Thursday, February 05, 2015

What's Up

I am still not in the creative mood, only going up to the studio to watch Netflix or DramaFever and embroider--because my hands have to busy while I watch.  

The above was supposed to be a headpiece for one of my Eccentric figures, but didn't work out so well for that purpose.  I'm sure it will be useful somewhere, sometime, and it served its purpose of "something to do with my hands" while I watched episodes of Grimm and Healer (a Korean Drama).

Of course, I've been reading and reviewing books over at A Garden Carried in the Pocket.  I loved two more of Jane Casey's police procedurals,  Lamentation by C.J. Sansom, and a biography of Alan Turing.  I put aside a biography of Lewis Carroll that I started in December and then kind of forgot about.  It was interesting, and I need to get back to it, but right now I have a que of books that I'm eager to read.

Today is a grey day, overcast and wintery-looking, even if it isn't that cold, the high humidity makes me colder than a clear, dry day with lower temperatures.  It suits my mood this morning, as I just started a book titled Asylum, set in Montreal.

The Triad are doing well, fat and lazy most of the time, but occasionally setting on each other for entertainment.  It's funny to watch them all curled up together, sleeping peacefully, then later, to hear a screeching meow as Edgar chases one of the girls around the room.  Cats!  Fee got me a Roomba for Christmas, and I love the way it blindly moves about, bumping into a wall or chair, redirecting, and setting off again--keeping the floors and rugs clean of furry stuff.  If the Triad would stay off the furniture, I wouldn't be troubled at all by their shedding.  No technology for that yet, but I live in hope.

I was doing a great job of keeping up with an hour or more of a yoga each day for the last couple of weeks, but skipped yesterday, and have not gotten around to it yet today.  Guess I should get busy, if I want to keep the routine.


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I'm Back

After all of the hectic Christmas Season, I ended up sick for nearly two weeks in the first couple of weeks in January.  Not deathly ill, but problems with my thyroid and a sinus infection.  

I did a lot of reading over Christmas and while I wasn't feeling well, but working in the studio just didn't happen.  Now that I'm feeling just fine, I am still unable to generate interest in the Eccentrics, and I have several heads sitting around waiting for more work.

My reading had high and low points, as usual, but here are some of the books I really enjoyed:

All three of these were good and have been reviewed on my book blog.

Also, I read several more of Tami Hoag's Kovac and Liska series that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I have about 8 drafts in progress and several reviews that have been scheduled for quite a while.  

On my TBR list, I have Tami Hoag's Oak Knoll series, several nonfiction books, my library books, and several ebooks from NetGalley.

My desire to get back in the studio is beginning to build, but the garage needs cleaning out, I have house hold de-cluttering in progress, I have books to read, and I'm watching Grimm on my Kindle.  First things first--I think I'll get back to Grimm, I'm only on season one.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


 Don't like the body pattern even though it is a third incarnation, 
and yet, I like Nimble with all his flaws. 

 I've made further adjustments to body pattern, 
but have other ideas for body for next one.  
Still thinking, but may make limbs of clay and real hands.  
I actually have a pair of clay hands 
that I made a while back and didn't use, 
may check and see if size fits.
If so, could use them for the next Eccentric doll.

Monday, December 15, 2014


In the Studio

Finally decided on hair for the first of the smiling doll heads. 

The decisions about hair and costume 
take such a long and frustrating time. 
The floor of my studio is awash with fabric and miscellaneous items 
I've dragged out for auditioning.
Anything that might give me a hint of where this fellow
might want to go
who he might want to be.

Because I have several heads in progress,
I made three clay head pieces,
and chose a couple of others as possibilities.

Until I have chosen hair and/or hat,
I'm in despair.
Once I know who I'm working with,
things get a little easier.

I'm happy now about where this fellow is going,
but prepared for more frustration along the way.  :)


I've taken a long break from the Lewis Carroll biography, but have read several mysteries that I need to review.  Also finished This Shattered World, a YA science fiction novel that I enjoyed.  Since I've been so busy with working on Eccentric dolls, I've not been keeping up with writing my book reviews over at my book blog.  It is on my "to do" list for today.


