Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Red Shoes

Inspired by the colors of autumn and all of the beautiful folk art embroidery I've been drooling over online, I drew up my own little folk art harvest pattern, which hopefully will turn into something nice.  It is inspired by the wonderful folk patterns of eastern Europe, particularly Hungary and Poland.  I've seen so many beautiful things, and I wanted to create something of my own in an autumnal palette, which I haven't seen a lot.  Most things are done in primary colors, which are very beautiful!  I just thought it might be nice to see this style in a different range of colors and themes.  Now, the question is,  are my stitching skills up to the task? Yipes!

And in keeping with my new obsession for all things folk arty, while shopping for a pair of boots the other day, I saw these!

Needless to say, I did not come home with a pair of boots, but a gorgeous pair of red clogs! They make me so happy when I wear them,  I'm like a little girl with her first pair of red shoes.....come to think of it, this IS my first pair of red shoes!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Visitors to the Wonderland

Common Box Turtle
How could anyone call this beautiful creature "common"?  You can't see it so well in this photo, but his eyes are an astonishing red-orange color.  They make him look as if he's saying, "Don't mess with me, or you're likely to draw back a nub, sister!"  Actually, I think they make good pets, but we don't keep animals that would have to stay in a small cage.  Better to enjoy them enjoying their natural environment.  Now I know who's been nibbling all the mushrooms!!

American anole
So far no birds have claimed this little birdhouse, but it looks like someone else might be considering it! This is the American anole, sometimes called a chameleon, wearing his lovely browns.

American anole
American anole
And here is another one, a little tiny baby one only about 2.5" long (tail and all!!) Isn't she sweet?? She is sporting the brilliant emerald green coloring they are best known for.  I think (I hope) she is one of Ivy's babies.  Here she is hiding amongst the morning glories which grow up the bird feeder.  So cute I had to give you two photos of her :)  I have named her Gloria.

Tiger beetle
If I ever attempt a stumpwork beetle, this will be my subject.  Love that brilliant turquoise green!!

A poor little frozen bumblebee.  I spotted him very early on a very chilly morning.  I don't think he was dead, just very cold.  I hope he was able to warm up and fly home later in the morning.

Lots of fuzzy caterpillars around.

Not a critter, but rather evidence of one - a perfectly round hole right through the center of my creeping sedum.  And I was thinking that it just wasn't happy in our heavy clay soil.  Not too long after this was taken, the dogs got after the mole who is responsible for it and dug up the whole flower bed to get at him.  Oh well.  I needed to transplant some things anyway.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend from Wonderland!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Crafting With Nature: Pebble Mosaic

Mother Nature was kind enough to dump a few tons of fresh white sand on the creek banks for us this summer.  Lots of sand and stones to play with, so we decided to have another go at nature art.  This time we made a simple mosaic out of colorful stones.  We had such fun searching for the right size and color for each section of the mushroom, and we were all happy with the final result - so much so that we're thinking of making a permanent one set in quick set concrete.  It would be lovely to have a garden paver to remind me of our special day at the 'beach'.

I hope this inspires you to go out and make a little artwork with nature.  It's so fun, and can be quite a meditative experience.  Why not check out the link above and see what inspires you?  There are lots of leaves and twigs and pinecones and such around this time of year.  What might you make with them?
Please let me know if you do.  We'd love to see what you make :)

Thank you to Jules at Adventures in Thread for inspiring us to make our own nature art.  Hopefully, there will be many more to come!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spooky Stitches

A little stitch witchery for Halloween! My mother gave me this frame a few weeks ago, and I just loved the color and the design.  I knew I wanted to make something for Halloween to go in it, but it would have to be something simple so as not to compete with the frame, but what?  Hmmmm.   Then I saw some cute little embroidered owls over at  JennyPennyPoppy, and I thought "Owl!"  So off I went trolling the web for an owl, and I found a simple line drawing of this spooky owl on a tree branch.

