Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More work in progress

Well, the plan was to show pics of my Tie One On apron today, but no such luck.
I have an old sewing machine that has a two-part shuttle that holds the bobbin case, and for the life of me, I cannot get that thing back in correctly.
It's driving me nuts.
And, yet again, a late entry to a challenge. Sigh...

Anyway, instead, I'll show you some more unfinished items made about the same time as the mermaid I just posted about (I believe in the following semester).
I was making a tropical-themed item (I think it was a bowl. Honestly, I've forgotten my ideas and vision now).
I started designing leaves in wax, looking at a Hawaiian shirt I had for inspiration.
Work in progress: more Wax Leaves

These aren't completely finessed yet, but you get the idea.
I have a solid pineapple also--I think I was going to wrap the leaves around someway.
Knowing me, I still have a piece of paper floating around with notes of the idea.
I sculpted a pineapple, but it turned out looking more like a grenade, so I was going to cast a real pineapple in a special mold instead.
I didn't get that far.
I think I dropped the class that semester.
I don't remember, actually--2003 is a blur because my dad died then.

More leaves, in a far more crude state.
The flower is a hibiscus, with a tiny plumeria beside it.
Actually, I'm surprised these haven't melted in all this time.
Work in progress: Wax Leaves

Ultimately, the plan is to cast these into bronze.
Bronze is really the only affordable metal to use when items are this heavy.
For jewelry, gold or silver is fine, but metal can be very expensive.

If you have an opportunity to take a sculpture class of any kind, or even a dimensional art class, I highly recommend it.
In sculpture, we made shapes in wire.
We cast objects in paper.
We used our hands to model clay or wax.
It's all so fun and so interesting.
If you live in San Diego, Grossmont College and Palomar College both have excellent sculpture courses as part of their art departments.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Share a Past Project

This is yet another project I started and didn't finish.
But I'll call it a work in progress.
It's a bronze mermaid.
Work in Progress: Bronze Mermaid
(click on image to enlarge it)

I made this in a sculpture class at a community college in 2002.
We took the entire semester, sculpting wax.
At the end of the 16 weeks, we encased these in plaster, then cast them in molten metal.

Not all of the wax successfully cast.
Part of the fin, the waves on the right side, and some of the hair disintegrated.
But that's okay--it looks torn, worn, and more natural.
Mermaid detail

A lot of work needs to be done to finish this--grinding and sanding metal to give it shine, to buff out the pits, to remove debris from is tedious work.
My heart just hasn't been in it.
I was happy with this when I first made it--my first attempt at a human figure.
But my mistakes are amateur and expected, and they bore me now (for example, the figure is too Barbie doll--the boobs are too big).
But perhaps, regardless, I should go the next step and complete it.
That, in part, is why I'm posting it now--to entice me to get motivated to bring out the dremel.

Originally I planned to make this into a frame or a mirror, but my teacher suggested the piece of agate behind it (that currently needs to be cleaned--it's smeared with wax), with perhaps a light shining through the stone.
The class was helping to create art around a children's center at the school, and students were laying agates into the concrete to add interest to the sidewalks there.
My teacher let me keep this interesting sliced piece that looks like ocean swirls.

Working with wax is similar to clay--you can mold it with heat, melt it with a soldering iron, etc.
There are different thicknesses of wax for different purposes.
I used thin jewelry wax, for example, to create her scales.
I used a drinking straw to punch out circles of wax, which I then overlapped.
I really enjoy creating sculpture. I enjoy working in three dimensions.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

What a treat!

It's hard to explain to people who don't blog, how blog writers are also blog readers.
And we read often, we post often, we support the community of bloggers.

When we visit blogs so often, sometimes daily, the voices become familar to us.
The people who write blogs we visit every day seem like friends.
Often times, they ARE.
Blog comments become emails, and emails become letters, and sooner or later you're mailing Christmas gifts and planning visits.

And I'm not kidding.

There are several women who I now call friends who I met blogging.
Not only do blog posts often inspire me creatively, add to my life experience, teach me new recipes, and start me off on new tangents...
they also add to my pool of friends.

