Wednesday, December 16, 2009

It's Felting Cats and Dogs!

Get this book:

Sweater Chop Shop by Crispina Ffrench. She'll tell you all about what sweaters to buy and how to felt them and cut them and sew them.

These are NOT in the book. They are my own simple creations. The gray kitten is cashmere. Just for fun. It was the only cashmere sweater I have ever owned...4.95 at the goodwill.

Lately I find myself easily distracted from Real Work, Art and Otherwise by the comfort of making simple, little meaningless things while standing at the kitchen table listening to the radio.

We have a new-this-year table that is the perfect height for standing and working.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Madness

The advent calendar... I had never really considered the advent calendar until my pal Cathy sent me this link last Tuesday.

Then it was all over. I HAD to make one. Just finished it. Hot off the Singer. It's on canvas with 25 little collages for the numbers. I sewed strips of clear vinyl over the rows to fit those little chocolate squares. I want a more complicated one...

Here it is empty, full and a little detail...

Monday, November 23, 2009


I don't know what else to call these little things I whipped up last night. A few weeks back I ordered some of Teesha Moore's collage sheets with every intention of making some collages on canvas to hang above the coat hooks in the New Foyer. I don't have the long row of repurposed doorknobs mounted on a weathered white board on the east wall with a white bench underneath, so I have no current need of the six 12 x12 collages I planned to hang above the whole mess. Yet. I do, however, need Christmas ornam
ents for my Doll Tree.

On the tree, there are currently 4 blackapples that I mentioned in the last post and my mixed media action figures which are in the 2009 edition of Quilting Arts Gifts. There are also six or seven Katie Kendrick style dolls that were featured in Cloth Paper Scissors Issue 9 ( my cover). And these - the Moore-naments! Three of them are mounted on paper-covered chipboard and glittered up. I put a piece of blank cardstock on the back so that I could use them for gift tags if I felt so inclined. The other two are layered on fabric and felt, then backed with brown grocery sack. I machine stitched around the layers and added some sparkle. Since the back is paper, these could also be gift tags. I spent about an hour to make all 5 and I am trying to resist making all of the collage I bought into ornaments. Eventually that foyer will need some artwork!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I think I shall call her Kit

New doll from this pattern:

Pattern created by this artist:

This is the third one I have made. It's a good thing to make when I don't feel like thinking of anything, but feel like making something. Kit will be on the Doll Tree for sure. She is sitting in my unfinished window in my unfinished foyer. J.R. calls it The Orange Room.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Already? YES! I have kind of phoned it in on my decorating the last two or three years and all the renovating around here has inspired me to get my A game back on. I saw this mantle and fell in love! I have the fireplace and the animal head. It belonged to my grand-dad and nobody wanted it when the family auctioned off his worldly possessions. As usual, my house was the last stop before the dumpster and I became the proud owner of a trophy head. In case you are wondering, yes, all the hunters in my family eat what they kill. It's all very Grizzly Adams. Anyway, the other bit about decorating and renovation is the budgetary aspect. I have new all around me, so I must do my decorating on the cheap. Hmmm...sounds like a challenge.

Okay, so here it is: I will recreate the lush mantle and garland around the deer using only items I already have and items purchased at - drumroll, please -


Can it be done? So far, I have picked up some silver grapes, some shiny white stems and some silver glitter balls. I also got 3 packages of pine garland, 15' each, which will need some work to build the base for the pinecones, lights, dooddads, ribbons and baubles.

My main tree is sliver, red and light blue and it's in the same room as the fireplace. I want to do a tree in my new foyer with a bunch of pink and gold stuff I got on clearance at Kmart last January. I want it to be a doll tree, covered in Good Girls, dolls from the black apple Martha pattern and other figural fabric follies.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


things just don't make sense. Sometimes I don't have an answer for one of my girls. Yesterday was one of those times. Yesterday our high school boys and girls cross country teams ran in the semi-state meet for a chance to compete in the state finals next week. There were 23 other teams there, too. The top 6 teams and the top 15 individuals move on to the finals. Our girls team was ranked 5th coming in and, to be honest, everybody expected them to make it out. Everybody has been racing well and staying healthy through the tournament series. Almost everybody. Courtney had a great regular season, but the last couple of races, she struggled a bit. I think the effects of playing two varsity sports simultaneously have taken a bit of a toll on her body. And...hate to say it...but a little "team drama" got into her head and a seed of doubt grew into a fully bloomed case of insecurity.

