Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Leather Story

This picture is slightly blurry, but it's of my favorite bag. It's deerskin and painted by yours truly, and there are no machine stitches holding it together. Only deerskin lacing and knots do that. I added an antler button on the shoulder strap, enabling it to become a waist pouch in a flash. I like to wear this at the county fair. It frees up my hands, takes weight off my shoulder, and shows off my work! You just can't beat that!

The next two leather shields I picked up at a dollar store. The leather was blank and cried for an image, so I painted my own interpretations of Kokopelli on them. They and a handful of dream catchers grace to walls of our hallway.

Luckily, there's been a long stretch between birthdays, Halloween is tomorrow and the decorations are done. Now, it's time to figure out what to do for my Mother's birthday. This is always a very tough nut to crack. I like to make it a personal gift- not like Christmas where almost anything goes. So, this year I decided to try something different. I'd make her a card. How hard could it be?
Thinking fast, I picked some recycled paper from a sketch book I had in my 'go' bag. This is a beautiful, almost paper bag-ish color, mixed with delicate fibers throughout. It would lend itself well to the delicate lettering I wanted to use. I have about 700 fonts at hand, but I knew just the right one, and it didn't have to be enlarged. We're cookin'.
I won't bore you with details, but the card came out fairly well. At least I think so. I used only metallics on the design and lettering, which complimented the paper nicely. Here's the card:
The design is mine. Lettering, not.
 Now for the gift.
Mom reads alot. I do, too. So does my sister and my husband. Books are either at my house or hers. We're constantly juggling them back and forth. Our favorite authors write 'The People of' series. Superb reading. The next book-switch is coming up soon, and that thought led me to an old leather coat I recycle by making small pouches, earrings, whatever is needed at the time. That leather circled back to the book, and a leather bookmark would be the gift. I know she needs one. And I've made them before.
I started off with this piece:
This is a trial run. To see what I could do.
Pardon me, but I used someone else's art as a guide for this bookmark. There was no way to draw and transfer it to the leather, so it was freehand all the way. The progression of pictures show it's evolution.

This was all play while my mind was bouncing around ideas for Mom's bookmark. Her design just popped out of my hand to the brush, from the brush to the leather. I looked up and saw this out my studio window-

As is the first one, this bookmark is freehand. Nothing fancy or ornate. A bookmark serves a purpose and needs to be durable. What better than leather? And why not make it nice to look at?
Here's the progression of pictures to show it's creation:

Stopping here, I wanted to come up with something different, so I started trimming the leather. Rectangular is fine. It's predictable. My scissors seemed to naturally glide around the flowers and leaves. The bottom became the bottom of a leaf. A little more...
Gold metallic did the trick, and it was the same color I used on the card. Bingo! Out in the mail it will go to reach her on time. Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you.

Meanwhile, it's still snowing! Somehow, Halloween decorations and snow just don't mix!


Sunday, October 16, 2011

When Did October Get So Busy?

Geez. October. Half Over. Sounds like a sad country song. And since when did it get so busy and go so fast I can't get caught up? When the garden was in full swing, October was canning month. Not so in our new place. Not much grows in clay and rocks. The deer like the produce, but I do not. But, at least the apples put in a good show this year. Enough lamenting.

My Halloween projects are coming to a close, finally. I've loved making each and every one of them. If the weather holds, I will set up the front porch on Tuesday, adding a few more embellishments during the next two weeks. I put the skull on hold when the Bead People sent in the swat team to wake me up. Now, these little creatures have taken over the work desk in full force. And I've let them. Yes, indeed. May I present them to you?

The next three are here, with three more enroute to my location. They range in personality like we humans, but don't like to travel much after they've landed on their chosen perch. But, their numbers are dwindling due to lack of water and proper food. Their lifelines have been cut, so they need a place to call home for the rest of their short lives. They want to have fun, make people smile, and watch the pretty leaves blowing around in the cool air. Lighting, to them, can be soft or brilliantly glaring- it's all the same.
All this they have told me as they materialize into our world for their last hurrah.

Today is a day that I am looking forward to, if only for the scenery on the road north. The Transplant Seminar is this afternoon and I must attend this meeting if I am to complete everything needed to be done before a kidney transplant. And if I don't do it now, I'll have to wait until spring next year when the weather clears. So today is the right time. The tourist trade has slowed down enough to allow my husband the day off. He will be the one to handle things if a transplant does happen and must be there for this seminar. Things are getting complicated, but I'm managing to hold it all together so far. My artwork, constant experiments, this blog, and Bill all contribute to the brain power I need (both left and right!). I'm bringing my camera in case I see anything interesting, which I probably will considering we haven't taken this route in many long, long years. I love watching the scenery, don't you?

I must cut this post off early. It's time to be getting ready. My coffee is tasting mighty good this morning, too! Breakfast, as always, was yummy and healthful with lots of protein.
Anyway, I will be posting again soon.

