Monday, 29 October 2012
Julle wanted to be in the centre of attention again with a couple of photos this week. The photos are from just before it was time to take down the swing. Usually the cats don't like the swing as it moves under them, but Julle didn't seem to mind here. He just had to jump up everywhere until I focused on him rather than on his sister.
Saturday, 27 October 2012
Last night was a rather cold night so today I could go out and find ice and frozen hail (we got several showers of hail yesterday) to photograph. When taking a few photos of leaves frozen in ice, I accidentally broke the ice cap in the big drum we use to collect rain water. That wouldn't have been much of a story if my sis hadn't walked past a few hours later and found the fascinating, thing ice crystals that had started to grow on the broken edges of the ice. Got several photos of it, one of which you can see above. Isn't it pretty?
Friday, 26 October 2012
I'm like so many people out there. I procrastinate and while I love to create and come up with ideas, I'm really bad at the starting stage, at actually start working on anew project. Sometimes I've got good reasons for not being able to start a new projects, other times it's just a bunch of pretty lousy excuses. I know I'm not the only one having these issues: there's someone who's done a survey and figured out how many love to push things ahead of themselves (just read a column on procrastination in today's morning paper) and if you google self sabotage you'll find lots of thoughts and texts on the issue of procrastination among creative people.
Today my excuse is partially ok: I've slept with my head in an odd angle I think, probably due to the seven cats occupying my bed last night, which have resulted in some neck pains. I'm stinking of tiger balm right now (my favourite remedy for neck pains and headaches), which hopefully will help alleviate the tense and tender muscles. But I will start something today, no more procrastination. Either some freeform embroidery or trying to catch up on the TAST challenges (so far behind it's embarrassing, but I don't want to quit either). No matter what I choose, blogging about it means putting the goal out there, making it harder to forget about it or procrastinate but also maker it more real as I have to put it into words, shape it into something more or less concrete.
I'm thinking of doing some challenge or other too, just to get a deadline to work towards. Probably not a challenge including a blog hop at the moment as it can be a bit overwhelming with the hopping and commenting if a lot of people sign up. But right now I'm focusing on some sort of embroidered stash-tackling projects. Something freeform, like embroidered/beaded doodles that require no planning, no idea of the finished result (meaning whatever you end up with it isn't a disappointment as it's not deviating from that brilliant image in your head), no pattern to follow. Just working with a needle, focusing on the process rather than the result. Just doing it.
So what kind of things do I have to work with today? I've shown lots of samples and bead mixes on this blog. But two things come to my mind: the bouclé yarn and pearls above or a pink-and-silver bead mix as seen below (sans the shell flower and MOP beads).
Pastels like the peachy pink in this mix aren't my favourites so using this mix could be a way of not stumbling on that all too common hurdle of not not wanting to use my best beads (as they're for special projects, as they're too expensive to use/replace etc). That's also one of the reasons I never sell all the beads I cull from my stash: they can be useful for samples and experiments as I don't have to worry about using beads I care about or find too expensive to sacrifice on something that isn't a perfect project.
There's also some sequins I'd like to use (preferrably before buying new ones -- Sarah, it's your fault I want to buy more sequins now! *lol*)
And then I'm hoping to get at least a little birthday money so I can justify shopping for some tools and supplies. There's a lot of things I want to buy, but I'm focusing on one shop this autumn.
On top of that I hope to be able to get some new embroidery threads too. First some fun floss (hope to be able to update you on that next week, fingers crossed), but I do want some more interesting threads and cords too to play with. Gold threads would be fun, but I'm not sure I want to know the price of such threads...
But I'm digressing. Right now it's time to focus on what I have, not what I want, and work from that. Fingers crossed I'll at least have some WIP photos to show after the weekend! And now for the trickiest part: to get off the computer before it's already dark outside... Wish me luck...
Monday, 22 October 2012
Today it's all about Jinja. She and Ullegull followed me around when I took the photos shown yesterday and I thought it might be her turn in the spotlight this week. Not counting Ullegull, who's still a kitten, she's our smallest cat and hence we often call her Lillgumman or Lilla stumpan (could be translated as "little sweetie" or some such).
It was hard to make her look at the camera -- and when she did, she looked rather irritated... A sort of "god, you're annoying with that camera" look on her face.
That nick in the right ear is one she got already as a kitten (well, she's just barely an adult now) when playing with her brothers. Or if they were playing with her. One of them simply got a claw stuck in her ear and they pulled away from each other. Ouch!