But yesterday. Yesterday, she felt good! No back pain after a week to heal up and get her head on straight. Yesterday was shaping up to be a great race for her. Until about the One Mile mark. A runner behind her stepped on the back of her shoe. And it came off. So Miss Courtney had to run over 2 miles in ankle deep mud and even deeper standing water with one sock foot. She finished. Over 2 minutes slower than she would have, but she finished. She probably asked me 10 times why this had to happen. I had to tell her I didn't know.

The girls team finished 6th and advances to the state finals on Saturday. I guess the guy who projected us to finish 5th didn't account for Courtney's missing shoe.

The boys team didn't advance, but Whitley's boyfriend Logan finished 11th and will be running in the finals.

By the way, her socks were white.

Friday, October 02, 2009

And Now for Something Entirely Different

WELCOME TO MY STUDIO...One of my studios, I should say...the one I share with about 225 other artists.
I have been an elementary art teacher for 15 years. This is the third year I have been in this art room and it still looks new. I keep it pretty simple. One of my professors at IU told us once that too much stuff on the walls of the art room can overstimulate kids and actually hamper their creative process. Seemed counter intuitive to me at the time, but now I agree. My students notice the tiniest little thing new in the room and are very curious. Sometimes, I bring in something I have made or a piece in progress and sit it on my desk. Let's just say it's well-fingerprinted by the end of the day.

I have only 3 rules:
1. Create with intention. Think before you mark or cut.
2. Share materials kindly.
3. Clean up your own mess.

I teach grades one thru five in a rural area. Fifth grade has been working on creating value with hatching and crosshatching. This is black water-based marker on construction paper. I keep my materials to a minimum and always try to present lesson that the students could recreate easily at home with inexpensive materials.

I do a few seasonal crafts every year, just for fun, so we have made pumpkins and scarecrows. We might do some kind of ornament or decoration around Christmas.
King Tut is at the Indianapolis Children's Museum and although our school system can no longer afford to send kids on field trips, our fourth grade teachers applied for grants to take their students to see the exhibit.

Wanting to seize on their enthusiasm, I moved the lesson on symmetrical balance up a few weeks and we made these masks. Metallic paint, jewels and glitter, glitter, glitter. I think they look great and the kids are so proud of them. Fourth grade is now shifting gears radically and studying Hokusai. We had a long talk about how different aesthetics all have value, comparing the ornate Egyptian artifacts and the simple woodblock prints.

In an effort to support literacy, my fourth and fifth graders are keeping art journals this year. They do some writing every art class...mostly writing vocabulary and making sketches of artwork we study. It feels all very scholarly.

The drying rack is bursting with second grade paintings of active lines. Thank you Kandinsky.

My desk is always a bit cluttered, but I don't really mind. My art journal is on the far right edge of my desk. I try to fit in a little doodling or writing during my lunchtime.

Clean up can be a challenging time since my sinks are adult height, but we manage. Usually I give the yung 'uns a wet paper towel to scrub their table while I wash out brushes myself. I want them to be clean!!

Third grade made these robots - LOVE the way they turned out. The skill here is freehand cutting geometric shapes.

This room is huge and very well equipped. Here is one of closets. Some of those bins are empty.

The last photo is the scene outside my classroom door.
I hope you have enjoyed this little trip around my art room!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Two Snaps for You

Out of about 400 I've taken so far this cross and soccer season. I can't help it. W & C are my favorite subject!

Here are the photos I wanted to post yesterday. Top - Whit and Court on the pitch. Stars won the match. Whit had 2 goals and 5 assists and Court had 1 goal. Bottom - Just after the gun at the Mater Dei Invite in Evansville last Saturday. Court is the one in the middle with the French braids. Court was 14th and the Stars finished 2nd overall on a very hilly course.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Where have you been?

I've been at the soccer field and the cross country course. I would love to show you some pictures of Whit and Court in action, but Blogger won't let me. Sorry.

