Friday, December 28, 2007
My friend and neighbour, JR, had a surprise for me yesterday. I knew ahead of time that she had made something for me. Since JR is a mosaics artist, I thought whatever she had for me might involve bits of broken glass and china. JR makes the most incredibly intricate mosaic pictures which, in my view, must require an infinite amount of patience to create.
But JR has been reading my blog and with all my posts about Dotee dolls, it looks like the Dotee bug has bit her too. This doll has been cleverly recycled from an old wine bag. There is a lot of detail which I am unable to show you in the photo. It can only be appreciated upon close up, in person, inspection. The facial features are all hand embroidered on a satin type of fabric and because of the sheen, the photo just doesn't do it justice.
I love handmade things and the thoughtfulness and creativity that goes into them. Thank you so much, JR.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
A while ago my husband asked me to make him a Green Man ornament to hang in his office. The Green Man is supposed to be a pagan god who roams the woods of the British Isles and Europe and is often portrayed behind a mask of foliage.
This was great fun for me to do because I got to work with some beautiful "leafy" quilting cotton and I am mad about anything with a leaf print on it. I wasn't sure how I was going to make his face green so I just started playing around. First I drew the face on muslin with a Sharpie and then did a Forest Green acrylic wash over it. Once the paint dried, I used oil pastels for highlights. I probably should have sprayed a protective coating of something over it but I didn't have anything and I didn't know what I should be using anyway. I will have to ask my artist friend J, about what to use in future.
Since I had some success with the green face, I'm going to use the same technique, in blue, for a couple of Icicle Dolls that I'm making for a swap.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
When I was clearing out my late parents' house, I found a sweet little girl's cotton dress which had a lovely butterfly and insect motif on the circle skirt. The print was so captivating I just knew I had to keep it and that I would find some way to use it in a future sewing project. How fortunate too that the entire skirt was in excellent shape with no discolouration or stains.
To discover a dress once worn in childhood was exciting in itself but I later came across a photograph taken in 1959 of my younger sister actually wearing it.
Thanks to the photo, I knew the dress had belonged to my sister so I had to make something for her from this beautiful fabric. I decided to make a very special Dotee Doll for her to hang in her jewelry closet. Every time she opens the door, the little Dotee will be there to greet her and remind her of another time. And perhaps she will also know that her sister's loving hands made this especially for her.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
My sometimes wise-guy husband was having a go at me by trying to imitate one of my doll faces. This is what he ended up with. After we had a good laugh about it, I decided to use it on a coaster I was making for my brother-in-law G.
So here it is; a joint effort by hubby and me. He did the drawing, I did the stitching and the colour is to be added by G at future dates with as many coffee, tea, red wine and beer stains as he can manage.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Here's what developed after I starting cutting and stitching. Sometimes I have no any idea what I will end up with.
I am currently working on four Christmas items that do require a plan. I am obsessively thinking about and planning these projects, so much so that the whole endeavour is messing up my circadian rhythm. Staying up until midnight working away in my studio, eating too much of that Christmas chocolate that seems to be everywhere, lying in bed thinking, wondering how everything is going to get done, getting up late in the mornings. Tsk-Tsk!
If nothing else, I do feel that I am getting good results for my efforts and hopefully the recipients will like what I am creating for them.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
The idea for this doll I owe, in part, to Monica of Girl Gone Thread Wild, as she sent me a swatch of the wonderful alphabet fabric.
This doll was a challenge because I must have been asleep when I cut out the body. Since I didn't pay attention to the layout of the letters, I couldn't give her the collar I wanted to without hiding too much of the letters. I stared at her for a very long time before finally deciding to add buttons in the "O" and the "Q" and a circle around the little blue star in the bottom.
I gave her glasses because I thought she needed an "intellectual" look. And...I had some nice wooden beads that were perfect for the little tail.
I'm quite happy with this one as it's a bit of a change from the glittery things I've been making lately.
I'm working on a few special Christmas gifts right now which I cannot show until after Christmas. At the same time, I'm still trying to produce something at least every other day to post here.
I'm feeling some pressure to get the gifts done, but handmade in the comfort of my own home, beats the heck out of doing battle at the shopping malls.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I haven't read the novel nor have I seen the film, but I'd like to borrow the title for today's blog entry. It's been snowing steadily for hours and here is what I see when I look out of my brand new studio. Not quite brand new. What's new is the heat and the space to store stuff. I will be able to work in comfort at any time of the day. Until now, my work in the winter was restricted to bright sunny days, where I counted on "That Lucky Old Sun" to keep me warm.
