Monday, September 29, 2008

The "B" Word






Today, Monday, September 29, 2008, is going down as a very historical day given what is happening on Wall Street and in Washington. Being a concerned citizen, I emailed my Congressional representatives in Washington this morning to register my thoughts. The stock market was down over 700 points at the end of the trading day...the highest number EVER. There are many questions on all our minds. Are we going to hell in a handbasket or what?

I am a nervous wreck...what about you? Having said that, let me say that I don't like being upset like this.......but, I also truly think we must keep calm, go about our business and do our best to make a good day out of this for ourselves and our families and friends. Let's hang in there and take a deep breath.

When I get very upset......I usually try to find something to occupy my mind. One of the things I do, as I've talked about before is rearrange my 'stuff.' Today, I just didn't want to do that, so I decided to just be silly and do something only for the purpose of getting my mind off this bad stuff for just a minute to two. I sort of have the reputation of having lots of 'junk.' Want to see some? Ok! So, here we go - the "B" word today, at this blog, is not Bail out....it is BUTTONS!!!

I have buttons everywhere...including the bathroom. But, that photo will be for another day. Instead, let's go out on the porch! Here are some buttons that I keep in a little birdfeeder on the front porch. This kind of thing makes some of my relatives worry about my state of mind....but who cares?

Then, there are buttons on a small chest just inside my front door. You can see them in a pretty glass, some in a small ceramic basket and even some inside the little cabinet. I think if you click on the photos you can see them up very close. I hope they are clear enough...you never know with my photographic skills.

Next you'll see a glass tray filled with lots of buttons and a little iron "birdbath" that is also full of beautiful buttons, including a very large one I bought at the Houston Quilt Festival one year...it has a gorgeous appliqued and embroidered letter E on it. I love it! This glass tray is on the antique washstand in the bedroom.

In the living room, on my ancient coffee table, is a wonderful glass punch bowl full of buttons on cards. Most vintage, but not all. I found the bowl at the flea market...it has a crack in it, so it can't be used for punch...but I think it looks great filled with buttons. It doesn't bother me when old things have "flaws," in fact, I think I care for them more when they do. (If you could see this whole house, you'd know I really like old stuff with flaws!!)

Likewise, the white bowl in the dining room has a little crack....but it's hard to see when it's full of buttons! In this one, I filled it with buttons, then added a silk rose and a vintage yellow bowl, also filled with buttons, with a pink bird perched on it....just too cute! I just love the way it looks....kind of sweet. And, of course, a sweet little bird will just get me everytime!!!

Buttons everywhere! Is any of this silly enough for you? Did it get your mind off anything..even for a minute? Yes, that "B" word...Buttons...always fun to find and to show to you. Well, let's try to think of sweet and, yes, even silly things as we go through the hard days ahead. I'll be thinking of you and I hope you'll send a kind thought to me too. Pat

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Dolls and Boxes, Oh My!






Well, I just sold the second of the three dolls I had in my etsy shop! And, of course, there is a story here. The dolls were made for a doll exhibit held at our local gallery. My friend, Bibi and I made all the dolls. She had one room for her exhibit and I had one. I like to set up little vignettes when I display dolls, so here is a picture (taken before new camera!) of what I called the Three Sister dolls. Why three? I have no idea..it just happened that way. The show was popular, Bibi and I were pleased.

A while later, I decided to open a tiny shop on etsy. You can visit at www.birdnestontheground.etsy.com. Wanting to have an assortment of things made by my hands, I decided to include the Three Sisters for sale individually. They really are sweet and rather old-fashioned...just my cup of tea...so listed they were. And, now I have sold two!

"Pocket Girl" was the first to go. She now lives in Kansas with Paula. We are all pleased. Then, a friend of Paula, named Elise bought "Basket Girl." Elise called me this morning and told me what was going on.......Paula loved her new doll and thought Elise might want one too, so she told her about them...next thing you know, the second one is sold. Elise told me her house was struck by lightening in the middle of the night not long ago and she lost everything in the resulting fire. She, her husband and the dog escaped uninjured. Thank goodness. Paula and Elise think "Basket Girl" will cheer her up. Oh, my! I can only hope that is true and I wish her the very best. (She also told me that she and her husband were teenage sweethearts, then after school, went their separate ways and lost touch. Now in their seventies, not long ago they met again and married.
As she said, miracles happen as they both escaped unhurt from the fire, with their little dog and they are strong, so they will make it.) What a story!

