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1  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Reading (and) rainbow bookmark on: September 08, 2019 07:18:21 PM
After I finished cross-stitching this bookmark for Anna.wahnsinn in the rainbow swap, I thought, "This isn't ideal for a bookmark; it's practically as thick as a small book."
...Lightbulb! A bookmark that contains a book.

I botched the finish-work I originally had in mind, so with fusible web I mounted the finished cross-stitch on paperboard that was covered with a painted dictionary page, a little longer than the fabric. Then I used paper bits and washi tape (which was salvaged from either a past swap package or the Craftster Asheville meetup) to make a thin micro-journal, and attached it to the bookmark base, and tied on some little rainbow thingies that wouldn't add further bulk. To add to the meta, one of the papers is a quote about books, which I had pulled out of a discarded book.

I'd been planning to do some kind of full-spectrum needlework for almost a year, but didn't know what it would be. On a lovely autumn afternoon last year I sat outside and put all my colors of embroidery floss in chromatic order (if that's a thing), as well as I could judge.

Eventually the idea of working with negative space started appealing to me, stitching a rainbow background and leaving the foreground as unstitched cloth. But what words or image for that foreground? This phrase showed up a few times around Anne's Pinterest boards, so I went for it. The downside was having "Baby Got Back" in my head the whole time I worked on it.  Cheesy

As a caveat, though I've made some cross-stitched bookmarks I don't recommend using them in borrowed, old, or valuable books, or books with bible-thin paper. The thickness could cause an issue. Now that I think about it, using a higher-count aida cloth would really help in the construction because less thread is required; I was using 14-count, I think. However, if it's your book, do what you want and use bookmarks that make you smile!  Smiley

Here is the chart I made, in case anyone wants it. I added up the total number of colors I had, and then adjusted letter height and spacing to make sure there was a sufficient margin around everything.
2  UNITED STATES / Maryland / Mid-Atlantic Meetup! October 26, 2019, Charles County Maryland on: July 25, 2019 01:09:52 PM

It's happening! You're invited to my place for a bit of crafting (by the fireplace if it's cold, out amongst the oak trees if not), tea, and autumnal snacking in my little 1830s cottage in Charles County, Maryland, on Saturday, October 26th.

Arrive as early as you like, and then at noon we'll go have lunch - indoor if the weather is bad, or else picnic at Piscataway National Park. Piscataway Park is home to the National Colonial Farm, where the Stitch 'n Time volunteer group (both run by the Accokeek Foundation) will be meeting from 1-4pm to process wool from the farm's heritage-breed flock of sheep. This group does all kinds of heritage crafts so there may be other activities going on as well, and you're welcome to join in to learn, share your knowledge, spin some yarn, or just be excited about making things!

This will be a very low-key, unstructured day, in terms of my hosting. Smiley Feel free to come and go, join us whenever, feel no pressure or obligation. I would be doing these things even if no one showed up! But regardless, if there's a good chance you'll be there please RSVP by sending a PM to calluna, even if you're only planning to join us for the afternoon at the Farm. The volunteer coordinator for the Stitch 'n Time group (who you're going to love) is super excited we're coming but she needs a rough head-count ahead of time.

Further notes (check back here closer to the event in case there are more things added):

  • You're welcome to bring supplies or projects to share or swap, but you don't have to bring anything, just money for your lunch! No admission fees at Piscataway Park.
  • Please carpool if possible. Bring a friend or significant other if you like! Piscataway Park is on the Potomac River and has a fishing dock on the Potomac River, if you want to bring a fisher.  Smiley
  • I'll send address, phone, and directions to everyone who RSVPs once we get closer to the date.
  • The larger property (on which I rent this little cottage) is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the remaining 20 acres of what used to be a massive tobacco plantation dating back to the 1700s. I am still slowly working on learning the history of the place and who lived and was enslaved here (no books have been written on it, as best as I can tell). Rather than any specific events, the architecture of the remaining structures is what historians have found most notable on this property. Both houses are private residences, and as such the property isn't open to the public. So, come visit in October to see some yet-to-be-explored history!
  • Living in a space this old means things are rustic, and not always in a charming way. I do have electricity, WiFi, and running water, but  I'm telling you right now that the toilet looks disgusting even though it is clean.  Cheesy The house's well water is gross and it stains most surfaces; it also gets dark and filmy after exposure to oxygen, so the water sitting in the toilet bowl will make you question whether the last person flushed. They did. Also, my toilet is upstairs, and the steps are unusually steep, so be aware of that if you have mobility concerns.
  • I highly recommend bringing a camping chair--even if we aren't outside very much, I don't have a great deal of seating at my place, and I think all the seats at the Farm are wood benches.
  • One of the really popular elements of past meetups has been workshops; I don't think there will be sufficient time at my place to hold one and also just hang out, but the afternoon will be all about fiber processing (for those who choose to do that), so maybe that will count? I'm open to suggestions and changes.

