Mar 29, 2015

"It Never Rains But It Pours" !

Hello dear friends and fellow bloggers !
Getting through these last 2 months has been a tough one for me. I felt so 'blah' that I was not very inspired to sew or draw or even read ! My health was occupying my 'art' time. I think I have finally/hopefully seen the last of the 'biologic' (for my RA) that was still lurking in my system ... coming out in many minor subtle health issues (my blood pressure, sore eyes, enlarged lymph glands, almost tattoo-like marks at the injection sites, a nostril that poured (but did not develop into a cold) and finally, zits on my nose ! At my age !
You can likely imagine how frustrated I have been lately.
Sharron Elizabeth Deacon and her mother Laura Irene (Currie) Deacon

It was my 67th birthday a few days ago and that fact certainly didn't help to make me inspired, revved up or happy ... but it's just another number, right ? Then I remembered running across these old photos ... isn't she cute ! Yeah, that's me !... I appear to be about 3-4 mos. old, being held in turn by my mother, Laura, and her little sister, my Aunt Donna (she is whom I jaunt off to visit a couple of times a year for some much needed R&R). She is in her early eighties now and loves to have me come for a week so that she can beat the pants off me at Scrabble. We talk a lot and I pick her memory for my genealogy stories.

I finally have my hands on 'STITCH' magazine out of the UK. 
My dear friend Monika had written an article for this magazine last fall and it is just now out in Chapters. She has written a lovely article that will prove very useful to stitchers who aren't into sketch books, yet. Monika has told the story of how my ink drawings showed her how she could interpret her own photos into ink drawings that would guide her in her hand & machine stitched thread paintings.
Monika does exciting work and I hope you drop into her blog and have a look around. She adores her prairie landscape in Saskatchewan, Canada and interprets it with a lovely mix of threads. 

see !! there's my name :0
 Thank you so much Monika !   
Anyway ... 'it never rains but it pours' ... is my lead in to the 3 projects that grace my right board now. We've had a couple of beautifully, brilliant days and the warmth of the sun coming in my studio window called me to get my pencils, paper, hand-painted fab's and water-soluble out and start organizing what I have and what I still need to get, to work on these projects. That was a bit of fun 'cause I discovered some painted fabrics that I forgot about ... but none were right for any of these projects : (  

Project # 1 is hanging from my ironing board waiting for some new painted fabric for the fore-ground (a plethora of autumn grasses) ... inspired by my own photo of a friend's old log cabin property from the 1800's, where the silo stands behind the foundation of the original barn. The scrawny little pine has been done on water-soluble and will be applied last.  The silo hasn't been entirely ironed down yet ... I'll be able to slip the 'grass' right underneath it.  A blown up photo-copied collage of the original photo has been taped to my wall for months now ... 'bout time I did something with it :) 
I have always been interested in these old abandoned silos and have many photos in my archives waiting for attention. Since I have been taking photos, of those that are on route back to the county first settled by my ancestors, I have seen that some have been demolished ... I'm glad I have the photographs.

Project # 2 is the one that a friend has commissioned last week and which needs a few newly hand-painted fabrics to get started ... tomorrow I plan to paint the colours I need. The 'SAPLING' will be done on water-soluble and applied last ... it will be a beautiful fall, crimson maple sapling.

Going back through my sketch books has inspired project # 3. 
The entangled rose that I posted on Feb. 17, 2015, has inspired me to try it on water-soluble ... to be applied by machine to a pale grey hand-painted background. I needed a subject for another 18"x18" piece for our traveling '18Square' show.

So ... lots on my plate that should keep me out of trouble for a few weeks  ;)

Mar 21, 2015

Happy Spring Everyone !

Just really need the cold to go away, NOW !  
The snow is almost gone, just a few piles of dirty snow left on either side of the driveway, but almost there, thank goodness ! 
There have been a few days of weather above 0C that tease us to believe that warmer weather is coming. 
But the birds have been sorely missing ... the sparrows that usually hang around, during the winter, are either frozen solid or had decided in December that a Florida migration was a must this year.
February in a local thicket
I have been MIA this past month for no other reason than just general malaise ... not ill, but certainly un-inspired, tired and grumpy. I'll blame it all on the bitter cold, too much snow and the fight my body was in against a drug it did not like ! All my lymph glands were on high alert after the introduction of a 'biologic' for my RA ... I reacted quickly and quit almost as quickly ... but the drug was in my system and I have fought it off for the last 2 months. 
Feeling so much better now. Back to the old standby for relieving my RA aches & pains.

