Wednesday, November 28, 2007

R.I.P. Papa

Today my father passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92. As of four days ago, he had stopped eating and drinking. My sisters and I are deeply saddened by his passing and at the same time, we are relieved that he did not suffer as his life came to an end.

I found a couple of photos that I wanted to post here. The first one was taken at my parent's wedding in 1952 and the bottom photo of my dad was taken earlier this year. I especially like this one because it captured him with a smile.

My sisters and I are now orphans. Funny, no matter how old we were, to our parents we were still "the children" and I guess we thought of ourselves that way too.

In the spring, M and I will take our father's ashes overseas to be buried along side other family members in his native Kuusalu, Estonia.

Rest in peace, dear Papa.

Your loving daughters,

Ene, Inga and Milvi

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mum's Paper Doll

I spent the better part of the day in the nursing home with my dad. He seems to be resting comfortably but he is not responding when we speak to him. So mostly I just sat there and sketched ideas for future dolls. That helped to pass the time and temporarily take my mind off things.

My mother was a gifted artist. This evening, I went through some of her art work and decided to post this fun little piece she did in 1935 when she was a teenager. Since I have written a lot about dolls lately, I thought this image would be in keeping with the doll theme. I love the simplicity and grace of this picture. All she did was carefully cut out the paper shapes and paste them on to a paper background. She must have used some kind of super glue because after 72 years, the paper is still firmly affixed.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I'm Back, Sort Of...

With the British Show in Hamilton, Ontario over, I was fully expecting to be back at home tonight. Sadly, my 92 year old father who has been residing in a nursing home for the past nine months, suffered a fall, and for the last two days has refused food and water. I spent the entire day with him and at this point, things are not looking good. Instead of going home tonight to my wee house in the country, I am at my sister's suburban house which is closer to my father's residence.

Since Dad was asleep most of the day, to pass the time at his bedside, I made up my list of Christmas presents I plan to make for family and friends.

For the past five years, I have been making my own Christmas cards with matching envelopes and sending out about 50 cards a year. This year I simply won't have time to make all those individual cards, so I have challenged myself to make one "special" card and post it on this blog for all my online friends.

I bought some beads and metal embellishments while I was in Hamilton and am anxious to return to my doll making soon. I still need to put some finishing touches on a Dotee doll I created for my swap partner, Kelli, in Tasmania.

J & E - thanks for looking after my cat.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Not So Scary Scarecrow

Just a quick break from the pressures of getting ready for the British Show this weekend. So much yet to do, with so little time left.

It's drizzling and gloomy outside and as I look out my window, the face of the scarecrow I made, looks menacing today, from a distance, that is. She usually looks too pleasant to be a scarecrow. So I thought I'd run out in the rain and catch her while she was in a scary mood, but she still looks happy close up.

I think she's smirking because she knows she won't be the one that has to travel to Hamilton tomorrow in the bad weather that they're forecasting.

I'll be back on Tuesday November 27th. Happy Thanksgiving to our American neighbours and friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm A Winner

I always say "I never win stuff" but I did today. Girl Gone Thread Wild (Monica) held a draw to celebrate her first full year of blogging. The prize is this delightful art doll ornament and very soon she will be mine. Thank you, Monica.

Hubby and I will be vendors at the British Christmas Show in Hamilton, Ontario starting November 23rd throught the 25th. I may find a few minutes here and there to work on one of my projects but it's unlikely I'll have anything finished to post on the blog before then. For any of you that follow the British soap, Coronation Street (quite popular here in Canada), the actress that plays Cilla will the the featured guest at the British Show. Cilla is a nasty character so it will be interesting to see how the public reacts to her.

We will be selling British chocolates, biscuits and candies. I just hope I can keep my paws off the chocolate with all that temptation around. British chocolate is really, really, good.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Funny Face

Well I couldn't do much of anything yesterday except shuffle around like an old man. I did manage to walk over to visit with my friends and neighbours who live two houses down the street from me. I must say that by the time I left their house, my back was starting to feel normal again. I'm not sure if that was due to all that wine that JR gave me or was it because I sat on her nice firm couch with a pillow propped up behind me. Maybe a little of both.

