Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tufted Titmouse

Continuing on our quest to produce a sculpture a day, we bring you...the tufted titmouse. The boy says he is not gray enough, but these colors pretty closely match the Audubon bird book. I'll try for a shade darker the next time and see if that pleases him.
Last year I had a ton of titmice around the house, but this winter only one or two. I wonder what causes the variation from year to year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Next to the driveway at our old place was a huge old white pine with spreading branches, that we used to call the "treehouse". The kids played in and under it, and it was a magical place. Across the drive was where I had my compost pile.

One winter late afternoon, several years ago, I walked up the driveway, carrying the compost bucket. It had snowed lightly, and there was a hush over everything (except for the rush hour traffic in the distance). As I neared the treehouse, I heard a ringing sound - lots of little ringing sounds. Intrigued, I slowed my steps and focused my eyes. It wasn't till I was abreast of the tree that I saw what was ringing - it was a flock of the tiniest, cutest birds I'd ever seen, flitting from branch to branch. I watched, entranced, till I had to get back into the house (I probably had something cooking on the stove!). Out came the bird book, and I discovered that we'd been visited by a flock of ruby crowned kinglets. It's a memory I treasure, since I've never seen any since.
This shows just how tiny they are.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Dyeing Wool

Yesterday was a dyeing day. I needed more blue and had totally run out of pink. Most of the dyeing I do is with food coloring. I've found color mixes I like, and I appreciate that the mordant used with food grade dyes is vinegar, which is easy on the environment.

My daughter and her housemate found that they both had moms who are fiber freaks, and within minutes they commiserated with each other about the dyed wool hanging on racks in the bath tub. This photo is for them!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Downy Woodpecker

I have a feeder outside my dining room window, and it is one of the joys of my life. I do suet and black sunflower seed, so I get lots of juncos, some titmice, a few chickadees, and much to my delight, woodpeckers. I have a pair (at least) of downies and it is just adorable to see them pecking away at that suet. It is so worth it.

I'm in the mad rush to build my inventory for the market season, so I'm trying to get out a sculpture a day. It's fun, because with the need to make so many things, I can really give myself a lot of variety, making something different every day.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Baby Chipmunk

I once was visited by a baby chipmunk. I was out for a hike with my husband and we were at the back of the car putting our boots on. This tiny chipmunk came up to us and just explored all over the place, running up our boots and between our feet. This Chippy is entirely needle felted and is wool through and through. The colors are natural wool tones as well as hand dyed by me, with food-grade dyes.

Here's a picture of the real chippy from that hiking trip.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Recycler's Obsession II

In my last post, I talked about needing to reclaim the fiber that came off a sweater I had fulled. Here's the result, a needle felted blue bird. She is made from white roving, with orange and black details also needle felted on as roving (sometimes people think that the colors are painted on). The blue is the fiber from the sweater. It is a lovely color, but it didn't work as well as I had hoped it would. The fiber was already partly felted (making it hard to felt), and quite nubbly, which gave the surface of the bird a really nubbly look and feel. That made it seem more like a toy to me than a model. So I carded the fiber, which did make it smoother, but the fibers were very short, so they weren't able to give the tail any strength. I need to use fiber from my stash for that.
All in all, I'm glad I tried it, and I like my bird. I've never kept a bird I made, so I'm happy to have her hanging in my window!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Recycler's Obsession

OK, I will admit it, I take things a little far sometimes. I am passionate about recycling. One of the things I do is rescue old wool sweaters and turn them into other things - mittens, pot holders, hats, skirts, treasure bags. All sorts of things.
The first step in the process is "fulling", what some call felting - basically, shrinking the sweater in the wash, the way you would not want to do if you wanted to keep wearing it. Often when I full sweaters, I get handfuls of fluffy wool all over the inside of the washing machine and on the fabric of the sweaters when they come out of the wash.
I had this beautiful blue sweater that I got from the Goodwill store, and I wore it, but it really didn't fit me well. I have long arms and it's a rare sweater that has arms as long as mine! So into the machine it went. When it came out, there was tons of lovely blue fluff all over the place. I just couldn't throw it away, so it's been sitting on my work table till I had time to get to it. Here it is, and it's a lovely bluebird color, so I hope there's enough for a bird!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Woodland Fantasy Mushrooms

I was continuing my studies on mushrooms. When I attached this one to its base, the boy said I should make a little one to stand next to it. So I did, and I love the result. He does make good suggestions!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Finally, Braiding!

Today I finally finished sewing and rolling the wool for the chair pads I'm making. This is so much more satisfying than that pile of loose strips I had the other day.
And I was finally able to start braiding! This is the goal and only aim of all that prep work. I have a hard time being patient through all that prep because I want, I need to get to the delicious work/play of combining the colors and seeing how they look when intertwined in that braid.
I think this part will pass entirely too quickly!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Birds in the Cold

This morning the temperature here was about four degrees below zero. Below zero. You should have seen the birds at the feeder, they were stuffing themselves just to keep warm. We had the usuals: juncos (lots and lots of them), sparrows, titmice (just a few), a nuthatch, and the red bellied woodpecker. He has been my favorite this winter, he's just so big and vibrant. We have a million juncos, but hardly any chickadees, who I miss.

Friday, January 16, 2009

More Mushrooms

I've been working more on Mary's chair pads and Laura's mushrooms. The mushrooms are doing what mushrooms do whenever they have the right conditions - springing up everywhere. I've really been enjoying making them, and will continue to do so until the inspiration runs out. I'll have plenty in stock for the market season! I didn't take a lot of time in setting up this picture and they are all washed out.

The fabric for the chair pads is all sorted and I've begun sewing. This is the hardest, slowest part of a braiding project, especially for one like me, who likes quick results. I imagine it will take a few days to get all this sewed and rolled up. But then the braiding will begin!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Snow Fairy Skirt

I love to recycle, especially when it's something this cute. My friend gave me this sweater because she mistakenly shrunk it in the drier. It was her favorite sweater that her kids had worn, but now nobody fit it! So she gave it to me and here's the result.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Felted Mushrooms and Cut Wool

I've got 2 main projects I'm working on right now, and here are some pictures from both of them.

Here are felted mushrooms I'm working on for Laura. A third one (not pictured here) is almost done, too.

This is wool cut into strips for some braided chair pads I'm making. Doesn't look like much; it still needs to be sewn into long strips, folded and rolled and then it will be ready for braiding.

This is the Beginning!

It's been suggested that I start a blog so more people can see my work, so here I am! I hope to have some photos posted within a day or two...