Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Are You Ready For Some Football?!

In honor of the beginning of the college and NFL football season this weekend, hubby and I decided to FINALLY finish decorating our family room in the basement. It's a finished basement and a great space, but we've just not done the decorating down there that we wanted to. We decided when we bought the place that it would be our football getaway. We are BOTH football fanatics (college and NFL), so what a fitting place to put all of our paraphernalia!

I spent all day yesterday getting frames, canvasses and some more football knick knacks. I had bought the fabric a year ago with the intention of making these very pieces! My beloved Buckeyes (sigh!). I miss them so much!! I attended every home game for years, thanks to hubby's ability to get season tickets. Now that we've moved away, I can only hope to catch them on TV. :-( And, FINALLY, Comcast Cable started carrying the Big 10 Network this year. But, that's another ugly story...

Anyway, the first three photos are of my Buckeyes (GO BUCS!!!). You can click on each photo to get a closer look. I took some old game programs from the games I attended and made copies of the covers. In the first two photos, I attached the tickets from those games and framed them. The photo showing the game against the University of Missouri was hard for me. I graduated from Mizzou and I love my Buckeyes. The Bucs won, so I had to be happy with that. My Tigers gave it a good try, though! The third photo shows a gathering of three covers that I framed. Those will be grouped together when we hang them up (tonight, I hope!).

Then, I moved on to my Bengals. They have not been so good the last couple of years (10 or so...), but we still love them. I had some VERY old programs from their summer training camps which used to be held in my hometown of Wilmington, Ohio. You can see from the dates that these are very old. I took a few selected photos from each and copied those onto fabric. Then, I fused those fabric photos onto the background Bengals fabric. Finally, I stapled the fused Bengals fabric onto some nice canvasses. These are definitely one of a kind art pieces that you won't see anywhere else! ;)

The plan is to hang everything up tonight and get the place ready for tomorrow night, which is opening game for college football. Yes, I watch all college games and NFL games that I can find. Rare for a woman, but what can I say? I was raised on football with my dad catching all the games.

This is just a small gathering of some of the items we are going to place in the family room. I also have: an Indianapolis Colts helmet pennet, a Buckeye flag, a HUGE canvas covered in Bengals fleece, two more framed Buckeyes posters, some Green Bay Packers Cheese mug holders and ball cap, a Bengals beach ball... you'll see when I get it all put together. I'll take photos of the finished football mecca and post those as soon as the room is ready. Stay tuned...

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Finished Afghan and Another DAB!

I finished my afghan! While it wasn't as speedy as a pro could have done it (the pattern said it could be finished in 6 hours!), I did manage to finish it within a week. That's speedy for me! You can click on the photo to get a better view. It doesn't show up very well on the photos, but the pattern is a basket weave pattern. I used 4 strands of yarn throughout the whole thing. That's a new one for me. Previously, the most I've used was two strands at once to knit with. Four strands was a challenge, even with the invention that hubby made me.
Again, while there are obvious flaws, I'm pretty happy with it. It coordinates with my color scheme in the living room and now hangs over the edge of my chaise that looks out over the back yard. It will be nice and cozy this winter. Hubby wants one for the TV room in the basement now. He wants team colors, but they aren't my favorite and I've yet to see orange and black yarn, so I told him we may just have to go neutral. Whew!
I also chose my next digital altered book to work on. I hadn't noticed this one before. Artella did add about 15 new books to choose from, but this one was in the old lot. I liked the title and the possibilities of embellishing pages to go along with this theme just jumped out at me. It's going to be a whimsical book, so I'll have lots of fun finding images to go along with it.
I'm going to try and incorporate more of this book than I have with the other books I've done. There are cute little poems and illustrations already in place, so it will be fun to add to these. I've already got some images of little girls to include. As usual, I'll post my progress as it happens.
The zine should be wrapped up by mid-week. I am going to finish painting and touching up the pages this weekend. That will just leave copying and assembling for next week. I'll post a few of my favorite pages before mailing it off. That's it for now.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Finished Project!

I finished my first baby blanket! Yes, there are some flaws and they are noticeable, but overall I'm pretty happy with it. I hope Matt and Abbey can overlook the flaws and still see that a lot of love went into making the blanket.

My next knitting project is for my hubby and me. I'm making an afghan with the colors of our living room in it: browns, golds, blues and some purples and greens. The colors don't show up as well on the camera, but that is what is in these skeins. I'm using these huge knitting needles that I mentioned in an earlier post. They are size 50 and are called Speed Stix. The afghan comes from the booklet of speed stix projects. It will be a basket weave pattern. You use 4 strands of yarn at once, and it will take 8 skeins. I managed to get to JoAnn when they were having a 2 for 1 sale on this particular yarn that was called for! I already had 3 skeins, so needed 5 more. I got those this morning and have already started.

