Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Show & Tell from Asheville ~ Part III

I have two more pieces of show and tell from my trip to Asheville, NC. I love these beaded earrings. I have just enough beading experience to really appreciate the time that went into these. The shape is so pretty and they're not too heavy. I really want to try something like this myself so these will be my inspiration!

I've already introduced you to the artist. These were also made by Karen Tipton whose work can be found at the Woolworth Walk.

What would a vacation be without a fiber purchase? I don't know and I don't want to find out! LOL! To search for fun local fibers, I headed over to Home Crafts in the Historic Grove Arcade.

In some ways, Home Crafts resembles your typical fiber shop. It does however, seem to have a personality all its own. On this visit, I was greeted by handmade hats. There was easily over 100 of them, most were felted, but some knitted and crocheted. The colors and shapes were brilliant! Living in central Arizona, I don't have much use for a felted wool hat, but I couldn't help being taken in by them.

After my hat detour, I zig zagged my way to the back of the shop where I knew the local fibers were kept. I just love admiring the hanks of handspun yarn and I have to remind myself that I'm a spinner and don't really need to buy yarn. Instead, I turned my attention toward the fibers. That's where I found these kid mohair locks. The color is all natural and I'm charmed by the bits of brown and cream mixed in with the charcoal and lighter grey. It's so pretty and I will have to design a lock yarn to showcase that color and curl.

Do you ever fantasize about what kind of animals you would keep if you had a small ranch? I do this all the time. It's hard for me to narrow down, but I think there would probably be a breed of Leicester sheep and I thing I would need some Angora goats. It would be awesome to trim my own perfect locks from those remarkable animals. That's right, I'd be a happy hair stylist to the goat stars!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Three Random Things

I'm winding down for the night, waiting for the next new episode of V to come on so I can watch it with my son. There's nothing like a little Sci-Fi bonding with my boy. While I'm just hangin' out, I thought I'd share three, kind of random things that are on my mind.

1. Endicia ~ This is the online postage server I use for Wind Rose Fiber Studio. When I first started selling, the most frustrating thing was posting my sales. I sell globally and the USPS site didn't (I haven't checked in a while, so I guess this may have changed, but I doubt it.) allow for a first class international option which is the most reasonable way to ship worldwide. After about six months of waiting in line every time I had an international sale, I found Endicia. Endicia is quick and easy and will let me ship first class internationally. I use it for all of my business now and I love it! They even offer a 30 day free trial if you just want to check it out. After that, it's $15.95 a month and worth every penny! Just think, if you mail 100 packages a month, that's just 16¢ each. Now I print all of my postage at home and just drop off my orders. It's awesome!

2. Bill Atkinson PhotoCard ~ I was reading my Endicia newsletter today and the first article was about this great new App called Bill Atkinson Photocard. If you go to the iTunes App Store, just copy and paste the name into the search box and it will come right up for you. Bill Atkinson is both a nature photographer and a computer software "legend" at Apple. I LOVE this app!!! What it allows you to do is to either use one of Mr Atkinson's amazing pictures or take one of your own and turn it into a postcard. It's just like the real thing only better. You can write your note choosing a favorite font, decorate your card with stickers, address it to the lucky recipient and even pick your stamp. Now here's the really cool part. You can email your postcard for free or you can send it just like a real postcard! "If you choose the postal mail format, your recipient will get a real 8.25 x 5.5 inch postcard, printed on glossy stock by a state-of-the-art HP Indigo digital press." They outline the costs so you know what to expect. Imagine, you could be in London and take a picture of the kids in front of Buckingham Palace, and then send it as a postcard to family back home! I've already sent a couple in email format and I had so much fun choosing my photographs and decorating them. I know I said this already, but I love this App!

3. Dew Covered Sleeping Insects ~ This may sound strange or creepy, but trust me and just have a look at these pictures. They are spectacular! I discovered these through my husband who was led to them by his favorite blog Daring Fireball.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I love Earth Hour!

Last night was our second year participating in Earth Hour as a family. I get pretty excited about this event and maybe I even go a little overboard. I don't just have us turn out our lights, I have us turn off our TVs, our computers, iPods and iPhones. It all goes off for an hour. I light candles in our family room and for one hour, our only entertainment is conversation.