Attendees so far: Averia, LadybugsAndBumblebees, thanate, underthemountain + Lana
3  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Big nature book on: May 06, 2019 11:24:00 AM
I was wholly inspired by The Raging Sloth's nature walk assemblages, and decided to make her a book in hopes of keeping her going with it (and sharing pictures of what she creates Wink).

Short accordion folds for the spine, with 12x12" heavy scrapbook paper glued to each surface and signatures sewn into some of the valley folds.
This project started about 10 years ago but I tucked it away and forgot about it since I couldn't figure out the purpose of the final product or how to cover it. It need hard covers because the spine is flimsy and the structure is so large. The inspiration finally came via the Bookbinding Craft-along thread.  Smiley
After no luck searching for bookboard in my local craft stores, I took apart an uninteresting thrifted hardcover book with the right dimensions for the covers. Then I covered those with adhesive cork, and glued on some pressed plants I'd collected in Utah last year. I crocheted "rustic" edges with twine (both to go with the look and to avoid spending money on  more supplies). I would have liked to add more decoration but I'm leaving the finish work and artistic contents to The Raging Sloth to create.

I'd found this lovely moss-covered chicken wire on clearance and wrapped it around the book as a closure (the rest of it is on my wall with clorhespins as a narrow bulletin board). It makes a mess of moss crumblies but I still love it.

The spine itself has a print of an owl, made by an artist I used to work for, and because it was "imperfect" she was throwing it away; she let me keep some discards but didn't want attention drawn to them, so the owl just peeks out a bit here:

The book I, erm, destroyed was of nursery rhymes and one was about an owl, so I glued in that page to go with the spine owl.
4  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Cosmic infinity skunk prayer flag on: May 06, 2019 11:13:15 AM

This prayer flag was a surprise for a skunk fan (who I won't name, to keep it a surprise) and I think it went missing in the mail...but even so, I like the thought of someone in the postal world someday finding it and being puzzled by it.  Cheesy
5  FIBER ARTS / Felting: Completed Projects / Bellyrub dog on: January 28, 2019 03:39:57 AM
This little critter doesn't photograph well, but wants you to rub the belly nonetheless.

I can't read the sign in the uploads (it looks fine on my phone; sorry), but it says Belly rubs, please.

I made this for Onyxnox in the Little Good Things Swap, because we both have dogs at the top of our list of goodness in the world. I love dogs' shameless, trusting, demanding rollover-for-belly-rubs. Smiley

There's a magnet inside so this guy can stick to a prominent surface and attract more attention (leading to more belly rubs, since that's what matters!). I figured that in those situations that lack the presence of a real dog, rubbing this belly sends the good vibes to the dogs who need it.  Cheesy

Beads for the eyes and nose...And some squishy jowls...
6  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Completed Projects / In loving memory of past crafty homes - Bakersfield edition - excessive pics on: January 03, 2019 03:26:57 PM
(Sorry about sideways pics; will fix once the photo hosting bugs get remedied)

Since I left most of my stuff behind when I moved cross-country last month, it's about time I honor the two places where I made homes out of that stuff.  Smiley In most of my life I haven't had my own space, but I had two yellow cottages interspersed in that time, one over a garage and one in a basement (though it still had good natural light on one side). Both were private living spaces and they both had gardening space. And by all accounts, they were magical.

This was the first one, a sweet little place that I truly loved. The main living area/entry:

I wrapped the floor lamp and the wooden rim of the papasan chair in sari silk yarn. Ikea Ivar shelves held books and craft supplies, while also serving as a side-table.

