Monday, December 21, 2009

Sashiko Pin Cushion--Finishing steps

This is the back, the embroidery finished and sewn to the pin cushion and lining (that's why it's lumpy)

This is the pin cushion side--one square of blue flowered fabric the same size as the embroidered back, and another square of the same fabric, turned 45 degrees, appliqued on and stuffed with polyester fiberfill. I made the stitches as invisible as I could, using a sort of hem stitch.

Two opposing points are folded in and stitched down, the other points will be the "cover" and "needlebook"
With a button and loop to hold it closed when not in use.

Here it is all buttoned up.

and from the back.

And here it is open and ready to use. The needle is tucked into the left side, and the pins in the middle.

My problem now is that I really like this little thing, so now I have to either make another one, or something else for the swap!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Progression--embroidering the straight lines

Here, I've drawn out the pattern with the soapstone pencil. The ruler came in handy, as did the lid form a spray can I had handy to trace the biggest circle. The inner ones I just did by hand in roughly thirds of the space.

I began the embroidery with the outline, then planned to work all the straight lines and do the circles last so they'd be on the surface. I'm using the perle cotton and the quilting basting needles. The eyes are smaller than the soft sculpture needles, and they're a little shorter, but I'll try the others on another project. This needle is working out fine so far.

I don't know if there is a rhyme or reason to the traditional methods of this embroidery, I was too impatient to start to look up any more detailed instruction. I does help to pay attention to where you go with the pattern, as you can end up cutting thread and moving around too often. I tried to look ahead for the next direction when I started out and it has worked ok so far.

It's kind of like following a maze. Or one of those puzzles where you have to trace every line without running over any twice. I have to admit I ran into a couple of dead ends and had to take out the stitches and re-think my route.

Here, I'm beginning the last of the straight lines, the corners. I should have somehow worked them into the rest of the outer squares or triangles, but, hey, it's my first time! I have two remaining longer straight lines to fit in and then I'll do the circles and be done with this part of the project.

Sashiko pattern

This is the pattern I'm starting with for the project for the Swap-bot Swap--it's the back of a pin cushion that folds like a furoshiki bundle--a variation of the Yotsu Musubi

I found the idea on this page the third item in their list on this page. I'm looking now for the lining fabric, undecided whether to use a floral pattern or a geometric, like the striped one in the picture. I drew it out onto the piece of fabric with the soapstone pencil--a very cool tool! It brushes off easily, but not so easily that I lose the pattern as I work.

The next post will be pictures of my progress with the embroidery.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sashiko Embroidery

I'm starting yet another new project--

Sashiko embroidery is from Japan and is done with heavy cotton fabric and fairly heavy cotton thread, long needles and a choice of many lovely patterns. I found this tutorial and decided to start a Swap-bot swap for beginners to get myself to actually make something of it.

This is a picture of the two fabrics, thimble, soapstone pencil, washable fabric pencil, perle cotton and two types of needles I found--3" soft sculpture needles and quilter's basting needles. I'm working out a pattern which I'll post soon.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Time to get more serious about Art

I wake up sometimes with ideas in my head, and sometimes they fall out of my printer, unsuspected. This time, I was printing out an application for a juried show for my friend Frances, my art mentor, and I decided I could apply, too! it's for small pieces, and that's what I seem to have a lot of lately.

I've been painting almost regularly for the first time in my life. They may not be good, but I like them, Fred likes them and it makes me happy to do them, so I'm going to keep painting. The new stuff is like and unlike anything I've every done, so it's a sign of evolution, growth, or something. A little freedom and right-brain activity.
We'll see.

The other thing that's happening is the Baking! Autumn demands that I bake! Biscuits, cakes, cookies, brownies, and PIES! This morning I made, with the help of a good group of people, a ton of apple pie filling for the Thanksgiving Pie Sale for St. Augustine Church in Canterbury. We worked for several hours, peeling, coring, slicing, cooking and bagging the fillings for pies we'll be baking the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving as a fundraiser. Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan! Yum! We're hoping to sell and then bake 100 pies! Wish us luck!...and if you're in the area, order some pie!

