Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Ready for Canada Day

     And so a new week begins. I'm nearly ready for Canada Day. Watching the long term weather report and hoping the rain is going to move off by then. In the meantime, we're in for a wet week. They're still calling for showers on Thursday morning, which will force the event to be inside. I was hoping we'd be outside, but that might have drawbacks as well, such as wind, in which case all my things would have to be pinned down to the table, and sunburn, which would be inevitable with my fair skin. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. This is a photo of one of the new hair combs I have to offer. The flowers are really pretty, and I've already had gaping jaws of disbelief that they are really made of wool. They're very fun to make and I never really know how they'll turn out until I have them finished. 

     I enjoyed another nice gathering with friends on the weekend. We went for a boat ride, a swim, a great barbeque and a bonfire.  It was really fun and the weather held up for us. Can't ask for more than that. Today I'm packing up items to sell on Canada Day at the Alderney Landing waterfront Boardwalk Artists event. I'll be there selling from 10 am until 6 pm if anyone is interested in coming. There will be lots of artists there talking about their work. I'm told there is a small cover charge to get in.  I hope to see you there. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Enjoying Summer

     Here is a picture of my spirea hedge in front of the house, heavy with blooms. It's a rather pretty hedge for about one week out of the year, so since this is the time, I intend to sit and stare at it because it won't last long. The weather has been quite nice and not too hot yet. I'm bracing for the extreme humidity that seems so hold us prisoners to our fans and air conditioners every year for two solid weeks, but it's not here just yet, so I'm still enjoying beautiful, dry days. 

    The top for the ottoman is finished and just needs to dry out. My attempt to make it resemble stormy clouds against and multi hued sky is so-so. I like some of it ... other parts not so much. It's good enough to sit on  and cover the current top which is badly torn. This was my first time using curly locks as well. They stick rather well and the root ends felt into the other fibers quickly and solidly. Being an experimental piece, I'm almost happy with it. Today I'm going to clean up a bit and get ready to make some smaller things ... I have some flowers in mind that I hope will turn in to nice necklaces. Wish me luck .. as it's another project I've never tried before. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Back From the Beach

     Daisy and I just got home from Malagash. We left yesterday afternoon and drove to Jost Winery, which was having an open house. It was a beautiful day with a nice breeze so not too hot in the car. Daisy seemed excited. I haven't taken her anywhere in awhile and she could sense this was a bigger trip than just going for the mail. 

     We made good time and the traffic over Nutby mountain was light. It was hot at the vinyard, and after attending to Daisy's business, I went in to see what was being offered at the open house. Their patio was packed, but I managed to find a chair and wolfed down a very good sausage dog with lots of hot mustard and saurkraut. I tried a glass of the white wine they were pushing on the patio, but didn't care for it. I was pondering going inside to get a nice glass of chardonnay, but the place was crowded and the live music was geared much more to an older generation (good grief, I'm old but this fiddle stuff was not at all to my liking) so I just picked up a bottle of chardonnay and headed across the road to my friends' cottage. 

     The whole point of the trip was to deliver this needle felted mask to Ida, the cottage owner. She has a collection of masks and I made this one specifically for her, as a thank you gift for the couple of weekends I spent there last summer. She is going to be away for the the next 6 weeks so I had to touch base with her this weekend or wait until later in the summer. She absolutely loved it and said she was going to rearrange the whole collection so it would balance the wall perfectly with the new addition. 

    My timing was perfect, as when I arrived at the cottage, they had just pulled in a few minutes ahead of me. They'd all come up on the bikes so Daisy was the only four legged guest this trip. Ida insisted we stay for supper, and later on, after more alcohol was consumed, she convinced me to stay the night and have a good time with them all. There were 8 of us there so it was a nice gathering. We sat outside most of the evening, on the deck. It was a bit windy and I got windburn on my face, but no real harm done. Ida's son, Sean, took Daisy to the beach and tricked her into swimming ... which she wasn't too happy about but she really had a great time. Sean seems to really like her ... who wouldn't? 

          The wind continued to pick up so we all went to bed around 1 AM. Pam had brought her tent and slept outside. The rest of us were in the cottage. A couple of times last night, the wind was so strong that it shook the cottage. I wondered if Pam was airborne outside. This morning revealed that she had slept well in spite of the gales, which were still going strong even when I left. I declined to stay for brunch because I had some things to attend to at home, so left early. Now we're home safe and sound and I'm back in the studio, to work on the felt for the top of my ottoman. It's beginning to rain now, so the gang might stop in here on the way back for a break as they're all on their Harley Davidsons and driving a bike in wind and rain is very tiring. If they do, I have lots of towels and hot coffee for them. Daisy is sleeping so she's played out from all her fun on the beach. I might have a wee nap myself a bit later on. Those nice gatherings with good friends can wear a girl out. 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Finished Wet Felted Handbag

     I had some doubts about this design, but it actually worked better than I expected. The lobster is rather cute, if I do say so myself, even though it's pretty much anatomically correct. There is even a difference between the pincher and the crusher claws. I really had to do quite a bit of hand rubbing through the mesh in order to secure all the parts of the prefelt design, but eventually it stuck enough that I felt it would stay in place while rolling it. I'm pleased with the result but I doubt I'll make another unless it's a commission. It's just too fiddly and I still had to do some needle felting of finer details at the end. 