Sunday, 21 October 2012
Feels like I haven't shown any photos (of the garden and surroundings that is) in ages. But today I've got a few pics to show.
There's some interesting leaf colours around the garden right now. From some sort of sand-and-chartreuse fern fronds to rose-orange aronia leaves.
Here's a last photo of the front lawn (at the right) and entry, covered in ash leaves. I think it looks pretty. And the cats love lawns full of leaves.
Saturday, 20 October 2012
A quick "oh-by-the-way post" here. Remember the ribbon I mentioned here? One way I thought of using it was as a stencil. Well, I tried that as you can see above. Gesso applied on cardboard (painted black using a permanent marker) with a paper towel while manually holding the ribbon in place probably wasn't the best combo of materials and techniques for this, but it still result in an interesting texture. A texture filled with unwanted tiny air bubbles, but still a nice result.
Next time I'll either use stencil glue on the ribbon or use another paint, e. g. spray paint, and see if that works better.
Many questions that I'm not even going to start thinking about at the moment as I'm focusing on some other samples and it's just way too easy to get side-tracked. But I thought it was a nice first result and worth showing today when I don't have anything better to write about anyway.
Haven't been much online lately, but hope to write some more posts these next few days. Apart from posts on Manekis Pärlblogg, that is (I'm a bit behind there right now, I'm afraid, so that takes precedence). Today I at least remembered to do the biweekly summary of the post on my other blog. These last two weeks have encompassed everything from bead meets and shows to spike bead projects and design inspirations.
Hope you find something fun to read!
By the way, shop owners and distributers: the two swedish bead meets/conventions (Pärla! and Bead Lovers Meet) are looking for sponsors. If you sell internationally and want swedish costumers, you might want to get in contact with the organizers. Just a thought.
Monday, 15 October 2012
I'm afraid I'm a tad busy today so it'll only be one measly cat photo today.
In this photo, my sis and I tried to fit all the kitties into one group shot. It didn't go smoothly exactly... Of all the photos this was the best one, which probably says something about our success rate.
In order to try and get all the cats in one place, we waited for them to get hungry and then lured them out with some cat food -- forgetting, in the process, that it'd mean a lot of tails and bums and not so many cute faces on the photos... If you know something about our cats, you'll probably miss Randa who wasn't even home at the time. But there's a Rostan in the door, behind Mimi.
It's a bit sad looking at a group photos because it's not only the joy of seeing all my sweethearts together, it's also seeing the ones missing. Seeing the ones that ought to be there, but aren't. Missing e.g. the glimpse of fluffy white fur, a pitchblack face big big eyes looking up at you or a dusty grey striped tail in the air. Those who got ill, had accidents, vanished or ran away, lost from our lives forever.
But of cause it's not just melancholy that I feel, the shadows of all that happened this summer and autumn. More than that, I laugh at how uncooperative the cats were, smile at the cuteness of each tail and nose -- and, not least, feel the happiness and sense what a wonderful gift they are in my life. Cats can cause so much mischief and ruin your favourite things. They can fight each other (not all cats enjoy living in a multi-cat home) and hurt their humans (physically: they have claws and teeth and use them if they have to). But still there's nothing they can ever do that'll make you stop loving them and caring for them. They bring so much joy and laughter and companionship. If you have a cat, you're a very lucky person indeed!
Sunday, 14 October 2012
When I first saw smocking and shirring it didn't feel like my cup of tea. Too cutesy, too time-consumer (yes, I know I work with time-consuming techniques like seedbeading and embroidery all the time), too traditional, too often done on boring white cotton to make sugar-sweet toddler clothes with pastel embroidery. I could go on, but I think you get the gist...
But since rekindling the love of hand embroidery -- via bead embroidery -- I've spent a lot of time contemplating what it is I want to create with my embroidery. I've especially thought about surfaces to embroider (there's a reason this book and this one are near the top on my wishlist) and how to create inspiring dimensional surfaces, e. g. using decoupage, paint, image transfers and "trapped object" techniques. Both to do something different from the traditional embroidery we all learned in school and to create a good starting point less daunting than that pristine, blank canvas many artists hesitate in front of.
When I recently saw Phiona Richards' pearl book sculpture and then, the other day, some american and canadian smocking -- which is different from the smocking/shirring I've usually seen -- and particularly when seeing this I started thinking: what if I use smocking techniques to either create a surface for my bead embroidery or use it to make the beadwork (partially or fully).
