Monday, 28 April 2014

Steampunk Fish

Steampunk as a genre has been around for quite a few years now.  I am in love with this style and have made crows (last year) and now fish in the genre.  Steampunk is a cross between the sci-fi of H.G. Wells, industrialization, and the Victorian era.  It uses found/left over industrial objects such as gears, bulbs, screws, bottle caps, chains, springs etc.

A couple of weeks ago, a few of the cloth-a-dollics (local cloth doll club) gathered to make steampunk fish at one of our local sewing stores (Sawyer's Sewing Centre in Victoria).  Some of us used a basic fish template provided by the talented Maureen and/or a Frowning Francis pattern,  as well as modified fish patterns of our own making as inspired by the internet.

I now present my small school of fish (seven creatures in all).  They live in the deep Pacific ocean off Vancouver Island.  My first fish is the elusive red-eyed Gear fish:  although shy he will stop to gather gears, chains, springs and zippers wherever he finds them.

Next meet his dear companion the Cutlery fish who gathers all kinds of things from the ocean floor, including forks, spoons, egg beater, snaps and even a "hand"!:

This next little fellow is quiet but deadly, the Piranha Fish who loves chains and springs best:

Now here is a female fish known as "Tea-time Sally" as she is quite the one for a drink and a gossip:

Tea-time Sally's best fishy friend is called "Bright-Idea Betty".  She is always thinking up new schemes to fool the humans:

Both of these two gals are made using the Frowning Francis pattern and use both fabric and papers that are collaged on the cloth body.

Now the "player" of this small school is "Lover-Boy" Fish: Notice his large lips, the love tokens he carries to a prospective "lucky girl fish" and his jaunty paper hat!

Finally, the brains of this school is known as "Circuit-Geek" Fish for obvious reasons:

I made him by taking apart my husband's obsolete computer-what fun!

All of the fish were made with a cloth basic body, gessoed, painted and then embellished with the steampunk "stuff".  They are about 6" long by 4" tall and hang from fishing line (how appropriate).

I hope you have enjoyed my fish and if you are in the Victoria area, note that they will be at Pearkes arena on display (along with the many quilts and more fish) at the Victoria Quilters show on May 2nd through May 4th, 2014.
Pin It

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Believe it or not, I have not always been in love with cats!  We had no pets growing up and I was especially afraid of cats as they would tend to come to me and stare at me!  Little did I know that these feline creatures knew that I was a cat lover waiting to emerge.

In the late 1980's I went to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's show about feline follies in Toronto's beautiful, restored Elgin theatre.  I was hooked.  The production was magnificent and from that point forward I have been fascinated by the cat.  I was the proud owner of four cats at one time, sadly, only two are with me now.

I am sharing my recent fabric cats based on the musical and T.S. Eliot's poetry on cats.  I used Julie McCullough's Cat Dancer pattern and adjusted the head to make it my own using a technique I learned from the wonderful late doll artist Akira Blount.  The cats are made with multiple strips of co-ordinated fabrics.  The heads are hand sculpted with thread, covered with a "fabric skin" and then painted.

The first cat is a Jellicle cat named Lisbeth:

 Jellicle cats are black and white.  They sleep all day and move at night.
Her face is hand painted including her eyes.  She is 18" tall.

The next cat is named Mr Mistoffelees.  He is quiet and small and mostly black. He can creep through the tiniest crack and walk on thee narrowest rail.  "He can pick any card from a pack and is equally cunning with dice."

Now let us move on to Rum Tum Tugger, the Curious Cat.  He is male and rather fine but if you offer him pheasant he would rather have grouse.  If you put him in a house he would much prefer a flat.  If you set him on a mouse, then he only wants a rat!  Rum Tum Tugger is such a curious cat!

Rum Tum Tugger is 20" tall and full of personality.
Now comes the lovely Victoria, the all white kitten who loves to dance.  She swoons over Rum Tum Tugger but she is shy and very quiet.

Victoria's beautiful face and glass blue eyes.

Now this next cat I named Theo.  He is not in the musical but I love him.  He is quite old,  very serious and proud for he is Siamese.

Theo with his kitten buddy "Siam"
Finally, no production of cats would be the same without the old, sad and beautiful "Grizabella".  She sings the unforgettable song, "Memory":

"All alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days.  I was beautiful then.  I remember the time I knew what happiness was, let the memory live again"

Grizabella yearns to be accepted and she stretches out her hand which is taken by Victoria, the shy white kitten!

I hope you have enjoyed my cats.  There will be more in the future so stay tuned.

Pin It

Thursday, 10 April 2014

The Velveteen Rabbit

I was not fortunate enough to come across the children's story book titled "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams until later in life.  Actually, it was my dear sister who gifted me the book on my birthday a number of years ago.

