Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year

I hope everyone stayed healthy and safe over the past week. New Year's Eve is nearly upon us and then a fresh start in 2010. Wow, it seems weird typing that number. According to Nostradamus, we have 2 more years before the destruction of mankind, as we know it.  However, he's been wrong before ... or misinterpreted, who knows? Don has just popped out for a few things at the store because the fridge was beginning to look a little bare. Supper is on hold till he returns with potatoes.

Today I've been working on a birthday gift for my BFF, Lu. Can't tell you what it is yet as she might see this post before the 4th of January. After that, I'll post a pic or two and the mystery will be solved. Don and I have decided to spend the holiday with a couple of rented movies and take it pretty easy. A couple of his male friends are threatening to make an appearance to shoot some stick, so if they show up, I can throw on a quick chili or hearty soup and some biscuits to chow down on. If they don't show up ... peace and quiet.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What a Nice Quiet Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas,  just the two of us and Daisy. Don cooked a spectacular meal of beef tenderloin, steamed lobster, asparagus with lemon and dill sauce and a lovely South African red wine. Neither of us worked on anything all day and it was great just to relax. We had turned down our usual invitation to dinner with friends because this is our 20th Christmas together and we wanted to spend it alone.

The past week has been a bit hectic, even though we didn't plan anything too special. The stores were crazy and the traffic was heavy. We did our visiting on Christmas Eve and saw lots of friends at the Legion. We don't have any plans for New Year's Eve as yet, so perhaps we'll stay home then too, since we enjoyed our quiet Christmas so much. I think we're just turning into old hermits.

Sometime over the next few days, I have to begin working with the wool again. I want to make a couple of cute critters for friends, and finalize the designs for a large humanoid sculpture. I have the head to the stage where I need to make decisions on gender and age at least. I'm trying to come up with an idea for wool in combination with beach rock as I have several nice ones in my supplies box. I'll need to sit down with my sketch book and try to dream something up for that. It seems I'm never out of ideas for too long. I've just about finished all the magnetic bracelets that I want to do for now. I have them out for sale now, so will see how they go. Just finishing up a pair of fringe earrings here today, for myself, then put all the beads away for awhile. It's so past time to get back to the wool. Don has also put in a request for a toque so must look for yarn for that as I don't think there's any here appropriate for that type of thing. Next time I'm by the Bargain Center in Shubie, I'll likely grab something for that. Now, I must go to the kitchen and see what I can come up with for our supper.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Howling Winds and Wool

The weather outside is frightful! Really. The wind blew all night, well above gale force, making the trees bend sideways and the windows rattle. It's  still blowing out there, but so far, not snowing. I spent last evening working on more gecko pins. The color combinations of the wool seem endless, and it's so much fun trying to match up some beads to embellish them. I'm sure most of you just think they're weird looking, but they're surprisingly popular and I haven't really pushed the product yet. Keeping prices low seems to be the answer. It's a lot of work meeting demand for the smaller products, and it doesn't leave me much time to work on the bigger projects, but I seem to be keeping up with the bills.

 I got about half of my Christmas e-cards out yesterday. Go green and save a tree, I say. Actually it's more about postage and the e-cards are so nice now, interactive and just beautiful. Sometime this afternoon, I'll get the rest sent and that will be another holiday chore done with. We had a bit of a kitchen crisis yesterday with the faucet breaking, but it was simply a matter of buying a new set as Don is a pretty good plumber too. The new faucet isn't exactly what I wanted, but times are hard, and it nice to have one that we don't have to fight with anymore.

I have to make a quick run out this afternoon and I'm not looking forward to driving on the highway in that wind. The roads will be dry though, so it's just major gusts to deal with. Don has to work at the bar, so will have to pick him up later. I'll be able to get more felting done this afternoon and I'm looking forward to that. Now, however, the vaccuum is calling my name, then I have to get some lunch ready for us. Hmmm .... toasted bacon and tomato sandwiches should fit that bill.

Friday, December 11, 2009

One Solution to an Ugly Problem

Good morning friends. While I refuse to get into the debate as to whether or not magnetic bracelets work for arthritic pain, I will tell you that I do wear one. I wear it with the thought that if it helps, even a little, I'm going to reap the benefits. I'm actually afraid to take it off, in case the sore spots get worse. However, they are damn ugly things. Just looks like a length of steel cable with polished balls on each end .... ewwwww! With that in mind, I have come up with a solution: beaded magnetic bracelets.

These look so much nicer and each has a minimum of 12 magnetic hematite beads woven in, even spaced and not touching each other.  I love mine and it's such a pretty piece I think I'll be wearing it all the time.  In the picture above, the bracelet at the far left does not contain the hematite beads .. it's just a pretty bracelet. In place of the magnetic beads, I used Miracle beads which have an unusual luminosity. I used a flash on this pic so they would show up. You can see they are highly reflective. I wish I had a black light as I imagine they would glow wildly in that. Beading has never been my main line but it's a lovely distraction and I incorporate beads into alot of my wool projects. Speaking of which, my Santa pins have been flying out the door and I actually have to make more this week to supply the store in Shubenacadie that is selling them for me. I can't wait for Christmas to be over now, so I can get my new stuff out ... the little gecko pins are very cute. I've sold a couple of them privately and gotten a great response.

