A Craft Space of My Own

I’ve been looking forward to a dedicated craft space to call my own for years. When our boys were young, Mike and I used our fourth bedroom as a home office. During the grade-school years, we added a pair of desks for the boys. They completed homework in that room and used the computer under my watchful eye. I crafted in a small area on my desk, or I joined friends once a year for a weekend away to work on our scrapbooks.

When my oldest left for university, I planned to reclaim part of this space for my sewing machine. My younger son quickly spread out using all the available surfaces. The room morphed again as a place to hang out with his friends.

In 2018, my youngest son left for university, and at long last, I had a dedicated craft space of my own.

Lindy marveling at the cleared surface

I started organizing my craft space that year, but a few months later, I found myself fully immersed in my volunteer work with Lifted Spirits and started spending a lot of my time downtown.

I put some structure in place at the time, and what a treat its been to have everything I need at my fingertips!

Now that we’re “sheltering in place” in Santa Clara County, I’ve finally put the finishing touches on this room.

My original plan was to set up a sewing area on one desk and a paper-crafting area on the other one.

The table is too deep for my machine and my foot pedal to work well together. Since I like spreading out when I sew, I decided to convert both sides into paper crafting. I can use my dining table when I sew.

Now I have a place for my Silhouette Cameo cutting machines and more surface area for work.

Cameo die cutting machine (a Christmas gift from Mike)

Cleaning up and reorganizing the space didn’t take long, and what a difference it’s made. I enjoy working on cards and assembling craft kits for the curb, and it is a pleasure working with a clean and uncluttered (for now) desk.

My reorganized crafting space

I enjoyed gathering inspirational art for the wall. It’s a collection of mixed-media, watercolor, collage, embroidery, and fiber arts from friends and family. I love having it gathered together and displayed in my creativity corner. I have several pieces from fellow bloggers, including Anne, Kelly, Marlene, Pauline, and Wilma, representing Australia, Canada, the US, and New Zealand.

I’m now surrounded by art created by family and friends.

On the pale yellow wall, the green heart is a gift from my friend, Carrielin. We met in college doing a play together, and we’ve remained friends all these years.

The custom-died monkey sitting on the heart is a gift from my self-described hippy friend, Laura.

All three read hearts we’re machine-embroidered by the talented Marlene, who blogs at insearchofitall.

From Canada, a mixed-media tag by artist Wilma Millette. You can find her gorgeous work on Instagram @creartful-dodger. To the right of Wilma’s piece is another mixed-media creation by the talented Kelly Daye. We met through blogging and have become the best of friends.

On the green wall, I hung Dad’s wooden painter’s palette. It’s a cherished memento. Oil painting was one of Dad’s many hobbies. I affixed three black and white photos to the pallette: My dad in the center, a picture of his completed model of the Golden Hinde, and the storefront of my parent’s flower shop in Seaforth, Canada. They’re all treasures. The Bay Bridge oil painting is also my dad’s work.

Below the palette is a mixed-media piece by Pauline King, a treasured gift for my 60th birthday. Pauline is known in the blogging world at The Contented Crafter.

Next to Pauline’s work are a pair of watercolor teapots by Anne Lawson. Anne is a Melbourne Artist who “captures the beauty of the #naturalworld in watercolour or ink.” You’ll find more of her work @annelawson54 on Instagram.

My father’s wooden oil painting palette

Repurposed wine crate stores stamps and punches

I like being able to see everything at a glance. Assorted cat mugs store my pens and tools. See-through bins store craft ribbon, dies, and acrylic stamps.

I removed the sliding doors to the room’s closet several years ago. It now houses our printer, most of my sewing supplies, extra baskets, and a few other crafting tools. Here’s what it looked like before re-organizing the shelves.

Starting Point: A four-foot closet in the same room stores craft materials, our printer, sewing projects and my Cameo cutting machine

This is what it looks like now.

After: craft room closet sorted with room for a chair.

Have you tackled an organizing project during your time in quarantine?

