Just Plain Fun

Just Plain Fun


“Watching You” (Oil on 11×14 inch canvas) recolored for the “Spooky” collection

My kids went back to school today.
(So happy)
Which means fall will be rolling around the corner any minute now.
And Halloween will follow right behind that.

Ah… Halloween.
One of my favorite holidays.
I’m bringing my crochet spiders and webs back to out to play.
As well as a murder of hand stitched crows and other crafty things.
But this year,
I get to share my Halloween vision through my studio at CAL.
So I’m throwing paintings and drawings into the mix.

“Alone” (Oil on 12×15 inch canvas) for the “Spooky” collection

The “Spooky” collection goes live at my CAL studio this Friday, Sept 1, 2017.
Thus far, I’ve completed
Three oil paintings
A bunch of (mostly) pen and ink sketches on canvas,
Creepy crawly spiders.
And a handful of Day of the Dead painted rocks.
I’m also in the middle of a painting a blank faced oracle figure
and experimenting with making spider webs from cord (rather than yarn).
My plan is to add to the “Spooky” collection all the way until Halloween.

“Clown” (Oil on 16×20 inch canvas) for the “Spooky” collection

If you’ve been hanging out with me a bit,
You may have noticed I set up little challenges and deadlines for myself.
Why pressure myself like that?
Why push?
Does anyone even buy this junk?

Sometimes people buy things.
Mostly they don’t.
But I’ve thought a lot about making-art-to-sell…
And I’ve decided I’m not going to do that.

I make art for me.
I’d be thrilled if others liked my work.
But the opinion and purchasing power of “others” can’t be what drives my endeavors.
I work multiple projects at a time.
I use different mediums.
Some days I feel completely abstract.
Other days I just want to stitch something kitschy and cute.
As long as it keeps me imagining, planning and inspired,
I go with it.
I’m in it to learn.
To grow.
To try to communicate the stuff that lurks in my head and just won’t leave me alone.
Sometimes I get a little fatigued.
Other times (like now), I suspect I’m near incoherent I have so much I want to say.
But let me finish with this,
I dream,
I make,
And I keep trying because
1 – I can’t help myself
2 – It’s just plain fun




“Piece of Resistance” & “Souls” Trick-or-Treat Bags

“Piece of Resistance” & “Souls” Trick-or-Treat Bags

Halloween in just a few more days.
I’ve worked hard to complete props for my boys’ costumes.
Last year, by special request,  I made a guitar trick-or-treat bag.
Think it made an impression.
Because this year, both boys asked for trick-or-treat bags that supplemented their costumes.
The littler boy will be  Emmet from The Lego Movie.
We purchased his construction hat and vest.
But he wanted me to make the “Piece of Resistance.”
Of course, he wanted it to function as his trick-or-treat bag.
Started this project with some head scratching puzzlement.
My big hang up was how to make it so he could wear his piece of resistance like a backpack.
Then, I had that ah-ha moment.
I would just construct it… like a backpack (duh).
One cardboard box.
One roll of red duck tape.
Two cut up Disney lanyards.
Two plastic squeeze buckles from my salvage odds & ends bin.
A little sewing.
A lot of duck taping.
Next project.
The bigger boy will be dressed as the grim reaper.
We bought his costume too.
But he asked for a trick-or-treat bag with the word “SOULS” across it.
Happy to make this for him.
Especially since this boy rarely asks me to make anything for him.
Sewed this one from one large piece of black craft felt.
I used zig-zag stitch to sew the white felt letters onto the bag body.
I love how this bag turned out.
It’s super sturdy and can hold a lot.
Need to buy 100% wool felt so I can make one of these for myself!
But first,
“Emmet” needs a little detailing on his vest and a clip on ID.
“The Grim Reaper” wants a scythe.
And, oh right,
We still have to carve pumpkins!
Only three more days to Halloween…
Gotta boogie!
Halloween Goody Bag

Halloween Goody Bag

We got “BOO-ed” last week.
That’s a good thing.
It’s like receiving a chain letter.
Except in the form of a neighborhood kid ding-dong ditching your door 
and leaving Halloween treats on your doorstep.
My boys & I were delighted by the Halloween surprise.
This was something utterly novel to us.
The kids ate the candy.
I claimed the adorable bat goody bag.

