Saturday, January 31, 2009

my Japanese bag

When I was in Japan I took Japanese classes at community centers. My favorite teacher made this bag for me. I love the design with an inside and outside pocket and the little flaps that cover the outside pocket.

I think I could figure it out, but has anyone seen a pattern to make a bag like this? If so, I'd love to know where.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Folk Art, a Twonicorn, and the Simpsons

The Simpsons has been satirizing aspects of American culture for twenty years. The newest episode "Lisa the Drama Queen" has some witty poking at young people's rejuvenating interest in folk art when Lisa and her new friend spend a play date admiring quilts and carved wooden miniatures.

In the same episode the two girls create a whimsical world with a twonicorn (a unicorn with an extra horn) that belches rainbows. I love that show.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A podcast to make by

I found a podcast so enriching I have to share it. CraftyPod, produced by Portland craft scene queen "Sister Diane" Gilleland, has been inspiring me since I found it last month. She has been interviewing players from the art and craft movement for three and a half years, cultivating the craft climate and creating an incredible resource.

Sister Diane loves my favorite radio show, This American Life, and follows the model of audio editing, an art form of its own, that Ira Glass and his team use on that show. The result is an almost perfect version of the conversation that makes it easy to listen to.

As of now there are 84 episodes with information on everything from knitting to decoupage to how to publish a craft book. They are all available for free through the CraftyPod site, iTunes or another podcast collector. My favorite episode is #79 Crafting with Neckties.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Play Dough

I have this really vivid memory from my childhood: At vacation Bible school someone handed me a ball of white dough and told me to knead it. I did as I was told and soon discovered this dark spot in the dough. As I stretched and scrunched the dough, that spot turned into veins of bright green. I was amazed as it turned into a green marbled design. It took a long time, but I obeyed the adults and worked the color in until I had familiar green playdough.

On Friday in after care the children made play dough the same way. It was hard for them to get the color dispersed, but they loved doing it. It's funny that once the play dough was made, they were ready to play with something else, not play with play dough. I bet I had the same reaction after I got my green play dough finished.

Here's the recipe we used:
3 cups flour
1/3 cup salt
2 Tblsp. vegetable oil
1 cup water
food coloring

We put only two drops of food coloring in each ball of dough, but the colors were more pastel than the dough pictured. Red turned out as more of a Pepto Pink. To make play dough colors dark, I recommend mixing the food coloring in with the water in the dough recipe because if you put many drops of food coloring into the ball of dough it will get everywhere when they knead it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Paper Doll Chains

We made these folded paper dolls today with two of the older elementary students this afternoon after writing letters to the new president. They made fat dolls, thin dolls and even a
row of smiley faces.
To make:
Fold paper like a fan (or an accordion) then draw the shape of a doll on the top layer. The trick is to make the drawing touch both edges and not to cut vertically on the fold. If you only want a pair of dolls like the ones to the right, fold a scrap of paper in half and make sure that the drawing only touches one side.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow Day

There's nothing like a surprise day off to get caught up and relax with some embroidery. This little lady started off as one of Andrea Zuill's amazing free patterns, but I made a few changes (some by accident and some on purpose). I finished her up while listening to the glorious inauguration speech.

I don't know what I'll do with her yet, but I know I'm loving embroidery lately.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Quilt Documentation Day

I got to see some quilt historians at work recently at the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center in Townsend, TN. As a part of the third annual Quilters Road Show, there were free quilt evaluations by Becky Harriss and nationally-known quilt authority, Merikay Waldvogel.

Collectors, makers, and family heirloom holders brought a total of 50 quilts to the Center’s auditorium where Harriss and Waldvogel were set up on stage with a microphone.

They spread quilts out over a table, bed turning style, and asked the quilt owners to tell what they knew about their quilts. Then Hariss and Waldvogel looked at material, patterns, and technique to give each quilt an approximate date and noted information about the history of quilts as it was triggered by each quilt.

An expert on quilts from the 1930s, Waldvogel told us that pastels were huge during that era, and when a lady brought in a quilt colored mostly in a shade called Orchid, Waldvogel had stories about how popular that particular shade was.

A mother and her teen-aged daughter brought an unfinished quilt top that had belonged to a grandmother. After talking about how the appliqu├ęd butterfly pattern was a symbol of rejuvenation in the 30s, Waldvogel flipped the quilt over and pointed out that the blocks were made from sacks of Lily White flour. She could guess when it was made because she knew what weights of flour were available in what years.