Last year I kind of sprung it on everyone and they didn't know what to expect. This year they saw me coming. My younger son was excited and totally on board. My husband and older son were less enthused. For my husband it meant putting off finishing the taxes and having to turn off our outside lights that work on a timer. For my older son, it simply meant no TV, but that feels like a pretty big sacrifice to him I guess.

Wes, my youngest, and I performed the countdown to 8:30pm. "Ten, nine, eight, seven, six... Earth Hour!" With that we all claimed our favorite spots on the couch to hang out for an hour. The first five minutes were spent with me and Wes giggling about silly things and Jens, my oldest, and my husband protesting. I knew we needed distraction, so I started us off on a game.

I told everyone that we would each ask one question and we would all have to answer. For example, my husband asked what each of us would do with our time if all of our responsibilities didn't exist. The kids started really getting into it. We all did. After that game, we played "Who Am I?" One person picks anything and the rest have to ask questions to figure out what that person is.

Time passed quickly and before we knew it, the clock was showing 9:30. Jens, my biggest objector to Earth Hour participation, wouldn't let us leave. He was having too much fun and wanted one more round of gaming. Afterward, he had as much fun turning the lights on and making us all moan as our eyes painfully adjusted.

I know the official Earth Hour was yesterday, but if you missed it, there's no reason you can't have your own earth hour with your family or with friends. I left our family room last night thinking we should do this more often. I love what we learn about each other and I hope as a parent I am not only making a memory, but setting an example that my kids will pass on to their own families someday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Hand Painted Kid Mohair ~ It's Here!

As promised, I'm back today with pictures of my three new hand painted rovings. This is Kid Mohair so it's very soft and full of shine. I only have one of each of these, so if you love it, you might just want to go for it!

This first one I'm calling Flower Petals. It's a vibrant blend of red, yellow and pink. I blended the red and yellow to create some orange hues as well. These colors make me think of tulips and early spring flowers.

This next colorway is called Mystic Meadow. I've painted these colors before in Merino and they were so well received that I decided to make a version in the Kid Mohair. It's a blend of spruce, violet and kelly green. The violet adds a bit of unexpected magic to these earthy greens.

This is my favorite roving from the dyeing I did yesterday. The colors are so rich and gorgeous. I named this colorway Caspian Sea. These jewel tones make me think of royalty, which made me think of Prince Caspian from the Chronicles of Narnia. The beautiful sapphire blue inspired the "sea". I'm sure the real Caspian Sea isn't sparkling violet and sapphire, but you've entered my fantasy world. Welcome!

Oh, and I can't forget the mohair locks. I liked the Sapphire and Violet so much in the roving, that I had to use it for the locks too. To make it interesting and add even more dimension, I varied the intensity of the colors from deep to very light.

To make the Silver and Black Locks, I used black dye, but I was going for a silver, smokey vibe so there is more of a suggestion of black. Once again, I was going for depth, but I love those silver highlights.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hand Painted Mohair ~ Sneak Peek!

Tonight my studio smells like wet mohair. I think most people would wrinkle their noses and I wouldn't blame them, but I guess wet animal fiber has become a familiar smell to me. After all, it's what I do.

My dad built wooden boats and as a kid, I came to love the smell of sawdust. His boat shop was on the water and his neighbors were a crab picking business and a scalloping company. So really, it was the smell of sawdust, salty air, and seafood. That odd combination is my favorite smell in the world. It's the olfactory representation of my childhood. Sometimes I wonder if the smell of animal fibers will be a happy one for my kids.

I work with all kinds of fibers, but today was mohair day at Wind Rose Fiber Studio. I just received a shipment from Texas where I purchase scoured mohair locks and kid mohair roving. Mohair comes from the Angora goat like this handsome fellow here. I just love the curl and the shine is amazing. You might think curly fiber would be more coarse, but mohair is silky soft. Look how nice and long it is. Mohair typically has a longer staple length of around 4 to 5 inches.

