Monday, February 20, 2017

Altarpiece

Nothing to say here, just a photo to share.

This is a very special corner of my workroom - nothing useful, just beautiful things that make me happy whenever I walk into the room.  Most of them started out in other areas of the house, and as I've been trying to pare down and give myself less things to dust, they've migrated here.

Most of my family photos have ended up here as well.  They used to live in the bedroom, but now the only photo on the dresser is of me and Mario.  I took the rest of the family down around the time that my aunt died and I was sick of the lot of them (even though there are literally none of those pictured people left alive).

Family.  You can never get rid of them, even if you try.

Other bits: the cat mask on the top shelf is from my vacation to Venice.  The ceramic cat on the right is my first piggy bank.

The second shelf is a stuffed cat pincushion I love, a lantern Christmas ornament from my great-aunt, and a recycled sweater animal from another maker, Sweet Poppy Cat.

Third shelf, small barn painting from Anna Roberts Art, tiny gargoyle I bought for my mom in Paris, and crow artwork by Strange Farm Girl.  That one's a recent acquisition, but it seems to fit.

Bottom shelf: wooden angel found on the street, a few more vintage ornaments, and a teacup I bought in London for my great aunt.  As relatives die off, the gifts return.  Glad I always buy things that I like as well.  

This is the only corner of the room that doesn't have either fabric, sewing machines or active projects.  (Though if you look closely, the corner of the bookcase is showing part of my collection of Burda magazines).

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hello Dolly

So the last thing I need is another project.

Which is not to say I'll turn one down if it appears, especially if it's time and labor intensive, with the added bonus of being fragile and hard to handle.

About 25 years ago, I purchased my first antique doll.  There used to be a shop on Philly's antique row that specialized in dolls. I fogged their front window for ages before I got up the nerve to :-O in.

My first doll is part of the group photo below, the one in pink.  When I bought her, she had no clothes. I happily took on the challenge of Edwardian era children's clothing, scrounging vintage fabrics and trims at flea markets.

One doll led to another. When I bought my house, I sold a few of the girls, the more valuable ones, but I kept my favorites.

I haven't had an urge to add to the family for ages.

Then last week, Mario and I took a weekday off for a trip to the flea market and lunch. Technically it was my (day after) birthday observation, but I'm always up for food and a market.

I was doing good, not spending, until I saw her.  No shoes, no original clothing, wig in desperate need of a wash, but the bones were there.  Beautiful face, body in excellent condition with no need of restringing, and a maker (Gans & Seyfarth) I didn't have.

The price was okay but not fabulous. Considering what she needed, I tried bargaining.  Which worked, because the seller wanted to get rid of her and his wife wasn't there to veto the price drop.

So now I have a project. She needs a new hairstyle, underwear, shoes, clothing and a hat.

So, not much. I can do that in my spare time, right?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

UFOs

I saw a UFO the other day.

It wasn't in the sky; it was in my workroom.

Let me explain.  My workroom is always a mess; I tend to work better when there's a bit of chaos around, but even I had gotten to the point where I realized it was out of control.

On Friday, January 20, I decided that the best way to spend the day was to avoid the TV at all costs, and start cleaning the room.  It helped that I had just sold something on Craiglist that was currently in the room, under a pile of fabric, holding apparently even more fabric.  So I started there, pulling out the vintage trunk (which was absolutely beautiful, but round-topped and so hard to stack on, and, embarrassingly, there's another one in the attic anyway) and emptied it.  There was a ton of fabric in there that I could use right now, some of which I'd forgotten I owned.  So that's sort of a win?

Continuing on all week with the TV avoidance (though not social media; if we're friends there, you know my feelings and how abundantly I've shared them), I got the trunk out, added a metal shelving unit from the basement to better organize fabric, cleaned out the standing cedar closet (and its stackable bins inside), threw out/donated another 3 trash bags of stuff, and thought I was finished.

There was one more trunk left under the table, and against my better judgment,I moved everything aside and dragged it out.

Inside was stuff I literally haven't seen in over a decade, including a quilt that I started making shortly after I bought the house (2000), and drafted a review for in Patternreview's UFO Contest back in 2006 (but never posted because it didn't get finished after all).

I was trying to stitch down the rows of squares on my machine, and I didn't notice until I'd sewn a few rows that the backing fabric had gone crooked, pulling the whole thing out of alignment.  Instead of simply picking the stitches out and starting over, I folded it up and shoved it in a box.  For 10 years.

Last night I laid it out on the bed, over top of the comforter (which actually came with me when I moved in 2000), and it looks really good in the bedroom.  I fetched a seam ripper, ripped out those three rows of stitching, grabbed some  yarn and a big needle, and yarn-tied the entire thing in an hour.