But I digress.
When you check in daily to someone's blog, read about their private world...
you get to know them.
You get to know what their passions are, what makes their soul sing, what brings a smile to their face.
And, if you're like me (and many of you are), when you're out and about and see things in thrift shops or wherever, sometimes you pick up something because it's screaming their name.
Or maybe you make something for them because you feel motivated to do so.
Then, on a whim, a package will arrive at their doorstep to brighten their day.

I've sent packages on a whim to people I grew to know via their blog.
I too have received packages.
Some are swaps, some are 'just thinking of you', but few are like what I received today.

Susan has been lurking at my blog for quite awhile now.
She works for Nugent's Hardware and Antiques, Waterloo, New York
(2007 Small Business Of The Year Award" presented by the Chamber of Commerce).
I'll plug the business, because normally I'd plug her blog, but she has yet to post there other than to name it, Svelte Stuff (is it coincidence, Susan, that those are were your initials before you married? Yeah, I know, I should have been an investigative reporter).
Actually, check out her ebay page too.

Anyway, I went to check my mailbox today, and inside my post office box was a key.
I wasn't expecting any packages, so I had a big question mark on my mind when I pulled a very heavy box out of the locker.
I mean, it was heavy enough to have tiles inside.

It did.

She knows I like to mosaic, so she sent plain-colored tiles.
Some glossy, some opaque.
But, hello, I counted 410 one inch tiles, four 2 X 1 inch rectangles, sixteen of the 1-7/8 inch tiles, and 113 two inch squares.
Holy freaking cow.
Here's a sampling:
Tiles for mosaic

My gosh, you guys, talk about a treat (the box included a nice card with a Trick or Treat message).
Inside, were neckties she had found (and thought of me).
Each was rolled and tied with orange or black rickrack or lace. A really lovely presentation.
Also, two incredible, adorable vintage aprons.
I am so lame and don't have a digital camera, so pics of the scarves and aprons will have to wait until I get photographs in hand.

But she thought, shoot, this is a flat rate box...may as well stuff this sucker.
And, rather than syrofoam peanuts, why not vintage scarves?
She surmissed I could use the scarves as linings to homemade purses (she is absolutely right).
Note I once made an apron and used a thrifted scarf for the sash.

I'll photograph the scarves later, but I had to scan this one--isn't it pretty?
Vintage Scarf
I think Italy when I see this? Is that correct?

Knowing I love California pottery (and her knowing that means she has been reading, watching, getting to know me. She has taken the time to give with her heart, something personalized just for me. That is a gesture I appreciate more than anything), she sent this adorable cream and sugar.
Vintage California Pottery
The bottom says, El Cuervo Studio, Laguna.
I have not been able (yet) to locate any information on this studio.
The tall vertical movement reminds me of Red Wing, or some Hull, even Purinton.
I love love love cream jugs, gravy boats, sugar bowls.
I love the graceful lines, the artistic movements, the sweeps and arcs.
It is becoming apparent, though I didn't mean to start it, that I collect sugar bowls.
These pieces here are smaller than average, meaning they were either intended for individual servings, or for children.
I think these are beautiful pieces of art.
What flower do you think is represented? Is it a tree blossom?

The neckties she sent are the seeds that started this box
Novelty neckties
Men's neckties
Men's neckties

Also in the package, this placemat and matching napkin.
Look at the fabric!
Vintage placemat and napkin
On the reverse, you can see the long running stitches--evidence someone made this by hand versus machine.
I may not have the napkin folded correctly (perhaps it is intended to be rolled), and it needs a good press, but I think it's adorable.

So pics of the aprons and the scarves will be posted at a future date,
along, I hope, with a mosaic-tiled table.
And some necktie squares for the quilt that is in progress.

Thank you, Susan, so so much for your thoughtfulness and generosity.

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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Something soon...

Though I have seen no ash, when I washed my car yesterday afternoon, the wash water turned completely black.
My eyes are tired and I use drops to calm the sting.
In the morning, I open the door and the smell of smoke lingers there.
It will be awhile before our days again grow drowsy and all our fears subside.

I have items to sew, ideas to make manifest, yet it is with words I seek company.
My appetite for books is voracious.
My hunger ravenous.
Reading is all I want to do.