Tomorrow I'll be back with nice pictures taken in natural lighting. For tonight, I have a sneak peek. This is a length of the kid mohair roving that I have hand painted in sapphire and violet. The color is lost in the light of my energy saving compact fluorescent bulbs, but you can see the curl and that awesome shine. I painted three colorways today and I also kettle dyed some of the mohair locks. They are looking very pretty and I can't wait to show them off.

My youngest son was just passing through and I asked him to go into my studio and tell me what it smells like. He said he couldn't smell anything which made me laugh. I don't know if animal fiber will be a happy, nostalgic scent for my boys later in life, but I'm sure it will be familiar.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Show & Tell from Asheville ~ Part II

If you happen to read this blog from time to time, you probably already know that I'm a bead lover. I'm just drawn to beads and the seemingly limitless possibilities that they present. It doesn't hurt that they are sparkly, textured and come in every color imaginable. For a visual person like myself, bead stores are heavenly places.

While visiting Asheville last week, I couldn't wait to explore the Chevron Trading Post & Bead Co. Right in the heart of the historic district, their windows filled with star shaped paper laterns, beckon passers-by. This bead shop is particularly fun because not only can you find everything beady you ever wanted, the store space is like entering a fantasy land. You know, one of those places where every time you look, you see something you missed before.

As a matter of fact, I was just about to leave when I turned around to find these beaded lamps. There were actually lamps in two sizes, night light covers and picture frames. All were lavishly beaded in striking colors. The little bulbs illuminated the many facets and colors of the intricately wired frames. My pulse sped up and I quickly began to pour over all of the luminaries looking for my favorite. The question was not, "Should I?" it was, "Which one?"

I don't know how many times I changed my mind before picking this one in rusts and oranges. I was pretty sure they were all perfect. Still, I had to make a choice.

I have one of those "great room" style houses where my family room flows into my kitchen. The kitchen has red accent paint and the family room, a large blue sectional. I thought the orange would play nice with the blue and red.

In the evening, when we are watching TV and only want enough light to see our way around, this lamp is perfect. It rests on my counter producing shadows that dance around the room making the space feel warm and happy.

I guess the moral of this story is to visit the Chevron Trading Post & Bead Company. You never know what you'll find, but you just may love it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Show & Tell From Asheville ~ Part I

Hi there! I'm back from Asheville, NC where I had a wonderful time with my family. I managed to sneak off and do a little shopping too!

Tourists to Asheville usually find their way to the Woolworth Walk. This is actually an old Woolworth Co. building from 1938 that has been converted into an art gallery and soda fountain.

Downstairs, in my favorite corner, I found this necklace by Karen Tipton of Morning Doves. Karen has combined my two loves, fiber and beading, into this striking pendant necklace.

I think her use of color here is terrific. The pendant and chain are antique brass and copper with turquoise and red accents. Not everyone would be brave enough to blend this combination with the pinks, blues and greens of the rings and ribbon that extent the length of the chain. Karen has brought all of these colors and textures together and they more than work, they look amazing!

I'm leaving you with a few more pictures. I wish I could leave you with a website, but it looks like the only way to see this artist's work is to visit Asheville.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Hello From Asheville!

It's my last night in Asheville, North Carolina and It's been a great weekend. I've had some precious family time and have been able to get to know my little 17 month old niece. She's such a sweety!

The weekend has been filled with hiking and swimming, good food and staying up late talking. Tonight we hung out at a pub called Jack In The Wood where on Sundays, a group of Irish musicians gather to play. On their banjos and fiddles they jam together while an appreciative crowd drinks microbrew and eats yummy pub food.

Whenever I come to Asheville, my one request is that I get dropped off downtown for a couple hours to just wander in and out of the stores and galleries. I love a little "me time" and I have come to have my favorite haunts. I found some of my favorite artists still selling in the same places. I like to support the local artisans, so I always pick up a new piece or two.

I've got some very pretty beadwork to show you when I get back to my studio. Until then, I'll say goodnight.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Pueblo Grande Museum ~ Ancient Technology Day ~ Part V

I'm winding down my day at the Pueblo Grande Museum. Of all of the ancient technologies I experienced, there is one that is near and dear to my heart. The wonderful, essential art of spinning and weaving. I guess that's really two, but together they form fibers that have been used to make tools, hunt, gather, and to protect people from the elements.

