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!

Jun 092014

The Scrappy Cat doll for the CAG Animal Shelter Benefit charity auction is done. Finally. It was supposed to be done almost two weeks ago, before June, but work came up and kicked my creative ass for the last two weeks instead. At last I’ve fought off the stress and gotten back to making things, which is much better. Yesterday was a good workshop day.
Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
Meet Scrappy Cat! He was made entirely from pieces I had laying on my sewing table leftover from other projects. I threw fabric scraps together on some muslin and free motion quilted all over to keep them together. This gives a fairly stable fabric, but still loose, feathery edges.

Collar and heart of Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
This dapper cat wears his heart for all to see (he’s a lover) and has a dashing collar with a touch of sparkle.

Zipper belly contents of Scrappy Cat, for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
Inside Scrappy Cat’s zipper belly we see he has eaten a mouse. Good cat!

AteMouse lives in the zipper belly of Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
I started thinking of it as AteMouse while I was stitching.

Empty Zipper belly Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
He can put other things in his belly, depending on his appetite.

Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
On the underside of his legs, his soft pink paws. On the topside there are embroidered claws, but they are quite soft and safe. Hmmm, I should have delinted before photography.

Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
His backside. All pink paws, signature star butt, and extra long tail. I did put some light wiring in his tail so it could be shaped a small amount. This way it can serve as a kickstand for him.

Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
The aforementioned signature star butt. I figured that since I did (over) 400 stars for the Centzon Totochtin quilt, I’d be pretty good at them. Now all my fabric items will have a star on them as a sort of signature.

Scrappy Cat for the charity auction to benefit the animal shelter.
I made a very snazzy tag with my stamp of a cat showing belly contents all colored in and lettered, but apparently didn’t upload a photo of it. Maybe I can grab one when I get home. Better yet – come out to the auction closing at 1430 on the 21st and see it in person! And enjoy all the other art there for the show, too. Don’t forget the refreshment table – they usually put on an agreeable spread of snacks and drinks.

Jun 052014

Rabbit party. Party, party, party!
While I acknowledge that this is not a good photo, I had to share it anyway. Had to come in for a little midnight work and disturbed this rabbit gathering in the parking lot. Four rabbits immediately scattered as I rounded the car line. Got this picture of three of them.

I like the idea that the rabbits are partying while most of us are asleep.

Jun 022014

Digging a hole.
I ache all over. We’re digging out the area for a patio on the east side of our house. This will include a six foot tall brick privacy wall between the patio and the neighbor’s house and yard. Not that the neighbor is nosy, or anything except totally silent, ever; but we want to have a secluded area to relax. The area is pleasant in the mornings with dapple sunlight and gentle breezes. After midday, the hot sun is blocked by the house, so this is the coolest outdoor area we have: total shade, private, paved, perfect.

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