Saturday, September 29, 2012

In Celebration of Autumn

Every autumn for as long as I can remember I have picked a big bouquet of wildflowers.  Autumn is the high season for wildflowers here.  Spring is too temperamental - cold one day, hot the next.  Summer is much too hot.  But autumn is juuuuussst right!  And so, this little ritual of picking a big bouquet and arranging them has become one of my favorite ways to celebrate the season.  This year I thought I would share them with you. Happy Autumn everyone!  Blessings of the season to you and yours.  Thanks for visiting :)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Haunting We Will Go..........!

This week I have started a fun new project - a haunted house!  I love Halloween, and I wanted to do a project that would allow me to incorporate a lot of different elements - applique', embroidery, and a new technique for me - needle felting.

I started out with a brainstorming session.  I just sat down and roughly sketched out some ideas - elements of a haunted house scene that appealed to me.

Then I chose elements from each of the sketches that I liked the most and put them together, making notes about construction and technique. 

With my sketch complete, I set about creating the individual pieces of the picture.  I started with the central component, the haunted house.

The house is made of felt, with cut-outs for the windows and behind the little door that opens.  There will be a little surprise behind that door next time!  I have only been stitching for a year or so, and this project will give me some good practice.  I know some of my stitches are a bit wobbly, but I figured since it's a haunted house, it would only add to the old spooky run-down look!  Some of the elements will be created separately, like the haunted house, and attached to the picture like applique', and other elements will be stitched directly to the background.  I'm hoping this technique will add interest and dimension to the final piece.  I'm having lots of fun and learning a lot.  Thanks for stopping by, and until next time - happy haunting!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Felt Mushroom Tutorial

I have had such fun making these little felt mushrooms for Halloween.  I thought you might enjoy seeing how I made them in case you want to make some too!  I tried to photograph each step, so this is a long one.  I hope it is clear and informative.  If you've ever wanted to try your hand at soft sculpture, this is a very easy project to start with.  So, here we go.

The first step is to make a sketch of the mushroom you would like to make.  All of the mushrooms made this way will have a domed top - not a flat one.  The only thing to keep in mind here is to make sure that each "corner" comes to a point.  If you round off the corners, they won't meet up when you stitch them.

Ok.  Let's start with the cap.  Cut out your mushroom cap, pin it onto your fabric of choice, and cut 4.

Sew two panels together along one side.  Then repeat with the remaining two panels.  I used the backstitch throughout this project for joining pieces together.  It is a strong stitch and will hold things together when you stuff them.

Now, open the panels, lay them flat, and sandwich them together, right sides facing.  Pin and stitch all the way along the top as shown above, making sure to stitch through the seams.

This is how they should look when you sandwich them together.

If you have done this correctly, it will look like this when you remove the pin and open it up.

Now flip that puppy inside out and you have the top of your mushroom cap!  Ain't it cute?

This is the point at which you will want to embellish your mushroom cap.  I cut little circles out of black felt to stitch onto mine, but you can do just about anything you want here.  If you're not a stitcher, you could use fabric glue to apply little pieces of felt, sequins, buttons, or anything else that tickles your fancy.

I attached my felt circles with a blanket stitch. 

Now, we need to make a bottom for the mushroom cap.  Just find some circular object that is roughly the same size as your mushroom cap (I used a plastic cup) and trace it onto a piece of paper.

Cut out the circle and you now have the template for the mushroom cap's bottom.

Pin the circle template to the fabric of your choice and cut out.

Now fold this fabric circle in half and pin. 

Cut a small semi-circle out of the middle of the straight side.  This will be the opening through which you will insert the stem and turn the cap right side out.  This is an easy way of cutting a circular hole in any piece of cloth.  I find it much easier than trying to cut a perfect circle from inside the center.

Remove the pin from the mushroom cap bottom and open it up.  Flip the mushroom cap wrong side out again and pin it to its bottom.  Stitch all the way around the entire circumference of the cap.

It should look like this.  Remember: at this stage everything is wrong side out and looks really weird.  The next step is the magic trick that turns this into a mushroom cap.

Now, reach through that little hole in the center and turn the whole thing right side out.  You're pulling the right side of the mushroom cap out through that hole you made.

Voila!  You have a cute little mushroom cap!

Stuff the cap with poly-fill and add "gills" to the underside of the mushroom cap with the trusty blanket stitch again.

Ok.  We're halfway there!  You have the top stitched and stuffed.  Now we need to make a stem for it.  Take the template you cut out at the beginning and pin it to the fabric you have chosen for the stem.  Cut 3.

Sew two panels together along one side.

Open up the two panels you stitched together and pin the remaining panel to one side - right sides together.  Again, stitch along one side.  It should look like the photo above.

Stitch the remaining open sides together, right sides facing.

Turn it right side out and you have a stem.

Slip stitch the stem to the underside of the cap.  It is really helpful to draw a stitching guide around the stem, so you don't sew it on crooked.  I used a disappearing ink marker, but you could also just stitch a line of basting stitches around it to use as a guide.

When you make your last slip stitch, pull the thread tightly to hide your stitches as well as to gather the fabric slightly to further enhance the look of gills on the underside. Take a couple of anchor stitches and knot the thread so it will hold.  Stuff the stem with poly-fill.

Cut a small circle of fabric the same size as the bottom of the stem and backstitch it to the bottom to close.  I just stood the mushroom up on the felt and traced around it with the disappearing marker, but you can easily eyeball this one.

The bottom of the stem.  Make sure to leave yourself a small seam allowance.  You can trim this as needed to help the mushroom to stand up straight.

And there you have it!  A cute little felt mushroom - this one looks just right for a witch's potion!  I hope you enjoy making your own mushrooms, and I hope you find this tutorial helpful.  If you have questions, you can e-mail me at  I will try to help you in any way I can.  Have fun and happy stitching!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Artistic Exercise: Textures

As an artistic exercise, I recently decided to collect a series of photographs exploring the myriad textures found in nature.  It is a subject I find myself returning to again and again.  Here are a few examples of interesting textures I have collected so far.

The smooth caps of these two Amanita Jacksonii emerging from their cups.

The smooth ribs of a hosta leaf.

Cracked wood and chipping paint.  Not exactly found in nature, but caused by exposure to natural elements.

A soft, feathery yet highly textured mimosa leaf.

The heartwarming, soul-satisfying woodstack - expertly stacked by my darling husband.  I love this photo. Textures within textures. The grain of the wood.  The circular grooves left by the blade of the saw.  The tightly packed wedges and the spaces between.

Pea gravel. Smooth and cool individually, yet rough and gritty collectively.

Lichen on the deeply ribbed bark of a poplar.

I love this juxtaposition of moss and stone, hardness and softness.

Soft, fluffy little puffballs of blossoms on this meadow wildflower.  Also note the many different colors on this one flower - blues, magentas, pinks, lavenders.  Simply gorgeous! 

I believe these types of exercises are beneficial to myself as an artist as well as contributing to my spiritual well-being.  When we go out into our world with the intention to be mindful, we inevitably slow down and see so much more than we would otherwise.  The world seems so much richer and there is a greater depth and detail to the beauty we see around us.  It contributes to the sense of wonder and of gratitude.  I encourage you today to slow down a bit.  To look at your world in a different way.  Mindfully look for specific things - textures or colors or shapes - whatever you like.  Just look.  Really look.  You will be amazed at how much more you see.  And please, if you decide to blog about your experience as I have, drop me a note so I can see your world through your eyes.  Perhaps you have noticed some things that I have overlooked.  Take a little time today to be mindful and enjoy your world in a whole new way.  Blessings.