Of course, the book says the afghan takes only 6 hours. I don't have 6 uninterrupted hours to spend on it, but I should get it done within the next day or two. I have a few more scarves to knit for Christmas presents, and maybe another afghan as a present. We'll see how fast these speed stix really are. It was a challenge at first to: a) work with such large needles and b) to hold 4 strands at once. Hubby's invention he made for me made that much easier! I have 4 large spools on a holder. The spools all rotate together and each spool holds 1 skein of yarn. It's perfect!

Well, back to work. I wanted to show off my little baby blanket. Now that I've made one, I may get them another one made before I have to send the package. My zine should be wrapped up by the end of the week and ready to mail. Stay tuned for completed pages of that project!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What I've Been Working On

I haven't posted to the blog for a while because I've been busy with these! The top photo is the beginning of a baby blanket I am knitting. My nephew, Matthew and his wife, Abbey are expecting their first child in February. I don't know the sex of the child, so I thought I'd go with yellow. This is my first blanket and there are a few errors, but I'm sure they won't mind. I'm finally getting the hang of it. It's one of those projects where you knit with two strands of yarn throughout. I really like it and hope they will, too.

The rest of the photos are Christmas presents. The pink fluffy one is for me! I love that yarn! It's called Haute Fur and it comes in such delicious colors. I'm going to make more for myself after I finish the rest of the presents. The middle scarf in the top row is a ribbon yarn called Beguile from Yarn Bee. I love it, too, but it was a challenge to work with.

I also bought the knitting needles called Speed Stix. They are size 50 and they come with a book full of projects that you can complete fast. One thing I want to make for my hubby is an afghan for watching football this fall. Our basement is finished, but it gets a little chilly down there. So, the book had a couple of afghans that I think are manageable by Christmas.

On top of this, I've been neglecting my zine. It has to get finished and mailed. I have all the pages designed and a mock up ready. I just need to print out ten copies of each and assemble. I also ran out of color cartridge AGAIN! So, back to work. Also, hubby built me the coolest little contraption for knitting with huge balls of three or more strands at once. I'll post pictures of that soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Believe it or not, these little beauties came from one sheet of scrapbook paper! I'm amazed at some of the "scrapbook" papers that are available at the craft stores now. This particular 12 x 12 sheet has a total of 48 small embossed mini-collages! Here is a small sample. The scanner doesn't do them justice (as usual).

I'm including a random sample of 4 in each of my zines. These are going to be in a small envelope that I attach to my "collage" page. These would be great collage starters. You could even cut out the parts you don't like and glue what you DO like and take it from there. I think something similar to this would make a great mini-quilt.

I mentioned in another post long ago about the quilt journal project. They were 8 1/2 x 11 inches of little mini-quilts, complete with batting and quilting. The participants sent theirs in to be included in an exhibition. They were very inspiring and so creative. These little snippets are great as inspiration for your own quilt journal. I said I wanted to make a few just to try my hand at it. I got as far as cutting the muslin base. See how I get distracted? I'm committed to finishing this zine first and then revisiting the projects that I have in a little notebook jotted down under "Things to Do Before I Die!".

Anyway, when I saw that sheet of little collages, I had to get it and now it's all cut up into individual squares ready to be included in my zine. The collage page will have all sorts of little goodies to start a collage. I was going over the different pages in my head and I think I may be close to the ten pages that are required. I hope to have this completed in the next week so I can move on to other pressing matters. :)

On another note, I'm progressing on my knitting! I have so far completed three scarves (counting my own!) that I'm knitting for Christmas presents. None of the recipients read my blog, so I can talk about it. Each one is made with a different yarn and the one I'm really proud of is one I'm working on now. I'm using the two-strand method. I don't know what the official name is, but you hold two strands throughout the entire knitting project. I was flipping through pattern books yesterday in Michael's and came across one that had you holding up to 5 strands of 5 different yarns! Well, let me see how working with two strands goes first. The thing I really like about it is you get to use the huge needles. This project uses a size 19. I LOVE the big fat needles. They are so much easier to work with. Just like when you learned to write and you used those big fat pencils. I remember loving those, too!

I am wanting to make a baby afghan for my nephew's first baby. That will be a crochet project. My mother-in-law, Lydia, gave me tremendous help on my last visit there. I had never even held a crochet hook before this month, but I wanted to try it. I bought a little pamphlet called, "I can't believe I'm crocheting". Corny, yes, but what I liked about it: it gave step-by-step instructions (with photos!) for LEFTIES! Try and find a coherent instruction manual for lefties for knitting or crocheting. They are LACKING. We are usually considered only as an afterthought, at best.

