Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It has ceased to be

Forgive the Python reference.

I went out to the coop yesterday morning to feed Bonnie, and she wasn't downstairs waiting at her food bowl, like a feathered, personality-free version of my cats.

I opened the roost door upstairs, and there she was, head tucked under wing, no longer a live bird.

Cue John Cleese, who has been banging on in my head for the rest of the day:

"That parrot is definitely deceased.  It’s not pining, it’s passed on.  This parrot is no more!  It has ceased to be!  It’s expired and gone to meet its maker!  This is a late parrot!  It’s a stiff, bereft of life, it rests in peace.  If you hadn’t nailed it to the perch it would be pushing up the daisies!"

Awful, I know.  But Bonnie hasn't laid in the last 6 weeks, and I assumed that meant she was aging out of the breakfast business.  And I've always considered her an employee, not a pet.  She fed me in exchange for food.  Our relationship lately had become a tad one-sided, and I'd been mentioning my handy cousin and the slow cooker with increasing frequency.

So she took matters into her own hands, I suppose.  Death before dishonor?  Death before crockpot?

I may not get new birds until next spring.  I'm well into craft show season, plus I'm temping 3 days a week.  On top of that, Mario and I have planned a trip (to London!!!) in the fall, and this will be one less mouth our housemate will have to feed while we're away.

I leave you with Monty Python, because I can.  

Friday, May 27, 2016

Owl Photo Shoot

Because doesn't everyone photograph stuffed animals in a cemetery?

Woodlands Cemetery is within walking distance of my house, is full of wonderful Victorian (and older) statuary, and has a wide open front with trees where, twice a year, one of my favorite craft shows takes place.

It's also a great place for photos.

This is my favorite tree.  Not only is it photogenic, but parts of it are low enough to the ground that I can actually get up in it, and my tree-climbing days are pretty much behind me.

I took these at ground level, but I think they came out well.  Owls are now listed here.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Hello, Dolly!

A while back I mentioned I was working on something new that wasn't ready for prime time.  Well, allow me to introduce my latest make, a cloth doll made from upcycled fabrics.  

I've been meaning to share them with you for a while now, but the first batch of girls went out to craft shows before being photographed (beyond this single shot) and . . . they sold.

Four of them the first show, four more the second, three last time.  Plus two custom ones.

So I guess you could say they're working out.  I'm pleased with them -- not only do they seem popular with both kids and adults, but they're yet another way for me to use scrap fabric, yet another way to reduce my business's carbon footprint by using what's already available.

Their faces are hand embroidered.  I do them in the evenings when Mario and I are watching TV.  Or when he's watching TV and I'm sitting on the couch, embroidering like a fiend because I just can't absorb any more of the outrage spewing from every news outlet -- including the ones I agree with.

Hair colors are everything under the sun, including a few with pink and purple hair (which have sold).  I was thinking mermaid/fairy when I did the pink-haired ones; now I think I really need to make a few with mermaid tails.

My next show isn't until Saturday June 4th, when I'm the featured artist at out the Swarthmore Farmers Market.  That's always a great town for me, so I intend to have a whole new batch of dollies for them.

Friday, May 13, 2016


A week or two ago, I got a call from a friend.  She and I were in book club together for a few years, and now we mostly meet up at the thrift store on half price days.  (She's my kind of people).  She told told me that her next-door-neighbor had died recently and his niece and nephew were cleaning out his apartment.  "He was an artist," she confided.  "He made everything, with everything."  But what it finally turned into was, "Well, there's a sewing machine.  I'm not sure what kind, it's got spools sticking out all over it, maybe it's an embroidery machine?  Well, anyway, I told them you sew and they want to know if you want it."

I said it sounded like a serger, which I actually do not possess.  Never particularly wanted one, never learned to use one -- but also, according to policy, would never turn down one if offered.

I never, ever turn down donations.  Even if it's not something I can use, I know someone who can, and I never want to turn off the stream of donations.  Too much of what I make comes from that stream, and it's helped a lot of other folks out as well.

So I go around to get the machine, and they hand me a big Rubbermaid tub.  I thank them kindly and haul it home, only to unload and find out it's two sergers, an older Singer model and a relatively new Baby Lock Eclipse.  The Singer is complete (even to the manual), but the Baby Lock was missing its foot pedal and power cord.  I know I can source these, so it's not a big deal, but I did text my friend and mention the fact, and ask her to pass on to the niece and nephew that if they find it in the basement to let me know.

