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Artwork Thursday – New Art Supplies!

Late is better than never, right?  My internet connection kept breaking yesterday, and so I couldn’t log on here and get the post up.  *sighs*  But here we are now!

While at Hobby Lobby the other day, I saw a beautiful leather sketchbook with soft pages that might hold watercolor nicely.  I decided to take the risk and buy it…

Isn’t it gorgeous?  And when I’ve used up the pages, I think I know how to remove the leather cover and re-use it for another journal.

I also picked up a portable watercolor set…

…which was an impulse purchase, but a good one.  I’ve wanted for years to have a portable watercolor set so I could paint outside and use the scenery around me as reference.

Here I am painting outside!  After getting nearly blinded by sunlight reflecting off those white pages, I prudently relocated to a shady spot.  The journal pages did hold watercolor pretty well–not as perfectly as my professional watercolor paper, but well enough for sketching!

I also tried sketching with pencil in the leather journal…

…but it’s rather hard to erase without shredding the page.  This is my character Sanchia, from my semi-western story.

Same character with some shading and detail.  Not sure which version I like better!

This is myself caricatured as a walnut.  And before you all blink in disbelief and unsubscribe, let me explain: I was goofing off with a friend through text and making her laugh…and then got this hilarious image of myself as nut with a posh hat.  So I doodled the image!  Also, I shall make “sass with class” my personal motto.  🙂

I’ve kept up my crocheting…

…and made a cover for a chair cushion.  I even followed a crochet pattern–sort of.  I’m one of those crocheters who change the pattern as suits their needs.  🙂  No harm in being flexible!

Then at the last minute yesterday, I realized it was Flag Day…

…so I doodled this (and the leather journal holds colored pencil pretty well too–good to know!)

I also left off the stars because it would take until next Flag Day to draw them all!  🙂

And I finally finished a drawing I’d started weeks ago…

…this is Maria, another character from the semi-western.  She’s quiet, but fun-loving, and so she’s jumping off rocks or something like that here.

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday — Finally Back!

Finally!  Yes!  It’s been way too long!

This week, I went back to pencil-and-paper artwork, and it was so good to draw again.  🙂  Before picking my pencils up again, I spent a good deal of time crocheting….

In my last Artwork Wednesday post, I showed the start of a new stitch I was learning.  Here’s what I made with that new stitch: another potholder!  It was good practice for my next project…

…a baby blanket!  This is for a friend at church, a mother that my sisters regularly babysit for.

Then I made another blanket…

…for my brother Emmet.  It’s a Lego blanket–can you tell?  🙂  I had so much fun making this!

Then I started another blanket…

…this time for myself.  🙂 It will be a Christmas afghan.  I actually made one years ago, but that was before  knew what I was doing!  So it was high time to re-do it!

Then I picked up my pencils again and embarked on a fun frenzy of drawing characters from one of my works-in-progress!  Not the steampunk story, but my semi-western.

Okay, I’m tired of calling it that.  The working title of this semi-western is Gentle Fire.  Working title, mind; I’ll probably change it later.  (I’m terrible at titles.)

This is Wilson and Mary, Durant’s brother-in-law and sister.  (More about Durant and his family here and here.)

And here’s Durant!  He’s doing secretarial work of some kind.  Or maybe writing a letter; he handles most of the family’s correspondence because neither Mary nor Wilson care much about that.  Nor do they have much literary talent (Mary is educated and articulate, but can’t be bothered to write anything down).

Have I mentioned desert sunsets are my new favorite subject to draw?

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday – Of Bugs, Yarn Stashes, & Craft Sprees

(Posted on a Tuesday, but hey, I’m ahead of the game this time!)

Once again, this week I did more crafting than drawing.  I haven’t felt like drawing lately—or just don’t want to spend the 4+ hours required polishing and refining the sketch.  A patience problem or a perfectionist problem?  Not sure.

Actually, it’s a perfectionist problem, because I spent hours weaving and crocheting this week without remorse.  But you’re no doubt wondering about the “bugs” part in the title—though if you’re a seasoned crocheter/knitter/weaver, you can probably guess what that’s all about.  *cue spooky music*

While merrily working away at a yarn project last week, I glanced down at my work bag and saw a bug perched on the green ball of yarn.  After recovering from cardiac arrest, I disposed of the critter, and then googled images of bugs that infest yarn.  The real part of this horror story?  I couldn’t tell whether the insect suspect was a harmless black-and-orange ladybug—or a carpet beetle, notorious for eating yarn and infesting the house as well.