The fiber arts were represented by the TelaraƱa Weavers and Spinners Guild who had a display of cotton and early spindles. Many people don't realize the range of natural colors that come from different varieties of cotton plants.

In addition to this display, they made box looms to teach how to warp and weave. When I first approached their exhibit, It was busy with excited kids. A young girl proudly held up her finished fabric. One of the guild members showed her how she could sew the sides to make it into a small purse. It was so fun to see all the kids, parents too, connecting to my favorite ancient technology.

Here's a picture of one of the box looms. This is a great way to make a simple loom. Any shoebox can become a creative activity.

I love that they've used lots of color and even added the textured fringe in the middle. That fringe is created by making rya knots. "A Rya is a traditional Scandinavian rug. The name originates from a village in southwest Sweden. The term rya may also refer to a breed of sheep
whose wool is used to make rya carpets."

(Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.)

A Present for Aria

I just had to take a little picture of my gift before I pack it all up. I'm getting ready to see my niece for the first time since February 2009. I can't believe a whole year has gone by and now she's walking and saying words. I just can't wait to see her!

I also can't resist bringing a gift along from Aunti Jenn. I've been planning to make Aria one of the 1885 Baby's Bibs, but a bib isn't a very fun gift, so I decided to make a little set. She should be fast approaching the age where it's fun to play "tea". I found two matching bowls and spoons and then I made two bibs, one for Aria and one for a pretend friend.

Perhaps this will give us a fun game to play as we get to know each other. Yum, yum!

The Pueblo Grande Museum ~ Ancient Technology Day ~ Part IV

Hi. I'm back to share more from my day at the Pueblo Grande Museum. I started my journey inside the museum checking out the displays and reading about the area. Within the gallery, there was one display which depicted fiber from the agave plant being used to make twine. This caught my eye like all new fibers do and I wondered if agave fiber is still used today.

Once I made my way outside of the museum to where the exhibitors were, my questions about agave were not only answered, but I even got to make a little agave twine of my own. I did this with the expert help of Vincent Pinto a naturalist and wildlife biologist. Vincent and his wife Claudia run and environmental school called Ravens Way in southeastern Arizona.

Vincent was all set up to show visitors like myself, just how to work with agave fiber. I guess I should backtrack just in case agave is a new plant for you. After all, when I moved out here from Virginia, it was new for me. Agave is found in South America and in the SW United States. It's largely used as an ornamental plant. It flowers only once, but it's quite spectacular when it does. A tall stem rises up from the center of the plant and bears tubular flowers. These stems can be very tall. I've seen them over 5'. After the agave bears fruit, the original plant dies but it usually lives on by way of suckers or root sprouts.

Well, back to the fiber part of this story. When the leaves of the agave die, Vincent allows them to dry. They are very hard and woody. He said that sometimes he will even lay the leaves across a popular foot path. The traffic helps to soften the leaves and make them easier to work with. When the leaves have thoroughly dried, you can take away the outer layer to reveal the fibers within.

Do you see those yellow gloves up in the picture? The are a very good idea when working with agave. I watched as Vincent twisted a leaf in his hands. The dried outer leaf separated easily releasing a powder that Vincent warned was itchy. "You don't want to swallow that." he told me and I believe him. After handling some freshly harvested agave fibers, I found myself scratching my arms all afternoon. Ideally, you would want to wash the fibers before twisting them.

Next Vincent showed me how he plies the fibers just by twisting them with his fingers. When I have a bit more time, I'd like to take some video of this to show you. it's kind of hard to capture in stills. Of course you don't need to bother finger plying if you have something like a drop spindle or spinning wheel around the house! You could make short work of plying agave.

Agave twine is incredibly strong. The staple length of usable fiber is easily over 12". Is does go from thick at the base of the leaf to much more thin at the tip. Some attention would have to be paid to make the twine consistent in weight. The next time you need some strong cord for a project, you might just want to look in your own backyard, if you live in the desert that is.

Wind Rose on Cafe Press

I should be packing, but instead I spent too much time this morning playing around with my Cafe Press store.

