Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

In an attempt to get my act together for the New Year, I joined Susan Sorrell’s 2010 Monthly Art Experiment. I am hoping to actually try some of the wonderful projects in Quilting Arts and Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazines – instead of just admiring them. As a further challenge, I’m going to attempt to limit myself to supplies I have on hand (shouldn’t be too difficult as I seem to have every art supply known to man!). The challenge is very loose since the participants may choose to try any project from a book or magazine that interests them. Last summer, I sat outside one sunny afternoon with my stack of magazines and actually wrote down the page numbers of the projects I wanted to do someday. And, of course, I have since lost the list! Well, I’m looking at it as an excuse to go through the magazines again! I am really looking forward to broadening my horizons a bit.

I tried a little experiment today that I’ve wanted to try for a couple of years, since I first saw it in Quilting Arts magazine – and it took next to no time! I used a stamp to make an impression in some fusible fiber (a type of Angelina I got on sale quite awhile ago). I wasn’t sure it would work because I only had a foam rubber stamp and I was afraid it would melt. I put the stamp on the ironing board, face up; then put some fiber down on top and covered it with a piece of parchment paper. A few seconds later, with a dry iron set on the “silk” setting, I got a nice crisp image - and the stamp is none the worse for wear!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

DAE’s Smoking Flame Vivian is borrowing Gene Marshall’s American Countess gown. Madame Alexander’s Suzette is borrowing Gene’s Crescendo gown (with violin). This photo was taken a couple of years ago.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Treasures from the Sea

I mounted a small collection of delightful vintage carved Mother of Pearl buttons on an embellished and embroidered background I had created for the TAST challenge a couple of years ago. I think the frame (purchased in Michael’s) is evocative of a whitewashed beach cottage. I'll be adding this to my Etsy shop, soon.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Christmas Constance"

This has got to be one of the most beautiful dolls ever made. Her name is “Christmas Constance” (so I had to have her!) and she is a CED doll. She’s about 19” tall with a highly articulated body. I love the vintage box of Christmas lights that came with her.

“Dashing Thru the Snow”

I finally added my Santas to my Etsy shop. Here’s the latest one, finished. When I first started my doll business, I sold an original pattern for a Belsnickle dressed just like this Santa. While moving my studio upstairs, I found a box with a couple of finished crazy quilted collars that were just too nice (and represented too much work) to throw away. So I used one to dress up a Santa to sit in a sleigh.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Santa Wreath

Here is my Santa wreath finished. As I mentioned a few posts ago, this is an idea I’ve wanted to try for some time – and finally decided to just do it. I’m so glad I did - it was such a joy to make! Santa is wired securely to the metal back of the wreath. His legs and arms are hot-glued in place. I may have to make more of these, next year. I loved playing with the silk flowers...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I Cooked!

Departing from my usual tradition of serving frozen lasagna, I actually cooked a big holiday meal. I think I've been spending a little too much time watching the Food Network, lately! Here’s what I served - along with links to the recipes. It was all delicious, but very, very rich...

Squash Stuffed with Apple-Almond-Cherry Basmati Pilaf (recipe)
Mashed Potatoes (recipe)
Sweet Potato Casserole (recipe)
Green Bean Casserole (recipe)
Cranberry Sauce with Orange and Rosemary (recipe)
Coleslaw from Kathleen’s wonderful blog (recipe) – the yummiest coleslaw ever! Kathleen maintains three beautifully written blogs illustrated with great photos: Eggs in My Pocket, about life on her farm, Yesteryear Embroideries showcasing her creative and inspiring needlework and My Country Kitchen where she shares the tastiest recipes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Have a Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Here is a quick, easy and delicious recipe for fresh cranberry sauce I found online, here. I’ve never made it before and OMG – it tastes just like cranberry sauce should taste! I’m doing the happy dance! I was able to use fresh rosemary from my herb garden. Here it is cooling down awaiting refrigeration. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Almost Done...

I’m just finishing up a few things on “The Gardener” before he is uploaded to Etsy, but here’s a sneak peek as he sits on my work table. The sled is staying here, I think. I found it the other day in a box of Santa-making supplies – I had forgotten I had it. Anyway, he can sit anywhere as his legs (and arms) are wired.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Another Santa in Progress...

Here is another Santa I’ve been working on for the past week or so. This little guy is meant to be wired to a wreath – an experiment I’ve had in mind to try for awhile, now. I made him very flexible and lightweight so he should be easy to manipulate.