Have a wonderful day. Get your nose in the air and fill it with all the fabulous scents of Fall.
The 's' word comes all too soon.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Frost, a New Tool, and Our Extended Family

The first frost here in central New York State effectively put the gardens to sleep until next year. As a matter of fact, it was closer to a freeze than a frost. Everything was crunchy. It was expected. It always comes this time of year. The leaves left on the trees will now start falling like this summer's rain- not gently, but in buckets. And on my calender, Christmas is tomorrow. At least it feels that way. Apples are landing like bombs on the porch roof, creating a growing puddle beneath their trees. I found out that now is not the time to try to pick them unless you want to do the whirly-legged dance like a cartoon character! The fallen ones are round, and they roll if you step on them, and you can't help but step on them if you come near a tree. But, at least it smells great outside. The last hurrah before the 's' word starts.

After much reading, thinking, experimenting, and frustration, I have finally figured out how to make my own stamps. There are times when I need a certain something for backgrounding, and many times a little stamping would work to fill in backgrounds, or embellish a border. You get the idea. Now that the stamp problem was solved, I needed a tool to apply the paint to the stamp. Brayers are commonly used, but I didn't want to buy one, and really didn't feel it would suit my purposes. So, I decided to make my tool.
Tools, for me, are fairly easy to make. I've made them for many years. I even trim my brushes for certain paint applications (tedious). Thinking about the different types of foam I have collected, I decided to use a dollar store foam kneeling pad. Here is how the assembly starts:

This type of foam is fabulous for rounding its own edges when it's cut with a pair of scissors. No trimming at all. The foam does not suck up paint, so clean up is easy and fast. You are able to apply the exact amount of paint you need on the stamp. If you need to use a different color, you can wipe off the applicator and go on without muddying up the next color.
Next, trim your foam, making sure you leave it long enough to insert your handle and insure stability. Use your craft knife to make a slit in the foam, just wide enough to hold the handle snugly.

Put the nozzle of your glue bottle down into the slit and gently squeeze in some glue.

Then insert your handle. Be careful not to push too far- just far enough for stability, but not so far the bottom and edges of the foam are distorted. That area should stay flat for proper paint application.

Let the glue dry and you're done!
The wonder of this foam is that you can cut it into any shape to fit any occasion. Size is up to you. They are so quick and easy, you can have a few done in about five minutes. And they can be used in other ways- not just for stamping. For example, I have a handful of them in different sizes for dotting tools, placed on the ends of dowels. I've also used them for shaping clay. They're cheap to make, easy to use and clean, and most of all- you make them!! How awesome is that? Go ahead. I'll wait while you make some...

Our extended family came close enough to the house to get some pretty good pictures. I thought you might enjoy seeing them.
This is 'Momma'. She had twins this year. Her grown daughter had a baby and then adopted an orphan (Orf), so at any given time I've got 4 kids running around the yard!
 She's sniffing the new bird feeder! It seemed to fascinate her.
Momma was right outside the kitchen window.
Here's one of the twins in the front yard, very close to the front porch.
And here are the twins at the porch, wading through the pool of apples!

Aren't they cute? They've gotten so big and have lost their spots. I hope they stay in the area and come back with their own babies. Here, we humans are IN the zoo! I swear they like to watch us through the windows. With a parting camera shot, I must say TOODLES for now.

Eat lots of apples!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Shuffling Along

I wanted to post this picture first. It's the only candleabra I have, and I'm glad to have it. It's a flea market find- a little dented and bent, but mysterious and fascinating in it's simplicity. The super thin tapers came from a gigantic dollar store and have been wrapped up and waiting to be put to use for some time. A moment of ingenuity tried to sneak past, but my crafty hand caught it in mid-pass. So, I took a small ball of older clay, flattened some pieces and wrapped it around the bottom of the tapers. They now sit upright, taking notice, gracefully accenting their distressed host. Bad thing about those tapers- they burn too fast! Ah well. It's the beginning of the seasons where something likes this adds to the mood. So, I'm good. It's all good.
Here's a brighter picture so you can see more detail:

This little jack-o-lantern (little because there's a 'tiny') is almost ready for the wreath.
Two gems and the finish is all that's needed.

The glass pumpkin jar is coming right along. Usually if I wait long enough, it will tell me how to go on with it's pattern. I waited. It spoke. 'Nough said.

Much placing, gluing, fussing over, and three handles later... the BOO Bags are done! I think I was almost sad to see them completed, I was having so much fun! This was a new project type for me. Painting has always been my passion. And so it shall remain. But some side projects like this can fire up the juices and bring different angles and perspectives to light. And it did.

Without any further ado- here they are:

A close up of my granddaughter's bag:

There is glitter paint, glow in the dark paint, a spray-over, stickers, and flashy purple bats on them. They're not too large or too small, are washable with a sponge, and just overall  functional. Would I do them again? You bet!

Here's a little sign I painted up a little, just to make it different.

It's a very good thing it's only the 2nd of October. The spooktacular special effects are still in the making. My husband and I joke that the day after July 4th is Christmas, and lately, that's how it feels! So much to do and I'm just one elf, all alone in the workshop. The smell of snow is in the air. Gotta fly!

I really do hope, friendly reader, that your weather is drier and warmer than mine.