But tomorrow, hopefully, I will finally again dust off my sewing machine and have something of craft worthiness to share.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

Video Sunday

Yes, I know it's only Saturday.
But I have a lot going on tomorrow, and I may not get a chance to post then.
This one, unfortunately, lacks a video, but still so worth it for the beautiful voice of Silje Nergaard.
Singing a classic.
Please check it out.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Photo Friday

I finally unpacked my car, which I had loaded with photographs, and I came across this one.
Childhood photo

The blue wall is around the pool.
At the time, I thought it was brilliant to match the color of the water. I thought it was so pretty. Now, not so much.

On the wooden portion of the fence, there used to be masks all around that my aunt had painted on palm fronds.
My aunt was an amazing artist, and these were items any tiki collector would have loved.
Slowly the sun faded the colors and the masks were tossed aside.
I so wish I had photographs of the masks and the tiki torches.

I don't even remember that top I'm wearing, but ya gotta love the sunglasses atop the head.
I'm not sure how old I was in this photo, but it's a fun look back to growing up in Southern California.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Back to our regularly scheduled program...

Things, for the most part, for many of us, are getting back to normal.
The most amazing part of this week has been the out pouring of volunteers, neighbor helping neighbor, and a sense of gratefulness.
I met an old man today, all smiles and "what a lovely day"...only later to find out he wasn't even sure his home in Rancho Santa Fe is still standing.
Regardless, he said, "we are the lucky ones".
In other words, he and his family is okay--the importance remains even if the material does not.

I have to say I am proud of my community, proud of the firefighters experience and expertice, and proud to have the military presence here.

One excellent example of community spirit, is the following article that appeared in yesterday's newspaper.
If any of you are familiar with San Diego, just the thought of horses being on Fiesta Island is sure to bring smiles.

Stranger's kindness is an unexpected treat
October 24, 2007

It's been the kind of forced migration common to wars, hundreds of thousands of people uprooted from their lives and their homes: the rich and the poor, the young and the old. Some went to shelters in high-school gyms, a football stadium, church sanctuaries, community centers. Others bunked with friends, or made like tourists and booked hotel rooms. And then they waited.

FIESTA ISLAND – Marlene Holmquist, 51, had planned a quiet Sunday at home, catching up on work for her company, Studio One Interior Design. From time to time she'd look out the window at the Ramona countryside – a lovely view that was gradually obscured by smoke.

Marlene Holmquist of Ramona walked her horse at Fiesta Island on Monday. About 100 horses and dozens of dogs were on site.
By 7 p.m., Marlene and her husband, Tom, their quarterhorse, Spike, and dog, Mickey, had fled their home. In Del Mar, the animals found space in the racetrack's stables and the humans snagged a room at the Hilton.

But by Monday morning, with the conflagration moving closer to Del Mar, the hotel urged the couple to find other accommodations.

The Holmquists drove on to Mission Bay's Fiesta Island, joining 100 evacuated horses and dozens of dogs. But the clan arrived around 1 p.m. without a tent, sleeping bags or blankets.

“We just figured we'd be camping with my girlfriends,” Marlene Holmquist said.

Wrong. Instead, the Holmquists are enjoying spacious bayfront quarters, courtesy of a generous stranger.

“We weren't here 10 minutes when a gentleman from PB pulls up,” Marlene said. “He said, 'I've got a motorhome that sleeps six to eight people. Would you like to borrow it?'”
Their benefactor, who asked to remain anonymous, delivered the motorhome and stocked it with an ice-filled cooler, TV, chairs and food in the fridge. Other volunteers brought hay for Spike, chow for Mickey and water for the whole gang.

“We got some sleep that night,” Marlene said, “which is what everybody needed.”

Yesterday, the Holmquists took stock. They had each other, their animals, computers, documents, clothes, Tom's guitar – and a new appreciation for their region.

“San Diego is such a great community,” said Marlene Holmquist from the shelter of a stranger's RV. “I don't think a lot of communities would be this lucky. We have nice, wonderful people.”



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another update

Normally I'm not the type of person who panics.
Last night, however, faced with shifting winds, I felt it necessary to 'man the information lines', as it were.
I stayed up all night listening to radio reports to see if two fires were heading in our direction.
It was touch and go at a couple points, and my heart was pounding.

