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Monday, July 29, 2013

Let's Celebrate Monday!

Hello, Hello, Hello!  And how is everyone on this glorious Monday?  I am doing quite well today, despite the fact that it is Monday and I still have a shit load of work to do.  Truth be told, Monday really isn't all that different from any other day for me.  There might be more out going mail to process on Monday, but beyond that, one day is pretty much the same as any other for me.  And yet, there is still that deep seated cultural disdain for Monday's that manages to permeate our lives whether we like it or not.

Monday should be the BEST day of the week.  It is the start of a whole new week.  A new beginning.  A chance to make a fresh start.  We should welcome Monday, embrace its potential, not vilify it.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, easy for me to say since I don't have to go to a job I hate everyday just to make enough money to barely survive on.  I can see where that would put a real damper on celebrating Monday, I have been there.  But, while it may not seem like it most of the time, there is still a lot more to life than your hours of indentured servitude.  At least I sure hope there is!

We are only guaranteed this one shot at life, and even that guarantee has only one certainty, that you are gonna die at some point.  Why is it that so many people toss aside this one shot at happiness and joy for the empty promise of something else later?  And why in the world do those same people think they have any business destroying other people's happiness and joy in this life all in the name of someone who is supposed to want everyone to be happy?  I just don't get that.  At all.  If you want to choose to be miserable in the only life you've got, fine, that is your right.  But you have no right to force others to join you in your misery.  I mean, I know misery likes company, but some people are just ridiculous about it.

So I am trying to learn to celebrate Monday, and every day, as the gift that it is.  Another chance to do better, to be better.  Another chance to spread happiness and joy to anyone who wants to share in it. A new day to learn, to grow, to love, to create, and to just be the best me that I can be.  I hope you all will join me.                           
Until Next Time ...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Playing With My New Knowledges

 Hello again Internet People!  I have been having way too much fun the last few days playing with all my new found knowledges.  And, yes, I do know that "knowledges" is not a real word, but I have decided that I like it, so I am going to use it.

Anyway, I recently learned that those cheap ass foam craft shapes that they sell to keep kids occupied during the summer will work for making your own foam stamps and oh my gawd this was too freakin cool for words!  I have literally thousands upon thousands of those damn things!  I bought them a decade or so ago with the thought that my kids might like to play with them.  Which they did, a little.  Fortunately they did not enjoy them nearly as much as I had prepared for, so I have an almost limitless supply of precut shapes and blank sheets to use in making my own stamps!  And boy did I make some stamps!

Of course, being as obsessive compulsive as I am, first I spent the better part of two days sorting and organizing all of those damn shapes!  They are all now all neatly sorted into zip-lock baggies according to shape, so I can find what I want quickly and easily the next time I decide to do something with them.  Once I finished sorting them I started adding glue and making the stamps.  I just backed them with cardboard, because that is what I had to work with.  They won't last forever, but I can always make more if they fall apart.  Now I have 28 new stamps to play with, so I decided it was time to pull out my Gelli printing plate and start playing with them.

These first two I was just testing out designs using the different paint scrapers I have collected and different types of paints.

These two were done using watered down transparent paints and those foam stamps with the Gelli plate.  I really like the textural effect of the circles in the bottom piece, especially from the printing plate part of the print.  Now, if I had pulled out my stamping pad that I made before trying to stamp with those new foam stamps, that part probably would have worked a little better, but I was just testing, and I was too lazy to try to deal with all of that, and it worked out just fine anyway.
I have only had the plate for about a year or so, and of course I had never even opened it.  I HAD to have it the moment I first saw it, even thought I had no idea why.  I am sure glad I did.  It was a lot of fun to play with!  Of course, now I NEED a bigger one, but I think I can suffer through with my little one for a while longer.  Especially since someone else mentioned that she uses the cheap plastic cutting boards to achieve similar effects to the Gelli printing plate.  I will have to try that before I go shelling out $80 for another tool that will probably sit on the shelf for years.