This is a beautiful space to work in. Mr Sun isn't the only one that's lucky!
Friday, December 14, 2007
The shape of this gal makes me think of Hershey's Chocolate Kisses. Even though I haven't quite finished her, I decided to post anyway. You would think that with the size of my stash, I would find some kind of embellishment, but not so. I am thinking red and green ribbons on top. I have no red or green ribbon so back to the store I go tomorrow.
Look at the paisley swirls dancing around her face. I just love that.
I've been busy. Currently I have two unfinished dolls, one of which, is an Icicle Doll. This one really looks like an icicle (not an ice cream cone). Same old problem though. Can't find anything suitable to finish her and it has to be great because she is one of the lovliest dolls I've made, IMHO.
My studio is finished as far as my contractor's work is concerned. The rest is up to me. I have to give it a thorough vacuuming and then start filling up all those shelves that he built for me. Then I'm going to make curtains for the two windows. I live in the country and don't really need curtains, but they're nice to have at night in the winter for the cosy factor. My good friend J, gave me metres and metres of some vintage fabric that is complimentary to my wall colour, so why not. Can't complain about the price either.
My niece L, over at Wine, Wool and Whoppers says she will be posting something "I" have inspired her to create so I will be checking her blog periodly throughout the day to see what it is. Can't wait.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
This is the second star from the same template I made a few days ago. I didn't embellish it very much (just a few coloured sequins) since the fabric is already busy. I love the bright colours.
The heat in my studio is working. The shelving will be installed tomorrow and the rest of the house will be restored to it's former tidy state.
I had a very pleasant visit yesterday with two lady friends who live on my street. The one lady who does not know me as well, asked what I was working on when I mentioned my studio renos. I ran back home (just next door) and brought a few of my dolls and ornaments to show. Then the lady told me she had drawers full of 100% cotton scraps and kindly offered them to me. Now what could make a Cotton Picker happier? If you are reading this, K, thank you so very much.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
I refer to this doll as a Peanut Doll because her shape and colour resemble a peanut. This happened purely by accident, not by design. I just starting cutting with my scissors and that's what I ended up with.
I wanted to make a child like face and I think I succeeded. Now I have all kinds of ideas for little girl dolls. Makes we wonder if I'm ever going to get out of the "doll factory" and on to other projects.
My contractor is here right now, working away. The brackets for the shelving are all up. He has cut a hole in the wall where the heater will reside. I think he will be delivering the shelves tomorrow as he still needs to add a second coat of varnish.
My house looks like a tornado hit - crafty stuff all over the place. I will be very pleased (and so will hubby) to have everything neatly stored on my new shelves.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
I made a doll and a brooch yesterday, which I had hoped to post here today. The problem is that my best photos are taken outdoors and with the steady snowfall today, there was no opportunity for a photography session out there. Here's the best indoor shot I could manage of the brooch.
The muslin face is sewn onto two circles of red and green felt. The face is encased with red seed beads with three red sequins on the forehead. The facial features are drawn with glitter pens so they do not appear as clear in the photo as they really are. The finished size is two inches in diameter.
I made it to the fabric store today and managed to drive the saleslady crazy with all my cuts of .2 and .3 metres of various cottons for future crafting projects.
The nice surprise in the mail today was a Dotee Doll from my swap partner. I will post of picture of the doll tomorrow.
Monday, December 10, 2007
My contractor delivered the heating unit for my studio this morning. He's coming back this afternoon to install it and if time permits, he will start on what seems like miles and miles of shelving that I ordered.
It's going to be a great thing to have a warm, toasty place to work and space to store all my fabrics and supplies.
Here's a blue/gold star that I made. I like the shape of this one so I'll have to make a few more.
Tomorrow (weather permitting) I'm going out with my husband. He's going to drop me off at the fabric store and leave me there for a couple of hours while he goes on a business call. I get all that browsing time to myself with no one waiting impatiently for me to hurry up. Does it get any better than that?
Sunday, December 9, 2007
I finally got around to making one those Icicle Dolls that I've been eyeing on so many crafters' blogs. Credit for coming up with this wonderful idea goes to Belinda Schneider of Luxembourg. If you should want to make one yourself, Belinda has generously provided a tutorial which you can find here. You can find many fine examples of the Icicle Doll throughout her colourful blog.
I am not unhappy with my first attempt, even though my husband said it looks more like an Ice Cream Cone Doll. (Everbody's a critic). Actually, I agree with my hubby's assessment. I think it can be improved by reducing the size of the face and changing the top from a curve to a straight line.
