Trying to build an inventory of work can be challenging when I have to take the entire process into account. Time is spent photographing the images and then getting those images ready for the web. All those years of color correcting photos in the digital printing world has helped me out in this regard but it is still time consuming to go through and edit and cull out about 5 images per item. Etsy allows me to upload 5 images of the items and I usually try and shoot more than that with several views. The thing about uploading a photo to the web is that not everyone’s monitors are calibrated to mine so they may order an item and it doesn’t really look like the photo when it arrives at their house. When I worked in printing and we would hear the customer say, “but it doesn’t look like that on MY monitor”, we always wanted to say that we would just ship their readers a monitor instead of the printed piece. Things almost always look better on a monitor before it is printed. However, with pottery, I think that the real thing tends to look better than the photo uploaded to the web. The background that I have been using is a vignetted gray blend so I usually try to get that gray to look like gray and by doing that the rest of the colors should fall into place. It is easier said than done sometimes though, but it at least gives a balanced base.

If you are interested in reading a post on how to photograph work, I can certainly do that in the future.

Now you can see the finished product from the how to post on putting the decoration on the cups.  I will be adding all these items to Etsy very soon but I thought I’d do a preview here first. Look for these items to go onto Etsy tonight or tomorrow and if you are interested in them you can find them here.

Enjoy!

New Cups and Bowls…

Orange and Teal

Belle has chosen orange and teal for her wedding colors are  and I absolutely love them. I mean, orange is just so happy (laughing orange) and the teal is a cool color. So, I am putting them into the party that we are doing for them on September the 24th wherever I can. Rather than try to find accessories to fit that color scheme, I thought it would be fun to make the parts to the party myself. I have purchased some things in those colors and in the coming weeks I will share some of those items with you but for today I am going to share the beautiful tablecloths that I am making to put on the banquet tables in the yard. With Herb’s help we are trying a “how to video” posting today, so please bear with us.

Hand painted Tablecloth in process

tablecloth supplies

 for this project, you will need:

  • a flat sheet or large piece of fabric. I used flat sheets that I found at a discount store. Although it seems they are harder to find these days due to sheets packaged as sets.
  • the fabric dye. I used just plain old RIT and “somewhat” followed the directions on the back
  • rubber stamps of your choice, I used the soft spongy kind but you could use a potato or a linoleum block. You just need something that will make a design with
  • paints. I used an assortment, a latex house type paint, a wall glaze and an acrylic.
  • a brayer is nice to have but isn’t absolutely necessary and a piece of glass to use the brayer on as a palette
  • a detailing paintbrush
  • an ink pen
This first video will give you an idea or how to get the orange dye onto the fabric so that the color vignettes from color to white.
And in this next video, I will demonstrate how to stamp the patterns onto the fabric using a printmaking brayer and paint.
And finally, I demonstrate how to add the details to the stamped design so that it looks more handmade and give the design more character rather than a boring stamp. A little glitter and shine make it look elegant and special.

Now Appearing….seedlings!

I have baby seedlings in my seed flats in the makeshift greenhouse. I wanted to share the little guys with you.

Since I built the greenhouse, we have had windy days with 50 MPH winds and aside from having to push the staples back into the ground and run a strip of duct tape in a few places, it has survived. I know, I’m amazed too.

Then we had a downpour and the mud to get to it was pretty bad so I moved some of the stepping stones from my garden areas to give me some safe places to step.

stepping stones

The seeds that are making their debut are tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, alyssum, calendula, green tassel amaranth, foxgloves, primrose, cleome & zinnias. I have some seeds that need to be direct seeding into the garden because they don’t transplant well. And it won’t be long before I can put the peas out so that we can have a few fresh peas in the spring.

We have had several really pretty days that have allowed me to work on my flower beds to get them ready for the new plants. And a couple of days the temperatures inside the greenhouse have been well over 100 degrees so I have to be careful that I allow some air flow into it to keep it from cooking my new little seedlings. So far, they are loving the heat and show no signs of wilting, but I am keeping a watchful eye on them.

I have purchased some larger compostable pots to transplant the seedlings into once they reach the stage where they need a bigger space. I have tried to avoid plastic pots. While they are recyclable, I would prefer using something that I can just plant into the ground to avoid the plant having the shock of transplanting.

Foxgloves

So far everyone is happy and hoping that the wind doesn’t return. We just started March though and it is the windy month so we’ll see how the little plastic covered house holds up.

Matchbox Mouse

Molly Mouse in her dress

From one of the many catalogs that have come to our house this holiday season, Garnet Hill had this item in it and when I went to order it for one of my favorite little 4 year olds, they were sold out. Then I googled and found that every site that had them were also sold out. I can see why considering that they are so cute. So given my famous thought, “I could make that!”, I decided to do just that. While I didn’t document the whole process, I thought I would share how I went about putting mine together. My apologies to the original artist, but, if there had been more out there I would have purchased yours….and not spent two days in my sewing room. (which now looks like a bomb went off in there)