I can't express the jumble of fear when helicopters are circling, and police sirens are heard in the distance.
I insisted we pack our cars and be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.
We grabbed a few essentials and just waited for news.

Luckily, the wind shifted to the south, and our little pocket here has been spared.
Hopefully my job will understand that I was utterly sleep deprived, and my concern was to make sure my mom was safe.
I needed to be sure this area was not going to face evacuation.
It looks to be safe now, though with blowing embers it's hard to tell.

The fires are expected to be contained by November 4, but the county has never seen this kind of devastation.

At the same time, however, there are continual reports of amazing efforts by the fire departments, and incredible coordination with evacuations and safe areas set up where people can sleep, etc.
Overall, people have really stepped up to help their neighbors, and it is a heart-warming scene.
The National Guard has been aiding the efforts, and we have seemingly learned lessons from the last series of fires, because red tape has been eased and there are fewer frustrations.

Tragedy certainly has a way of making people re-examine their priorities.
Again, thank you to all of you who expressed concern.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Fire: update

Thank you to those of you who expressed your concern.
We need all your prayers right now.

I have not had to evacuate yet, though several of my friends, family, and clients have had to leave their homes and hope for the best.
My car is packed with some art and photos.
All the rest will have to stay.
My mom has room for a few heirlooms and three cat carriers.

We can smell the fire, and we've been told it's approaching.
It has never been this close before, and the winds keep shifting so it's hard to keep up with where it is.

I talked to friends who have evacuated, and was told the freeway on the coast was as black as night earlier in the day.
It's difficult to breathe.

This is like a war zone.

As of this moment, 250,000 people have been evacuated, and it's far from over.
All that matters is to stay safe and keep our pets safe. If we can get through tonight (without having to evacuate), hopefully the winds will lessen by Wednesday.
But tomorrow it's expected to be 100 degrees and windy--the perfect recipe for flames.
I have never experienced anything quite like this.
We're just trying to stay calm, remain grateful, and take each moment as it comes.
Thank you for your thoughts.


Burning Winds...

So much of San Diego County is on fire.

I picked my mom up at the airport yesterday afternoon, and the air was thick with smoke, the visibility a haze, and the sunset a gorgeous red.
After my morning drive to work, I hadn't really watched or listened to the news, and only knew about the fires in Malibu.

The flames, however, have been too close for comfort.
My brother was required to evacuate his home last night, as well as one of my cousins, and two of my clients.
In the mountain communities, the slow trek down the hill is in part a two lane road, so it was gridlock.
My brother finally called us around midnight saying they had made it to my niece's house for safety.

Fires have split off to form new paths, and the winds are up to 47 miles per hour in places, so we never really know how close it is to home.
As I write this, there are now six or seven separate fires burning.
We're not to the point yet where we have to pack up our cars, but I made a list of items to take last night, just in case we are asked to leave and in the panic of the moment may forget essentials like blankets, pet food, etc.
My God, what do you choose to take?

Fire is a demon.
I'm worried about the animals at the Wild Animal Park.
My gosh, the animals everywhere.
People can flee, but the animals are at the mercy of nature.
I tried, a couple of years ago, to volunteer for the Humane Society, to help rescue horses in cases of flood or fire.
I was told they didn't need any more help.
Sounds foolish to me--trained people should always be waiting in the wings when needed.
Anyway, keep us in your thoughts and prayers--this seems potentially worse than the horrible fires we had in 2003.
It has been so dry here, and even though residents are required to clear their properties of brush, the entire county is still a tinder box.


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Time for Popcorn

Last night, I finally saw the movie Pan's Labyrinth.


No offense to Mr. Martin Scorsese, but The Departed just wasn't all that.
Certainly not deserving of the Best Picture oscar.
Pan's Labyrinth, however, was completely captivating.
I'm surprised Guillermo del Toro was not nominated for Best Director, and even more surprised this didn't win for Best Foreign Film.