Oh, and Taylor, if you're reading this, honey, hang up on him next time.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I made this today!!! I envisioned it last Tuesday, bought the fabric for the body (AMH) on Thursday and drafted the pattern and made muslins on Sunday. It's a clutch made on something called a Facile Frame. Facile is French for easy. It's kind of an old-fashioned, mid-century kind of a thing. As you may remember, my husband and his dad own and operate a shoe store of sorts, with a full-scale shoe, boot and leather repair operation in addition to the retail. There are drawers and drawers full of rivets, snaps, handles, fasteners, closures, buckles and other interesting and useful bits. So when I asked J.R. for a Facile Frame, he asked, "What size?" I went with a 12" long frame. The frame comes in two pieces which are fed through a channel in the top of the purse. The ends are fastened together with pins. It works on tension. Here is the clutch open:

The lining fabric is leftover from the soon-to-be Owl Embellished Tunic. This bag went together really well. I graduated the seam allowances of the lining, batting and outer fabric so the pieces all fit together. For the final version of the pattern, I need to very slightly rework how the channels are finished on the inside. This is fine, but it could be better. Sew and learn, I always say. I love imagining something, working out the dance of making it on paper and then realizing the thing in three-dimensions. The hardest part for me is being honest with myself about when I need to rip parts out and resew them. It's a matter of whether I want it done NOW and WRONG or LATER and RIGHT.

Here's another bit of productivity. This is where our garage used to be. We're getting a new one, along with 22 new windows, 5 new doors and new siding on the house to match the new garage. Our house is kind of free-style Tudor, built in 1980 by a contractor for his own home. Slightly idiosyncratic to say the least. The lower part of the exterior is field stone and the upper part of the house and the whole of our former garage are the stucco-and-board-frame business. I have never loved this house. We bought the land - 3 acres in town - and the location - the right school district for where we wanted the girls to go. We have lived with the house. We've been here 11 years and it's just flat time to redo things. The siding I picked (J.R. let me do whatever I wanted) is a sage green called Cypress. We're getting white windows and dark brown doors. We're also knocking the foyer off the house and rebuilding twice the size. The entire entry of the house is getting a redesign. We have a contractor who does excellent work and is very committed to doing the job right. Hoping for dry weather! Projected finish date - September 30.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Whooo, whooo?

Or is it Why? I have been thinking about retro owls lately. Not sure when it started. I have another week of summer vacation and I'm working on some shall we say, wearable creations. Yes, clothes. I'm making myself some clothes. How nerdy is that? I made a skirt a couple of weeks ago and bought the fabric to make another one from my favorite fabric store, Shiisa Quilts in Bloomington. When I bought the skirt fabric - I think it's Amy Butler - I bought 3 yards of a funky orange and brown floral from the clearance rack. I only wanted 2 yards, but you get a yard free when you buy 2. I used Simplicity pattern 3535, one of the Project Runway patterns, and made a top from the orange and brown. It was harder than beginner, but not too difficult. I did a bit of unsewing here and there to make sure it looked nice. The sleeves have a tie that was a little tricky, but it was fun to see it turn out right. I picked out a bit of the sleeves last night; need to resew. Some of the gathers at the shoulder didn't look clean and straight. The owl? Oh yeah...I was thinking that an owl applique on the lower left of the top would look cute and interesting for school. The print is kinda 70s and so is the owl. I don't want it to be too fussy or too weird.
But does that really matter anymore? Looking weird? I'm old enough to be a little eccentric AND I'm an art maker and art teacher. I think that's license to look a little different.
I was home alone yesterday afternoon. That's been happening a lot lately and I don't like it. I did something I haven't done all summer - I watched Oprah. Hated it. When she raises something besides a cocker spaniel, I'll take her parenting advice. Anywhoo - while she droned on and on, I worked on some owls in my art book, trying to figure out a simple pattern for my applique. Why didn't I change the channel?
I like the one in the upper right corner best. I think I'll make the owl then try it on the top before I applique it on there. About 6" tall? All prints, no solids? The little V feathers will be embroidered I think.
Should I bother to read The Time Traveler's Wife? I already read my one book for this summer - My Sisters Keeper - Painful. Jody Picoult is the female Nicholas Sparks. Somebody please tell her that Nicholas Sparks has got it covered. I HATED that book. I read it because the girls wanted to see the movie and I told them they had to read the book first. It was sitting there, so I picked it up. I skipped ahead to the end after about 6 chapters and was STUNNED at the lengths to which this so-called writer would go to tie up all the loose ends in a neat little bow around a great big shiny package of Are You Kidding Me. I am not unpleasable, but I do like books that show the messiness, the conflictedness of it all without the aforementioned bow-tying.
Some books I have read and liked:
Ethan Fromme by Edith Wharton
What Maisie Knew by Henry James
Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan - ANYTHING by Amy Tan
March by Geraldine Brooks - Go read this today
Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Suzann
Water for Elephants was ok, but Wally Lamb does opposite gender better than anybody. Whenever I read an author writing in the voice of the opposite gender, I always compare it to She's Come Undone. Picoult fails miserably in speaking in the attorney's voice in MSK. No man describes his own apartment as "sleek and modern". How did that even get past and editor?
So I am wary of movie books. I looked on Wikipedia to see the plot of the Time Traveler's Wife and it seemed a little Sparksy. Any thoughts?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

