Friday, December 10, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Snowflakes and Kittens

Isn't that in a song..these are a few of my favorite things? I'm not sure, but it would certainly be a fit description of my weekend. On Saturday we had one of our rare Southern snows, even more rare in December. I'm sorry to say that I didn't take a single picture especially because it was so gorgeous...but you see I kind of had my hands full at the time. A friend called me a week ago, she had taken in a rescued Momma cat with 3 kittens and wondered if we might be willing to adopt a new baby. At first we said no, but then we thought about it and well...we took two. Yes, we are crazy, thank-you.
Our new babies arrived Saturday morning so I spent the afternoon watching the snow fall while curled up with two sleeping kittens and I can tell you life doesn't get much better then that. My only sadness was thinking about how much Mattie would have enjoyed these two little girls, she always had a big soft spot for kittens.

Here are my two little girls, Ella on the right and Edith on the left.

The snow melted away quickly...a very ephemeral pleasure...and while I may not have pictures of it I do have some little snow pixies to share with you...I promise these won't melt and all can be found in my shop.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Once upon a time my husband and I thought we were not "dog people". We liked dogs just fine but when it came right down to it couldn't imagine owning one...cats certainly, we always had a house full, but dogs just weren't in the picture. But then we had three boys and when those boys were old enough they really wanted a dog! The pestering began...and if you have kids you know how that goes. We kept putting them off, but one day a neighbor came to us and asked if we would be interested in taking her 2yr old corgi because she was moving to a much smaller house and with 4 dogs already she just didn't have the room. We decided we would try it for a week on a sort of doggie day care basis...Mattie, that's the corgi, would come and spend the day with us and then we would take her home at night. All went fact it went so well that after the second day Mattie simply refused to go back...she had found her home and we had found the perfect dog. Within a week even the husband was saying things like..."who's the prettiest dog?" something I never thought I'd live to see.

For 13 years she was a constant part of our lives. She went on every trip, kept me company when all the guys were off to school, and was adored by all our cats who considered her an honorary member of their tribe.

Her funny bouncing run and the way she loved to dig through snow, how she slept on the AC vents all summer, her wonderful smile...she took over our hearts in the way that only pets can do.

Last Monday, Nov. 22, we had to put our sweet Mattie to sleep. She had gotten progressively weaker and more ill over the previous month until at last she couldn't stand, and we decided it was time. It was so hard. Luckily we have a wonderful vet who comes to our house and she took care of everything so she passed at home surrounded by the people she loved.

I don't know if I'll ever have another dog but I'm sure that I had the honor of sharing my life with one of the best dogs ever.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Adventures in Beekeeping - Part One

Back in late Spring my husband and I began the first steps in becoming beekeepers. We took a class... my Dad went along for the class too because I guess he wants to be a vicarious beekeeper. It was fascinating stuff and we were ready to dive in and start but it was too late in the year to actually get our hive, so plans were laid and the idea began to grow. Last Friday we took the next step. It was a gorgeous Fall day and we all hopped in my Dad's truck and made our way to Brushy Mountain in western NC to pick up our hive. It wasn't that far, about a 90 minute drive...or it would have been if some people listened to directions...and soon we arrived here...

We had a wonderful time poking about and looking at all the cool bee stuff. Here's my DH looking bemusedly at our haul.

We got everything we needed (hopefully) to get started, piled it all in the back of the truck and began the journey home ...or at least that was the plan..but my Dad has never met a dirt road that he didn't want to explore so we spent an hour driving up and down some tiny back roads and seeking some adventure. The trees were gorgeous...

...but eventually I had to nicely tell him that if he didn't get me some sustenance very soon I was going to probably start gnawing on his leg...low blood sugar makes me extremely cranky, it's a family we made our way back to civilization and some lunch. Next up we paint our hive and then wait until Spring to get our bees. I'll keep you posted!