They have new products since the last time I visited. I love this little gym bag. I also created just the plain image of my sheep in the wind without any words. Now you don't even have to be a spinner to enjoy the products, just a sheep lover!

I did make a few things for the spindle spinning crowd. I took the drawing from my directions on how to drop spindle spin and made it into art. I think it looks cool on this mug.

Isn't that fun? OK, now I'm really going to go pack for Asheville. I am going to avoid this computer until I've finished all of my chores. (You have no idea how hard this is for me!)

If you want to see how I spent my time this morning, check out Wind Rose Fiber Studio on Cafe Press.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Pueblo Grande Museum ~ Ancient Technology Day ~ Part III

Here's a very modern looking sign directing visitors to a very ancient technology. While I was chatting with Timothy Terry about his art and work, my husband and sons were connecting with their inner warriors. They were learning how to use an atlatl.

An atlatl is a spear-thrower or "a tool that uses leverage to achieve greater velocity in dart-throwing, and includes a bearing surface which allows the user to temporarily store energy during the throw." It is believed that homo sapiens have been using the atlatl since the upper paleolithic period. The earliest example, found in France, dates back to about 15,000 years ago and was made of reindeer antler.

The atlatl is capable of throwing a dart or spear well over 100 meters, but is more accurate at closer distances. Atlatls vary in style from the very basic to more ornate designs depicting animals. Later atlatls were sometimes adapted like the one you see here in my son's hand. It has small straps for the fingers to steady and grip the spear before it is released.

To the right you can see my son getting ready to shoot at his target which in this case is a cardboard mammoth. It was hard to get him to give up his atlatl long enough for me to have a try. The only instruction I received is that you sort of push the atlatl downward as you release the dart. I'm guessing my dart made it about 12 meters. I only had one chance as my son was anxious to get his weapon back.

I'm not sure how well my family would have eaten 15,000 years ago. My husband was very proud of finally hitting the mammoth in the trunk. I teased that he didn't exactly bring down the beast, but he replied, "Well anyone can hit a big target like the body of an elephant, but how many people can hit the trunk?"

Wikipedia was used as a source for this article.

Vacation Notice ~ I'm Going to Asheville, NC!

I'll be writing a couple more blog posts before I leave, but I wanted to let you know that I'll be away for a few days. I'm headed to Asheville, NC to spend some time with family.

Asheville is also one of my favorite places to hunt for new and interesting artwork. I have found some pretty cool stuff in the past. As a matter of fact, if you type asheville into the search box of this blog, you can see some of these treasures. I'm hoping to come home with more great show and tell pieces from the east.

If you are thinking about placing an order at Wind Rose Fiber Studio, all orders made before noon (PST) 3/17 will ship before I go. You are welcome to shop while I'm away and stake your claim to your favorite fibers. Orders placed between noon 3/17 and 3/22 will ship on March 23rd or the 24th at the latest. Thanks everyone!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Pueblo Grande Museum ~ Ancient Technology Day ~ Part II

I had a wonderful conversation with Timothy Terry during my visit at the Pueblo Grande Museum. Timothy is a member of the Akimel O'odham Tribe and one of a very small handful of people who still etch shells in the traditional way.

The gum from the mesquite tree is used to make a paste. This paste is then painted on the shell in traditional patterns and then allowed to dry. An acid is needed to remove the paste as well as the outer layer of the shell. For this, Timothy makes his own vinegar from saguaro fruit.

When the fruit is ripe on the saguaros, Timothy heads out into the desert. He collects five gallons worth of fruit for each batch. First he makes the fruit into wine which is used in sacred ceremonies. The remainder is turned into vinegar. Five gallons of saguaro fruit creates enough concentrated vinegar for Timothy to etch about 40 pieces of jewelry.

The painted shells may soak in the vinegar for up to two days. The result is a striking image left behind. The natural shape and coloring of the shells seem to become one with the new symbols as though they were meant to be together.

Timothy also cuts and carves the shells to make bracelets and earrings. His work is simply beautiful.

