Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For the Birds...

As I mentioned yesterday on our Seldom Scene Farm blog, I've started making felted birdhouses and finished a few more today. They are soooo fun!
Someone asked if I thought that they would hold up okay in the elements, to which I quickly replied in the affirmative. I actually think they'll last longer than a standard wooden birdhouse.
As I thought about this further, it occurred to me that a yurt is a great example of the insulating qualities, water resistance, and durability of wool. Still used for homes in some parts of the world, yurts made with handmade wool felt survive very harsh environments, so certainly a wool birdhouse will provide the same benefits for discerning birds!I'll have these at Art in the Barn this coming weekend, and at Damselfly Gallery in Midway and Truly Bluegrass in Versailles in the near future!In addition, I'll have a few Bird Nesting Balls... these are balls made from somewhat loose natural alpaca fiber which you hang in a tree, and the birds take tufts of the soft fiber to line their nests. Lucky birds, their own "bird yurt" lined with alpaca! Pin It Now!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tis the season... for making!

(Sorry to those followers getting this a second time, I discovered that a link needed to be fixed so I'm re-sending...)
Despite the time change giving me that weird feeling of unease, and the daylight dissipating so early, I am finding myself relishing the change of season. No, I'm not talking about Christmas music and shopping, but the chance to hole up a bit and do some handcrafting. My studio was occupied by family members who converged to deer hunt last weekend, so I stuck with the computer instead. In addition to the little online class of Kim Klassen, I've also joined her "Photoshop Test Kitchen." I'm having a blast slowly learning some new techniques and pulling out old photos to try them on. (Here's just one sample of many I've been playing with, texture by Kim Klassen).

I ended up with a full, blissful day in my studio yesterday, as both kids were home with bad colds and M wasn't up for our home schooling. It was the first large, guilt-free block of time I've had in ages, and I got sooo much done!I dyed fiber and silk for future nuno-felting projects,Hand-dyed silk scarves, pre-felting
Spun some yarn (my first time spinning in quite a while!)Handspun bulky yarn, baby alpaca and cashmere blend
Felted some soaps, concentrating on trying to make each one into a tiny, unique piece of functional art and avoiding any sort of "mass production."
And today I've been jewelry-making (in the time after home-schooling was done). I've still got lots to do to get ready for the upcoming events at which I'll be selling- Art in the Barn and the Jingle and Mingle Handmade Gifts Party!Handcrafted pendant that will go on a copper necklace
Do you like my Moo mini cards? I had them printed with lots of my favorite images on the fronts and standard info on the back, and they're doubling as earring cards and price tags. What a great company to work with, easy and quick process! Pin It Now!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Always Learning... felting class with Nicola Brown

Nicola modeling an amazing felted duster she made

I don't know why it's taken me so long to write about it, but last month I had a great opportunity to attend a felting class in Michigan with Nicola Brown whose blog, Clasheen, I have followed for a while. Those that read blogs regularly have the feel for how small the world becomes... Nicola is from Ireland, but she was coming to the states to teach and I couldn't pass on the chance to learn from her. She seemed like an incredibly creative, generous, and fun teacher and I was certainly not disappointed!I decided to really treat myself, and stayed at a lovely B & B, The Kalamazoo House, that was immediately next door to the Kalamazoo Institute of Art. The entire experience was inspiring, and I loved the museum and it's surroundings. Although I took along lots of knitting and reading, I was surprised to find that I enjoyed socializing with the other guests more than holing up in my room! The hosts were great as well.The first two days of class were specifically about making a complex felt bag. Although I'm a semi-experienced felter, I enjoyed learning about using a "resist" to make a 3D object with the strap cut from the original layout of fiber, and I also had fun incorporating other fabrics and embellishments into the felt.
It was fascinating to see the variety of approaches the other attendees took to choosing the style and colors of their purses (one of the benefits of attending a class, watching and learning from other attendees). One lady put together some colors that I thought were pretty horrendous, and I was sure that her uptight pace would lead to disaster- how wrong I was when she was the first to finish what was definitely a spectacular purse! I was pleased with how mine came out, although it's a bit more "flashy" than what I'd normally carry.
The final day was a Felted Accessories class- we had a choice of techniques to learn about, and although I'd been doing a lot of nuno work where you felt various fibers to a base of silk or other fabric, I wanted to learn new techniques since I'd admired Nicola's nuno feltwork so much. I used some silk that I had already dyed, and felted it with short-fibered merino. Although it wasn't my best finished project, I enjoyed the process and especially love working with that type of merino now in addition to alpaca as it felts so fast and evenly.
I've found a fair amount of time to do some other felting projects since then (though not as much as I'd like!) I made this purse with hand-dyed alpaca, merino, and C1 wool (and embedded glass beads), as I wanted to make another bag while I could remember the techniques.
I've also made quite a few nuno scarves and shawls with silk and both alpaca and wool. Now I need to buckle down and make some of the smaller items (like soaps and jewelry) that are the staple of my holiday gift sales. If only I had more time in the day!!! Pin It Now!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Creative happenings... of all sorts!

Marti and Gringo, Eastern Kentucky, 2009

My creativity has been able to manifest itself in ways other than dressing up my horse... time to move on from all of the equine emphasis here and back to some of my other outlets.I've actually been on a roll in the studio, with tons of felting, dyeing and other crafting going on (more on that in a few days). In addition, I'm still trying to learn Adobe Photoshop Elements, and recently came upon a fantastic site and free online class.
It's still not too late to get on board for this session, follow the link from the Kim Klassen Skinny Minnie class button on my sidebar. These are some of the fun photos I've produced lately (the frog was the result of my first "homework" assignment in Kim's class!) Mirian is doing the class as well and is having a lot of fun with it; she's a very good photographer!Kentucky Horse Park, October 2010

The digital photo work is really addictive, just what I need- another distraction in my loco life! Pin It Now!