Friday, October 31, 2014

Wishing You

Monday, October 27, 2014

On Hiatus

So that I can focus on my new job, get some holiday prep done and also participate in NaNoWriMo 2014, I'm going to put the photoblog on hiatus until December.

See you then. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Finished my first project with my CSA yarn share from Juniper Moon Farm:

I'll probably have to trim down the fringe (I always go for extra-long while making then cut it down to suit my recipient) but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Super simple adjusting the shawl pattern into a scarf, too (the pattern is from that book beside the pillow; bought that at JoAnn.) Now I'm starting on a slouchy beanie in a similar pattern to go with the scarf, and then if I have enough wool left maybe a pair of slippers for me.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Spiders

It seems we're having a spider convention at Casa PBW. As I reported yesterday, I've been unknowingly walking under a huge spider web all week in this part of our property:

To give you an idea of how huge, I've marked the boundaries of the orb weaver's web with red lines here:

Now it seems she's invited a spinybacked spider to join her:

I've never seen these spiders build webs so close together, so it must be a very good spot for bugs. :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Between the Trees

I probably walk between our big oak and tiny Japanese maple trees a dozen times a day. This afternoon a glimmer overhead caught my eye, and I looked up to see this between the trees' branches:

As the sun shifted, I got a much better look at what was shining, and what I'd been walking just two feet under:

Amazing what happens right over our heads. :)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Found the Pattern

It didn't take me long to find a pattern to use for my Juniper Moon farm CSA yarn share (it's one for a pretty shawl that I'm altering into a scarf.) I'm now happily crocheting away. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Juniper Moon Share

Last week my CSA yarn share from Juniper Moon Farms arrived, to my great delight:

The yarn is spun from the wool sheared from JM's sheep but is otherwise unprocessed, which means it needs a bath (as recommended by JM I use Dawn dishwashing soap):

Once it's soaked clean I finish with a vinegar rinse:

Then lay the skeins out on the porch to dry in the fresh air:

Seems like a lot of work, but this is marvelous wool, and the skeins turn out beautifully clean and fluffy:

From there I wind each one into a ball for easier handling:

All done with that. Now all I have to do is decide which pattern to use for this year's share!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sewing Stills

The other night I was working on some small beading and sewing projects and took a pic to show my friend Jill one especially sparkly string. Then I kept arranging and taking little still shots of what I was working on, for no particular reason (art for art's sake, I guess.)

Here are the results:

Monday, October 20, 2014

Air Show Race

I wanted to share a few more pics from the air show we caught; this was a race set up by Geico between their monster racing speed boat and two of their stunt bomber planes:

The race took place right in front of us, a couple hundred feet out in the water, and it was incredible to be that close. We decided to move closer:

Both planes and the boat were moving very fast, so I basically pointed the camera, prayed, and clicked.

This was probably the best shot of the day -- not perfect or centered or anything other than strictly amateur, but it gives you an true idea of how close we were. Also, while I think the announcer called it a tie, I'm pretty sure the boat won. :)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Firing Up October

My guy and I finally had a chance to enjoy our first burn of the Fall season:

I'm behind the camera, while he's the one trying to catch his face on fire. :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Moss Chandeliers

Here's a look at that tree canopy I mentioned yesterday:

Winter will be here in a few months, so if you have a park you love, go visit -- and take some pics!

Friday, October 17, 2014

In the Spotlight

The tree canopy at the park is so thick that when the sunlight does get through it forms little dazzling gold spotlights. Seeing this little water bloomer in one was a delight.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Kingdom of Knees

Bald Cypress tree roots grow protrusions above the ground that are commonly called "knees" in the South. These are everywhere the cypress grow in the park, and always look to me like gatherings of little wee folk, waiting for us to leave so they can get on with their party.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


We like to walk out on one dock at the park to look for gators, as we've seen them here more than a few times in the past. This visit the gators didn't show, but I did notice a lot of huge spider webs; they were in practically every nook, cranny and corner of the dock.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Lakeside Butterfly

I took this lovely pic while I was almost completely blinded by the sun, so I won't take any credit for it. Dumb luck prevailed!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Making Waves

The last of the Summer gnats were everywhere underfoot at the park, and while I was batting them away from my face my guy snapped this shot at the very edge of the lake:

It's so quiet at this park all I could hear was the waves lapping as they rippled in.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Nature Walk Week

I finally did get out of the house with my guy, and we visited one of my favorite parks to take a walk around the lake. This week I'll be posting some pics we took so you can walk with us.