I have been decorating the boxes I mail my sold items in and have gotten some funny reactions from friends, relatives and the people at the post office. So, pictured here you will see Paula's box...in the blue and Elise's box in the green. I know Paula liked hers. She said "buying something from me wasn't a purchase...it was an experience." I think that's a wonderful thing for her to say. I just mailed Elise's box this morning, so I will be anxious to hear what she thinks of hers. If it brings a smile to her, I will be happy.

Elise said she'd like a picture of me. Well, I'm not fond of pictures of me. But, hey, she wants one. I think she should have what she wants. So, here you see me in two photos with the remaining "sister" Bouquet Girl. My husband came out to the Nest this a.m. to act as photographer. If you knew him...you'd laugh at that idea. But, he did pretty good with what he had to work with. In one, the doll and I are standing behind the wonderful work table he made for me. (My favorite possession!!) Later, I took a "closeup" of myself, by myself. So, ok, neither of us are great photographers!!! Anyway, here I am, Elise, sending you good wishes!!!

Seems every little thing that happens to us has a story behind it. Now, in selling two of the sisters, I have made two new friends. This "etsy shop selling" and "blog posting" has certainly made my life more interesting and introduced me to so many new people. Oh, my!!!!!! Pat

PS. Just so you know....Scott received his "special" box yesterday. He was pleased. He is a man of few words, but he did say what a nice thing it was for me to send him "that" box. It was larger than he thought, he said. He picked it up on the way to work and said he "thought it was really silly when I showed up in my Lotus..to get a big box with a picture of my Lotus on it."
He was smiling, I know. And, that is just what I wanted. He sent this remark in an email, then called later, saying the box was a fun thing and he couldn't believe I actually painted it and sent it through the mail. Maybe I'll do anything for that smile!
(If you are interested in his box...see the previous blog post!)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mail Art to My Son






My son has just moved into a new apartment in Santa Clara, California. As all mothers do....I feel I must send something "for the new place." So, a box was found in the garage, and I proceeded to fill it. I imagine one of several boxes to come, as he needs a lot of things.

The box I found to send to Scott just happens to be the box that my patio table umbrella stand came in. Clearly plastered all over the box is the name Lowes.....not very pretty when you are sending a box to a special person. So, me...being the weird person I am...decided that the box must be decorated. You know - in the same way we make envelope art. This box is 19 inches square and 4 inches high....sort of like a canvas. With that in mind, I decided to "paint" the top of the box. I am not much of a painter and one thing let to another, so since I had squeezed too much paint out of the bottle, I also painted the sides.

What fun!!! When Scott was here in August, I showed him some of my "napkin art." (Inspired by my friend, Sharon, at allnorahsart.blogspot.com.) He thought it was a hoot and chose a napkin from my stash for his own personal piece of art which I was to create "some time in the future." Little did he know what it would be.

So, Wednesday, I took his napkin of choice, a photo of his car, a rubber stamp of some trees and proceeded to literally cover this big box. I had a blast doing this. On Thursday, I took the box to my Knot meeting to show the group, thinking they would get a big laugh out of it. Actually, they didn't really laugh, but suggested that I post about it on my blog. Some of them had doubts about the box arriving at Scott's new home without being ruined in the mail. One of my friends thought it would be fun to see the faces of those handling the box on it's trip to California. It was a fun discussion. My husband thought I should put the box inside another box so it would arrive in good shape. To me that was defeating the purpose of "mail art" as it seems it ought to be "shared" no matter what condition it's in when arriving at Scott's place.

Last night I emailed Scott and told him that I hope he isn't embarrassed by my mail when it arrives. I received a two word email back from him which said "You're silly!" Today I actually mailed the box to him and wouldn't you know, just as I thought...the postal clerk looked at me like I was an alien being or something and said "Did you do this?" I smiled. So, it's on it's way...too late to worry if I embarrass the Big Guy and hoping to make some others smile along the way.

