Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Stamps of Approval

When I went to camp for the Women's Weekend, one of the crafts I did in the Hobby Nook was stamp making, part of a class on Letterboxing. Letterboxing is a fabulous centuries-old hobby that involves following treasure-map-like instructions to find boxes people have hidden. Inside each box is a rubber stamp and a notebook. The finder herself brings a rubber stamp. As the guest, she stamps her mark in the notebook. Then she stamps the box's mark in her own book. Over time, collections develop -- within the box and in the participant's book.

Fastforward to my life. I don't get out on treasure hunts much these days. But I do appreciate the heck out of rubber stamps. In my class I made a lamb and a panda, for my Elisa Lamb and Amanda Panda. I printed them on postcards that I sent to the girls, the first postcards they ever received. (Come to think of it, I should show them the postcards so this isn't purely a from-me-to-me exercise).

Some day we'll get to step this up and go on real letterboxing adventures ourselves. For the moment, I'll let them nap while I build their baby books. I can't think of a better rainy day adventure than that.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bringing a Wish to Life

A friend of mine commissioned a portrait of her grandmother, whom she had never known but wanted to be close to. She found an old picture of her and I went from there.

On the computer I turned the black and white portrait to sepia, and printed it onto two surfaces: white cotton, and an acetate transparency. I colored some modest make-up onto the fabric picture with colored pencils. Then I sewed antique ribbons, luscious prints, and a rich velvet around her face, with decorative stitching to bring it all together. I layered the transparency photo ontop of the fabric for depth and shine, letting the cloth of her blouse show through a spot I cut out of the transparency. Then came the embellishments: a vintage earring here, a ribbon flower there. I put them all together in an oval frame encrusted with black buttons. Add a ribbon for hanging, and there she was, in all her splendor.

Her name was Maude. I was very glad to have the opportunity to spend time with her. And I was happier still to send her to live with her granddaughter. May they have many happy years.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Polymer Clay Art -- or Is It?

Am I the only one who sees polymer clay art here? It's nature (red cabbage) imitating art. Or, wait: does polymer clay inherently imitate red cabbage?

For some juicy morsels of polymer art and jewelry, go to one of my favorite sites: Polka Dot Cottage, where Lisa Clarke sells her masterpieces. Also make sure to visit her blog, which is everything this blog wants to be and never well.

Yea, Lisa!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Big Bad Quilt and the story of its picture

I have been working on this sucker for two years or more. I finally finished it this summer. It's king sized! Not only does that mean I had to wrestle it in the sewing machine, but it also means that I couldn't get a picture of the whole thing at once. What you're seeing is a composite of about four pictures. If you look closely you can see -- or at least I can -- where I blurred the edges to try to make the seams disapper. It's not perfect, but with such a busy quilt, it works just fine. Ah, technology!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Thousand Words

Or maybe this counts as two thousand words? Aren't they eloquent? Let's thank Sears for that.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bad News and Good News

The bad news is that a wonderful woman, mother, wife, and friend needs a bone marrow transplant. The good news is that her friend can send a comfort pillow to her in the hospital, to express how much she loves her. I hope it helps a little.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recycling with Polkadots

We subscribe to a service that delivers a bag of organic, local produce to our house every two weeks. The fruit and vegetables are so fresh and tasty that they have changed the way we eat, the way we plan our meals, the degree of zeal that I feel for lettuce.

I get a huge kick out of people's pet peeves. I'm sorry that things bother them, but I think it's funny to think how something that means nothing to one person can be so consuming to another. The wonderful people who run the produce service have developed a pet peeve surrounding their recyclable bags. We customers are supposed to leave the previous delivery bag for our delivery person to pick up when he makes the new delivery. Apparently my peer customers have been wadding up the bags, leaving them dirty, or not putting them out for collection at all. And so one day a few months ago the email list was treated to a request, a plea. A rant.

The next day, I got a shipment with some beautiful apples in my new bag. And by the time I went outside to claim it, one of my furry neighbors had already chewed through the bag to sample the wares. What was I going to do? I was going to be one of those bad customers who lets the reusable bag get ruined. That would make me an enemy of the environment, of local farmers, of good people who had to do business with bad people like me.

So I did the only thing I ever know to do: I made it right by sewing. Specifically, my reusable bag got a green and white polka-dotted patch.

I was soooo pleased with myself that I took this picture. The next time we got a delivery, I wanted to wait outside for the delivery guy to see the beautiful patch and realize how clever and devoted to the environment I was. I imagined that the whole customer list would receive an email about my environmental stewardship and whimsy. I really expected an award.