With the identity of the suspect in question, I stuffed all my balls of yarn into plastic bags and stuck the bags in the freezer to kill any remaining critters.  Then I gathered my recently completed yarn projects and my woven work bag and threw them in the washer.  There were no signs of infestation, but I wasn’t taking any chances.  And I seriously considered just throwing away the yarn in the freezer—a tragedy, to be sure, but it would take weeks to properly de-bug the stuff, and we have such a small freezer, the bags would take up a lot of space.

In the meantime, I embarked upon an Anti-Bug Protection Plan (code named: Die, Mangy Critters!!!!).  I made four sachets and filled them with whole cloves.

The blue one went into my work bag (once it was washed), the plaid and block ones went into my yarn box, and the fourth (not pictured) went into the box of ornaments my hobby tree, because a lot of fabric and crocheted decorations live there.

I finally decide to pitch my yarn stash and buy new yarn.  Almost at the last minute on Saturday, I went to Hobby Lobby and loaded up the shopping cart.

Here is (part of) my new stash.  The rest of the yarn is in my clove-smelling work bag, because I started several projects the minute I got home with my loot.

Last week, I learned a new stitch: the half-double crochet.  And I practiced it by making a tree skirt for my hobby tree.  I also learned how to…

…crochet scallops along the edge!

Then I made some Christmassy pot holders.

And a couple of place mats.

Somebody stop me!!!

Actually, don’t.  This is way too much fun.  🙂

And I’m in the middle of making another pot holder to practice this pattern:

If it turns out well, I may crochet an afghan in that pattern.  And maybe more place mats in different colors.  Also a tree skirt, perhaps.  And then another afghan, and maybe crocheted holly leaves, and another pot holder in summery colors, and oh, also that mat I want to weave… *loses self in the bliss of planning more projects*

 

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Artwork Wednesday – More Fabric Crafts

Once again, I did more weaving and crocheting than drawing over the last few weeks.  I’ll return to consistent drawing soon; Chris gave me a couple of art commissions, and I want to draw my characters and to paint in larger formats than the 5″x6″ and 6″x8″ sized paintings I keep doing.

But until then, fabric crafts get the spotlight.  🙂

Remember that woven bag I was working on?  I finished it–days ago, actually, and have used it to carry around my art supplies.

I love the stripes in southwestern-ish colors.  And this bag makes it so easy to transport my stuff; previously, I piled the supplies on a sketchbook and hope I didn’t trip over something as I relocated!

Here’s the dry media I use most often: sketchbook of toned paper (the green book way in the back); sketchbook of white paper (the black book); case of colored pencils (the pink thing); case of graphite pencils (blue thing), and erasers and pencil sharpeners (in the little plastic boxes).  I’ve also taken to slipping my phone, ipod, and reading material in the bag (I’m currently reading Henry V and Fahrenheit 451).

I liked that bag so much that I made a second one.

This pattern is modeled after American Girl Josefina’s work skirt in the second book of her series.  I had so much fun weaving this, and I love how it turned out.

My weaving and crocheting stuff lives in there, though I may use it as a going-to-town purse every now and then.

Speaking of crocheting…

I made a new tree skirt for my hobby tree.  The camera didn’t pick up the color well, but the fabric is a soft lavender shade that actually matches the woodsy red and green.  Also, I successfully learned to increase and decrease stitches with this project.

Then I made this cake for Emmet recently:

He came up with the design and the idea to pipe those dots on the side of the cake to look like Lego studs.

And then I drew a picture of my character, Lennox.  I want to draw more pictures of him; he’s so vivid in my imagination.

That’s all for now!

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Artwork Wednesday

Artwork Wednesday is back!–after a hiatus in which I spent more time writing than drawing.  Funnily enough, last week was just the reverse: more drawing than writing.

Anyway, one project I finished a couple of weeks ago isn’t pencil-and-paper art, but a second attempt at colcha embroidery.  The the result was much better than the first:

Colcha is fun, and the texture of short and long stitches is unique.  But synthetic yarn was really hard to use, so I looked up the price of 100% wool yarn and whether art stores in my area carried it.  And blinked at the screen in disbelief when the results were (a) ridiculously expensive and (b) largely unavailable to boot.  Synthetic wool is apparently cheaper to produce, and therefore more abundant in stores.  So I may just keep using the yarn I have for colcha, however inaccurate that might be.

Quick drawing of theatre curtains and a stage, artwork for my 10 Favorite Musicals link-up.  It only now occurs to me that I could have used stock pictures.  But I guess it’s good that I was willing to do the artwork myself.  🙂

Doodle of a gingerbread house.

I love drawing oranges.  Layering the colors is fun, and oranges are just so bright and perky.  Plus, they’re more interesting to draw than a plain sphere to practice light and shadow and so on.