There were three quilts with the pattern known to much of the quilting world as Sun Bonnet Sue. All three of the owners present knew the pattern as Dutch Dolls, as is common in much of the South.

Among the 50 quilts evaluated were two that were made in Wheat, the community that dissolved in 1942 to make room for the Manhattan Project and Oak Ridge. There was a quilt dated 1924 and embroidered with the Elks Lodge’s crest and other images important to the fraternal organization. The oldest piece of the day was a white-on-white crewel coverlet embroidered with the Tree of Life from the early 1800s.

Waldvogel talked about a four-year-old Noah’s Ark panel quilt that a child had insisted his mother take to the event along with her antique quilts. Waldvogel advised the mother to make a label for the quilt by writing down the quilt-maker, the receiver, the date and the occasion on a piece of cloth and stitch it on the back.

Waldvogel asked the holders of the oldest and most interesting quilts to pass them on to younger family members because she finds that when quilts stay within a family, information remains intact better. She also urged those who own quilts with great cultural significance to consider donating them to museums.

Volunteers photographed and collected information on each quilt evaluated at the event so that the quilts can be put into an online database available to everyone.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Embroidered Kid Art

Here’s a way to preserve a child’s drawings: embroider them onto fabric. Then you could make a quilt from a group of your favorite drawings.

Cotton Fabric

Embroidery hoop
Embroidery needle

Embroidery floss
Writing utensil

If you’re new to embroidery, pick a drawing without much detail. The supplies you need are basic. Any craft store and most crafty friends or family members will have them on hand. Keep the drawing with you as you gather fabric and embroidery floss for the project and stay as true to the colors your child chose as you can. **Note: The embroidery hoop pictured is WAY too big for the project. It is much easier to keep the fabric tight enough to work with a 5" or 6" hoop. I have since purchased one, but I was working with what I had.

Familiarize yourself with some basic stitches through these video tutorials: Split stitch, French knots, chain stitch, and satin stitch . Put scrap fabric on your hoop and practice each stitch until you are comfortable.

Look at the drawing you’re about to stitch. Try to figure out which direction the strokes were drawn, so you can work in the same direction.
Decide what stitches will work best for the strokes on the drawing. If the drawing was done with a fine point marker or pencil, the split stitch may work well (I did most of the picture above with the split stitch). If the picture was done with crayons, try the chain stitch.

There are several ways to get the image onto the fabric. I recommend putting the fabric on top of the drawing and tracing it. I use a pen with ink that disappears within 72 hours, but you could use pencil or anything washable.

If the fabric is hard to see through, make an improv light box with a window during daylight. Tape the drawing to the window. Then tape the fabric on top, leaving the bottom unattached so that you can lift it and look at any lines you cannot see through the fabric.

Remember that the child created the picture and resist the urge to leave out even the fourth extra arm. Relax and think about the uninhibited way children draw as you stitch.

Embroidery tends to be something that people hold onto. Someday someone is going to be curious. At the very least, stitch in a year. You could also include the artist’s name, age and any title the child gives the drawing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kids Craft Supplies

I'm making a shopping list for my after school program of preschool - 5th graders.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How about a Secretary of the Arts?

Many countries have a minister of art or culture. The U.S. does not.
Here's a petition you could sign asking President-Elect Obama to appoint one.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Assignment: Spa Director feature

In the place where I grew up there are so many women like the subject of this article. I never would have thought of any of them as interesting enough to write a story about. Then I got an assignment from an editor that I wanted to accept. It turned out to be kind of amusing to really think about what these women are like.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Scrappy Kid's Craft

Today was the kind of rainy day that demands an art project. I gave the children glue, some leftover pieces of card stock, and a basket of small fabric scraps I had been saving from the trash. Then I told them to make outfits.

I remember that as a child I loved picking out outfits for my dolls so I thought the kids might get into to the project. They did like the fabric, but I hadn't anticipated that the child scissors they can use aren't sharp enough to cut fabric. The adult staff members ended up cutting it into clothing shapes for the few girls that didn't turn to Legos in their frustration. Next time I plan to give small children fabric, I will cut it first.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Embroidered Necktie

Today is my boyfriend's birthday. He's a necktie-wearing musician so I embroidered a gramophone on a vintage tie. I used thread that blended in to control the flash aspect, but you could certainly make a bolder tie for a bolder dresser.
I used this tutorial from Craft Stylist as a guide.