Nov 19, 2022

Better late...


I was inspired by this picture... long before Hallowe'en.  Isn't it lovely, all the colorful pumpkins!  And I decided back in May that I would love to create a cascade of pumpkins like this (with some Jack o'Lanterns of course).

(Sadly I don't know where I found this image, I think it was Facebook but maybe not.  If you know the artist, please tell me and I'd love to give credit.)

It started out pretty well:  I made three sweet Jack o'Lanterns.  

And then... let's just say I got distracted.

After Hallowe'en I finally got back to my pumpkins.  (See the snow in the background?)

At this point I have 8 finished pieces.  You can tell which were the first ones, my vine-y stems have gotten better and better with practice.  The green pumpkin is my best yet, I think!

Nov 17, 2022

Hallowe'en 2022

What a night!  Of course it had to rain, after a dry Autumn, but it was still a great Hallowe'en with 61 trick or treaters at our door.  (That seems to be about the average number, no matter the weather or the day of the week or COVID.) 

We had all the decorations up this year, it was fun to unearth all my old buddies!  All the cemetery stones stood proud on the front lawn and invited the ghouls and goblins to walk on up the driveway.

A ghost swayed at the end of the drive...

Our front door was haunted by an assortment of skeleton animals, body parts and Jack o'Lanterns...

which looked even better in the dark!

Our garage door was a masterpiece, I'm very happy we could use the still-beautiful mums and geraniums for a very Day of the Dead inspired display.

(The graveyard scene was held in place on the garage doors with fridge magnets!)

And so our October ended and Hallowe'en was laid to rest for another year.  

But of course Hallowe'en is never really over at our place... if you listen the leaves sound like scurrying rats and the wind is whispering... 

Oct 28, 2022

Workshop on the Beach

In September we enjoyed a few days in a cottage on Sauble Beach.  It was wonderful, the days were calm and restful and I'd planned a fun workshop for us to enjoy:  making a 3D scene with a focal point.  Even though it was just the two of us, it was an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.

We did some prep work in advance before our vacation.  First, Mom thought a swan on a pond would be a nice piece to make, so we hunted for a small swan and found one at the local Home Hardware store (of all places).  Then we mapped out the size of the piece, and she picked some driftwood to surround the swan.  I poked the base until it was firm and we were ready to go!

My piece would be a tree stump, in memory of all the trees that have recently been removed from our streets in town... honestly, people don't value their trees until they're gone.  

Mom's pond turned out beautiful!  I am so impressed!  

And my stump is exactly what I'd hoped it would be:

Bravo to us both!

Jul 27, 2022

A seal named Shark

If your "artistic" muscle fades if you don't use it, mine is sadly shrinking during these Summer months!  I just spent two days trying to get ahead of the weeds before their seeds blow in the wind, what a task!  

Earlier in June, though, I did finish a sweet little critter inspired by a rock I found on the beach.  I also knew there was a seal project in this book, Next Level Felting by Nancy Wesley, so I now had a prop to place him on.  

Here's the project in the book, and on the bottom left my stone, smooth but with nice divets and swells.  

The first step was to make the rough body shape and then refine it to the basic seal body... Well, we've all experienced the "ugly phase", right?  It was at this stage that I almost gave up and started over.  My seal did not look like a seal at all, it was most definitely a shark!  How, oh how to make my overly long body more pudgy and friendly?  I stabbed my needle deep in to the face and neck and compacted the wool until finally the fierce snout became a soft and rounded seal head.  It's amazing how that happens, you just have to trust the process and keep working towards your goal!  

Now that the body shape was established, the tail and flippers were formed.  The book was a little vague on how to do this (well, it is "next level felting" so I suppose the author assumes you know how already), so to shape these items I used the same technique that I've used for animal ears or flower petals.  It's best described and illustrated in Sarafina Fiber Arts' sleepy mouse tutorial.   

