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.