Tuesday, August 28, 2007

We can all take a lesson from my granddaughter Joli - first and foremost, art is about freedom of expression. It's about process before product. And last but not least - good clean (or messy) FUN!

Monday, August 27, 2007

On the way home from Truckee on Friday, I did something I've been meaning to do for awhile. I stopped to take photos of our local shoe tree. What's a shoe tree, you ask? Really? You mean, some of you don't have a local shoe tree?

Come to think of it, I guess I had never seen a shoe tree until we moved here twelve years ago. Oh, I'd seen the odd pair or two of shoes hanging from overhead telephone lines. But not the roadside community art project that is a shoe tree.

As you can see, this shoe tree is out in the middle of nowhere. Or at least it seems like it, specially to folks who are just traveling through the area. We have a lot of those people. Where we live is rarely someone's destination, but it's a lot of people's "we've been through there" route.

I still remember the comments of a friend, traveling up from the San Francisco Bay metropolitan area for the first time who, upon leaving Interstate 80 behind for the isolated north/south stretch of California's Highway 395, imagined some sort of Mad Max desert roamers and feared for her and her small son's safety. It's interesting how the known is more comforting than the unknown, even if the reality of it doesn't match our imaginings. I think that her busy city streets, filled with hordes of strangers, were probably a more dangerous place to break down in one's car. Out here I suspect the only one she'd meet if she got lost or stranded would be a rancher willing to go out of his way to drive her into town.

This tree is on Highway 395, just a dozen or so miles north of the Nevada border. (395 starts out in southern California way down in the middle of the desert, follows the eastern slopes of the Sierra Mountains, slips into Nevada just before Lake Tahoe and then after it cruises through Carson City, Reno and Sparks, it slides west back into California. Or rather, California slides east back across the highway. The highway continues north and slightly east, parting ways with the mountains after the Sierras give way to the Cascades, finishing up just before it hits the Oregon border.)

It's not the original local shoe tree. The original one was a grand old cottonwood that really WAS in the middle of nowhere, farther up 395 about an hour north of Susanville. It was cut down by vandals about the same time we arrived and I have never seen it except in photographs and one memorable poem read by a local woman during open mike of a evening's Words and Music program.

The community was really saddened by the loss of the local landmark and efforts began almost immediately to start a new shoe tree. Several different trees on assorted local highways were decorated with a half dozen pairs of sneakers and old boots, but after a few years all of them lost their shoes or were cut down, I assume by the landowners who didn't want the honor of hosting the next tree.

This new tree sprung up after a while and for some reason, probably location (on the busiest highway within a hundred miles and because the tree stands alone at a easy wayside pull off), it had the makings of a new legend. The shoe crop then began to bloom in earnest.

A number of years back the regional Caltrans District (California's Department of Transportation) got a new manager. He was not a lover of the arts. In fact, he ordered his crew to de-shoe the tree on a regular basis. This didn't rid the landscape of the shoe tree however. In fact, it seemed to have the reverse effect, making it more beloved of the population. Each time the tree was plucked bare, shoes soon flowered the tree again in even greater numbers.

The manager decided he would not lose his battle against what he saw as an eyesore on his kingdom and the tree selected to be cut down. Fortunately someone leaked the news to the community and a cry and a roar went up all over northern Nevada and northeastern California. The media covered it. The newspapers wrote passionate essays about the freedom of expression. A petition was created to save the tree and quickly signed with thousands of signatures. In the end, the people won. The tree was saved.

Not long after that a huge windstorm swept through the area and damaged the the shoe tree. It lost a substantial part of its center and most of it's smaller branches. Caltrans pruned it best they could and then, ironically, asked folks to stop putting shoes on it as they were afraid it would kill the tree in it's weakened state. Less shoes floated amongst it's branches for a time afterwards but that only seemed to make the tree look even more abandoned and sad. I think it missed it's visitors and it's creative purpose.

In recent years the tree, albeit a bit worse for wear, is again laden with a bumper crop of shoes and seems happy under it's burden. There are almost always people stopped under to switch drivers or check a map, sometimes even setting out a picnic or resting in the shade. Lately I've noticed more and more people stopping to photograph the tree. After everything it's gone through to survive, like it's predescessor, like it's fellow shoe trees scattered along roadsides far and wide, it deserves the homage.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I had one of those "lightbulb over the head" moments this morning for a simple, fun, crafty idea. But alas, it will have to wait. When I have the time, or rather, when I'm wasting time, sometimes I can't think of anything I want to do, or I don't feel like doing any one project in particular. Now I have an idea I feel like jumping right into, I don't have the time to do it. Maybe it's a passive agressive trick I play on myself. Only feeling inspired when I know there's no way to follow through. Sigh.

But my wrist feels better today (although it's moved up my arm and my shoulder is stiff) and I have to get some of the mess tackled before something else comes up. So instead I'll just share a couple of recent photos.

Hubby and I have a weekly date at the local tea room. We've been sitting outside on the shady front porch all summer, where they've squeezed in a couple of tables. Yesterday, on a whim, I took a photo of one of the old paned windows and I was really happy with the way it came out, sharply focused but "photo shopped" by the glass itself . You really have to double click on it to see the beautiful detail.

