Jul 262014

After I finished Scrappy Cat II, I started thinking about my next creative project to dive into. Then I realized I hadn’t really spent the summer working on the workshop as I’d meant to. I got the north wall worktable done, which was quite an effort, but it was one of about seven or eight things that needed work.
So, instead of another project, I packed everything away and got to work.

The north worktable was originally made at standing height. I got a couple bar chairs so I could sit as well as stand, but after using it for almost a year I realized I didn’t like it. For small or multifarious projects that required moving around and different areas of work, it was great. Most of my projects don’t fit those limits though and I found myself standing in one spot, working until my feet started to fall asleep and my blood pooled in my legs – that, or hunched over in the bar chairs, with terrible posture. I stopped using the area through natural avoidance. I finally came to the conclusion that I had to either remodel the entire north wall or give it up to storage. I decided on the remodel. This involved clearing off all the surfaces, removing the countertops, cutting down the base cabinets by about six inches, and reassembling them all. It was a hassle and a mess. Once I cleaned up, I built another base cabinet (the last one planned for the area) and put everything back. This was a great decision, overall. I find myself using the area often, as I’d hoped for originally. It is an excellent space, even with the temporary shelving and piles of tools all over.

This left me with the cutoff sections from the four base cabinets. I was reluctant to throw them away, since I’d made them, knew them to be secure, study and I was sure they had some use. After a week of them sitting around, I knew what that use was. They would become my new fabric storage shelves on the south wall.

Smaller pieces of fabric, say under a yard, don’t need much space to be stored, but when you have hundreds of those smaller pieces, as I do, you need a lot of small footprint storage. These cutoffs, turned sideways, would make perfect, shallow storage with the addition of a few shelves. Since I only had four, I arranged them so I could build the betwixt shelves in place. Sorta a built-in type deal.

Cutoff pieces of base cabinet auditioning for a new life as a fabric cupboard.
Here is the initial test fit layout. You should always make sure that your drawings match real life, if you can.
So, I spent a very sweaty hot evening last weekend cutting the shelves for this project. It took every evening after work to get everything together, filled, sanded, caulk and touch-up painted, but I did finish it on Thursday night. I still have sore muscles.
The almost finished fabric cupboard.
Here is the view of them almost done. I added the top shelf afterwards, but I don’t have a pic of it. I’ll show them again when I get fabric on the shelves. Frankly, that will be a while. I haven’t folded and organized my fabric for years because of the storage and moving and storage and remodeling and.. and .. you get the idea. Any fabric pulled out of boxes has not been folded and restored. Any new fabric has been put in a separate, non-organized box. I’ll have to make some new folding templates anyway; these shelves are a slightly different size than my old fabric storage boxes.
I like that I’ll be able to view pretty much my entire fabric collection once it is stocked here.

Next up for the workshop is the badge station. I’m tired of the badge press machines being covered up and the cats pulling the cover off so they can sleep on it. Once I get it built I’ll take apart, clean and grease the presses and cutters; and then they can live in their safe, enclosed cabinet. The cats can sleep atop the cabinet – it will be more comfortable than the presses, I’m sure.

Badge station and two more, huge, major builds and I’ll be ready for winter. I might make it.

Jul 252014

We haven’t had many cat pictures here at TLTBE lately, so let’s fix that now!

Friday and The Captain, lounging on the loveseat.
This is a typical scene I come home to every day. These are our two snuggle cats, Friday and The Captain. These cats know how to lounge.

Oz, in full cute nap mode.
Oz isn’t much of a snuggler with the other cats, but he makes up for it with extra cuteness of his own.

Oz has discovered a new spot.
So, this and the next are crappy cell phone photos taken in low light. My new camera’s phone doesn’t like low light. Oz came into the workshop and decided to see if he could fit into the spot where I’d just removed a box. The shelves are deep, but each opening is only six inches high. He fit, though. In this pic he is winking at me because he had poked his eye into some crumpled paper – he’s fine, don’t worry.

Friday and Oz, fighting over the spot.
All the noise of Oz scrambling into the spot woke Friday, who had been sleeping in a ball of soft fur for the previous hour. She came over to scrutate the ruckus, saw the just vacated shelf spot, and decided she would see if she could fit in there. See the cat logic here? Tiny spot = see if I can fit in it. Oz heard her scrambling into the spot and launched a batting attack, although Friday was able to defend her position by simply squeezing her small self to the back of the shelf.
One minute later, none of the cats cared about the shelf at all and I was able to restore the box.