Here is a photo of all of the products I was using in this Blog Post so you can see just what I am talking about.  Top left is the Gel Medium, bottom left are some of the Transparent Paints, and on the right is the Gelli plate.

I also tried a little bit of sun-printing, well, sunless sun-printing anyway, yesterday.  I used my transparent paints and diluted the hell out of them, then I saturated a wet piece of fabric with the paint and then scrunched it up tightly into horizontal folds, and used my daylight lamp to expose the high spots to light and I ended up with a pretty cool looking piece of future sky or water fabric.  I can guarantee I am going to be doing a lot more of that process in the near future!

Something else I tried yesterday that I plan on doing a lot more of (and I am actually in the middle of three more as I type) was learning how to transfer a laser printed image onto fabric.  This was another new concept for me.  I know how to use an ink jet printer to print on fabric, but you can't print directly on the fabric with a laser printer.  Of course the only printers that I have access to that have actually ink in them are laser printers.  Right now I am just working with Black and white images, I will try the color printer some other time.

So I learned a couple of weeks ago that you can use a gel medium to transfer the laser printed images to fabric, and the gel mediums that I ordered finally arrived, so I had to give it a try.  I painted the medium generously all over the image (I am using the Vintage Women photos, like the ones I make the silly pictures from), and then carefully (haha) placed it image side down on the fabric.  Then I took a scraper tool and burnished the back of the paper as thoroughly and completely as humanly possible, and waited for it to dry.  Actually I couldn't wait, so I used my little heat gun to dry it, I probably should have just waited.  Once it was all dry I spritzed water all over it, soaking the paper really well, let it sit for a minute, and then started rubbing the paper off.  The one I did last night had a few little holes in the image that I think are a result of too little medium and not waiting for it to dry thoroughly, so for the three I am working on now I used a lot more medium, and I am letting them dry completely, on their own, before I try removing the paper.  I will post picture of these when I get them done too.  Here is the first one:
I kinda like the etherial look that this process provides.  I have a couple of other processes and techniques that I want to try to add to this process, so be looking for lots of vintage women in our future here.  I don't think I quite got all the paper off of this one.  I will heat set the image with an iron later and run it through the wash to see what happens, hopefully that will help clean the image up a little bit more.  Or it might wash it away entirely, can't really be sure until I try it.  Either way I will let you all know what happens when I do.

Well, I think I am about ready to go remove the paper from the three pictures I attempted to transfer this morning so I am gonna sign outta here and get to playing some more.  Until next time: 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Loafing, Learning, and Filters

Hello again Internet People!  Well, I did it.  I managed to make it through the entire day yesterday without doing a damn thing.  Well, except for all the meals I had to prepare, the dishes that had to be done, the strawberries that had to be cleaned, etc. ..., but other than that, I didn't do shit.  And it gave me a headache.  I don't think I want to do that again anytime soon, so I better find some shit to do today.  

I decided last night that I need to go back out to the storage room and take all of the books that I took off the shelves and put in boxes when I thought I was moving all my crap to the garage, and put them back on the shelves.  It would clear up a whole lot of floor space, and empty out a bunch of boxes, and make it much easier to find the books that I want when I want them.  It shouldn't take too long since they are all organized by subject already, but it will give me something to do for a little while anyway.

All of the stuff that I bought last week should be arriving over the next few days, so hopefully I will be able to actually start in on that whole learning to paint thing that I talked about yesterday.  I have been watching more videos and doing more research while I am waiting, and I think I am getting a basic understanding of the principles and basic techniques.  We shall see what happens when I actually try to put brush to fabric, but at the moment I still have high hopes.  Don't get me wrong, I know I am not going to be turning out masterpieces anytime soon, I understand the learning process, and my own personal learning curve far better than most people.  It takes time and practice to get good at anything, I just have high hopes for the potential that this skill set represents, and my ability to figure it out, eventually.

If there is one thing in this world that I truly excel at, it is probably learning.  I have yet to meet a subject that I could not master, given the proper motivation.  I never made it through Calculus, but that was due to a lack of motivation, not a lack of capability.  If there comes a time when I decide I really do want to know Calculus, I will learn it, until then, I think I will focus on the things I do have a use for.  There are not enough hours left in my life to waste them on stuff that isn't useful to my life.

