Monday, August 25, 2014

Mrs. Claus

Santa will be happy, his Mrs. is ready to come home. Last year I made this Santa for the tea shop. He is “Old World Santa” design by Deanna Hogan. The lady that bought him, requested a Mrs. Claus to go with him for this Christmas.

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Some of the details for Mrs. The body is basically the same as the Santa other than the tummy area. As you can see in the picture, I made a tuck in the stomach to keep her more ladylike. Since the only parts of the pattern I was able to use were the shirt and cape, I had to give her the rest.

She definitely needed some bloomers. She also needed some kind of slip, so I used a doily and between the two, they just fill the underside of her skirt nicely. You know everyone will want to look up her skirt, we can’t help ourselves, we have to know.

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The skirt is made of a heavy lining type of fabric. The blouse is cotton and finished with small vintage pearl buttons. The trim around the waist is finished off with a ribbon rose. In the finished picture you can’t see those details or even her hands, but the customer will be able to, at least she’ll be able to feel the hands if not see them… Confused.???? Keep reading.

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Her features are completed with her hair pulled up into a bun after needle felting white wool roving onto her head. There is lace around her wrists and neckline, with a bit of bling around her neck and finished off with another ribbon rose.

I added a sparkly cabochon at the side of her bun. The trim around her hood is rose pattern minky, as is the muff for her hands and the trim around the top of her boots. Her boots are made with soft white leather, the soles are dark brown neoprene.

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To hold her cape together at the neck, I used a piece of chain and gold buttons, to give the illusion of a closure. While posting the pictures, I could see that the bun is still a bit too tall on one side, so I have since needle felted that down to make it more even. Funny the things you see once the pictures are looking back at you.

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So here she is full length, front and back. She stands as tall as Santa, just under 14”. She’s off to the tea shop in the morning.

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

When it’s right, it’s right

When you do things right, Mother Nature will always reward you for your efforts. This is one of the dahlias that I didn’t dig up last fall. We got lazy and decided to take our chances. We only use compost and other natural fertilizers, and with just the right amount of watering and the perfect weather…..this is what happens

This dahlia is called Penhill Watermelon and I bought it here. Click here.  It’s over 5’ tall and the blooms are just as described, at least 12” across. It’s been stopping people walking by, even at dusk, it almost glows. Amazing….

I’ve already decided that next year I am going to plant mostly these dinner plate size dahlias. I don’t really bring them in the house that much anyway as I like people to enjoy them when they walk by, so I think a big display of big ones will be fun to grown.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

First Santa for Christmas

Oh my I’ve been so so busy. A friend recently moved to a furnished apartment, so a couple of garage sales happened, things to thrift stores and free on the side of the road items. In between all that, she graced me with some wonderful little furniture pieces and a couple of other things I very much needed. I was busy the last few weeks redoing, moving things around, taking out the old things to replace with the new. Sorting, clearing and in generally doing my spring cleaning in the middle of summer. But at least it’s done and feels so great to have given things a refresh.

I’ve been in complete slow motion with my doll making, but finally I have this one finished. It was a lot of start and stops, not sure why but it happens like that sometimes. This is for a customer. His request was simple, no red and white Santa and have fun with it. I went with the Victorian/Old World type which is what I really love to make, coming from an Austrian background.  

A few details. I started off with a pattern in mind and just kind of tossed it aside and did my own thing. The face was supposed to be Trapunto style but instead I used an extra clay face that I made when I did the Victorian Santa’s last year. The coat is upholstery fabric, and trimmed with fur. The hobby horse in his right hand is the pattern by Nancy Gowran and can be found on Doll Street. I used lampshade fringe for his mane.

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His Santa bag is filled with a teddy bear, present, mini books that I made, a stocking and mittens that I also made, a glass ornament of a penguin, a tiny nutcracker and an angel.

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The teddy bear came from the dollar store. I didn’t like the hat on his head or the cheesy looking Merry Christmas sign ;o~, so I removed both and made a vest for him with felt and top stitched with DMC pearl cotton and of course his bow tie to finish.

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The Santa vest is made with black velvet, silk for the shirt and home decor fabric for the trousers.The belt is leather, the buckle from an old watch. The embellishments for his vest are repurposed old jewellery.