A few days later, I get a call from the nephew.  "We're at the apartment today," he says.  "If you want to come over and look for that cord, feel free.  You know what it looks like better than I do."

I text my friend to thank her for passing on the message and she sends a warning:  "Don't come home with anything!"

Shortly after, when I petted a passing bolt of fabric and said, "Pretty!" I understood what she meant.  If you like it, you take it, and but you have to take all its friends too.  I was driven home with 18 bolts of fabric, a bag of cut fabric and . . . another sewing machine, this time a recent Brother model.

The apartment was a treasure trove.  The late tenant was indeed an artist, and worked with everything from paint, clay, papier-mache, jewelry, rhinestones, taxidermy and who knows what else.  Every passing idea was given full rein, and every possible supply was purchased to support his habit.  It was glorious, and it looked like something out of a movie crossed with a particularly artsy episode of Hoarders.

As an example, the bathroom had a six foot long clawfoot bathtub.  Over the tub, mounted horizontally on the wall, was a series of narrow antique wall mirrors, the kind generally hung vertically between windows.  At the foot of the tub was a large angel sculpture, nearly lifesized, covered in rhinestones and faux ivy, and draped with -- what else? -- strands of twinkle lights.  The whole place was like that.

So now my downstairs hall looks like an explosion in a fabric store, and I actually had to fend off a donation of another six machines last week.  I did.  I said no.  Because they were vintage, and collectible, and the family could actually make money off them on Craigslist, and because where the hell would I put them in the meantime?

The recent Brother machine has made its way over to the place where I teach, along with a big blue Ikea bag of fabric.  The spring semester started recently  and the kids needed more stuff to work with.

And at the end, I'm really impressed that there's someone out there -- and who was so close by! -- who had even more sewing machines than I do.  It makes me feel a little less . . . hoarder-ish.

Though I have to admit, I'd like a big glittery angel looming over my tub.  Not sure what Mario, or the cats, would think about that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Impossible Things

Seen at my bank one day last week.  It made me happy.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Soccer Bear

Change is good.  My latest custom bear isn't a memorial piece - I was contacted by a mom whose daughter is graduating high school this May, and she wanted a bear made from the daughter's soccer jersey.

It really is that bright.

Originally I thought I'd add in some denim to break up the bright colors, but when I looked at it again, I decided that it should stay as is.

There was enough solid red and solid blue to be able to split the arms and legs.  The body is solid blue on all sides, but that doesn't matter because I appliqued her number on the front and her name, "Lady Lynx," on the back.

The face is my favorite part, because it uses the red and blue chevron lines from the front.  I do love playing with stripes.

This one got finished the same morning as my scheduled run to the post office, so it didn't get a better photo shoot than this.  Looking at my photos now, let's just say it's beyond time that I dusted the mantel in the bedroom.  (I did clean off the bear's feet before I packed it up!)

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Spring: it's official

It must be spring; I had a craft show this last Saturday, and will have another one this Saturday, and another one after that.

(There was one the Saturday before, but the weather wasn't promising and I decided to bail rather than spend the next two days running my entire inventory through the dryer at the laundromat).

I felt a little guilty about backing out of the show, but it was a smaller event, one I hadn't done before, and -- judging by the Facebook page for the event -- not a huge crowd.

A friend did go, and spent the first half of the day huddled under her tent, and the rest of it waiting for the customers who probably decided to attend on Sunday, when the weather was nicer.  Alas, I only paid for one day.

A few new things for shows this year: I bought myself a proper chrome clothing rack to display my toddler dresses.  The rack I had before was intended as a collapsible clothes dryer and it wasn't very stable, especially on something other than a flat surface.

This rack has four arms (one for each size) and is very sturdy.  Between having a larger number of dresses available this  year (15 in each size), I think the display helped to draw people in.  I sold a good number of dresses.

Also new: dolls!  (These were the super-secret new item I've been working on).  I had 16 available for their first outing and I sold a few, one to the little sister of one of my sewing students.

And that's another story: the last two classes, I encouraged my students to come to the craft festival -- first, it was local so not hard for them to drag their parents out, but also, I wanted them to see my work.  Not just because I wanted them to buy it (though that was, of course, part of it), but because I wanted them to actually see what I do, aside from harass them to sew straight lines all the time.  I've brought samples in, but seeing it all spread out, as something people would spend money for, makes it real in a different way.

Happy spring, everyone!