I also took this photo yesterday, of the grandfather old birch tree in the front lawn of the tea room. I was simply taking a close up of the bark but when I uploaded it I saw this tree face staring out at me. He looks rather annoyed, or perhaps startled, that he's getting his picture taken. (Now that I've looked at the photo for awhile, I see one could pick out a number of faces. The one that I'm sharing is in the dark center, facing left.)

And wait! Go back and look at the glass photo, there are faces there too! Wow! Cool! It was just a breezy, green summer day, and I was thinking lazy summer thoughts, but autumny, spooky themes are popping up all over the place now.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I had to take William to Reno yesterday for a doctor's appointment so I squeezed in a fast trip back to the fabric warehouse to get fabric for slipcovers for the rest of the living room furniture. With new wall paint, new rug, new slipcover fabric for the loveseat, it made the old upholstered couch and wing chair look drab and dingy. Which, they are. It's just now you can tell because the rest of the room is no longer drab and dingy to match. New furniture purchasing isn't in the cards. Even if I wanted to spend that much money, I woudn't spend it on new furniture for the shredding pleasure of my cats and the spilling and soiling pleasure of the men in the family.

I discovered that the new rug and the new loveseat cover weren't exactly best buddies visually. The new rug, it turns out, after finally unrolling it the other day, works PERFECT in the room with the new walls and adds to the "look" I pictured when the whole project began. The loveseat fabric isn't completely the wrong style per se, but it is rather an attention grabber. I had to find a way to make everyone play together nicely and nudge it all back towards the mood I was hoping to create. New fabric for the couch, I decided, was the key.

I did find some fabric yesterday. I found a vvelvet-y green at clearance price ($3.99 yard) that was what I'd gone hoping to find. My only concerns were that it was a solid and might not be strong enough to compete with the other elements in the room (solution - add bright pillows) and it might be hard to keep clean. I also found an unexpected fabric that I suspected might be EXACTLY PERFECT. It wasn't on clearance, although it was inexpensive enough that I knew I had to take the chance. I spent the entire drive home convinced I'd just thrown $70 extra dollars away and I was bringing home nine yards of fabric that would end up with no purpose.

For reasons completely unrelated, I had a long, exhausting, crabby day yesterday. So it wasn't until evening that I finally unrolled the my new fabrics. Maybe I was just avoiding the inevitable disappointment. I unrolled the green and saw that it was, in fact, the right color and would work nicely. So, at least I had something. I felt better. Then I unrolled the other fabric and..... Oh! OH! OH OH OH! It worked! It was EXACTLY PERFECT just as I'd imagined it in my head! O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

Sometimes life sends us little gifts. And if that wasn't enough, hubby took me out for Chinese food and I must have looked pretty pathetic because the waiter brought me a free soup and at the end of the meal, free dessert fruits. And MORE frabjous, I just found out that in one short week, Pumpkin Spice Lattes will be returning to the menu of our local Starbucks. Here I thought I had months left to wait. I am thrilled a little bit more than is probably reasonable for a sane person to be excited about a simple drink choice.

Moving in the right direction, albeit slowly, I've finished patching and painting the wall where I had to pull out the old baseboard heater (and the little strip on the other side of the new heater that I totally forgot about painting in the first place) so the bookcase can go flat against the wall. Hubby helped me secure both bookcases to the wall because they are very tall and potentially tipsy (I'm picturing grandkids pulling themselves up on a bottom shelf). And most amazing of all, the loveseat is finally inside. I kinda miss having it in the front garden, it was a nice cozy place for stargazing. But hubby said his grass was dying because he couldn't water around it so, in it came, even though it's sitting in front of the boxes along the wall where it will ultimately sit. It does fit though, I wasn't sure if it would. Whew.

This is not to say that things are anywhere near to put back together. Boxes still reign supreme. But the tasks I got completed this last week were a few critical baby steps closer. Now, knock on wood, there doesn't appear to be any notable stumbling blocks to finishing. It's all down to plain ol' hard work.

Except, I have a busy schedule coming this next week. And I'm injured. My wrist. I whined about it over on Beach Treasure if you really want to know more. I'm being optimistic and assuming that this too shall pass by quickly. Clutter and chaos will NOT win. So I have spoken. So it shall be. And just to make sure I'm taken seriously, I've raised my sceptre high while making the decree, and thrust it firmly into the..... OWWWW. My wrist. Whimper.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

It's that time of year again. Witches and goblins, pumpkins and scarecrows, ghosts and cemeteries.... Well, I'm an odd person and I think of those things pretty much all year round. But this is the time of year when my enthusiasm starts to jack up (or should I say "jack-o-lantern up") to extra high, anticipatory levels.

Summer still holds court, and I am certainly not ready for it to be over. The problem with summer around here is that it's a very short season and once it's gone, it's gone for a long, long time. So, I'm still trying to squeeze every last, warm, green day out of the summer season, and yet I have no problem overlapping that with giddy anticipation that my favorite season of all, autumn, is fast approaching.

If my studio and supplies were available, I'd be in there right now doing something with witchy fabric or black cat stamps or pumpkin orange paper. But the mess is still in charge here, so instead I've spent a number of hours the last week cruising the 'net in search of new and old Halloween art and decorating ideas.

