Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I've never felted this way before... ;)

So, a new type of craft has reached out and grabbed hold of me - felting. Mainly needle-felting, but I've been known to dip a little fiber in some hot soapy water, too! Add that to the fact that I have friends who have a llama and alpaca farm, and I've been having a blast.

First, felted finger-puppets. Haven't finished those yet.

Next, needle-felted spheres (I try not to refer to them as "llama balls") to dangle from hoops as earrings. They sold really well at craft shows this fall!

Then, felted bath soap. Washcloth and soap all in one, hooray!

In the meantime, a much more adventurous friend of mine has been doing larger-scale projects: nuno felted scarves (Felting alpaca and merino wool onto a silk chiffon base), alpaca-fiber berets, as well as soaps and lovely little angels, and lord knows what else. Just seeing her work has been an unbelievable inspiration!

So, full of this inspiration, I was looking for my own direction to take it. I've always been fascinated with "small"... things in miniature. So, with a stack of how-to books by my side, I started playing with some black alpaca fiber and a felting needle.

Oh, and pipe cleaners.

Take a little black alpaca wool... (mmmm SOFT!)

Wrap it around the frame, needle-felt gently to keep it in place... bend the back legs into shape...

(whoops, skipped a step or two)....

Wind more fiber around the body, needle-felting it in place. Careful not to stab the pipe-cleaner wires too hard, since the felting needle is so thin. Once the body is taking shape, add some fiber for a neck and felt it into an oval cylinder.

Made a pear shape for the head, attached it to the neck,
and made needle-felted indentations for eyes and jawline.
(Uh oh... might have added TOO much of a neck.  It's not supposed to be a short-legged horse. )

Also added oval/teardrop shaped pads of fiber for the muscles in the shoulders, haunches and rear.

Shaped the neck a little more by needle-felting it down into the shoulders some. Added a little circle of fiber for a nose, made a couple of ears with gray centers, a tail, and some soft paws to needle-felt onto the ends of the feet. Sewed two black seed beads in place for his eyes.

 Can you tell what he's supposed to be, yet?

Just for fun, I needle-felted a scarf for him ...then wet-felted it because it didn't seem smooth enough. Needled around the edges again, and added a tiny green button and a buttonhole, so it can come off.

And here he is... "Jag", a black German Shepherd Dog.

The only thing I could possibly do with him was to send him to meet his namesake, who lives with a nuno-felting friend far away!

Merry Christmas, Jag. and Jag. and Jag.   ;-)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Lavender Bath Salts

By request of some online friends - Here ya go!

     Very easy, and greatly appreciated by stressed-out friends and family.  You can use other essential oils as well – try peppermint or a blend of citrus scents, for example.
     A few words on essential oils:  Be sure to use only “essential oil”, and avoid anything labeled “fragrance oil” – those tend to have synthetic ingredients, and are not for bath and body use. Aura Cacia is a very good brand, and is widely available at herb shops and health/natural food stores.

    Exercise caution when using essential oils – they are very, very concentrated and some can damage surfaces or even skin in their undiluted form! Please research the properties of any given oil before working with it. If you experience any allergic symptoms while making your salts, stop immediately! (For example… I’m sensitive to Rose Geranium oil – it has made my lips swell up like a balloon in the past… this is a dangerous reaction, so I don’t use that oil at all.)  For cleanup, alcohol is a good solvent. I use either (cheap) vodka, or pure-grain alcohol.

     That said, Lavender tends to be one of the milder oils, and can usually be applied directly to the skin. Please test a little on the inside of your arm before using, to make sure you don’t react badly to it. If any redness, swelling, or other symptoms occur within 24 hours, this isn’t the oil for you. (If you test other oils, be sure to dilute before applying to your skin. One or two drops in a teaspoon of olive oil works well for this.)

And finally… the recipe!

From Jules

  • 1 cup sea salt (coarse or fine)
  •  2 Tbsp. Epsom Salts
  •  15 drops Lavender essential oil
Tools needed:
It's best to have "dedicated" bowls & spoons for essential oil work, and not use them for food. (Goodwill!)
  •  Stainless steel, glass, or ceramic bowl  (Do not use plastic or aluminum, which will react with the oil)
  • Eyedropper or pipette, unless your essential oil has its own dropper top attached
  • Stainless steel spoon
Drip about half of the lavender oil into the sea salt, then stir well.  Repeat with the rest of the oil, stir again, then add the Epsom salts and stir once more.  Keep in a clean, airtight jar, in moderate temperatures.  Will keep for a long time, but the scent is best if used within a month or two.  To use, pour about ½ cup of bath salts into warm bath water.  Swish to dissolve, especially if using coarse sea salt.  Step in and enjoy!   

To make in bulk:
  • 5 lbs. sea salt
  • 10 Tbsp. Epsom salts
  • 1 tsp lavender essential oil
The bulk recipe will make enough bath salt to fill 5 pint-sized Mason jars, or 10 jelly jars. When making in bulk, I usually don’t add the Epsom salts to the mix. Instead, I mix just the salt and the oil, fill the jars with the salt mix, then add the Epsom salt to each jar, screw the lids on, and shake them up. This makes sure it’s evenly distributed. And shaking coarse sea salt in a Mason jar is a great stress reliever. ;)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

And another thing...

