoring board, and then trimming each to page size, I cut out each of the 'windows.' Each template is placed on a page, pencil traced within and lifted away. Tah dah—now I can color outside the lines. Yeah, right.

I've got some supplies gathered for Christmas hand-mades (secret surprises I can't share here) so am looking forward to getting started. And there's another project I need to finish NLT next Monday. My freelance client is happy and their project is getting closer to going to press—both good. Add into the mix the electricians will be here for a few days in a row to work on our wiring. Temperament, tasks and timing must adapt. Sigh.

04 November 2010

Working Backwards...

"What I did on summer/fall vacation…"
Knitted with Red Heart "Heart & Sole" Green Envy
Sock knitting:
Yesterday, after two weeks' work, I finished my first ever knitted sock. Have started its mate and anticipate an easier time of it—not so many unravels/reknits.

Zentangle drawing:
On Saturday, 30 October I took a class in the drawing technique called Zentangle. Along with a baker's dozen's worth of other girls, we learned about the process and how to draw some patterns. Here's a couple of photos from Gwen's blog. Barbara LaGree was a wonderful instructor. I enjoyed how we each came up with something unique from the same instruction. My friend Toni (now too far away in Colorado) does some fantastic doodles and might really enjoy the technique.
All's quiet as we concentrate and focus
My busy hands

Some really good news about Zentangling is that the materials used can be quite basic—a Micron 01 pen and a tile. Official tiles are 3.5" square pieces of high quality watercolor paper die-cut to imitate a deckle edge. The process is really quite simple yet can be truly glorious and grandiose in scale, if you wish. Replicate established patterns or design your own—newly created patterns, reflective of your world and unique to you. I can't wait to immerse myself in some pattern discovery and Zentangle drawing.
Anything is possible…
one stroke at a time.
From Trend Lab Versailles Black & White pattern

Gift for Baby J:
Using a valance of my friend's nursery pattern, I created a throw pillow, using the main fabric, complementing one, and some black satin ribbon trim. I particularly enjoyed transforming one item into an altogether different item. I guess today it's call 'repurposing.' The goal, to give her something completely unique that will completely match the other nursery items. There are fewer than three weeks until Miss Baby J makes her debut! Way to go Jessica and Jimmy!

Original baby-size
Crocheted Pumpkin Hats:
Miss Peacock started a craze! She saw a cute little pumpkin hat for a baby and knew she wanted one for her upcoming grand-daughter. Several of us got the pattern and started making ones for our own circumstances. My first (test/trial) was for one of my stuffed animals. (Yes, really.) The second was a larger version for myself. I had a girls' group tea party to attend in October and the only requirement was to wear a hat. And finally, I made one for a real, live baby! My former editor has a new grand-niece and now has a new grand-niece with a punkin' hat! 

More Sewing: 
In addition to resurrecting (and wanting to reproportion) an old coin purse pattern, I've been drawn back into the world of fabric/sewing. After many years' absence, I've begun browsing and shopping at Oklahoma Quiltworks again. Upon my return I discovered two fantastic poppy-theme quilts and fabrics. I've been going a little fat quarter and linear quarter-yard crazy lately. (But they are arranged so beautifully!) One Thursday afternoon, Gwen and I went to Prairie Quilt in Hennessey (via Okarche and Eischen's!). I was practically dumbstruck by all the fabric! I came away with a pattern and a project—a roomy handbag/tote. It was finished in a couple of days and I've enjoyed carrying it. 

And then there was the pincushion I just HAD to make for Gwen—a chicken like her beloved Ambrose and Alistair.

A home for a trio of typewriters
Beth Moore Esther Study:
Back together again, most of the original Over 40s Women's Bible Study group. From mid-September up and over in two more weeks, we've been having a great time of friendship, fellowship, and learning. Missing Linda, Pat, and Phyllis! And, yeah, sometimes It's Tough Being a Woman!

And from August… 
All of my typewriters found a home together on this nifty end table I picked up at a yard sale. In addition to what looks like a metal inlay, this tiered table has a very nice style. Back when I was a teen, I remember asking someone what the term 'conversation piece' meant. Oh. Well, I think it's safe to say my house is all a-chatter considering its contents.

Before I got over-involved with all this handwork, I managed to read six books in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. I'm sure there's much I've forgotten, but I am so pleased to have FINISHED so many projects! I've already got ideas/fabrics for this year's Christmas sewing. Stay tuned for more!