Category Archives: Fiber Arts

So Cute, You Want To Hang Them!

There’s no denying the appeal of needle felted animals. The combination of cute animals so-lifelike-it’s-amazing and the fun fit-in-your-hand size makes them absurdly adorable. Not to mention that you can finally afford to have wild animals like raccoons and bears — even rare unicorns — right inside your home!

felted handmade unicorn

But if you’ve been struggling with a way to, I don’t know, make your purchases seem more purposeful, if not practical, than a collection of fuzzy shelf-sitters, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has got a great idea for you: mobiles.

Multi Breed Dog Mobile, Baby Mobile, Dog Mobile, Sheltie, Labradoodle, Beagle, Golden Retriever

felted otters crib mobile

felted spaniel

And if you don’t have a baby now, or even one on the way, don’t worry. Mobiles are for adults too. Remember the swanky mid century modern hanging art sculptures that once were de rigueur? Well, those were mobiles. Revive that hanging art trend for your home or office, say with an “air aquarium” of felted sea folk…

under the sea felt mobile

We highly recommend the Star Wars mobiles. Perfect for the sci-fi nerds and pop culture lovers in your life.

star wars mobile

needle felted yoda mobile

And what could be better for insomniacs than counting handmade felted sheep?

felted wooly sheep lambs mobile for insomniacs

Along with their shop, Sheep Creek Needlecraft has a website and a Facebook page.

Coffee Pot Cozies Can Be Practical and Pretty Too

We’re coming up for another Earth Day/ Earth Week. I’m glad to see the awareness for the environment and our planet continued. When it began I wondered if the whole thing would just be one more fad, soon forgotten. So far it seems to be something people are giving importance to and listening, even thinking about still.

One Earth issue which I’ve been thinking about lately are all those disposable coffee and tea paper cups we use. Most people writing about this will jump on the bandwagon for the “paper cups are evil” campaign. I’m looking at it from a different point of view.

I know paper comes from trees which (in my opinion) should be classified as a non-renewable resource because we need more trees giving us oxygen rather than more trees giving us paper products. If possible the trees should be left alone to grow in the wild and we should only use trees from tree farms – even harvesting farm trees should be scheduled.

Anyway, I’m also looking at the paper cup issue as someone who does not drive a car to work and around town. This means, anything I need to use during my day has to be carried around by me all day long. A china mug is not practical, they break. A plastic mug I would not feel safe trusting for more than one use before I run it through a good wash at home. (Some people might work in a place with a kitchen available to them, I don’t). In this way the paper cups are the practical option. Unless someone has a better plan which I haven’t found yet.

So what does all this have to do with art and/ or collectibles? Everything. Change brings new art forms, new appreciation for old art forms too. Think about coffee pot and mug cozies and paper cup sleeves. Yes, we had tea pot cozies for a few generations. Not many people did much for their coffee mugs. Now there are so many arty, cute and beautiful coffee mug cozies. Then there are the sleeves to fit over your paper cup. The paper sleeves offered at coffee shops are just the beginning. I may buy a fresh paper cup each time but I do bring along my own coffee cup sleeve. I bought one last year. At the time it was the first I had seen of them and I bought it for practical reasons, it’s not pretty but it works.

Most of the coffee I drink during the day is coffee I make myself, at home. I use a French press and a very large china mug. Too often I get busy and forget to actually get my coffee. When you use a French press you first wait for your water to boil and then you pour the water over  your coffee and wait for it to brew. That’s two steps of just waiting. I almost never just sit and babysit my coffee during that time. The kettle I use to boil the water keeps it hot for a pretty long time. But, my French press doesn’t have anything to insulate the hot water. It can get lukewarm in half an hour and I have been known to forget I made coffee until more than an hour later even. Well, once it’s cold it just isn’t the same. I usually drink some of it anyway. It’s never the best cup of the day.

The coffee pot warmer in this photo comes from Sunny Decor on Etsy. This particular item is no longer available in the shop. I bought it! So I’m doing my part for Earth Day and supporting a (fairly new) art form.

Beware This Teddy Bear!

Siamese Twin Bear made of Belly Button Lint

Rachel Betty Case made another appearance on Oddities; instead of the Human Ivory works, she presented a teddy bear made of belly button lint.