So I guess I took a little break...

about a month, from posting. It's not that nothing is happening; au contraire, much has happened. This July has been the coolest on record in Indiana, so it doesn't feel like summer. We're not suffering. Weird.

Whitley got her drivers license and now she drives herself and Courtney to cross country in the mornings and soccer in the evenings. I feel kind of lost, not watching the clock for when to take them and when to go get them. That's been like my job since forever. Weird.

Whit went to soccer camps at Ball State and DePauw. She got MVP at Ball State. Court did a couple of Jr Olympic meets and did well. I've had Court to see a couple of docs about the sleepy foot she is still battling when she runs distance. We have a real diagnosis from no less than the Colts team doctor - she has exertional compartment syndrome and will surgery to fix it.

JR rescued a tiny abandoned kitten from the Jaws of Death ( the dog catcher - and the animal shelter here is a kill shelter) and let me bring it home. He's a guy and it's a kitten. It was quite a surprise. I named him Santino and he's asleep on the couch.

I have a article in the upcoming Sept/Oct ish of Cloth Paper Scissors. Look for it early next month.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Monotypes from Arrowmont

Okay. So the class I took last week was called something like "Printmaking for Book Artists", the primary focus being on ways to create images for books and multiple copies of books or images. We did carved stamps - I've done this before but still enjoy it. I made a set of interchangeable leaves, petals and centers and started a doll set with hair, faces and hats. Some of the flower parts work with the doll parts, too. We did the linoleum prints, like the sunflower reduction print in the last post and we did monotypes. To me honest, monotypes have never been too exciting to me. I hate "mono" anything - it means you go to a whole bunch of trouble and get ONE thing. But, surprise, I found a monotype that I liked: the traced "Gaugin" style monotype. I used photocopies from a book of flowers in the library. I varied the process slightly from the way Matt taught it, but it worked out. In the pages above (from a journal I have challenged myself to fill before school starts) the images are some of the photocopies I used.

I made a little book of my monotypes. The monotype is on the left and the ghost is on the right. We used etching ink (oil-based) so I watercolored over the dry prints to give them a little flavor.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Victories, Small and Otherwise

I found my way to Hendersonville, NC without getting lost a single time.
Cheryl and I taught at Random Arts and I think everybody enjoyed it.
I made it to Gatlinburg for my class at Arrowmont.
I conquered the reduction print. See above.

More details later.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Random Arts - June 13

As you've read on Cheryl's blog, we're teaching at Random Arts In Saluda, NC on Saturday, June 13. In my class, we'll be making a Supersized Good Girl. The ones I sell are about 7" tall, but the one we'll make in my class is about 12" tall. I'll have all the bodies presewn, so no worries about sewing for my lovely students. This sample doll is holding a small, properly bound blank journal and a pencil.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Did I mention...

this little fact about my Good Girls? Every Good Girl that I make personally with my own little hands has a secret. If you lift her skirt, you will read a small truth about Good Girls. This is Miss Bonnie.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Have you ever been obsessed?

I get that way about certain makers of certain objects from time to time...people like

I have studied with Dan, Keith and Mr. Mann. I met Teesha once in 2003. Yet, I remain my dorky, unchanged self. It appears as though what they have isn't contagious. Would I want it to be?

