Friday, April 29, 2005

Baby Blue Jay

Here is a photograph of a baby blue jay taken two years ago. He and his brothers and sisters had been fledging while DH was mowing the lawn and doing other yard work. He kept finding the babies on the ground and placing them back in the trees so they’d be safe. If you’ve ever had a good look at a baby blue jay, it’s a wonder that they ever get airborne – they are quite fat with stubby tails and disproportionately short wings. Anyway, this went on for the better part of the afternoon. The parents, although keeping a watchful eye on DH, never attacked him. But when I finally ventured forth that day, they were waiting for me. As soon as I opened the front door, an angry adult jay flew at my head and dug in his/her little talons for all he/she was worth. It was like a scene right out the “The Birds.” The adults left me alone after that, figuring I’d been given a good warning…

Baby Blue Jay

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Eating and Antiquing

DH and I treated my sister to a late breakfast this morning at Smithville to celebrate her birthday. Then we ran down to the antique center to look for vintage fabrics to dress my Santa dolls. I bought a nice vintage table runner, a small leather Bible from 1941, a wooden cigar box, a strange little doily, and a pretty little hanky with a crocheted edge. Most everything was 50% off. Woohoo!!! After that, we had coffee and doughnuts. It was a great day of eating and antiquing – two of my favorite activities!

DH took this photo of one of the magnificent roosters that strut around Smithville.

Handsome Rooster

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Naked as a Jaybird

Here is one of my new prim Santas. He’s been sitting around awhile naked as a jaybird because he hasn’t told me what he wants to wear, yet!

Unfinished Santa

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Spring Peeper

Our house is situated on nearly five acres in the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey (Jersey Devil country!). Our yard consists of pitch pines, scrub oaks, laurel, huckleberry and wild blueberry bushes – and is home to many interesting little creatures. This fine fellow is known as a Spring Peeper (Hyla crucifer). You can see the characteristic X on his back. DH took this photo a couple of evenings ago. One of the benefits of living in the woods is falling asleep to the comforting choruses of frogs.

Spring Peeper

Monday, April 25, 2005

Grandmom Munn

I was lucky enough to inherit some lovely old family photographs and have been playing with them in PhotoShop. This is an image of my grandmother, Mary Munn. She was such a little sweetie, but very strait-laced. My fondest memory of her is from the time she lived with us in her older years. One day, we were watching television together and an actress was dancing rather provocatively and singing, “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.” Well it was too much for poor Grandmom! She said, “I’m not sure what Lola wants, but what she needs is a good kick in the sitdown!” There was something about the seriousness with which she said it that struck me funny (I was about twelve or so) and I started giggling and then she started giggling, too. To this day, whenever I think about that incident, I laugh out loud. Anyway, I’m sure this little photo will find its way into a crazy quilt of mine, someday… In the meantime, anyone who may have stumbled upon this post is more than welcome to use it in a CQ project, altered book, collage, whatever… Grandmom would be tickled.

Grandmom Munn

Friday, April 22, 2005


Huckleberry (our baby) just showed up at our back door one November evening several years ago, a cold and hungry kitten. My husband heard a commotion outside and when he opened the door, Huck ran in and has been sharing our home ever since – along with three other former strays.


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Allegheny Serviceberry Tree

The Allegheny Serviceberry tree is beginning to blossom. Although native to this area (southern New Jersey swamplands) and throughout North America, I bought this particular tree many years ago at a nursery and paid quite a lot of money for it right before I discovered one growing wild in my backyard! D’oh! Anyway, this is one of my all-time favorite trees with spring blossoms, red berries and leaves that begin to turn crimson in late summer/early fall. The mockingbirds love the berries and I’ve even observed them feeding them to their little nestlings. Here is a PDF file from the University of Florida Extension for more information on this wonderful tree.
I have some honeysuckle vines wrapping themselves around some branches of my tree and I’m probably going to have to make a decision to extricate them before they strangle it. I just hate to destroy any living thing…sigh…gardening is definitely not for the squeamish

Serviceberry Blossoms

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Springtime in Italy… Sort of

The weather has been heavenly the past few days, highs in the 70s, low humidity, although it’s a bit more like summer today. This kind of weather always reminds me of the Mark Twain quote: "Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company."