Also, the moon is full, and things also seem to happen at this time of year. I also just got asked to do another bookmaking workshop out of the blue--no pay, but opportunity to see what other creative people can do with the things I play with! I love other artists! I want to be around them, talk to them, play with them--it's such a good thing!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pumpkin Patch Primitives Fabulous Fabric Giveaway

I was just waxing a bit of nostalgia about the One World One Heart Giveaways, and skipped over to a new Artexplorations Group member who had posted about this one on her blog, --and that's how it works--you go there, get the URL, and post it on your blog, then make a comment on hers and you could win something--in this case, 27 fat quarters of primitive art fabrics--look pretty snazzy! So, here's hoping I win!

Pumpkin Patch Primitives Fabulous Fabric Giveaway

Back to painting again

Sunrise Through the Storm

So, I made this small (5"x7") acrylic on linen canvas for a lovely person who sent me a good package of old, no-good cds** (very much desired by me right now!) and we did the exchange as a Swap-bot swap, so I read her profile and saw that she liked modern art, and pink, so I sat myself down and worked this one out for her.

I've been pondering a series of paintings in this sort of style, so it got me going. I've finished two more, one on canvas-11"x14", and another on well-gessoed birch plywood, about 14"x14", and have started three more small ones--all just smaller than the 5"x7". I really need to get up into the garage and get some larger canvases!

It's difficult to settle into a series if it takes too long for me, even with the Strattera, my ADD is a daily obstacle. I'm still working on the Peeks, as well as knitting a scarf, working on small things for Swap-bot swaps, like ATCs, and planning a fundraising Holiday Pie Sale, for Thanksgiving, at the church I work for part time. I'm just a little bit concerned about having enough help for the baking days, but if I absolutely had to, I could bake 100 pies by myself in two days. I'd be exhausted at the end of it all, and with a little luck, I won't have to actually do it! We'll see!

** The cds are needed for a HUGE art project I'm also working on! I need about 4000 to complete it, along with a few dead motherboards, some floppys, and some of the nini cds, too. More on that later...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Vaughn's Zazzle

My late son had a lot of fun creating the stuff he sold on I'm keeping it up to make a little money for his daughter, and it's doing so-so. Every little bit helps. I'm learning the ins and outs of how the whole thing works and found this nifty gadget to embed into my blog here--please check it out and maybe you'll find something fun to buy!

buy unique gifts at Zazzle

Sunday, September 20, 2009

all hail His Noodly Appendage!!!

back to art...

Here's the last of the first three "Peeks" it and the No. Grosvenordale mill are in the Landscape exhibit at the Silver Circle Studio in Putnam.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Swap-bot Rocks!

There's a giveaway going on at's blog, and all I have to do to enter is to post here about it--easy peasy! The original post for it in their comments section is below:

My favorite ATC is a folded japanese-looking envelope type thing with a beautiful image inside–the folding and everything is fabulous and I can never open it up and close it in one try! Very interesting and a challenge everytime I show it to someone!

Swap-bot has been the source of all that is beautiful in my house right now! I’ve had so many terrific swaps with interesting and talented people all over the world–one of my favorite little treats is a tiny llama figurine from Peru, stuck into the package by the mother of my swap-partner from Argentina because she was so excited about the whole thing!

Living in rural northeastern Connecticut, we don’t have much going on here that encourages or even makes meeting new people possible, and my new world of artistic and creative friends through Swap-bot keeps me going!

Thanks Rachel and Travis for opening this virtual, and “postal” gateway to the world for me and everyone else!


Monday, August 17, 2009

Good News!

I got a couple more calls from local Boy Scout leaders who heard from the original district person about my request, and one presented the idea to his next troop meeting and actually got a positive response and a couple of the boys and their parents were going to talk to my friend to see what she needs!

My faith in people is restored a little more today!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nation of Nancys??

My son used to talk about a "Nation of Nancys" meaning the state of affairs in this coutry whereby no one lets kids do anything anymore that might result in some liability issue--no running around free in the woods or neighborhoods, no treeforts built on a whim, no exploring without adult supervision. Many things that, as a mother, I understand, but still...I remember my own childhood and the many things I did that could have resulted in injury or worse, but I survived, learning some valuable life lessons that I wouldn't have from merely being told the possibilities. As kids, we humans have a sense of invulnerability that make it possible to try new things without fear. Sometimes we get hurt, but with luck, it's not serious and we go on, a little more carefully.