I Keep Forgetting to Tell You…

Does this happen to you? I start telling a story in great detail, only to realize midway that I’ve told the story before. My friends are polite and would never interrupt. The “tell” is a patient look on their face, and I’m suddenly aware of my faux pas.

Conversely, I’ll assume I’ve shared a story, in the same great detail, only to have my friend say “this is the first I’ve heard this.” or “I had no idea.”

I’m a woman of a certain age, so I can chalk this up to the number of birthdays I have under my belt though I suspect I’ve been doing this my whole life.

Today’s post is about those little things I keep meaning to tell you, promises I made to “share in a future post” and just a couple of random things I would share if we could sit down together and share a cuppa.

Feel free to roll your eyes skyward if you’ve heard this one before. The magic of the internet is I’ll never know.

First up, my sister’s Halloween costume. Sharon based her costume last year on Pauline King’s gorgeous piece of art . I blogged about it last October.

Pauline King’s gift to my sister Sharon: The Wise Woman

I promised to share pictures of Sharon’s costume which turned out beautifully. We shared the same wig since we needed it on different days and she already had the hat and a simple black dress. I found the knotted walking stick (actually a cane) at a costume shop for $7 and had my husband saw off the hook. I bought her the cape, and as you see in the photo below, art imitates life which imitates art.

Halloween costume The Wise Woman

Sharon’s Halloween costume based on Pauline King’s art piece The Wise Woman

Next up is an unexpected blogging connection from my friends Dan and Rosie. After their older dog passed, my friends started looking at rescue organizations for another black Labrador retriever. Dan fell in love with black labs as a little boy when his dad snuck one into his room one night.

A few weeks into their search, Dan sent me a photo of them posing with a Golden Retriever named Ginger. (I’m pretty sure Ginger is also part horse). They missed having a dog so they expanded their search. I immediately recognized the bench they were sitting on because I’ve seen it often on Audrey’s blog.

That’s right; my friends adopted a dog from a rescue organization called Homeward Bound.  I’ve been followed Audrey’s blog for years. She’s a terrific writer and a good soul who helped revitalize the Memorial Garden featured in this photo and on her blog. You can follow along at Gardens For Goldens.

rescue dog

In the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden with Ginger

rescue dog

Meeting Ginger last summer. She’s a sweetie.

I’ve also been meaning to share photos of Mike sporting his beautifully woven scarves from fellow blogger Kerry at Love Those Hands at Home. Kerry and her husband took up weaving a few years ago, and now offer their wares on Etsy. She offered to make a couple of scarves for Mike so he could choose one, but he loved them both. The scarves drape beautifully, and are both soft and warm. Here’s Mike over a year ago wearing the two scarves sporting his before and after beard. We both had the flu, so shaving dropped off the list until he was well.

As I write this I’ve just finished a hot cup of Rooibos”tea“. We had multiple power outages throughout the night during a heavy storm but the power is back on and our fence is leaning but still standing. Lot’s of people are happy to replace the fence, but we can’t find a soul that will come and re-pour the improper footings. Twenty years ago we might have re-poured those fittings ourselves, but we’re not feeling it now.

Just one more share: Here’s  34 seconds of Tessa chirping at a flying insect near the window…

…and snuggling in to a pile of sheets on our bed.

Tessa snuggled in the sheets.

What would you share if we could sit down for a cuppa?

A Tale of Two Artists

Perhaps you’ve already met.

Just in case, allow me to introduce two of my favorite artists, Anne Lawson and Pauline King.

Sometimes you fall in love with an artist’s work, knowing little about the artist themselves. In this case I fell in love with the artists through blogging, then discovered their work.

Earlier this year, Anne shared one of her recent creations on Instagram: the gorgeous pumpkin you see below. It’s painted with watercolors, then over-stitched with a variety of threads. It’s stunning and it’s mine!  I framed the piece using a floating glass frame without a mat, so that I can enjoy the piece front and back.

I connected with Anne’s blog many years ago. She’s a botanical artist living in Australia, a retired teacher and a wonderful soul. I’ve enjoyed watching Anne’s work evolve. She’s always trying new things. As a life-long lover of botanical art, I’ve really enjoyed learning about Anne’s process.