And I leave you with our inspiration for beekeeping. This is our friend Mark, the bee whisperer, in the act of capturing a swarm and convincing them to live in one of his empty hives. It was taken by his wife and is such a cool picture.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Autumn Snapshots

Autumn is without a doubt my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather, the sharp scents of woodsmoke and decaying leaves, and the colors...oh my the colors! Brilliant blue skies and leaves in amazing shades of red and gold. Here's a tree that is directly across the street from my house. For a couple of weeks every year the setting sun shines through it in the afternoon and bathes my home in the most amazing golden glow...

This one I saw on my walk this morning. I love how the reflection looks like an Impressionist's painting.
A tree by the corner on my way home...gorgeous.

Finally, a collection of things I stuck in my pockets along the way...

There are places in the world where it is Winter all the time and others where it is Summer, but I think in the lands of Fae it must be constant magical Autumn.

...And I have no idea what this guy was talking about but he seemed very happy to discuss it at length....

Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Celebration of Things that go Bump in the Night

So Halloween is only a few days away...mere shrieks of time... and I have something extra special to share with you. One of my favorite poets has agreed to let me post one of her marvelous poems here on the blog and I think you'll find it absolutely perfect for the season..

Strays from Halloween's Dream
by Carolyn Cox

there were three of them;
tall and thin and stuffed with straw,
held together with twigs and twine;
clothed in a patched motley
of midnight black and october orange.
eldritch candlelight flickered from within
hollowed out skulls,
identical jack o lantern grins penetrated the murky twilight.
silently they ghosted down st. andrews in the rain;
on bicycles fashioned from the mottled ivory of ancient bones.
the lonely wind whispered softly through spokes choked
with rotting leaves as crows cawed rustily;
perched upon telephone poles and november bare branches,
heads cocked; watching the eerie procession below.
they disappeared from sight, these strays from halloween's darkest dream;
the moment the harvest moon rose, a sinister orange above the trees.
the crows took wing then, to follow them into the wood;
and in their wake there lingered the haunting perfume of samhain:
hoarfrost and sweet cinnamon, decaying mulch and the acrid tang of woodsmoke.

Isn't that wonderfully evocative of All Hallow's Eve? I love it!
Now add in a couple of Witches with black cats ...

and you have ...

Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Inspirations and Insights

It's kind of funny how inspiration finds it's way to my door. Hiking beautiful wild places always seems to make my mind fill with new ideas and reading is a constant source of inspiration, but every once in awhile I get an idea from one of my customers that is just so right and then that can lead to a completely new insight.

A long time customer recently asked me if I would make her some Gnomelings but give them braids so they would look more ...well girly! So I did...

and I loved how they looked so much that I went and gave braids to my little Pink Gnomeling too. I also did a bit more to her face which made her less Waldorf I guess, but I think she looks awesome!

Interestingly this little process really got me thinking about my art in general, particularly as it involves the toys I make. I love the whole concept of Waldorf dolls, but I've realized that the minimalist faces are just not me. I love them on dolls made by other folks...if you want to see one of the best check out Little Jenny Wren's gorgeous beauties ...but when I put them on my dolls I always feel like I'm doing someone else's art, not mine. So I've decided that I'll continue to make all natural dolls...even my art dolls are made this way...but from now on I'm going to stick with my kind of faces. To do anything else is just not being true to my own art and the older I get the more important that becomes to me. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turning Tricks

So now that I've caught your attention with that snappy title, I'll have to admit that this post is about how to turn tiny fingers for cloth dolls and not something more salacious. I've had quite a few folks ask how to make such small fingers and as with many projects the trick is to have the right tools. Here are mine..

Sharp scissors
Turning Tubes (available
here scroll almost to the bottom of the page)

Fray check

As you can see my turning tubes have seen some heavy use over the years but even bent and tarnished they still work great. I got the hemostats at one of our many trips to the emergency room...BOYS!...but you can avoid the trauma and find them at a doll supply store. So here's what you do...