But to date, my adorable patched bag has been met with a big fat nothing. To my face, anyway. I still imagine that I have brought some joy to someone along the supply chain, or to future customers. And just in case I haven't, know that I am so pleased with the little patch of dots that I have spent several weeks giggling and jumping up and down at the very thought. Sometimes being overly pleased with oneself is thanks enough. I think I'm going to let this be one of those times.

By the way, if you're interested in having your own fresh produce and bag-recycling opportunities, I highly recommend South Mountain Veggies. You can tell them the crazy lady who sewed the patch on the semi-disposable bag sent you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Overrun with Accomplishments

I don't want to put pressure on the babies to have to succeed succeed succeed accomplish accomplish accomplish, because I don't want them to turn into stressballs like their mother. But damned if they aren't amazing.

Amanda, who is a true champion sitter, is also in possession of two bottom teeth. I believe in the world of dental excellence we call those incisors. She is quite a good incisor, having incised my hand and lots of her toys.

Elisa, meanwhile, is a rocket in flight. In slow flight, but flight nonetheless. She has abandonned all baby-like notions of lying on her back and waiting for life to come to her. In the middle of every feeding, she insists on flipping onto her hands and knees and having me administer the bottle like she's a little goat. In the same position, she rocks back and forth constantly, like she's about to launch. The morning after I came back from the Women's Weekend she took four tentative crawl-steps towards me. In spite of my proud shrieks.

Elisa, our docile Baby B, has always been a well-tempered, pleasant baby. She entertains herself on the floor or in her crib with happy coos. When I happen by she melts my heart with her sweet smile, which takes up her whole head.

Amanda, the temperamental Baby A, whom I once or twice called the "squeeky wheel," has become a people person. This week at our twins group, when I had stepped out of the room, Amanda addressed the crowd with a new robot-like growl she has been perfecting. When she got everyone's attention, she beamed. They beamed back. She beamed more. I'm glad her face didn't fall off, but she is my daughter, and we have a tremendous capacity for smiling at people.

As their 9-month birthday nears, it occurs to me that they have been outside the womb for longer than they were inside. They have quadrupled their birth weight and developed robust personalities. I'd go so far as to say that they're people!

Now how in the world did that happen?

A Wealth of Friends: A Slideshow


I wanted everyone to see what has happened to my professional life. I love it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

A Weekend of Crafts

I went to camp last weekend. Yes, I'm an adult. And it's practically winter. And I have family responsibilities. Still, I had the opportunity to go to Camp Takodah in New Hampshire for a Women's Weekend full of fun, friendship, crafts, and outdoor activities (which I skipped). And by God, I seized the days.

Of my fifty hours away from home, my favorite part was seeing my friend Lucy and all the friends she's been talking about for years but has never actually shown me. My second favorite part was sleeping in a sleeping bag on the top bunk of a slightly wobbly bunk bed in a cabin with rain dripping on me from the roof. My third favorite part was a tie between multi-ethnic line dancing and pure Amurican karaoke.
But my favorite-favorite part that was so favorite that it defies the convention of calling it favorite was:

The Hobby Nook.

I rubbed my soul all over this delightful little cottage, and it petted me back. I died wool yarn, made my own knitting needles, crafted several rubber stamps, did some charcoal drawings, and learned how to felt wool into shapes. I talked about my babies. I heard about the lives of women from their twenties to their seventies, from all over the country and beyond.
I was impressed as hell with Emily, my fiber instructor, who works at Harrisville Designs in a town that's been spinning out fiber arts for centuries. To my delight, she brought lots of goodies from her store and was willing to share. Among other talents, she hauled out her spinning wheel and showed me how to spin yarn from sheep's wool. She gave me a spontaneous lesson one evening in the dining hall, in front of the fireplace. As I watched the wheel pull a string shape out of something that looked like a cloud, my new friend Beth walked by. She said, "I don't know you very well yet, but if I had a camera, I'd take a picture. You really look like you're in your element." I pulled my camera out of my pocket and handed it to her. Bang: historical record.

For the one full day and two half days, I missed my children so much it made me nauseated. But the weekend was finite, and apparently even mothers need to recharge their batteries from time to time. In the end, the babies came away from the experience with a little more Daddy time, some new rubber stamps made just for them, and -- in a few days -- their first postcards.

If I do something with my hand-dyed yarn other than just rub it on my face, I'll post a picture here. But if I just snuggle with my new art supply, well, you don't need to see that.

Thanks for inviting me, Lucy. I loved it a real lot.