Do you receive pleas for donations all year, but especially during the Christmas Season?  If you plan to make a donation to a charity, it is a good idea to check it out and see how much of your donation goes to fund raising and how much to the actual cause.

Charity Navigator offers information about charities that overpay their for-profit fund raisers, as well as some of the charities that have consecutively good ratings or that are worth watching.

Charity Watch also provides ratings for a wide variety of causes that I'm interested.  I like this one because of the number of charities they rate.

When I get a donation request in the mail, I go to the computer and Google, "how is _____ charity rated?"   Like everyone else, I have several favorite charities on my list, many of them local, but when I get a request from a new one, I check it out.  The ones I hate are those with phone calls; many charities that make those persistent phone calls (although good causes) are those that spend too much on paying fundraising groups and too little on services.

I want to contribute to good causes, but I want to know that the money goes to research and services.  Charity watchdogs give me that sense of security.  

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

'Tis the Season

Around the House:  
I finally got around to doing a little Christmas decorating.  The tree is done, the Santas are out.  More to do, of course, but an improvement over last week's bare-nekkid tree.

In the Studio:  
I've finished working on the first head for the Facial Expressions online class.  Shaping and re-shaping, adding and subtracting, sculpting and blending as best I could.  I'm pleased with it, although I used the wrong size styrofoam ball for the head and a mixture of clays because I didn't have enough of one kind.   Because I used a mixture of clays, the color varied in spots, and I used a watered down acrylic paint to help it blend together.  

The use of acrylic paint  is another example of not following directions--because Marlaine Verhelst paints directly on the air-dried clay with water colors. Watered down acrylic makes a big difference when painting over it, resisting the water colors that the raw clay would eagerly drink in.

 I call this experimenting, and it is, but it is also a case of not having all of the necessary supplies and just jumping in anyway.  I made the bonnet several years ago for another doll (who did not want it, emphatically, did not want it), but it does a good job of covering the bald head until something better comes up.

Now, I have some styrofoam eggs, a new package of Paper Clay, and an order of Darwi clay on the way.  Darwi is the brand Marlaine uses; Michael's doesn't carry this brand, so I ordered it from Clay Alley.  Hope to follow the second lesson more closely, but I learned a lot from this first lesson in spite of all the ways I didn't follow the plan.

In the Mail: 
 Debra at Monnie Bean recommended Vintage Gypsy Girl for sari ribbon, and I ordered some.  Wow, very fast turn around.  I wish, now, that I had ordered the mixed brights as well.  Aren't the little brass horses neat?  Love 'em.

Last two gnomes.  
I've looked at several gnomes on Pinterest and in those lovely catalogs that arrive daily in the mail.  You know the kind-- the ones with perfect houses and gorgeous vignettes and wonderful Christmas decorations and ornaments.   The atmosphere you imagine, but at least in my case, the atmosphere that remains in the imagination.

Anyway, I looked at bunches of gnomes and tomtens 
and made three different versions for myself.  

They are tiny things, just a few inches tall, and I experimented with different shapes and methods.   These fellows have been done for about a week--with the exception of noses. 

Nothing I tried was what I wanted.  Yesterday I snipped artificial berries from some greenery, and these two got red noses.  The red noses could be a result of cold or alcoholic beverages, perhaps both; we all need a little Christmas cheer now and then.

The one I showed you in my last post has a brown bead for a nose, but the red noses have a certain spirit that I like, so I may replace his brown bead with the red berry.  The three of them can go wassailing together.

Finished Reading: 

Life or Death by Michael Robotham.  A stand alone novel, not a part of the O'Loughlin/Ruiz series, it kept me turning pages until late at night.  

Book Description (partial):  Why would a man serving a long prison sentence escape the day before he's due to be released?