He is stitched mostly in chain stitches with a few fly stitched feathers.  Not sure if you can really tell, but I gave him some gold glass beads for eyes.  In the right light, they really glint and gleam and send a little shiver down your spine!  This photo was taken with it out of the frame, because I wanted you to see the crested chain stitch border which is unfortunately obscured by the frame (because some dummy can't measure right!!!)  I found a terrific video tutorial over at Mary Corbett's  Needle'n Thread, so I thought I would give it a try.  I love it!  It is a fun little stitch to work, and I think it makes a great border. (too bad you can't see it in the frame!!!! but never mind)


Count them.......7!!!!

Some eight-legged stitchers have been making some spooky stitches of their own!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quiet Places

Seeking shelter from the world this week, I find that the quiet places without help me to find the quiet place within.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Crafting With Nature: Faux Fossil Ornaments

A couple of weeks ago, I had the idea to try making some leaf impressions in clay to create something that looked a little bit like leaf fossils.  I was really happy with how they turned out, so I thought I would share with you how I made them.

Here are some of the things you will need for this project: an assortment of pretty, highly textured leaves for the impressions, waxed paper, air dry clay, a rolling pin or brayer, a dowel for making a hole if you want to hang it, a paint brush and some water.  Going out into the woods and treasure hunting for leaves with interesting shapes and textures is the most fun part of this step!

Follow the instructions on your clay to get it to a workable consistency.  For me, this involved kneading the clay with damp hands to get it soft enough that it was no longer crumbly and was very malleable.  Just be careful not to add too much water, because that can cause cracking as it dries.  Form your clay into small balls about 1-2" in diameter.  This really depends on how large you want your ornament to be and how large your leaves are.  As you can see, this is a bit messy, so you might need .....

To enlist the help of a little friend to kindly hold your rings so you don't get them all gunky with clay.  Luckily, Mr. Troll was more than willing to help out as always :)

Place a ball of the readied clay between two sheets of waxed paper and roll out into whatever shape you would like.  I wanted mine to be round, so I rolled out the clay just as I would a pie crust, turning it slightly as I rolled it out so that it would be an even thickness all around.  Then I dipped the leaf in some water, let the excess water drip off and pressed the back side (the veiny part) into the clay.  I put the top piece of waxed paper back on top and rolled over the leaf with the brayer and pressed it a little bit with my finger to get a good, deep impression.  Then I removed top piece of waxed paper and carefully lifted the leaf by its stem and voila!  A lovely leaf impression.  You can use the paintbrush dampened with water (not too wet!) to smooth out the clay around the leaf before you lift it off if you want a nice smooth background.

Mr. Troll says this one is his favorite.  We made six in all.

Here they are looking like a tray of cookies.  The piece of waxed paper on the bottom really helps when lifting them and handling them.  As you can see, mine are not perfect!  But I like that handmade look, so I was happy with them.  I placed them in a cardboard box and covered them lightly with a plastic bag to keep them from drying too quickly and cracking.  It took them about a week to cure inside the plastic bag, then I removed the bag and let them sit for another day or two before sealing them with a clear, matte acrylic spray sealant.

To finish them off and give them more of a fossilized look, I "stained" them with some very thin washes of acrylic paint, first in Hooker's green and then with raw umber.  The raw umber really sank into the vein impressions and brought out the details quite nicely.

Some parts of the clay soaked up the paint more than others leaving an uneven look which I hadn't predicted, but I quite like.  Mr. Troll is happy with how his ferny one turned out.  I think it's my favorite too!

Here is the completed batch.  As you can see, each one is quite different.  I think they do look rather fossil-y which is what I was hoping for.  This is a fun activity to do with the kids too.  One of my sons did the silver maple (bottom row far left) and the other son did the small fern one on the bottom right.  They enjoyed the whole process almost as much as their mother!  And the great thing is that this is a very forgiving medium.  If you're not happy with it, you can just squish it back into a ball and start over - very nice when working with kids!!

So, if you find some beautiful autumn leaves this year that you would like to "preserve" for posterity, why not give these faux fossils a try?  Let me know if you do.  I'd love to see what you come up with!

Happy leaf hunting, everyone!!!