Here’s the original goody bag with some of the treats that came it it.
A grey felt bat front with big eyes and little wings.
Purple sides and back.
Face glued on.
Body sewn together.
According to the “Boo-ed” instructions,
I needed to put together 2 more treats and spread the Boo-love within the day.
Cutesy goody bag not required.
A paper bag would have sufficed.
Or I could have bought something ready made from a number of shops.
But you know me –
Never can pass up a crafting opportunity.
 Once again pulled out sketchbook to plan project and newspaper to create a pattern.
Drew and cut out:
  • 1 bag front (traced original bag front)
  • 1 bag back (traced original bag back)
  • 1 long rectangular strip (2.25 inches by 15.25 inches)
  • 2 strips to be sewn double to create 1 handle (0.75 inches by 11.5 inches).

Once I had my pattern, I pinned and cut the pieces out of black craft felt.
Then I freehand cut from scrap felt:
  • 2 bat wings
  • 2 large circles for eye balls
  • 2 small circles for pupils
  • 2 fangs
  • 1 thin rectangle for the mouth
 Hand stitched bat face on.
Machine sewed the 2 handle rectangles one on top of the other for a sturdier handle.
Decided my goody bag needed a little more color.
So added a strip of ribbon to the handle.
 Pinned and sewed bag together using a 1/8th inch seam allowance.
For this project, I pinned everything right sides out to sew. 
Since my craft felt was thinner than the thick stuff on the original bag,
My bag turned out a little floppy;
But still functional.
We printed a “You’ve Been BOO-ed” page, rolled it up and placed in our bag.
Filled said bag with candies and such.
Then waited for dark so we could try out this whole ding-dong ditching thing.
Another something new for my NYC boys.
Halloween Craft Party

Halloween Craft Party

Camaraderie and crafting.
One of my favorite combinations.
Last night, I hosted a Halloween Grapevine Wreath Decorating party.
What fun!
I provided 18-inch grapevine wreaths and a selection of my craft supplies and tools.
Then everybody brought whatever decorations they were inspired to work with and to share.
Think of it as a “Craft Potluck.”
Some of my friends claimed not to be crafty.
Which turned out to be a complete falsehood.
But true or false, I didn’t want anyone to feel stressed out.
So I posted a little reminder that we were in
“The No Fear Craft Zone – where there are no mistakes – just touches of the totally unique.”
Yes, a little cheesy, but I got a laugh out of it…
I set up our work stations on the kitchen island.
With a “Supplies Smorgasbord” running along the counter.
My littler boy was quite puzzled over the set up at our normal food prep spot.
He wanted to know why I was planning to cook the plastic spiders…?
(Love that kid).
Despite earlier stress texts from a few in the group,
Everyone had fun decorating their wreaths.
Plenty of laughs and goofy stories.
And gorgeous wreaths to take home.
The pictures don’t do the actual wreaths justice – 
But here’s a look at what each person made:
Liz wanted to a fall themed wreath.
Love these bright fall colors.
I call this wreath “Autumn Splendor.”
Jill named her wreath “Too Tired to be Inspired.”
I think it’s more accurate to say “Too Busy Helping Everyone Else…”
Whatever we call it, I happen to like the simplicity of this one.
Dana twisted a black leaf garland around her grapevine wreath.
Then added a cool witch hat, gauzy black ribbon and orange twisty focal point.
Unfortunately, I took a rotten picture of her wreath…
I thought the mini-witch hat a fantastic decoration.
Bonnie is the life of the party.
When I think of her, I think “go big or go home.”
Bonnie embraces every activity and then dials it up about three notches.
In between her hectic work schedule, 
Bonnie harvested items from her garden, 
Soaked leaves in glycerin, 
Made about a half dozen trips to the craft store, 
Brought party favors for each of us (Thank you!) 
and then put together this impressive harvest wreath.
Chrissy started the night saying she might just leave her wreath naked.
Why not?
She liked the “au natural” look to it.
Then she churned out this fun Halloween wreath,
Hung it up as soon as she got home
And was the first to post the project.
Good job Chrissy – think we gotta craft again soon!
Becky’s versatile wreath is Halloween themed, but in colors that will work all season.
The glittery orange & green spiders are the perfect match to the shiny ribbon.
Think her plan was to hunt up more of these guys to go all the way around her wreath.
Of all the nifty wreaths created last night, this crazy one is my favorite.
Much as I like my own black Halloween wreath,
It sort of fades into a plain Jane next to Daniel’s over the top gussied up wreath with glittery eyeballs and glycerin leaf eyebrows.
Love it.  Love it.  Love it.
Feeling so fortunate to have connected with this crew.