(The example shown here is of her Siamese version.)

Incredibly creative? Yup.

Nice way to recycle or reuse things that exist? I suppose…

But still rather creepy? More than you probably know…

Check out just how gross belly button lint is in this article at New Scientist: Belly Button Biome Is More Than A Piece Of Fluff.

I’m guessing that’s why Rachel keeps the little teddy bears in glass vials. (I hope the vials are free of the, umm, “artist’s residues” on her hands.)

The Old Doll Cover on the Toilet Roll Trick

Not so long ago I made a note for myself to write about those dolls they put inside the toilet paper rolls and then fancy up with a crocheted skirt. Have you seen any of those lately? I can remember seeing one at a Christmas bazaar a few years ago. I think they have lost something in popularity. The question is… what took their place? I don’t know. Maybe all those rolls are just left naked now. Seems a shame.

I know my Grandmother had one. Not the Grandmother I usually enjoyed visiting, except she did play Scrabble. It wasn’t easy to find Scrabble players when I was the oldest of my brother and sisters. I do remember she had a fancy crocheted doll with the legs stuck through the roll and the skirt pulled over the thick roll of paper around her legs. I thought it was clever. I didn’t know there were more of them out there. I’m quite sure it was white and yellow, a brunette doll.

Now, such a long time later, it would be kind of nice to see one of those dolls again. I might even crochet the pattern myself. I can easily pick up a dozen dolls cheap, recycled from the bin at the local thrift shop. It would be nice to give those poor dolls something to do, a job – rather than leaving them homeless.

Crochet N More – A pattern free for personal use.

Craft Bits – A pattern contributed in memory of Irene.

Crochet Pattern Central – A variety of patterns linked to. Covers for various items.

The lovely angel toilet roll cover doll comes from an Etsy shop, JacBerKitcsh.

SturmDM has an doll with an Irish dress, quite fancy.

Lankfords2designs has a doll with a very lovely full skirt.

These Ain’t Your Granny’s Stitches

Dale Spender feminism quote in needlework by Rosa Martyn (of My Little Stitches) isn’t the only feminist needlework out there, but it’s a great example of something — a cause, a philosophy, a book — inspiring you into picking up a needle and thread. In this case, Martyn did her cross stitch on the back of a cotton jacket.

Motivated? Good!

See more of the modern and radical needlework out there by keeping up with the Craftivist Collective.

See Also: Sew, Whatever Happened To Learning How To Use Needle & Thread.

Stitches In (My) Time

My mother, as she will tell you, is neither a very artsy person nor a very domesticated woman. While she is a rather gifted decorator, with an eye for beauty, detail, & quality — and a pocketbook which supports the artsy along with the arts, she doesn’t make things (other than reservations!). The result is that she didn’t teach me to sew or anything like that, and she was always rather fascinated by my continued purchase and completion of craft kits. As a kid, I taught myself to sew.

There was an older woman in our family who could have taught me, or at least nurtured me and and encouraged my interest; but she didn’t. (I’ll not name her, nor the relationship to me; so as not to hurt others and because the specifics of who she was does not matter as much as what she did or didn’t do.)

When I spotted this woman’s jar full of buttons, I was allowed to examine them. I fell in love with some adorable vintage lamb buttons (like these, except the ones I loved were made of white plastic). When she wouldn’t even broker the idea of giving me one, I decided I had to earn those coveted figural buttons. So I decided to teach myself to sew.

I began with what I thought would be a simple beginner’s project, using an iron-on transfer to place the blue outlines of a cheery juvenile bunny rabbit onto a piece of scrap muslin (both from a garage sale), and earnestly began making my first stitches.

After completing most of Mr. Bunny Rabbit’s head, I — in that shy sense of accomplishment of a beginner — presented my first wobbly stitches to this woman. I receive not one word of praise, even for taking up such an activity; instead she told me my stitches were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor.

They were uneven, clumsy, and generally poor — I was a child teaching herself needlework.

Had her appraisal included any sort of constructive tips in terms of just how to improve my stitches, I might not have been so devastated.