I was excited to discover I'm not the only one already in the mood, Artsymama put up a pre-anticipatory Halloween post yesterday. But mostly I was frustrated by how little I could find. I know it's out there. But the internet is a funny thing. Sometimes you aren't looking and stumble into a wealth of interesting sites and sometimes you can fish and fish all day and get nothing on your line but a few minnows. You know the big fish are out there, but you're somehow not casting your line in the right part of the lake.

Last night I finally had a little luck and now I have several good "fishing holes" bookmarked. These are mainly Halloween artist groups or shows with links to the participants websites. I'll post them here in case you feel like doing a bit of "fishing" yourself. (I'm not sure how the fishing analogy ties in with Halloween, but I like it anyway)

  • EHAAG Home page - the Eclectic Halloween Artist's Group
  • UHAT - Unique Halloween Art Treasures - not sure why this one is located on a myspace page but it seems to be where you can jump off to find the individual artists' pages
  • HYR - a collection of artists called Halloween Year Round
  • Halloween and Vine is a Halloween art show I've wanted attend for years now but autumn is a really hard time for me to try to do any traveling. It take place in one of my old haunts, Sonoma County. I've send you to the entry page but click in to find a list of participating artists.
  • Ghoultide Gathering is a new show that will premiere this year in Michigan.
  • Here's a link to a small group of artist's who are helping with a fundraiser for a cemetery in Missouri that was vandalized. That makes me so sad to hear of vandalism to this sort of history. It's so disrespectful. I read somewhere that Greyfriars Cemetery in Edinburgh was vandalized some time after we had visited. I'm glad we were able to see it beforehand, although I'm sure that sort of thing happens from time to time all over. All it does is make it more difficult for people who like to enjoy the history to get access to the location.
  • Halloween Alliance - a list of Halloween folk artists (and some spooky music) on this page.
  • Morbid Outlook - an online Goth magazine with an Art section. Not specifically Halloween, but still fun.
  • Traditions - this is an online store that sells commercial and limited edition Halloween items. Not original art, but affordable and a huge selection of folk art items.

That should keep you busy for awhile. I'll have to do my gallery browsing later tonight. Right now it's time for me to SPOOK UP something for dinner and then I have to paint the section of wall I patched yesterday. All that mess waiting for me. Now THAT'S scary!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you'll have run across several posts highlighting my odd little obsession with wine art. Or, occasionally, other alcoholic beverage container art. Which is really odd since, although I'm not a teatotaler, my alcoholic consumption is dramatically below average. I have spent so many years either pregnant or nursing, and then as a result of those pregnancies, in charge of small people, and later bigger people who always seemed to need unexpected rides to and fro and also needed me to be a good role model, my drinking opportunities were slim to zero. In fact, I have entire decades in my life where I can count the number of alcoholic beverages I consumed during that time on my fingers. Maybe even the fingers of one hand.

Nowadays I can probably add up that number of drinks in a year or two but it's still only the occasional glass of wine with dinner on the rare night when another adult is around for any unexpected taxi service, or the even more rare holiday or travel drink, and the once or twice a year game night margarita. Not enough to even call myself a "regular" drinker. It seems I appreciate my wine in the bottle far more often than I appreciate it uncorked and in a glass.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon another location, unexpected, with a wine aisle. I thought I'd used up all my local photo opportunities. I haven't had a chance to share it with you yet, but soon.
In the meantime, I'll share this one lone bottle with you tonight. I saw this new wine selection on a specialty rack at the market the other day. I walked past it and then backed up to do a double take. Is it just me or, isn't this label a bit ahead of the drinker? Shouldn't you have to drink the entire contents of the bottle first before the art looks like that?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I have lots of fabric to show you today. Friday I decided to go shopping for, among other things, a new living room rug. The old one smelled worn and catty and didn't really match the new color scheme. There's a place in Reno that sells rugs, upholstery fabrics and miscellaneous household and sewing textiles (drapes, pillows, etc.) for huge discounts. So it was worth the 100 mile drive.

I did find a rug, which I haven't unrolled, so you'll have to wait to see it. I also found some matching draperies. But most of what I want to show you today I bought at another place, a textile warehouse called Mill Ends. It's in a huge building that used to be a U.S. Post Office regional distribution center, to give you an idea of the size of the thing. It's filled with all things textile and also carries foam and batting and other cushion supplies.

I used to go to Reno more frequently then I do now and I'd go to Mill Ends whenever did, to stock up on quilt store quality fabric for half to a quarter the price of a quilt shop. It was a good place to find fabric I needed in larger quantities for backings or borders. But I haven't been there for many years and I've never been there with the idea of buying anything but quilt fabric.

So it was quite a surprise to me to walk in there on Friday and discover that I'd been blind to 90% of the store's selection. With my head filled with thoughts of making curtains, slipcovers, upholstery fabric, and last but not least, fairy costumes, it was like stumbling into a dragon's lair full of treasures! (and just as expensive. I got great prices on everything but I'm still not gonna tell you how much I spent!)

Here's sort of an overview of most of my purchases. You can see I had a clear color scheme in mind. If you click on this photo (or any of the other photos) and open it up, you can see the textures, colors, and other details much better.