I made beaded garlands and hung them all over the place. When throw pillows weren't being used, they were stacked on one of the shelves (one of the pillows came from a swap). Woven scarves and shimmery tapestries were draped over anything that wasn't already spectacular. And I bought a bike for the first time, used from a bike advocacy organization, which lived inside with me because a) it was guaranteed to be stolen if I left it locked up outside, and b) it's such a nice color, and cycling was making a very good impact on my life, so I enjoyed looking at it.  Cheesy

Zooming in, I crocheted a little vessel for whatnots that sat on one of the shelves, which I decorated with henna and stained.

I had a cabinet against another wall, which held this little treasure trove of crafty delights:

There are various tiny books, my not-yet-traded ATCs, a Bambi tin I've had since I was a baby (which now holds jewelry), my collection of 4x4" chunky pages, my jar of buttons, some handspun yarn (which has since been swapped), bottles of my favorite perfume, a special framed photo of my late grandma and me, and sheepBlue's rabbit art (which I brought with me and am now planning to frame).

Above it, the bigger books that I wanted out for anyone to view (I kept textbooks stored out of sight). A beaded window valance covered the front, and two sheer curtains along the side, helped the open shelving unit look more enclosed, without reducing the amount of light flowing through.

I found a red Ikea Malma mirror at the thrift store, and wrapped sari silk yarn around it too (I could not get enough of it!) -- then drilled some brown cup hooks into the bottom to make a key and bag-holder next to the front door. I think I filled the tiny crocheted plarn bags with potting soil and plant clippings, and abandoned them for someone to find.

My bed area was pretty small, on the opposite side of the room partition, but I fit my bedroom set in it and hung up a mosquito net. I made the bedspread on a knitting loom, with crocheted borders, and it's meant to be the four elements.

Looking back up at the bed, the headboard is mirrored and I added a set of chakra prayer flags. My friend gave me the big pothos plant, which has since been adopted by another friend. I acquired ripply throw pillows from my mom (who changes up her decorating all the time), and in addition to being the same lovely color as my bike they brought in a good water element accent. I didn't want to risk something dangerous falling on my head in the night if there were an earthquake, so putting pillows up there seemed like the best option.

Next to the sleeping space was a closet with accordion doors, which I turned into my office space (I was taking online classes at the time, but after getting home from work some days I couldn't take looking at any more computer screens, and so it was nice to be able to shut it away), with more craft storage. Clear ATC sleeves are affixed around the visible part of the wall, and I kept a rotating display going. The frog on the shelf is a cushion I made with my grandma when I was really young.

I crocheted a rainbow cord with handspun and reclaimed yarn, and strung up my prayer flags on it, and those were draped across the doors when I had them open. Here are a few that were relevant at the time...

(I was trying out the law of attraction for bringing the right person into my life, with the blue fish one. I got some of what I was seeking, but having someone else in the space really killed the santuary vibe.)

This is just a large sheet of paper affixed to a used canvas, with chunks of dried moss glued on the edges from some other project gone wrong. I have done a couple bookbinding projects with this paper, and I love it so much I figured I may as well put it on my wall.

Now, the outside! This was sitting at the front door, looking up at my plant life. I lived here during the time I created my drought book, but I tried to create a little pocket of semi-drought tolerant, lush living greenery to walk through each day, and which the world outside my tall fence below could enjoy as well. I made the mossy succulent planter with the guidance of an awesome little nursery down the street. It took a lot of time, but it's essentially damp moss wrapped around a heavy wire frame, with holes poked through for succulent stems.

Looking up at that spot from below now, I grew some vines in pots to weave through the metal railing, put smaller potted plants on some steps, and added bright lanterns to the posts.

This was a narrow patch of bad dirt (I can't exactly call what was there "soil"), which I tried to improve. I added some tufts of a drought-tolerant grass, and my stepdad built me some planters out of scrap plywood, which I then stained. I covered bald spots with bark and mulched a bit, and gathered river rocks from around the region to line it. In the process, horsetail and Santa Barbara sage grew fantastically, and I got a few potted vegetables to do okay there as well (not well enough to reach harvesting, but that's okay).

The sage got out-of-control after a while...

This serene spot was where I would sit and have tea before the summer hit and I killed off the lawn. A friend gave me a bunch of succulent cuttings from his yard, and they did well for about a year, until I really cut down the watering.