He shared pictures with me of ancient artifacts that have been uncovered. This was so I could see that the designs and symbols he uses today, are almost identical to those from hundreds of years ago. As we admired the pictures of ancient shell jewelry, he pointed out how skilled his ancestors were. Whereas he has the use of modern tools, the people of long ago would have used much cruder implements.

As amazing as his art is, Timothy mentioned more than once that this is only a hobby for him. He works full time as a Traditional Counselor in the Gila River Community.
He incorporates the use of art in helping people to rehabilitate. Some of the people he has helped are now making jewelry to earn money and, perhaps more importantly, maintain a connection to their roots.

In addition to his counseling and jewelry making, Timothy Terry is also an artist/illustrator, a photographer and a storyteller. He has been featured in museums, books and magazines. He can often be found giving local demonstrations or telling stories at the Heard Museum.

You should be able to see larger images of these pictures by clicking on them. I'll be back tomorrow with more from my day at the Pueblo Grande Museum.

Judy's Miser's Purse

When I asked my older sister Judy if she would like a Miser's Purse, she said she'd love one. I was pleased because Judy is particular and knows what she likes. I think these commendable qualities, but when I'm designing for her, I am much more anxious about her being happy with the finished product.

She decided she would like her purse on a snap hook so she could wear it attached to her jeans or belt when she goes out walking. She was also specific about her color choice for the body and beading and also wanted the texture to be soft.

When I think soft chocolate brown, I think alpaca, so I spun some yarn up just for the project. When attaching the purse to the snap hook, I worked the yarn all around the exposed part of the D-ring so that the chains wouldn't slide around. For the beads, Judy threw out turquoise brown and orange as favorites, plus a touch of red. She's always loved the color red.

The crazy thing about beading is that no matter how expansive your bead collection, you never seem to have exactly what you're looking for. At least that's my experience. I try to keep a wide variety of colors and sizes, but I was having trouble finding the perfect combination. I settled on turquoise and red and I like the way it turned out.

It's not lost on me how southwestern this bag looks. I've lived out here for less than three years, but the desert culture has definitely found its way into what I make. It's a happy influence as far as I'm concerned. I love my surroundings and I kind of like seeing them pop up in my own creations.

Tomorrow this miser's purse will be on its way to Virginia. I hope Judy will love it even if it's a little different from her vision. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Pueblo Grande Museum ~ Ancient Technology Day

This morning I went with my family to the Pueblo Grand Museum in Phoenix to learn about ancient technologies.

First, I have to say that I was more than a little pleased with my kids. When I suggested that we spend the first morning of their Spring Break at a museum studying how people lived over a thousand years ago, I wasn't sure how it would go over. My kids however, didn't flinch. They just kind of said, "O.K." and that was it. I guess I've dragged them to enough museums and festivals that it has become an accepted part of their reality.

This post is actually a prelude to the next several articles I'll be writing this week. I met interesting people and learned fascinating things today and I want to share it all with you! I can't wait to tell you about finger plying Agave fiber with Vincent Pinto or the beautiful shell etchings of Timothy Terry. I also threw my first atlatl and watched the TelaraƱa Weavers and Spinners teach kids how to weave on box looms. Over the next couple days I'll tell you all about these events in more detail.

For today, allow me to briefly acquaint you with the Pueblo Grande Museum. The museum is located on an archeological site and works to "collect, preserve, research, interpret, and exhibit cultural materials from the site of Pueblo Grande and the Greater Southwest." The location includes an outdoor trail where you can visit a platform mound from AD 1450, an adobe compound AD 1300, pithouses AD 950 and a ballcourt from about AD 750 to 1200.

I took a couple pictures to give you a look into the world of the ancient Hohokam. The picture on the left shows a room with high walls. The artifacts found in this location suggest that this space was possibly used for special ceremonies. Notice that the door has been sealed. This could mean a change in use for the adjoining space.

On the right there is a room that actually contained two doorways. It was built with a rare corner door facing the northeast. "At sunrise on the summer solstice, and sunset on winter solstice, a curious alignment occurs. During these two days, a shaft of light stretches from one doorway to the other, signaling the midpoints of the solar annual cycle."