And all that put together that made me stitch these little samples on a dotted fabric.
First I really messed up and created this little sample: didn't stitch it right and then the beads downed in the pleats. Still, probably useful for a less strict and almost freeform style.
Then I made this one. A better sample (and a bigger one, using 8 mm beads instead of 4 mm), but I should've added extra pleats on the sides.
...which I did in this sample. Just missed one thing: it'd be better so start with just one bead in the first row and then increase the number, the same way I ended it on the right.
I then thought: what if I use bicone-shaped beads instead of round? They'd fill out the spaces in another way. So I got some square bicone beads (aka pyramid beads) and gave it a go, creating my last sample of the day. Probably should've taken more care to get the fabric and beads even, but I hope you can at least see the difference in style/pattern when changing bead shapes.
This is also the only sample I did stitching through instead of along the squares.
Here's an overview of all the samples. I bought the fabric after having see a lot of gingham embroidery, aka chicken scratch, and thought the squares and dots in the pattern could be interesting to work with. It wasn't until I got my sequins out that I also started thinking of actually using it. And now it ended up a good candidate for smocking as I could use the pattern instead of marking up a grid (to stitch after) by hand. Now the whole piece of fabric will be designated to some sort of experimental sampler.
This was a lot of fun -- though I have to learn the techniques a bit better, didn't exactly go by the book when doing these. My way works too, but it probably wears down the embroidery floss harder than it should. So I'm going to find some various tutes, read up on the smocking chapter in Jane Davis' bead embroidery books and then hopefully I'll have some more -- and better! -- smocked beadwork and/or jewellery to show you in the future.
Though as for bracelets, I'll probably keep pursuing this technique instead, which I wrote about in a previous post (uhm, no it isn't finished yet... Was focusing too much on beads and too little on thread when I last went shopping). No fabric edges etc to worry about there. I have had ideas about stitching beads to pleated shibori ribbon, but that'll be different from smocking and more along the line of what e.g. Alyson G. does -- or perhaps even something inspired by this from Cold Feet Quilter.
This has also inspired me to prepare a post about smocking with beads for my other blog. In researching it, I rediscovered Tinctory -- and could kick myself for forgetting about that gorgeous, beautiful smocked jewellery. If you haven't seen her jewellery, be sure to check out her Flickr page and/or blog.
Finding her work again, I returned to my musings of surfaces: for some time I've thought of using more hand-dyed materials, particularly fabrics etc as embroidery bases. As there's a certain pleasure in doing as much of the work myself I even considered that I might have to learn how to dye. But first of all, if I were to delve in to the world of hand-dyeing I'd only use natural dyes -- and they can fade, especially if not used right or picking the wrong materials, so there are many skills to learn. Second, learning that would take time as it's a whole new area for me, time and energy I rather spend perfecting my skills in beading, embroidery and metalwork. It could be fun to attend a short course or hang out with some dyers for a day and dye a bit, but nothing more than that. No, it's probably better to begin by finding good sources for hand-dyed fabric and fiber, preferrably using natural dyes and sharing my ideas on colours/aesthetics, and buy already dyed materials. At least for now.
UPDATE: As I've been asked about, I thought I'd just show a quick pic of how the beads are stitched. Basically, you just add a bead to every other stitch when making the pleats.
Original pic stolen from the smocking how-to guide on Tipnut. Altered by me.
The above mentioned blog post on smocking/shirring with beads can be found here. Blog in swedish, but many/most links go to websites in english.
Wednesday, 10 October 2012
Autum and rain means puddles and water-filled containers -- which in turn fill with leaves. It can be tricky to get photos of it, though, as the water surface both makes it hard for the camera to focus and it reflects light so you might end up with a photo of the blue sky rather than the submerged leaves you see with your naked eye.
When it freezes, the leaves are captured in the ice. That too can be very beautiful.
I made an altered version of one of photos too, adding textures and a discreet frame, but I'm not sure it did that much to improve the photos...
We finally got a sunny day so I got the camera (and a bunch of cats) and got out in the garden to take a few pics. It ended up being mostly leaves, but then again, those colourful leaves are the symbol of autumn, aren't they?
Please don't ask me what the name of the bush is. I have no idea... Pretty-red-and-green bush, perhaps?
Autumn isn't just about leaves and berries. There are a few flowers that bloom late in the season too. Aster, mum, tagetes and heather are a few. I found a purple aster.