Audie Palmer has spent ten years in a Texas prison after pleading guilty to a robbery in which four people died and seven million dollars went missing. During that time he has suffered repeated beatings, stabbings and threats by inmates and guards, all desperate to answer the same question: where's the money?

Broadchurch by Erin Kelly and Chris Chibnall.  

Book Description (partial):   In the sleepy British seaside town of Broadchurch, Detective Ellie Miller has just returned from vacation, only to learn that she’s been passed over for a promotion at work in favor of outsider Alec Hardy. He, escaping the spectacular failure of his last case, is having trouble finding his way into this tight-knit community wary of new faces. But professional rivalry aside, both detectives are about to receive some terrible news: 11-year-old Danny Latimer has been found murdered on the beach.

I have not reviewed these on my book blog yet, but both of these are intense and kept me engrossed from start to finish!

Saturday, December 06, 2014

This and That

In the Studio

I'm taking an online class: 
I'm learning,
but have a long way to go!
I was supposed to use a Styrofoam egg,
but didn't have one when I started,
so I used a round Styrofoam ball.

This fellow needs a lot of work,
and hopefully,
I will be able to improve my skill,
but he is fine for practice. 

Have done nothing with the clay beads
I started a while back.

Finally, found something I can use
for the noses on my other two gnomes.

This one has a brown bead,
but I think I'll use tiny bells for the noses
on the other two.

This fellow is almost 5"--including the hat!


    Just finished rereading two books for young readers 
    that I loved when my girls were little.
     The Westing Game didn't hold up as well for me this time, 

    but The Egypt Game was as delightful this time 
    as it was when I first read it!

    Finished The Queen of Tearling,

     which I enjoyed (even though I had several "nitpicks");

      will review soon on my book blog.

    Reading a biography of Lewis Carroll (slowly)

     and a new suspenseful book by Michael Robotham.

    I love lists like this one--  Home Uses for Vinegar.  
    This is one I'm going to try: 

    8. Do away with the gunk on chrome hardware. 
    Soak a few stacked paper towels in vinegar, 
    ring them out and wrap around the faucet,
     handles or showerhead for 10 minutes. 
    Remove the wrap, and let dry.

    Now that is something I can use!

    What Else?

    I find myself oddly uninterested in Christmas decorating.
    The tree is up.
    Not decorated.
    No other hint of the season.

    I'm not sure why,
    but although I'm eager to Make Things,
    My desire to drag things out of boxes


    Tuesday, December 02, 2014

    In the Mail and Other Stuff


    Yesterday, I received a packet of ribbon and fibers
     from Penny Baugh of Art Journey!
    I can't wait to use some of these,
    and I have an idea for the pom poms already.  :)
    Thanks, so much Penny,
    I'm going to have so much fun with these.

    My packet went to the post office yesterday,
    and when I got home, your packet had been delivered--

    It was fun going through my embellishments
    and finding things I thought you
    might be able to use for the denizens of Lickety-Split!

    Odd Duck is done.
    She tends to be easily excitable.

    It is fun to shape the wadded up bags 
    in a spontaneous way.
    I didn't take a pic of Odd Duck 
    when she was just wadded up bags, 
    but she was such a simple shape.

    Although I didn't have the early version of Odd Duck, 
    I did want to show you how she came about.
    So...this morning, I wadded up some more plastic bags
    and started a new creature.
    This took maybe ten minutes.
    It will take a little longer 
    to compress and finish shaping
    the basic form and add any other limbs or features,
    but not much longer;
    the process so far is pretty fast.

    I'm setting it aside because
    I have so many other projects 
    that I want to try,
    there won't be as many patches on this one
    (it takes forever, adding small patches,
    stitching them on, then embroidering them).

    And that is just the way I like things
    when I have lots of time and no deadlines,
    but these few weeks before Christmas
    are too busy with birthdays (4) and 
    Christmas preparations for that kind of detail.
    This time, I'll use much larger pieces of fabric.
    When I get around to it, that is.

