Friday, July 26, 2013

Annie's Hair

This week has left me nearly empty handed as far as creative endeavours go.  I have been tinkering with code for the website shopping cart, writing an article, and stocking shelves in the studio after a rather large shipment of supplies arrived.  Oh, and of course the most loathly task of all, dusting shelves and cleaning.
As a reward for cleaning, I did finish making hair for my Annie style doll.  

This was fun.  First I crocheted a skull cap, then I added the individual strands of hair the way that one would make a knotted rug.  Then came the trimming.  This was scary.  That’s my mother’s fault.  I distinctly remember a good hiding I got after trimming my own fringe when I was about three years old.  I think I never held scissors for a long time after that.  Trimming Annie’s hair was fraught with anxiety.  I kept checking to see if someone was going to catch me at it.  But I was brave and I did it.

Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday.  She has such a busy social life that I had to phone her today already to wish her a blessed year.  To celebrate she is going hot air ballooning and dining with friends.  I got her a snazzy handbag in the shape of an owl, but don’t go blabbing, she hasn’t seen it yet!
 Also tomorrow, I’m getting together with a group of doll crafters to work on our projects.  I haven’t decided yet what I’m doing.  Fortunately I have no end of UFO’s lying around, I will just grab a likely candidate and give it a go.  If I feel like being different, I might even work on a bear!

Wishing you a creative weekend.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Good company

Clyde has made a nest for herself in a corner of my untidy attic work room.  She just lies there and watches me.  I am speeding towards a deadline tonight.  I wonder how many people value the calming and restful influence of an animal companion?  Sometimes it makes all the difference.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Technologically Challenged Monday

Today I feel as though I'm a monkey.  To be precise, a monkey with a tin of beans in its paws.  I know there's something in there, I can hear it rattling when I shake the thing, but I have no idea how to get it out.
Got a new phone, the upgrade was way overdue and very neccessary.  Problem is, it's flat and black and has not a single button.  To get the tin can to divulge its secrets, you use swipy gestures with a deft finger across the screen.  I haven't mastered the swipe yet. 
A few times I have caught myself trying to give it a telepathic nudge, thinking if I stare at it hard enough, it might react...  
I wonder, when I need a new phone in a few years time, what it will look like?

Friday, July 19, 2013

When is a scrap a scrap?

I have been making bears for many years now.  When I first started out I didn't have much of a fabric stash and finding suitable fabrics was a real problem.  Remember, I'm referring to the bad old times before we had Loubear, and even before internet.  Some of you haven't been alive that long. I ordered miniature bear kits from Emily Farmer in America once, it was arranged by airmail and fax.  The transaction took about six weeks to organize.  Then she had a query on my order and phoned me at 2am... None of us budding bear artists had learned the time difference between continents off by heart back then, and we were delighted to meet another kindred spirit at any hour.  But I digress.

So I didn't have much of a fabric stash, and when I made a bear it was often from a square of velvet or felt or a fat quarter of fabric that I ordered specially.  Being a miniature bear maker, I carefully saved all those offcuts for making and accessorizing miniature bears.  Sometimes I used the scraps, and sometimes they got added to my growing stash.
A few decades down the line, I have also acquired the scrap stash of two or three bear makers who have gone out of business.  I'm a hoarder, I can't resist the temptation to carry more scraps into my lair.  One day I had to admit that I could not shove open the door to my store room anymore, and what was in there was becoming a definite fire and rodent hazard.  Not to mention that I could never find something when I needed it, and ended up buying fabric rather than hunting through the stash.  Last December I dragged all the boxes into my workroom.  First I just gloated over my treasure trove, then I devised a plan to get it organised.
I now have my fabrics sorted according to type - mohair, velvet, felt, suede, whatever.  With a flourish of sophistication I also sorted the various fabrics according to colour.  Want a small scrap of grey suede?  A micro piece of long pile white mohair? Just ask me, I know exactly where to find it!
The only thing I didn't find much of in my stash was scraps of time.  It will take me several lifetimes to work through all the fabrics I've got.  No matter, sometimes the joy is in the having, not the using.
So what do I use my scraps for?
Today I spent several enjoyable hours matching up miniature bear patterns with suitable scraps.
It's handy to have these little baggies all organized and ready to grab if I suddenly find that I'm going to be away from the studio and will have a scrap of time on my hands to sew, like when I go to the doctor, saves me from biting my nails or reading germy magazines :-)

When is a scrap a scrap, can't be used and should not be kept anymore?  NEVER!
See the footpads that I am cutting out of this scrap?  There are only a few millimeters of fabric left all around, Won't even be able to cut footpads for a microbear from that.  But the scrap does not become useless.   Tiny scraps can be snipped even smaller and kept separate to be used as stuffing.  Antique bears were sometimes stuffed with cotton waste; scraps of thread and cotton that have been shredded.  This is what gives those bears such a lovely solid feel.  I keep my stuffing scraps for when I make larger vintage style bears, and use it in the tummy and legs to give them weight and heft.