I know there have also been serious crippling injuries and death--a young man from my teen years dove off a pier and broke his neck--he lived, but is in a wheelchair to this day. There are many stories of bad injuries and deaths from childhood accidents, so I know it's not something to take lightly.

My main complaint today is the liability issue. I also remember my brother in Scouts and the troop had adopted several elderly folks who lived in their own homes, but couldn't take care of the lawn and outside work anymore. The boys would go weekly to mow the lawn and weed the flowers, and everyone was happy. One boy tripped and skinned his knee one time, but no one sued the old homeowner who helped him wash the scrape and put a band-aid on it. The boy got back up and continued raking the leaves.

As a Girl Scout, we did similar things and no one got sued. We actually helped people who needed help.

This week, I ran into a friend who hasn't been able to mow her significant yard--the weeds are three feet tall. Both her knees are swollen with arthritis and she can barely manage to keep her job, much less manage the grounds of her small farm. She'd be happy to just have a path mowed to her fenced garden patch so she can grow some veggies to supplement her food budget. I thought of the boy scouts and went to considerable effort to track down a nearby troop--I had to eventually leave a message with the district leader--finding that person was like pulling teeth, virtually anyway, but they responded quicly to my message.

Unfortunately, they don't do personal assistance things anymore, due to liability issues. They are restricted to community services like cleaning up and taking care of public parks and things. They also have trouble finding a place for the troops to meet because of liability issues--none of the businesses want to have that responsibility of having Boy Scouts meet in their buildings.

While I'm glad they are still out there doing community service in some way at all, I think it's such a sad thing that we've come to this situation in the world.

Maybe out there somewhere is a group of adults who still do personal service volunteering--I'll keep looking. But I wish we'd find some way to get rid of the sue-happy attitudes and learn to (and teach our kids to) take responsibility again for our own actions.

Meanwhile, I think I'll take the weedwacker over to my friend's house and trim away some of the weeds for her. I can take a first step towards not being a "Nancy" (no offense to all you real women named Nancy out there--it's something someone else came up with!)

Sunday, May 31, 2009


...Maybe not, but the bundles parted company again, and I think I'll leave the two packets where they are, draped over the flowerbed fence. The bundle of tubes still hangs out, looking none the worse for wear after a winter and spring of typical New England weather.


Newest member of the family...Pepper

We were really missing having a cat around since our old calico queen, Sassafras, left us for the great hunting ground in the sky, so I started by posting a message on our local Freecycle looking for a calico kitten, and within a week we found Pepper, who is a little over 2 months old, and settling in fine.

Friday, May 29, 2009

New Peek--Putnam bridge lamp circa 1920s

Here is the latest finished--or nearly finished Peek. I'm not as pleased, as now I see a difference in the width of the top of the lamp from the one in the photo, so I may work on it a little more. I'm generally pleased with it though. I'm aiming at photo realism, and each one gets a little closer, and I learn more and more each day about how to "see" things better.

I had printed out a copy of the photo to use as I painted, but my printer was acting wacky with the inks, so the colors were off, so there is some orange-brown-brown tint here and there that I actually liked, so I left them in.

Another thing I've learned is that the Cerulean Blue paint I use in the skies darkens considerably when it dries. I think I have the lightness down, and later it's too dark, so I have to remember that for the next one.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

First "Peek"

Here is the first finished painting for my "Peeks" series. It's of a tower of a major Victorian mill in North Grosvenordale, CT, now housing an assortment of small businesses and warehouse space.
Once major employers in the area, many of these old textile companies left the area to go south for better economic chances, leaving behind beautiful old buildings made of brick, constructed by mason artists of a bygone era.

The shapes and silhouettes invoke those older days when skill and workmanship meant something.

North Grosvenordale, acrylics on canvas board, 8" x 8"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Time doesn't stop...

It's been a little over a month, and I'm floating in a sea of confusion and surreality at times. Life just goes on no matter what happens, and bills have to be paid, work done, everythign just keeps going, so I have to wrench myself away from the sadness and step back into the river and swim with the rest of the fishes.

I'm working on a portfolio review at QVCC, which involves looking at my art and trying to organize it in some useful way, and eventually create a portfolio that shows my "body of work". This is more difficult that it sounds, as I don't really know what that body of work is yet. I do too many different things.