Finally, I want to draw your attention back up to the picture at the top of this post. If you look closely at the rock, you'll see that it contains an ancient petroglyph or rock engraving. This rock was removed from it's original site which is an unfortunate occurrence. This happens sometimes which means that archeologists lose all of the links they would otherwise have to the etching and limits what we can learn. Yet, it's still a piece of art that has been given to us by a people from long ago.

That's all for tonight. I hope I have sparked your interest. I'll be back tomorrow with more of my pictures and experiences from my day at the Pueblo Grande Museum.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Weaving Stick Project Update

I've been having a pretty nice day today. The sun is warming things up here in central Arizona and after three rainy weekends in a row, we are being treated to some days of perfect bliss.

I sat outside in the sun for a while and worked on my weaving sticks. I'm up to about 4' of fabric now and after the black I'll be weaving the colors in reverse back to the light blue. These colors may seem a bit dull, but the plan is for this to become a felted sculpture for my studio wall. My studio is painted a fairly strong green which I think will make these more neutral shades stand out.

Now I had a basic plan for my project which involved having each section of color a particular length. I've been able to come close to my plan, but as I've been weaving, I've been thinking. How could you make something to more exact specifications? Then I had an idea. If the sticks were marked, each in the same place towards their points and again near the ends, you could keep track of your length. It would also make it easier to make more than one strip of equal lengths. I made this little picture on Skitch to illustrate:

This picture isn't perfect, but I think it will serve my purpose. See what I mean? If you stained either end of the wooden sticks a darker color, or somehow made a line, it could become a measuring tool.

I'm pretending that the section of lighter wood in my picture is 4". If I start weaving at the bottom line and work up to the top line, I'll have 4" of fabric. Then I'll pull the sticks back up through the completed weft until I see the bottom line again. If I'm making something like a place mat, I may repeat this process 4 times to give me a strip 16" long. Than I can finish off and make several more strips the same way.

I realize this isn't the grandest stroke of genius. There may even be someone making weaving sticks in exactly this fashion. Then there is the real possibility that not too many people even care about weaving sticks. *cringe* Oh, please care... at least a little. Still, I just wanted to pass on my notion of the day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Firestar Samplers and Three Earthy Shades of Merino

A few days ago I shared a photograph of my studio floor covered in drying fiber. Over the last two days, I've been busy processing and packaging that fiber into some great new samplers as well as a few new shades of merino for the shop at Wind Rose.

Along with the skin tone merino wool, I also dyed Firestar in the same hues and have turned them into a pretty Firestar Naturals Sampler. I have a larger one at 2.25oz and a Mini Sampler that comes to just one ounce. the Mini Sampler would be a great way for anyone who has always been curious about Firestar to try it out!

In addition to the Firestar Samplers and the Skin Tone Samplers, I also dyed three new, cozy shades of Merino Wool.

From left to right, there's Fawn, Rust and Earth. These are nice, warm tones for the nature lovers out there. Well, I'm off to finish my packaging. I'm looking forward to seeing the floor of my studio again!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Merino Wool Skin Tone Samplers!

I can't even tell you how many times I've had customers at Wind Rose ask me if I plan to make my skin tone line into samplers. Well I finally did it!

I'm holding my breath as I post this, because making samplers is a lot of work and I have a feeling they are going to fly out of the shop. I'm bracing myself for the WOOSH as out they zoom! Samplers are quite a commitment, because when they're out of stock, people actually expect you to restock them! LOL!

I've decided to devote myself to doing just that. So let me show you the samplers. First up and in the top, right picture, Merino Wool Skin Tone Sampler (.25 oz Each of 10 Great Colors). This sampler includes two *bonus colors, but let me tell you all 10, The colors are ~ In the middle: *Pink and Porcelain Fair. Starting from the top middle and working clockwise: South Pacific, Sun Touched, Peach Glow, *Raisin Bark, Deep Brown, Golden Brown, Chestnut Brown and Mediterranean.

The second sampler, Merino Wool Skin Tone Sampler (.5oz Each of 8 Great Colors), has all eight of the skin tones from my original line. The colors are ~ In the middle: Porcelain Fair. From the top middle and working clockwise: South Pacific, Sun Touched, Peach Glow, Deep Brown, Golden Brown, Chestnut Brown and Mediterranean.