But I didn’t give up. I just didn’t show her, or anyone else, what I was working on. In my mind, I thought if I could improve, if I could make something worthy of showing, that one day I’d earn her respect — and those cute figural lamb buttons.

But I never did.

I never felt skilled enough to show that woman what I made, needlework or otherwise.

Years passed. I continued to make things. But, full of that woman’s scorn for my work, feeling that my skills were so poor that I’d never be worth mention let alone any investment in time, supplies or support, I just “piddled about” with projects on my own. My parents knew what I did, simply because good parents know what their children are up to, be it reading, crafting, or whatnot.

So when this woman got too old to use any of her sewing machines, my parents asked if I could have one. That woman refused; like the jar full of old buttons, the sewing machines just vanished from her house — and my life. But not my memory.

Instead of giving me the gifts of her time and counsel, of nurturing me and my skills, this woman left me with a very poor opinion of my work. I made less things, tried less projects, and, certain what I was making was crap, I obviously wasn’t going to let my peers see the fruits of my “piddling about.” By the time high school ended, so had my crafting efforts. I put them on hold for that “someday” when I’d have my own apartment and could piddle in private.

The story of that path or a promised “someday” is another story. But today’s point is that children and beginners need to be encouraged to create things. No matter how uneven, clumsy, and poor their initial (and subsequent) works may be.

Needlework is especially worth encouraging — not only as a nearly lost art, but as a practical life skill; the number of persons who cannot even replace a button or repair a separating seam is astonishing.

To help foster a young child’s interest in ans mastery of needlework, check out Easy Hand Sewing for Kids. Heck, if you don’t consider yourself a child but your stitches are childish, check out that article (and the slew of resources within it). It’s never too late to learn.

And, as far as I can see, it’s never too late to give an old lady her comeuppance.

Image Credits:

Vintage animal buttons via Prestige-Enterprises.

Vintage iron-on transfer of baby animals via Blondies-Spot.

Whimsical Postcards Featuring Prints Of Original Felt Projects

Just think, you could keep the glow of fireflies in a jar forever with these adorable postcards and note card sets (with envelopes) featuring the latest felt and needlework designs by Melissa Crowe of Checkout Girl.

Image copyright Melissa Crowe of LittlePinkHouse.

Art Dolls

This photo comes from GreenMarie on Flickr.

This photo comes from GreenMarie on Flickr.

Taken literally, an art doll could be a pile of rocks with some kind of face created on it. Art dolls can be far more unique and extraordinary than the traditional dolls we (most of us) grew up with. Some of them are just as cute, sweet and adorable as our wonderful cuddly Raggedy Ann dolls. (My Mother made my Raggedy Ann and others, but I still have Ann).  Some of them take pride in being ugly and yet in some odd way they are still lovable, if you give them a chance.  Then, there are some gruesome dolls, the kind of doll that may give a child nightmares. Just imagine waking up with one of those on the pillow next to you.

Art dolls can be made out of anything: fabric, paper, clay, etc. There are standards for being human in basic structure. They may be missing an eye or have a misshapen face, but there is still a face of some kind.

I admit to having a soft spot for the cloth dolls, like my old Raggedy Ann with the grey hair my Mother gave her. Now and then when I’m shopping at a thrift store I pick out a new outfit for old Ann. I find something in great shape still and yet not something anyone is likely to buy for a child to wear. After all, Ann is still just a doll. But, lucky for her, her clothes always fit and last forever since she never gets them stained and they only seem to need a little brushing off now and then.

If you were making an art doll what kind would you create?

Art Doll Groups:

Does anyone know of more international or regional groups outside of North America? I tried to find them but no luck.

Photos, galleries and ideas for making some art dolls of your own:

The image used with this post comes from Green Marie.

Tamar Stone On Inspiration

I can’t get enough of artist Tamar Stone — her corset and bed books inspire me so much!

societies-corset-book-by-tamar-stone

a-very-safe-place-artist-bokk-by-tamar-stone

With all these projects and interests, I knew she’d collect lots of stuff, but I wanted to know more about what the artist draws from…

studio-desk-wall-artist-tamar-stoneI collect a lot of books, images etc. However, because of limited space and finances, I also go to the NY Public Library to do research with their really old books. Before you could find things on-line, I used to go to the library to do a lot of patent research (something I learned while being a para-legal) — and learning how to read a patent’s family history — to get you to other resources.