Monday, December 7, 2009

First Snowstorm of the Season

Yesterday was our first snowstorm of the season which was of any significance. I had to drive into Dartmouth, which was ok for the most part, but there were a couple of places south of the airport which were quite nasty. The snow had blown onto the highway and built up, forming slush ruts filled with water. The plows were out but it's difficult to plow slush ... it just runs back in. Anyway, I made it in and shortly after that, the storm stopped. The party was fabulous. Thanks to the host, Duane and hostess, Lu. The party food was five star and addictive. Everyone was in such good cheer and all the old friends are looking just wonderful. I was overwhelmed by the positive response to the pins I'd brought in to sell. I'm going to have a busy week making the santas, as the only one I have left is on my jacket. My little geckos were well complemented too. The one pictured here is a "Necko".   It's a necklace as the tail is very long and it has a firm wire inside, so it hangs around the neck, easily adjustable to size. I had only made two of them and they sold the night before the party, so I only took the pins. They seem to be popular so I'm making a few more of them this week, as the $5 pins will all be gone after Christmas and a new batch of $10 pins will available, all with beautiful, higher quality beading material from  and featuring Japanese Miyuki cubes. So, that's work for this week. On that positive note, I must go start some badly needed housecleaning.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Masterpiece by Don

As promised, here is a look at Don lastest work. It's going in our front yard next to the road. The sign is double sided and looks the same from either direction. The columns are hollow and each side is in raised panel design. He had wanted to install it today, but he was about halfway done digging the holes for the cement blocks that anchor and raise it high enough so the whipper snipper doesn't chew up the wood, when it began to rain. He made some comment about being low on some kind of waterproof cement too, so I suppose that will be another trip to the hardware store. It will likely go out on Monday.

As you can see from this shot with the flash, the numbers and street name are done in reflective paint so will show up nicely at night. There is a street light just about above the spot where it's going so should be very eye catching. It's hard to price a piece like this, due to the hours involved. He had to cut out 4 copies of the side designs and 2 copies of the alpha numerics on the scroll saw. I also believe the scroll saw was used in the lantern decorations on the top of the columns. These are not, but could easily be wired for lanterns. The panel sides of the columns were another job involving other power tools, like table saw, rotor, sanders, etc. The whole intallment is painted with exterior gloss paint. It's a very nice lawn ornament. On the numbers, the 0 looks larger than the 2. They are the same size. We think this is an illusion due to being italicized so will factor this into the next one. It didn't look like that on the pattern.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Organizing ....

 I received my last wool order today and managed to get one corner of our studio organized and tidied up. I now have my wool supply for the whole winter and even a little extra, should more spinning or the urge to try wet felting grab me. My sewing corner was organized the other day so that just leaves the miscellaneous crafts corner to tackle .... always the worst but things are making sense and a couple of important but missing tools have reappeared and are now put in the proper place so I can find them next time I need them. There's nothing worse than hunting for lost tools; by the time I find them, I'm usually no longer in the frame of mind to be creative.
Lots of little lapel pins are ready to go. I'm taking orders for these as well as having placed some out in businesses. I've been invited to bring them to a couple of seasonal gatherings so folks can have a look and select any they might like to wear this season. The santas have gnome beards and are just too cute. I think I've about reached my limit with the Christmas inspiration as I have a strong desire to move on to something new. I had an idea in a dream last night for a wearable art neck peice .... of course that might require some new beads ... like maybe the Miyuki cubes I spotted at The Beading Room. Sigh ..... such wonderful materials out there to work with and I'm so poor ... please buy something from us.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Marketing Study

These little Santas are cute. I have made a few to test the market, so to speak. I made quite a few needle felted lapel pins. I need the money really badly right now, so they're small, inexpensive and something I can place in local businesses with very little overhead. I'm also taking orders for these. Actually, I have made several kinds: poinsettias, hearts, lobsters and Santas. Some are seasonal and some are not. I made up rather clever little boxes to hold sets of the cards I have them mounted on. Very professional looking, if I do say so myself. I don't have much time to test out the Christmas stuff, and it's not my favorite theme either. I'd rather persue either humor or nature in my work, but Christmas sells, so I can pay for the supplies to make the cool stuff. Don is back to painting the huge civic number sign he made for the front of the property. He is doing the number and street name in reflective paint. Keep checking my blog for pics as it's almost to the stage to begin recording the assembly process. Very neat sign.