And, just so you know....the little bear with the flag in my last post.....I decided to send that to him. Sharon would be pleased to know he has it as she was always "partial" to Scott. And, I'm smiling......hope you are too. Pat

Monday, September 15, 2008

And now, for Something Cute






The last several weeks have been so stressful. We have hurricanes, train wrecks, financial failures, political negativity, not to mention the personal tragedies that befall some of us every day.....life is hard. And, considering the country we live in, life should be a tad happier, don't you think? It's difficult. I'm feeling a bit beaten down...what about you?

Today I decided that I would post something "cute." It's not going to make life any better for us. But, just for a minute, maybe we will smile....and remember happier days...perhaps when we were young, had no responsibilities, and loved our dolls and teddy bears.

Here's a big 'ole teddy bear made from felt. She was named by the daughter of a friend of mine, who, when she saw her...said she wanted to name her after Sara, her best friend. Of course, I said ok, and wrote the story of Sara along the hemline of her underskirt. She is made from felt, with buttons for eyes, her dress is homespun. I used part of an old doily to make her collar. She is wearing a crocheted "church purse" which I bought for five cents at a flea market many years ago. She actually has some pennies in her purse.

There is another little bear, made from old quilt fabrics. He is entirely handmade and has black beads for eyes. I made him long ago and really should make some updated ones. He's so cute and I have displayed him in many little chairs, in baskets, and on shelves over time. The beige fabric used to have a design in it, but poor dear, he has faded over the years.

The other little bear was made for my friend, Sharon in the early 80's. She kept him on her office desk for years. He is made from a wooly fabric, the little heart is stuffed with a red sticker on the front and the flag pole is a toothpick (which gives you an idea of the size of this little bear!). He is handmade too. I brought him to the Nest when I helped clean out Sharon's studio.

So, for this day...three cute bears. Feel free to smile! Pat

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Remembering 9-11










Today I am remembering, as we all are, the horrific events of September 11, 2001. We will never be able to forget that day...ever. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones that day and I hope they have found some peace. I am also thinking of all the rest of us....wasn't that the day we lost our innocence? It's been difficult ever since that day to really "let loose, laugh, enjoy and feel like you are really living." There is always a tinge of sadness hanging over us.

While we should always remember and will, I know, I'm thinking we desperately need some happiness and good cheer to share amongst ourselves. A great big country-enveloping hug would do wonders. So...you out there...I am sending you that hug in honor of those who left us that day....a HUGE hug!!!

As a part of that hug...I'd like to share something good that came from that day long ago. I made a friend. My quilt guild had classes at Ferndale the previous couple of days and that bright, beautiful morning, we were all packing cars in order to return home. Our teacher was Nancy Eha of Minnesota and I was to take her to the airport to fly home. While trudging out to the car with all our stuff, we passed the tv in the lobby and that's how we found out what had happened. There were many of us there and not only were we shocked at what we were seeing, but it grew by the minute, leaving us wondering what in the world was going on and what to do. We were in shock!

There was no way to get Nancy on a plane to go home. What to do? So, we went to my friend Sharon's home to try and think. In the end, we decided to DRIVE Nancy home to Minneapolis. Now, that was kind of a ridiculous idea since the news people were telling us that there were no flights, no gas, no buses, no rental cars, no way. But, quilters are a very imaginative breed, so we knew we would just take it step by step and get there. Nancy called her husband and we took off the next morning to drive from Little Rock towards Minnesota, thinking we would meet up with her husband somewhere along the way. And, we did. It turned out he drove all night and actually met us in Fayetteville, Arkansas, about 3 1/2 hours from LR. (That's probably the first time I was thankful for cell phones!) The look on their faces when we met up....pure happiness, as I am sure they had feared being apart a lot longer. It was a great reunion...one we all remember to this day. (When I called my husband and said...."I'm not coming home we are driving to Minnesota to take Nancy home," you can imagine what he thought...but having given up on me making sense, and knowing I don't like to drive anywhere, but had friends along, he said "Be careful!")