I bought this thick, soft, nubby cotton woven as a possible throw cover for my new couch. What do you think of it? If I'd thought it through better, I should have purchased double the amount I did so it would hang all the way down in the front and the back. I like it but I think I will go with my other option, below.

This is a soft but heavy upholstery fabric that I actually found at our local Walmart for $2 a yard. I bought all that there was because I loved it so and, at $2 a yard, figured eventually I'd figure out what to do with it. I'd assumed it wouldn't be enough for the loveseat so I hadn't even tried it but when I pulled it out to photograph for you all I was delighted to discover that, if I cut it in half and then sew the two pieces back together alongside each other (actually, I'll probably cut one piece into two yet again and sew them to either side of the larger piece to avoid a seam down the middle) it's just enough fabric to fit perfectly. While in Reno I bought a tall red metal floor lamp to fit behind the couch so I can use it as a reading spot, so it's a great match.

I found some quilting fabric while I was there.

It's really hard to tell how lovely these two fabrics are without seeing how soft and drapey they are. The brown floral is a big uneven piece but there's a solid uncut two yard in the center of it all. It would make a beautiful skirt or shawl or shirt. The stripe is a nubby raw silk. I didn't realize it was silk when I brought the bolt up and bought six yards of it for curtains at $6 a yard. At that price I just assumed it was a polyester. Now I'll probably save it for something else. Or maybe just go for it.

At the last minute I spied a box of these little roses and bought a few just in case they make the perfect addition to a fairy costume or collage piece.

I want to make several fairy costumes for next year's festival. The costume I've decided to work on for sure is of a Crow Fairy. I bought this lovely, long black feather boa to either wear or take apart and use as part of the wings and cap.

To get an idea of this fabric you need to know that you're looking through the fabric and seeing bits of pieces of sky and garden behind it. When there's no sun shining behind it, you can see that the dark green floral design part has a bit of a shimmery lighter green surface to it that matches the light green wall paint for the dining room and kitchen. This will be my new curtains for those rooms. I'll probably have to add a second rod of a heavier fabric, or alternately, a pull down shade, for the winter months.

The curtains I have in there now are actually cotton table cloth and napkins. They've hung up there for twelve years and I've liked them all this time. But they don't fit my new style change, so I'll take them down and use them for their original purpose and put up these softer floral curtains.

For some reason you can't tell how bright this fabric is. It's actually more of a lime green, not the mossy green the photo shows it as. You can just barely pick up the shimmers. I bought this to make a flouncy skirt, just because it will be fun to wear and also it might work for another fairy costume idea I'm rolling around in my head.

Speaking of fairies, look at adorable tulle I found! Y'know, I'm not sure if that's really what it is. It's not as flimsy as tulle usually is, it's a denser weave. Does anyone know what it's called? Regardless, it has the same crisp, flouncy appeal and POLKA-DOTS! I'm thinking my granddaughters will make adorable punky fairies in these middle three. If you can't tell, the most solid dots are the ones on the top of the fabric and the paler dots are the dots on other layers showing through. The smaller orange dotted tullle on the left I'm thinking of using for Halloween dolls of some sort. Ditto for the shiny, slippery polyester stripe on the right, although it might be a pain to cut and sew.

Hmmmm, somehow I missed taking a photo of another Halloween colored fabric, a rough cotton plaid in orange and green. The same green in the dining room, I bought enough to make a table cloth or maybe chair pads. If you click and open the first photo of all the fabrics, you can see a tiny corner of it peeking out on the left end of the fabrics lined up on the top of the couch.

Last but not least, I picked up this trio at JoAnn's. The black is a polar fleece with embroidered thread cherries on it. The spider webs are a cotton blanket weave. I like how one side is the reverse of the other side. And a small piece of the windy leaves quilt cotton. Oh, and you can see a tiny peek of the new rug, all rolled up behind. Well, the back of the rug anyway.

As you can see, I have my work cut out for me. But how can I not want to play with such an abundance of wonderful new fabrics!? I know! I should be in there sewing right now! Of course, I can't. But if this doesn't inspire me to dig out my studio and sewing machine again, I don't know what will.

Unfortunately, right now I'm in a stuck place again with putting the rooms back together. Between distractions, travel, and stuck places, this project seems neverending! I started unpacking books and organizing them in my new freestanding bookcases. The first bookcase went well. But the second one is "front heavy" and when I opened the glass doors to start putting books inside it, it tried to fall forward on me. NOT GOOD. If I can get it to not fall over long enough to lay the shelves back inside it and then get some books in it, I think it will stand up. Of course I need to open the glass doors in order to do that, and when I open the glass doors, it tries to fall over because there's nothing inside it. You can see the Catch-22 of this situation. I'd try coercing William into holding the bookshelf up while I tried to get some ballast in it but I'm afraid the bargain that I'd have to strike in order to get him to do it would be far more than I'm willing to pay.

It will need to have a bracket installed on the top, securing it to the wall to be safe. Both of the bookcases will, to be safe. It would only need a misplaced tug from one of us or the climbing of a grandchild to make a dangerous situation. The problem is that I can't bracket it to the wall because it's not against the wall, there's a unused old baseboard heater that holds it a few inches out. I want the heaters ripped out but I don't know how to do that safely. My son Sam would come do it for me but he's currently without a vehicle reliable enough to make it over the mountains, not to mention busy with his own jobs. So. What to do, what to do. For the time being maybe just stack the boxes of books over in the corner near the bookcase and move on with other decisions and tasks. That means tomorrow I should probably finish painting the living room ceiling. Bleh. Necessary. But bleh. Maybe I can talk hubby into painting...