We were too late applying to get into the second craft fair in  Middle Musquodoboit. They were full. I'm going to be contacting some retailers in the south end of Halifax in the spring. I truely believe our work is nice enough to be in some of the places the tourists and cruise ships access. I'm going to be struggling this winter however, as I'd counted on doing a lot better at the Milford Craft Sale. Live and learn. It's starting to look like small stuff in quantity pays the bills and the occassional sale of a larger piece, or a commission is gravy. At least I'll be immersed in something I enjoy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Another Mild, Wet Day

I'm learning to type all over again. My ergonomic keyboard kicked the bucket yesterday and I decided to retire it, rather than fix it again.
I was getting fed up with sticky keys and praying for the @ sign to work. I switched it out for a standard keyboard and find it so small. It's cut my speed in half for now but as time goes on I'm sure I'll learn to use it without so many mistakes.

It's another wet dark day but at least it's warm. It could stay like this all winter and I wouldn't complain too much. Maybe palm trees would sprout in the spring and we'll become the new Florida! Yeah ... nice to dream.. I'm off to check out a new bead supply place in a little while. I need some pin backs to sew onto some brooches I felted. I have a huge bag of red wool and hope to get some brooches sold for both Christmas and Valentines ... hearts are very fast to make. I did a small lobster to make a pin, but don't really care for it. It was harder to sculpt and although it turned out well, lobsters just aren't cute. I have to figure out some small stuff to sell as people just aren't spending big money right now. If the craft show was any indication of the state of the economy, everybody wants stuff for next to nothing and appreciation for the craft seems to have flown out the recession window. Keep trying ... I keep telling myself that perseverence will someday pay off.

I'm back now from what turned out to be a bit of an adventure. Before I left, I had searched out my destination on Google Earth. It clearly shows a road that runs parallel to the 102 and runs southeast of Miller Lake. Do you think we could find the end of it off the Aerotech Park exit? No Sir! We saw a one lane road with a gate ... no public road going that way. Then we spotted a sign pointing to the Old Guysborough Road ... aha! It took about 10 minutes of driving before we were both realized we weren't heading in the correct direction. I hauled the smart phone out and booted up the GPS ... sure enough, we were heading back home the long way. We turned around and went all the way back out to the highway and proceeded to Fall River and went in behind the lake, and had no trouble finding the place.

What a lovely couple! The online bead supply place is run by a wonderful young British couple and their platinum blonde, cuter than kittens, little boy. Brian and Hollie are so very nice and just a pleasure to talk to. Brian liked my dog too. Big brownie points there. They run a home based online beading supply company and carry quality products. By the way, they've informed me that road with the gate is the one we were looking for, but is impassable by vehicle anyway. The way we came is the only way to get there. So, all in all, it was more than worth the trip. Good luck Brian and Hollie. Check them out at . From there you can access their blog which is also very interesting. So, now I have the pin backs I need for my felted pins and I had better get busy as they don't sew themselves to the felt.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Still Feeling Disappointed

Well, all of our hard work and determination seems to have been for nothing as the Craft Show was a bit of a flop. I suppose we could view it as a lesson well learned. There have been hints here and there from certain other artists, that craft shows are not the venue to rely on for income, but rather a hit and miss type of thing. I doubt we'll be entering this one again. There were lots of lovely things there, but at the end, a lot of disheartened crafters. Those who purchased were only interested in little, inexpensive things. I guess folks think crafters and artists have no overhead or expenses. However, we can't afford to mope for very long. I was offered a sewing job for the new year, which I plan to accept, as it may turn out to be a larger project than that which is planned right now. One of the local Lion's Clubs wants 10 new vests made for their members, and possibly more. There are lots of Lion's Club chapters within a short distance so I may canvass some others once I get started and see it they want to order as well. It get's my name out there for the sewing anyway and it's work. Don is looking for something outside the home and has a couple of small possibilites, one of which is working on a local dairy farm operating the tractor and various towed apparatus. We'll see what happens there. In the meantime, it's a lovely sunny day and the dog is bugging me to go outside and play, so I think I'll grab a light jacket and go out and play fetch with her. Then I want to make some sketches for some new old folks heads, and see what expressions evolve. Life goes on and isn't really all that bad afterall.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Remembering Tomorrow's Yesterdays

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and a busy day for us. We're cooking the pork roasts for the Veterans Banquet at our Legion. They arrived today ... four huge roasts! Massive. They're nice looking too and as the dinner is supposed to be for eighty, I think there will be plenty. We're also slicing it all and making the gravy so we'll be able to tell if it's the top of the line that was ordered. We also have to make our squares tomorrow for the Craft Show, as there is free tea and coffee offered with sweets to all who wish to sit a spell during browsing the wares. Each member is asked to bring a tray of ready to eat sweets when they come to do their shift at the venue. Pretty fair dinkum, I say. Going to be getting serious with the housework. Five weeks of neglect is beginning to even get on our nerves and nobody is allowed in here anymore, as we're a bit embarrassed we let things get this far. All our stuff is ready to go and no more projects are pending. We're actually being rather lazy today, just because we deserve it ... well, kinda lazy, as I snuck off and started the new rug I've been planning. The picture on it will be a tray with grapes, a candle on wooden candlestick, cheese, wine bottle and two wine glasses. Lots of colors so it will be fun to do. It will be a flat rug with very little relief.

