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11  Sock Monkey Astronaut in Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects by waterbaby on: April 01, 2014 02:15:44 PM
The first sock monkey I ever made was for the craftster Sock Monkey Swap #2.  After he was put together I realized the socks Id used were perfect for the astronaut theme Id chosen from my partners list.  The color and where the stripes landed let me know this guy had been a navy pilot before joining MASA (the Monkey Aeronautics Space Administration):

And I found the most perfect sparkling blue buttons for his eyes and gave him a crooked flyboy grin:

His flight suit (which also has a sleeve to encase his tail and a Velcro closure at the back) was made using restaurant-quality white cloth napkins and has removable mitts and booties (downsized from baby socks):

To make the patches I used fine tip Sharpies on fusible interfacing, cut them out, drew faux embroidery around the edges, and ironed them in place.  The mission patch design is a banana recumbent on a field of stars with the motto ars astra which means star art.  His double flag patch is because of his dual citizenship thanks to my Canadian partner and my American self:

Figuring out how to make the helmet turned out to be the most difficult part of his wardrobe, but finally, after trying a number of different methods and going on many hunting expeditions, at truly the last minute I found the perfect answer, and here he is suited up and ready for space:

In a dinky mom-and-pop dollar-type store I spotted this lone plastic jar with a hot pink top, slipped it over his head (I was carrying him with me everywhere at that point, in case of just such an opportunity) and TA-DA!  At home I cut out the middle of the pink lid, wrapped fabric around the edge, and sewed on a flat gold button:

It was REALLY hard to send him off (in no small part because I had also had an astronaut theme on my list!), but my partners delighted response upon receiving made it all worthwhile.
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12  Re: Altered Wine Cork Ornament Swap Gallery in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: March 12, 2014 10:31:16 PM
The corks I got from faemystique have given me a bit of swap anxiety: although I spent a lot of time on each of the ones I made (including much trial and error, I'll admit), theyre not nearly as elaborate as the ones I received.  Not only that, faes creations are very much what I wish I had the eye for making.  So Im keeping my fingers crossed she doesn't feel somehow shortchanged in our exchange.

On to the good stuff!  In my package was a mint tin type of container which had been covered with polymer clay inlaid with gears and other metallic objects, and inside of which was a golden drawstring bag that contained the three corks.  In addition, there was a sampler box of berry-infused teas from Alaska (where faemystique lives), some dimensional, steampunkish owl stickers, and a cork gnome.  Heres a group shot (missing from the picture is the gnome which has gone missing somewhere in my living room.):

The corks are fully decorated both front and back with so many wonderful details:

Thank you so much, faemystique!
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13  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: October 27, 2013 10:56:00 PM
Alby has returned from his visit to Knoxville, bringing with him a can cozy, Moon Pie, turtle keychain from the Tennessee aquarium, an accordion/star-type photo album...and a mug made by his hostess that bears his portrait!

Behind Alby and all the way around the mug is a silhouette of the Knoxville skyline...

...and cinnamon teal did a great job capturing Alby's likeness, right down to his many stripes:

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14  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: September 18, 2013 12:21:50 AM
One of the reasons I was away from Craftster over the summer was that I was in Boston for a convention of the union I belong to for my movie work.  This was the big one that happens every four years when delegates from all over the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico meet to discuss the issues that affect our widely diverse trades (or crafts as they're called) both on the job and with respect to producers and contracts.  We also elect the top leaders of the organization.

Franklin was eager and ready to go as we waited to board our plane in Los Angeles...

...and we spent a lot of time gazing down at the country passing below.

In Boston there was first a weekend of mini-meetings, caucuses, and trainings and then five days where almost 1000 delegates gathered at the Convention Center:

Fortunately we also had a few afternoons free, and since Franklin and I are both explorers, we saw as much of the city as we could, including the Boston Public Garden, where you can take a ride on a Swan Boat (accompanied by real swans)...

...and have your picture taken with a joyous sculptural tribute to the "Make Way for Ducklings" family...

We walked the 3-1/2 mile Freedom Trail on which you can see and explore some of the most historically significant places in the United States' revolutionary beginnings, like Faneuil ("fan-yull") Hall...

...and maybe even meet your namesake...

(Franklin and Franklin)

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15  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: September 10, 2013 12:29:44 AM
Your neighborhood looks beautiful! Those roses are gorgeous.

Yes, it's a great older area of Los Angeles, mostly single family homes and some duplexes and fourplexes built between the 1910s and 1940s, the majority in the 20s and 30s.  I lucked into my apartment (in a duplex-turned-triplex) a number of years ago and have spent countless hours walking these lovely streets and admiring the sweet homes.

Continuing to play photo catch-up, here are some from a couple of theatrical outings.  We saw two shows at the Hollywood Bowl this summer, including:

We were guests of the attorney for the union local I belong to for my movie work, along with two other people from the union, and sat in one of the posh boxes rather than the higher-up-and-farther-from-the-stage bench seating my pocketbook can afford:

The evening was quite overcast, which you can see in this wide-ish shot taken while opening act Roy Ayers was performing:

It was fully dark by the time Queen Latifah took the stage:

We also went to see the musical "The Scottsboro Boys"...