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The coat is lined with a heavy lining type fabric. The boots are leather and embellished with chain, soutache and fur. Around his feet are more toys and bells. As usual I’ve covered the base with felt in two colours, black and gold and trim around the sides.

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In his left hand he holds a pocket watch to keep track of his time and just inside the sleeves you can see lace trim. He’s also had a bit of a manicure for good measure.

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And so he’s ready to meet his new owner and I’m on to my next commission before diving head first into my Christmas ornaments this year.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Robin Williams 1951 - 2014

We’ve all lost an amazing man today. A comic who could make you laugh until you cried. A serious actor that could hold you spellbound to the end of every movie he was in. My favourite comedian and actor of all, I am so saddened that he is gone.

From his early beginnings as Mork.  Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot
to his last work, The Crazy Ones, he played a vast array of characters, you wonder how one man could portray so many others.

He came here to the island a few years ago, for the filming of Insomnia, and I remember reading about how much he liked being here and how everyone was so excited to meet him and just know that this amazing man had spent some time in our little part of the world.

I have to laugh because I once bought this crazy greeting card because of the little gnome character and thought was a great inspiration for a doll. When I got home, I realized that it reminded me of him. What do you think???

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Insomnia was at the top of my list of Robin Williams movies, along with Awakenings, Hook and more, but my favourite movie, albeit lesser known than all his others, is, “What Dreams May Come”. A dark movie for sure, but so different from others that he has done. The story is captivating and maybe not so far off his recent past.

What can I say about Robin Williams that millions of others won’t. A man who with his many wacky expressions and humour that was so pure and raw. What’s not to love about this man. True to his craft to entertain, bring laughter through his comedy and a multiple of emotions through all the different roles he played.Who could ever forget Mrs. Doubtfire.

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What a loss we now have. There will never be another Robin Williams. Some people are just so irreplaceable and he is by far one of those people.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Feral or Stray–that is the question

And the answer is, Stray. I’ve been tossing the word feral around to describe this beautiful little cat that has adopted us, but having now done some in depth reading, it’s now more apparent that Radar is not feral at all.

The term feral is used so often now, that anyone seeing a cat wandering around not appearing to belong anywhere must be feral. Not necessarily so. A friend sent me a link to the rescue group in her area of Pennsylvania and since reading on that site, the difference between feral and stray, I now “get” the difference between the two.

Quoting from Alley Cat Allies, a site I found last night, this is their definition of the difference between the two types of cats.

“Stray:

  • A stray cat is a cat who has been socialized to people at some point in her life, but has left or lost her domestic home, as well as most human contact and dependence.
  • Over time, a stray cat can become feral as her contact with humans dwindles.
  • Under the right circumstances, however, a stray cat can also become a pet cat once again. Stray cats that are re-introduced to a home after living outdoors may require a period of time to re-acclimate; they may be frightened and wary after spending time outside away from people. ·
  • Another definition that may help:
    - “A stray cat is a domestic cat that has been abandoned or has ‘strayed’ from home and become lost. Stray [cats] were once pets and they can usually be successfully rescued and placed in homes.” – Stray Cat Handbook

Feral:

  • A feral cat is a cat who has either never had any contact with humans or her contact with humans has diminished over time. She is fearful of people and survives on her own outdoors. A feral cat is not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors.
  • Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into homes.
Why does it matter?
  • Stray cats can readjust to living with people and can be adopted as companions.
  • Adult feral cats are not socialized to people, which means they cannot be adopted. As a result, they are likely to be killed if picked up by animal control or brought to shelters, so it is in their best interest to continue living outdoors.
  • Stray and feral cats can be difficult to tell apart, especially when they are trapped or frightened. Scared stray cats often need time to relax and show their level of socialization. Learn more.
  • Trap-Neuter-Return takes into account each cat’s level (or degree) of socialization to determine the best environment for them. Feral cats are returned to their outdoor home after being trapped and neutered. Socialized cats and kittens can be adopted into homes.”