I like the review in Pegasus News, "There's little doubt that del Toro is one of the great artists at work in cinema today, and here I refer not to artistry in the sense of overall workmanship (though this may also apply) but rather in the sense that what he frames in the viewfinder is so damn beautiful. His set pieces and moving tableaux are painterly, sumptuous, rich in detail and lit as if by Rembrandt's own candle master."

The film is packaged with two discs--one is the movie, and the other is featurettes of Del Toro's ideas and intentions, make-up, set design, etc.
If you haven't yet seen the movie, I highly recommend you watch the featurettes FIRST.
These give you so much interesting information about color, thoughts behind the plot, etc.
The featurettes really added to my enjoyment.

And yes, it's in Spanish with Engish subtitles.
No worries--it's really easy to follow.
One of the best films I've seen in a long time.


Video Sunday

One of my favorite songs--Christina Aguilera, Cruz.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Current Mood: irritated

The state of our health industry in this country is in bad shape.
I have had health insurance since my early 20's, since I have always worked union jobs.
As of January 1 of this year, however, my employer changed our plan for part-time workers (I work part-time), and for the first time ever I have had to choose a primary care physician.
If I want to see another doctor, I must be granted permission first from the primary.
I also must choose doctors off a list, versus before I could see any doctor I wanted, whenever I wanted.
For that privilege, I actually paid more money--and that was fine with me.
I like the freedom of choice.

Anyway, the family practice doctor I had been seeing for several years was actually on my list, but I really wanted to find someone else.
He was super attentive and sweet to me, but his staff was questionable, and he seemed to get snippy with them at times.
I didn't like that mood swing thing.
Too, he didn't accept any holistic type alternatives, and I really want a doctor who will look at both Western and Eastern medical options.

Anyway, way back in February, I fell at one of my client's homes, and hurt an ankle very badly.
Well, perfect time to choose a primary care physician, right?
Evidently not.
No doctor could squeeze me in for multiple weeks or even months.
Um, how does that help me?

I tried Urgent Care, and they were unable to verify my insurance card.
By the time they realized, oops, my bad...I was already home.
Forget it.
So I never treated the ankle and it still bothers me.
But I digress.

I chose a female doctor off the list and made an appointment just to establish a relationship.
It took me three months to get an appointment.
I couldn't find the place, was half an hour late, and they made me reschedule.
Alrighty then.

Today I finally got in to see her, and I was really disappointed.
Everything in the office is online--you set your appointments online, you get your results online, and she input data about me directly into a laptop as I was speaking to her.
The doctor-patient relationship seems lost in the jumble.
She seemed nice enough, but reserved and rushed.

Not qualities I'm looking for in a doctor.

I was also one of the only people in the office (patients and staff included) who was even speaking English.
Um, we speak English in this country. Learn it.
Sorry to sound gruff, but I'm sick of it.

I actually liked some of the options she gave me that were more holistic in nature, but I don't want to be rushed.
I want a doctor to at least appear to be genuinely concerned about my health.
I did not get that impression today.

It's all just so frustrating.

On the drive home, I called to make an annual appointment with my OB/GYN (insurance does allow me to see this specialist without a referral).
This doctor is amazing on several levels, but she's impossible to see.
It's mid-October and already the rest of her calendar year is booked.
They'll be taking January appointments soon, I was told.
A lot of good that does me now.
Remember, I have a yearly deductible.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Photo Friday

Third Grade
My second grade school photo.

I'm sure the dress was made by mom.
My grandma made me a lot of clothing also.

I like the innocence of this photo.
There's a sweetness to it.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Cranberry Banana Bread

Now that cranberries are in season, it's a great time to make this simple quick bread.
An old neighbor of mine gave me this recipe back in 1995.
It's cool to have someone's own recipe card design, written in their hand, and dated.
A little piece of memorabilia.