With the internet, so much stuff is online — but a lot of it is low-res, which I can’t really use, and also you have to make sure the images are in the public domain (due to copyright issues).

As with my latch-hook rug, works are inspired by my travels.

One of my hobbies is “Polaroiding dolls on the road,” which I’ve turned into paper books from Polaroids. I also have a series of bathrooms/outhouses along the road… And meals on the road… But I haven’t had the money to turn those into books (all the scanning of those is just so time consuming, and I rather just keep moving ahead with the sewing projects).

dolls-on-the-road-v2-tamar-stone

You can get copies of Tamar Stone’s books at PrintedMatter.org: Dolls on the Road: The Barbie and Ken Series. Vol. 1, Dolls on the Road: Baby Dolls and Others. Vol. 2. And you can visit Tamar Stone’s website to keep up-to-date on the artist and her projects.

2009, The Year In Quilting

I’m not a quilter — despite the ridiculous number of quilting books (old and new) and boxes of fabric (vintage and modern) I own. I made one honest attempt at making my daughter a crazy quilt… But, well, I’m saving it all for that magical One Day when I’ll have the time and patience to really learn what I’m doing. Still, I love to look at quilts, especially the less traditional textile art pieces.

In 2009 there were, in my mind, two notable quilting stories — and both center on Mark Lipinski.

march-april-2009-issue-of-quilters-home-magazineFirst, as I reported in April over at Kitsch Slapped, the March/April issue of Lipinski’s Quilter’s Home magazine was “too hot” for Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts to carry — despite Lipinski having paid $2,500 to wrap each copy of the issue in plastic like a porno mag.

Why so much fuss about a quilting magazine? Because the publication dared to include Shocking Quilts, an article by Jake Finc which featured quilts on such controversial (yet culturally aware/abundant) themes as lynching and erectile dysfunction. Part of my response (where you can see some of the quilts in question & under condemnation) was:

These quilts are the very definition of art — not just something made by hand, but unique works exploring issues of our society. You remember art, don’t you? It’s one of the ways people communicate & exchange ideas, start dialogs. Well, Jo-Ann will have none of that.

Please confine your creativity to the kits provided.

The second bit of news in 2009 quilting news is also another low point.

In September, Lipinksi announced that he was stepping down as editor of Quilter’s Home magazine and breaking all ties with the publication. This was a result of New Track Media‘s July ’09 purchase of CK Media. The ol’ “creative differences.”

However, since New Track Media had also purchased Quilters News Network TV in 2007, Lipinksi also announced this meant we was discontinuing any involvement with QNNtv.com, including co-hosting Quilt Out Loud!, the internet television program.

mark-lipinski-tupli-violet-petunia-holiday-2009-last-issueWhile these two low points or lowlights in quilting 2009 seem to indicate negativity, exposing the continued blanding of art by the very commercial outfits which should be encouraging creativity, I choose to be optimistic: Thank gawd quilters, artists, and art lovers everywhere have Mark Lipinski, a man dedicated to his craft, to creativity, who won’t knuckle-under to the knuckleheads of mediocrity.

To show support of Lipinski and his values, pony up some pennies and purchase from his shop. There you can even buy back issues — including copies with the Shocking Quilts feature as well as the last issue Lipinski had a hand in. And keep an eye on his blog for more news — rumor has it, there are fabulous projects in the works!

Heartfelt Needlefelt

no499-hillside-too-by-deebsThis needlefelt ‘wool painting’ (No.499 Hillside Too by Deebs) reminded me that a few years ago — five, maybe — I saw some crafting show on TV showing how to do such a thing. They were making a purse, and all I could think of was how fragile and itchy such a purse seemed to me…

However, a nice 11″ x 14″ wall piece seems much more appealing.

For some reason I really like the trees; wool seems to match the texture of evergreens, even from a distance.

And, I lurves me the color purple.

Combined, there’s a reverse wistful sense for me — like the bleak itchiness of the past has been left for more colorful pastures.

But that’s just me; you tell me what you see and feel.