I’m on facebook, finally!

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It’s taken a long while for me jump into the Facebook craze, mostly because I was afraid that my compulsive side would be totally smitten and I would spend way too much time at the computer. I’m very protective of my time working in the studio, or else I wouldn’t ever make anything new! Well, my (professional) Facebook page has been out there for a few months and I’m having fun! I like how easy it is to share other artists’ work as well as show what I’m making. With both a Facebook page and this blog to keep up, I have to be careful not to let it become too much of a time sink. So far, it’s manageable, but I really have to work at maintaining a balance between creating and writing about creating. The hibernation months of winter are my most productive, so it’s back to the sewing table (or chair near the wood stove) for me!

The hard-edged graphic logo didn’t seem to go with my style, so I just added a new hand sewn “Facebook” button to the right side column of the home page.  Here’s how I made it:

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I enlarged and traced the Facebook logo and cut out the letters with a blade. It’s difficult to write on felt, so I turned it over, so that the letters were backwards and traced the letters on a piece of fusible interfacing. I fused the interfacing to a piece of blue felt. Then, I cut out the letter shapes with scissors and sewed a blanket-stitch around the edges.

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The interfacing helped give the felt some structure, so that it kept its shape during the stitching process. I added more stitches, creating a thicker outline.

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After all of the letters were cut out and stitched, I started making a wavy chain-stitched pattern around the word.

Curly ques showed up– It’s impossible for me to sew a straight line!

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I sewed the blue felt on top of a piece of white cotton batting material and sewed blue beads inside the a, e, b and o’s.

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Please check out my Facebook page! It is developing its own flavor and spice, with a sprinkle of this and a dash of that.

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram

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Birds of Beebe Woods: robin

Back in the spring, when I started working on Birds of Beebe Woods, robins were in abundance,  hopping around the yard. After making the larger, dominant crow, I added a robin to the piece, placing it in the center, down on the ground. Compared to the smaller, realistic looking birds that were made later, the crow and robin’s bodies are more abstract, with stylized patterns on their wings and breast. My approach to rendering the birds seems to have changed during the 4 months that I worked on the piece. Toward the end, when I sewed the nuthatch, chickadee and warbler, I referred to photographs more closely and was caught up in making them identifiable and naturalistic. I like to combine realism and abstraction.

In keeping with the robin’s perky nature, I curved the bird like a sideways apostrophe, with its tail flaring upwards.  The red breast presented a opportunity to play around with warm tones and metallic thread.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. A 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) is available through my Etsy Shop. Note cards of details from the piece, including the robin, are also sold as mixed sets and separately.

Note Card – Robin
Note Cards – Birds of Beebe Woods

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram.

Birds of Beebe Woods: warbler

I wanted to include a warbler in the Birds of Beebe Woods piece and found that a handful of varieties live in our area, each with their own distinct markings. I liked the look of the black throated green warbler best and thought its color patterns and striped wings would show up against the brownish gold background fabric.

To start, I found many photographs of warblers in books and on the internet and sketched until I found a pose that fit into the  scene of birds. After making paper patterns, I cut out the bird’s shape from acid free matt board and cut pieces of white, green, black and yellow from wool felt. Thinking ahead, I glued cheap acrylic felt to the back of the matt board body, so there would be something to grab the stitches while the front felt piece was later being sewn in place. I also basted thick wool felt padding to the top of the matt board piece.

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I embroidered the texture and markings on the warbler’s green head. The bead eye is sewn inside a cut out hole in the yellow felt. Periodically, I would hold the bird up against the background fabric, to make sure there was enough contrast.

I used a combination of blanket stitch, fly stitch and lots of little single stitches.

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The wing’s stripes were defined by chain stitched lines.

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To finish, I made a little felt tail and added thread wrapped wire legs. Then, the black throated green warbler was ready to join the flock.

To see more posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, see the archives here. An 18″ x 24″ poster (pictured at the beginning of this post) and note cards are available through my Etsy Shop.

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Birds of Beebe Woods: cardinals

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Poster – Birds of Beebe Woods

See other posts about making Birds of Beebe Woods here. A poster is available from my Etsy Shop.

Most of the birds in Birds of Beebe Woods are the colorful male variety, but I decided to add a pair of cardinals to the mix. The female is shown in her nest, which is made of florist’s rafia-like straw.

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After consulting photographs of cardinals, I did a simple drawing to follow. The basic shape is cut out of matt board and the padding is basted in place. I don’t know what the padding material is made of— a friend gave me a bunch. In this case, I made a felt hood and embroidered feather patterns with variegated thread.

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Then, I stitched the beak and surrounded the bead eye with several rows of black blanket stitching.

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The tail has a wire armature to help keep its shape.