Anne describes herself as “a Melbourne based artist, who is inspired by the natural world. [Her] small art works are available in [her] Etsy shop.”

Anne blogs at Anne Lawson Art. She also publishes a fortnightly newsletter which you can subscribe to here.

Here’s a photo of it framed and hanging on my home office/craft room wall.

Anne Lawson Art: Mixed Media Pumpkin

Pauline King dabbles in a number of mediums. She’s a painter, a crafter and a mixed-media artist. Those who follow Pauline are familiar with her gorgeous light catchers, personalized to the receiver with colored beads, glass and charms. They’re bouncing light in homes across the globe. You can see more of Pauline’s work in The Contented Crafter’s shop.

The beautiful and ethereal piece you see below came from Pauline’s heart.

She created it for my sister whom she’s never met, but of course has been hearing about for years. When Sharon received the piece, she exclaimed “it’s as if she knows me!”  Sharon loves Halloween, witches, cats and purple so you can imagine her delight when she opened it.

Since she was redoing her floors, Sharon asked me to hold this for safe keeping, and of course I happily obliged.  Today I picked it up from the frame shop and will return it to my sister this week.

Pauline King’s gift to my sister Sharon: The Wise Woman

Sharon originally wanted to frame it in black, but when she read Pauline’s blog and saw the piece on a white tray, she decided to frame it in white instead.

Sharon also decided to base this year’s Halloween costume on The Wise Woman. Stay tuned for pics.

Meanwhile, here is a lovely quote from George Sand:

The artist vocation is to send light into the human heart.

Agreed!

When Spider Webs Catch The Light and Friends Make a Fuss

A wonderful package arrived shortly before my birthday, all the way from New Zealand. Pauline of the Contented Crafter says it’s been in the making for a while.

paulines-gift-box

Beautiful package

She decorated the box with her own customized decorative tape which you can read more about here. Isn’t it cool? She created the art for the postcard as well using postage stamps from my dad’s collection. The original hangs on my wall. It’s quite special.

Now look at what she tucked inside:

pauline-king-spider-web

An enchanting spider web light catcher

This isn’t any old spider web. It’s a hand-crafted, bead-encrusted, gem of a birthday/Halloween gift from Pauline. I love it!

glass-spider

Faceted glass spider

My special spider web arrived with an impressively sized, faceted spider with its own hook (but no fangs). You can move her around the web, then watch it catch the light.

center-of-web

In the center of the web

Guess what else was in the box? A Halloween-themed light catcher. The charms include spiders, witches hats, cats and brooms.  Did I mention the pumpkins? There are several of those too.

The reflective nature of the faceted glass makes it difficult to photograph, so I took some video as well. It will give you an idea of the light and movement.

Mike installed hooks in the nook above the sink so I could hang the web near the light. Interestingly, the web is just as beautiful at night. The lower light mutes some of the colors, while the facets shine.

spider-light-catcher-kitchen-window

Halloween-themed light catcher hanging in the kitchen window (Mouse the Cat looks on) Thank you, Pauline

 

Gathering friends with the years

birthday-and-sympathy-cards

The stunning sunflowers are a gift from Laurie, surrounded by birthday cards and condolences on losing Slinky. The sunflower painting was a gift from Kelly last year.

My mother never liked a fuss on her birthday, so I grew up following suit. A few close friends sent greetings through the mail or by phone which I loved, but I otherwise kept my birthday a secret.

I’ve come to realize that I like a bit of a fuss. Not a loud, brash, in your face fuss, but the warm greetings that arrive by post. I love receiving cards in the mail. Happy birthday wishes via Facebook and blogging are a delight as well. I  smile at the beautifully animated e-cards and the thoughtful friends who send them. My friend Carrielin calls me on my birthday every year and has since we were in college. Each greeting is a reminder of the richness of friends and family, relationships that have grown and deepened with the passing years. I feel loved beyond measure.

Thank you all for making a fuss.

pumpkin-with-paulines-spider

Did I mention the second spider?

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The Making of The Miniature Little Free Library

mac approved mini little free library

Photo shoot in the fairy garden before mailing the LFL

This is a follow on post to It’s the Little Things (Even Libraries) published last week. You can catch up with part one here.

It took me years to realize that everyone creates differently. I admire designers that can sketch an idea, and then make it come to life. I tend to work in reverse. Ideas rattle around in my head where they’re examined and discarded. These ideas simmer in my brain before a usable plan comes together.

My first fairy garden miniature library started with a small box. I thought I would do the same with this one, but none of the boxes in my stash seemed right. I visited a craft store, put a couple of items in my cart, then put them all back. Eventually I left the store with a small container of blue paint and a receipt for seventy-five cents.

Back home, using a photo of Carrie’s library as a guide, I cut pieces from a thin piece of cardboard. I wanted the library to have a working door, so I cut a small rectangle in the body of the library. I cut a cardboard frame for the door, and backed it with clear packaging from a packet of batteries.

Carries library with miniature

Carrie’s full-sized library on the left, the miniature version on the right

mini little free library construction

Constructing the miniature library

It took three coats of paint to cover the glossy white cardboard, but after two days the color looked even.

If I had it to do over again, I would install the door first, and then assemble the library. It would have been handy to have fairy-sized hands that day. I persevered.

After taping the plastic to the door, I glued a tiny hinge in place. On the library itself, I poked two small holes into the opening, then used tiny brads to hold the hinge in place.

mini little free library door hardware

Door hardware

On the opposite side of the door I attached a “doodad” from my stash, holding that in place with another brad. This allows the door to open and close.

mini little free library open door

Miniature LFL with a working door

Since the opening is small, I made a removable roof so adding books is a breeze.

Carrie’s library sits on a wooden post surrounded by a circle of stones. To replicate the look, I used a cinnamon stick, a small metal lid and a handful of pebbles from my fairy garden stash. I hot-glued the cinnamon stick to the inside of the lid, and then glued rocks into and around it. This gives it weight and stability. I downloaded a copy of Carrie’s library, and photo-copy reduced the two signs to scale. Then I headed to the kitchen, tore off a corner of a box of cat food cans, and used the cardboard to mount the signs.

mini little free library take a book sign

Miniature library stand made from a cinnamon stick, a candle lid, pebbles and hot glue

Then on to the books. Again, lots of ideas tried and discarded before I came up with a plan. I used the binding from a couple of paper sample books passed on to me years ago. I cut through all the layers of the sample booklets, and then cut sections down to size.

mini little free library book making supplies

Sourcing supplies for the miniature books. Upper left, clockwise: sample books used for structure, book covers made from a recycled Humane Society calendar, one of my dad’s vintage stamps, floral Washi tape, Graphic 45 printed paper

Each tiny book has a unique cover with a small story to go with it. (The actual books are blank inside, so you have to use your imagination.)

I wrote a six-word story to go with each book, something meaningful to me or to Carrie. Here they are:

Trust, betrayed. Rescued dog’s love, restored.

Flowers. Achingly beautiful. Harbingers of spring.

Magic. How we see the world.

Wanted child. Your new family awaits.

The Wonderland of Alys in miniature.**

Daddy’s stamps lovingly travel the world.

Dragon Folklore. Escape inside a book.

mini little free library collage

Can you match the books with the six-word stories?

**The Wonderland of Alys is a collage art piece by Pauline King, a friend and fellow blogger. The original hangs in our home. The tiny replica of this piece is a sticker, sent to me at Christmas by Julia of Defeat Despair. I couldn’t resist turning one of those art stickers in to a tiny, make-believe book.

Pauline King art the wonderland of alys

Catching the Light, Sharing the Love

Given the time, I could write an entire book on my extraordinary trip to Virginia and D.C. earlier this year. One of many highlights included the unveiling of the light catchers, intricately hand-crafted and lovingly presented by Pauline King. On our flight home, Pauline offered to make one for my sister Sharon and within weeks it arrived at my door.

Here’s Sharon’s reaction when she opened the gift:

It’s difficult to convey how special these are. Pauline describes her process in a recent post found here. When writing about Sharon’s light catcher, Pauline says:

I have made my light-catchers for a few years now – rather sporadically, as I enjoy making them especially for someone. They are my gift of good wishes, good fortune and a bit of magic woven into beads and charms and crystals for someone special. I like to think of the person I am creating for, then I choose colours and shapes and crystals and charms especially for them. Then it all just weaves itself together.

sharon's light catcher pauline king

Like most artists, Pauline is far too modest. She weaves a special charm into each one using glass, crystal, semi-precious gemstones, beads and the most delightful charms you’ve ever seen.

The enclosed card says “the charms have been especially chosen for you and represent the following”

Teddy Bear: for the child within, may there always be cuddles.

Boot: for fashion and style!

Music Notes: May there always be music in your life.

Jigsaw Puzzle: for when you need the last bit of the puzzle.

Ballerina: to remind you when the body can’t dance, the spirit can!

Cat in the Moon: to remind you of the magic and mystery of both.

Babushka Doll: we all have hidden layers…..

The Witch, the Skeleton and the Spider: for your love of Halloween.

Book: for the places your imagination can go.

Purse: may there always be enough.

Pentagram: may you always be protected.

Fairy: may you always see the magic.

Sharon has tall ceilings in her home, so I’m enlisting Mike’s help so we can hang it in the perfect place.  After one foolish mishap, I count my lucky stars and no longer climb up a ladder alone.

The following bloggers enjoy catching the light:

When Ordinary is Extraordinary

Sleeping Fairy Baby

Sleeping Fairy Baby

There’s nothing extraordinary about gathering around the table on a Sunday afternoon. Maybe you’re eating a slice of toast or reheating your tea. It’s a cool, early spring day.

But this isn’t just any old Sunday. Gathered around the table is a group of women who’ve met through blogging. We’ve formed enduring friendships across the miles that allow us to sit comfortably in our pajamas, talking and laughing and sharing gifts. It feels as though we’ve known each other for a lifetime.

Aristotle said that “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s how I felt the entire trip. Our shared energy and enthusiasm for each others lives was palpable. The ordinary seemed extraordinary.

On that same Sunday afternoon, Pauline who blogs at the Contented Crafter presented each of us with a hand-crafted, personalized glass and bead dangler. We were all ‘in the moment’ and didn’t stop of course to capture her words, but now I wish we had. Pauline gathered crystals, beads and charms then infused them with one-of-a-kind reflections of each of us. It was moving hearing her thoughts as she shared each one.

Once home, it was tricky photographing the full length of this charmer without sacrificing the detail. Instead, I’ve photographed it in sections, so you can see the charms up close. I took pictures of the dangler in my garden to maximize light, but when not on a photo shoot, it hangs in my living room window. It’s 22 inches (55cm) long.

Pauline captured my love of fairy gardening at the top. There is also a fairy baby since I enjoy nurturing the small children next door. The teapot represents sustenance (and also happens to be my beverage of choice). There’s a small clock in honor of my passion for organizing and a tiny book, celebrating our Little Free Library. There’s a cat of course, sitting on the moon. Isn’t it just like a cat to make itself at home anywhere?

There are two separate hearts, entwined to show our friendship and a third heart that says ‘Made With Love.’

I’ll say!!!

Pauline enriched the rest of the dangler with gorgeous stone, glass and crystal beads.

Here it is:

section one

Garden fairy, clock book

section two

Crystal beads in warm browns and purple hues, tea-pot and butterfly, cat on the moon

section three

Two hearts = friendship

section four

Beads, hearts and crystals

section five

Bottom half of fairy baby, butterfly and beads

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Part of a long strand of gorgeous beads and silver fixings

section six

Crystal globe

We’re all back home now continuing with our lives, but changed profoundly by the experience. When I see the dangler reflecting the light, I’m reminded that what makes ordinary, extraordinary is friends.