My wonderful package of materials and rules for the
Italian Dream Challenge arrived over the weekend and I’ll be working on that today. I’ve already enlarged the pattern, traced it and transferred it to Bristol board – so I’m all set to go. The doll not only has to be in the shape of Italy, but the islands of Sicily and Sardinia must be included as well – hey, that’s why they call it a challenge! I’ll be immersing myself in the culture of Italy for awhile. I think I’ll watch Enchanted April (again!) just to get myself in the mood...

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Primitive Santa

Here is the prototype for the new prim Santas I’m making. He is coffee and vanilla stained (smells good!) and embellished with old, unmatched mother of pearl buttons. His coat and hat are made from a vintage chenille bedspread I bought at a local antique store. The crocheted doily and trim are also antique store finds. I sewed an old skeleton key to the doily. The straggly tassel on his hat was in the bottom of an old tin of military and other buttons my MIL found for me down in Key West. The fabric for his trousers is from my mom’s old stash. The small Bible on his lap is an antique EBAY purchase. This ol’ boy will go to my sister, Susie, for her birthday next week.

Primitive Santa

Monday, April 18, 2005

Yet Another UFO!

I retrieved yet another crazy pieced UFO from amidst the chaos that is my studio. This is a portion of what will one day become a lingerie case. I pieced it after Christmas (well, I needed a project to try out the new scissors I received, so I started cutting fabric strips and one thing sort of lead to another…) and then it somehow got put aside. My plan was to try embellishing the seams with a combination of hand and machine embroidery – and then add beads and buttons. Here is an example of a commercial ribbon affixed to a seam using the machine’s smocking stitch (in a thread that matches the ribbon) which created the little picots on each edge. I glued the ribbon down first with a fabric glue stick. My usual method of applying a ribbon to a seam is by hand- appliquéing it. Using the machine was much quicker and I think the little picots look like they are part of the ribbon.

Machine Appliquéd Ribbon

Friday, April 15, 2005

Louise, Le Lapin Lunatique

Here is an original doll I designed and created last year. Her outfit was inspired by the exuberant color combinations in the book, Crazy Quilting with Attitude, by Barbara Randle. I named her Louise, Le Lapin Lunatique, as a nod to my French Canadian heritage (my mom was born in Montreal). Most of the fabric and trim was from my mother’s old stash I inherited. Louise acts as my studio muse…

Louise, Le Lapin Lunatique

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Wedding Collage Update

Here is another section of my wedding crazy quilted collage (see entry for April 5, 2005, "Wedding Collage UFO"). I created the fan from lace, embroidery stitches and “pearls.” I needed to soften the edges of the straight seams and I found a reference to adding an embroidered fan to crazy quilting in a wonderful needle worker’s blog I read nearly daily, Chloe’s Place. If you go to her archives, you’ll find the information under February 18, 2005. There is lots of inspiration there.

Wedding Collage Fan

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Day of Doll Making

Today, I’m working on my new line of primitive Santas. They will be quite distressed, shabbily dressed and embellished with vintage and/or antique buttons and lace. Some will hold vintage toys, dolls or books, collectibles in their own right. I’m having lots of fun with these…

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Another Harbinger of Spring

My magnolia tree (magnolia stellata “Royal Star”) flowered a couple of days ago – another harbinger of spring! The fragrance is so sweet. I purchased my tree by mail order from Spring Hill Nursery a few years ago and it seems to be thriving amongst my foundation plants in partial shade in damp, acidic soil.