I'm expecting company for the weekend to come enjoy the craft show and hang out. She will be arriving sometime on Friday as far as we know now. That's another reason to get a large amount of cleaning done. Actually, we did put alot of tools and things away today. There are some items that are screaming to be reorganized and my rotary cutter has grown feet and run away during this whole project so hopefully it will turn up when we clean up all the dust, dirt, paper scraps, sawdust, wool bits, etc. It's likely just sitting under something. Don has also misplaced a set of rotor bits. I think they must be in the same place.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A Spectacular Day

Yes, this is a good day. First of all, the sun couldn't be shining any brighter. It's warm enough you only need a sleeved shirt. The air is crisp and wonderful. The farmers haven't spread any manure for awhile so everything smells nice as nothing has begun to decay yet. The leaves are all on the ground, covering the browning grass and the colors are still vivid.

The day started off with a quick trip to the city for last minute crafting supplies, mostly stuff for display and nice cording for hanging all the ornaments. We took Daisy with us for the ride. She loves going in the car. We got everything we needed in record time, so beat it for home to try to get here before the courier truck. It was sitting in the driveway when we pulled in, so I now have my new wool from Louet. Is it ever nice and clean. Long staple, carded beautifully and lovely natural colors with lots of depth. It will be awesome for learning to spin and will serve nicely for filler in projects or natural background. I need alot of colored wool as well, but have to wait until after the check comes from the show before I can order that. I also found a place in Wolfville that sells larger amounts at what seem to reasonable prices so I have to plan a day trip up there some day soon to have a good look at what they offer. That might be a potential long term supplier and wouldn't cost anymore for gas there and back than the S&H on a mail order.

All my projects are completed for the show. I'm giving Don a hand with his work now, touchup painting and attaching hangers to ornaments. It feels really good to have all that done now, after 5 weeks of mass producing. I'm looking forward to starting a new rug and just taking my time, with no pressure. I have a 3-D piece to finish too, but I've lost the drive to work on that for now, as it's a bird and each wing and tail feather has to be done separately ... a big time project involving fine wire and glue so it will progress very slowly as I decide to make a feather here and there. I always design stuff that 's way too fiddly but it usually turns out nice in the long term, although I'll never be able to get what it's worth timewise. Anyway, now I promised the dog a walk and some ball chasing so as she's sitting here staring at me, I think I'll get that done and she can have a nap while I get down to doing something worthwhile. Later gator ...

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Another Wet and Dreary Day

Our storm didn't amount to much as it turned out to be mostly rain. There were some pretty high winds and the back door blew open a couple of times, until I closed the garage door. There aren't many leaves left on the trees ... that just about cleaned everything off. The oaks are still hanging on to some of theirs, but are looking rather ragged and torn up. I worked late into the evening yesterday and finished up a couple more odds and ends, then set up a photo display of all my work for the show. Today, I have to break that down and start setting one up for Don's work. I see the cat has been into my display, but no real harm has been done. She just loves to sleep on the wool.  Hubby had a bit of a crisis today. The switch on his big scroll saw isn't working and it has to go into Burnside for repairs. He'll have to do that before he goes back to work at the bar this afternoon, so that's going to ruin what free time he thought he had today. Oh well, story of our lives ... one step forward, two steps back. At least it's not an expensive repair and won't take more than a couple of days. The cutting was all done anyway so it's just time for the saw to have a rest. Poor thing has been working really hard this past 5 weeks.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Winter is Here

The storm has started here. I was watching late night news from Boston and they were fairly beside themselves that the worst of this storm was going to miss them, for the most part and pound us. It's already started and it's sticking but very, very wet, so will be messy. Looks like us folks in the snow belt are going to get lots before the day is over. We've postponed our shopping trip to Lower Sackville until Monday. No point in driving in this if we really don't have to.

I finished up the tree frog wall hanging piece and he's all ready for the show. I kinda hope he doesn't sell as I really love him, but I could make myself another if he goes. I used up every last bit of my favorite green (hemlock) wool on the vines so I'm hoping there won't be too long a delay at Acorn's Journey with ownership turnover as I'm going to put in a big order in another week or so.  I'm still waiting for the 4 kinds of wool I ordered from Louet and had an email yesterday that it had been sent out, so I'll be watching for a UPS truck to arrive in a day or two. I have a small sample of an interesting green merino coming by post from BC but doubt I'll order from them again as they're overall selection is poor. I need more practice with my new drop spindle and all I have here now with a long enough staple is unbleached core wool which looks kinda bland when spun. Since I'm just learning ... it's an interesting texture too ... can't seem to keep it even. My husband is very entertained watching me try to spin.