Speaking of not enough hours, it has taken me the better part of hour just to get this far with this post.  Running everything I type through the 4 dozen filters that operate incessantly in my head takes a lot of freaking time!  And you thought I didn't have any filters!  Haha, fooled you!  There are a lot of things that I won't allow myself to talk about here, and a few things that I would LOVE to talk a LOT more about, but doing so would call unnecessary attention to me, and I don't need that shit.  Then there are the filters for those subjects that I am not emotionally prepared to address at this time, there are still a lot of those.  I may not filter my language very often, but I filter my words ALL the time!

Well, those books ain't gonna move themselves, and it is only going to get hotter the longer I wait, so I best get to work if I am gonna get any work done.  Until next time ...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Skills, New Stuff, Same Crazy

 Hello Again Internet People!  Sorry its been so long since last I wrote for all of you, I have been busy working and learning and taking care of shit and just haven't had the motivation to get back here until now.  My brain is stuck in hyper-drive again and focusing it enough to write is difficult at best.  Actually, its probably impossible, as I am sure this post will prove.   

I am currently working on developing a new skill set to add to my repertoire.  I am learning (or trying to learn) to paint (on fabric of course).  I have never done any kind of real "art" type painting, I mean, maybe finger painting in Kindergarten, but that's about it.  I have painted walls, and furniture, even tried my hand at some decorative painting, on the walls and furniture, but I have never tried to paint a picture in any medium in at least 40 years!  

Want to hear the funniest part of all of this?  I already have all the paints!  I collected them for different reasons and never used much of any of them (I have mention my obsessive compulsive creative disorder before, this is one of those rare occasions when it worked in my favor!).  Unfortunately, I have recently learned that there is actually more to painting than just the paint, so now I am waiting for a bunch of these things called "mediums" to arrive in the mail before I can really get started on this new adventure. 

Why did I decide I needed to learn to paint all of a sudden?  Well, I took another class on Craftsy.  I really need to quit doing that!  I learn so many inspiring new things, and they always cost me more money!  Seriously though, I have been doing a lot of studying of different "Art Quilts" and the artists, trying to figure out how they are doing the things they are doing, and I have come to realize that the only way I am going to achieve the results that I am hoping for is through the use of paint in addition to the fabric and thread and stuff.  There is no way in the world I am ever going to be able to afford all the colors of all the different types of threads and fabrics that would be necessary to produce the results I want.  Painting will allow me to create any color any where (pretty much) a whole lot cheaper.  That is my thought on the whole thing anyway.  At least, that is my excuse for today.

I have been doing a lot of that, taking classes online and watching videos on different artistic type stuff lately.  I have learned so many new things my head is ready to explode with ideas and projects!  The only problem is I can't slow down enough to focus on any one idea.  That is another reason for this little detour into the world of painting.  I am absolutely starting from ground zero on this, so I have no choice but to slow down and take it one step at a time.  It will give me something to focus on, at least for a little while.

I do have another new product that I learned about whilst watching all those videos, its called UTEE (ultra thick embossing powder).  Oh my freaking gawd this stuff is beyond AMAZING!  If you have done any scrap booking or work with paper art you may have some experience with embossing powders, if not, they are a powder that you can put on paper that will raise the surface of the paper when heat is added to it.  Its a nifty thing, and I have a whole embossing kit that I bought 10 years ago when I went through a brief scrap booking phase (one that ended with me owning more paper and stickers than I could use in three life times, but I digress), I never even opened it, but I had to have it at the time (I think it was on Clearance!).  Okay, that's cool, it makes raised designs on paper, why is this so impressive?  Well, the UTEE is different.  It can do the whole paper thing, but it can do so much more!  It can be stamped, molded, painted, formed, the possibilities are virtually endless!  I found this Blog post -  - Go!  Check it out and you will see just what I mean!  Oh my freaking gawd!  And yes, I bought some, and no I haven't opened the bottle yet.  But I will, soon, this stuff is going to be just too damn much fun to play with!