     I did a good job felting this one. The felt is very firm and tough. One thing about these bags is that they are durable. I also noticed that water will pool on the surface of a dried bag. That's just cool. 

     This is probably the last of the new stuff before the big Canada Day Boardwalk Artists event. I mailed my entry fee in the other day and hope to get confirmation this week. My plans for this coming week include a large round felt to cover the top of my ratty old ottoman. I'd love to just chuck it in the garbage, but my husband brought it home from Cyprus and it's so comfortable to sit on that I suppose I can't get rid of it. It needs to be covered though, so that will be this week's project. I saw a picture taken by Andrea Graham of the work of one of her students that inspires me to try to replicate a very stormy sky, so that will be the theme of the felt. I will also give me a chance to use some of the new curly locks I bought. The kind people at Gaspereau Valley Fibers gave me a free package of white locks because they didn't feel the quality was up to par. They're wonderful to do business with and I can get the Louet fiber through them, quickly and at a better price than ordering directly from Louet, thanks to the drop shipping feature. I think the yellowed tips will look great in a moody sky scene. Wish me luck, because I really have no idea how to put them on the felt ..  this is going to be an experiment as well. I think my felting needles will be coming into play again very soon. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lobster Anyone?

     I just finished the main part of the new handbag. It's sitting outside now to dry as I still have quite a bit of work to do on it. It's no longer black on the outside. I kind of thought that might happen as the inner red migrated through the black and now what I have is pretty much purple. Not that it's a bad thing .. I rather like purple. 

     Getting all the pieces of prefelt to stay in place while I felted this was a challenge. It didn't shift too much, but I did a lot of hand rubbing to make sure it wouldn't do that. I still have to needle felt the finer details on the lobster and make the rope strap. The lobster will have felted eyes and long red antennae hanging down the front of the bag, on the outside of the flap. 

     I'll post more pictures of this later on when it's completed. It will be going to the Canada Day Boardwalk Artists event at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last Evening's Sunset

     This is a picture of the sunset last evening. I wish I could get felt to look like that .. those colors are so beautiful. I really must work more on that though. I saw a felted landscape recently that had the most beautiful stormy sky, so I know it is possible.

     I have begun working on a new bag idea. I'm still not convinced that the design isn't a bit too complicated for the medium, but I'm about to find out. I'll be wetting it out today, after I run a couple of small errands, then applying the design which I have cut out of red prefelt. 

     Here's a look at the bits a pieces that will be going into this. The bag will be black outside and red inside and have a lobster on the outside. The lobster has a lot of parts so we'll see what happens. I'm still going to have to needle felt some of the details at the end. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

First Rose of the Year

     This was peeking out at me this morning when I went outside to put Daisy in her pen. It's the first rose this year and it's just beautiful. The bush is literally drooping with the weight of buds and since my lazy butt didn't get to pruning it properly this spring, there's likely going to be breakage. I promise myself to do the pruning after the first bloom. The bush loves to be cut back and it seems you can't cut too much off as it grows so quickly. I'm sure my lawn man would appreciate it being pruned as well. I can't help but giggle when he get caught up in some of the longer canes as he goes past on his John Deer ride-on mower.  I'm evil, yes. 

     It's been a great weekend. Warm and dry, sunny and calm. Just perfect weather. I applied to enter the Canada Day Boardwalk Artists event at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth so spent yesterday making sure all inventory items were labelled correctly, printing and cutting business cards and packing the stuff in a way that is easiest for me to transport. A large suitcase on wheels seems to be holding all my stuff and another tote bag with that should be enough for one day of selling on the waterfront. I hope, I hope, I hope it's a nice day as I so much want to sell outside on the boardwalk. There is another place booked in case of rain but it won't be as nice or as busy. The is really a weather dependent event. I wanted to take some of Don's woodworking as well, but the way I interpret the rules, it looks like they want the actual artists of all the work to be there, so I have to ask if it's ok to sell his work there too. There are still a couple of weeks to work out all the details and get my entry fee in. 