Mohair scraps are a different matter when it comes to making teddy bears.  Sometimes the scraps are just too small, and the fur too long to cut miniature bears from them.  What to do?
Patchwork!  I start by selecting and sewing small scraps into blocks or strips.
Then I join up the blocks to form a fabric.  Don't worry about colour, fur length, or direction of the pile.  The crazier, the better the effect.
Once you have a big enough piece of patchwork fabric, you can make a bear from it.  This gentle giant was made by Rose.

Wishing you a lovely weekend.  Gotta go rummage in my scraps!


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

WAR - Woman Against Rape

Had a productive meeting with Janine, Yolanda, Daphne and Ca this morning. Starting a project in support of WAR (Woman Against Rape).
WAR is one of the organizations that will benefit from our Bearathon drive this year.  We are going to put together a pile of stunning Comfort Packs by end of October! Info will be on the Bearathon page in a few weeks.  Get ready to make teddies to add to the Comfort Packs, or rummage through your supplies and donate fabric, wool, accessories to make teddies with.

In the meantime, if you would like more info or would like to become involved, let me know. 

Find WAR on Facebook

I will be chatting more about the project later, but just wanted to share one or two thoughts with you while today's meeting is fresh in my mind.
Janine tells me that rape victims who are counselled and assisted by WAR range in age from a few months old to geriatric.  Although females comprise the largest number of victims, males are sometimes victims too.
Up to 500 Comfort Packs (CP) are put together by WAR volunteers every month, and there is never enough.  A CP consists of toiletries, underwear, a snack and a teddy.  (I will photograph a pack to show you as soon as I can lay my hands on one).  The teddy that gets put into each CP is often the most expensive item.
My feeling when I first thought about a teddy in a CP is that it's unnecessary, and maybe even inappropriate.  A memento of a traumatic event would definitely not be welcome in my life. When I asked Janine whether putting a teddy in the CP is not a bad idea, she put my mind to rest immediately.   She explained that when a rape victim opens the pack to start using the items, the teddy acts as a symbol of hope.  It is a message from a fellow woman to the victim to say that she is not alone, and that someone cares for her plight.  Most of the time, the teddy is the most appreciated item in that pack.
It makes me think of sending a message to a girlfriend to say that she is on your mind.  Do you sometimes do that?  I know that I have been the grateful recipient of such a message often, and that it means the world to me.  
Going to start sewing a messenger teddy tonight!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Website has a new home

Whoopie!  Got my transfer notification today, and when I checked a minute ago I got this screen:
That means that the legal work is done, the website domain has been transferred to its new hosting company and I can start linking up my pages. 
This is like moving into a new home, so exciting!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Manic Monday

I have noticed during stressful periods in my life that sleep deprivation can lead to interesting situations.  As a self employed artist under normal circumstances, I manage to be fairly efficient.  With a sick man, and varied domestic crises over the last few weeks, I am starting to unravel a little.
This morning I got out of bed in a daze, staggering from lack of sleep and chocolate overdose.  Never a good thing on a Monday.  I could only stay focused by repeating the mantra 'hang up washing, post the mail orders, buy dog food, go to pharmacy'...
By 10am, with mail order envelopes all zipped up and washing machine unloaded, I sailed out the door ready to defeat that list.
Only to be stopped short by a sizable pile of monkey pooh on the roof of my car.  A new obstacle to reaching the bottom of my to-do list by the end of the day.  The troupe of monkeys that have moved into our neighbourhood are becoming bolder by the day.  After a cursory inspection I decided that this little problem need not break my speed.  In fact, it might disappear completely if I drive very fast when I get to the paved road.
No such luck.  When I reached the mall parking lot, the little monument was undisturbed.  That monkey must have been eating glue. I parked in the furthest corner, grabbed my basket and made a break for the post office before anyone saw me near my tainted car.
In the post office, the queue was making a lazy snake and I settled in for a long wait.  Standing there, shifting my weight from foot to foot, my basket was becoming heavier by the minute.  When I looked down, I discovered to my horror that I was about to post a basket of laundry.  The mail orders must be under the washing line!
I slinked back to my car, fervently hoping that I don't come across anyone I know and retraced my steps back to the beginning of that to-do list. 
So, here we are at the end of the day.  I could say that all's well that ends well.  Everything has been crossed off my to-do list, except for a certain sticky issue that still needs to be dealt with.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Scary Week

This should be called Scary Week.  I have started proceedings to move the Tin Soldiers website to its new home at Hetzner.  This is akin to walking across the playground to go and hang out with the big kids.  Getting knocked over is a distinct possibility... but then, I've always been a scaredy cat and a prophet of doom when it comes to change.
Hopefully you will not even notice the change-over, the website at will just start working much better.
Did you see that I added a Newsletter subscription button on the right hand side of the page?  If you don't receive the Newsletter already, you can subscribe quick and easy by filling in your email address.  
Also scary is that The Man is quite ill.  Right now he needs lots of TLC.  Let's hope he gets better quickly.
I have to leave now to go and take my anti-anxiety-and-contagious-diseases medicine.  It's called CHOCOLATE!