Speaking of having too damn much fun, I have been batting an idea around for a while.  It has come to my attention as I have been searching the Interwebs for artsy craftsy type videos that there is a serious deficiency out there in free, crappy, cheesy, crafting how-to videos.  And I was thinking that I might be able to fill that void.  Not crappy, as in crappy crafts, great crafts, just crappy videos.  I Love playing with new stuff and learning about new products and new techniques.  And I Love sharing what I learn with anyone who will stop long enough to listen.  But I can't stand actually dealing with people, so I was thinking that making little videos might be the way to go as we move forward.  I can guarantee that they would be crappy videos since I would be doing all the filming and editing myself, but I think they could be fun, maybe even kinda funny.  I am still kicking the idea around in my head, but if I ever get the motivation to actually do it, you all will be the first to know.

In the meantime, I have actually been working on work related stuff lately.  I am trying to get all of my Cross Stitch Patterns listed on Craftsy, and now they are allowing zip files for embroidery designs, so there is a whole new job for me to do now.  I am still working on fixing all my listings on Bonanza, I think I am about halfway through those. My website went down this Spring, and of course all of my pictures for my listings were hosted on my web site, so when it went down, all the pictures disappeared. Kinda hard to sell stuff to people when they can't see what it looks like.  I finished all the ones on iOffer, but then I found a few dozen sets that weren't listed at all, and apparently I never finished getting all of the Cross Stitch Patterns on there, so there is some more work that I get to do.  Now, if some of that work would just pay off in some sales I would be doing alright.  I won't be holding my breath on that one, but I have to keep trying.  The stuff sure as hell won't sell if it is not listed where people can find it to buy, so I keep listing.

But, not today.  Today I am not working if I can help it.  I have no idea what I will end up doing, but I am really trying for little to nothing.  Now, if you have been following along for any length of time by now you know that ain't gonna happen.  It is not possible for me to just sit and do nothing.  It makes me crazy, well, crazier.  I am working on it though.  I think it is important to be able to relax and just be at peace with yourself once in a while.  I'd like to try that, at least once.  It might be a nice change of pace.  

Until Next time ...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Just Dyeing To Show You

 Hello there Internet People!  I actually left my house yesterday and ventured out into the world for a few hours.  Now I am broke, and I still don't have any more fabric to dye!  I do have some new tools and supplies that I was lusting after, but no fabric.  For the moment I have decided that I will take a break from dyeing once I finish up what I have, there are so many other things that I really need to get done this summer, and I won't do them if I can dye instead.  Like those flower beds full of salt grass that I still haven't cleaned out!  The section I did earlier this Spring is already filled back in, the only evidence that I was even there is the lack of dead leaves in that one section.  

Hey, guess what?!  I actually took some pictures!  They aren't all that great, but at least I tried, that's something, right?  So here are some shots of the fabrics I have dyed so far this year:

 If you look real close at the pictures you might notice that some of them appear to have a print to them.  I had a whole bunch of white on white printed fabrics that I over-dyed.  The fronts of the fabrics are kinda over powered by the white print, but the backsides are just gorgeous!  The print shows through just enough to add some texture to the design, but not enough to distract from it. 

I also took pictures of the embroidery floss that I dyed, I will need to take a few more (better) pictures before I can list them on Etsy, but other than that they are packaged and ready to go to new homes.  Well, excluding the ones I kept for myself that is.  

These first two pictures are of the ones I am keeping.  The top one is all embroidery floss, the bottom one has different types of threads.  The one that I was worried about untangling was actually a size 10 Bamboo thread, they are the ones wrapped around the cone at the top of the second photo,  fortunately they were not as big of a pain as I thought they would be.  They were a pain, but not a monumental one.  I think my problems were more related to the fiber content than the size of the thread though. I think bamboo gets curly when you wash and dry it, at least to a much greater extent than cotton threads do.