There you go, adorable cat antics. That should carry us all through this last CFD weekend nicely.

Jul 242014

After the first Scrappy Cat went home with AmyKatt from the charity auction, an insistent request was made for another and with a birthday on the horizon, I couldn’t refuse. Thus, Scrappy Cat II!

Scrappy Cat II
This Scrappy Cat was made from a selection of scraps that meet the requested favorite color range. The first Scrappy Cat was made from scraps that I had laying on the cutting pad or pull out from underneath my tabletop ironing board – so many bits end up under there! So, the second cat had to be made from bits from the scrap box. That scrap box is small and overflowing – all the pieces were crammed in there and required ironing. Perhaps it is time to consider another scrap quilt.

Scrappy Cat II, collar and heart.
This Scrappy Cat needed a different color; he just looked better in a brassy color. He has two small purple beads for his sparkle. For his heart, I couldn’t find any scraps that were good enough, so I stamped/ painted a gold tree on some sweet red/hot pink. Perfect.

Scrappy Cat II, mouse in belly.
This mouse is a fatter mouse than the last one. Good cat!

Scrappy Cat II, front of paw claws.
I didn’t get a pic last time, so I made sure to focus on his front claws this time around.

Scrappy Cat II, paw pads.
I love how these paw pads turned out! They are dimensional and feel great, but you’ll have to take my word for it since we’re on the internet.

Scrappy Cat II, curly tail.
This Scrappy Cat also has a long, curly tail that gets in the way, just like a real cat.

Scrappy Cat II, zipper belly and patch addition.
His zipper belly could fit another thing, if he were still hungry. That patch of fabric looked at home there.

Scrappy Cat II, star butt.
My signature star, right on the butt.

Scrappy Cat II, head shot.
Thus, Scrappy Cat II – the birthday cat! He was a few days late for the actual birthday, but we all know that cats work on their own timetables.

Maker talk:
I am amazed at how different this cat is compared to the last one, even beyond the color palette. His head and body are a little wider, which was a deliberate choice. The fabric of the eyes give an energetic and almost manic look to this cat – like he’s raring to play and run, while the first cat was almost calm in comparison. This take was easier and a bit faster – I’ve already thought about better methods of construction. I also might use a different wire for the tail, they don’t hold their shape as much as I’d like. For how disparate the two Scrappy Cats are, I have to say I like them equally. I will probably make at least one more, some day.

Jul 142014

We had a tornado touch down in Cheyenne and dance over the town, but the hail and rain it brought with it to the party was the more damaging part.

It hailed for about 15-20 minutes in our neighborhood:
The hail begins.
This is a couple minutes into the hailstorm. The tornado sirens had just stopped. All those specks you see are leaves being beaten off the trees. There was a crisp smell of juniper and pine in the air as their needles were pulverized. The Japanese maple (not pictured here) looks like it has some weird disease with how many bare branches it now shows at the top. We thought our back yard apple tree would be ruined, but we still have teensy apples on some of the lower branches. We’ll see if they are terminally bruised or if we get any edible apples in a few months. I think the large pine on the weatherward side of the apple tree helped protect it a little.

After we got the all clear, freed the cats from the basement and checked the house, we continued with our day, which meant heading to the store. The hail was already beginning to melt in the returning summer heat.
The hail melts.
A wonderful foggy mist rose above the hail piles. The streets were filled with hail and the gutters filled with rushing waters. Due to significant efforts in the past, Cheyenne has decent flood management systems in place for the town, but I’m sure some individual homeowners are still pumping frigid water out of their older basements.

So, that was an interesting weather interruption to our quiet Sunday.

Jul 102014

I had a hard time getting started on this swap, largely because of a misunderstanding of the theme, internal to my own head. Finally, finally, I got on track and got moving forward with ideas in the sketchbook. All those wrong path ideas I can come back to those at a later time because some of them were pretty cool. Yeah, like I need more ideas! Sheesh!