The park's oaks have sprouted acorns, which for some reason I find adorable, so I took a shot. There is something very sweet and promising about acorns, I think -- perhaps because every massive beautiful oak in our neck of the woods began as one of these wee things.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

What-If Keepers

To wrap up Keepers week I have a trio of what-ifs from my 1000 cards project. No matter how much anyone does in their creative life, I think we all wonder what would be if we take another direction and try a different art. These three illustrate some of my what-ifs:

When I was a teen I was fascinated by miniature art, and created quite a few tiny paintings and sculptures. I was pretty good at it, too, although I eventually gave it up so I could concentrate on my quilting. Making the tiny button-faced doll for this ATC reminded of those days, and what might have been.

Sculpting, creating pottery and other tactile arts have always been out of my reach (literally, as my hands simply aren't strong or flexible enough to do the work.) Then someone invented paperclay, which I'd heard was incredible light, easily malleable stuff, and I decided to give it a go. This (admittedly awkward) snowman card was one of the results. I don't think I'll ever have the patience to sculpt but it was a lot of fun to try it.

As I mentioned last week I am not much of an assemblage artist, and I doubt I ever will be. You have to have a particular eye for this sort of art, I think. Still, sometimes inspiring objects like this wee bird push me to try anyway, and I'm glad I did.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Keeper Collections

Art is a good means of expressing what is precious to us, often in the form of a keepsake, and I did a lot of that with my 1000 cards project. I also created a number of ATC collections in keepsake fashion. Here are three I'm keeping for my kids:

Eastern philosophy has always resonate with me, especially Zen, so I created ATCs with some of my favorite philisophical quotations.

This little quilted pouch holds ATCs that contain my all-time favorite poem by e.e. cummings.

The background of the poem cards was made by recycling my 2011 office calendar.

The largest collection of ATCs I made for the project was this fabric box filled with all the pictures I took on the day I visited a quilt show. Lovely day, and very happy I preserved the memories of it this way.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Innovative Keepers

I'm a big advocate of learning by doing. Almost every skill I have I've taught myself through reading books, lots of hands-on practice and distilling my experiences into ideas and innovations.

Three things I learned from my 1000 cards project have become keepers:

Broken things are beautiful, and (if you're willing to embrace imperfection) can be recycled into something just as lovely, like this broken pendant, which became a really gorgeous ATC.

You have to be a little daring with your art if you want to be innovative. I dreamed of making a centipede out of pearls and beads, which I'd never done. Did it anyway, and nailed it on the first try.

Embellishing quilting with large pearls usually doesn't work out too well, but back in 2012 I came up with a neat way to do so. I gave away that bag to a reviewer who asked me for a charity donation, but had some fabric scraps leftover and made them into this ATC to preserve the idea.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Art Defined Keepers

One of the reasons I was inspired to do the 1000 Cards Project was my interest in getting to know who I am as an artist outside of writing. I've always known I'm very creative, but spending a year making art almost every day gave me a chance to define what my art is, exactly.

These cards all represent an aspect of that:

I am definitely a quilter, but I never thought of myself as an art quilter. This card changed my mind.

I don't like to work without a plan, but through the project I learned that I can work comfortably in abstract art without knowing what I'm doing, exactly. Only after I finished this card could I see that it was a dandelion in a storm.