So now all I need to do is bind the edges and I can add the 16 year old comforter to the donation pile and sleep the sleep of the righteous under my finally-finished UFO quilt.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Walls

Okay, so politics. I try not to do this here, other than immediately after the election -- but if you know me in person or on Facebook, you know my feelings about everything that's happened in the last few weeks.

What has been interesting to me is finding out what I actually believe. I mean, I was outraged at the idea of a Muslim ban and that the idea of building a wall. But being outraged and then actually seeing the crowds protesting in airports when people -- who were vetted, had visas, or were actual green card carrying already-citizens of these United States -- were turned away, well that was a different story. That was really, really upsetting to me and it took a while to realize why. Turns out I actually believe that whole Statue of Liberty "give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses" thing.

And hello, there's this whole Wall thing. I always thought it was an awful idea.  Knowing how much it's going to cost, and whether Mexico ever pays for it -- which they won't -- there are so many better, more practical, more humane things to do with those billions of dollars. People who are in favor of the Wall and/or the ban say we should take care of our own before accepting refugees from other countries.

For $14 billion, we could take care of our own, and still accept refugees. We could take care of our own for far less than that, but we haven't. And this isn't directed at anyone in particular. There are a lot of good people out there -- and I know quite a few of them -- who do the right thing, and who do more than their fair share. Any finger pointing here is at the government, at Congress, which has never come up with a plan to take care of all Americans and been able to pass it.

So, the Wall.  Flash forward to Super Bowl Sunday.  I'm not a football fan.  If I watch of the game, it's the commercials and the halftime show. and those are conveniently located on YouTube so I don't even have to turn on the TV.  I did watch the commercial from 84 Lumber that got all the controversy  I saw the both versions, the one was shown on TV and then the unedited version and honestly, when the woman and her little girl walk up to this huge ass Wall, blank-faced, towering over them, it was a gut punch.

This Is Not Who We Are.

Are there people in the country who don't have proper paperwork?  Yes.  Have some of them committed crimes?  Yes.  Could someone admit, though, that there aren't very many of the criminal variety and that the "undocumented" variety of people don't have it easy, and aren't living high on the hog on our taxpayer dollars?  I'm sure they'd rather be legal.  I'm sure they'd rather be able to live in the country of their birth and make a living wage.  I'm sure most of them aren't making much of a living wage even here in this land of opportunity, but that is no reason to slam a door or build a wall in the faces of people who come to this country looking for something better, much less escaping probable death.

The times when America shut its doors -- turning away a ship full of Jewish refugees during WWII, sending them back to the death camps of Europe, or interning Japanese-Americans because they looked like the enemy -- are low points in our history.

I don't want to be a part of the next low point, and I will do everything I can to prevent it.

** I've heard the comments speculating that 84 Lumber actually made the commercial about the door, because during the campaign it was said that after the wall was built, there would be a "big, beautiful door" for those who were legally allowed to enter the country, and others who said that it was basically a recruitment ad for day laborers for construction companies; I don't care.  It had an effect on me, which is to make me believe, more fervently than I knew I did, that my America isn't about walls or bans, but about inclusion.  Unless we're Native American, we all descend from people who came here from somewhere else, and those people all merged into this country with varying degrees of difficulty, but they did, and we're here now to prove it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Happy Kid

I want every customer to be as happy as this kid looks with her new doll.

That is all.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Before and After

I have a ton of partly-written posts, which either need more words, the right words, or a few pictures to finish them off.

But this is ready now, so here it is.

One last Christmas stocking.  The materials (baby's first Christmas onesie, baby stocking and other holiday gear) were sent to me by the mom a few weeks after Christmas.  She wanted to deal with getting her daughter's stocking made now, before she packed away the baby stuff and lost her nerve about letting someone cut it up.

I was able to incorporate fabric from every piece of clothing (except the ruffled skirt on the dress, which is being held until later, because she wants to order a doll with a fluffy skirt), and got to use my embroidery machine to do the name.  Have I mentioned that I love that machine I never thought I would want?  The same way I love my serger that I never wanted.  You never know until you try, I guess.

More new stuff soon, I promise.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Favorite Things

Another random corner of my house -- this time, the living room.  The art is all by an early 20th century commercial artist named Haskell Coffin.

Most of it is advertising  art -- calendar girls, movie star portraits, etc. -- but the one in the center is my favorite, and the first piece of his that I bought.  She's a cut-down WWI-era poster for war saving stamps.  The poster originally read "Joan of Arc Saved France -- You Can Save Too."

I've seen the whole poster on Ebay, and it's not that expensive, but this is how I found Joan, and a friend framed her for me, so that's how she'll stay.

All the art in the living room is by the same artist.  I love that era of commercial illustration, and for a while he was very easy to find.  (Not so much anymore, possibly because I acquired most of it).