Feb 4, 2019


In 2018, we completed two projects that we're quite proud to share here on our blog.  

The first is our handrail!  Our outer stairs, while improved, still needed a handrail for extra security, especially when the weather is frightful.  The amazingly talented David Cross of Rio Bravo Ironworks took our list of needs and wants and created and installed this elegantly simple and sturdy handrail. 

 David, who's studio can be visited here in Elora, is also the ironwork master behind our beautiful signpost.   

Thank you so much David!  

Our second project was begun in March 2018 and only completed in November!!!  There were a lot of unexpected road-bumps but it was worth it in the end.

  It all began with our desire to have some form of reliable heat that wasn't dependant on electricity as our area is being hit with more and more ice storms and unpredictable weather.  The thought of leaving this house in a power failure in the Winter with 5 sets of bathroom water lines to worry about freezing was terrifying!  We decided to get a gas fireplace insert in our existing fireplace, which wasn't in good enough condition to burn wood.  
  So we visited a number of places but settled on Bast Home Comfort in Waterloo and a Valor fireplace.  A large part of this decision was due to the knowledgeable, approachable and aiming to please salesman, Christian who answered all our questions, supplied a lot of information we didn't even know we needed to know and found answers when he didn't have them at his fingertips.  
  Then the fun began:  the chimney had never been cleaned according to the chimney sweep, the chimney was in poor condition, and at one time the fireplace had been sealed up and there was a foamy/glue residue around the outer edge that had to be removed or it would stink.  On top of all that, there was a hole in Creature Comfort where a little pot-bellied stove probably once was connected to the chimney and this had to be properly sealed. 
  So, it was only in November that we finally got our fireplace insert installed.  

    Luckily this went very smoothly!  Voila!  

Wow!  It's nicer than we imagined.  Not only does it give us the power-failure security we wanted, it adds a lovely ambience to the room and provides a comfortable, adjustable heat.  On these cold mornings, we have the fire warming the dining room and parlour before guests come down for breakfast and it's lovely to sit by the fire on cold, snowy days.  

  Thank you to everyone involved in this long process!  Ash Chimney Sweeps (who had to come three times), Castle Masonry (extremely impressive to watch) and of course Bast Home Comfort!  

Dec 16, 2018

Spirit of the Season

Our Elora Centre for the Arts once again held their Festive Wreath and Stocking Silent Auction Fundraiser and this year I got word early!  I wanted to donate a really elaborate quilled piece to demonstrate the art and felt lucky to have the time to work on it. 

So I got started:

You'll find lots of versions online of these pine branches but basically the combs' teeth allow you to create nice branches with even needles relatively quickly.  And I needed LOTS!  

Here's a close-up.  I used three colors and three different combs to get this variety of pine branches.

 And they were all glued together to form a pretty sturdy circle for the background of the wreath.  I added "berries" dipped in sparkly dust for added structural strength.  

The center would be a poinsettia, and here I found Meredith of The Paper Craftery and her lovely poinsettia tutorial with easy-to-follow instructions.  What a pretty flower, thank you Meredith!

The finished poinsettia I glued into a pine cone scales mini wreath which I found at a secondhand store (yippy for upcycling!).

And then it was all glued together!  

Even though I had started early, I was only finished on the day the wreath was due to be delivered to the Art Centre.  It took far longer than I thought to quill all those branches!

Here it is hanging on the wall on Opening Day, November 21.  I was very pleased to see that it already was getting bids, very gratifying indeed! 

The Wreath and Stocking Silent Auction was wonderful to see, so much variety and creativity!  We enjoyed wandering about to see the diversity:

Mine was kinda teeny beside all the full-sized and over-sized wreaths on display.

On December 2, I went at 2:00 to see the closing of the auction.  I was absolutely delighted to see the high bid was $65!!!  My quilling was appreciated, and quill work got noticed!  

While the auction is over, the Art Centre still has their "Deck the Walls:  Small Art Works for $200 or Under" and a "Holiday Pop-Up Shop"!  These will be at the Centre until December 22 so if you're in the area take a look! 

Nov 5, 2018

Goodnight, goodnight

Our Hallowe'en season came to a close with two beautiful events.  Although it rained almost all the time, it didn't spoil the spirit! 

Every year our Day of the Dead ofrenda is something we truly enjoy creating.  We keep it simple but special...

and the pups definitely wanted to taste test!

That same evening we drove out to the Wellington County Museum and Archives for their first ever Pumpkin Parade!  I loved the parades in Stratford (where we used to live) so it was wonderful of the Museum to take on the task and start what I hope will be an annual tradition.  

It truly was a dark and dreary, rainy night...

We'd dropped off our pumpkin earlier so we knew there were about 80 pumpkins at least...

Turns out they received around 150!

And they were beautifully arranged!  The stone walls along the walkway were lit by pumpkin light...

The grand original entrance was decorated...

(This deep water pumpkin-fish was my favorite!) 

And all the way down the hill along the pathway pumpkins were placed with care.