Put two cups of granulated sugar in a saucepan, along with
1-1/2 cups water and
4 cups cranberries
*note: 4 ounces cranberries = 1 cup
So you'll need slightly more than the standard 12-ounce bag, or 2 of the 8-ounce organic bags
(this is confusing, because standard measurements say 8 fluid ounces = 1 cup. Fluid is the key here. Please go off the 4 ounces is one cup hint, or you'll use way too many cranberries and ruin this dish. I know this from experience)

Heat to a boil and stir to dissolve sugar
Then cook berries until they pop (that's the fun part!)
Drain and set aside

In a large bowl, cream:
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup shortening

2 eggs and mix well

Blend in:
1 cup mashed bananas (about two large)

In a separate bowl, combine:
1-3/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add dry ingredients to banana mixture
Fold in the cranberries
May add 1/2 cups chopped walnuts if desired

Pour batter into a greased loaf pan
Bake one hour at 350 degrees


Monday, October 15, 2007

A paintbrush and your spice cabinet

Blogging has brought me so many rewards already--inspiration and motivation, ideas, information...
but it has also brought people into my life whom I would not have met any other way.
The chance meetings and the resulting domino effects are just mind boggling.

There are a handful of women I email with on a regular basis--women I consider friends even though we have never met.
With Claudia, I feel some special connection, and even though she's way over in Germany instead of next door, we still are able to write long letters and get to know one another across the miles.

It's really an amazing thing, this internet age.

Claudia happened to see a photo of a sculpture that I posted to my blog a couple of years ago that she recognized.
That's what I mean by chance moments.

A chance seeing a post....taking the time to comment...becoming friends through written words...
it's just the coolest thing how life happens.

Anyway, Claudia just posted an amazing ATC that she made the other night, when she had an inspiration to paint with spices.


I just had to share this gorgeous art and this incredible idea.

She says, "I started with a sheet of paper from my sketch block. For some reason, I wanted to know if it where possible to paint with curry and dried paprika pepper powder, both being colorful and hard to remove if clothes are stained with it.
So I took some of the powder and mixed it with a drop or two of water and applied it to the paper with my forefinger, smearing and rubbing. This is what created the orange background. Nice colors, I wonder if they will fade...
Then, as you might have guessed, I took a TV programme and cut out the duck photos; the words were taken from a brochure my health insurance company sent me.
The text translates 'The brain sounds an alarm.'"

Read more here.

Not only would one obtain natural color from things like tumeric, but imagine the interesting fragrance--truly art of the senses!

I did a little googling, and found a few posts elsewhere about how people had experimented with spices in different ways.

One book excerpt says: "We remember with great fondness painting with spices when we were young. Each area of the paper was carefully prepared with glue and then a spice was dusted or pressed onto it. Since different spices have different colors and textures, the visual palette they offer is large, but the greatest pleasure is olfactory. Each spice painting is an experiment in fragarance. Not only can one recreate the artistic style typical of a particular culture, one can, by choosing to use its spices, recreate simultaneously a sense of its culinary traditions."

Some of the scents, however, aren't quite as pleasant.
The blogger Travel-Itch said: "I was going through a brief phase of encaustic-painting using spices as pigment within the wax: cinnamon - a warm brown, coffee - deep brown, paprika - lovely orange-red, turmeric - golden yellow. It limited my palette and was a challenge to discover absorption rates in the different spices. Even a session with powdered garlic produced a translucent yellow. But the smell was overwhelming and revolting, both in the studio and on the painting, so I never used it again."

And in the comments of another site, someone wrote: "I once created an abstact canvas painting using spices from the pantry 'cause i ran out of guache. I used cumin,paprika,mustard powder etc..mixed with flour for binding. A little stinky and difficult to manipulate,but cool to look at."

I think it's a fascinating idea, and I love the idea of using a natural pigment, just as I love the idea of dying items with things like red onion skins (and yes, I have done that).

And now, those domino effects just keep rolling, and I think I'll buy this book for a little girl for Christmas, after reading about this lesson plan.
It caught my attention, because it has the children creatively paint to learn. "It involves painting with spices, discussion, experimentation of colors, heighten sensories".

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Hello again! And my amulet bag

Oh my gosh...I'm back!
My computer is back online. Thank God.
I swear, I felt as if I were cut off from the world.
So back to more regular posting. Whew.

Here's a teaser, for those of you not willing to read a long post to discover what is in store.
I talk about this:
Amulet Bag detail

I woke up this morning to a rain soaked day.
That might not be a novelty for the folks reading this, but here, where rain hasn't graced the yard for over 150 days (that mist a few weeks ago doesn't count), this is something.
I used to hate the rain, but I've come to appreciate the way the air smells, the way the clouds sway, the fun of wearing wonderful sweaters and jackets, and the advantages to cuddling and snuggling.