Today I am moving around cautiously but it looks like I am getting better. I felt well enough to almost finish up the Dotee doll for my swap partner in Tasmania. I can't post a picture of it here until after she receives it, just in case she wanders to my blog again. No sneak previews.

What I will show you is the beginnings of the doll face that I messed up. You see this was supposed to be a temporary face, just for positioning, while I embellished the body with beads and embroidery. For fun, I jotted a face on to an untreated piece of broadcloth with a Sharpie pen, knowing it would bleed.

I ended up liking the bleeding effect, so I continued by sewing the face to the main fabric and beading around the face. So far so good. Then I sealed the face with Podge. I should have lined the face first because once the sealer dried, you could see the red background fabric through the broadcloth. In an attempt to fix that, I slapped on some white acrylic paint and now it has a weird texture, like she has skin problems. Just not good enough to give away.

I will finish this doll and keep her for myself. On the positive side, I learned 1) to always line the face, 2) that I can utilize the bleeding technique again and 3) I will get more practice sewing beads.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No Work Today

I did a stupid thing today. Lifted a heavy box the wrong way and hurt my back. Now I can't straighten up and walk properly, and it doesn't feel too comfortable. I have to move slowly and carefully.

I've been staring the Dotee Doll that I started for my swap partner and still can't decide whether or not to complete this one or start again.

Since I am somewhat disabled at the moment, I have been resting and not working on my project. I don't like to post with just text and no image, so here is a picture of another star ornament I did a few years ago.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dotee Doll Two

Boy, these little guys are really fun to make. I sewed tiny beads into the centres of some of the flowers and gave her a beaded head band. This is the first time I've ever sewn a bead. I figured it out without having to refer to anything, but then, it's not exactly rocket science.

I used felt for the crown and the tail because that's all I had on hand that I thought would be suitable. I'll have to get some bigger beads (back to the buck store).

I sewed the beads on before I stitched the front and back of Dotee together. It's easier to work with a flat piece, although I know some crafters sew the beads on in the end. I wonder how they do that. Maybe that's rocket science.

This was good practice and I am looking forward to making the next one.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Dotee Dolls

The Dotee doll, as far as I can determine, is the creation of a woman in Australia by the name of Dot, and is somewhat similar to the doll you see on the left. This is my unfinished test version. It still needs to be stuffed and have a loop sewn at the top for hanging and a little beaded tail at the bottom for embellishment.

These little creatures have really caught on with a lot of crafty bloggers and I am no exception. The faces are usually cut out of felt with simple, embroidered eyes, nose and mouth and the bodies are decorated with beads. They are tiny, anywhere from 3 to 6 inches, and they are cute, cute, cute.

It's been awhile since I've embroidered (since Grade 8) so I decided to draw my face on muslin with red and black Sharpies. That wasn't such a good idea since these pens really bleed on fabric. Now I know. That's why we do test pieces.

The tricky part for me will be the beads as I've never sewn beads on anything before. I bought a toy beading kit at a Dollar Store (for $1) to practice.

We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

And now for the unveiling.........

Here is the rest of "Mystery Eyes" that I posted yesterday.

The purple still looks brighter on my screen than it does in real life. Maybe it will appear more subdued on your screen. Anyway, it's miles better than my previous attempt.

I made a cloth doll last night, but I haven't stuffed her yet. You can read all about that tomorrow.

And now I have to go and attend to my homemade bread. No bread machine for me. I make mine from scratch, do the kneading and punching down and the whole bit. Ooooh, the house smells divine.

Happy Birthday, J

Hi J!

Happy Birthday. Too bad you are so far away as I sure would like to share a glass of wine (or two) with you to celebrate.

Here is an ATC (Lord, I am hooked) I made for you in lieu of a regular birthday card. You will be receiving this in the mail as soon as the ink dries.

Thanks for being such a good friend to me.

Today you should kick back and not do any work around the house. Just enjoy all those gifts that B is showering upon you along with the dinner out tonight.

Oh and don't worry, hunting season will be over soon.


Cotton Picker

Monday, November 12, 2007

Swap ATCs Almost Done

Except for an application of matte finish sealer, I have completed the ATCs for my swap partners. Pictured first, is another version of the African mask stamp. I used a piece of cotton that has that African, earthy, ochre feel to it. I like the way it turned out.