If the house is already yellow, overbearing color that it is, why not add more yellow with a huge pot.  Cheesy Actually it came from the estate sale of a really neat woman who was moving into a retirement home, and she had painted it herself, so it wasn't a premeditated decorating choice. I liked it, though. The bushy greenery on the right was some kind of tree that kept growing on its own, no matter how little I watered and how much the landlord's gardener kept hacking away at it.

And in spite of the ground being hard and dry, I grew white sage in abundance! I'm still finding bundles of it, after I thought I'd given it to everyone.

Plus, the passion flower vine grew wonderfully on the trellis, and I trailed it over the entry gate. Alas, the butterfly/caterpillar population grew too big to sustain the plant. But on one of those days when I was feeling pretty down and useless, I happened to look out my car window at a ditch half a mile from my house and I saw a passion flower vine starting to grow there -- the work of the birds who ate the fruit, and neither that bird's snack nor the new plant itself would be there if I hadn't tended to my own garden.  Smiley  

There was more to the place, but not especially decorated or crafty. I did start to make a labyrinth in an empty lot next door (which backed up to a rather unpleasant alleyway), but it didn't look good enough to photograph. Smiley

Now I'm starting fresh, in a very special and historic little house. It's going to look entirely different, and I'll share photos once I have created something whole! But first I'll get around to posting a few pics of my other yellow house.
7  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Ten-year throwback: Calendars up the wazoo on: November 27, 2018 07:21:58 PM
Since it's been over a decade, I thought it would be fun to look back at a set of things I made for a swap in 2007 but never posted.

It was the 2008 Handmade Calendar Swap, and it was a lot of fun. Each of the 12 participants crafted a one-month, 12x12" calendar page and sent that month to every participant, so that in the end we each had a full year calendar. I tried to tailor each page to the tastes of the recipient. There were two cat-people, a goth-lover, someone who was into beaches...etc. I honestly don't remember what inspired the Candyland page, but it's still one of my favorite creations, ever. There are far more ways to create a monthly calendar layout than I had previously imagined!

(character images were cut out of the instructions for the 1985 board game, but the rest was drawn or collaged)

(red velvet, black lace, couched black tulle, embroidery, fabric paint, stencils)

(faux finish bronze patina on plain paper with vinyl wallpaper samples attached with brads; there was a sticker, image, or words under each panel)

(scrapbook paper sample images from the cover of my dollar-store paper packages, with vintage cloth side-tabs)

(real bark and couched twigs, with silk flowers to make the scrapbook paper design more dimensional)

(every Richard Scarry cat image I could find!)

(crafty cats, because this page went to a member called TheCraftyCat)

(stickers, woven paper strips, bead cords, gel pens)

(paper scraps and gel pen on what was probably a blue food coloring experiment)

(real shells, stamps, and pen on scrapbook paper, mounted on paperboard for sturdiness...I hope)

(cross-stitch, probably mounted on paperboard)

(all kinds of madness and substances...fence posts made from toothpicks, silk flowers, vinyl wallpaper samples, textured paints, days of the month written in any open space I could find)

So much has happened and I've learned so much since then! I wouldn't say I'm significantly better at mixed media now, but I do some things differently now that I've been here in Craftsterland a while...