    I have about 8-10 re-usable bags 
    that I use for grocery shopping,
    but I sometimes forget them and end up with 
    lots of disposable plastic bags anyway.
    Now, I've used up most of the ones
    that have been gathered in the pantry--
    Recycled into Odd Duck
    and whatever becomes of this one.

    Edit, Edit, Edit
    I looked for where I'd seen
    using plastic bags shaped
    and wrapped in cloth
    to create an animal, 
    but couldn't remember where I'd seen it.
    Finally found my inspiration!

    Here is where I first saw the idea:
    Monnie Bean!

    Her work is unique,
    she is all over the place with ideas!

    More fabric cord.

    I think I'll use some of the cord to hang garlands,
    and maybe for arms and legs for Eccentric creatures.

    Everything is an Adventure!

    What are you working on?

    Experimenting with?

    Trying out?

    Monday, December 01, 2014

    Two More Creative Individuals

    I'm back in the studio as often as I can be in the midst of this busy time of year!  I've made the feet and wings for Odd Duck. Have some clay beads and gnomes in progress, too.

    But today, I want to share some more wonderful, creative people who make stuff I envy and admire.

    Ikat Bag - How lucky are Lorraine's girls--because living in her house must be more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  Scientist/crafter/costumier and more, this woman does everything with flair and consummate skill.

    Her Owie Dolls are delightful--you really should follow the link and see all the details she has created!

    She has patterns and tutorials to share, too.  But her birthday parties are to die for!  The Science Party and Mystery Party are too cool for school!  And she tells you how to make the stuff, how generous is that?  

    Rachal at VirtuoSew Adventures embroiders the most whimsical creatures!  I love to embroider, but my favorite stitch is the running stitch, and even that isn't going to be neat. What Rachal does is a brilliant combination of art, skill, and imagination, the kind of embroidery that is a result of years of dedication coupled with an eye for detail and an elegant sense of style.

    Perfect for an illuminated manuscript or medieval tapestry!  Rachel should write a book featuring these characters.

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    Round the World Blog Hop

    This is embarrassing, but back in October, Penny Baugh asked me if I would like to participate in a blog hop, and I was excited about joining in.  Then the weeks of computer problems ensued, then I wasn't even going into the studio (no creative endeavors what-so-ever), then guilt because I had not followed through, and a multitude of other reasons and excuses that kept me paralyzed.  

    After a dearth of ideas and energy, I have finally returned to the process of making stuff, and I'm going to do this much belated post.

    Here are the instructions that Penny (Art Journey) received from Hilary:

    Here are the instructions from Hilary:

    You will acknowledge the person and site that involved you in the blog
     and share your answers to these questions:

    1. What am I working on?
    2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
    3. Why do I write/create what I do?
    4. How does my writing/creating process work?
    (apparently we're free to interpret/adjust these questions as we like, so
    if you feel like only answering one or two that's fine).

    You'll need to list 2-3 tagees for the next week.  You'll give a 1-2 line
    bio and link to their website. This means you'll need to find 2 or three
    blog friends to do the same thing the following week or so.

    I love Penny Baugh's (Art Journey) dolls and have posted about them before.  She has created a whimsical imaginary world in Lickety-Split, a community with the most charming inhabitants.  Penny, I'm sorry it has taken me so long to respond.

    OK - here goes.

    I live in Bossier City, LA, right across the bridge from Shreveport where I spent most of my growing up years.  I've always been interested in crafting and making things, useful or not. Mostly not.  But I have such fun!  My other interests include reading and gardening, and usually one activity excludes another, and I will devote endless time and energy to whichever interest is on the plate at the time--ignoring all others.

    What am I working on?

    I finished my last witch shortly before Halloween.

     Then came the long hiatus.  I'm not sure why  intense cycles of frenzied "making" (like the three months during the summer when I worked on something every day) decline into less frequent activity, and finally, into a complete stall.

    I have only recently returned to spending most of my time upstairs in the studio.  Once again, I decided that it didn't matter what I made, as long as I worked on something each day.

