leap day

How can I resist making sure that there is a blog post here on leap day? I can't!

So a little overview of what's been brewing lately:
steadily stitching away on my extra large project
mending my favorite jeans boro style
embroidering a chinchilla for a friend
paint therapy happened (an old collage got thoroughly reworked many times) (just for the fun of it) 
I got the fieriest little doily in the mail from Amy Meissner
I rediscovered the lichen rock in my back yard... in the sunshine...
All these pictures are from my Instagram feed. Take a peek! Happy leap year!

so much to do!

Autumn is such a busy season in so many ways. School activities are in full swing, holiday prep is in full swing. This year I had the opportunity to be in many exhibitions, so that means packing and printing labels and gallery sitting. I've been hard at work on my latest home portrait, it's almost done and I'll be sharing it in my newsletter very soon.

And now another annual tradition has crept up on me... Costumes for my daughters annual Russian School Christmas play! So among the finishing stitches on the home portrait, I have been sketching costumes, making lists of children and dreaming of how to bring my ideas to life. And I do mean dreaming. I been having costume construction dreams quite literally.... now I have to start stitching in real life though.

This years play is "The Little Hump Backed Horse". I gleefully ran to my kids home library and dug up the book from my childhood, I have always loved the illustrations in it. We watched the cartoon version just get up to speed! We have yet to watch the ballet, but that I'd want to see in real life...

So I thought I'd share a few of my sketches here. They are of the more fantastical costumes that will be a challenge to construct...
the Little Humpbacked Horse and the three beautiful horses

the Moon and the Sun and the Firebird

the Fishes

the Tzar and the Tzar Princess
I'll be back with in-progress pictures of this motley crew in a week or so... You can also follow my progress on Instagram.

playing dress up

Things have been crazy around these parts...No time to blog, just sewing sewing, sewing... and some gluing, cutting and painting too. The final push before Sunday's performance.

Here are a few Instagram shots that I have shared over the last several weeks as I have been working on the costumes for our Russian School play "Tsar Saltan". You can read about the design stage here.






I'll share photos of everything in full glory next week and then it's back to artwork! Wish me luck!

felt it

Needle felt it actually. All the ball and egg ornaments in these pictures are needle felted. Such a peaceful, meditative and addictive craft.... Come to New Jersey in July and I'll show you how!




From making the base to developing and transferring the design and executing it. We'll have a lovely time!

a little diversion

Sometimes you have to mix things up a bit and do some "art-lite" among the heavy duty stuff. Lately I've allowed myself a bit of a beading obsession.. It started with let's do a fun experiment for a day and led to a week of "I can't stop, someone pass the Advil..." I find this craft is more stressful on my right hand than any amount of hand stitching...I wonder why? But oooh! Look at how pretty it's turning out, let me make just another part or two, and the next thing you know....

I'll be participating in another Russian Festival right before Thanksgiving on Saturday November 23rd, if you're in the area come take a look! Meanwhile I'll be exercising my left hand in an attempt at being ambidextrous...

fabric art in the woods

I'm just back from spending a little over a week in woods with kids. We are all thoroughly bug bitten, dirty and happy. Just as we should be...

I managed to introduce the kids to fabric painting guerrilla style. First I read a bunch of tutorials online, the day before leaving I did an experiment in my driveway, and two days after arriving in the wilderness made 20 kids ages six to ten sunprint bandannas in the woods. They had a blast and so did I!
the sun was hot that day, just what the crazy fabric lady ordered!
The basic concept was easy to grasp and making a mess was the bonus treat. Even the boys enjoyed it for a bit.... I just ran laps around them with a huge spray bottle of water and attempted to convince them to not over do it. Hah!
gorgeous results
how to wear your bandanna
The girls of course took it to the next level. Embroidery was such a hit, even the boys came back for more crafting. And from now on children will be threading ALL my needles always.
nimble fingers

in progress

Everything is state of progress around here. I suppose it's better than a stalemate, right? 
pom poms to be
pom poms almost done
I've got pom poms being made for Russian dance costumes, they'll go on the headdresses. 
start of a new piece!
putting the pedal to the metal
keeping things in check
I've got three new 12"x12" pieces started, all based on cathedrals of St. Petersburg, Russia. I laid out the bits and pieces of fabrics, trapped them with netting and got them ready for some "pedal to the metal" free-hand machine stitching. What I am really looking forward to is hand stitching on all three of them. Not all at once......really. And if by some miracle I get one of them done before the end of the month, I'll have a donation for the annual SAQA auction. 

Meanwhile I have updated my website AND decided it was time for a re-design. The re-design will take a looong time, I am giving myself permission to take my time and not rush through any decision making and take the time to re-learn the software too. I just got an update, so things should be humming along. I'll let ya know how that goes....

I have also started prepping for my workshops at the Create Retreat in New Jersey in July. Looking forward to teaching new stuff and meeting new people!

BUT! This weekend, if you are in the NY tri-state area, please stop by the little town of Katonah in Westchester County and see the Northern Star Quilt Guild exhibit. My totem will be part of a special display by Fiber Arts North East. I cannot wait to see a room full of 18" by 8 foot! totems. Picture opportunity indeed!

handcrafted

I have the honor to have been published in Handcrafted Jewelry Magazine this month! I don't do jewelry very often, so it was a pleasure to be able to design this piece just for them. I had a lot fun asking friends to send me pix of their dogs for this and then playing in Photoshop and crafting. Do you recognize the pup in the photo? Above is the back of the pendant featured, below is the front.