  • I don't as readily use copyrighted images/art in the things I send to people. I became a librarian in the past few years and that really helped drill in the importance of intellectual property (and what a messy topic Fair Use can be). I still really value how previously-created content gets remixed into new creations, though, and I still use magazine images for a lot of personal/noncommercial purposes that copyright purists might frown upon. Children's book images are still some of my favorite imagery.
  • I don't think I even own 12x12" scrapbook paper anymore, I just have smaller scraps. Most of the pages I used for this swap were in packets from the dollar store, but eventually they stopped carrying it, and the price of scrapbook paper elsewhere started blowing my mind. When I went to a specialty scrapbooking store and found that their going-out-of-business clearance price for individual sheets was about $3 each, I knew it was time to seek alternatives. As much as I like the look of many of the brands out there, I've been trying to redirect myself to homemade and second-hand decorative paper designs, figuring out what I can DIY.
  • It was also far too easy to justify spending money weekly at Michael's, usually on scrapbooking doodads, with the 40% off coupon that always came in the mail. My annual crafting expenses are maybe 25% of what they were in the late 2000s. The reduction in swaps has curbed my purchases and expenses as well.
  • Unlike now, I tended to take in any craft-related materials others didn't want, instead of letting them go to a thrift store and trusting that they would find good homes without my intervention. I see a number of materials in these images that I shoehorned into the projects, trying to get them used up. Now, if supplies don't delight me or hold great potential in my mind, I don't acquire it in the first place. That's not to say I don't love free stuff and serendipitous creations, but I've dabbled in enough crafts and mediums now to know what I do not need.
  • I try not to send out chaotic messes that I believe have some redeeming value. I now tend to plan the space/layout before I begin, and practice handwriting and drawing on scratch paper, along with testing pens and markers before committing them to paper. Likewise, I tend to put away tentatively-finished items for a few days and then return with fresh eyes, to find out if there's anything in need of improvement or clarification. If I botch something, I may very well start over from the beginning, if a suitable workaround can't be found. If I have a great idea but know I'm not able to execute it, I'll try to share it with people in hopes that someone else will make it happen. While I still want to craft all the things, I don't want people to be stuck with all the things I craft.
  • Whenever possible, no more flatbed scanning of 3D objects! (Ok, I just did this last year on one occasion, but I've almost learned my lesson!) All I had access to during most of this swap was a scanner, so that's what I used; it's still my preferred option for 2D art, but for me it's not worth owning the equipment in a small home. My new phone's camera sucks, but soon I'm going back to using a proper digital camera.

It's been quite a decade! I have been pretty scarce here since late 2012, but having Craftster helped me get from where I was to the awesome place I am now in life, while learning all kinds of new skills and techniques along the way!
8  CRAFTING FOR GOOD AND NOT EVIL / Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) and Art Abandonment / Mixed media hanging spool ornaments and prayer flags on: November 26, 2018 12:25:55 PM
I forgot to share these, silly me! They are decorated wooden spools with messages inside, inspired by Phizzychick's and this blog's spools...plus the desire to use up some of my stash of spools, of course. I made these for one of the Art Abandonment swaps, and wrapped inside each one is a message written on grosgrain ribbon, which is sewn to the outer layer. I didn't get photos of the unwrapped spools, but they each have a message I pulled from a Rob Breszney book, along the lines of "Your burden lightened", "Your path cleared", etc.

I also made some prayer flags to abandon, and now I don't remember whether I sent them in the swap package or abandoned them myself!

9  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / New Swap Theme Ideas / Group ATC swap ideas on: November 11, 2018 08:31:19 PM
First of all, I love the Ongoing ATC Swap and I look forward to returning to it very soon. However, I've also been thinking about the other style of ATC swaps we've done here, where we make several and send them out to a set subgroup of people within the swap (or everyone). I think our most recent one was the Craftster Trading Cards. It's a bigger commitment, but also fun to see how everyone interprets a shared general theme.

Here's a swap I'm thinking would be fun:
  • Everyone makes 12 month-themed ATCs, and sends to 11 people, keeping one card for themselves. Once everyone receives, each person will have a unique ATC to display for every month of the year, each made by a different person. Because of the small size, I don't think there would be actual calendars on the cards, only imagery celebrating something about the month.
  • For a 12-person swap, each person is responsible for making everyone's cards for a specific month of the year, and everyone works on a different month. That would make it possible to tailor the cards to recipients' interests/preferences.
  • OR, in a swap of any size, each person creates a set of January-December ATCs, and then these get distributed throughout the group, more round-robin-like. This format would allow people to put their unique style into all the months, with their choice of unifying element(s) throughout. For example, I saw a piecework flag of a dog wearing a Thanksgiving pilgrim hat, and I assume that it was part of a set--that the owner also has flags showing the same dog in a Santa hat, summer clothes, Easter bunny ears, Halloween costume, etc.

Thoughts? Additional theme ideas, especially ones that lend themselves to making multiple cards? Please share!
10  ORGANIZED CRAFT SWAPS / The Swap Gallery / Secret Santa-in-July Wishlist Swap Gallery on: June 25, 2018 04:48:43 PM

Presents received from Secret Santas will be here soon!
(Click here to visit the swap itself)
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