Color was then added to the body (I used a variegated grey mini braid from The Spinning Spider) and I used pins for the nose and eye placements.  

This chapter in the book really focuses on small details and this is where the instructions were best.  The seal is dotted along his entire back; small blotches of fibre were rolled and felted on... they turned out quite nice!  The trick was to use very small amounts of fibre.

As for the face, again the technique in the book was helpful and basically the same as the dots.  Learning to control small details like this feels really good!  As for the face:

Here I didn't follow the example and went with my own ideas, adding an eye ridge, more color and bigger cheeks.  It's at this point that my little seal took the name Shark.  

And here he is on his beach stone!  Hurrah!  

If I were to change anything, I'd say his flippers are a little big but otherwise I'm very happy with how he turned out.  

Jun 23, 2022

Mushrooms in a fine wood

Last year in our mini "workshop" (see the July 22, 2021 blogpost), we created needle felted fly agaric mushrooms, "faery mushrooms".  Of course, our mushrooms need a home so that's what I've been working on.

Through sheer luck, I found this beautiful wood display base in great condition, even with felt underneath.  It's a nice size, at about 14 inches by 5 inches.  

I cut a piece of foam to fit over top.  

I then used this gorgeous "Fine Wood" 70% Alpaca / 30% Wool fibre from Wellington Fibres to create the ground layer on my foam, gently needle felting it in place. 

I love the result!  Look at all the rich shades of brown! 

So now I had my base in earthy, forest browns and attached the mushrooms by inserting long pins from the underside of the foam.  The tips of the pins are embedded in the mushrooms so it's safe!

There's also a young fern with fiddleheads created by using the template available from Mum's Makery.  Just the thing for our micro forest floor scene!   

Now, it's time to embellish!

Jun 7, 2022

Little windows

Postcards are amazing little things.  They are social commentary, giving us a peek into what people thought in a by-gone time, and also little bits of retail:  who bought what and to send to whom?   My good friend Rose got me interested in postcards and, mostly because of her generosity, I have a lovely little collection of Krampus and rat cards, mostly vintage.  

A particular card caught my eye recently, this one:  

It features a lot of white mice having a good time, more or less realistic with a bit of whimsy. 

Attempting to find out more about this card online, I found this painting:

and was immediately struck by the similarities.  The overall placement of objects is very similar, but elements like the tipped glass on the right, the spoon in the jam, the partially eaten brioche on the left, etc... are copies of each other.  And if you look closely, some of the mice are identical! 

Take a look at these two images: 

While the postcard has a lot more mice, these two in the painting are obviously the same as in the postcard image.  

So the question is:  which came first, the postcard or the painting?  The postcard is dated 1904 by C. Riviere (perhaps Charles Riviere) while the painter, A. Bechard, is from the 19th-20th century but that's all I know so far.  This painting is for sale on the Proantic website and I have attempted to contact the vendor but have received no reply.  

If anyone has any insight or ideas, please contact me!  

Jun 3, 2022

Introducing Ginger

It's been a while, so much has changed.  We added a new member to the family:  Ginger joined us on March 5th!  She's a rescue from Texas, saved from Death Row by Niagara Dog Rescue who brought her up into Canada (along with 26 other dogs that day) and into our waiting hearts.  

Ginger is a Red Heeler, so we knew she'd be as stubborn and willful as our beloved Willow... but I'd forgotten what puppies are like!  It was with fond memories and a few "Good grief!" moments that I read through Willow's old journal when she was but a wee pup and did some really crazy things.  (What I lack in memory I make up for using paper and pencil!)

Obviously every day has been very busy with our new pup.  Three months in and Ginger I think is starting to realize that this is home... 

We're forever grateful to foster mom Chelsie down in Texas for giving Ginger a good start in her new life, helping her learn the basics and sharing so much information with us.  Dave of Niagara Dog Rescue was also essential in making all the pieces fall into place.    


And what does Zorro think?  See the video below, he's having a second puppyhood!