  1. I took the dimensions from the item at the website and went through my house looking for appropriate cardboard to make the box out of. I located some that had been a cover for a book of fabric swatches that an interior designer gave me several years ago. The cardboard is about 1/8 thick and is really sturdy and dense. Plus, it had this great pattern already on it so when I cut out the pieces to the box I made sure I positioned the pattern onto some of the sides.
  2. After cutting the sleeve part of the box, I glued it together and set it aside to dry while I worked on the bed part of the box. This box has to fit inside the sleeve so you have to account for the thickness of the cardboard in addition to making the measurements just right. Then you glue the bed part of the box together.
  3. Then onto the mouse. I had a pair of merino wool socks that had been through the dryer too many times and I could no longer wear but they had been naturally felted due to the dryer heat. Cutting them up into the parts of the mouse worked out because the knitting wouldn’t fray due to the felting.
  4. The mouse is 4 1/2 inches tall so I first drew out the proportions on a sheet of cardboard that I had cut to the 4 1/2 size. Basically, the arms and legs were just tubes with a rounded ended sewn in them for the hands and feet. The torso is a larger tube that the arms and legs were tucked into or sewn onto. The head was a head like shape, basically an oval with a pointed side. two pieces sewn together, turned inside out and stuffed with about a cotton ball size of stuffing. The torso was stuffed as well, but the legs and arms are just the sock material. And the ears are just small circles with a small pleat in them and stitched onto the head.  The eyes, nose and mouth were embroidered on.
  5. Her dress is scrap lace and fabrics. The skirt is a rectangle with elastic in the top and wrapped around her waist and a small snap is stitched in place so that it can be taken on and off. The lace slip is stitched to the mouse so it can be a nighty. And then I tied a satin ribbon around the waist for a waistband sash.
  6. Her jewels are just beads that were threaded on elastic string and small gold wire. I used initial beads for her necklace so I could give her a name.
  7. Once the box had dried, I glued watercolor paper to the top and sides of the sleeve and painted the strike plates on the sides and an illustration on the top. Mine has the alphabet on it as opposed to a fake manufacturer’s name. My little friend is 3 1/2 years old so she can practice her alphabet  reading the top.
  8. I lined the box bottom with fabric that I glued in and made a rectangle square that I stuffed and machine quilted for a small mattress and made a matching pillow. Her blanket is part of a sleeve from a sweater that I stitched satin ribbon onto one end and did a blanket stitch around the remaining three sides.
  9. Once complete, the mouse fits inside and when closed up she fits snuggly inside and can be tucked in at night to sleep in her little box
  10. I have a wooden thread spool that I might include as a pretend stool or bedside table.

I hope that my little friend will cherish this little mouse for many years to come. At $28 in the catalogs, I may have to purchase the next one. Made with love and a lot of time. Merry Christmas, Sophie.

On the Sixth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me… 

A portrait of a domesticated goose.

6 Geese A Laying

According to Hubpages.com, geese were the first animals to be domesticated by cavemen. They figured that they could capture the birds and pen them close to their living area and they had a continual supply of meat. So with that little nugget of information, it makes sense to address local foods and the local food movement. Now I don’t own any geese, (although I have been told I’m getting a “bird” for Christmas, that is “currently living” in our garage, which is a yearly “tale” to try to add suspense to my gift) and I don’t have a pen close to my house that I could house them. But  I should be able to find food sources locally that fit my dietary needs, that are in season and are not having to travel thousands of miles to get to my table.

For example, at Christmas we have a dish that we have served in consecutive years that has become a favorite of ours, but isn’t the traditional Christmas dinner of ham or turkey. We make a stuffed beef tenderloin that involves sausage and apples. Locally we have an old time butcher, Crabill’s meats, that takes in local farmer’s cattle and the hunter’s take animals there to be processed. So that is where I go to buy the tenderloin for the dish that I make. They also make a homemade sausage that goes into the stuffing of this dish. I should be able to also pick up the apples that I will need in their small market area at the front of the store. While I can’t guarantee that the beef that I purchase is going to be free of antibiotics, I can at least say that my food has not traveled more that 20 miles to get to my table. And I can say that I have added to the local economy by buying the meat and I have help to keep a business sustainable here in my area.

Because I live in Virginia, certain foods are not in season here that might be in season in Florida. Strawberries for example. When I * am planning my Christmas dinner, I* will try to serve foods that are in season for my area. Of course, with it being a holiday, we might break this rule for a special treat, a dessert, but I will try to keep all the foods local and in season.

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

Recently I read a book by Joan Dye Gussow called “This Organic Life: Confession of a Suburban Homesteader” . It opened my eyes to how to start a journey of trying to feed yourself with seasonal foods. Joan has a house on the Hudson River with a lot that  isn’t much bigger than my own and she grows probably 80 percent of the foods that she consumes all year on about an acre of land. She grows sweet potatoes  and potatoes and has a room in her house that is cool enough that she can store her harvests to last the entire winter. Then I read the book by Eliot Coleman, The Winter Harvest Handbook and got the inspiration to grow winter salad crops in cold frames. I haven’t perfected either of their ideas or techniques yet but I certainly am trying and hope to augment our food purchases with food that is fresh from my own yard. We had a wonderful salad tonight, as a matter of fact.

 

Cover of "The Winter Harvest Handbook: Ye...

Cover via Amazon

On a fun note, Eliot Coleman keeps geese on his farm. They are good for keeping the pests down and their fertilizer is wonderful but I think he mainly enjoys their eggs, which are supposed to be wonderful, although I don’t think I have ever eaten one. He keeps his geese in a pen called “Duckingham Palace” and the ducks get names like Henry and Charles and Di.

 

So without lecturing, I just want to say that if we all made the effort to seek out local foods rather than just depending on the food that has been trucked into the grocery store we would be helping our neighbors and helping our local businesses as well as the global environment.

*As a footnote, I need to add that I don’t do any real grocery shopping. I have told my husband that if he dies first that I will starve because he lovingly cooks and grocery shops for all our food. He is an awesome cook and enjoys doing it. I don’t mind cleaning up the dishes and kitchen and growing the salad in a box in the backyard. This stuffed beef dish is, however my specialty for our holiday meal and I will be the one to go get the supplies for it at Crabill’s Meats here in Tom’s Brook.

So, when I welcome my “bird” that is living in the garage, I’ll let you know if it is a goose or a gander or a chicken or a talking parrot. I’ve been told that it talks, so I have someone to talk to besides myself. I’ll know in 20 more days.