Another Embroidery Framed...

I finished another of my little embroidery pieces by stitch mounting it to heavy watercolor paper and adding a double mat and frame.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

More Progress on Santa...

I finished the vest for the gardening Santa by adding a wool felt lining and buttonhole stitching the raw edges. I’m really pleased with how it all worked out. I just need to add his beard and hat - and he’ll be ready for his close-up. The photos below are not quite true to color - I used regular fluorescent lights.

I have a couple more Santas in varying degrees of doneness – but I’m seriously running out of time! That studio move took much longer than expected – boxes had to be loaded, lugged upstairs and unloaded - I’m still looking for doll-making supplies that got lost in the shuffle. Oh, but I’m having so much fun. I love this time of year!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One Less WIP...

I finally finished up my “Harvest Gourds” mixed media embroidery by adding beads and a little more detail to the leaves. And I found a wonderfully funky (but elegant) vintage wooden frame for it that can be hung on the wall or placed on a table. I purchased the gold trimmed mat in Michael’s and am very happy with the way it provides a nice breathing space between the artwork and the glass. I’m going to get more of these mats, I think, for embroidered pieces that I want to frame.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Santa Gloves Technique

I usually just needle sculpt the fingers of my Santa dolls, but wanted to try stitching individual fingers. Those narrow seams can be tricky to turn and frustratingly fragile, but I think I’ve come up with a compromise of sorts. On these hands, I only stitched the lower portion of the fingers separately; the upper parts of the fingers are just needle sculpted into the palm. I think this technique gives the illusion of long separate fingers with a lot less trouble. I’m making a gardening Santa and wanted him to appear to be wearing work gloves so I painted the hands with a coat of black gesso; then sanded them before painting with acrylic paint (which was also sanded). The hands were sculpted from a suede type knit fabric so the look and feel is ever so slightly fuzzy.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Just Clauses

After a couple years of good intentions, I’m finally getting around to updating my old web site, Just Clauses. It has had the same look since 1998! And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, I recently learned that it was carrying a security warning as a dangerous site! Yikes! My web hosting company can’t explain how that happened but they have reassured me that my site was never dangerous (never hosted a malware) – and the security flag should disappear soon. Meanwhile, I’m sure it has alienated some potential visitors – and I am truly sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused.

I’m working on this idea for a new, simplified look to my home page.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New Santa Vest in Progress...

I’ve had so much fun this year experimenting with embellished and embroidered felt that I wanted to try it out on a Santa outfit. I cut poinsettia shapes out of red, deep pink and green felt and machine-embellished them onto a vest made from plush fleece. I will be outlining all of the flowers with back stitches and adding some green beads to the centers. As you can see, the front flowers are nearly done. I love the freedom of using simple back stitches to outline shapes. Not being too fussy or precise, I think the look is kind of free-wheeling and primitive. Anyway, it is a joy to work on!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gulli’s New Pants

I just got around to making some pants for Gulli, using a vintage Ken doll Bermuda shorts pattern with a minor adjustment to the waist. The fly front closes with a snap. The shorts (for a 12 inch doll) were almost the perfect length for slacks on Gulli (8 inches tall). I’ll make them just a smidgen longer next time. Poor Gulli is so happy to finally be out of girl clothes! Now, he needs some sort of shirt or knit top.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

More Darned Embroidery!

I wanted to create a border resembling paper doll cutouts. Once the design was worked out, it was very quick to execute.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Well, I’ll be Darned!

The design on the top reminded me of leopard spots. When I was working on the rows, it occurred to me that the same pattern could be easily modified to create a primitive little floral border. Okay, this could become addictive…

Saturday, August 29, 2009

First Attempts at Pattern Darning

This month’s Stitch Explorer Challenge is pattern darning. I had never tried it before. Once you establish a rhythm, it’s kind of fun to see designs emerge from simple running stitches.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Back to School...

Meet Gulli, my latest doll acquisition. I am positively overdosing on cute, here. He reminds me so much of my little cat, Briar. I don’t have any boy clothes for him, yet, so he had to borrow an outfit from one of my Madame Alexander girls (not that there’s anything wrong with that!). Anyway, he’s an eight inch tall resin BJD (ball jointed doll) - so he’s very pose-able.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Still Playing with Dolls...

