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!    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... 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!

May 29, 2018

When life hands you lemons...

This Winter was a hard one for the shrubs and evergreens in our neighbourhood.  All around, you can spot very brown and dead cedars, evergreen ground covers, etc... and flowering shrubs that are only sprouting from the ground with dead branches.  
  We lost our lovely Wegelia, a few other bushes and, most noticeably, the thick evergreen right at the intersection. 

This beast accepted the harsh spot it was in for years, with the sidewalk salt, exposure, dog pee, etc... but the Winter of 2017/18 killed it.  Yes, it was as crunchy and prickly as it looks.  

So we chopped it down to expose the trunk and our great handyman Tim cut it off at the base (thank you so much, Tim!).

So now we had this big, empty spot, which gets lots of afternoon sun. So we thought... rocks!  We wanted to have a big one, 3 feet or so, but Grand River Natural Stone would not deliver it to this spot for fear of damaging the sidewalk.  So we had to go with what we could move on our own, and three pretty, white marble pieces were hauled, shlept, pushed, maneuvered and dragged into place!  

That was a job!  But once the rocks were in place, we could plant the 4 hostas we got from the Centre Wellington Dog Park plant sale (thank you, Karen!), and the White Bigroot Geranium and the Tom Thumb Creeping Cotoneaster we purchased from Little Tree Garden Market.  There's also a nice cluster of Golden-rod that was trying to survive under the evergreen, so its happier now.

Now we need rain.  As you can see, the Maple is already dropping leaves and we fear it's going to be another dry Summer.  

Please wish our garden plants a long, healthy life!

Apr 24, 2018

Spring's New Arrivals

On April 21st between 10am - 4pm, Wellington Fibres Mill had their annual open house and we were lucky enough to attend!  Wellington Fibres is a small business owned by Donna Hancock and she has on her farm about 30 breeding Angora goats, which produce mohair. Amazingly the goats produce enough fibre to be shorn twice a year and the mohair is processed right there in their own mill.  Not only did we get to see the new kids but we also enjoyed a tour of the mill.

First, of course, we saw the goats!

On this gorgeous Spring day, the barn was airy and bright with the light scent of straw, and animals of course.  The ladies with their 3 week old offspring were in 1 large pen, the yearlings in another, the 3 males were all separately penned and the moms with very new kids were also separate.  

Here are the moms with their 3 week old kids and above is a proud papa.

And then there were the babies!  To say everyone was enamoured with these little darlings would be an understatement!  

The wee little ones were adorable to watch.  Kids don't walk, they bounce, like grasshoppers!

Take a look at these two videos!  

And here are some pictures of them standing still... it happened occasionally!

When we had our fill of Springtime newborn joy, we headed for the mill and shop.  There, Donna gave us a tour of the operations, which were complex and required a lot of calculations, know-how and experience!  

After washing and turning the raw fibre into rovings, this machine (once set-up for the desired weight, twist, and other features beyond my understanding!) turned the rovings into thread...  

...and here the threads are combined into what you buy as yarn.

From beginning to end, the art of creating a workable product from the raw fibre was fascinating.  

While the goat barn and mill were only open for this special annual occasion, if you're a fibre enthusiast and indulge in knitting, weaving, needle-felting or other fibre arts, the shop is open year-round and you'll be treated to some of the nicest fibres on the market, locally produced!   Check their website for hours and go indulge your senses!