     Yesterday, everyone in the neighborhood managed to get their lawns mowed, so this morning was unusually quiet ... for hours there was no sound other than the birds. Even the traffic down on the highway was sparse, and I enjoyed a great sleep in until almost 9. Lazy me. I finished all the laundry yesterday and got the civic number sign mounted outside to appease the powers at the municipal office, who have begun sending out threatening letters to those who haven't complied. It was a very productive day which means I actually have time to work on my art today. I have an idea for a novelty bag with a lobster design. I'd like to get a couple of them done before Canada Day as I think they will sell to tourists visiting our beautiful province. The idea is to have a lobster on them ... since it is one of our native delicacies and who doesn't love it? So much of our culture depends on lobster and novelties with this theme sell very well. 

So, with Daisy content in her pen and Portia happy to sit at a safe distance and watch her, I'm off to work on the pattern for the lobster prefelt which will be attached to the new bag design. Wishing everyone a wonderful day. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Yes I Have a Life Outside the Studio

    On Tuesday evening, I attended a great party in Dartmouth. It was held at our friend Sue's apartment on a quiet street between two major streets downtown. Her apartment is so cute. Small but perfect for her and her Kitty Boy. Sue is an accomplished bartender who has worked in some pretty fancy places over the years, as well as a brave sojourn to New Orleans, all by herself where she was employed at some interesting bars. The theme of this party was Martinis and Fondue. Sue went to the trouble of making up a drink menu, and told each of us what to bring so we could have the maximum amount of different drinks with the minimum amount of ingredients. She's the master of this craft and all the drinks were so good. Some were just "to die for!" 

     The fondues were chocolate and cheese. They were great and I'm pretty sure we ate everything that didn't run away from us. Wanda brought a huge tray of mini quiches and bruchetta which was a great savory addition to all the sugar we consumed that night. Even the beer drinkers were sampling the fancy drinks, having been given 'sample' shot glasses of each drink by our hostess with the mostess. Yes, there were more than a few bloated bellies at the end of this event. Sue, a non smoker even provided us with a smoking area right off her kitchen in the driveway, behind her car. She was so sweet.  
There were lots of giggles, lies told, a few Facebook shenanigans, more giggles and belly laughs, and everyone was acting very responsibly as rides were arranged well in advance. 

     This drink certainly deserves mention. I'm not sure what all went into it, but I think Frangelico was one of the ingredients. Anyway, it didn't have a drop of anything chocolate flavored. After drinking the shot, we popped a sugared lemon slice into our mouths and the taste was exactly like chocolate cake. Hence the name Chocolate Cake. It was really amazing at the flavor that developed on the tongue. Sue is a wizard at making drinks. I should see if she's for hire for functions. 
We really had a wonderful time and I think we agreed on a location and theme for the next gathering as well. 

     Rumor has it that it will be held at Wendy's on the 26th. She lives beside a lake and the theme is nautical, meaning we will be going out on the party boat and there will be swimming too. I'm so looking forward to it. She has room for tents in case we aren't fit to drive and I'm sure there will be seafood dishes on the menu. So, I do get out once in awhile. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New Bag

     I'm getting a bit slack with my posting here, but I have been otherwise occupied by visiting relatives. The highest ranking member of the family as well as the second heir to the throne, after myself,  were here for a couple of days so we did some catching up and ate a lot. The one from Montreal brought me the squeaky cheese curds I wanted, as well as an amazing surprise assortment of soft, ripened Quebec cheeses. Oh my heavens they're good!  I had given myself a wee break from my cholesterol medication, but due to this extravagant gift, I'm back on it again, just to be on the safe side. The grand matriarch from quaint Sherbrooke Village brought a couple of her award winning, totally to die for, rhubarb pies and some deliciously healthy bran muffins to counteract the effects of all that cheese. 

     So, while the relatives have now toddled off to the  South Shore, to spend a couple of luxurious nights at White Point Beach's Lodge, I was able to complete this bag. I had laid it out and wet it down before they arrived, meaning to find some time to work on it while they were here, but since I wasn't feeling my best, it required all my energy just to keep up with the meals. I rescued it just in time as the mess had developed and faint but offensive oder and I had to wash it out before continuing before I drove the smell into the wool, which seemed fine at this point. This bag required a lot more hand rubbing than I've been used to up until now, due to the complexity of the pattern. The diamonds are made of prefelt and each had yarn around it. In order to keep them in place I had to work this through the mesh for a long time. The results were well worth the patience it required. This is also my largest project so far. I think this will be the limit for awhile as finding space for anything bigger is going to require moving some tables together, all of which have other uses. 

     So here are three shots of the bag so far. I still need to make some simple ropes to serve as handles. I'm not sure if I'm going to add any beading to this. The more I look at it, the more I think the pattern is busy enough and beading would take away from the effort that went into putting it on. All the prefelt has Angelina fiber in it anyway, so I doubt there will be beads added. Once the ropes are on, there will be knots and tails too, so it's quite well embellished. 

     Well, it's long past lunch time and I'm starving, so see yas all next blog.