Radar is definitely not feral, he is just a sweet little boy who has had to “make” it outside for a very long time. Some people’s perceptions of cat ownership are different, but the bottom line to having a healthy loving and non aggressive cat is simple basic training and providing a safe and loving environment to call their home. They are no different than us, we all need to that sense of comfort and belonging.

Since he’s been with us, I’ve made up some toys for him. Toys are necessary to encourage play time. I’m in the process of making some cat nip mice. He has others that he flings up in the air and pounces on them.

He now knows that outside at night is no longer an option, he has a curfew of 10 pm and seems to have an internal clock to let him know it’s time to come in. He is getting better at sleeping through the night without that need to be out on the prowl.

He had a hacking cough when he first came back and I was worried that he might have asthma or a heart issue or something terrible, but then I noticed that he only seemed to do that at night. I came to the conclusion that it was a stress reaction. It appears that i was right, because the coughing has stopped and he isn’t panicking when he sees movements in the dark.

Lots of changes and in a positive way. One thing that I have been giving him at night to help, are these one a day chewies from our local pet store. Calming

He is going for his meet and greet with the vet soon, and am sure he will get the all clear.

If you live in the Pennsylvania area, this the site my friend sent me. The Hundred Cat Foundation and be sure to watch the video at the bottom of the main page.

There is also Jackson Galaxy who has a good handle on the felines in our lives.

So that’s the latest from my desk. Have a wonderful week…

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Special Finds

These are some things I found in the past week. I love these special finds, especially when you weren’t looking for them.

The first one was a real treasure. It measures approx. 10” wide and high. The price of $10 was so good I bought two of them. I have no idea which dolls will get to enjoy their new cozy sofa’s, but they are just perfect for someone.

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The added bonus to the sofa’s was that when you flip the top of it back, you find a secret compartment in the bottom. What fun to make a doll for a customer and then show them that they can put some kind of little treasures in there.

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The other things I found were these sweet beaded purses. My friend Jessica and I went for a walk the other day and the first thing we came across was a garage sale. I don’t normally stop, but these little purses were catching the morning sun and just beckoning me to come forward…lol

They measure just over 6” both ways. I have a couple of spots to fix up the beading, Once I check them over and secure any other weak spots, I can then take them apart and I’ll use the beaded fabric on my dolls. They would make beautiful bustiere’s, and maybe a flowing silk skirt to compliment that. I paid $2 each for them. What a find.

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When we passed by the garage sale again on the way home, Jessica spotted these in a free box and thought I could use them for my dolls, and I agreed. They are either key fobs or handles from purses which is more likely. I could see them being used for belts, or if done carefully, I bet I could even use them to make some pretty bling inspired boots.

Don’t you just love it when others are looking out for you, and helping to keep your stash healthy. Thanks Jessica. ;o)

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Whoa Nellie!

Just finished this doll in a class with Cindee Moyer. Another fun project from the mind of Cindee. I really had fun with this and it’s on display now in the tea shop next to a grouping of tea cups with horses on them. How appropriate.

The colour scheme of mine is somewhat similar to Cindee’s, quite by accident. Somehow I manage to pick up things for my stash that eventually come around to be exactly the right thing for a project, and curiously similar to what a designer has used. Very strange how that happens. I’m glad I listen to that muse of mine and purchase things that I don’t necessarily need right away.

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Normally I would do the fabric overlay on the face, but this time I decided I would just leave the sculpting showing and see how that works out. I quite liked it, and will do that again with another of her projects (like I don’t have a lot of those to catch up on).

For the dolls hair, I used Hemp. A local fibre artist has a really good collection of fibres she’s collected up over the years and while at her home recently, I spotted this hemp fibre. The recommended hair for this doll was actually horse hair, but the hemp worked out beautifully. You have to of course give it the respect it craves and not overwork it. Just handle it as little as possible and it works well.

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I added one extra embellishment, and that was the little brown buttons where the trim is attached the horse, at the front and back. I didn’t trust the trim to stay together even sewn well, so I added a drop of glue and a button and it did feel much more secure in the morning.

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My base is done the same as most of my bases. I almost always cover the top and bottom with two different colours of felt and add a trim around the edge. I started doing that so long ago and I just seem to always go to that. I works, it gives a nice finished look that people respond well too. And that’s it.