And I found my pumpkin after some searching!  There he was, on the main path towards the hot chocolate and dry patch under the stairs.  

Thank you to the Museum staff for creating this magical end to a thrilling October!  We loved it, and if a rainy. miserable night brings out 150 pumpkins, imagine the scene on a lovely, dry evening!  We look forward to 2019!

PS  And we had a Witches’ Dance here, in Fergus, on October 27th!  I only heard about it afterwards, but found a YouTube!  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBrNl2A5Ac8&list=FL1xr1lunUR_mMAyhV9VjTPQ    What fun!

Oct 28, 2018

Hallowe'en is coming!

Although it feels more like November, this has been a great Hallowe'en season!  Our Monster March on October 20th was blessed with one of the few nice days and the turnout was awesome! 

And our Elora Center for the Arts has been very generous with its treats:  a whole selection of Hallowe'en inspired workshops and talks!  I was able to take part in two workshops:  

and they were both great experiences!  I have to admit that this year I've scaled back on the decorating because we adopted a pup (more on Zorro in a later blog post) and instead of shopping I made these two awesome decorations!  

I'm also aiming to finish the paper maché pumpkin I started ten years ago (gulp).  

Judy Anderson gave a lively, fun workshop on a dark and dreary evening and everyone was able to complete a unique centerpiece.  

It was rather thrilling to accomplish so much in so little time!  Bravo to Judy for presenting such an organized and well-planned event!

And on the weekend, it was Tim Murton's turn to guide us on the creation of a Twilight Zoo skeleton!  We had to work hard and fast to finish a full skeleton in two days, what a ride.  It took a week for my hands to recover after twisting wires all day, then paper maché-ing for a whole day!  

In the end I decided to spend more time on the head and forget about the legs, which worked out fine (although Tim gave us whatever we needed to finish our projects at home).  "TZ" is my pride and joy, but I'm so nervous about his weathering that I haven't put him outside!  He's enjoying his "life" in our sunroom, peeking out the windows at everyone passing by.  If it's not raining, he will go outside Hallowe'en night!  

Aug 20, 2018

August Rats

It is our most busy time of year but I managed to sit down for a few hours last week to relax and follow the instructions in this beautiful book, Paper Quilling Chinese Style by the Zhu Liqun Paper Arts Museum. Of course I tried out the rat design!   With lots of photographs accompanying the instructions, I was able to birth 4 lovelies: 

I think you can definitely tell which was the first! 
 I like how they're all different, each with his/her own personality.

And it is ALL about the tools, even in quilling.  I purchased this little glue applicator bottle and it really is a wonderful upgrade from using a pin or toothpick.  Yes, the thin metal applicator tube does get clogged with dried glue but you can use a thin needle (like the one in the photo) to clear the tube before you put it away, and I've read folks place the bottle upside down in a shot glass with a bit of moist paper towel to keep the tube from clogging while in use.  

Jul 12, 2018

Backyard Botanicals

Annually our Elora Centre for the Arts hosts an exhibition with a theme that is open to anyone.  This year the theme was "Backyard Botanicals" and each participant was given a wooden box, about 24 inches by 10 inches by 2 inches deep.   I am thrilled to say that I heard about this opportunity very early on and got my act together in time to take part and create something that really came out of Nature and my creativity.    

Here are the guidelines:

It all started with the box, which was a lot bigger than I thought it would be:  

Of course it needed a good hanger:

and the beginnings of an idea:

I had collected little objects all Winter and Spring (well, I'm forever picking up little stones and twigs and bits) and they were on trays drying and being bug-cleansed by spending time in the freezer.  Then, all of a sudden, a collection of bits looked like the strange creature in the image above.  What is it?  Who knows!  But it definitely had life.  With a few pieces of quilled foliage and a lovely dried branch, the idea was definitely taking shape.


It was a BIG space to fill but I was determined to only have natural objects.  Long curls of quilled paper made excellent grasses.

And even the background was only paper (cardstock, flocked (maybe there's a bit of plastic there, oops) and textured "copper") and a section of a tree trunk found in our front flower bed, probably Maple.

And underneath, the critters!  All wood and flattened pine cones, the two beasts are very real and raw.

The quilled pieces were all constructed one by one, some looking like specific plants while others were just fanciful...

...to create this lush and green wonderland.

To complete the piece, the long outside edges of the box were lined with bark.  

In the end, my offering is completely made of dead things:  the box is part of a dead tree, the creatures are made of dead bits of trees and the papers are dead plant and tree fibers.  And yet, and yet, it's a celebration of life.  

It's "Through Her Eyes", Mother Nature's eyes.  It's her Frankenstein Project, creating life from the dead. 

And the piece was delivered July 10!  I'm really looking forward to the opening reception July 12 to see what everyone else created!  

Thank you Elora Center for the Arts for the opportunity to focus on a project and get it done!  And for the chance to share it!  

Hope you can get to the Center in person and see the remarkable works!