I finally got my 'call' to join a bariatric program ... start in July ! This program will help me lose excess weight and re-program my brain and my current eating habits ... plus I will have a large support system with a doc., dietician, social worker and 20+ buddies who will be trying to lose stubborn weight and learn better eating habits. The program is 24 weeks long !
This can lead to surgery, but that is not my plan ... I eat small as it is, just need to eat better. I'm a bread addict and fruits and vegetables turn me right off ... now I will learn that there is nothing better, right ? Should be interesting ! Exercise will be easier when the weight is off my poor joints and my new walking sticks will come into play.
I should take a before and after pic, lol ! 
I've been inspired, as well, by my daughter who started running a year ago January. She is 5'9" and has run off nearly 100 lbs after having 2 babies ... and she feels and looks great. 
I expect to be a bag of loose skin when I am done :(, but at my age I don't care about that anymore. I expect that I will have a hard time finding my tattoos ... just kidding !
Had a cartoon here but the link didn't work ;(

Some great news, too ! 
A friend has commissioned a threadpainting from me as a wedding gift that he plans to carry all the way to Germany in June ... can you see the big, ridiculously wide grin on my face ? Well, it's there and my smile muscles are getting achy ;) I will begin this project on Monday by hand-painting fabrics ... can hardly wait !

Feb 26, 2015

'Blown Away'

I am truly blown away !
Visiting a fellow blogger, Leah Hughes , yesterday  and found this on her blog ... had to share it with you ! .... if you haven't seen this already, please take a look!
I wish I was savvy enough to show you an image of this sculpture by Penny Hardy.

'Through Our Hands' Magazine; this months issue is full of interest, but the article I love the best is  Linda & Laura Kemshall's Soapbox~ deja vu.  Something to think about !

Feb 25, 2015

One More Kick At The Cat

Propped up against my shelving unit, 
'Sunset~Parry Sound~Killbear' 
is looking pretty good to me. 
I stretched it by myself, and the palm of my left hand is feeling abused still 
... hammering those staples home & stretching the canvas 
is no picnic for arthritic hands ;)
This photo isn't the best ... too pink in the sand (cheesecloth) area. Did I tell you that the background fabric was tea dyed ? looking a little greyer than it's actual warm beige.
Ontario, Canada has been under 30C for over a month !!!!  OOPs ... meant under 0C  !
Mama Nature ... we've had enough ! ! !

Feb 17, 2015

A Fabulous Week !

As some of you know, I house-sit for friends and look after their animals while they take well-deserved breaks and jaunt off to a warmer clime. 
I love doing this as it gives me a chance to get away from the busy house that is my home. 
I take minimal clothing but take lots of 'stuff/stash/projects' to do while I have the peace and quiet of an, otherwise, empty home. Once I have settled in and figured which to do first, I just lay it all out and get to work ... the dining table turns into a conveyor belt of activities. This past week, snow came often or the days were sunny and very bright. Colder than heck  but the sun warms up the space that I occupy and is just so conducive to working on my stuff.  
My charges, 3 cats, don't care what I do as long as I am available for a quick snuggle/rubdown, when it suits their fancy, or a meal... and a clean litter box. They don't even need to be walked ;)
So, I started with a sketch of a rose (one of my own photographs),
then free-handed a Zentangle Rose
It took the whole week to decide what patterns to use and then fill up the petals (I take my sweet time)
The back of 'Sunset, Parry Sound, Killbear' before the tree is added to the front
... the back always has its own special interest ... the stitches wouldn't pass muster at a quilt show ! ;) I was using a rayon thread to do the quilting part ... it kept breaking and was the right colour, so I continued for many days to cover the background 
Some hand-stitching to secure the paper pieces and to connect the water
on both pieces of brown paper.
Then some machine sewing in the ditches to secure the previously made tree (see 2 posts back) in place ... easy-peasy :)
Hanging from my ironing board today ... off to get a stretcher frame in a few days after my truck battery is deemed ok ... the freezing temps have played havoc with my little truck.
This finished canvas is slightly smaller than the original measurements due to shrinkage when 'quilting' the background, but I quilted beyond the basting line, to cover that little problem ... so finished piece will be 18" x 22"
Sunset, Parry Sound, Killbear
... couldn't change the direction of this photo ... it's upright in my 'Photos'  :(

Feb 15, 2015

Good News, Bad News, Sad News

I am just reeling from the news I received today !
I have been house-sitting for the last 9 days and my email inbox was full !