I have just a few of each, and restocking can take some time, so come and get 'em!

Amigurumi ~ A Gallery of Cuteness!

Hi there. You've seen my Happy Flower before. She's always smiling on the left side of my blog as the ambassadress to my website.

I love amigurumi and if I had more time, I'd probably design a few more. They are just so cute and have so much personality. I get happy every time I look at them.

I was on Flickr yesterday looking at a friend's photos when I noticed I had a message. I have to admit that I don't use Flickr very much and only have a few pictures posted, so I was surprised. When I opened my note, I was pleased to discover that Happy Flower was included in a fun gallery of amigurumi. It's a really sweet collection so I thought I'd share it with you today.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Dyeing For Inspiration?

When you're into the fiber arts, it's hard to resist a little "dye" wordplay. All silliness aside, I'm feeling very inspired this week by my customers who have purchased dye. Yesterday's post highlighted the fabulous art of Susan Limprecht and today I have the opportunity to show you some of the first dyed and spun skeins of another talented woman.

On Etsy, she's known as ladeebee where she runs a fantastic Vintage Button Shop. She has a second store named Vintage Baby Revival. If you visit her blog, Close Knit, you'll discover her passion for knitting and crochet. What I love about ladeebee is that when she decided to try out spinning, she really went for it! Not only did she teach herself how to use a drop spindle, but she took it one step further and dyed her own wool! That's more like trying out two new crafts at once and I love her "jump in with both feet" spirit!

On top of that, I'm just plain impressed by how great the colors came out and how lovely her yarn looks! As someone who knits and crochets, she already has a feel for fiber and it shows.

I am very inspired by ladeebee and her adventurous spirit. Her work is an excellent example of what you can create when you explore and try new things. Whether you are expanding on your own craft or trying something for the very first time, don't hesitate, just go for it!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Meet Susan Limprecht ~ A Ceramic Artist With A Flair For Fiber!

I opened up my email yesterday to find a special treat waiting for me. My first thought was, "Oh, I want to share this on my blog!" As a result, I am very pleased to introduce you to Susan Limprecht, the artist who created these magnificent sheep!

Aren't they wonderful? Their faces have so much personality. I zoomed in on a picture trying to decide what medium was used. I asked Susan if they were carved from wood. She explained that they were made of high fire ceramic..."I finish them with under glazes and make that wood like appearance."
Let me show you their close-ups. You can click on the pictures to make the images larger:

The sheep are 7" long and 6" tall. Susan says she may open an Etsy shop one of these days, but for now she can be reached by email:

Wait! That's not even close to being all! I just had to show you the sheep first, but they are just the beginning...

Susan has loved ceramics since she was a teen and was an art major in college. A busy mom of 3 boys, her art was set aside for a time. (Many of us can relate to that, can't we?) Now her son's are grown and about three years ago, Susan made her way back to the clay studio and began sculpting again.

She trains under under Joey Chiarello, one of the up and coming top contemporary ceramic artists. You can really see how detailed her work is with her Samurai Bunny. Susan says this rabbit "is the patron saint of all of the baby bunnies that are in my is her job to protect them from all predators that dine on them!"

Here are a couple more pictures of Susan's Samurai Bunny:

Before I leave you today, I have to include more pictures of Susan's work. I just couldn't pick favorites. They're all so special and unique. Does Susan have a favorite? She did tell me that she is particularly fond of her hand carved African Grey Parrot.

Once again, you should be able to view a larger image by clicking on the individual photographs. The pug head and the African Grey Parrot are both rattles. "The goat is 12 inches long and 9 inches high...and has the natural fleece. The pig is painted with old embroidery patterns and the tree has interchangeable song birds and crows."

Susan is also a very avid gardener and lives on over 2 acres in the Pacific Northwest. She keeps even busier still with horses. In her own words she is "owned by 5 horses". This made me laugh. I bet those horses do have ideas about how Susan should spend her time!

I want to thank Susan Limprecht for sharing so much of herself and her art. I have really enjoyed my peek into her world and I hope you have too!