And the road goes on forever...

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Changed World?

What is there to say that hasn’t already been said? Just a few weeks ago it was business as usual but now it’s not.

WI has been fairly sheltered from large numbers of virus cases but it is rapidly expanding daily now and seems to finally have entered the populations’ attention that this is real. I decided to go out early yesterday to do some final stock up on groceries and found hysteria arriving even here in our tiny town. The store was jam-packed and many aisles were picked over and there was not an egg in the store. Surprisingly however, there seemed to be a normal amount of fresh vegetables so I guess folks aren’t interested in eating those. The frozen pizza aisle was wiped out!

I always jokingly say that I must have had a Mormon buried somewhere in my woodpile as I’ve always been one to have adequate supplies at hand. So even going into this we were pretty well stocked as I buy in bulk and had managed to hit Sam’s Club just before the onslaught. We own the largest chest freezer made and it is chuck full; plus making my own bread, I have 50 pounds of flour on hand. Hearty bread and cheese (also well stocked on that) can keep a person from starving for a long time I suspect.

We had already planned to perhaps build a greenhouse and some raised beds in our garden area this summer so now I’m pretty sure that’s a “go”. Having fresh and clean produce could become prudent in the not too distant future. I reflect that in times like this, it’s good to be out of town on our own acreage where we have a chance to fend for ourselves. If it came to it, we could have our own chickens and raise a pig or cow. Having a home now is solace and a safe haven.

Although we still have plans for some camping trips this summer, I have read in some RV newsletters that some campgrounds and state parks in other states are being closed. Hard to see how being out in nature could pose a problem but panic seems to be the rule of the day. Will severe travel restrictions come next, maybe stranding some RVers who are far from home or where they want to be? And as one RVer put it, who wants to be deathly ill out in the middle of nowhere with no available help or medical facilities? No, I think this is a good time to be home for the most part.

The Humane society I volunteer for is seriously considering cancelling some of our upcoming major fund-raising events, for which I am very sorry. But frankly, most of us volunteers are seniors and elderly and who wants the exposure? The long-awaited annual rummage which I had hoped would be a good market for all my winter efforts in making art quilts, may not be held. The rummage I was set to join with my neighbor at the end of April is also in jeopardy. If we go to all that effort and work will anyone even show up to buy?

Yes, suddenly a very changed world. Be safe out there.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Whiling Away Winter

Wisconsin has been mild this year in terms of winter overall, with many storms missing us as they pass through Chicago and on east. It doesn’t mean it’s not cold or wet though, so house bound has been the word of the day for me. I don’t care for cold weather and am perfectly content to remain indoors, fussing with my hobbies and outlets and loving up our three cats. They too, seem to have the right idea.
Our holidays passed with little ado since family was far away so now it’s just the slow slog until April when Marc will get his first big break of the year. We hope it’s not too early then to get the rig out for a few days.

I’ve been happy to have my new addiction, although it’s occurred to me that I likely will have to take a quilting class to really get the hang of that portion of what I’m doing. Meanwhile, I improvise. Rather than stick with one style or motif, I wander around Pinterest and attempt what interests me at the moment.

A girlfriend sent me some wonderful vintage hankies for their lace, but some are just too beautiful to cut up, so I’ve mounted them instead. I also did that with an old baby dress I had.
Working with the Sari silk, which comes in such vibrant colors, I had the idea of using it for a border technique and found it worked especially well for my felted pieces.
I also added it to a small art piece I made for our neighbor featuring her dog Ellie and my hand painted and felted sky and sea.
I thought the idea of doing some confetti work could be fun so I did several of those using tiny pieces of cut fabric for the foliage of the trees. One, I even used real birch bark on, which Marc had brought me back a couple of years ago, so it was nicely aged and peeled easily. The last one he likes enough he wants it in the RV.
I’m adding lots of beadwork in various forms to my work; some so subtle you have to view it from the side for best effect of showing its shiny self. I added to the oak leaf (which I had traced from one of our own trees) in an effect to create a rain storm. The ombre scarf I used as background for bears and woods has beaded trees.
Also working on some landscapes and piece work applique.
Thought there might be some demand for some fabric bookmarks; they are quick and fun using Mod Podge on cutouts from magazines, etc.
Lastly, I am turning more towards hand quilting, embroidering, and hand painting small items, leaning towards a messy, lace driven earthy look that isn’t necessarily even symmetrical. They go quick and allow for great creativity in a small venue.
I've slowed down a bit as I continue to really struggle with my left hand. It has bad days and worse days, as seen in this photo.

Friday, December 13, 2019

I'm Off and Running With a New Avocation

First, let me make it perfectly clear I am by no means any kind of “artist”, nor do I have any training. Somehow, I managed to muddle through strengthening a creative streak with my jewelry and then my fabric basket making and have enjoyed some local success at selling these items. I do it primarily as a support for the Humane Society I volunteer for, as a stress reliever, a time-consumer and because I like things that are unique and made by hand.
Just within the past year though, I was having enough problem and pain with the thumb joint of my left hand that I finally saw a hand specialist the first part of December. The outlook is not good. I have late stage 3 (out of 4) osteoarthritis and the joint is not only bone-on-bone but has also grown and thrown off two large bone spurs. The doctor recommends surgery but the recovery time from that, 12 weeks, is so extensive there is no way I can ever consider it until Marc retires and can take over running the household for that period of time. So, for now, I wear a brace and will most likely suck up a cortisone shot soon.
The upshot of all this is that certain movements have almost become prohibitive and wrapping the fabric around the cord to make my baskets is one of them. Although I managed to make quite a few baskets and jewelry for the Fall sale, it was an arduous task.
I was looking for other endeavors I might pursue and have intensely grown an interest in fiber arts. Especially, trying my hand at landscape wall hangings and needle felting. I use applique technique, embellish things with yarns, Sari silk, buttons, embroidery, beading—anything I think can add interest and whimsy to a piece.

Pinterest and You Tube are wonderful things when one is trying to learn new skills on a self-taught basis! My attempts are amateur at best but it is a highly engaging activity that can suck up an entire day in pursuing an idea and bringing it to some sort of form. I lack quilting skills so need to take time to study and practice, practice, practice, free form stitching (an art in itself) and maybe one day I’ll produce items good enough to be sold for the shelter.

My very first attempt with its inspiration photo:

And a special one for Rachael of a highland cow named Ballow, that we met at Loch Ness in Scotland long ago, and one for my son and his wife on their favorite sport, crabbing on the Oregon coast.
Since those, my latest creations have been centered around needle felting or a combination of that with applique. It's all great fun!

To finish off, this is today's creation using vintage handkerchief and hand embroidered applique some long ago person painstakingly and meticulously threaded onto linen. I added some slight beading and Sari silk ribbon. I try to upcycle as many old materials as I can where appropriate as half the fun is scouring them out.