Today is a bit up in the air as to what I'll be working on. Binding a wall hanging and painting a wooden puzzle are top priority so they can be packed up for the show. I'm antsy to start a new rug, but doubt I'll get to it today. I'll need more wool to finish it anyway, so no point in rushing. On that note, I'm off to put on another pot of coffe and get to work on something.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Lazy Thursday

I have a cold today but don't feel too bad considering the fact that I was convinced last night that I'd be in horrible shape. I was too miserable to finish my frog so that will be today's project, as well as painting one of Don's woodwork pieces. Then I have to find some nice fabric in my stash to put a mitered border on the Santa wall hanging I have finished. That will just about wrap up all my work for the show and I can start another large rug that I don't want to work on under time pressure, as it's rather detailed and I want to make it a bit dimensional. I was going to try to squeeze in something else for the show, but I'm so tired of rushing things just to get maximum volume. I slowed down on the frog and the results are amazing.

I emailed my artist cousin this morning ... now that summer is over, I'm sure we both have more time to communicate. You must visit her site as she is so talented and has many wonderful things in her gallery. Stop by as I'm sure she'd be thrilled to have your online company.  Anyway, we emailed each other nearly every day last winter and kept each other entertained while the nasty winter weather did it's thing outside. Now I must really get back to work and get something finished.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Been a Long Day

"I'm just bloody knackered! " as our dear British friend, Peter would say. It has really been a long day, starting at 4 am and continuing, napless, until now.
This time change has really messed up my Circadian clock, which is strange as that almost never happens. Anyway, my leisurely awakening at 8 am has gone to hell and I'm now up, swilling coffee at 4, telling myself I do it just to get a decent cup for a change. Normally, there either isn't any left or it's 4 hours old.
I started a new piece today. It's a tree frog wall hanging approximately 10" x 16" on a jute backing. It's a bit more dimensional and all the excess jute will either be sewn to the back or trimmed away. Then, since the cute little bugger is perched on a branch, covered with vines, I shall add more vines hanging down to give it the dimension of close to 4 feet high. It would be so easy to go crazy with the vines, now that I can spin wool into yarn which will make the center of the vines very strong ... don't tell Tarzan. I have to stick to my plan or it will be overpriced and I need more mid range value. The piece is going better than very well, so well in fact. that it's inspiring and I'm thinking that I won't want to part with him. Hmmm.... must refer to business plan again.
Spinning? Yes, I did mention that. Another story really and kind of funny. I had been curious about drop spindles and found a couple instructional video on YouTube. I left them on the screen while I wandered off to felt for awhile and my darling husband had a look. Next thing I know, sitting in front of me is a perfectly serviceable drop spindle ... the hardest part of making it was finding a small enough hook to screw into the end of the dowel. Don made the disc and drilled the hole perfectly centered so it spins nicely. Now to try it out ... oh my god! Funny! I had wool tangled everywhere, but finally got the hang of it enough that I made a short length of chunky from core wool which has a longer staple. I can't quite manage the dyed felting wool from Acorn's Journey yet but might draft some into some longer staple wool I have on order. I'm expecting 4 different natural colors in half pound lots from 4 different breeds of sheep so I can explore what different wools will do. Anyway, the yarn I made today is really pretty ugly but damn strong so will do nicely for the centers of my vines.
Exhaustion in setting in pretty quick. I'm trying to stay up later so I can get up at a reasonable hour in the morning ... daylight being optimum. It's nearly midnight now, so likely safe to try to sleep. However, I have to walk right past that tree frog piece I love working on ....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Work for the Show

Just a couple of things for the show. The closeup on the right is the inside of a vessel containing a geode. Strange but cool. I will be taking more pics soon as I have three flat pieces completed and ready to go. Started another piece today ... rather excited about it ... it's a tree frog and I'm going to try to work it into a relief piece with some hanging vines.

Just Taking a Break

All I have to say is .... BUSY! Yes, my husband and I were very recently accepted into a group of crafters and artists by invitation, who gather their creations once a year for a HUGE show and sale. We had looked into this a few years ago and came away with the impression that this exclusive group would never be within our reach for membership, but things change and now we're both in. It's exciting but left us with alot of work to do before the show. The night we signed up, was 6 weeks from the show dates and our inventories were both rather low for exhibiting.
Now the show is only two weeks away and we find we can see light at the end of the title. We've been putting in ten hour days to make things worthy of this venue and it has paid off. We are very hopeful this move will open some doors for us. As soon as the show is over, I'll be posting tons of things on here for you see. We don't expect to sell everything so there should still be lots left.
I've been watching a favorite fiber artist's blog (Andrea Graham). Check out her site as her work is just fantastic, and so very inspiring. She is also my wool supplier, and I was a bit saddened to learn she is selling her wool business. Selfish I suppose, as I can see how busy she is and I certainly understand how that business would cut into her time severely. I emailed her and found out that she will continue to sell wool in larger quantities. Hmmmm ... I get that it suits her so much better to do this, but can I afford at this point to buy in larger quantities? Well, actually .... maybe I can, as long as I'm more careful and stick to my plans. If my work sells well in two weeks I might be in a position to start buying dyed wools in half pound lots rather than by the ounce. An ounce is still a good bit, but won't go far in a rug, so having half a pound lying around would actually be better. Again, this fits the business plan of commissions much better, but who is that lucky to be able to survive on commissions alone?
My newest thing is rugs. I've always been fascinated by those Cheticamp Hooked Rugs. They're simply beautiful. I have discovered that felting to a jute backing works and once the jute is covered, I can go crazy with dimension, color and detail. I can actually get some very fine detail using the needle felting method and colors are basically unlimited. The three I have done so far, look really nice and after doing a bit of research, I have decided a fair price for me would be $45 per square foot. Hey, wool isn't free and I'm too old to chase sheep after dark. We still don't have much of a supply base for roving here in Nova Scotia. Some shops are charging lots of money for little tiny bits, but not really feasible for large projects, so I'm forced to order all of it from away. This increases costs, of course and then there's the waiting. I'm not comfortable dealing from the states as I don't really trust the mail crossing the border with such precious cargo.
Well, it's time to get back to work. Every flat surface in this house is covered with projects of some kind in various stages of completion. We're running out of space. As I write this, my darling husband is standing at the work table behind me, mounting some of his work on black backgrounds, using spray glue and asphyxiating me, so I have to run along a get my light box out to transfer some patters onto jute. I'll be back later.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back in the Studio

