2 cats 2 birds finish, and cats….

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“don’t take a picture now, we’re sleeping.” ~lilly and ellis

Lilly’s been feeling that the live feline element has been lacking in my recent posts…..

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“don’t take my picture now, i’m sleeping.” ~otis

I’ve mentioned to her that pictures of cats sleeping leaves some excitement to be desired….

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“go away. i’m trying to sleep.” ~ellis

She told me she’d try to galvanize her cohorts into action…

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“my eyes are open. any minute now, ellis and i will do something photo worthy…. though, we may need a little snooze before that happens.” ~lilly

Thus far, the results have been poor at best…

So, we’ll move on to our 2 Cats 2 Birds project.

first staining

stained

I soaked the finished embroidery in coffee for a while, squeezed it, and let it dry.  But, I feel like this is too much staining, so….

rinsed

rinsed

I rinsed out some of the coffee and let the piece dry again.  I’m much happier with this level of aging.

trimmed

trimmed

Next, I trim the weavers cloth.  I’m planning to use the remaining weavers cloth as the backing.

pressing

pressing

I prefer to have the backing completely hidden from the front view, so I fold and press it back as much as possible.

three sides done

three sides done

For the fourth side, I fold the weavers….

first fold

first fold

…so that when I press the final edge I’ll have a nice, clean finish…

ready to stitch

ready to stitch

I like using this method for my antique-hooked-rug-inspired embroideries.  The back is reminiscent of an envelope which brings to mind days gone by when writing, mailing and delivering letters was something of an art.

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Sometimes, I like to hide my stitches, but this time I think I’ll let them shine.

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all stitched

I give the back a good pressing, then…

a little identity

a little identity

…sign and date the back.

finished

finished

And, we’re done!

antique original

antique original

Above is the original, though a very poor quality picture.  Below is my version…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What a fun project this was!  I’d love to see your finishes and share them here if you allow me to!

 

enjoy the day!

 

rebecca

 

 

 

rabbit and sheep colors and coffee….

rabbit and sheep greetings...

rabbit and sheep greetings…

I’ve had some requests for the colors I used for Rabbit and Sheep Greetings.  Here they are….

valdani

valdani

These are all Valdani size 12 perle cotton.  I used two strands of each in my Cameo medium sized needle on the lowest (#1) setting.

jp11 ~ rabbit suit

p3 ~ sheep body

o196 ~ rabbit foot, hand, and head

h212 ~ sheep face and ear

pt2 ~ letters on “greetings” banner

5 ~ rabbit shirt, cuff, banner background

I purchase my Valdani from Snowflake Memories.  You can find their website by clicking here.

I’ve also had some requests for how I use coffee as an aging agent.  It’s really simple!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Take a bowl and add coffee.  It’s nice if the coffee is room temp rather than piping hot as you’ll be putting your hands in it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Get your punched piece wet.  (“Humble” is a fabulous design from Lori Brechlin! You can visit her site and find her awesome patterns by clicking here.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Squeeze out the excess water.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Place the piece in the coffee and push it down so that the coffee covers most of it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Let it sit until you remember to do something about it. The longer you leave it in the coffee the darker it will be and the color will tend toward a greyish/brown. I prefer to have a brown-er and more water damaged look, so I try to remember to take my piece out after just a minute or two.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Put the bowl in the sink and squeeze/wring the piece firmly, removing most of the coffee.  I use two hands for the squeezing, but needed one hand here to take the photo.  :~>OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If you want that water stained look ~ that is, patches of brown and patches of not so brown ~ keep the piece wadded up, like in the picture above and let it dry most or all of the way.  If the piece looks too variegated for your taste, rinse it, wring it and let it dry again.  If you want to start over, use a little gentle dish soap or laundry detergent to, almost, free the piece of coffee and then begin the staining process again.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See how the above has stripes and blotches of stain?  That’s from the wadding/drying part of the process.

ewe and ewe two...

ewe and ewe two…

The above ewes show that strong mottling achieved by wadding/drying.

If you don’t like that heavily aged look and want a more uniform “glaze” of coffee stain, try swishing the piece around in the coffee.  Then, after squeezing out the coffee, un-wad and hang the piece up to dry, rather than leaving it in it’s wadded condition.

I hope this helps!  If you have your own favorite aging process, I’d love to hear about it!

Next time I’ll try to show you how I put the bowl slice together with the rabbit/sheep to make a rocker.

Until then, think warm and happy thoughts!

rebecca

h is for horse and polka dot horse finished….

Today, we are enjoying wind chills in excess of -20*F and snow ~ lots and lots of snow.  So, I’m not out cross-country skiing or building a snowman.  No, I am indoors where it’s warm and cozy, though I have ventured out twice to fill the bird feeders…. brrrrrr.  Those poor little birds and squirrels need all the help they can get right now, and those of us who stay inside enjoy watching the action at the window feeder.

endless entertainment

endless entertainment

A while ago, I told you about H is for Horse….

h is for horse

h is for horse

…and Polka Dot Horse Pull Toy.

polka dot horse

polka dot horse

I managed to finish both these pieces and they were so much fun!  Here’s H is for Horse…

h is for horse completed

h is for horse completed

I backed and edged it with ticking which I aged.  I think this is the first time I’ve edged a mat with ticking and I was quite pleased with the way it turned out, but I’d like someone else’s opinion…

There’s Lilly…. Oh Lilly!