Friday, August 10, 2007

I was hesitant to put up a new post for a few days, assuming that some of the partygoers from the Artful Blogging party on Wednesday were still making the rounds. I know I am. And, I've finally admitted, it will take me longer still to visit everyone who attended. But visit I will, eventually. I have been having a lot of fun meeting new friends and bumping into old ones I haven't visited in a while. And as soon as I get my studio cleared out and rearranged again, I'll have a whole list of new techniques ready to try from all the tutorials people posted.

But for now, I'm still reorganizing.

Okay, I'm not reorganizing. I've been distracted. By both legitimate and not so legitimate distractions. I'm pretending it's just one of those "percolating" stages, where I'm waiting for inspiration to bubble up and get me going again. Cough. Ahem. Yes. That's it. I'm percolating.

And I've decided quasi-impulsively (meaning, it's something I need to do but I didn't realize I wanted to do it today until just a few minutes ago) to drive to Reno to do some shopping. I need to buy a new living room rug and, if I can find something I like, a slipcover for my new loveseat. I didn't tell you about my new loveseat?

Well, I was driving down a side street in town the other day and saw what looked like the remnants of a garage sale. Something big and furry caught my eye. I braked, backed up, turned of the car, and got out. It was a loveseat. A very unusual loveseat. I had to knock on several doors to track down the owner of the loveseat and get a price. $25 I said I'd come back later for it. And then I went home and talked myself out of it because. WHERE AM I GONNA PUT IT!?

But it's so cute. It's in good shape, just needs a bit of dust wiped off it and some new coasters put on the front legs. It's puffy and girly and perfect for lounging with my feet over the edge or maybe sitting with my feet curled up, reading a book. It reminds me of France. Okay, maybe it also reminds me of the 70's in a nightmare sort of way as well, or a large stuffed animal one won at the county fair. But hey, things can be upholstered. Or covered up with a large blanket.

Anyway, I very practically talked myself out of it and didn't go back for it that night. The next day however..... I was out running errands and thought, it wouldn't hurt to drive back down the street and have a second look.... and I parked, paid the man his $25 dollars, and made hubby drive over with the big car to pick it up.

Both hubby and son think I'm completely bonkers for having brought home what they are calling the most ugly piece of sh.... furniture they have ever seen. I knew they'd say that. I think it's a girl thing. Or maybe it's just a ME thing. Whatever. I've decided that I have no one to please when it comes to my decorating style but myself. (not my family you say? No, because a) they really don't HAVE a style - cardboard boxes to put their dishes on and something soft to lay on would work for them just as well as anything and b) they usually come around to thinking my ideas aren't all that bad eventually.

Here it is. Sitting in the front yard at the moment. Do you like it? Hate it? Think I need therapy? Rosie wasn't too happy when I made her sit on it so I could show you the size of the thing. Remember, she's just a mere five pounds of dog, so it's not that big. But it's bulky. I'm hoping, despite the original plan to minimize my living room furniture, that it will fit in a reading corner. If not, there's always the garage for now. I'm sure we can find room for it in there. Somewhere.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A few months ago (or longer, I've been so busy I have a hard time figuring out how much time has gone by) Artsymama had a wonderful international tea party. It was the most fun I'd had online.... probably ever. I met a lot of new online friends and found a bunch of great new blogs to read. So,when Artsymama decided to have an Artful Blogger Party, I knew I had to attend.

The party is, in part, to celebrate the premiere issue of Artful Blogging magazine and in the spirit of that, to participate by posting a tutorial of some small artful activity. Well....SNORT! Those of you who are not new to my blogs or the craziness I call my life, know that I am in the midst of a creative reorganization of my mess..er, I mean my lovely home. That means all my crafting supplies are boxed up or, if not boxed up, inaccessible because there's a pile of boxes holding it all captive. I tell you all this to say - forgive me this small contribution. It's the best I can do at the moment.

Moving on. Those of you who read my Beach Treasure blog know how much I love to read. I love books. I think books should be accessible to everyone, no matter where you live, what your socio-economic level, or what your size.

Er, size?

First thing you need to do is decide what book to make available to your wee friends. I chose the obvious current favorite, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Once you've decided on your title, look it up online and find a small photo of your chosen book. (and since we're using copywritten images, of course the end result is for personal use only. Or you could also get creative and make your own jacket cover designs!) Copy the image and drop it into your word processing or photoshop program. Below you can see I've added a bit to it.

Matching the color, I extended the cover to the right to make the front inside flap and I extended it to the left far enough to cover the binding, the back of the book, and the back inside flap. I also rotated it vertically so I could add the title on the binding. Then I printed it. You can also see that I collected a piece of cardboard and some white paper. And hey, look at my coffee mug. It's even about books. I matched it to the theme on purpose. Okay, so it was just coincidental. Let's pretend that I did it on purpose, clever me.