Good day to my loyal followers, of which I think I now have two! Sorry I haven't been around much over the summer. Social committments took up much of my time, as well as I took a job outside the home for a couple of months. That has now come to an end, and the parties have died down to a dull roar. As soon as I get the house back in some kind of order subsequent to the hubster doing the chores all summer, I'll be in the studio full time. Currently, I have plans to finish a rather elaborate sculpture from wool, which I started last spring. I'm also working on a painting of cliffs in the sea, from a day trip I took a few weeks ago. The spot that impressed me can be seen by looking left from the lookoff at Cap d'Or, on the Gloosecap Trail, near Advocate Harbour. Don is finishing a large address sign he plans to place at the end of our driveway and has done a couple of complicated scroll saw projects. I hope to have pictures to add to this blog very soon. So folks, we're back in the studio and picking up where we left off. Stand by for more projects and brainstorms from Decorative Kindling.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Welcome to Decorative Kindling

Hello Friends. Welcome to my site where I intend to showcase completed projects that my husband and I have created.

I had began this site to explain the existance of the strange little creature I created called the Woolfin. You will find the earlier blogs to be the stories making up the Lore of the Northeastern Woolfin. I still make Woolfins and have sold them internationally. However, I also make needle-felted sculptures on commission. Small pieces start at $25. I also work with other fibers, fabrics, beads and do some landscape painting. Some work is a collaboration of talents from both me and my husband.
My husband is the woodworker. Be it a large Victorian Mansion Doghouse, a gun cabinet, a fretwork clock or small Christmas tree ornaments, he can create wonderful projects and he puts all his concentration and talent in each piece.
We welcome inquiries and want you to feel comfortable contacting us with your idea of what you'd like. Once we establish contact, we will work with you to ensure the basic idea is exactly what you want before we start your project. Prices are variable depending on size, detail and materials.

Monday, June 1, 2009

A New Friend, The Forest Gnome

The Woolfins have brought home a new friend. Seems there's been some partying going down lately out in Daisy's Palace. Daisy doesn't seem to mind at all. She was there all day yesterday while we were at the races, and seems very content with all the events taking place in her home. The Woolfins are even keeping the place clean. Daisy is a bit anal about that.

The Forest Gnome seems to be enjoying his visit. I don't think he's too far from his home anyway, as there is a dense woodland right beyond our property. He's just as cute as can be, with his red felt hat, deerskin boots and little tool pouch on his belt. We aren't sure how long he plans to stay with us, but I doubt it will be for very long. Most of these fellows have wives waiting for them back at the GnomeHome. If he knows what's good for him, he'll be getting back to the little woman fairly soon. The Woolfins have been rather well behaved lately, but I'm sure it's only due to their preoccupation with their strange guest. I haven't spotted any new ones lately, so perhaps that's all that are around this area. I haven't been able to trap any new ones for months now.

I had initially worried constantly about them living in Daisy's Palace, after being captive for so long. You know how that is ... just hoping you haven't ruined their survival instincts by meeting their every need. (Kinda like husbands) So far, all my concern was unfounded as they're hale, hearty and having a hell of a time. They're still very shy and illusive so they are fairly safe where they are. They love the forest to play and seem to be making some new friends. I just never know what I'm going to find next.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Woolfins and the Dog

The little darlings seem to have settled in. Not without having another go inside here last night though. Somebody got into the lobster pate' that was left over from cocktail hour and ate it all! The empty dish was still in the fridge! The remaining cracked wheat crackers were gone as well. The empty box was on the floor in front of the fridge. Another sock has disappeared and I had to look for two hours to find my cell phone ... which had been turned off! By that that time I was dreaming up Woolfin recipes.