You need to make a template for your hand pattern. You'll want to trace the hand onto your fabric and then sew carefully right on the line you've drawn with a very tiny stitch. Make sure you have at least one stitch between your fingers so that when you cut them later you can clip a curve. Woven fabric is much harder to turn then knit but it makes smaller hands because it doesn't stretch so much when stuffed.

Now you will cut out the hand but don't worry about cutting close to the fingers yet. Apply Fray Check on the seams of all your fingers. You can then let it dry naturally or hurry things along and use a hot iron.

Once everything is dry, it's time to cut out the fingers. Cut very close to the seam and make sure to clip a V between the fingers like this...

Now it's time to turn the hand. Place a larger turning tube inside the finger...the largest that will fit.

Then place a smaller tube at the top of the finger and carefully slide the fabric UP the smaller tube...this is the tricky part so give yourself a few times practicing to get the hang of it.

Once you have the fingers turned take the hemostats and grab the inside of the wrist and turn the hand right side out. I then use the wrong end of a small crochet hook to push the fingers the rest of the way through.

So now you have hands with fingers, ready to be stuffed however you'd like! I usually use pipecleaners for the fingers so they can be posed.

I hope this is clear, if you have questions don't hesitate to ask!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Eeeek! WIP Wednesday

Okay I really did plan on organizing my work table today But I just kept starting new dolls and trying to get all my commissions begun and the pile just- kept -building. So right now my table looks like this...

I know, pretty scary.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Witches and Fall Fae

I promised to share some photos of the new dolls in the shop so here we go...

A Candy Corn Witch (sold)

A Pumpkin Witch (sold)

This one has both so we'll call her a Halloween Witch

Autumn Leaves Pixie

Autumn Berries Pixie (sold)

Happy Fall...Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Lovely Surprise!

Saturday was a long day...a long day at the end of a very long week. It was a week of non stop excessive heat, nagging illness, looming deadlines, and a few tedious commitments thrown in for good measure. Then we had to get up Saturday at what should be an illegally early hour to drive to the mountains to do a College open house. Even though it turned out to be a fun day, we were totally exhausted by the time we finally managed to drag ourselves in the front door of our own home. But then I got ... The Lovely Surprise!

In the mail there was a satisfyingly mysterious package with Air Mail and Royal Mail stamps all over the brown paper wrapping. I tore off the paper and found this...

Even the note was lovely with its pretty embroidery ...and what could be in the box?
Well, all this!!

Buttons, and lace, and beads, and crystals...Oh MY! I can't tell you how delighted I was and how much this sweet surprise lifted my spirits. And how cool to think this came in response to my blog post about making Red. Thank you SO much Liz! I'm sending a little thank-you your way too.

I think this was just the lift I needed to finish up a slew of dolls today, I'll post some pictures tomorrow. The weather here has finally cooled, we might even get some Autumn eventually, and for now I have some more of those dang tedious commitments...but I face them with a bit more cheer. Thanks again Liz!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Here's what's on my table at the moment...mushroom pixies, little witches (yes, that's who's getting the pointy shoes from the last post), and a couple of fall fae.

Can you guess which is witch?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Can You Guess!

I'm sorry I haven't posted much this week, my health issues have started up once again and I've been having a hard time getting my mind into my work. Which is pretty unfair since my work is actually something I love....sigh. But I did get some tiny shoes made yesterday and there were a set that made me laugh...

Can you guess who might wear these funny pointed slippers?

I'll give you a clue. They would probably have a creature that looks much like this lurking about their house.

(My kitty Natasha condescended to pose for this portrait. You can see how happy she is about it.)

So who do you think it might be?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Predator and Prey Story

This gorgeous lady has been hanging out in my garden...

Now this is the same garden where, as I mentioned before, all these fellows have been congregating as well...

Today I watched as the two came closer and closer, tragedy seemed inevitable. Would I intervene or let Nature take her course?

Luckily I didn't need to decide. For today, butterfly was not on the menu. ( But I did give her a fat, juicy tomato worm as a consolation...better she eat the worm then it eat my tomatoes!)