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Birds of Beebe Woods: bluejay

Birds0001blogWMUpdate: The Birds of Beebe Woods  poster is in my Etsy shop .

Now that the piece is finished, I can spend time reviewing how I made some of the parts. Opportunities to see the original piece are listed at the end of this post. The bluejay (life size) was one of the first birds I made, after the crow, because it’s on the large size and I wanted to make sure it would fit. The birds’ arrangement wasn’t set until the very end and I kept moving the critters around. That’s why I like to create separate elements–it’s very much like a collage that way. I have kind of an idea of how it will be, but I want room to maneuver the pieces. Tweaking is good because it brings surprises!

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After looking at photos of bluejays, I picked a pose and cut the body shape out of matt board. Then I cut a piece of white felt and stitched a textured pattern on the breast. I cut a whole in the felt for the bead eye, too.

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Oh dear, looking at these photo’s, the sequence of steps is not clear to me. You’d think I’d remember, but every time I make a new character or animal, I try different approaches. When I sew, I’m not analyzing what I’m doing, which makes it hard to explain later.

But, I can tell you this much, the bluejay’s wings are made of layered blue and white felt, all embroidered with a few simple stitches, in this case the fly and blanket stitch.

The tail stripe pattern is mostly blanket stitched.

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To see other posts about the making of Birds of Beebe Woods, go to the archives here.

2015 UPDATE:
Since many people have asked if the original is for sale– not now, as I will be holding onto it for a few years, so that it can be displayed in public exhibitions. The next showing is May 15 – Sept. 15, 2015 at Highfield Hall and Gardens in Falmouth, Massachusetts. I am also curating the outdoor exhibit of 32 fanciful fairy houses, Fairy Houses of Highfield Hall, which will be on display June 28 – August 31, 2015.

And later in the year, the “birds” will be in Winconsin. Oct 21. 2015 – January 10, 2016 ~ Insects to Elephants at the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts in Cedarburg, Wisconsin.

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Felt Banner Workshop

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be teaching a workshop in my home town of Falmouth, Massachusetts later this fall. We’ll make wool felt banners with wrapped wire lettering, the same as I’ve shown several times on this blog (see archives here). Students can make their own personalized keepsake to celebrate a wedding or baby’s birth. It doesn’t have to be a wedding or baby banner. You can also make a welcome sign or write out a short phrase or proverb such as Home Sweet Home or Be Here Now. Update: the workshop is full, but there is a waiting list.

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I’m usually too busy to teach classes, but couldn’t resist the opportunity to add a hands-on element to the Intimate Woods exhibit (Sept. 18 – Nov. 15, 2012), which will include my piece, Birds of Beebe Woods. (see posts about the piece here)

An 18″ x 24″ poster of Birds of Beebe Woods is available from my Etsy Shop.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that Highfield Hall is less than a mile from my house and we’ll have a large well-lit space to spread out and work. What could be more fun than spending all day stitching and wrapping thread in the company of other like-minded folk? More info about the workshop is on the bottom of this post.

(Workshop is full) FELT BANNER WORKSHOP – Sat., Oct. 27th , 2012 – 9:30am to 4:30pm Highfield Hall , Falmouth, MA. To find out more and to register, go to this link and scroll down to Felt Banner Workshop. The skill level is intermediate. I’ll provide materials including wool felt, wire, thread, beads and buttons, but students should bring a sewing kit and any special beads, charms and other embellishments from their personal stash.  The class size is limited to 10, so sign up soon if you’re interested. For those of you will travel a distance, there are plenty of Inns and Bed and Breakfasts nearby (even within walking distance). Buses from New York or Boston drop off within a short walking distance, too.

Baby Banner (Eliza Jane)

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My cousin John and his wife Mariana had a baby girl on March 1st, so I had to drop everything and make a baby banner for Eliza Jane. I took photos along the way, which give an idea of my process. It’s like the wedding banners I’ve been making for a few years. You can see all of them here.

I first made a simple pattern, with her name, birth date and weight written out. Then I cut out a smaller felt square and bent wire to form the letters and numbers.

I wrapped the wire with 2 strands of variegated embroidery floss, hiding the knots behind the curled ends. In this case, wire had to overlap to make the Z. I tried making the fancier lower case script Z, but it was hard to read, so I went with the simpler zigzag style. Below you can see how I made an orange stripe with another thread on top of the embroidery floss in JANE.

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I like using variegated thread to edge the felt.

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I made a narrow panel for a sheep button and some leaf beads.

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Glass leaf beads and a chain stitched vine fill the space between the words.

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I’ve had this ceramic sheep button for about 30 years. It’s so satisfying to put it to use in just the right place.