They're all free now, and seem to have taken residence in the doghouse. They've been hiding all day because it's been raining. Woolfins hate to get wet. That hurricane must have really degraded them ... poor things. Not only do they get so heavy they can no longer move quickly, but after they tend to stink. Not a very pleasant odor either. There's no polite way to describe it but it just smells like wet sheep. The weather is supposed to clear up tomorrow so hopefully I'll be able to get a couple of shots of them in their new digs, where they can come and go as they please, and there's plenty of forested land to roam about in.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Recapture Update

Well, I've had an interesting, if somewhat frustrating time of it, but a couple of new patterns have emerged. Perhaps I should have let the little buggers go earlier.

First of all, I spotted Felix up a tree. He proved a bit too agile for me while he was over my head, but since it was a skinny tree, I was able to shake him out of it. Unfortunately, he missed my net, and immediately found refuge in the woodpile. It was there that I captured him using the highly classified method. Using Felix as bait, (I had him tethered on 20lb. test mono filament) I was able to lure in Chick and Ellie. Basil followed eventually.

The few days of freedom they had enjoyed was enough to make them unhappy while in captivity. One of the most lethal of Woolfin ailments, unhappiness, should be avoided at all costs. I have lost several to this condition and it is always better to release them than to have them die. I'm not an ogre, after all. I have become rather attached to them lately.

The decision was made to let them go. I wasn't very happy about it, but have come to realize that I can still study them as they no longer have any fear of me. And studying needs to be done, because the second phenomenon I've noticed in all of the turmoil of late, is that they seem to love the new doghouse my husband built for Daisy, our spoiled dog. Since she's always with one of us, Daisy is rarely in her house. The Woolfins love the place. Even when she is at home, she's been taught to leave the Woolfins alone, so she doesn't seem to mind sharing. After all, there's lots of room.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Scoundrels on The Loose

Terrible things have taken place here. This morning my husband and I arose to find that our captive Woolfins have gotten loose in the night and wrecked havoc! The mess is unbelievable! All the wastepaper baskets have been upended and their contents strewn throughout the house! Tissue shredded everywhere, all over the carpets and up and down the hallways. Cardboard roll centers literally chewed to bits and wet wads of paper in little piles. In the midst of all this, sat our adorable, well behaved and perfectly trained dog, leashed securely to our heavy European coffee table, with the saddest look I've ever seen. I'm sure she thought she'd be blamed for all this. However, it was obvious that she'd had nothing to do with it, except possibly watch. I'm sure she feels she's failed her duties, but what could she have done, being ganged up on like that.
The worst is that all my captive Woolfins have escaped. They will be hard to recapture, but I know they're nearby, laughing at us. They're a little more wiley now, and know that I'll be after them, so the utmost stealth will be necessary.
It's not easy being a Woolfin Hunter!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Wild Woolfins Have Migrated!

Hurricane Juan liberated the Woolfins from Georges Island, but our own transportation habits have caused further migration to other parts of the country. You see, the hurricane blew across central Nova Scotia basically following the TransCanada Highway, before it blew across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. By the time it reached there, the Woolfins had pretty much all been dropped out of the high winds. Most folk don't even know they have them in their homes, as they tend to dwell between the studs, behind the gyproc, inside furniture, under stairs, in the back of closets and in the attic.

Many families have relocated and innocently taken the Woolfins along with them to their new homes. The evidence of the little devils have been reported as far away as Montreal. Yes, Jean-Guy, I'm afraid you have Woolfins. By the way, they don't like peanut butter. You're more apt to get squirrels with that. Right now, we know that their only natural enemy is wool moths, which they can deal with themselves by stealing your mothballs. Go ahead and check. If half the box is missing, you likely have Woolfins. They're smarter than they look and can get mothballs even if you don't have any. Does that faint odor of camphor late at night ring a bell?

I'm afraid Woolfins will soon be a way of life for all of us. The world is so small these days with the availability of air travel. We ship goods all over the globe so it is only a natural progression that they will spread to every country, every home eventually. Only the tropics are safe from them. They prefer a cooler climate.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Discovering Woolfin Habits

Getting used to the fact that we were sharing our house with other wildlife wasn't so bad, since we've had our share of squirrels, mice, raccoons and skunks around here. Getting used to the fact that regular traps weren't working and wondering what was sneaking around here was a bit harder to take. We knew we had something new, but it took alot of ingenuity to identify the Woolfins and even more creativity to catch one. It took years but I've come up with a method to trap them live and currently I have five in captivity. They're easy to keep, since they eat dryer lint, dust bunnies and pet hair. However, they won't mate while kept in cages, nor are they happy. I believe they easily die of broken hearts but they just tend to disappear when this happens. No trace is ever found of their remains. Perhaps the others consume them or perhaps they turn into another wire coat hanger in your closet. I've had quite a few of those turn up, unexplained. One thing that does make them happy is socks. They absolutely love socks. They devour these treats so fast it is almost unbelievable. Throw a sock in with them and a feeding frenzy ensues. It's amazing to watch and explains why I lose so many socks after doing the laundry. The wild Woolfins will take them right out of the dryer overnight. They never take a pair though, and I now have a drawer full of miss matches, which makes a good treat supply for my little friends. I have also observed that they love coffee cream. They won't open a new carton, but if there's one in the fridge with just a little left, they'll steal the cream and leave the empty carton in the fridge. The same goes for liquor. Leave a bit left over in a bottle and in the morning it will be gone. There's no 'hair of the dog' for a fix-me-up.
I'm bound by the Canadian government to keep my trapping methods under wraps for now, until they determine whether the Woolfins are a threat to mankind. I rather doubt it, but if they plan to turn them loose on the Taliban, they better start working on ways to control them as they're not very obedient.