Magnolia Blossom

Monday, April 11, 2005

Prince Charles and Camilla and Me

Well, Charles and Camilla finally tied the knot. He was supposed to marry me! Back in eighth grade (many, many years ago) we were asked to write a paper on what we wanted our futures to be. I was in, what they cruelly termed back then, the “smart” class (don’t have any idea how I ended up in there) and all of my classmates wrote of very noble and worthwhile pursuits. Some wanted to be research scientists and find the cure for cancer. Some wanted to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, etc. I wanted to go to art school in London and meet and marry Prince Charles (he was really kind of cute back then) and, unlike Wallace Simpson, become the first American Queen of England, beloved by the entire British realm! So that’s what my paper was about. I even pointed out that I had royalty in my family as my sister had been voted May Queen one year. Well, my teacher loved it! His comment on my paper was, “I wonder if the man you plan to woo and wed in England is truly worthy of you…” He thought my lighthearted approach was refreshing, especially after reading all the other serious papers …um…except I was perfectly serious!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Redwork Embroidery by Machine

I received a Janome Memory Craft 9500 sewing/embroidery machine for my birthday in December and have been having fun experimenting with that. I will be posting the results of these experiments from time to time – the more successful ones, anyway! Here is one of my first tests. I was intrigued by the idea of doing redwork embroidery by machine. I found a free design to download from a wonderful company called Embroider This!. I stitched it out first in 40 wt. Madeira rayon. Although I was happy with the result, I wanted a beefier look, so I tried it in 12 wt. Sulky cotton – just the look I wanted! Be sure to use a size 90 needle with a nice big opening for the bulkier thread. I took the top thread tension down from 2 to 1, also. The cotton thread kicks up a lot of lint so the machine has to be cleaned really well after stitching. The lint on the embroidered piece cleans off easily with one swipe of one of the rolling tape style lint removers – cat people will know just what I’m talking about…

Redwork in 12 wt. Sulky Cotton

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spring is Finally Here!

Spring has finally come to New Jersey! Yesterday was such a beautiful day – highs in the low 80s – a foretaste of summer. The winter lingered too long this year. Today is a lovely day, too. Here are my Monkshood perennials sprouting up. They won’t bloom until well into fall but the gorgeous purple flowers are worth the wait.

The Monkshood plants are sprouting!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Italian Dream Challenge

I couldn’t resist adding yet another project to my overcrowded schedule. Yesterday, I ordered the packet and rules for the Italian Dream Challenge. The idea is to create an art doll using the map of Italy as the pattern! The photos of the finished doll are due via e-mail on June 15th. I’m not sure I’ll have time to finish but it sounds like such an interesting and fun challenge that it’s worth making an effort…

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Wedding Collage UFO

Hey! Anybody out there? I have been keeping a journal (morning pages) for the past five years as per Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, but talking to myself does seem a little embarrassing in so public a forum as the internet. Yikes! Anyway, here is a UFO (one of way too many) on which I’m currently working. It’s a crazy quilted wedding collage that will fit into a wooden frame tray. Here is the focal point, which is a wedding photograph of my great aunt and uncle (circa early 1900s). The scan was direct- printed to canvas (not transferred) on my ink jet printer (Epson Stylus Photo 2200). I still have lots of work to do on the project - beading, adding buttons and an antique lace appliqué. I’m hoping to work the little angel button from yesterday’s post in somewhere. By the way, that button measures only 1/2 inch.

Wedding Collage 4-5-05

Monday, April 04, 2005

My Very First Post!

My very first post! Well, here goes nothin’… I listed button collecting as one of my interests on my profile page and then clicked on it to see if there were any fellow button aficionados out there. Nope, just me – alone in the blogosphere. Say it isn’t so! I do not collect them formally for display, but I do use them in crazy quilting. Carved mother of pearl buttons and twinkles are my favorites! Last week I bought sixty-eight twinkles on EBAY. Here is my favorite of the batch, although they are all beautiful. Isn’t this just the sweetest little button? I didn’t notice the detail until I magnified it.

Twinkle Button