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I braided some Greek leather that I bought at a bead show and made a strap to hang the banner. Working with the leather reminded me of making gimp projects at camp. Remember gimp? What a weird material!

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Welcome to the world Eliza Jane!

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Turkey (Bodrum)

I’m still going through the 1000+ photos from our trip to Turkey last fall and have decided to post this group from Bodrum, which is located on the south-western coast.  We had this hill-top view from our hotel, where we stayed before we met up with our chartered boat and started cruising around the area. 

In the morning, we walked downhill into the town, past these white washed houses.

And walked over to see Bodrum Castle, which was built by Crusader Knights in 1402.

We saw suits of chain mail armor on display.

Inside the castle was a museum with ancient stone sculptures lying around the courtyard.

This statues looked better with a head (my husband Rob’s).

We saw amphoras stacked together, as if they were in the hull of a ship.

Then we walked along the pier, wondering which boat would take us out to sea. On top of this bright pink car, the sign says TAKSI. We learned that there is no X in their alphabet.

Fishmongers were set up on the docks.

The next day, we headed out on our cruise, which I wrote about here.

pot holder tutorial

Every year, I make pot holders to give away to my friends. It’s become a seasonal ritual that started with my grandmother’s version. She used to sew a curtain ring in a corner, to hang them up with. I’ve had one of her’s in my kitchen drawer until last week, when I finally threw it out.  And she died over 20 years ago! Over the years, I’ve adapted the design, which I’ll show you here.

Pot holders are so simple to make and it’s a good way to use up scraps of loud fabric that don’t match anything. I first pick out some fabric from my stash–this time some shop keepers, with a line of paper-doll chain style shoppers. I’ve had this fabric sample for years and can’t remember where it came from. I also included some checked batik fabric and some favorite 40-year-old blue Mari Mekko scraps.

I cut the batik fabric on the bias and sewed several lengths together  to make tape for the edging.

An old cotton mattress pad is the secret ingredient to making pot holders like my grandmother’s. I had used up my old supply and recently found a cotton pad when cleaning out a relative’s house. Yipee! Polyester filled pot holders just don’t insulate well enough!

I cut out pieces and sandwiched together 3 layers, a front, a cotton pad middle and a back. 

I then outlined the figures by stitching through the 3 layers.

Then I stitched the bias tape around the outside edge of the back side.

I then turned the bias tape over to the front side and pinned it in place.

This is the most fussy part—-stitching the tape on the top side. The tape usually puckers a bit as you turn the corner. I had previously stitched on a Wee Folk Studio label that was left over from the days of selling felt purse kits.

I saved some extra length of bias tape to flip over for a loop.

Now, they’re all in my friends’ kitchens. I like to make pot holders because they are not too precious—they will be used and enjoyed daily and can be thrown into the washing machine.

Shona & Amy’s Wedding Cake

Shona and Amy’s wedding was as wonderfully unique, warm and loving as they are.  My friend Terry and I made their cake as a gift and they graciously left the details to us. We have worked together on many projects, including the Woods Hole Village Quilt. For the cake, we were free to create our own vision of our friends and decided to feature our local corner of southern Cape Cod. On Friday, Terry and I got together at her house to work on the decorations. The cake was going to have a raspberry filling, so Terry needed to cut the large cake sheets in half. Using a setup her husband Keith devised for the purpose, she sliced the cake with a saw rigged with a banjo wire.

I busied myself cutting parts out of fondant, while Terry spread the filling and spread the frosting.  I combed a wavy texture with a pointy toothed triangular tool. Then, I sprinkled blue shimmer dust on the waves through a fine strainer.

Woods Hole and the Elizabeth Islands were made of fondant and covered with green shimmer dust.  I spelled out Buzzard’s Bay and Vineyard Sound, using cute little cookie cutters. I also made the wedding couple’s house out of marzipan.

We positioned the boat and dolls heading southwest along the chain of Elizabeth Islands  in Buzzard’s Bay

Terry piped the cake edges with frosting and we started to add decorations. I had made a fondant banner with the wedding date 2 days ahead and it had dried enough to crack in places, so we had to do some patching.

Terry had found these worm shaped candies, which we used to make a wavy border pattern on the lower tier.

Terry fixed the banner, while I added candy fish, lobsters and octopi. This project was becoming more fun by the minute!

We made a candy stone wall along the base of the cake.

And added some walnut-shell sailing dinghies and another candy wall. Beeswax holds the masts on place.

Here’s the sea gull’s view.

And yesterday, Shona and Amy saw their cake for the first time. What a special day!

To keep up with new posts, please subscribe to this blog (top right column on the home page). Your contact info will not be sold or shared. If you’d like to see more frequent photos tracking the projects in my studio, please follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram