Friday, November 30, 2012

Wonderland Workshop

Four more little peg dollies have had their make-up done.  They are awaiting hair and costumes.  Notice there are two good little girls who are very reverent, and then there is the one who wears a little too much make-up and has her eyes open during prayers and vespers, and then there is the one who is obviously amused by something the naughty one said.  I love how they each have their own little personalities.  I think I could get addicted to doll-making.

And remember this piece of painted cloth?  Well, I finally found a use for it.  I'm always searching for ways to add more dimension to my work, and this is a little experiment in fabric relief.

I was pretty happy with the result!  Even though this was just an experiment, I hated not to use it somehow.

So,  I'm turning it into an ornament.  As I stitched around the outside edge, the fabric began to fray.  At first, I thought it was ruined, but then as I looked at it some more, I kinda liked that frayed edge look.  So, I frayed it some more!  I think it's kinda cute in a rustic, distressed way.  Sort of that wabi sabi thing.  Yeah.  That's turning lemons into lemonade :)

And then a little reindeer (of the southern whitetail variety) came bounding through the forest and has inspired another ornament.

Even though it is not officially the Christmas season until tomorrow, Wonderland workshop is in full swing ornament production!  Crosby and Sinatra are crooning.  Tiny white lights are twinkling.  I'm in my happy place. :))))))

Monday, November 26, 2012

Christy, the Christmas Elf

Meet Christy - the little Christmas elf.  My first doll ever!!  I only have the one picture, because this was a total experiment, and I really wasn't sure if it was going to turn out well or not.  I recently purchased Salley Mavor's book,  Felt Wee Folk,  and was dying to make something from it.  Most of the patterns in the book are for little fairies, but I adapted them to make an elf.  I think she turned out pretty well!  Well enough to make me want to make more of these little dolls.  They are quick and easy.  I made her in an afternoon.  These would be great as ornaments or place card holders at the children's table.  I might have to make a whole tree full of these little guys!  If you've ever  thought about making a doll, I highly recommend this book.  Great photos, great step-by-step instructions, and lots of inspiration.  Check it out and make some dolls of your very own! :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hunting and Gathering

Dried seed pods from the Florida anise.  I wonder if I could use them in cooking?  Must Google that.

Turkey tail fungus.  Can you see why they are called that?

They have the texture of suede.  Leathery on the back and soft on the front.

Gorgeous dried seed heads.  I love that they look like a little sunburst.

 Muscadine vines gathered in September.

Stripped of their leaves and soaking in water to make them pliable again.  I'm planning to make my own wreaths with these this year.  Perhaps some small ones for hanging on drawer knobs or ornaments for the tree.

Treasures from my walk.  Bits of bark and lichen covered twigs.

Seed heads from the wildflowers in the meadow.  Acorn caps, Magnolia cones from the tree in my front yard.

Plain wooden birdhouse ornaments (from Hobby Lobby) painted and covered in bark, lichen, and dried flowers with a pine cone petal roof.

These were soooo much fun to make!!

Each November I have the privilege of preparing the Thanksgiving feast for my family.  I love doing it, but I cannot deny that it leaves me a little tired afterward.  So, it has become sort of a tradition of mine that on the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone else in the world seems to be going to the shopping mall, I spend the day at home crafting, sewing, napping, basically doing whatever I like.  It's my one day off - the whole year!  No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, nothing that can be called "work".

So, yesterday I spent the morning walking through the woods with a little basket and a pair of old scissors.  Hunting and gathering little treasures.  Pieces of bark that have fallen off of old dead trees, acorn caps of all sizes, dried seedheads from wildflowers, lichen covered twigs, leathery tree fungus, etc.  And then, I spent the afternoon crafting little woodland ornaments.  Aaaaaahhhhhh.......bliss!

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I awakened this morning to a world sparkling with frosty diamonds.  So achingly beautiful.  I was so happy, my eyes filled with tears at one point.  Just so thankful.  Thankful for this fleeting moment of beauty.  It was all gone in half an hour.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Golden Hours

"In fancy's eye I'll fetch thy shade again,
And of this lovely day I'll think and sigh,
And ponder o'er this sweetly-passing hour,
And feel as then the throes of joys gone by,
When I was young, and thou a blooming bower."
- John Clare

My world is glowing, red and gold.  Such a lovely time.  I feel a calm descending inside and out.  Everything seems softer, quieter, and somehow more precious.  