I read the book as an adult and fell in love with it!  It is a timeless story about childhood and toys and love.  This story is about a lovely Velveteen Rabbit who was given to a lucky boy for Christmas.  The Rabbit was well loved, but time passed and slowly he became dirty and worn out.  By this time the Rabbit wanted to become real, just like the "Skin Horse".

This story touched my heart and if you have never read it, please do read it and read it to your children, your nieces and nephews and to your grandchildren for it is a story that has held a special place in the hearts of children (and adults) for generations.

This wee bunny is my tribute to the "Velveteen Rabbit".

Here he is with his own toy.  He is about 7" tall.

I found a lovely faux velveteen that was so easy to sew at my local, wonderful fabric store called "Gala Fabrics" here in Victoria, BC.

The "Velveteen Rabbit" and a few of his friends that I made for him are now in the gift shop at the Coast Collective Gallery in Victoria just in time for Easter!

Bear with his Easter bunny slippers and green "blankie"

The flower pot bears are only 3.5 " tall and they are ready for Easter.  The little one with his bunny slippers is just 4" tall and carries his Easter blankie with him wherever he goes.  What a funny group!

Pin It

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Anne of Green Gables

Pin It
As a child I read Anne of Green Gables and I loved it!  It is the story of an irrepressible, "carrot-topped" orphan who manages to steal the hearts of the plain and lonely brother and sister with whom she comes to live in Avonlea, Prince Edward Island.

In the 80's I was fortunate enough to travel to Prince Edward Island and see "Green Gables" the house of Lucy Maud Montgomery in Cavendish, Prince Edward Island.  I also saw the musical based on her first book of Anne (seven novels followed due to the public's insatiable appetite for the little red-haired free-spirited Anne).

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874.  When she was only two years old, Maud lost her mother to tuberculosis, and her father placed her in the care of her maternal grandparents.  Maud's first love was poetry especially Lord Byron.  In fact Montgomery wrote 22 novels, 800 short stories and 500 poems but she is best know for her book "Anne of Green Gables". Maud wrote the story of Anne Shirley as a serial for the paper for whom she worked but it soon grew into a full-fledged novel, which she called Anne of Green Gables.

Maud sent the manuscript to five publishers, all of whom promptly rejected it.  Naturally, she felt discouraged and so put the novel away in an old hatbox and forgot all about it.  A few months later, she came across it and decided to give it one last chance.  This time she sent it to a publishing firm in Boston, L.C. Page and Company.  Although she was an unknown writer, the firm decided to take a chance and purchased the manuscript for $500.  The book was published in 1908.

The night Maud received the good news, she wrote in her journal: "The book may or may not succeed.  I write it for love, not money, but very often such books are the most successful, just as everything in the world that is born of true love has life in it".  How correct she was! This one book went beyond Maud's wildest expectations.  Unfortunately, the publisher retained most of the profits from Anne of Green Gables.  This is one the the reasons that she wrote her many sequels.

Maud died on April 24, 1942. her husband and sons accompanied her body to the little cemetery at Cavendish and laid her to rest on her beloved Prince Edward Island.  A year later, her husband joined her. Their tombstones face the hill, toward Green Gables and they lie together peacefully surrounded by showers of apple blossoms in the spring and by the salty sea air for the entire year!

My sweet, sweet sister also loves Anne of Green Gables and since this is the year that she turns 50 she asked me to create a tea cozy based on Anne of Green Gables.  I had such fun creating this piece and it brought back found memories of Anne and her exploits in Avonlea.

One side of the house with crocheted flowers and embroidery

The back of the house showing the line of laundry and more embroidered flowers.

Front of the house

The house is made of felt and duponi silk (to simulate wood boards) backed with heavy tinted to add support.  I had fun crocheting all the flowers and adding hand embroidered details on the windows and around the house.  I even decided to have a line of washing hanging to dry.  I then made Anne and gave her a sewing basket and a pink bicycle.   The size will fit any large teapot.  However since tea cosies are usually padded, I decided to make a wool felted tea cozy that would fit inside the house and keep the teapot warm as well.

The other side of the house where I will add Anne and Gilbert and Anne's bike.

One side of the hand-felted tea cozy with green fields and sheep in the evening.

The other side of the hand-felted tea cozy simulating the day time fields and sheep.

All cloth Anne (about 5" tall) with her bike and sewing basket.
Finally I made her companion Gilbert (the boy that becomes her boyfriend).  I added a pocket for Anne's pinafore and gave her books, one in her pocket and more in the sewing basket.  I think she is done!

The house is 12" high (not counting the chimney) and 10.75" long and  9" across.


  As you all know if you follow me, I am thralled with Frida Kahlo and never tire of making dolls in her image.  Here are the latest two mad...