For Christmas, I got the Alamo 2004 film guide (my preccioussssss!!!) and after reading almost the whole thing that same day, I decided to draw the characters using the photographs inside as reference.  This is Jason Patric as James Bowie.  As I finished up the sketch, Chris sent me a text from across the living room: “Dat drawing, tho.”  🙂

I made an interesting discovery with this project: I sketched this with a 2B pencil instead of H or HB–and not only did the 2B contribute to the rough appearance of the character, it helped me lay down really dark shadows.  With 2B as one of the lightest values, I used much darker leads to get the shadows to contrast properly.  Which was a nice discovery; previously, my drawings were pale, as if I was afraid of putting down bold shadows.  I wasn’t–and couldn’t figure out why my shadows weren’t dark enough.  It was because thelight values were too light and therefore didn’t require enough contrast to make the picture stand out.  *files information away for later*

Patrick Wilson as Travis.  I drew this using the same technique as with Bowie’s portrait: sketching with a 2B pencil.

The funny thing about these two characters is that a rough, dark, sketchy look works for Bowie because of his personality (and the actor’s face structure).  But that style doesn’t work for  Travis for those exact same reasons (personality/actor’s appearance) and I had to shade lightly and blend the graphite carefully to get this to look like Travis.

A new item on my list of Favorite Things to Draw is cacti silhouettes against a desert sunset.  (Oranges are also on that list, as well as Sydney Carton.  🙂 )

You know those drawings that are basically three blades of grass on a white background, yet the artist sells half a million prints of that on Etsy?  Well, I decided to draw my equivalent; it’s supposed to be a cherry blossom, but the petals don’t look quite right.  Cherry blossoms are beautiful, though, and so I’ll probably try this subject again later.

I also started weaving a little bag to carry around my art supplies so that they won’t end up piled on the bookshelf every night.  I’m using rug yarn (a thick, tough kind of yarn, if you don’t know) so that the bag will be durable enough to be carried around everywhere.  Once I’ve woven all the pieces, I’ll stitch them together and see how it works!

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Artwork Wednesday – Fabric Crafts

I did something different this week: I took a break from paint-and-pencil artwork and instead did sewing and weaving crafts.  (It was good to take a short break from drawing.)

I have a little hobby tree that I decorate seasonally each month: pink hearts and flowers for February; birds and flowers for spring; lighthouses, shells, anchors, compasses and other nautical details for summer.  Some themes I create aren’t strictly seasonal but look good during autumn or summer, such as the farmer’s market theme featuring herb labels and felt sunflowers and miniature vegetables.

This is one of my autumn themes.

And this is the theme for January: just a plain, white look with a lace garland, white sparkly round ornaments, icicles made of wire and beads, and snowflake jewelry charms.

Last week, I decided to create a southwestern theme for my tree, and I decided to weave a tree skirt in southwestern colors (inspiration taken from the Josefina books.)  I dug out the handheld loom, weaving needle, and weaving fork that we used as kids, and rifled through our yarn stash for appropriate colors.

We do have a yarn stash.  Approximately 163 balls and skeins, some left over from the craft projects we did as kids, and some gifted to us by elderly friends who were more than happy to pass on their own stashes of yarn to us.

Anyway, I threaded the hand loom and wove stripes in various colors and widths.  Weaving was incredibly relaxing, so much so that I really didn’t mind re-doing my attempt 2 times. Re-doing the project paid off, and I finally mastered the trick of keeping the edges of the blanket more-or-less straight and neat.

Almost finished!  Actually, this loom isn’t big enough to weave enough fabric for the tree skirt.  So I wove two rectangles, intending to sew them together to make one large block.

Here are the two pieces.  To get the fabric to fit snugly around the tree, I wove two narrow strips and sewed those strips between the rectangles, leaving an opening in the middle of the whole piece for the trunk of the tree.

The finished tree skirt!  I left one strip and one side un-sewed (in the the lower right-hand part of fabric) so that I could slip the fabric around the tree trunk.

Continuing the southwestern theme, I tried my hand at colcha (New Mexican) embroidery.  The basic instructions are in the Josefina’s Craft Book, a book which we fortunately kept after American Girl discontinued the AG cook and craft books series (*grumble grumble*).

Anyway, I found some loosely-woven linen in our fabric stash (accumulated the same way as our yarn stash) and used leftover yarn from the weaving as embroidery thread.  And started with a simple design: a heart.

Eeish.  Well, this is the first time I’ve tried colcha.  And I had the wrong kind of yarn; I used what was on hand, which was synthetic-wool blends, and the technique really requires 100% wool yarn.  I’ll have to get some later, because I thoroughly enjoyed colcha, enough to continue doing it.