The fallen leaves have dyed the water in the pool below the waterfall the color of tea.

I've been spending as much time as I can outdoors.  Soaking it up.  For me, nature is so restorative.  So peaceful.  I have a new project in the planning phase, but no photos to show yet.  I've just been doing some doodle stitching for the past couple of weeks.  Playing around with sashiko and texture.  Trying to think of a way to use this textural stitching in my work.  I think I've come up with a fun way to use it in my latest project.  I'm taking my time.  Planning each phase carefully.  Trying not to be so impatient.  We'll see how it goes.......

Monday, November 12, 2012

Living History - Part Two

The next stop on our tour of the Pioneer Days exhibit at Ft. Toulouse is the Creek Indian village (my favorite, I think).

These structures are replicas of the types of homes the Creek/Muskogee Indians would have been living in around the year 1814.

Some of the beautiful faces and incredible costumes.....

This beautiful man was called "Little Hawk".  He was breath-taking.  I must admit to being a bit tongue-tied asking for a photo (blush).

Gorgeous hand-woven baskets and foodstuffs representing the typical diet of the Eastern Woodland Indians at around this time period...things like corn, squashes, pumpkins, nuts, berries, etc.

The Native American exhibit holds a very special place in my heart.  My husband's great grandmother was a Cherokee Indian woman, and the physical characteristics are very prominent in his appearance - the dark dark hair and eyes, the copper penny colored skin,  the prominent nose and noble bearing.  And also, perhaps most importantly, the land we live on was once inhabited by these beautiful people.  We often find arrowheads, bits of pottery, and beads left behind by them.  When I walk in the woods, I feel their spirits here.  It saddens me that very little remains here of their people and their culture.  Our state, our counties, towns, and rivers bear their names, but they are not here.  I try to honor them by remembering that this land I love is not really mine.  I am just another in a long line of custodians who are privileged to call this area my home.  I honor them by remembering.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Living History - Part One

This week I was thrilled to attend a living history exhibition at Ft. Toulouse in Wetumpka, Alabama.  Ft. Toulouse is an important historical site dating back to the French and Indian War.  It's an amazing place, and the Pioneer Days celebration this week was superb!  I took lots and lots of photos (too many, really), but it was all so very good!  Ready for a little tour?

There are several structures like these which are built according to fairly strict historical guidelines.  I was particularly impressed by the great attention to detail.  Notice the log and clay section of the chimney on this period cabin.  Besides being aesthetically pleasing, I wonder what is its practical purpose?  Any of you history buffs know?

And then there were all the wonderful actors dressed in period costumes.  Check out those terrific wooden clogs!

One of the most beautiful buildings is the blacksmith shop.  Can you see the spanish moss hanging in the trees behind it?  This place is so beautiful!

These handsome gentlemen were real blacksmiths, and they were extremely knowledgeable about their craft and trade during the colonial era.  I was so impressed by the authenticity of the actors, their knowledge, and most of all, their enthusiasm for re-creating this period in history.  I know a lot of them are actually retired history teachers!  And they were clearly enjoying themselves.

This wonderful, jolly gentleman with the fantastic whiskers and twinkling eyes was playing an instrument similar to a hammered dulcimer.  He was a master musician and one of the most popular exhibitions. I came back to see him three times! Gosh, he looks so familiar...... hmmm.....maybe I'll think of it eventually ;)

This tall, elegantly dressed gentleman is an amazing musical historian.  

He had over a dozen instruments that were commonly played during the colonial era, and he could play them all!  Just amazing.

Why are they flying a white flag?  Probably because on this day, the place was overrun with about a thousand school children!!
Please note the wattling on top of the pike wall.  They used tall young saplings to weave in and out of those big piked logs.  I love that.  I think I might use that idea in my garden, only on a much smaller scale of course.

This handsome gentleman was recruiting some of those school children to serve in the militia, where they were being taught how to march in formation and salute a senior officer.  They looked like they were having a ball - both the actors and the children!

Next time I'll show you my most favorite parts of the exhibition.   As you can see, it was all wonderful. Everything from the site itself, with its wonderful old fort and historic buildings to the enthusiastic and knowledgeable actors was par excellence.  Come back next time to see the Creek Indian village and the military encampment!  Good stuff!