Fears often fuel artistic expression, and art in return help us cope with our fears. I conquered my extreme childhood fear of spiders, for example, by repeatedly working them into my writing. My story spiders are never the bad guys; they're smart and beautiful and inspiring. I wanted to translate all that into a card, and this is the result.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Copper Keeper

There was one ATC I made for my 1000 Cards Project that was a bit of a mystery, and has remained so ever since I finished it:

I wrote about the actual making of it here, and all of that is true, but there was something else going on with me and the old copper disk I used for the card. I saved this little scrap of junk for a long time without really understanding why; all I knew was that it would be important to me, and to wait for whatever reason it was.

I am pretty critical of every thing I do in my creative life; it's an occupational hazard to feel that there is always room for improvement. I'm fine with that, too. I think if I loved everything I did I'd die of boredom. But on the rare times when I do feel like (artistically speaking) I've knocked it out of the ballpark, I can take pleasure in the results.

For me, this one definitely flew right over the fence.

I'm still not entirely sure what it means, but sometimes it's more fun not knowing. Which is why I'm keeping this, as an object of beauty and personal wonder.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Real Life Keepers

Two more additions to my 1000 cards project keepers box, both of which turned real life objects into art:

Many years ago my daughter and I attended an art festival, at which she visited a kids' art corner and hand-painted a canvas keychain for me. I carried that keychain around with me every day until it turned gray, shredded and fell apart.

Naturally I saved the pieces, and for the project beaded over it the entire piece, including little rose she painted on it (which had mostly flaked off.) Preserving this little piece of her childhood really made me happy.

I recycled a great many things for the project, including an old pair of my college kid's work jeans that had become unwearable. Salvaging one of the pockets to make an ATC gave me the idea to empty my own pockets and place the contents inside the ATC, thus creating a tiny time capsule.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Keepers Week

As I mentioned on my author blog I'm sorting through what remains of my 1000 cards project from 2012 (I'm also hosting a giveaway of one + a signed book, so do stop in over there if you have a chance.) Even thought it's been two years since I did the project, there are a few cards I'm not willing to part with, ever. Since I'm probably not going to be getting out much this week I thought it would be fun to photograph them and give a little backstory as to why.

The first card to go in my keeper box is literally the first I made for the project, ATC #1:

I wanted the very first card I made to be special and express how I feel about art, and I think I nailed both with this one. Painting the tiny scene on the postage-stamp size canvas was especially tough as I don't have much fine motor control anymore.

Since I'm keeping the first card I made for the project, of course I have to keep the very last one, too:

#1000 is a miniature crazy quilt, and likely the one card from the project I was happiest to make. It served as the final note of rather exhausted satisfaction in finishing out a challenging but remarkable year in my creative life.

The third card I have to show you is my personal favorite from the project:

I titled ATC #160 here "Phoenix" but I always thought of it as the golden swan card. It was also an utter bitch to make because I had to work in a tiny space with needle and thread and seed beads, which is the absolute limit of my fine motor control. That's why this one took the longest of all the cards in the project to complete; I had to work very slowly. I carried it and my supplies around in a pocket tin for three weeks, and even took it with me on a road trip (mistake; hotel rooms have lousy light for hand work.) For a long time after I finally finished it I couldn't look at it because it pissed me off so much.

That said, it is one of the few cards that came out exactly as I imagined it. All that work for such a tiny thing seems silly and yet sort of noble now, which is probably why it's my favorite -- I didn't give up on it. It's also the card I always think of first whenever I remember the project, so it's made itself my favorite.

More cards and the stories behind them tomorrow -- stay tuned!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Morning Mug

I don't eat at my desk, but I do like having a mug of tea or cocoa when I work, so I keep a lot of mug mats (fabric coasters) on hand. This one is my favorite:

Most of my mug mats aren't this ornate, but this one is special, and quite old. About a month ago I handwashed it as I usually do when it gets soiled, and it simply shredded and fell apart from age.

I should have thrown it away; anyone else probably would have. Instead I spent two days sewing it back together, reinforcing the old cloth and beading it around the edges to make it extra-sparkly. Which was very silly, I know, but when something is precious to you, you do things like that.