When possible, I love making ornaments that can be used for several different themes and seasonal decors.  Pink flowers, for instance, can be used for February and spring; miniature sculpted vegetables can be used for summer decor, autumn decor, and a farmer’s market theme.  (And my southwestern theme.)  So when I sewed miniature quilt squares for the tree, I assembled colors and patterns so that the squares could be used for at least two seasonal themes.

These would work for spring, summer, or autumn.  Or for a homespun theme, a farmer’s market theme, or a Fourth-of-July theme.  (The denim in the lower left-hand block came from old jeans.)

And these would look good for spring, summer, or Valentine’s day.

I hand-sewed all the blocks together.  It’s actually easier for me, since I’ve been sewing by hand since I was a kid.  And it would have been a lot of work to drag out a machine for miniature quilt squares.

Once I sewed the four blocks of fabric together, I cut backing fabric from an old pillowcase and sewed the backing to the square, right sides together as if I were making a bag or pouch.  Then I turned the square right-side out and whip stitched the whole thing shut.  (You can see the stitching best on the right-hand square).  Since these quilt squares are just for decoration, I didn’t put any batting between the top layer and the backing.  It would have been a waste of fabric and time.  But I did quilt the squares to hold the two layers together, and then added a thread hanger at the top.

I’m going to end up making 108 of these.  It’s good to be sewing again; it’s just as relaxing as weaving.

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Don’t Have One? Make One! (Autumn craft)

Yesterday, my siblings and I did our best to adorn the house with autumn decorations  The effort was valiant but unsatisfactory because we have a pitifully small collection of decorations:a few plastic pumpkins to scatter around, a couple of swags, one indoor wreath, one wall hanging, a glittery orange garland…and that’s about it.

So I decided to Do Something About It.  Since last autumn, I’ve collected items that could be turned into decorations.  One of these items was a round wooden bowl that nobody uses anymore.  And speaking of disuse…

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…this garland is about 193 years old, starting to fall apart, and hard to attach to the mantle piece in any case.  But the Styrofoam apples, berries, and leaves are still perfectly good (most of them).  And I found a bag of decorative Spanish moss lying around and began to envision what to make…

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I ripped off the apples, the berries, and the leaves.  Then I played around with the decor, creating different arrangements in the bowl and figuring out how I wanted the decoration to look.  Once I had a general idea of how to arrange everything, I squashed some foil into a 1/4″ thick pie into the bottom of the wooden bowl.  Then I crumpled more foil into the rough shape of a cone and stacked it on the flat foil.  The apples had wire fasteners attached, and so I speared the foil cone with a  letter opener, stuck the wires inside the foil, and fiddled with the apples until they rested in the positions I wanted.

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Oops, but that sandy, checkered wood pattern doesn’t match the earthy tone of the apples.  I decided to cover the bowl with earthy-toned fabric.  Gingersnap lent me some from her collection, and I ironed the cloth, measured the bowl’s height and circumference, and cut the fabric two inches longer and wider than that measurement.

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And then hemmed the sides and the bottom.

On a totally unrelated note, I’ve had that sewing box for years.  And yes, I hemmed the fabric by hand; this is honestly faster for me than dragging out and threading a sewing machine.

When the fabric was hemmed, I put in a running stitch at the bottom and one near the top.  Then I gathered the fabric as though on a drawstring and fitted it over the bowl.

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It took some tweaking and pulling and tugging to make it fit, and you can see I haven’t gathered the stitch near the bottom of the fabric yet.  I did sew the two ends of the fabric strip together, though.

Actually, the running stitch near the bottom of the fabric wasn’t near enough to the bottom, so I put in a second seam.

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And I gathered the fabric around the bottom of the bowl and tied off the thread after some more tugging and tweaking.  In hindsight, I should have hemmed all four sides of the fabric, but I figured that since one edge would be hidden, it wasn’t absolutely necessary.

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Now the fabric is nice and tight around the bowl, and the edges of the fabric look kinda like a pie crust.  Although the greenery will hide those those crimped edges.

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Then I carefully replaced the foil and the apples…

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…and tucked moss over the foil and under the apples…

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…covering most of the foil and those crimped fabric edges.

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Then I tucked berries into the moss and between the apples.  (The moss made a huge mess on the floor.)

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More berries here and there…

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…and the leaves.

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More leaves.  I really just stuck them into the moss, so if someone sneezes hard enough in the right direction, the whole display will fly apart.  🙂  If the family likes the centerpiece and doesn’t find it revolting, I’ll probably take all these elements apart and glue them in place.

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The finished product!  I put it on the dining room table.

 

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