The other card I made today was a success too, but for the life of me, I couldn't get a decent photo. I snapped a picture of the first one outdoors this morning. By the time I was ready to shoot a picture of the second card, it had started to rain. It's dark and overcast outside and the pictures just didn't come out the right colour.

OK, so I'll tease you a bit and only show you her eyes. I will try again tomorrow and hopefully be able to post an accurate picture.

And now, on to my next two projects. A birthday card and a trial doll. I am planning on joining a doll swap but don't want to commit until I'm sure I can come up with something I like.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Favourite Star

I was away this weekend which prevented me from finishing up the last ATC for my swap. I only like to do my creative thing during daylight hours. Once it starts getting dark, it doesn't feel right to me.

Since I don't have another ATC to show, I thought I'd post my favourite star ornament. I had been trying to photograph this and just wasn't able to get a good shot. As I was browsing through my pictures, I discovered that I had previously scanned an image of this little gal after I first created her.

Of all the stars I've made, I think she is my favourite. I had a lot of fun hunting for suitable fabrics for the "Star" series. All are made from quilting cottons with very tiny celestial themed prints embellished with either gold or silver.

I managed to find a dozen or so cottons that fit the bill. No two stars are alike. When I can figure out how to re-connect my scanner to my computer, I will post a few more of my stars. I should do another series, maybe out of Christmas fabrics.

This weekend, I had the chance to go to two different Michaels craft stores. I get completely overwhelmed - there's so much stuff. I could browse in there for many happy hours. Along with some fabric markers, quality coloured pencils (that were marked down more the 50%), and a punch, I bought two female face rubber stamps (50% off thanks to the coupons). The face stamps are for some dolls that I am starting soon.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Don't Know About This One

Hmmmm, I wonder if my plan to use pink polka dots for the face was such a good one. She looks like she's very embarrassed about her measles or something. The colours are a bit more shocking in the photo than in real life.

Other than the red face, I think it's kind of fun.

Well if you don't experiment and try different ideas, you don't learn anything, do you?

My Second ATC

I finished my second Artist Trading Card (ATC) last night. This one could be embellished further with some pearl beads, but since I don't have any, I'll leave it as is.

The face is made from flesh coloured cotton printed with a subtle and delicate floral design. It adds some interest and texture to the face.

I have two more cards to make for the swap that I am taking part in and I'd like to get them done and mailed well before the November 26th deadline.

My artist friend, J and I are also doing a private swap. Same theme - faces. J is super talented and with her permission, I will post her creations here when I receive them.

I was hoping not to have to buy any more materials and equipment for a while. Drawing on such a tiny scale is difficult. In order to produce the results I want, I really need some more fine point fabric pens in a variety of colours. My sister lives near a Michaels craft store and I will be visiting her tomorrow. Maybe if I'm real nice, she will stop there before we go about our other business. 8-)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Artist Trading Cards

What are Artist Trading Cards? Up until a few days ago, I'd never heard of them. In a nutshell, they are miniature works of art that are traded amongst people who produce the art. The only requirement is that they must be 2.5" x 3.5" in height and width and that they are traded, not sold.

Check out Wikipedia for a full explanation.

As I've discovered, there is a huge Internet swap thing going on with these things. I found a swap where the theme is "faces" and since I love painting faces, I had to jump on the bandwagon. So now I have committed myself to producing four cards to send to two total strangers. They have to be in the mail by November 26th.

My concern is that I am a newbie and that the recipients of my cards won't be all that impressed. Folks are making some spectacular cards with all sorts of mixed media. I didn't want to go and buy a lot of new materials and because there is no restriction on the materials that can be used for the cards, I thought to myself, "what do I have on hand that I could use?" I have fabric, and lots of it. My cards will be done in cotton using some fancy stitching on my sewing machine.

Pictured above is my very first Artist Trading Card (ATC). The background is made from one of the little cotton samplers I posted about yesterday. The face is rubber stamped on muslin and stitched to the card. The back, which I did not photograph, is the same fabric as the front and attached is a little tag showing my name and Email address. Both front and back pieces were reinforced with fusible interfacing to give it some rigidity. The colours in the background, which remind of African fabrics, and the African mask face seem like they belong together.