I’ll show you in my next post a very cute find I made yesterday… Has given me so many ideas. Back soon.

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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Meet Radar

Through a crazy set of twists and turns this past few weeks, we now have a new permanent house guest. He showed up a year ago for visits, then went missing recently for 30 days and miraculously found his way back here to us a week ago. He was crying at the back door and frantically pushing on the door willing it to open. Pretty thin and starving but otherwise in good shape.

He is now a permanent fixture. I had taught him some little things before he went missing and he somehow managed to remember those things and just simply picked up where we left off. Of course, now that he’s back home, his night time roaming as a feral cat has come to an end. He seems to be adjusting to that quickly and I suspect he’s really not that concerned given the option of a safe environment compared to the unknown “out there”. We have raccoons in the area, so better and safer for him to be inside.

To see him in action, you would never really know he was feral. He’s quickly returning to the sweet little buddle of kitty kisses and cuddles he was a month ago. He’s getting over whatever the adventure was that he was on. We drove the route as much as we could to figure out how far he came and it’s about 3.5 – 4 miles.

A little spooked still from sudden movements, but learning quickly those are just every day movements around the house and no threat to him. He plays like any other cat and of course tries to assert the Alpha male role with the older cats that visit, but it never works out for him.

This is the moment when he tries to explain to the neighbours cat, that the treats come to him first, so stand down.. Yeah right…

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We are learning to use his new name befitting his recent trek into the great unknown, and he’s learning how to respond to it… And so the journey begins. Welcome back Radar to your forever home.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Ravens

In 2010 I did the Raven class with Cindee Moyer. Since that time, I had done four of them, the original black version, a black and silver one for a customer, a red one and a white one. My friend Janet has loved them since they first appeared in the shop and has asked me to make more.

The count is now seven Raven’s. These are the latest three. She asked for one, but it was just as easy to make three as it was one. That way the clean up of feather debris is only done once too. ;o)

This is Azurine. In her hands, she is holding white silk gardenia’s.

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This one is Citrine. She has a red rose cupped in her hands.

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and the last one is Indigo. In her lap is a song bird.

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And of course the family portrait. Now off I go to finish another Cindee doll. I love making her dolls, they are easy to do and have so much fun built into them at the same time.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The New Colored Pencil–Part 2

The New Colored Pencil  -

Create Luminous Works with Innovative Materials and Techniques

Author Kristy Ann Kutch

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Part 2: Covers - Water Soluble Coloured Pencils in 3 chapters.

Chapter 6: This chapter begins with how water colour pencils are made and the various places in the world they come from. The discussion covers nine brands of water colour pencils, and the number of colours available for each. There is a helpful chart as in part one that shows the brand names, the number of colours, the price points and key characteristics. I was happy to see that the author includes a reference to using an electric pencil sharpener and recommends using it. I started using one a few years ago and so glad I did.

There is information regarding the types of surfaces for water soluble pencils which includes watercolour papers and the variety of materials they are made of, the weight and finish. Kristy suggests trying a variety of materials to see how each works with these pencils, but focuses a fair bit of attention on Sanded Pastel Paper and Aquabord. There are extra tips provided along the way in this and other chapters to help you avoid problems she experienced.

Chapter 7: Chapter 7 focuses on brushes. You will be reading about the different types of brushes used with water soluble pencils. The topics covered will explain which brushes you would use for the subject matter you are going to be working with and the details you achieve with the various brushes. Having been a decorative painter, a valuable learning curve was understanding why you use certain brushes for the effects you hope to achieve. Kristy has explained this very well.

A very good article is included regarding how to clean and store your brushes and the need to do that to keep your brushes in good condition. One brush referred to specifically as being especially handy, is a “self-contained water brush” and why it is so handy. At the end of the chapter there is an example of watercolour art and how it was created using brushing, grating and spattering with water soluble pigment.

The one thing lacking in this chapter was a photograph of all the brushes that are described. Three brushes are shown, but there several others mentioned. I think that would have been a useful picture to include to go along with the descriptions to give the reader a visual aid. However, the book is small enough to take with you to the art store and use as a reference when looking for the brushes.