Here is what I made:
My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
Instead of abstract, I went representative. While sketching up weaving ideas, I stumbled on the idea of using Ogham in the design. This form of writing was uncommon, only found in a few places in ancient Ireland, often carved into the edges of large rocks. You can read the whole article, but in summary it was very old writing, like proto-Irish to primitive-Irish old. You are probably more familiar with the Norse runic letterings from similar times. In fact, the the Younger Futhark was referred to in ogham documentation as a kind of “Viking ogham”. Back then, everyone preferred writing forms they could make easily with on-hand materials, which often meant sharp edged tools on wood or stone, which also meant straight lines were better. Convenient for me, with weaving easily having straight lines.
With Ogham as the letter form, I used the Beith-Luis-Nin to spell out sonas, which means happiness. This made the piece more detailed on one side, but it gave me the opportunity to try out making wire mesh on the other side to balance it out.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.

The strips are made of Osnaburg fabric, which I folded, then both machine and hand embroidered and beaded, then stitched them onto the frame.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
The longer letter forms are made of woven strips, consisting of yarns I painted, a couple artsy yarns I gathered over the years and thin strips of fabric. After the strips were woven, I couched them in the air, which isn’t really how couching is done, but it is the best description of how I finished the strips before I stitched them onto the frame. I also placed tiny drops of glue under all the strips where the edges met the frame to keep them from slipping around or falling prey to gravity over time.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
On the bare areas of frame I did some small bits of wire wrapping with the occasional bead added in for a bit of sparkle. I did try to help separate out the letters with the wrapping, too.
The frame is made from branches from our apple tree. When I pruned it last year, I selected a variety of branches to store and dry out in the garage. I removed the bark from the dried branches, sanded, stained them with a light wash of dark brown acrylic, then sanded them again to leave some color variations. I sealed them all with a scant coat of paste wax and buffed them to a gentle shine. I doweled the connections with chopped off toothpicks. This made it somewhat flexible, but assembled enough to keep its own shape.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
It was my first attempt at making wire mesh and the leading edge was a little sloppy while I got the hang of it and also because I had to float a few initial stitches in the gaps. I like the idea and look of the wire mesh and I will use it again in the future.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
I also made hanging loops on the back, although only this one is visible on the left here. Also here you can see some fabric, thread and wire wrapping on the branch. There is another spot or two with thread wrapping for some visual variety.

My Ogham-inspired artsy weaving creation.
I put one hanger on each side for how ogham can be read, from the bottom up or from left to right on a clockwise rotation, like this shot above.

Thus, my project is complete. I am pleased with how it turned out and I enjoyed trying out new things. SheepBlue likes it as well, so I consider this swap a complete success.

Jul 092014

As you have likely noticed from the sidebar, SheepBlue and I decided to do a personal swap for something arty, something experimental. We were both in the Printed Fabric swap on Craftster and chatted during it about maybe doing a personal swap later. This is our later swap. We talked about doing something experimental and arty, something that could be hung on a wall, and possibly involving some less-than-traditional weaving. I think we both achieved our goal.

From SheepBlue:
Experimental, arty weaving made by SheepBlue.
This will hang on the designated art wall in my workshop, which right now has shelves on it, but soon enough will be only a wall again and I can put up some of the art I’ve been gathering, hoarding, my precious.

Let’s look closer!
Experimental, arty weaving made by SheepBlue.
SheepBlue broke into her handmade art yarn stash to weave this creation. And look there on the left, that is a feather woven in. Cool.

Experimental, arty weaving made by SheepBlue.
She used branches for the frame as well as some smaller wood pieces woven in with the yarns. I like those clear beads – just a touch of sparkle. I also like the way that tightly wound blue and the fat, caterpillar wound green look together.

Experimental, arty weaving made by SheepBlue.
I realize you’ll have to take my word for it, but that cream yarn is so squishy. It isn’t too soft, but it isn’t rough – it has a spongey, dense body. The fringe has been fondled, I admit. And hey, there’s another feather.

Experimental, arty weaving made by SheepBlue.
Beads, and rocks, and wood, and lumpy art yarn, and skinny art yarn! Oh my!

It really is amazing and it looks nice in my workshop, even in its temporary display home. Now, as long as the cats don’t look too closely at that dangley fringe, I’ll be fine. I’m getting to the point in my life where I have a small, but carefully curated and apt collection of handmade art for myself. This makes me happy.

