Wednesday, 24 December 2014

More Pincushions

First and foremost I would like to wish my family, friends and followers a very Happy Christmas, joyful holiday and a healthy and peaceful New Year!

Just in time for Christmas I finished a new pincushion, a felted calico kitty that I call Calico Kate. 

This pincushion is made with wool felt and embroidered.  The kitty is all wool and needle felted.

Next I made a needle felted wee mouse that is dressed in her pink finery.  She sits in an antique teacup.  Inside the teacup is a lavender sachet covered in lace!  I made the mouse in an on-line class with Barby Anderson.

Finally, I wanted to make a very special white wool felt rabbit for a special young woman that is having a difficult time recovering from a car accident.  I had fun making this wee bunny and she has become very dear.

 I wanted to make her some bunny slippers and I love the way they turned out.  I added embroidery details all over her sky blue coat.  She is ready for the winter market.

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Monday, 15 December 2014

Pincushions Galore

Like many other sewers, I never seem to have enough pincushions so I love, love making them.  They are small, use different fabrics, are prime for embellishments and are the perfect cushions for wee felted animals (which I love to make as well).

Here is what I came up with: first there is Thumper who is sure to steal your heart

Next is Love Bunny who will melt your heart:

Both bunnies are needle felted using Perendale silver wool fibre.  Needle felting is fun. Felting needles (I use the number 38 star needle) are mostly in a triangular shape.  The smaller the number the larger the needle and the larger the hole it will leave.  The felting needle had little barbs on the sides that catch the scales on the wool fibres and lock them together.  As you poke through the wool, it shrinks up and felts together in the direction that you poke the needle.

Now I turned my attention to the mice:  This is the first one that I am calling "Hearts and Flowers".  The heart is made of 4 felt wool hearts sewn together with wool hand-crocheted flowers and wool felt leaves.

This little guy is only 3 and 1/2 inches tall and needle felted around a pipe cleaner centre core.
The final wee mouse pincushion is my favourite and I made it for a dear friend who also loves wee felted mice:  He has a hand knitted scarf and hat and a key around his neck that says "love".

 I made him a wee backpack that holds extra yarn.
Good-bye little fellow, I know my friend will love you too!
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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Betty Boop

Recently, a customer asked if I would make a Betty Boop ornament for his girlfriend.  I said yes and obtained the original vintage Betty Boop cloth doll pattern from over a century ago.  I had to reduce the pattern (original is about 18" and he wanted it about 8-9").

The original pattern called for felt but I used doe suede in a pale colour (shiny side up).  I decided that I wanted her iconic curls so I used paper clay to make the curls and then painted the hair.  I did not paint her body, only her facial features and hair.

The customer had seen a tiny ornament of Betty Boop in a red, high-heeled shoe an wanted that look.  I had a white acrylic white shoe in my stash and I used sand paper to rough it up and then painted it bright red on the outside and a yellow/gold on the inside.

The result worked well:

 Betty Boop is holding sheet music from an old song "Blue Heaven" as the intended recipient is a vocal teacher and piano player.  The dress is made from cherry red jersey and her stole and fur on her Santa hat is "minky" fabric that is very soft and nice and thin-perfect for the scale of the doll.
I gave her bracelets and gold earrings, of course!

Hope you find a good home Betty:

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Friday, 21 November 2014


Well it is that time of year and it is wonderful!  Yes, I am speaking about the Christmas season with all its lights, colours, giving and receiving.  

One of my customers challenged me to make her a 4 foot Santa and I accepted the challenge.  She wants to surprise her husband with an "over the top" gift for their home.  Once I accepted the challenge, I went to work.  I learned which style of Santa she wanted and then I looked for images on the internet and in my many reference books.  Armed with about 10 photos I started by gathering possible fabrics for my project.

I started with the head of the Santa.  If the head does not convey the feeling of merriment and mirth that I want in the Santa then the Santa will not be good enough no matter how lovely the costume.