    My first efforts came when I saw My Poppet's  twisted cord on Pinterest.  Just the sort of mindless, but soothing activity to keep my hands occupied.

      I'm so glad I saw the tutorial just when I needed it;  I love both the meditative quality of this activity and the result. Rummaging among my fabric scraps and larger remnants, I found lots of ugly fabrics, some beautiful fabrics, left-overs from years ago, pieces left from half yards, fat quarters bought for some specific project that never materialized, etc.   Most were cut up to some extent, but saved for smaller projects. 

    And I started twisting.  

    I caught up on back  episodes of The Walking Dead while making yards of the stuff.
      I have some more old spools that I'll use for storing it, 
    but I have to look for them.
    The broken ruler serves for now.

    Then I thought about making single twisted strips 
    and weaving them on a twig form for a Christmas tree. 
     The above examples of cord are doubled and too thick.  
    So I tore off a bunch of fabric strips
     and twisted them singly to make the tree.

    Some of the fabric strips and scrap fabric were not long enough to make the twisted cord efficiently, so I've been making some fabric beads.  I still have a bunch of these I made several years ago, and I've used them in a number of various projects. 

     Making fabric beads is another one of those calming,
     undemanding activities;
     even if there is no immediate purpose for them, 
    they are satisfying and look nice in a jar. 

    Both activities lower my blood pressure, give me a sense of accomplishment, and keep my hands busy when there are no projects on the agenda.

    Going through my bags of scraps and thinking of Christmas, I decided to make another fabric brooch.  Perfect for my grey wool coat to give it a splash of cheerful color.

    How does my work differ from others in the genre?

    I don't really have much of a genre, and my crafty endeavors range from embroidery to creating Eccentric dolls, but there is little consistency in my approach.  I experiment with a lot of different techniques.

    I often make a doll head and then create a body and theme to go with it;  whatever my original thought, what actually happens is a result of spontaneous trial and error rather than planned execution.  I wish my stuff had a more recognizable aspect--you know, like when you see a particular doll or piece of fabric art and know right away who made it.  

    Why do I create what I do?

    There are so many things I would love to make, but where my attempts are always a fail.  I like scrappy stuff, working with odd bits, and experimenting. 

     I "make" for the process, whether one of my Eccentrics or fabric brooches or making yards of fabric cord like My Poppet's; the process of "making" is deeply gratifying in an emotional, as well as a physical sense.  I can't seem to help myself--it is an addiction and it is fun.

    How does my creating process work?

    No real method to the madness.  Sometimes, I have to get into the process gradually  and make twisted cord or fabric beads as mentioned above, for example.  At other times, I have an idea in mind. Halloween always inspires me to make strange creatures, and I will get out the paper clay or fabric and see what happens.

    Here are my taggees (I wasn't able to get in touch with everyone, but even if they don't participate, you will enjoy looking!).  

    Let me introduce:

    Carla Trujillo  

    Carla  is a mixed media artist who works with found objects to create one-of-a-kind assemblage pieces.  She produces these inspired little creatures that have fascinated me for years.  (of course, I had to have one of my own.  It hangs in our cabin in the country--an angel by the door--yep, a bad photo, but a cool piece)
    You can visit Carla's blog or her Online Shop to see her creations.
    Love the one below.

    Sandy Mastroni 

    Ha!  Sandy's weird little creatures always make me smile!  I have one hanging around on a mirror that looks at me impishly each time I pass by.  You can visit her blog or check out her Etsy Shop.  Here is the little guy I have hanging on a small mirror.

    Carol Roll Nostalgic Folk Art

    Carol is a folk artist who works in paper mache and creates these lovely characters with a vintage feel.  You can find her work on her blog, in galleries, and in her Etsy Shop.

    Including Penny, that makes four artists whose works I admire.
    Go visit!

    Wednesday, November 26, 2014


    I've been awol from this blog
    and from crafting for a while.
    This past week, I determined to get back to work.

    Penny invited me to join a blog hop 
    (in October!) and
    with all good intentions I intended to take part.