Good news !   ~   I won a CD from Fil as part of the Grow Your Blog Party (of earlier this month) ... fantastic ! Fil is an Irish folksinger ... can hardly wait to hear her beautiful Irish voice coming from my computer ;)

As well, Monika has announced her article has been published in STITCH magazine ... in which she has mentioned my name and my blog address :) I phoned our Chapters/Indigo store and they have a few copies (he thought, but may be an older issue .... the important thing is they carry it !)... I will check that out next week ;)

The bad news was to find that there is trouble in one of my daughters' marriage ... I am not surprised but disappointed, none-the-less.

The sad news ... to occupy myself (while trying not to get overly involved with my daughters news) I decided to catch up on my blogger friends ... many blogs later there was a message that Pam (The Crafty Mugwump) has succumbed to her disease. I had just gotten to know her a little before she wasn't posting much anymore ... her son broke the news. Rest in peace, Pam.

Feb 4, 2015

Post Blog Party Post ;)

We were advised to leave our Grow Your Blog Party post up for about 2 weeks before carrying on as before ... almost made it !
WOW - this party has been a blast ! Not only have I have grown my blog substantially, I have had a one hell of a fine time jaunting around the planet meeting some very fabulous ladies.  It has been especially nice to find like minds when it comes to my particular passion - free-motion machine embroidery ... but, there are so many just terribly interesting people, out there, whom I can hardly wait to get to know better, as friends, as fellow bloggers/mothers/grandmothers and artists.
It's like having Pen Pals  ... just a different format !

Is it just me ? ... I hate seeing a blog with, for instance, 50 lovely comments attributed to the artist/author but not a single word from the blogger ! ?   (yes, I know that she has most assuredly sent them each a lovely email  instead) ... but, it just looks cold, impersonal. Must just be me :) I'm kind of a Chatty Cathy (omg, speaking of 'blasts', do you remember her ?)

Anyway, nearly 2 weeks has passed and I am anxious to show you what I have been up to !
I went to house-sit for 3 days ... too short a time to haul in my sewing machine (very reluctant to use my hosts' newer machines) so I gathered my drawing materials, sketch books and a new book that Santa brought me 'Totally Tangled' by Sandy Steen Bartholomew. I was drooling over the many gorgeous 'tangles' and determined to try my own, by the rules. But right of the bat I had forgotten to draw 4 dots ! (provides a boundary). Then the decisions to make !!! So many patterns to use !
Or to devise !
 This one will become a part of my 'flags'...  

                             ... and this one reflects my tree love ;)------------>

Then I found this wonderful website  ... Zentangle ... oh, what lies in store for me ?
I have played with this style with pen & ink before, but apparently, there are rules for zentangles ...  like, they must be a certain size 3.5"x3.5" ... it's certainly a nice size to work with, because it takes a lot of time to work the designs to completion ... I like the 'zone' I get into ;)
While working with my ink marker I tried my hand at sketching/remembering a beloved 94yr. old, distant cousin ... must practise making an older person looked more aged. Her eyes were a very pale blue, but I have made them a too prominent feature.
She was a very sharp lady right to the end and politics was her 1st choice for debate. She died last year ... miss her a lot ! Until I found her through my genealogy search, I had never known she existed ... what a font of family information ! When I walked into her house for the first time, I felt like I had travelled back in time 8 decades ! She had art hanging everywhere ... we needed to know each other longer !
She trained as a nurse in New York in the 1930's, married an intern and emigrated to Venezuela where she lived for 45 yrs.  Frances and her husband came back to Canada in their retirement.
She had 3 children, while living abroad, who were all born in Canada, (dual citizens) and all 3 live in Canada, now. I intend to look them up and get to know them.

Progress is being made on 'Sunset ~ Parry Sound, Killbear' but I ran out of black thread on the weekend ... couldn't believe this ! Full steam ahead and the abstracted tree is finished ... now for the finishing, after the ironing, the basting, the drying, etc. ... sometimes I just don't have the patience to wait for the grande finale !
Pinning this to a piece of foam and rinsing did not remove enough of the water-soluble ... I took it off the foam and rinsed it well (in my hands) and pinned it up to dry ... this tree, with it's more solid stitching, is much easier to recognize, in this state than a previous cedar tree, in Lake Huron Sunset. (scroll a bit) ... but it still took a day to dry ! 
 The shrinkage (from the original drawing) is substantial but it won't affect the final piece at all.
Placement of the individual pieces took some time but I think I have it right, now.
Today it's on to the mundane, but necessary parts ... basting tea-dyed background to a piece of muslin, machine stitching/quilting these 2 pieces together while incorporating the brown paper bits and adding machine or hand stitches that will tie these floating pieces together.

Before I leave I want to share a photo of my youngest 4 gr. kids ( 3, 3, 2 &1 1/2) enjoying the fresh snow from the big storm the day before.