After the Storm

Daylight was a long time coming that day, but when the sun finally arrived and I looked around the yard, I was shocked at the power of the storm the night before. There were broken trees everywhere. Those not broken off were generally pulled up by the roots. Debris scattered from God knows where covered all the yards in the area. Dirt, mud and torn leaves covered the sides of the houses, the windows and everything else. There was strange fluffy stuff all over ... something like the seeds that fall from the poplar trees, or dandelions, but it was the wrong time of year. Clearly some kind of vegetation though. I didn't give it much thought as I made my way around the fallen debris and headed for the city to collect my husband from the ship. The rain had started again so surely it would rinse some of the mess off the houses. We were in for the big job of cleaning up the mess. Powerless and without water for ninety-six hours, it never occurred to us that we and others like us were being invaded by naughty little creatures who, through no fault of their own, had been scattered far and wide, and were simply looking for warm places to live. All in all, we were lucky the weather remained warm for the next week and it was a bit like camping out as we did our best to clean up our properties. The whole time we were working, we were oblivious to our new housemates. When things started going missing, we simply thought we were getting very absent minded in the wake of the tragedy of the hurricane. Perhaps our age was catching up with us and we just couldn't remember where we were putting things down. We literally spent a month blaming each other for hiding the car keys until we realized that someone, or something was messing around with us. Woolfins!

Escape from Georges Island

It was a dark and stormy night .... ok, that sounds corny but it's the truth. It was shortly after midnight on the 29th of October, 2003. We had all been warned. We had all ignored the warnings as we'd heard them for years and pretty much nothing ever happened except a bit of rain and a big blow. However, this was a night to remember; one I don't ever want to repeat. It was the night Hurricane Juan laid waste to Nova Scotia while we all cowered in our basements in disbelief. I was home alone as my husband was at sea, working with the offshore oil project. His ship had made a run into port just ahead of the storm and was tied up at Woodside, in Dartmouth, just across the harbor from Georges Island. During the height of the storm, his ship had to start their engines and run the props to keep the vessel against the wall because the lines tying it up kept breaking. Some of the highest winds of the storm were recorded at Georges Island.
As the winds whipped around the metro area and flattened most of the massive trees in Point Pleasant Park, strange events were taking place on Georges Island. Parts of the old bunkers collapsed, opening tunnels to the elements. The Woolfins now had a way out. Since they are very lightweight, they didn't stand a chance in the high winds. The ever changing directions of the gale plucked them out of their safe, comfortable dens and scattered them far and wide, following the path of the hurricane as it cut a swath through the central portion of the province. About an hour after the storm made landfall near Halifax, it hit here at home with a vengence. Large maple trees were uprooted and broken to bits. Silos were torn off barns. I cowered in fear inside my house, in the dark, without power, praying that my windows didn't implode from the force of the tempest. Little did I know that a curious new lifeform was populating my neighborhood. The Woolfins were on the move!

Evolution of the Woolfins

Since 1749, Georges Island, in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia, has been inhabited by military personnel. This island has seen two and a half centuries of various activity related to the protection of the city of Halifax. The island even hosted a prison at one time. Due to the primative conditions, the labyrinth of tunnels, the storage and decay of supplies and organics, a primordial soup existed in conditions that were just right for these little creatures to evolve. We don't exactly know when they came to life, but we had heard about them for years from visitors to the island, who were at times, somewhat less than believable. They became a legend. Not called Woolfins, but oft referred to as ghosts, spirits or apparitions, the supernatural has always been blamed for strange goings on over on that island. It has mostly been closed to the public for safety reasons but I have been fortunate to visit with special permission, in order to continue my research.

The creatures were only described physically after they left Georges Island. While they were there, they were successful in eluding human detection. Now we know they are very small. No more than a foot tall, they are fuzzy little critters with large heads, bulging eyes and long, thin limbs. They have a humanoid appearance and some would think they're cute and cuddly. However they're not to be trusted. Although we don't know much about their propagation and mating habits, we have been able to tell there are two distinct types that would be somewhat gender specific to male and female. They don't behave in captivity as they do in the wild, but one of the drawbacks of studying them is that my home is now infested with the little buggers, so I know first hand just how naughty they can be. However, I getting ahead of myself. My next post will describe how the Woolfins got off Georges Island and spread throughout the central portion of Nova Scotia.