What the rain brought forth in me today was the need to bake.
Uh, this kind of weather isn't really what bread craves, but I had to give it a go.

I baked cinnamon swirl bread today.

The old fashioned way, with yeast, and rising times, and the incredible smell that wafted through the house and out into the front (where two of my brothers were praying they'd discover what that aroma meant. I brought them out hot slices with butter that they 'yummed' over).

Seriously, can it get much better that?
That is one fine afternoon, my friend.

Oh, and HOT bread, you say?
Please, do you think I could wait the recommended two hours for the cooling progress?
Yeah, right.
It's like how Krispie Kreme features hot from the oven glazed donuts--that way they melt in your mouth.

I forgot to add the raisins to my cinnamon swirl bread, and I won't post the recipe because it's not the best one I've ever made (it's good for toast, but I prefer a more dense and chewy variety, oozing with slurpy goodness. That is not what the author of this recipe desired. She wanted toast. That's fine).
I will tell you, however, that one of the best snacks on the planet (thanks, debs) is cream cheese spread onto a toasted cinnamon raisin English Muffin, with fresh avocado, and freshly ground pepper.
Seriously, try it.

But I'm off track here. I'm just dying to catch up and have to condense a gazillion thoughts into one post.

I do have to mention that I passed up the Festa in Little Italy today (how do they create chalk drawings in the rain?) and I watched my beloved cooking shows on PBS.
Everyday Food, Rick Bayless, America's Test Kitchen, and my new favorite--Diary of a Foodie. The latter featured a chef so passionate about his food that I just had to smile.
Joy in fresh ingredients, creative application, and a surprise of taste...that's just Heaven to even hear about much less experience first hand.
But I digress yet again...

I finally completed my amulet bag for The Purse Project.
You know, the project that was due LAST month?
I actually have a finished project to post!
Albeit late, but...better late than never.
Some things are a given: the sky is blue, and Barb is always late. Sigh.

Anyway, I took forever deciding which direction I wanted to go with this project.
I considered making a bag to hang in my car, either inspired with feng shui, or with elements symbolizing safe travel.
I considered making something for my pet business.
Perhaps some wishes for critter health and safety.

In the end, I just looked at what it is I find sacred, and over and over again I came back to the sea.
The bag itself is an amulet, though it may certainly be filled with applicable charms within as well.

I started with doodling out ideas.
I wanted to start with a seagull, and add some symbolism.
More doodles

I started out with the symbols for the basic elements: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water.
I chose simple circular pagan symbols (many versions and variations of these symbols exist, depending on regional and religious differences).
The circle dissected with crossed lines is both the symbol for the four elements (also the four seasons, and four directions North, South, West, East), but is also the symbol for Earth.
There are also materials and colors associated with these symbols, but I opted not to get that detailed.

Bird body is a raindrop shape = Water
It's also a leaf shape = Earth

I liked the idea of a bird with horns, or sitting atop a horn.
The horn for me stands for The Ram, or Aries, which = Fire (sign)
The horn shape also resembles a wave = Water
A simple symbol for the Ram is also lines that look like two candy canes back to back.
I decided these could be feet.

I used to have a roommate who had a tattoo of The North Wind.
It was a man's face, his lips blowing, and from his lips came swirls, representing wind.
So I played around with swirls.
(you'll have to click on the image to enlarge the detail--Flickr didn't like the width on this one)
I liked the one on the right I have circled, until I realized it coincidentally looks too much like Amanda's logo.
Instead, I used the swirls like feathers.
So feathers and wind = Air

Here's what I came up with.
The finished size is about 3 inches by 4 inches, not including the crocheted handle.
Amulet Bag

Real twig = Earth

Blue felt and blue variegated thread= both Air and Water.
The blue 'window' is a reverse applique of the Earth/Elements symbol.
White felt = Air
Brown and beige felt, brown variegated thread = Earth

The 'pom-pom' trim is the four symbols (light felt with dark embroidery on the front, the back side is dark brown felt with blue thread).