I will post the one I made tomorrow since I do have confirmation she has received it. Don’t ever want to spoil any surprises here. In the meantime, go check out her blog. She does a lot of cool stuff and you don’t want to miss it, especially her dimensional embroidery of late.

Jul 072014

Over the weekend, AmyKatt and Warhorse hosted a small game day featuring Ticket to Ride. I brought some thematic dessert.
Train car cakes.
Thank you NordicWare, for your specialty pans. I was able to make train car cakes! Ticket to Ride involves building railroad lines to win the game, so this was appropriate.

Train car cakes.

I tried to use the same colors that are used in the game, but the game uses all the colors, so the cakes ended up rainbow-like.

Train car cakes.
Some of the cars were shaped like carriers, so I filled those cake-cars with chocolate candy rocks or sprinkles.

I used a pudding cake combination with colored buttercream and chocolate frosting. Entirely tasty and once again I had a reason to break out the fancy baking and decorating tools I so seldom use. I reorganized them while I was at it, so I should be able to find things like icing tip couplers in less time and fuss in the future.

Now to think about the July Baking Project …

And thank you to AmyKatt for sharing your special edition of the game!

Jul 012014

The boys:
Oz and The Captain, looking out the door together.
Oz and The Captain, looking out the front door. There was probably a bird.

A neat car:
A neat, old car we passed..
Was in the mall parking lot this past weekend.

Busy finishing up my latest art project and procrastinating at work. Blergh.

Jun 252014

Today’s lunchtime doodle was fun.
Doodle of a squirrel on a tree
Right afterwards we had a tornado warning and were required to stay in the shelter area for about 15 minutes. Less fun. Of course the tornado was on the other side of town, so it was more inconvenience than anything else.

Jun 242014

As stated, we went again this year. No costumes, just the requisite nerdy shirts. We were more prepared in general this time. Let’s look at some costumes around the event:

Denver Comic Con 2014.
These guys were prepared! They had accents (affected or genuine, I don’t know) and business cards with their site ready to hand out. I appreciate all the effort cosplayers go through. [will insert site link here when I pull out the card]

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Tetris! They look so cheerful!

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Pokémon: Umbreon in silver stripes.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Tusken Raiders and a bounty hunter.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
I have no idea what this guy is, but he looked great. Articulated jaw, too.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
An Avatar Airbender showing a kid how to make the laptop do magic. Not sure if he’s an airbender, or if that symbol means something different, but I liked the pale contacts.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Blue Werewolf, Devourer or Ponies.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Iron Man, violet light. This was amazing to see in person.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
I like the everyday complications that happen while in costume. This gal had to check her paw for stickiness on the escalator railing.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
“Am I on the step? I can’t see well.”

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Every monster has to eat.

Denver Comic Con 2014.
Aliens need to drink, too. I loved walking through the hotel lobby to see this. It was like living in Star Trek for a minute.

This year we paid extra for Speed Passes, which meant we were two of 500 people who got to be first in any line. Last year we spent hours and hours in lines and our feet ached constantly. This year, we barely stood in any lines at all. We got into any panels we wanted, first; and the morning line lasted about five minutes instead of five hours. Completely worth it! It was a fun mini-break and we had a great time.

Jun 122014

Some folks have asked today how they might go about placing a bid for Scrappy Cat in the silent auction to benefit the Animal Shelter. I confirmed the details today, and it is Very Easy! It is called silent, but it is more like a written auction. All you do is go to the CAG, write your name, phone and bid on the ticket for the item you want. You can do this at any time before the auction ends on June 21st. The 21st is when they have the show reception, with attending artists, foods, socializing and announce all the winners of the auction. If you’re there and your bid is the winner, you can pay and take your item home right then, but if you aren’t there they said you could come in that next week and take care of it. If you’re not into the auction thing, all the show items are for straight out purchase. There are some neat paintings and photos to see.

Summary: swing by the CAG before June 21st at 1430 and write a bid for Scrappy Cat – or some of the other fun art there.

Bid on Scrappy Cat!
Scrappy Cat needs a good home and winning him will benefit our animal shelter. I plan on attending the reception on the 21st and bidding on one of the paintings there, too! Good luck!

ETA: Scrappy Cat did indeed go home with AmyKatt, who was the winning bidder! Congratulations AmyKatt and thank you for your support of the animal shelter!

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