Chapter 8: Part two of the book finishes with water soluble pencil techniques. This chapter speaks to the different ways of applying Aquarelles. The specific topics include, start dry then add water, creating washes, and glazing. There are examples for customizing a palette, building colour with under painting and grating pigment over a wet surface. The example given detailing the steps to creating art with the grated pigment technique is my favourite. The sample shows me clearly how the art piece developed using the grated technique to build up the colours and achieve the speckled look. Easy to follow along steps.

The next section, controlling and lifting water soluble coloured pencils, explains very well how to control excess water you may have on your project. With just a few simple techniques you can save it from being damaged by too much water. Lastly, the chapter includes solutions for dried pigments. As in the rest of the book, each chapter ends with two page examples of how to use the techniques learned using text and visuals. This chapter includes three of these two page examples of how to create vignettes, dynamic backgrounds, and splattering using a spray mister for soft focus backgrounds

Part 3: Covers - Waxed Pastels & Combining Coloured Drawing Media in 2 chapters.

Chapter 9: This chapter begins with a definition of what wax pastels are, how they are made and what makes them different from regular colour pencils. The first two topics in this chapter define the difference between water-resistant (or permanent) wax pastels and water-soluble (or Aquarelle) wax pastels. Kristy explains in detail that the permanent wax pastels are well suited to quick linear drawing where the aquarelle are more geared to a softer type of drawing. Each option has a full page description. There are 6 brands of wax pastels covered. There is a chart as before that lists the different wax pastels, the number of shades, the price points and their key characteristics.

Along with the Aquarelle wax pastels, is further directions for creating bold backgrounds, painting directly from the water soluble wax pastels and creating customized washes and grating the wax pastels. Completing the chapter are four examples of the techniques covered. The examples include both text and step by step images.

Chapter 10: The final chapter of the book brings together everything you’ve read in my posts. This chapter covers “Combining Colour Drawing Media”. It begins with a synopsis of how all these regular coloured pencils, water soluble coloured pencils and wax pastels can be used together to create your art pieces. I’ve used all these types of pencils and some experience with the wax pastels, but never thought about using them all together, so I have enjoyed this chapter immensely.

There are four sections in this chapter.

  • Aquarelle as a base layer for traditional coloured pencil
  • Aquarelle as a complimentary under painting for traditional coloured pencils
  • Enhancing traditional coloured pencil with water soluble media and
  • Combining all three coloured drawing media

Each section explains how to use the pencils and/or wax pastels together. A pencil referred to, that I must now go look for, is the Sanford Verithin, it can be sharpened to a needle-like point and incorporated for fine details. Completing the chapter and the book, are two examples with text and step by step images to describe the techniques covered. The last one is a seascape and Kristy calls this example, Putting it all Together.

Notable:

  • The only thing I found missing, was that one picture of all the brushes that were described. That would have been very useful.
  • The Appendix has colour charts for each brand of coloured pencils, water coloured pencils, and wax pastels. A very good reference to help with choosing the brand you prefer to use.
  • Charts throughout that compare brands of colour pencils, water soluble pencils and wax pastels, to illustrate their features.
  • A healthy number of images throughout, which is what I need as the visual learner that I am.
  • The instructions are written in an easy to understand format.
  • I like that throughout the book, on each page the text is broken up into small sections that make it easy to follow along.
  • Tips are provided in darker coloured boxes.
  • I find this type of layout holds my attention more than long columns of text that run on over several pages. I can grasp the information far more easily and enjoy what I’m reading. I can refer to the images presented and easily go back to what I was reading.

As a footnote to Chapter 9: I went to my local art store when I reached this chapter, as I wanted to collect some flesh tone wax pastels to experiment with. They had a new one I haven’t heard of, Prisma Colour Nu Pastels. These particular ones are water soluble, and they had a good selection of flesh tones, so this is another brand for you to look for.

Overall, I found this to be a very good book. A quick reference book rather than a book of projects. I don’t use mine for paper or canvas work, but what I learned from this book will help me with my doll making. If you use any of these pencils or water soluble pencils and wax pastels, this is one of those handy to have books. I hope you have enjoyed this review.

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