So, I bought a skein of cutesy baby yarn to practice my stitches and one of the HUGE crochet hooks. When I was at Lydia's I used the hook size they recommended for learning and she helped me learn the double crochet. My hardest lesson: counting those little buggers! I didn't know what I was looking at. So, thank you Lydia for your lesson. The baby is due in February. Surely I can crank out a square blanket in that time? Stay tuned...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Another Side of Inspiration

This is a different kind of post today. I picked up the newest copies of two of my favorite magazines, Art Doll Quarterly and Artful Blogging. They are both published by Stampington & Company, who bring us the most inspirational grouping of magazines I've ever seen. Check out their Somerset Studio, Somerset Memories, and Somerset Home magazines just to name a few.

What I found particularly interesting in this issue of Art Doll Quarterly is an article about the doll artist Beth Robinson. You can check out her dolls at . She makes dolls that are more along the darker side. I would call them Gothic. I really like them; some people won't get it. She talks about her inspiration and also about some reaction to her dolls. I found it sad that she had to endure an onslaught of hate e-mail just because one narrow-minded person didn't like her art! This person evidently made it their mission to enlist others to bombard her with hateful messages.

Well, art isn't always going to be pretty. It isn't always a positive message. That just reflects life. Everyday isn't beautiful and fun and rosy. It takes great courage to create something that doesn't reflect a happy ending. I find that particularly true in writers. Right or wrong, writers often get the reputation for being heavy drinkers, depressed, etc. While this is true for alot of writers, it doesn't hold true for all of them.

I have said before that what often inspires me is poetry. I have many favorite poets. Among them is Anne Sexton. She was a very troubled soul who eventually committed suicide. But her poems really speak to me. They are not for everyone; nobody's art is. But, I'm glad she wrote them. I have the first stanza from the poem posted on my bulletin board in my studio. I really identify with this poem, I love this stanza. I'm including this page in my zine, as the last page; kind of the last word. You can click on the image to get a better view of the poem.

So while I love beautiful things, happy things and positive messages, I still find inspiration in the darker side of art. I like to keep an open mind and try to see where the artist is coming from. What is their message? It's something to think about.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wings to Imagination Zine Pages

Here are two pages I'm working on for my Wings zine. The second photo is still a work-in-progress and will probably end up with a different background. Printing out ten copies of that page would probably take one whole ink cartridge! The first photo is that awesome quilt made by my mother-in-law, Lydia T. It came to me last night that it would make a great page for the zine, kind of like opening the door to your imagination. Then the words, "art gives wings to imagination" sounded good, so I made it the theme of that page. I used a digital page from my files as a background. It's funny the things that come to you after you've gone to bed!

The third photo is this great fabric I found! Although there are technically no wings on it, it still can apply broadly to my theme. I couldn't resist the colors. I'm also a sucker for anything with sun, moon or stars so whenever I see them I'm SOLD! I hope to have enough fabric to include two squares per zine: one sun and one moon. If not, I'll photocopy and substitute that. I'm finding that the printer cartridges are not lasting long at all, so I'm trying not to have to print out too many things when the fabric or scrapbook paper can suffice.

That's all for today. Just wanted to post a little glimpse of what I'm working on. Stay tuned...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Quote Me

Today it's all about quotes. I ran across the quote by Camus on another art blog this morning. I have a very large list of favorite art blogs that I skim every morning while having my coffee. This inevitably leads to adding more blogs to my Favorites, since those bloggers often list THEIR favorites and I have to check those out which just leads to a vicious circle... Anyway, I have always admired Camus. I have his notebooks and most of his novels. They are full of inspiration and insight.

What inspires you? I'm often inspired by other artists' work, by poetry, by music, by art challenge blogs and even by evening walks with hubby; it depends on what stimulus I'm surrounded by at the time. Today, it's quotes. The other quotes are what I found when I looked under "wings" in a quotation book; tons of quotes. I am including these particular ones in a "mini-zine" that will be incorporated into a page of my Wings Zine. The mini-zine is a small note card size 3" x 3" that I stapled these into.

The papers are digital papers from my collection. I found a cool font and voila! Art quotes. The Camus quote I cut out to a size of 2" x 1" and adhered to the same size of pressed wood rectangles. The rectangles will then be placed into an envelope I made from various scrapbook papers. Pretty cool. I'll adhere it to the page in my zine dedicated to collage finds. I plan on putting different ephemera onto the page for the folks to take and use for their own collages.

I'm making my zine to be a hands-on, goodies-packed affair. It's not typical of a zine, but since there will only be ten copies I have more freedom to spend more time on them. It will be one big Christmas in October package! They have to be mailed by Oct. 12.

Also, Artella is hosting another digital altered book contest. You KNOW how I love those. So, I'm trying to decide which book to use. If you're not familiar with them, check on the side listings under "My Digital Altered Books" and click on those. They are a lot of fun to make. Plus, they keep my Photoshop skills tuned up. Stay tuned for more on this...

Enough for now. One of my favorite bloggers at Sharon Tomlinson often uses the word enough to signal the end of a blog post. I like that! Check out her blog. She is an amazing artist and has opened my eyes to using napkins (!) in her art. Awesome work she does. OK, this time I really mean it; ENOUGH!