Easter crafting

My Easter egg collage (the bottom row is felted, I'll save that post for another day)
Yesterday I could not resist decorating my house for Easter, before starting my traditional baking marathon. Easter is one of my favorite holidays and the most important in Russian Orthodoxy. There are traditional sweets to bake such as kulich and pascha.

Eggs to color (this year I tried some new naturals dyes, still a mystery in the fridge...). Above are some of the blown out chicken eggs that I have painted with acrylics and nail polish over the years.
The fabric egg display.
For a few years now I have been doing fabric eggs, this year I didn't have chance to make them, but my girls and I sure had fun decorating with our ever growing collection. In my zeal to decorate and share I posted a photo to Facebook and got so many lovely comments on it that I thought I would share my process here.
I start with styrofoam eggs and sand away the ridge. My other ingredient is glue, preferably Modge Podge or a matte medium.
I pick some fabric scraps and randomly cut them into smallish shapes. Fabric selection is important as if it's too thin the glue will seep through and if it's too thick it will not "hug" the egg.
I start by brushing a layer of glue onto my egg and randomly attaching my fabric pieces.
Make sure that the pieces butt up against each other with no spaces showing.
Some overlap is OK as long as the fabric is not too thick.
As I start running out of space, I start cutting my fabric pieces to fit. Hopefully only the last few will need to be trimmed.


Now you can just let the glue dry and leave as is. Or if have some small sequins you can attach them by pushing a pin through the center right into the styrofoam. I have also used brass pins to make designs over the fabric.
Have fun digging into your stash!

baba yaga's house

The progress on costumes for the Russian school play continues. Over the past few weeks I constructed the hut that Baba Yaga lives in.... It took some figuring out and trial and error as the costume needs to be sturdy, light, balance on the kid's shoulders, come apart and fold for transport and look good too! Here it is mid progress resting on it's side while the glue dries. It's made out of heavy duty muslin, pvc pipes and balsa wood for structure and stitched with upholstery thread for strength. This is the pattern for the window. I wanted to make it detachable so it would not get wrecked when folded. Here is the window attached with Velcro. And here's my kid trying it on for size. The kid whose role it is, is about eight inches taller. I sent the whole construction to my cohort Katya for painting, and here's what she did. The back with spider and web for authentic detail. And the front completely transformed. Now I all I need to do are the legs. Aaaand all the other costumes....

felting fun!

A few of my girlfriends (including Vivien (who just posted about the subject too and with a very similar title...) and I, took a beginners wet felting workshop yesterday. It was so much fun! Not only did we get to commune as we girls do, but we got to learn a new and fun craft for all of us. We found our teacher by googling her and totally lucked out. Linda was an entertaining and creative teacher, and her two studios are just to die for... We started our felt experience in her wet studio, just check out her walls of inspiration.. Bits and pieces of artful felted things everywhere! We worked on three separate projects with varying levels of difficulty. The first was a very basic felt square just so we can grasp the concept. Then came the fun! This is start of my second piece where I found out that I can successfully trap plastic netting in felt. A revelation to make me quite happy! Here's a close up. And here's my finished square hanging out to dry. This is a table in Linda's wet studio with all the roving and yarns and glitz to add to your felt. These are all of our felting projects for the day drying. We had lunch upstairs in Linda's lovely home full of art. This is a detail of one of her 3D flower sculptures. An inspiring wall in her upstairs dry studio. And this is her Gratitude Rocks installation in the living room. The idea is to take a river rock and wrap it in yarn as you're imagining something you are grateful for... lovely. A close up of the large felt rocks. After lunch we made a felted vessel, and unbelievable how easy it was. This is how mine started out. Here it is freshly formed. Look inside....

Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway) - my head is full of ideas of how to incorporate my new found skill into my current work. I had already started using needle felting, and now wet felting just opened the doors wider. And to think this all started with a visit to the felt at exhibit at Cooper Hewitt a few months ago. Gotta go dig out my catalogue from that exhibit and look again...

back to something different...

Remember that baby blanket I was working on last month? It's finished! Another thing to cross off my list... a sweet adorable thing though, hope the baby-boy-to-be and his parents will like it.

...and in a moment of weakness, I did something completely irresponsible while I have SO many other things on my "TO DO" list.. Well maybe not so irresponsible considering that I am swapping the time I would have used for fruitless shopping for sewing time, saving gas (!), reducing car pollution with less driving, reducing consumerism and most importantly - reducing my stash... Alright I think I forgave myself, hopefully so will everyone else. What am I blabbering about here? Dressmaking. Yep, hold on to your hats, I made myself a dress! No one dress, two dresses!
Out of really cute fabric that have had for a few years now. Even though I am capable of making my own patterns, I was far to lazy to actually do so. My local fabric store had a few simple patterns that I liked, so I played with them. Of course when I started typing this post I realized that I had only a picture of one dress, oh well, you get my self portrait in the first dress instead... If I do say so myself this so much better than what I could find in the stores now. What I like out there is usually really expensive and I just can't justify purchasing it, or it's really ugly and badly made, or the current trend makes me look pregnant despite the cute prints.. and I really do not want to look pregnant when I'm not. OK done with my rant now, back to my to do list...

and now for something different...

A baby quilt! I haven't made one of these in a few years I think. It is a fun diversion and a great way to use up my stash of vintage handkerchiefs. I neglected to take a picture of the great retro print cotton I'm using for the back. The quilt is all pinned and ready for free-hand machine quilting. I'll post more pictures when I get time to do some stitching...