Here you can see what a mess I made. I made an even smaller book a few years ago and I used thinner cardboard and I cut both the cardboard and the paper with my quilting supplies - a rotary cutter and mat. It was a lot easier. But my cutter and mat are behind aforementioned boxes, so I made it the old fashioned way, with scissors. Messy, but it worked. You can see that I've cut and bent the jacket cover , the paper, and the cardboard. Cut the cardboard slightly smaller than the jacket cover and cut the paper (the pages of your book) slightly smaller than the cardboard so that it's in the same proportions of a larger book.

I couldn't find my large stapler. Even if I could, I'm not sure I could get it to go through so many pieces of paper - after all, the seventh Harry Potter book is 759 pages! So I also bound this book the old fashioned way, with needle and thread. It's kinda a cool look, I might do it this way again.

After your book is bound together, slip the jacket cover over it, secure it with a tiny bit of glue or tape if it doesn't want to stay put. And voila! A wee little book for your favorite wee readers.

Like this young witch.

Or our Charlie Weasley. (He was trying to read our large copy but he was having a hard time holding up the heavy tome with his paws.) Oh look, he's at the part where Harry and Hermione are............. nah. Just kidding. No spoilers.

And if you didn't get here today from Artsymama's Artful Blogger Party, make sure you pop on over to have a piece of cake and visit with the other guests. I'm headed over there myself right now, why don't you join me. There's room on the back of my broom. Hop on.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Today I'm gonna make you work for your visuals, as they are all of other people's work and therefore I'm sending you off on all sorts of links, but please take the time because it's all so worth the effort.

Thanks to my hubby remembering that it was this weekend, I was able to catch the last few hours of one of my favorite local art fairs yesterday. I only had a few hours and there was so much to see and so many interesting artists to talk to, I rushed, but still came away satieted and inspired.

I spent money I could have not spent, but I was quite pleased at myself for the restraint I, mostly, used. Most everything I purchased was either for holiday gifts or was what I think of as UsefulArt.

I replaced the missing "name your poison" drinking glasses I'd bought a few years ago and love. My family had broken half of them. I also bought myself a new "Don't Touch - Mom's Use ONLY!" glass with a flying monkey etched on it. This couple's company is called Earthstones - Affordable Garden Art. They do etched glassware and etched garden stones. They're one of my favorite places to linger and spend money, they have the most beautiful and unique quotes on their garden stones. I've begged them several times to create a website but they are happy, busy, and content selling from fair to fair. They do custom orders though if anyone is in need of a great idea for a gift for that hard to buy for person. I can give you their telephone number.

I also bought a jar of seasoned garlic, some gifts for the grandkids, and the most indulgent of my purchases, a beautiful moon and stars batik dress for myself. As if I needed another dress. But it was soooo pretty, sooooo unusual.........I wanted it, okay!

I also bought some beautiful wooden spoons and chopsticks from Shadow Mountain Woodworks. Art. But completely practical. I'm a bit disappointed at the website, which looks sort of plain and infomercial-ish. Because in real life the wood was utterly beautiful, I just wanted to run my hands along each piece.

I spent most of the time just chatting with the artists - textile artists, photographers, painters, ironwork artists. I got a kick out of the fact that several time I got mistaken for another vendor/artist. I take that as a sign that I should probably be spending less time at art fairs and more time in my studio. As soon as I dig out of the boxes that are now filling it. Anyway, moving on, I particularly liked the work of three photographers.

One photographer by the name of Michele Miller did really great close-up still life shots. Her name is Michele Miller and her business is called Life In and Out of FOCUS. I thought that was a cute name. Alas, no website. Come on folks, this is the 21st century!

The second photographer I liked, I chatted with for some time. One of his pieces I was admiring was of some local silos covered in Virginia Creeper. I was telling him that it reminded me of castles I'd seen in England. He agreed, very much so he said. And that's when, at least five minutes into the conversation, I finally noticed - the man had an British accent. So, yeah, he'd know castles. I think I watch too much BBC, it's not the first time I've not noticed an accent on someone for awhile. He and his wife have a small website, Shutter Indulgence - A Perfect Moment Held in Time.

The last photographer I'm mentioning was my absolute favorite. Pat Moore Photography. Every photograph made me feel like he was looking at the world in the same odd way that I look at it. I kept thinking "I would have taken a picture of that too!" and "I would have noticed that small detail!" I was most particularly enamored of his travel and cultural scenes and I went round and round through all his stock alternating between talking myself in and out of buying a piece. "I love it, I should buy it. Yes but you haven't even framed your own travel photos yet. Yes, but artists should buy each other's work. Do you have any wall space left to hang it on? No but... Well, so, and you already bought that dress. " I finally walked away empty handed. I probably drove the guy nuts.

Some of the images I most wanted to bring home are not yet up on his website. In particular he had a number of images he took of Guanajuato, Mexico. I'd never even heard of Guanajuato, Mexico, but now it's on my lists of places I want to go. On the list right next to Ankar Wat in Cambodia. Go here and look. It's not one of the photos from the photographer, it's a travel shot, but isn't that just totally cool!? Apparently Guanajuato is noted for it's colorful architecture and its narrow meandering streets that climb up the hill to the edge of town. Okay, you've sold me right there. Just drop me off with my camera and a hundred SD cards and I'd be happy for a month. They also have Mexican food, always a plus. And a mummy museum. What's not to love!?