...at the Music Center, a complex of professional theatres in downtown Los Angeles.  "Scottsboro" was playing at the Ahmanson Theatre, the mama bear size of the three separate stages that make up the Music Center.  Partway through the show a voice came over the loud speaker telling the cast to clear the stage.  The actors quickly and quietly left, and a several seconds later the house lights came up:

Was this part of the show?  You could feel the question buzzing through the air.  No other announcement was made.  People started standing up and looking around.  Eventually the focus turned to a back corner area of the audience where someone had apparently had some kind of medical emergency as we could see paramedic personnel back there.  After a total of maybe 10 to 15 minutes or so, the house lights dimmed, the actors took their places on stage, and the show resumed as if nothing had happened!

After the show we strolled over the the complex's plaza to watch the dancing waters, and met Sarah and Heidi who were also enjoying an after-show stop by the fountain:

Little Visitors are such fantastic ambassadors of happiness and good will: people often offer to take a picture of me and my LV, but I always ask to take of picture of the LV with them, and they always oblige!

On the way back to the parking garage, we stopped to admire the outside of my favorite, and smallest, of the three theatres, The Mark Taper Forum, which is housed in a round building that has a narrow sort of moat around the outside (those lights towards the bottom of the picture are actually under water) and inside is a semi-thrust stage with three-quarters in the round seating:

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16  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: September 06, 2013 10:26:57 PM
Here are a few pictures taken on walks around my neighborhood while Franklin has been visiting....

Learning to carefully traverse one of the many types of cacti and other succulents that flourish here:

And just the other side of the sidewalk, a tangerine tree that seems to bear fruit almost year round:

Summer roses:

Incredibly fragrant jasmine, which release their scent after the sun has gone down, so evening walks can bring a wonderfully aromatic surprise:

And a peak at the beautiful front garden of my neighbors Joe and Loyce Braun:

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17  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: June 23, 2013 10:54:10 PM
Recently we went on another hike with our neighbor Stuart and his dog Dutch (my dog Bella's on the right):

This time we went up to the Hollywood sign...well, up to behind the sign; you can't actually get touching-close to it.  There are also trails where you come out beneath the sign, looking up at it.  Part of the way we went is dirt road, part of it is paved, all of it is switch-back curvy and somewhat steep, with views first east and south to downtown, Hollywood, West LA, and beyond:

...and then suddenly you're looking north into Burbank and the San Fernando Valley, with Forest Lawn Cemetery directly below:

Keep a-goin' up and eventually you make one last left turn and there's a cyclone fence ahead, through which you get your first glimpse of the letters of the sign:

Several seconds later you're at the top of Mt. Lee overlooking the Hollywood sign, with about 3/4 of Los Angeles spread before you (there's a lot more to the left of this photo) and a great view of Lake Hollywood (which is actually a reservoir):

I've lived in LA most of my adult life and part of my growing up and this was the first time I'd taken any of the trails to the sign!
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18  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: June 20, 2013 09:38:33 PM
Here's something from a month or so ago to answer the Something Local challenge....

There are jacaranda trees all over my neighborhood, and on a particular stretch of a couple of blocks there's one in the parkway (that's the strip between the curb and the sidewalk) of pretty much every house.  The trees are old enough that their branches stretch high and wide, and when the lavender-colored blossoms are at their peak they create a gorgeous tunnel:

And I love the beautiful contrast of fallen jacaranda petals on spring green lawns:

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19  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: June 14, 2013 11:34:43 AM
Alby sure got around during his trip to Santa Barbara!

Franklin and I are working on a movie that is shooting through the end of this month so there won't be any outings until July, but I'm behind by at least three or four anyway so will post those when I have a chance.  And of course will post some pictures from the set -- which is actually a house, and the movie is very "small" (budget and other-wise), so it'll be a different kind of behind-the-scenes look.

Meanwhile, here's a flashback to when we went to an outdoor brunch a little while ago.  I picked up what I thought was a large orange dog toy ball...but turned out to be an orange from their tree; it was the as big as a grapefruit!  Our hostess offered to let us to take home, and Franklin got right into the act, fitting perfectly in the fruit picker:

And here's what we came home with:

They smelled like orange blossoms and honey and taste just as delicious!  I zested most of them and now have enough fresh frozen orange zest for half a dozen batches of baked goods...mmmmm....

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20  Re: Little Visitor Round 17 - Summer Vacation! in The Swap Gallery by waterbaby on: June 08, 2013 06:24:44 PM
This week we went to a screening of the new Star Trek movie on the Paramount studio lot.

The sky backdrop on the right is huge (that's a real car at the base of it, not a toy) and a standard feature on the lot for at least a few decades, used by any production that needs an expanse of clouds (it gets repainted depending on the "weather" requirements).

The movie was in 3D, and though the glasses were a little too big for Franklin...

...I think he enjoyed the show anyway.

We wandered around the lot for a while afterwards (not really supposed to, but I've learned that if you're somewhere you shouldn't be but act like you should be, people will assume you're supposed to be), which I believe is the oldest studio facility in Los Angeles still in operation.  The property was originally developed by United Artists around 1918 -- Soundstage 1 has a plaque indicating it was built in 1922 -- and then purchased by Paramount in 1926.  An adjacent property belonged to RKO studios, which was bought by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (of I Love Lucy fame), and eventually sold to and absorbed by Paramount.

This is the original front gate, which has been seen in photos and many, many movies over the years:

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