The past six months in a new town would’ve been so much harder without them.

Here’s to cool crafts.
And even cooler friends.

Hand Stitched Felt Crow

Hand Stitched Felt Crow

It’s a crow.
I suppose it could also be a small raven or blackbird.
But on my porch, it’s a crow.
One thing about living in a NC suburb,
We sure get a lot more exposure to wildlife.
We’ve got squirrels playing tag in the back yard.
Rabbits running wild and eating whatever vegetation they desire.
Geese flying overhead in V-formation.
All sorts of bugs and crawly things lurking where I wish they weren’t.
And these mighty crows loitering, cawing and making a huge ruckus all around the house.
Crows aren’t just loud.
They’re big.
There’s a weight to each bird as it flaps it wings and lands in the trees and on my driveway.
I think I’m actually a little scared of them.
Stitching them is turning out to be somewhat cathartic.
Note, my crows and little, kind of cute and silent.
If you google “hand stitched crows,”
You’ll find a wide variety of handmade birds.
I used this one as my starting point.
The simple shape makes stitching quick.
I especially liked the idea of a charm dangling from the crow’s beak.
Materials to make my crow include:
  • Black felt
  • Buttons or safety eyes
  • Small charm (or fishing lure or whatever shiny tchotchke you have on hand)
  • Fiberfill
  • Black embroidery floss
I drew my bird body and wing pattern freehand.
I cut 2 body pieces, 2 wing pieces and 1 beak.
I fold the beak in half lengthwise before attaching – hence the weird kite shape.
  I stitched my bird together in this order:
  1. Wings to body.  I blanket stitched only the U-portion of each wing to body.
  2. Button or safety eyes to body.
  3. Beak to one of the body pieces.
  4. Pin the two bird body pieces together, right sides facing out.
  5. Stitch body pieces together, leaving a 2-inch opening.  I prefer blanket stitch.  But running stitch or whip stitch work too.
  6. Stuff bird with fiberfill.
  7. Finish stitching the bird closed.
  8. Stitch charm to beak.
  9. Display!
This crow is my last front porch decoration.
Bought the cage at an antique mall (it’s not actually an antique).
Found the books in a thrift store (can’t beat $1.39 per hardback).
Took the nest out of our oak tree.
And of course, made the bird.
Halloween Grapevine Wreath

Halloween Grapevine Wreath

It’s another wreath.
Unlike last week’s, this one came together lickety-split.
 Good thing too since
“Halloween Grapevine Wreaths” is the theme for my upcoming craft party.
A few short hours and plentiful wine don’t mix well with intricate, time consuming projects!
I’m hoping each of my friends will create a unique Halloween wreath,
But it’s still nice to have a prototype in place.
Plus, with my wreath complete, I’m free to play hostess for the evening.
Here are the materials I used for this project:
  • 1 20-inch grapevine wreath
  • 1 black boa (the cheap kind from my local craft store)
  • A little black yarn & 4 pipe cleaners for the spider
  • A little more black yarn for the web.  I used a fine yarn with some silver sparkle to it.
  • Black felt, a handful of fiberfill and 1 cat safety eye for the crow
  • Wire.
This was my first time to work with a grapevine wreath.
I wasn’t wild about it.
The twigs are crumbly dry and break off easily.
I don’t like it when things are too fragile.
So the first thing I did was to cover it up with a single feathery black boa.
I used a thin wire to secure boa to wreath.
(In 8 equally spaced distances around the circumference).
Next, I crocheted spider and accompanying web.
If you check in with me regularly,
You may recall I promised no more webs this season
Sorry to lie…
But the wreath demanded both web and spider.
Lastly, I stitched a crow to sit along the bottom ring.
I was tempted to buy a realistic looking one.
But saw this while cruising around the internet & decided to just make one instead.
My guy is not as creepy looking.
But he’ll do.
More on sewing crows (or black birds or ravens) next time.
And there you have it.
Black, feathery, slightly creepy(?)  grapevine wreath.
All ready for this week’s craft party and Halloween!