I’m making a little tea length dress to try out a simple pattern I purchased from Morrisey Dolls. I used beaded buttonhole stitches for an easy, quick and secure way to add beading to the bodice. The dress isn’t finished – it still needs a hem and maybe some black lace or edging on the bottom. My 18” model is Tonner’s Miss America. Isn’t she beautimus? She was one of my eBay finds – and a steal at $27.00!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Another Stitch Explorer Example...

This is another example of a contemporary style stitchery done on an unconventional background. I started this piece awhile back and just finished the embroidery yesterday. The blue is lint (from a Snuggie Blanket’s initial washing) embellished onto a felt background with wool roving, novelty yarn and tulle on top. I just need to add a postcard backing and satin stitch around the edges.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Stitch Explorer Challenge WIP

This month's Stitch Explorer challenge was to incorporate something unconventional into an embroidery project, either in the background or in the surface stitching. For inspiration, I reviewed my notes from two excellent courses I had taken with Susan Sorrell: Personal Symbols and Fertile Earth.

For the background, I used a piece of painted cotton from a fabric printing project gone awry (why do I have a seemingly endless supply of those?). For a little texture, I added a few small pieces of fabric made using snippets of leftover thread from other projects. A plastic mesh onion bag from the grocery store was added on top followed by a piece of tulle. The sassafras leaf was made from wool felt embellished with wool roving. It was outlined with floss and then whipped with variegated rayon ribbon. The veins were stitched and whipped with variegated wool yarn. I think I will probably add some beads to the leaf and (possibly) some stitches to the background.

I have had so much fun with this and it has sparked some ideas for future exploration… I love when that happens!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

New Studio in Progress...

I’ve been, over the past couple of months, moving my art/sewing studio upstairs into DH’s old office space. It’s been taking a lot longer than expected, and I am by no means finished, but below is a little glimpse of my new room, so far. I still have more books and boxes of fabric to bring upstairs. The furniture is old and belonged to DH. We think all of his clutter actually protected these tables because they are nearly pristine. And, as you can see, my various and sundry machines fit very well. I actually have less space than I had before, but it’s so much better organized. I love working in here! Notice the dollhouse in the corner – a joyful impulse buy last year from Target (and a steal at $69.95)! And on one of the shelves, a few of my poor girls are all lined up in their skivvies waiting for their mom to sew for them! The big bolt of fabric (partially seen on the left, under the window) just arrived the other day from JoAnn’s and is twenty yards of PFD Kona cotton. I was down to my last eight inch square piece!

This room is right next to my music/TV room – so it will be convenient to navigate between the two spaces. Most of all, I am hoping all of this organization will lead to more productivity…

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ellowyne’s Summer Suit

I combined the new fitted skirt pattern with the vest pattern I made for my Ellowyne doll last year to create a basic summer ensemble from some scraps of khaki cotton. Ellowyne thought the outfit needed a little pizzazz so we added a big “brooch.” It’s actually a cheap plastic button from my stash. I simply used wire cutters to snip off the shank (so the button would lie flat). Easy! I’ll definitely be going through my junk button box to see what can be used as doll jewelry. It’s strange I hadn’t thought of cutting off the shanks of buttons before, because it really opens up a whole new world of embellishment possibilities.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cat Condo with Screened Porch…

Here is the temporary home for our new mom and babies. It’s a very old, reinforced screenhouse set back in the woods with a small shed attached. The shed is insulated and has a heater for the cold weather and a fan in the summer. The cats can go between the screenhouse and shed via a cat flap. As soon as we opened up their playpen (which we carried into the screenhouse, yesterday, they all ran into the shed to hide. The “floor” of the screenhouse is nice, new sand, but we had placed a small cardboard litterbox in the playpen for them. This afternoon, the little black kitten ran out of the shed and into his playpen to use the litterbox. How cute is that? By the way, the litter we are using is Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract. That is darned good stuff!

Monday, July 20, 2009


For the past few weeks, we’ve been feeding a feral cat and her two kittens. They were living in a sheltered area of the woods behind the house. Every morning and evening they would come into the yard for their breakfast and dinner. I had been sitting outside, reading, in an attempt to acclimate them to my presence, but they still remained very frightened and wary. We realized that in order to catch them, we’d have to come up with a gentle, but cunning plan. DH figured out a way to attach a cat flap to a large metal playpen and we started putting their food in it so they would get used to it. Then, in a stroke of pure genius, he rigged the flap so that it would close (and stay closed) simply by pulling a string from the kitchen window. This morning, when all three were having their salmon in the playpen, we got ‘em! We slid long poles through the metal at the top so we could safely transport the entire cage, "Ark of the Covenant" style!

