Saturday, July 26, 2008

An "Ice Cream" post for a hot Texas evening

You Are Coffee Ice Cream

Energetic and lively, you are always on the go.

You're doing a million things at once and doing them well.

You tend to motivate others and raise spirits.

You are most compatible with chocolate ice cream.

Monday, July 21, 2008

HBS Annual Challenge

The Houston Bead Society issues a challenge every year. The President usually selects and puts together packages of beads, findings, etc. that are sold to members. The challenge is to use the entire package (along with some of your own beads) to create something beady. This year's package had coin pearls, silver spacers, silver beads and stone beads. We were also told we could not use any shade of brown.

I used the entire package along with some more pearls, pinky glass beads, crystals and a cool shell donut pendant that I had bought some years ago. Rather than stringing, I used thin gauge wire to wrap the components into this necklace.

I thought you'd enjoy seeing a close-up rather than the entire necklace.

Now I'm on to my next project - a heart block for the outgoing president of the Greater Houston Quilt Guild... any ideas??

Friday, July 18, 2008

This is the first sample I created in Nancy Prince's workshop. I learned to use two stitches - the straight and the zig zag - with the feed dogs down to create free motion embroideries. When doing free motion (embroidery or quliting), the feed dogs are down and you control the length of the stitches. With the straight stitch you don't set anything, but with the zig zag you can set the width to get different effects.

You start with a "tulle sandwich" which consists of a water soluble stabilizer, tulle and water soluble stabilizer. Then you hoop your "sandwich," make sure the sewing machine feed dogs are down, lower the presser foot and start sewing. You can go in any direction, but Nancy told us to go "east and west" with the zig zag. I went "north and south" a couple of times and I liked that too. I need to go back and work on the highlights some more. Anyway, for a good tutorial and more information about her "hoop sandwich," go to Nancy's website.

I like my sample a lot better than the tree I started for the actual project. I used a variegated brown thread for the trunk, but too much of it was way too light. Then I started the tree canopy with a dark green thread. I followed with a variegated green - so far so good. Then, when I re-hooped it to sew another area, I found out that my tension was too loose. If you look at it closely, the left side is much looser than the right. Oh well, live and learn. Anyway, it's not finished and I'm not sure I'm going to finish it. Instead, I have an idea for another project...

In the meantime, I'm teaching how to make tyvek beads at the Houston Bead Society meeting tomorrow. If you live in or near the Houston area, it meets at Bayou Manor, 4141 South Braeswood at 10:00 am. Maybe I'll see you there?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tyvek Earrings Part 2

Making tyvek beads could be addicting!

This is another pair of earrings I made in minutes! Really, I think it took longer for the paint to dry than to create them.

Check out the close-up. I found I had these tiny, tiny holeless beads that I picked up somewhere. So I mixed them up with the ultra thick embossing powder and heated up the tyvek bead with my heat gun. When the bead was hot (melted), I rolled it around in the embossing powder/bead mixture a couple of times and then dipped the ends in the same purple paint I used to color the tyvek to get rid of the white edges.

This pair is somewhere between the ultra shiny beads and the completely matte beads (see green pair below) and I really, really like the effect: a little shine from the holeless beads, a little glow from the embossing powder and still a somewhat matte finish. I added some silver beads and spacers from my stash and I had a pair of earrings that just barely brush my shoulders - in my favorite color: purple, of course.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Charity Quilts

I love making "stuff" but, working on a quilt or other project for someone else brings a different level of pleasure and enjoyment. I've made art quilts for Fiber Art for a Cause, Alzhiemer's association and beaded squares to benefit breast cancer research.

So, this month, I decided to take the plunge and checked out two bags of Comfort Quilt pieces to sew together and turn in next month. I finished both tops in an evening (about 6 to 8 hours). I have to admit the Greater Houston Quilt Guild really made it easy for me - all the tedious work was already done (the pieces were already cut out) so all I had to do was sew them together. The quilt tops are completed at its annual Comfort Quilt get-together and then donated to various pre-determined charities.

Many people think they can't make a difference - well, you can and all it takes is a few hours. I was pleased with the results and plan on checking out some more at next month's meeting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Silk Painting

I've mentioned before that I have a problem following patterns (I think it's that left brain vs. right brain thing) and although I do create things with patterns - to prove to myself that I can - I really enjoy just listening to the project to see what it wants done.

These scarves were a blast to create. I took this workshop with Houston Bead Society members Janie Fitzgerald and Fern Handler, who are expert weavers and dyers, and learned how to use silk paints and salts to create these random patterned scarves. All I really had to think about was the colors I wanted to use and go with it!

Tomorrow I will be taking a Thread Painting workshop with Nancy Prince (sponsored by the Greater Houston Quilt Guild). Nancy uses thread like most other artists use paint - fabric is her canvas and thread is the paint. We will be using free-motion machine embroidery to learn how to embellish our fiber art work (the straight stitch and zigzag are the only stitches we are going to use). Some of her work encompasses hundreds of thousands of yards of thread - yes, you read that right! If you visit her site, she has a short tutorial on her technique.

I can't stress enough the importance of taking workshops...not only do you learn something new, but you spend some time with like minded people doing something fun. And, if you're in a rut, workshops open you up to the possibilities and may even lead you down a path you might never have travelled.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Our new little "addition"

Here's our latest addition to our small family! Caden Santa Cruz was born today, July 14 at 2:02 pm. He weighed 6 pounds, 15 ounces and is 20 inches long. Here he is pictured with his proud daddy whose first words were "I'm still in shock!"