I was prepared to make as many heads as it took but I lucked out on my first try:

I loved the way this fellow looks like he has a twinkle in his eye.  I made him using knit fabric that I stuffed as usual with polyfil and then I needle sculpted his face.  I then added paper clay to enhance his nose, eyes, eyebrows and add wrinkles to his sweet face. I then  added a thin coat of gesso and painted the face.  I was quite pleased with the effect.  The inspiration for this face was from an old illustration of Santa by Thomas Nast (from the book Christmas Drawings, Dover publication).  I have always loved his cheery depictions of Santa and as it turns out, my customer loved his drawing as well.

Now on to the body:  once again I used knit fabric as I wanted a nice round belly.  This Santa would not have legs as the size would make it very difficult to have cloth legs.  Here is the body:

Notice that I made the arms with a cotton fabric and then made knit arms as the overlay to blend in with his body.  I placed him on an old lamp stand with the rod through his body and head for support.  It worked well and made him easy to move around.

Now I could concentrate on the costume.  I decided that he would have a tunic and a luxurious cape.  The customer mentioned that her home is in the Tuscan style and colours so I used burgundy, gold, and ivory with hints of greenery.  It was fun finding just the right trims for him.  

 He needed a staff so I used an old broom handle and painted it and added a finial, trim and tassels to enhance the rich Tuscan feel of this Santa.

He needed a hint of greenery so I added some and placed two wee birds on his branch.  That is what he is looking at with his sweet grin.

Here are more photos from various angles:

 His beard, hair, and eyebrows are made from Tibetan mohair-perfect for Santa.

I had a piece of real fun in my stash and I used it around the hood of his cape and around his hat.

Final photos, I will miss him when he goes to his new home!

 I added some fun toys around his belt (he is Santa after all)!

Good bye Santa!
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Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Last but not Least- Venice

I have had a love affair with Venice since the early seventies when I first visited with my father.  

What attracts me to Venice?  Hard to say, but it pulls at my heart strings.  I love the exotic-looking palaces laced together by quaint bridges over sun-speckeled canals.  i love the romantic atmosphere of elegant decay, the quiet by night, the chaotic by day, St Mark's square, the cafes, even the gaggle of Chinese tourists with the obligatory guide holding the umbrella handle aloft-it is what makes Venice unique in all the world!

Once again we used the services of airbnb to book our apartment for four glorious nights.  The apartment was small but very tidy and clean and in a wonderful location only a short 15-20 minute walk to St Mark's square.

Our first walk, our first glimpse down a canal!

Our first view of the iconic gondola

St. Mark's
My sister and I were worried that arriving in Venice at the end of October would mean rain and wind and flooding.  We are happy to report that we need not have worried!  Our four days in Venice were filled with sun, warm weather (15-17C)  and no flooding!

Our friend arrived in Venice on the Tuesday and we visited the Doge's Palace, St. Mark's Basilica, and spent a day in Murano and Burano (islands a short one hour vaporetto ride away).  What a glorious adventure!

Words cannot adequately capture the beauty and mystique of Venice, nor can photos.  If you have only one trip in mind to view an iconic city, then my choice would be Venice!

travelling by water bus (vaporetto) like the harried inhabitants

Italian glass garden in Murao

picturesque Burano

View of the cemetery only accessible by boat

Canal view with the setting sun

Mosaics of St Mark's Basilica

One of the many artfully displayed stores

Did I mention that I love Venice!  The city is very expensive to live in and inconvenient but for the romantic, there is no place like it on earth!  Could I live in Venice, well not forever but I can visit it year after year without tiring of its beauty and mystique.  I love the lacy palaces, the artisans, the masks, the marionettes, the blown glass, the jewellery, the gelato, the fish markets, the fruit markets, the gondolas, the fishing villages in Burano and Murano, the basilicas, I love it all!  Venice I will return to you again and again.

Arriverdeci Venezia!  


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