On the way back home, we (Brenda, Kelley and I) decided that we would start a group to remember 9-11, Nancy, and our experiences. We had the first meeting at my house in October. We still meet today and you know about us if you've read this blog before. The group is a blessing and Nancy - she's an honorary member.

Nancy and I keep in touch....and without either of us knowing in advance...we both wound up with pieces of our work in the book "1000 Artist Trading Cards", published by Quarry Books. When we found out....we decided to make each other a card to trade. And, so we did.

Nancy made an unbelievable card for me with a beautiful dragonfly glass button in the middle....surrounded by her wonderful beading. She is a beading expert, with several books in print...and a great beading teacher, too. You may see more of her work at www.beadcreative.com. Also, inside the 1000 ATC book, on page 199, you will see another of her ATC cards, shown here. It has flowers and more dragonflies....beautiful work!!! I am so grateful to have a "piece of her heart" here with me.

I made Nancy an ATC card......it's shown here....a big basket of silk ribbon roses. Well, how big can it be - ATC cards are only 2 1/2" x 3 1/2"....the same size as a playing card!!! Anyway, what you are seeing here is a picture of a picture of her card, so I apologize if it's not a very clear photo and of course, it doesn't really show the edge, which I had to trim off to fit into the photo pocket of my notebook! It has a picot beaded edge. Like the one on my card in the book, which is on page 151. The card I made there is a miniature landscape.

When Nancy agreed to travel to Arkansas to teach, how were any of us to know what would happen to change our lives forever? Who would have known the whole world, as we knew it, would change? Who would have known that she and I would be tied together not only by friendship, but in a publication? Who would have known that a group would form here which would help us all cope and become our monthly "therapy" session? Who would know what the next years would bring both here at home and "out there" over the rest of the planet. Yet, here we are. Now it is our duty to stay close...to hug each other tight and hang in there. This is what makes our country great...we stick together when the going gets tough...we are survivors! And, along with that, we have obligations to each other.....for instance...if we care - we should all VOTE! After all we've been through and all we've lost....the right to vote is so precious. Male, female, young, old, urban, rural, we SHOULD have the largest turnout EVER in our history....if you do your part! I'm voting, as I always do....it's my duty and yours. VOTE! It's a giant hug for our country!!!

Yes, 9-11 and the following days were terrible. We remember and we will never forget. We will also never forget the people we held close on those days and still do. Nancy......let's always keep these memories and our friendship alive....in memory of innocence and of friends now gone! You all stay safe out there and go hug someone!!! Pat

Monday, September 8, 2008

An Unfinished Crazy Quilt






Do you make crazy quilts? I do. I love them and it's probably because you can embroider on them. Fell in love with the very first one I saw, became addicted, and have never gotten over the feeling. They are so much fun! I think it helps that I love to embroider and am a hunter/gatherer. You have to find lots of "cool stuff" to include on a crazy quilt.

Now, as I said before, I usually use cotton fabrics in my crazy quilts. As far as I know....MOST folks use what I would call "fancy fabrics" in theirs. You know - brocade, satins, damask, silk, velvets, etc. - fabrics that in the "old days" would have been leftover from the home decorating projects and clothing of the wealthier folks. These fabrics make absolutely gorgeous crazy quilts. But, me, heck...I'm different....I have to use my cotton quilting fabric. Something in my brain says "No, you're not supposed to use those simple fabrics." The minute someone tells me I'm not supposed to, well, naturally, that's what I want to do. And, then, too, I HAVE so much of the cotton fabrics because of my other quiltmaking that it only makes sense to me to try and use it up. Well, you know that doesn't happen because I shop!

I do like to use lots of embroidery thread, silk ribbon, laces, tatting, trims, beads, buttons and just about anything else I can find to embellish my crazy quilts. Embellishing was invented by some sainted person just for people like me who love to "collect stuff."