The big hanks on the left side of the second photo are embroidery floss, the little pink one next to those is a size 8 pearl cotton (I think).  The blues and purple that come next are all a size 5 thread with a tiny bit of metallic wrapped in it.  They kinked like hell when the were washed!  Luckily I made small hanks of those so they were not too difficult to untangle. The green threads are all from a very old ball of crochet thread I had in the cupboard.  It was a very pale green and slightly discolored due to its age.  I have no idea what size they are, but I am thinking somewhere between a 5 and an 8.  Washing and dyeing the thread actually seems to have re-hydrated the thread as well, it is not nearly as brittle as it was before. 

The last threads in the picture are a size 3.  All of the threads, no matter what type, were wound around 18" long boards, tied off in four places to keep the threads from tangling, and then washed in very hot water, laundry detergent, and borax before dyeing.  I made a little washing machine out of an old plastic strainer and a large plastic bowl.  I have to do the agitating myself, but it is working very well for this process.  After they are washed, I rolled them in a towel to press the excess water out of them and then hung them up to dry.   After they were dry I soaked them in my bucket of soda ash water for a while and then squeezed all the extra water out.  The embroidery threads were dyed in sets of 5, so I took five skeins, and laid them out straight in a basin, and carefully started adding color to one end.  Depending on what I was doing I might have added a second color to the other end, or just added plain hot water, and squished the threads very carefully to get the dye worked through all of the fibers.  This gives each of the colors a 18" repeat on every skein, no mater how many colors are used.  Once the color was added, I squeezed out all of the extra dye and then dropped the threads into plastic zip-lock type baggies, and set them in the sun to cook.  After a few hours I took them out and rinsed each skein by hand in cold water, and then soaked them in cold water for a couple hours to remove as much of the excess dye as possible.  I then washed them again in my little washer, in extremely hot water, twice, rinsing with cold water in between each wash.  Again I rolled them in a towel to squeeze out the extra water.  Then I threw the towel, threads and all, into the dryer with a load of fabrics in a similar color.  Those colors are not going anywhere!

Greens & Browns Set #1
Pinks & Purples Set #2

Blues Set #3

Reds, Oranges, & Yellows Set #4
Hopefully I will get my ass outside soon and take some better pictures so I can get these listed on Etsy this year.  I think I will add in a CD disk of hand embroidery designs with the purchase of a set of threads, maybe that will help them sell a little faster than the t-shirts.  If they don't, then I guess I will just have to keep them for myself.  That would be a terrible pity indeed.  

Well, I think it is time for me to sign outta here again and get back to work.  I am making some good progress in getting my creative spaces more organized and user friendly and I would like to finish it up today so that I can get to work on some new projects that I am designing in my head.  All I need now is an extra 1,000 square feet and a couple dozen extra hours in the day and I will be all set.  But since that isn't going to happen, I better go make some better use of what I do have.  Until next time ...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Feeding My Obsessive Compulsive Creative Disorder

Hello there Internet People!  I thought I better check in here and do a little writing before I blow it off for another day.  Its funny, as much as I enjoy writing, and especially writing this Blog, I still have a hell of a time getting myself in here to write.  I don't know why.  Mostly I think it just a matter of never having enough time.  Writing takes a lot of time for me, each of these Blog posts usually take at least a couple of hours to write, even the short ones!  There are just never going to be enough hours in the day for me.  Especially since I spend so much time just sitting here thinking about stuff and not doing a damn thing.  I have gotten into a real rut of thinking lately, I need to climb out of my brain and get to doing!

I have been dyeing, of course.  And I have been learning stuff.  One of the things I learned this past week is that I don't want to dye threads smaller than a size 5 ever again!  I did a few hanks of a size 10 thread, oh my gawd they are a mess!  I think it is going to take hours to untangle the damn things!  And of course, since it was a smaller thread, I made longer hanks of it, I think they are like 25 yards a piece, almost 4 times the length of the embroidery thread hanks, which means all the more knots and tangles to undo.  It is a good thing I didn't intend to sell these, they would not be cost effective to produce when it take 6 hours just to deal with one hank of thread!