Now that I've slept on it, I'm thinking I should have bought my favorite photograph, of a painted tree. He's from Ashland. Maybe we'll bump into his work next time we go up.

Last but not least, I stopped at a little bookstore after the fair and I bought a greeting card. The artist's name is Susan Mrosek and her business is called the Pondering Pool. Now, here's what you have to do - Go to the website, click on Gallery, and then click on an individual image to bring up a larger picture of it and, most importantly, the small quote that is underneath and part of the work. They only had about ten of the different images to choose from at the shop and in case you're curious, I bought the one labeled "Yodel" on the fourth gallery page. Aren't they completely bizarre and wonderful?! The images are odd enough in themselves but the words are the thing that take them to an entirely new level of strange. Neither the words or images truly make direct sense but at the same time I understand them completely and I am also agog that there is someone out there who's thought process is even more bizarre than my own.

And that, my friends, is the end of my sharing for the day. Enjoy. I have to get back to shoving furniture around.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

My soul is in the sky. ~William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream

Friday, August 03, 2007

I managed to slip in an afternoon visiting our county fair a few weeks ago, just before I left on my trip. It was a bittersweet visit as I've spent the last ten years very involved in the fair in many ways. First with my kids and 4-H. Over the years our entire family entered crafts, art, flowers, projects... I had a good natured rivalry going with several friends and neighbors over who would take home the most ribbons each year. Most of all, I was part of a core group of people who helped with judging and helped put up all the displays in the main Exhibit Hall. I'd worn lots of hats and been offered several different official jobs through the years, but I always preferred working for free as a volunteer, for the sheer pleasure of it.

A few years ago, however, the fair underwent a major shift in organization. It wasn't the first time. They happened every few years. (Another reason why I liked being a volunteer and staying well out of the small town politics of it all.) But this time something happened, and a lot of regular volunteers fell through the cracks. Despite phone calls, memos, face-to-face reminders of what needed to be done, we were shunted to the side. The irony is that for two years in a row I got frantic (and rude!) phone calls at the last minute crying for help and asking why we weren't helping. Uhm, yeah. Like I really believe you didn't get or remember three visits, two notes, and a dozen phone calls. Sigh. The end of the story was that I made the difficult decision last year not to bother even trying to participate as a volunteer. I did, however, still enter some things in the fair, took home a few ribbons. This year, I knew I was going to be gone, so I did nothing, entered nothing. It felt like saying goodbye to what had been a very important part of my life.

It seemed like a number of other regular exhibitors had also decided to retire, or perhaps just take a hiatus, from participating. There were a lot of empty exhibit tables this year.

I was pleasantly surprised though to see a lot of quilt entries. I was less pleasantly surprised at how they were exhibited. Okay, I was more than just unpleasantly suprised by it. I was seriously annoyed. I spoke with a few people who said that the fair board had no one to organize the hall and had thrown things together themselves at the last minute. Uhm, yeah. I could tell. And remember, they still had a number of volunteers that would have been happy to do it for them - I wonder how much it was a situation of big fish in a small pond not wanting to share what they thought was their territory?

Here's how many of the quilts were displayed.

Yeah. It's laundry day! If I had entered a quilt and found it squashed up and trailing on the dirty floor - I would have been livid. I was annoyed as a fair goer because of course I couldn't SEE the quilt. The best that could be determined was whether or not I liked the colors the quilter used. And I do like the brown and pink colors of the quilt in the first basket.

A few quilts were hung like the ones above, but most of the quilts ended up folded and layered into these display cases. Not much of an improvement over the baskets. I was itching to take some of them out and unfold them so I could SEE them because there did seem to be quite a few interesting quilts. Speaking of.... I really liked the one hanging on the right above. I liked the scrappy but cohesive look of the trellis pattern done in multiple greens and the pure colors of the stars.

This quilt took Best of Show. Very traditional but that's to be expected at our fair and the workmanship was really good.

The machine quilting was probably the most creative part of it - I thought it was lovely. And unlike some quilters, I do like earth tones. I don't work in them very often, but in the right mood they appeal to me.

This was all I could see of this quilt, folded and hung above a display cabinet. But I liked how the brown color scheme made a busy pattern seem peaceful. I bet the same person quilted this quilt and the Best of Show quilt.

In case you can't tell what this is, it's a handmade rag rug. I thought it was really beautiful but again, if I'd entered it and come in to find it being all stretched out of shape by being displayed thrown over who knows what, I'd have been seriously pissed. I hope the owner of this rug complained and got it moved for the rest of the week.

I liked the browns and brights combined. And the great folksy stitching. This was one that I would have really loved to see in it's entirely. (That doll, by the way, was just sitting on the floor.)

Ditto on this one - why they didn't choose to hang it up? I don't have a clue. (What's that you say? They were clueless too - ? - ha!) Of course I immediately thought of Jaye's many dotted adventures.

This was the local quilt guild's group quilt. I was on the committee that designed the pattern for this quilt and, although some decisions had morphed or changed since the first draft (most noticably, the background color), still, I think it turned out really lovely. I've been taking an unplanned hiatus from the group - a year? Two years? Geeze, I can't remember the last time I went to a meeting. So, that design meeting was my last and only contribution to the making of it this quilt.