The vintage button features a crane (shore bird)= water
seagull = water

This is the first time I have worked with wool felt--a really lovely material.
Had I desired a softer texture and appearance, I could have washed the felt prior to crafting with it.
I'm pleased with how this project turned out.

The pieces were finished with a blanket stitch, put together with a whipstitch, and detailed with a backstitch or a running stitch (because these are the only stitches I know).
I didn't need a lining, but I loved the contrast of the chocolate brown felt, so that is the interior of this bag, just waiting to filled with charms.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Ceramic Cafe

My friend Brandie has been suggesting that we go to a paint-your-own ceramics place.
These shops used to be everywhere, but seem to have dwindled in quantity lately.
It's a shame, because this is really a fun activity!
Perfect for all ages, from kids having a birthday party, to two old ladies just hanging out.
(uh, I was not referring to myself there).

Basically you go into this shop filled with unfired ceramics (is that what greenware is?)
Ceramic Cafe
You pay for an item (a bowl, canister, cup, etc) and paint it as you choose.
All the paints and brushes are included in the price.
What I like is the ability to linger there (there are no timed constraints),
and I'm able to catch-up with a friend while accomplishing something creative.

Brandie painted a dog on a plate for one of her beagles.
I decided to paint bumblebees on a footed bowl.
Bee Bowl
(click on images to enlarge)

I experimented with a gradation of color, along with a splashing and sponging.
I'm pleased with the result.
Bowl interior

The wings and the dots are in puff paint

I can't wait to go back!
Next time I'm going to paint a magic wand.

If you live in San Diego and want to try this location in Del Mar, make sure you stop in upstairs at the Champagne Bakery for their creme brulee.
That is one amazing treat, let me tell you!

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

it's two, two, two posts in one

I'm not able to edit my You Tube videos for some reason, so this post goes with the video below.

The last few videos I've posted have all been mellow.
Let's kick it up a notch, shall we?

Storm Inc., "Universal Remote Control"


Video Sunday


Friday, October 05, 2007

Inspiring Images

This amazing silhouette is a vintage napkin holder.
The diagonally folded napkins make up her skirt.

I am inspired to create one of these myself--perhaps with cut tin.

If I really want to be ambitious, I can use a jewelry saw and thin silver.
I haven't decided yet how to approach this.
I could even try an encaustic technique, or a paper mache.
I just think this is worth investigating.

This reminds me of the Art Doll Hat I made recently.
See more hats here.

This lovely item belongs to a woman in Norway who goes by the name Happy Meat.
Click on the image to go to her Flickr page of photos,
or find her blog here.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Photo Friday (a day early)

Me and Gaylord
Me and Gaylord
Note the bandaged left knee where I still carry a scar.

I was dancing with one of my brothers (meaning he was moving around and I was standing on the top of his feet. This brother is 13 years older than me).
He was playing around, and threw me into the air so I'd land on the bed.
Except my knee hit the metal foot post, and required a visit to the doctor for stitches.

In my family, any time you were sick (or in this case, injured), you got a toy.
For a cut bad enough to require stitches, I was allowed to go to the store and pick out anything I wanted.
With three older brothers, I actually got to do that a lot.

Anyway, I picked Gaylord--a battery operated dog that walked.
I loved him.
I wish I knew what happened to him, because I certainly would never have parted with him

Gaylord dogs now sell on ebay for over $300.
Ideal has released a new reproduction, however.
I posted this same story and another pic of me and Gaylord in a previous post.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Japanese Craft Book

I found an amazing new source for Japanese Craft Books at very reasonable prices,
and she'll even take special orders/requests!
It's Saucy Louise.

I just received this out-of-print book that I've been coveting for a long time.
She was somehow able to find me a copy.
It's absolutely drool-worthy.
Japanese Craft Book

I wanted the book specifically for this bag (I had seen the book posted previously on Crafting Japanese)
Drawstring Bag

Look at these cute patchwork curtains, still sheer enough to let the light in (this would be perfect in a quilter's home)
Patchwork curtains

Rooster for hot pan handle
Rooster hot pad

Kitty tea cozy
Kitty Tea Cozy