We think the babies are about eight weeks old and are probably their mommy’s first litter. They are all completely wild so it’s going to take a lot of work to earn their confidence. I love cats but I do sometimes wonder why it seems to always be our responsibility to rescue them. And then I think of the words to a great song, “Treasure Island,” sung by Mary Black:

"O love is never easy
It's almost always out of your way
It's not the path of least resistance
It's not some words you get to say
It's a stream running up a mountain
It's a wave rolling out from the shore
Wish I could say I never felt that way before"

Pen with Cat Flap and String

Close-up of Flap


Wooden Poles



Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Wardrobe Basic for Ellowyne...

For quite some time, I have wanted to make a lined, modified pencil skirt to fit my Ellowyne doll, but didn’t have a pattern. Adapting elements from two commercial patterns for smaller dolls, I made up a pattern from paper toweling, cut and sewn to fit her proportions. This is Ellowyne’s friend, Prudence, modeling her custom fitted skirt. Since it’s made in denim, I lined it with thin white cotton to avoid the possibility of staining. Prudence is so happy with it; she wants another in khaki...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Violet Waters "Glissando" Wearing "Gold Sensation"

Here’s the newest addition to my doll collection, Gene Marshall’s BFF and famous jazz chanteuse, Violet Waters. She was very inexpensive on EBay but I bought her an articulated replacement body (see previous post to see what I’m doing with her old body).

Recycling Old Vinyl Doll Bodies

There are new articulated replacement bodies available for Gene Marshall doll collectors to upgrade their old beloved Gene dolls for more pose-ability. I just performed that easy operation on one of my dolls and was wondering what people do with the old bodies. I belong to a Yahoo group for Gene dolls and someone in the group suggested adding Styrofoam or wooden eggs to the necks and turning them into mannequins to display extra outfits. I found an abandoned needlesculpted cloth cat head (from a pattern in an old dollmaking magazine) and placed it on the neck of the old body. Perfect fit! Now, I have to figure out how to finish it. I will either add cloth ears and then paint it or I will add paperclay on top of the cloth and refine the sculpture a little more before painting.

Anyway, here are a few photos of the muslin-sculpted head. Check out that overbite!

Hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nature Journal: Beach Pea (Lathyrus japonicas)

Beach pea plants grow with wild abandon all over the yard. I love these flowers!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Interwoven Diagonal Cross Stitch

I found this cross stitch flower in Judith Baker Montano’s lovely book, Elegant Stitches (page 41). It’s very easy and fun to do. As you can see, it starts as a simple cross stitch. Subsequent cross stitches are added into the same holes, making sure to weave the thread through the stitches.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Geeky Star Trek Fun...

Here's Binky.

Here's Binky as a Vulcan cat. Turn up volume. Click arrow to play.

You can upload any portrait, here, to create your very own Vulcan - and even put words in his mouth.

Monday, June 01, 2009


I finally got a chance to work on this month’s Stitch Explorer challenge. I had a great time learning these woven stitches! I used raised needle weaving for the flower petals. For the leaves, I followed Sharon B’s wonderful tutorial on the closed needlewoven picot leaf stitch. These stitches are simple and quick and substantial. I will definitely be using them in the future! The background is a piece of upholstery fabric with wool roving felted onto the surface. Free machine stitching was added with variegated thread. Underneath, I used Peltex for support – no need to hoop!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Backyard Trail

Woven Picots and Wheels from TAST

Other than just searching for inspiration on the web and in embroidery books, I haven’t begun this month’s Stitch Explorer (needle weaving) challenge, so I thought I’d post my woven picots and wheels from 2007’s TAST challenge.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

“Feed Me, Seymour!”

I just keep picking this darned thing up and adding stitches… It’s beginning to remind me of Audrey II, the man-eating plant in “The Little Shop of Horrors.”

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Beatrix and Bridget

It has been cool and rainy all week. Today, the temperature is in the 70s with intermittent thunderstorms. I love the yard this time of year when the trees are just leafing out. Here are two of my little girls, Beatrix and Bridget, having a confab while enjoying the view from our bedroom window. Note the lovely “distressing” on the windowsill...