Tonight, I was wondering what to post about and my eyes happened on one of the two drawers out here in the Nest that are labeled....UFO's. You know...unfinished objects! (To be honest....I have some larger items that remain unfinished but they reside in my "quilt closet" in the guest room. Maybe someday you'll get a peek in there!) There are several unfinished crazy quilts in these drawers. Some are large and some are small. Some aren't crazy, but of the appliqued type. I closed my eyes and chose one to spotlight tonight. Bear in mind that I don't know WHEN this quilt will be finished...but I am hoping to finish it sometime before my own personal party is over. This means I need to be busy every single minute in order to check these wonders off my unfinished list. It requires determination, something which exists sporadically around here.

This small quilt is approximately 30 inches square. When finished, it should be glorified beyond belief with embroidery stitches and all the other required embellishments of "my kind" of crazy quilt. But, for now, you can see that it has some appliqued hearts...which may receive some additional stitching treatments before I'm through. I managed to use some gold paint and stencil some butterflies in places. There is one vine here that I love because I am a leaf fanatic. Love to embroider leaves on everything! There are little flowers with crystals for centers..how cool is that?

There are several birds on this quilt (and there may be more later) which are stitched with one strand of floss, in back stitch, over marked tissue. When finished, you carefully remove the tissue paper. I love the way these sweet little birds look!

One of the flowers is made up of four of those tiny embroidered hearts I love....have to have those on just about everything I make these days. And, gosh, I LOVE french knots. There aren't many here yet....but someday when this is finished...there will be plenty of them.

I have no idea what this will look like when it's finished. It's actually kind of naked now. And, remember, I actually quilt my crazy quilts...so there is all that to do. So, check back in a few months...I might actually have made progress!! Pat

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Empty Spools/Full Heart






For those of you who sew.....empty wooden spools should be a familiar sight. Well, let me correct myself. If you sewed years ago, wooden spools would be a familiar sight. For those of you who haven't sewn very long and get your thread on a plastic spool...you've probably only seen wooden spools in your mother's or grandmother's sewing baskets or in your local flea market.

I have lots of old wooden spools and just love them. I look at them and wonder what colors of thread were on these spools. Was it silk, or cotton? Silk would be very special and I have some old thread spools with the silk still rolled up on them. What was made with this thread? You know I am a quiltmaker, so I like to imagine the quilts that were made with this thread. And, don't you know they used every little tiny bit of it! Who used the thread from these spools? I wonder about their lives and the quilts they may have made, probably under difficult circumstances. The stories these spools could tell!

Homemade thread spool racks are really neat too. I have two. (My friend, Jim, has several too, in fact he inspired me to display my empty spools.) So, here they are. One is in the studio. It isn't full yet, so I am still collecting different kinds of wooden spools. There, hidden in a couple of drawers...are more old spools...mostly duplicates. You have to find a lot of spools to actually gather an assortment. I'm working on it.

The other wooden spool rack I have is in my living room. Well, OK, that's kind of weird! But, so am I. I like it hanging in there. When someone new comes to visit, I always get kind of an odd look from them when they realize I have a display of empty thread spools in the living room. Not to worry, I also have several glass containers of buttons just below the racks......and a glass punch bowl full of button cards on the coffee table. Every one knows I like to quilt, collect buttons, etc., so when they see all the places in the house I have chosen to display these things, they are only temporarily taken aback. What they say after they leave, I have no idea.

My friend, Sharon, who passed away a couple of years ago now, collected hummingbirds. She had all kinds. When I helped clean out her studio, I found a glass hummingbird that had been broken in half and the back half was missing. Knowing that she had saved it for some reason, I took it home. Last year, in my little Knot group, we were challenged to make "something" out of an empty thread spool. So, I put my thinking cap on and decided to use the glass hummingbird together with an empty spool to make a little piece of art. So, here it is. I made a little band to go around the spool with embroidered flowers and butterflies and then added yarn to represent a "nest." So, I have a bird's nest for my Nest and I think Sharon would have liked it.

So many empty spools...so many stories...such a full heart! Pat

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio

The Bird Nest on the Ground Studio
Right in My Backyard

A Bit of Heaven

A Bit of Heaven
An original designed wall quilt with my vision of heaven on earth.