I thought this was a nice, and different, take on the.... the... oh dang, I can't remember the name of the technique - where you fussy cut and make kaleidoscope blocks. Anyway, I liked it.

Not a quilt. Not even in the same exhibit hall. These two fine gentleman were entries in the Scarecrow competition set up in the floral building. I thought they were very funny. In case you don't get the joke - the shirt reads "Vote for Pedro". Still don't get it? Well then, I guess you didn't see the movie.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Did you miss me? Didja, huh, didja!? Well, I've been off having grand adventures. I'll have you know, having fun is a lot of work! Too much to do to fit it all in each day of my holiday, so something had to go. Uhm, yeah. That would have been this blog.

But, I'm back now. With lots of ideas and pictures.

First, a show and tell post. I was up and down the Pacific Northwest all last week. All sorts of treasures came home with me. Books, new pretty things to wear, chocolate. I'll try to stick to just photos of art related finds for this post.

The first weekend I was gone I was at Faerieworlds 2007 with my daughter-in-law Lisa, my granddaughter Joli, and Lisa's two sisters. There were all sorts of tempting arts and crafts to buy. And when I say arts and crafts, I don't mean it in the belittling combination phrase "arts and crafts" (why does that phrase have a negative association, anyway?), but in the purer sense of the words individually. Wonderful creative pieces of art. Unique and finely designed crafts. I mainly took away ideas, trying to pace myself in the spending department (although, ahem, towards the end of the trip I kinda made up for the slow start).

I did buy this small mirror. The mirror is on the other side and the back of it that you see here is small enough to hang around your neck and wear as a pendant. Of course I had to buy the pirate one. Lisa bought one from them as well that was a perfect memory piece of our time at the festival. Perhaps when she gets back home she'll take a photo of it and post it on her blog for us.
The artist was one of three women, if I've got it straight, who had a booth called Magpie's Daughter. (wonder why it wasn't Magpie's Daughters?) Unfortunately, they don't have a website. They sold beautiful collage jewelry, art dolls, and handmade books and journals. This was the sign hanging at their booth. I posted a photo of their booth, which looked more like a gypsy tent, in my post about the festival over on Beach Treasure. Tou can see pics of the girls costumes there as well. Now I'm curious about their name. And, aren't the birds in the photo ravens or crows? The magpies I know are black and white with long tails. Are there different kinds of magpies, some of them all black? Now I'll have to google stories and myths about magpies.

The second day of the festival I attempted an ocean fae themed costume. This is the necklace I made. Okay, so I bought the trim already made at Walmart and just tied it around my neck. It still made a great necklace.

I did make this small wreath for my hair though. After the first day of the festival, we were bursting with new ideas, so we stopped at the only thing left open on the way back to the motel, a Walmart, and raided their craft and fabric department. I saw something similar done with flowers so I tried to duplicate it. By the time I had all the supplies in front of me, I couldn't remember all the details of the wreaths I had seen and so I just ended up winging it. Simple, but after struggling to make it, I liked how it came out and it ended up being comfortable to wear. If you click to make the image larger, you can see the curlicue wire and beads that stuck up from it.

The next day I found this lovely beaded dragonfly for sale and he happily alighted on my wreath.

Fast forward to this last weekend and I stopped by a quilt store in Ashland called Quiltz. I really just wanted to browse while waiting for hubby to arrive (he was meeting me for the weekend) and to use their bathroom. But then I found this new line of Halloween fabrics and I couldn't resist.
Because you all know, if there's something I don't have enough, it's Halloween fabric! SNORT! It's all from one line except the one autumn leaf piece on the top of the pic.

I also bought a bit of this panel-ish print and the accompanying moon print.

Annnnnd, these lovely sparkly blacks! The one on the right is for quilting, the print on the left might find it's way into one of next year's faery costumes. The bright fruit on black on top I bought because I thought Lisa should have some of it for her bottle block quilt. (which, now that I think about it, she has yet to post any "in progress" pictures of her blocks on her blog)

At the Goodwill store in Ashland I found these wonderful large remnants. The apple print is a heavy cotton quilt fabric, the red is something silky and slippery, I assume a poly blend, with a pretty embossed floral pattern. The green in the top righ corner is actually a corduroy and last but not least the large floral is a knubby cotton upholstery piece. I might make the red into a scarf. The apples might make a nice Mabon altar cloth. Have no idea what I'll do with the rest of it yet.

And finally, an impulsive stop at a little art supply store in Mt. Shasta City. I left, after a long and affirming (that there are good people and good ideas afloat in this world) conversation with the interesting man at the counter, with some new toys. And yes, I know, the next step is to actually USE them. First things first. Still painting walls and rearranging things, hello! And, that's what I'm off to do right now. I'm in the middle of alphabetizing and shelving books on the shelves I relocated to my studio. Geez, now that I've moved my desk and fiction collection into my studio, someone is gonna think I'm just being a copykat. Not true. Not even after it just dawned on me that I also stole someone's brown and apple green color scheme. Sort of. Although, I might repaint the brown wall a nice dark wine red. So there! Not copying.