However, I do see some little bits of patterns developing as I lok through masses of photos of my collages, photographs, paintings, ATCs, etc. Nothing concrete yet, but I see possibilities. That's what the program is about, so I'll keep going until something flows together into a cohesive package.

To start the wheels rolling, I'm working on the first three of a set of nine "peeks"--small 8"x8" paintings in acrylics, of little images from this corner of my state. There are vintage streetlamps, clock towers, cupolas, Victorian milltowers, etc., all little peeks into the things we see everyday but perhaps don't really notice. Below are photos of the first three. They are from Putnam, Brooklyn, and No. Grosvenordale.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Memoriam Terry "Vaughn" Stewart 1973-2009

The worst thing I can imagine has happened, I have outlived my only child.

We had a tumultuous life but it always worked out, and we were not just mother and son, but friends, too.

He had end stage renal failure which came on suddenly in 2006 and he'd been on dialysis since, with many problems caused by extremely high blood pressure, and the other complications of having failed kidneys, which finally contributed to a weakened heart which just stopped.

He was only 35.

Last December, just before Christmas, he decided to move back to Florida, which was his heart-home, and though I hated to lose him, I'd so enjoyed having him near to talk, goof around ont he computer, listen to him talk of his plans and ideas, I knew he wasn't truly happy here in cold Connecticut so I didn't try too hard to change his mind, knowing that his illness may take him away from me at any time, but he needed to be happy.

A few years ago he came upon The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, a book by Dan Millman, which changed his life and added to his ultimate happiness. He read it and it rang a clear note in his spirit which made him a better person, able to even help others, something no one who knew him as a unpredictable teen would have ever suspected.


I must tell you all, whoever may read this that there is never enough time. Gather your loved ones and tell them, show them you love them and keep doing it, even if it means that they move away, because you will be helping them reach their happiness in life, and there is nothing better you can do!

My little boy grew into a wonderful man, a caring friend and loving father, and I'm so happy to have seen it happen, but I will miss him more than I can say.

His Myspace

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Disintegration 2-24-09

A little rain, a little snow, some freezing, a lot of wind...


Disintegration 2&3


Just an insteresting aspect of ATC History!

House of Cards

Thursday, February 12, 2009

OWOH Winners!

#1 is Angie Hall Haviland

Blogger AngieHallHaviland said...

oh...mystery box!! Crossing my fingers!

What a FUN event this is....making friends through ART

is always WONDERFUL!! Please enter me in your drawing!!

Be sure to stop by my blog :O)

#2 is: Brenda

Blogger Brenda said...

Your mystery box of doodads sounds wonderful. Please enter me (#574)


I must say, this event certainly opened my eyes to the massive possibilities out there in the internet, and to the amazing numbers of really great artsy folks out there, too! I'm happy to have been a part of it all!


Saturday, February 07, 2009

Disintegration 2

Well as you can see in the picture, two of the three bundles didn't survive the wind we got this week!
I have the square bundle, so I'm going to interfere and wire it back on.
We haven't had any rain, and its been so cold that the snow blows around and doesn't melt on the bundles at all. We need warmer weather, for more reasons that just this project!!! BRRR!

Disintegration 3: Interference

I picked up the lost bundles and wired them back on. Weather is coming, we're expecting a lot of rain and wind!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Butterfly Award!

I received a Butterfly award from Lani Gerity at 14_Secrets ofArtist Happiness blog !
Thanks Lani!

Here are the guidelines for receiving this award:

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.
I Nominate--not in any order of preference:

1. Duane Keiser--A Painting a Day
2. Dot--originator of the Dotee Doll--Dot's Life and Art
3.Seth Apter--The Altered Page
4. Lisa Swifka--One World One Heart--The Whimsical Bohemian
5. Michelle Schafer--The Studio at Crow Haven Farm
6. Kim's Art By the Sea
7. Carolee Clark--King of Mice Studio
8. Enzie Shahmiri-- Sur la Table Cuisine
9. Amber Dawn--Amber Dawn's Inventive Soul
10. Fatma's Place


Through another artist, I found and got involved in this Winter project of Seth Apter's on his blog--The Altered Page, so the basic idea is this--to take some pages from a book (mine were torn out to make room for the alterations in a round robin project) and tie them together in a bundle of some sort and expose them to the weather to see and record what happens to them--with "Nature as collaborator". Sounds very interesting! So here is my image of the three little bundles of pages I tied together and hung on the windchime chain outside my house!