My latest obsession: The Black Apple - Emily Martin! I have listened to her CraftSanity interview a "few" times and she talks about being on Martha. I followed the Martha link on Miss Emily's blog and found the template she used on the show - for personal use only, of course - and I made a doll:

She's no real Black Apple, but she'll have to do until I can get one of Emily's originals. I love owning things made by people who have It. I never leave the house without at least one piece of Thomas Mann on - yes, I know he's the designer of my pieces, not necessarily the maker - but's his brain and breath. I own one small thing made by Dan. Something from Keith? Well, only the memories of his class "Precious Little". I fear I shall never be of the means to buy anything substantial from Dan or Keith. I bought a rubber stamp directly from Teesha at Art Continuum in 2003. A set of wings I used all the time for a while.

Why has Emily been added to my Little Group of Modern Masters? She's really doing it - making a living (and a life) making art. Her voice and vision are strong and I wish her continued success.

Friday, May 08, 2009

A Very Rare Species

Something I made for myself. Something I didn't invent on my own. Something I followed to instructions for. Something that is done. Something I like.
This has been the thing missing from my art life ever since we wrote The Book. I haven't been able to just make things without thinking about them in terms of originality and how I could write about them and how to recreate them and if other people could make them or want to make them.
I got Anna Maria Horner's book in maybe was the day of the Martinsville game and it rained and rained. I took it to the game to read during Varsity. My kids were both playing JV that night. It's such a great book and I wanted to make so many of the projects in it. I finally got around to making the "I'll Take One of Everything" bag. I started it last night and finished it this evening. I left off the tassel-y bits on the corners for now. I might add them later. This one is in the brown and warms color family. It really went together pretty easily. The top seams - if you have the book I think they are steps 21 and 22 - were a tad tricky. The pattern contains 2 of of my Sewing Danger Words - Bias and Interfacing - but I gutted it out and did it. When you visit Anna Maria's blog, check out the Flickr groups for all kinds of things made from her patterns and fabrics.
I think I'll carry it to my sister's graduation tomorrow.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Me @ Mile 12

So yesterday I did the One America Mini Marathon in Indianapolis, along with about 30, 000 of my closest friends. It was my third Mini.

I've mentioned this before, but let me reiterate: I AM NOT A RUNNER, or any kind of athlete by any definition of the word. My basic race strategy can be summed up in one word (Finish), but this year, I set a goal and calculated what my mile splits needed to be to finish in under 3 hours of running-walking-running-walking. I ran the first part - maybe two or three miles - straight thru to get out of the packs of pure walkers and carve out a little space for myself, then I would pick out a slow walker way in front of me and walk until I caught her. After that walking break, I ran until I passed 50 people. It's hard to count accurately in a crowd that big, but it gave me something to think about and a concrete goal. Everything went pretty well. I knew I had to be at the 9 mile marker at the 2 hour mark to make sure I could make my self-imposed deadline. Surprise - I made 9 miles in 1:58.

If you're a runner, you're laughing by now. I started out doing 15 minute miles a couple of years average mile yesterday was 13:38... a little progress is better than no progress.

Like I said, everything went great. Then there was the Mile 12 marker. The mile markers are huge electric beacons of hope. I scanned the horizon constantly for the next one throughout the race. The red 12, shimmering in the heat, came into view as we rounded the last right hand turn of the course. I challenged myself to be there by the 2:43 mark, which would give me 17 minutes to cover the last 1.1 miles. I could do that on my slowest of days. My mind scrambled to do all the math problems - What if I couldn't get there until the 2:45 mark? Could I still do it? What if I didn't make 12 until 2:47? Could I run the last whole mile? What if I finish in 3 hours and ONE minute? Then there I was at Mile 12. My watch read 2:43. Then it happened. It started just above my right heel and slowly crept up the entire back of my leg - A CRAMP! BUT I DRANK THE GATORADE! I'm not a real runner! How in the world did I get a cramp? Thank the Good Lord it stayed at a bearable level of crampiness and did not reach full on charlie horse status. It did slow me down quite a bit. It took me 15 minutes to cover that last, dreadful mile and finish in 2:58. Nine whole minutes better than last year. Sixteen whole minutes better than 2007. My goal for 2010? 2:45

I made this doll today. It's me at Mile 12. Sorta. My hair isn't that long and colorful and if it was, it would have been too sweaty to blow in the breeze behind me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009