Should a woman of my age be having so much fun with all these little dolls and ornaments? Originally, Cotton Picker was supposed to be about my vintage sewing patterns (of which I have hundreds) and clothing sewing projects. I got side tracked. Now I am glad that when naming my blog, I rejected Cotton Couture and chose the definitive Cotton Picker instead.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
This one was completed last night. While I worked, I popped in my "Holiday Inn" DVD (with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire), shifting my eyes back and forth from my needlework to the TV screen. I'm so fond of that movie that I also have the soundtrack on CD. It's getting a lot of play at my house.
We met with the contractor this morning and it looks like I can expect to have my studio renos done in about a week.
The next few hours will be devoted to more needlework while all those veggies I chopped up earlier are roasting in the crock pot in time for dinner.
Friday, December 7, 2007
This morning I was drawing faces for my Christmas ornaments. Out of seven attempts, I was able to produce five that I thought were acceptable.
Here is a red one I completed a few minutes ago. I didn't time myself, but I figure it must have taken about an hour to make one ornament.
I have ten more to go as little gifties and I think maybe I should keep one for myself too.
I have been working in my kitchen as my studio at the back of the house is mighty cold this time of year. Tomorrow, our contractor friend is coming over to discuss renovations, starting with adding supplementary heat and a ceiling fan. Then I am going to remove a corner cabinet which looks nice but is not all that efficient for storing supplies and tools. He will be taking measurements for shelving. I want all my mess out in the open, but on shelves (not on the floor) and somewhat organized.
With any luck, the renos might be completed in a week. Then I'm going to post a picture of two of my work space. It's a really neat place with large southern rakehead windows that emit plenty of light. I am very fortunate to have this wonderful place to work in.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
This is what I was working on last night. I wish I knew something about photography so I could capture the pretty sparkle and glitter. Because last night's photos were disappointing, I had to go outdoors this morning in the freezing cold to get this picture. (The background is white felt, not snow).
I used Sharpies to draw the face directly onto untreated muslin to get the bleeding effect. I found that when I slap on a layer of Podge first, the pens don't bleed. Remember the womens' faces from the silent movies where the eyes are heavily defined with kohl? That is the look I want to achieve as I have in my mind to do a series of dolls inspired by the silent screen era.
Since this was supposed to be a Christmas ornament, I should have drawn more of an angelic face. This one looks like a vamp. Oh, well.
The front is a green/gold cotton print with gold sequins and green and clear beads. The back is green felt and it is lightly stuffed. The little charm at the bottom was a bronze colour which I painted gold and the hanger is gold wired ribbon. She is 3 inches in diameter. I stitched this entirely by hand as my sewing machine is resting on the floor at the moment - no room on my work table. In fact, I'm running out of floor space too. (Lots of fun, but what a mess).
I'm going to make a few more of these for friends and then move onto something else. Is there anyone out there who reads my blog that would like to do a private swap with me of one of these ornaments (or something similar)? I can only commit to making one, so I will swap with the the first person who leaves a comment expressing interest. You can PM me at Mandolin50 at hotmail dot com.
Monday, December 3, 2007
I think I stated earlier that I wasn't going to post a picture of the Dotee doll that I made for my swap partner in Tasmania. I changed my mind. Even if my swap partner does venture over to my blog and sees this picture of her little dollie, the impact will be different when she sees it in person.
I'm pleased with the way it turned out. It really sparkles with the gold touches.
As a newbie at making these little crafty things, I haven't been able to stockpile a good variety of materials yet - things like, feathers, lace, felt, ribbon, embroidery thread, grommets, beads, wool, glitter, and goodness knows what else. But I will tell you that I look at everything now as potential material for embellishing my dolls and ornaments.
Last week I bought some Christmas quilting cottons and plan to start making some ornaments later today. I should have something up here tomorrow to show you all.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
I lost both my parents this year. My mom died in February and dad, just a few days ago. After reflecting on their lives, I decided to post another work of art produced by my mother c. 1940. This is real art, nothing like the stuff I tinker away at.
This is a self portrait. She was exceptionally gifted and beautiful. My sister took the drawing to have it professionally restored and framed. We picked it up yesterday.
I'm still in awe of the quality of the restoration. Everyone in the shop was hovering around and commenting on its beauty and those large piercing blue eyes.
This picture now hangs in a place of honour in my sister's house. I have a second self portrait of my mother at my house which I will take to the same restorer.
And now back to the mundane....... I've been away from home for over a week and just got back today. I have to put the finishing touches on the Dotee Doll for my swap partner in Tasmania, photograph it and get it in the mail tomorrow. And then I start to make my Christmas ornaments.