We'll see what happens to them over the next few months--it's snowing/raining right now--a good weathery start!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

One World One Heart Giveaway Post

This is the post to comment on, in order to win the giveaway. I'm number 069 on the BIG LIST

My Giveaway for this event will be for two winners, each will get a 8.625" x "5.375" x "1.625" box filled with a variety of papers, stickers, ribbons and fibers, photos, ATC Blanks, Inchies, doo-dads and whatchamacallits useful for collage and assemblage. A "Mystery Box" filled with many things leftover from projects I've already finished, and things I can't stand to throw out because they are still useful, plus a few new things, too. Nothing will be materials that can't be shipped overseas

These boxes will accomplish four things, , participation in this fun event, the winners gets prizes, ,useful things get recycled, and I get a little more room!

So, all you have to do is comment on this post and watch back on February 12 to see if you've won!

One World One Heart Event

I stumbled upon this fascinating blog event yesterday--just in time to get ready to participate.

It's apparently an International mingling of bloggers, by means of a blog giveaway event whereby people will go to your blog after January 19 and comment on the giveaway posting (the posting on that day stating what they can win by just posting) and then, on February 12, a winner is drawn (ior winners, as some will be giving away multiple items) and prizes mailed to the winner(s).

So, I thought, what a cool idea! I want to play, too!

I'm going to post my giveaway on Monday and join in the fun!

Here is more info about the event
here is info about the earlier events in 2007 and 2008


PhotoThis badge says a blogger is participating, so watch for them everywhere you go!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Back at the TPL--Thompson Public LIbrary

I was all set up to fill the lobby display case with my Ida Baily Allen cookbook collection for the month or January, but life happens at the best and worst of times, and I couldn't get it all together in time. With only a couple of weeks left in the month, I managed an Altered Books, Etc display instead, using many of the wonderful bits of art I've received in swaps this past year.

There are Altered Books, and tip-ins, Altered CDs, Alteered Matchboxes, big and small, Altered postcards and Mail Art, Art Dolls, mostly dotee dolls, Artist Trading Cards and Inchies.

My friend Alma came to help me organize it all and it took a couple of hours but it looks fine. Very colorful! I'll get pictures soon.

Next on my artistic agenda is registering for a Portfolio Review: a one-credit independent study at QVCC with Annie Joly where I hope I will finally begin building a real and professional art portfolio. She has been enormous help already, as the teacher in Introduction to Computer Graphics for a second time, after about 15+ years of technology had advanced Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop so much that it was all new again. I learned a lot about CS3, enough so that I am really loving it all!

I was organizing my photos, adding keywords to everything using Adobe Bridge--really, really excellent and fast-- and managed to crash my main data drive! Talk about Blazing Fast! Fred, ever my love and My Hero managed to save everything using his technological magic and an icepack!! It was about 5 hours of work that I had thought down the drain--not to mention ALL my photographs and records and documents--everything I've done for the past 6 years!!! He is just the BEST!

One of these days I'll go back and finish the Bridge job, I was only about half done.

I also want to revamp my website(s), perk up my blog, maybe put Wordpress into my website, paint a few paintings, finish up some swaps, and clean up the garage and office/studio. Not in any particular order, but any of it would be nice--especially the garage.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Time Flies...still!

One of these days I'll set up some sort of schedule for adding to this blog. I can't believe the huge amount of things that have happened in the world and in my little life since I last posted in October.

Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New year for starters. None of which were particularly spectacular in and of themselves.

We do have a new President though, happily I voted for Obama and he won! It seems to have broken the family curse--everyone we've voted for in the last umpteen elections has lost. :(

I've done a few new small pieces of art.
Some inchies in an animal theme for the 100Inchies Swap series in Swap-bot. The little animal pictures are cut out of a ratty old Webster's New American Dictionary from 1955.

and some ATCs--here's one for a Quick Turnaround Swap in Swap-bot called "Songbird"

And a set of four Blue and White Colors ATCs for yet another Swap-bot swap.

I haven't picked up a paintbrush again yet, but still have hope!