There's a 15 1/2 pound bag of lavender sitting in my studio at the moment. Fifteen and a half POUNDS. It's the size of a small body pillow, and was a steal at a little over a hundred bucks.
And so, I'd best get busy turning it into something to earn that hundred bucks back. ;)

Artist's Way, week 7

Coming out of a week of feeling totally "stuck" again. Every time I was ready to settle down to work, something seemed to come up to keep me upstairs. I consciously made the decision to start calling my basement workspace "Studio" instead of "workshop", in another step to take myself and my work a little more seriously... now, I just need to get my body IN there.
Unless I show up for work, it ain't gonna happen!
Reading Deprivation Week was very interesting, by the way. The hardest time was in the evening, when I usually settle down with a book or Facebook to unwind. I included Sudoku and jigsaw puzzles into the ban, and was mostly successful. Result of the week: a more settled Me, feeling like I'm getting back to my old self again. Facebook is crack. Seriously. But here in Week 7, I'm still retaining some of the freedom from it and from the chatroom. Go me!
New direction/distraction: thinking seriously again about hosting my own radio show on BlogTalk Radio. It's taking all my discipline NOT to jump into it with both feet right now - first craft show is a short two weeks away, and I'm not producing anything for it yet. Focus focus focus... keep priorities in line, Jules. I did spend some serious time cleaning up in the studio, and it's looking/feeling much better. And a good chat friend who is exceptional at finding crafty things on the web just machine-gunned me a set of jewelry links to look at for some inspiration. I brought seed beads and some other materials UPstairs. If the studio isn't ready, maybe I can craft elsewhere for a bit!
Random thoughts, I know. It's been a rather random week. The "Tasks" in the Week 6 chapter of A.W. were a little tough for me to relate to, so spirits sagged a little. I sat down with the Week 7 chapter today (a day early), and am already feeling better. I can do this! Onward and Upward. :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Here's a challenge...

As my steps take me into Week Four of The Artist's Way, I've come upon an interesting task: "Reading Deprivation Week".

No reading this week. No books, magazines, newspapers. And I'm extending that to "No Facebook", since reading there usually takes up a wholllllle lot of time. The idea is to be able to Listen to what's going on within. To DO rather than to read. For someone who loves the printed word as much as I do, this is going to be very very interesting.

I already made up a litte "off for a week" sign for my FB profile and signed out. I'm also going to limit chatroom, Yahoo, and email reading - in other words, stay off the computer just as much as I can handle!

So, Reading is out. Writing, however, seems to be OK... so maybe I'll post a little more here. That's creative, right? ;)

Saturday, September 10, 2011


After a long, long period of creative drought... I'm back in the workshop (newly christened "Studio"!) again. I've been working hard at trying to unblock myself, using "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron and faithfully doing my homework. Wasn't quite believing it, but all of a sudden ideas are popping into my head. Seriously. After years of drought, and only three weeks on this program!
This week, while I was doing my Morning Pages (three pages, longhand, of just anything that comes into my head), a sentence popped onto the page:
"(God Says) Use what you have, and I will supply the rest."
Yesterday, the form of a little necklace started rolling around in my head. My sweet husband and I are singing with a small ensemble at church Sunday morning, for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks on our nation. I wanted something fresh to wear with a new black and white tweed jacket.
Pale blue came to mind, in the form of some lovely blue lace agate beads I'd bought years ago. I had originally intended to make them into a rosary for my little Mom, but I never managed to get into the making of it. The more I thought, the more appropriate it seemed. Blue lace agate... Stone of high inspiration, supposed to help one reach high spiritual places. Calming of emotions, soothing for buildups of painful or irritated energy. I don't necessarily believe that stones have particular powers, but I do believe in the power of symbols on the mind and emotions - and what better influence for a memorial service for such an agonized, terror-ridden day?
So, with those beads in mind, I went downstairs to the studio yesterday morning. And ended up sorting and cataloguing beads instead of making anything. Brainless work, it needed to be done, but I was suspicious that I was just delaying. Somehow it felt Okay, and I decided to just go along and see where I ended up. This morning, while writing my Pages, I suddenly found myself sketching and diagramming instead. Yesterday the idea was there, but fuzzy. Today, I was ready to start!
Seems like a lot of to-do over just a simple little necklace. But I've been in such a drought, for so so long... the silver chain in my hands felt like water in the desert. The white clouds in the pale blue beads made me smile. My hands started remembering how to wrap the wire ends just... so. And I could just imagine Mom, my sweetest and best cheerleader, smiling as I used "her" beads.
Remembering, on many levels. Remembering heart-rending pain and terror, remembering old beauty, remembering days when the world was sane and my Mom was here. Remembering how to do this work, remembering the joy in it. Calmness of spirit, coolness of blue and silver, and ready to lift my voice with my husband's and my friends' tomorrow in prayer and praise and solace for pain. So, only one name for this delicate little necklace:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Working working working...

Craft show Saturday... what shall I make, what shall I make? I've got a good stock of herbal goods already done, main sales will probably be live herb plants from the greenhouses where I used to work. So... time to play a little maybe! I'm planning to put all of last year's jewelry on half price sale, so maybe a few new pieces for something fresh. Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Photo taken at class on 3-22-11... ALMOST THERE!
The eggs are not done yet, and there's an area of nest by the far-right egg that needs detailing.
And, this canvas has been around for so long, I'll have to touch up some worn spots in the background (not a major deal).
I'm estimating a month, maybe... and I have ideas for the next subject already under way!

lost in the sticks... ;)