I think I like it but I'm not sure. It seems a bit too simple (compared to some I've seen). Yet I don't want to overdo it. It needs a little something more. Some beads or buttons maybe.

While I decide about this one, the next one I'm working on will feature a face hand painted by me. This is going to be interesting as there isn't much room on these tiny cards.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fabric Weights

My friend J gave me a book of small printed cotton fabric samples. Some of the prints are especially pretty. But what to do with these? Well, I picked up a neat idea from the Tips section of one of my favourite websites, A reader suggested making fabric weights by stuffing pieces of fabric with coins.

Since I have a million pennies, I counted out batches of 50 and sewed them into the fabric samples. The stitching is a bit wonky on some of them, but the pennies are tricky to maneuver.

I've seen those yellow coated metal fabric weights that cost close to $20 and you don't get very many of them in a package. These cost me 50 cents each as the fabric was free.

I still have lots of the samples left and will be using them to make some cloth dolls. I will share more about the dolls in a future post.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

New Fabric, Vitameatavegamin

Yesterday I received a lovely surprise in the mail. It was a package from my sister-in-law, E, from whom I was expecting a book of house plans, since hubby and I are planning to build a new house next year. Well I got the book, but she also included a couple of metres of this lovely cotton print of nastursiam leaves.

I've just finishing pre-shrinking and running it through the dryer for ten minutes and now it's hanging up to dry. It looks a tad darker in the picture because I snapped the photo while the fabric was still wet. Isn't it beautiful? I'm thinking this is going to end up being a summer top.

The next picture captures a surprise my friend, J, left for me. Like a lot of folks, my fridge is decorated with fridge magnets. Every time J visits me, she re-arranges my fridge art in some silly way. J is an artist and has a different way of seeing objects. She took my "I Love Lucy" Vitameatavegamin magnet that I got at the Lucy Desi Museum in Jamestown NY (birthplace of Lucy) and the cheapo cat magnet that I got at the buck store, and, "artfully" changed them around. Now I never notice her handiwork until several days after she's left. When I finally do notice, well, how can you help but chuckle.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

I Love Cats

Cats are my favourite critters on this planet. When I saw these cute cat buttons, I bought them not knowing how I would use them. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to put them on any clothing that I would wear. I ended up making this little ornament for a friend, who sadly, passed away earlier this year.

The hearts are cotton with zig-zagged edges with the cat button is sewn in the middle. I love the colours - black/white gingham and deep burgundy polka dots.

Now I just said that I wouldn't wear these cats, but actually, I have a couple more on which I've filed off the shanks and am thinking about glueing posts on the back to make a pair of earrings. Nah, maybe, not. I can glue them onto a card or something.

A lot of bloggers post pictures of their pets so I think I will too. Meet Zoe, my little princess cat who is almost 15 years old. She is finally starting to mellow in her golden years. It used to take me ten minutes of petting and talking to her before she would start purring. These days her little motor starts right away. She was never playful but one thing that catches her attention is a moving beam of light from a flashlight. She goes crazy chasing after the light.

She will likely be my last pet. Once she passes on, I don't want to get attached to another animal. It's just too painful when you lose them.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Sister's Choice

I love to cut out little squares and triangles from pretty cotton prints and sew them together. I'm quite good at it. Where my enthusiasm starts to wane is during the part where you have to stitch the quilt block to the batting and the backing. I haven't mastered the skill/art of quilting and maybe I never will.

I made these pillows which involved minimal quilting and in fact, I did the quilting with my sewing machine. These blocks are called Sister's Choice. The design appeals to me due to it's star-like quality but I think the real reason I love the block so much is because of its name. "Sister's" Choice. I have a dear, wonderful sister and whenever I see something to do with "sisters", it holds a tremendous appeal for me.

The red pillow was made from some cotton I bought to use for a quilt block. The blue pillow is left over fabric from a top I made a while ago. The contrasting cream fabric is muslin. The pillow cases just slip over a regular sized pillow and are easy to remove for laundering.