    First, the computer went crazy;
      an on-going disaster for several weeks
    with three visits from the computer guy.

    Then, there were other things that kept coming up,

    and I didn't go into the studio for weeks.

    Now, I am back to making things again.
    Little things.
    Just to get me back in a creative mindset.

    Some of the things I've been doing with scraps
    to get me back in the mood to create:

    Fabric cord, fabric beads,

    scrappy Christmas trees,
    fabric wrapped candy canes.

    On the back burner,
    several projects need to be finished:

    I made this doll head about 6 weeks ago, 
    before I abandoned the studio for a while.
      Now, I'm looking at what she can be.
      With that wild hair, she may be more warrior than princess.
    Or she may never be finished.

    Another project that was begun
     over a month ago,
    an Odd Duck.
    I wadded up a bunch of plastic bags
    and wrapped and shaped them into
    a basic form with muslin strips,
    then started the patchwork process.
    Since I've been back in the studio,
    I've made some progress on Odd,
    but still have a ways to go!

    **And I've been working on a post for the blog hop,
    which I will be posting soon.
    I hate that I've delayed so long,
    but better late than never?
    Waiting to hear back from a couple of artists.**

    ------------ We will be going to the cabin for Thanksgiving,
    Erin and crew are due in today.

    Tomorrow, we will eat ourselves into a stupor.

    Note to self:
    I need orange juice and cranberry juice
    for Mimosas and Poinsettias
    (and champagne, of course).

    Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving Feast!

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    What Do You Do With a Drunken Goblin?

    Here is Brydish Tipplefoot.
    I finished him in August and even took some pics,
    but never got around to posting them
    because I was going to make him a tag.
    The tag is still not made.

    Brydish likes Viper Venom
    and always has a bottle in his hand
    (and usually lacks balance as a result).

    Below, Brydish is beginning to emerge, back during the summer.

    Here he is in August,
    before his hat got embroidered
    and he found his Viper Venom.

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    What the Heck?

    (I wrote this entry on Sept. 29, but never posted it)

    Things that have no current direction:

     What was I thinking when started this?
    And that was weeks ago.
    CRS - can't remember sh___.
    Maybe I don't want to.

    Baldy is another experiment gone awry.
    Her body is made of quilt batting.
    Her head is muslin covered with air dry clay.
    She has no clothes;
    I just wrapped some scraps around her
    so that she wouldn't be both bald and nude.

    And then there is this:
    This what?
    Bird of some sort?
     All I can say is that I wanted to use some google eyes.
    And I did.
    Now what?

    None of the above are talking to me.
    Not sure I blame them.

    October 15 (today)

    My decision to spend at least a few minutes a day in the studio
    began to fail as a result of dissatisfaction with the above
    and lots of other busy-ness.

    Then I started embroidering the monster doll.

    Eventually, the soothing pace of the embroidery 
    allowed me to think of some new projects.
    Birdy and Baldy have simply been sidelined 
    and may, or may not, join the legions of abandoned projects.

    Here is Gimble-eye, the monster doll.
    Finally called him finished 
    after adding arms and legs.


    Whenever, I'm at a loss about what to do next,
    I can always continue embroidering on Gimble-eye.

    Another finished project is my Halloween Stocking.
    Right now it is hanging upstairs in the studio window.
    I will probably add something else to go with
    the dried flowers, but I'm not sure what.
    The ghosties were inspired
     by something I saw on Marie Claire Idees.

    I made some last year and added them 
    to a little basket with the fabric flowers.

    This year, I made some new ones 
    to decorate the stocking.

    The orange and grey fabric was "dyed" with watered down acrylic paints.
    The ghosts are tea dyed muslin.

    In progress:  some brooches
    and a new cloth witch.
    The witch is finished except for adding hands.
    I may get those done today.

    But, darn it, I have several chores and errands
    that I've been putting off that really must be done first.

    Looking forward to Erin, Mila, and Max coming this weekend!