I still have not made it to taking pictures yet.  No surprise there I suppose.  That is another one of those things that I really enjoy, but you sure couldn't tell by the amount of pictures I take!  I will get there, eventually, but probably not today.

This might come as surprise to some of you, but I still haven't even taken the time yet to play with those Punchinella pieces yet!  The ones I was so excited about getting to play with, yeah those.  I ended up cutting stencils and templates the other day and never quite got around to anything else.  Fortunately they will still be there whenever I do get the time and the energy to play with them, its not like they can go bad if you don't use them soon enough.

Today I am untangling those threads, and rewinding the rest of the ones I have dyed.  I wound out another 85 new hanks of embroidery thread yesterday that is now ready to be washed and dyed.  I ended up with 220 skeins at around 9 yards each, plus 6 skeins at 25 yards each out of the cone that I bought.  Not bad for less than 30 bucks!  Unfortunately the cone is empty now, so now I get to fight with myself over whether I really need to buy another one.  And no, I do not NEED to, but unfortunately at some point I will convince myself that I do.  It is only a matter of time.  It is just one of the many drawbacks to having an obsessive compulsive creative disorder.  I am getting used to it.

Speaking of NEEDing things, the damn fabric store sent me another 50% off coupon yesterday.  Now I get to spend all week trying to convince myself that I do not NEED another bolt of fabric to dye!  (I do NEED it you know, desperately.)  I am almost done with everything I had to dye this year.  Another day or two of dyeing and I won't have anything else left to play with for the rest of the summer!  I think I actually NEED at least 2 more bolts.  Damnit. 

Well, I better sign outta here and shut down this computer before I go shopping again.  The laundry is not folding itself and the housework fairy hasn't been to my house in weeks, so I might have enough to distract myself from spending any money today.  Maybe.  Wish me luck.

Until next time ...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Dyeing, A Dragon, and Punchinella!

Hello Internet People!  Happy "Independence Day" to my fellow Americans, and Happy July 4th to the rest of you!  Just because you don't celebrate our holiday doesn't mean you can't celebrate the day!  Sorry for slacking on the posting again lately, we have been experiencing a major heat wave here at Mother's, and my laptop cannot handle it.  That, and we are currently dealing with a personal matter that is taking up most of my time and energies which I am not allowed to tell you all about, yet.  When this is over it will make for some hysterical comedy fodder, but at the moment it is anything but funny.

In other news, I have been doing some dyeing, not as much as I would like, but some.  No pictures yet, but they are coming soon.  And I have been working on that Dragon Art Quilt, not sure yet whether I am making it better or worse, but we shall see what I end up with in the end.  I have been embroidering little flowers, and berries in the bushes by hand, and since the darn thing is constructed of so many layers of fused fabrics it is really hard to stitch through by hand.  My fingers are so sore from stitching that I have to take the day off (at least) to let them recover before I try touching a needle again.  I really should learn to use a thimble someday.

 I still haven't decided what I am going to do with the rest of the day today.  Maybe I will work on cutting some more templates and stencils.  I have several sheets drawn out, ready to be be cut.  I am working on label sheets, so they have adhesive on the back already, which will make the template shapes perfect for the sun painting projects I plan to do this summer. 

Oh!I almost forgot, I got my new thingies in the mail this week!  I am so excited to start playing with those, maybe I will do that today instead.  The "thingies" are technically called "Punchinella", also known as "sequin waste" in some circles.  I had never heard of them before a couple of years ago, and had no clue why they were so interesting until very recently.  But now I know, and I had to have them!  Basically they are the sheets of foil-paper that they cut sequins out of when they make those.  The waste material left over makes great stencils for all kinds of applications, and since they make sequins in a lot of different shapes and sizes these days, the left overs can be pretty freakin cool!  At least I think so.  I had to search for the stuff pretty hard to find a good deal on an assortment of it, but I finally found what I was looking for and I am oh so very pleased!  I think that is what I will do today, at least until its time to shoot off the fireworks!  Maybe I will even take some pictures to show you all, I wouldn't count on that, but I might get there.

Until next time ...