We are joyfully expecting a second baby grand-daughter, and I wanted to make something for her. She is due the end of June, the first child for our Jacksonville Beach son and his wife. So, they won't need crocheted or knitted blankets anytime soon or a cozy little cocoon like the one I made for our Georgia grand-daughter, born in March and now a feisty, happy two year old.
So, I looked at sewing patterns and was thrilled to find one that includes a stuffed flamingo. Why thrilled, you ask? Well, when I had asked the planned nursery decor, the mom sent me a link to some Etsy flamingo wall art prints she had chosen and said that the walls would be pale aqua, accented with accessories in the pinks and corals found in the prints. So, for our little Florida girl, this seemed perfect and fit the nursery theme. I used soft cotton flannel with a white felt face. The flamingo can sit (in various poses, I've discovered) on the nursery book shelf until she is old enough to play with it.
This project was different from any sewing I have done for a long time--not at all like making clothes. There were a number of small pieces and many steps. But the instructions were clear, and I worked slowly and carefully. The pattern called for "safety eyes"; I needed a store expert's help figuring out what that meant. They are a smart idea although a bit tricky to put in. The wings and legs were stuffed before they were attached. Stuffing the rest, however, was a real challenge. It was quite difficult to push puffs of stuffing all the way from the opening left in the back through the relatively narrow neck and into the beak and head. So, it was with a real sense of accomplishment that I presented the gift. They love it, and the nursery is almost done--it's truly lovely.
The pattern, Simplicity #1082, also includes a giraffe and hippo. The hippo looks like it might be a bit easier than the other two. Might give that a try one of these days, building on what I've learned from wrestling with this bird.
Question of the day: Do you enjoy making gifts using an art or craft you pursue? What has been one of your most satisfying gift projects?
Monday, May 15, 2017
Saturday, April 15, 2017
|"Falling Leaves", hand-painted silk scarf|
Musings on "failure" in an art project
To be honest, the finished product is still not to my taste. However, I know that it could still be the perfect addition to the right outfit for the right person.
|Close up detail|
|Close up detail|
Oh, in case you are wondering, here's why this scarf will never be a personal favorite (what a ridiculous sales pitch this is turning out to be! not a sales pitch at all--just sharing my thoughts): I had planned the leaf shapes and layout quite carefully and still like them. The background came last, working carefully around the leaves, which had been outlined in a gutta resist to prevent dye flow in or out of the shapes. For some reason, I thought using a couple of colors would look nice and increase the versatility of the scarf as an accessory. Maybe a good idea for some scarves, but for this design, it made for too much going on. In my opinion, that is; others may feel differently, as Linda has taught me to realize.
Question of the day: When have you been disappointed in the results of a project only to discover that others like (or even love) the results?
Friday, March 31, 2017
|"On the Jones Creek Trail"|
Our city is blessed with a wealth of parks, preserves, and nature trails. The arboretum was rescued from unused land owned by the city (which had acquired it after a mining company had strip-mined it for materials used to make titanium). Although illegal dumping and the residue of mining had compromised the area, some citizens could envision its future as an arboretum and natural recreational site. You can read more about the delightful park it has become and see photos here. My husband, a master gardener and member of the North Florida Native Plant Society, worked on clearing and planting projects with many other volunteers. My previous posts about visiting the arboretum also show its uniquely North Florida beauty.
|One of the reference photos used in painting|
I hope you enjoy taking a walk in the arboretum with me.
Question of the day: What kinds of natural environments have been restored and preserved in your area?
Sunday, February 26, 2017
|Distinctive rock formation in Beaujolais region|
I'll let a few photos tell the story of the winery and the lovely countryside where we enjoyed strolling at a stop along the way (Viking seems to give careful thought to making the necessary rest stops on longer day tours pleasant).
|Our group at the winery|
The Abbey of Cluny was originally founded in 910 AD and grew until it became the mother house for over 1,000 monasteries in the 12th century. Our local guide was charming and exceptionally well-informed--clearly a true admirer of this remarkable medieval abbey and a devoted student of its history. Some of the majestic buildings still stand and are used for, among other things, an architectural school. Eager students dash here and there, adding life and creativity to the mix of impressive old buildings and ruins.
|13th century food storehouse for abbey and village|
|Inside the abbey's Gothic chapel, built around 1460|
|Courtyard outside the cloisters|
Question of the day: How do you prefer to balance experiencing and taking photos when you travel?
Friday, January 27, 2017
|Medieval era fortifications and tower in Viviers|
One of our favorite shore excursions was a morning in Viviers, a small village with a remarkably intact medieval city center. Our delightful, funny, amazing story teller guide made the visit extra special. She lives in one of the old homes--she showed us the location--where an aunt had participated in the French Resistance during World War II and where Jewish people had sheltered as they were being guided out of the country by brave French citizens.
|Renaissance era house in Viviers, Maison des Chevaliers|
|View from Medieval wall, Viviers|
A steam train ride deep into a protected river gorge by steam train (the area is not accessible by car) on a beautiful day made another morning memorable. The Doux Valley is a protected conservation area--a pristine wilderness area a short ride from the charming city of Tournon. The three photos below are just a few tastes of the serene, yet dramatic views we enjoyed during this scenic ride.