"what, me?" ~ lilly

“what, me?” ~ lilly

What do you think of the ticking?IMG_1684

I see.  Well let’s find someone else to ask…. Oh! there’s the Oatbran….

"you rang?" ~ otis

“you rang?” ~ otis

What are your thoughts about ticking, Otis?IMG_1670No sense in pressing my luck, so I won’t be asking Ellis what he thinks.  Anyway, I liked the ticking so much, that I used it to finish Polka Dot Horse.

backing polka dot horse

backing polka dot horse

Here you can see the reverse side of the ticking which I aged with a coffee bath.  The long folds I have pinned are the legs of the horse.  The only way I can possibly turn those skinny legs is by giving myself twice as much backing fabric as embroidery.

leg finished

leg finished

Sometimes, when I finish a piece where I’ve left myself more backing than fronting, I’ll hide the extra fabric by stitching it under the embroidery.  With this horse, however, I wanted a worn, tattered, loved, and patched look, so I made the extra fabric on the legs into obvious seams to look like repairs done by some long ago hand.

body

body

It may seem like anathema to use sandpaper on an embroidery, but not in this case.   I sanded the whole horse vigorously to give him a well-used look.

"hello"

“hello”

Though difficult to see in the above photo, there are a few, just a very few, stitches missing on horses’ face.  I pulled out a couple, here and there ~ after all, any toy that has been played with and loved by a child is bound to be missing a few bits.

salvaged wood and wheels

salvaged wood and wheels

For the base of the pull toy I used a length of painted board, chipped, scratched, cracked and dinged by time, and 4 rusty vintage wheels.  The “pull” is an antique glass knob with a bit of twine.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, there you have it… one Polka Dot Horse Pull Toy.

You can visit the pull toy on etsy by clicking here, if you’d like.  H is for Horse has sold, but the pattern is available in my etsy shop.

 

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TTFN! (ta ta for now!)

Put on a sweater, snuggle under a blanket and stay warm, my friends!

rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

fancey blackett day 4…

otis, sans floss

Though Otis did not escape with any floss on Day 4, he did wrestle, happily, with Ellis.  You can see evidence of flying fur behind Otis’s whiskers on the right.

 

Meanwhile, Fancey has undergone a dramatic change.

before ~ love that orange… but

 

changes

While I loved the orange flowers and the perle tweed blue that Otis chose for the background, I just couldn’t get out from under the uncomfortable feeling that Fancey was Flashy!  Oh heavens!  Goodness knows, I couldn’t let my quiet Fancey shout anything from any rooftops, so I brought her back to a whisper ~ a volume I am much more comfortable with.

quiet, please

I replaced the orange flowers with a combination of Valdani H 205 ~ a soft straw color ~ and O 154 ~ a rich gold color.  I left the patches in place and filled in the background with Valdani’s very simple 5, which is a light ecru.  I used H212 for the date, which is the same floss used for Fancey’s dress.  I added some of Otis’s PT 7, the teal gold combo, as the zig zag around the bottom edge.  However…

done!

…even that little bit of “color” was too much for me!  Out came the PT 7 and in went the O 154.  Whew!  I am DONE punching, reverse-punching, and punching again, at least, for now.

Fancey takes a bath

Into a coffee bath she goes, weavers cloth edges first.  Because, I’m planning to leave the weavers cloth exposed when I finish Fancey, I want it to soak up much of the stain, and because I’ve “neutralized” Fancey to the point where all my flosses are very close in color too much stain on the punching will completely eliminate any contrast and Fancey will be invisible except for her dress!  So, I’ll be careful to watch the progress of the coffee (unless I forget).

 

Day 4 was a long day and my wrist and hand are quite tired.  However, my Fancey is now the Fancey I fancy Fancey would fancy! (I just couldn’t resist!  My apologies for the excessive alliteration!)

Here’s hoping we can keep Day 5 much simpler!

 

be well and happy!

 

rebecca

 

 

 

 

 

what ever happened to stolen broom?…

This is a question that was posted to me, recently.  Yes, what did happen to Stolen Broom?  Like many of my projects, it found itself in the “what shall I do with you” pile.  So, I got it out and decided to keep it simple.

choosing wool

I determined that Stolen Broom would make a nice mat and so, chose some complementary wool for the backing.

Then, things got dicey.

I waffled between coffee-staining and not coffee-staining.  Coffee-staining conquered, as it usually does, and as it sometimes does, it came with disastrous results, which, I did not photograph, being too dismayed to think about recording such a dreadful, yet illuminating, experience.  In a nutshell, “Stolen Broom”, had become, “What is That? I Can’t See Any Details”, instead.  And so, it went into the, “oh my gosh, I can’t believe I ruined it after so many hours of punching” pile for a time.

Reason eventually won out over despair and the next few days found Stolen Broom soaking in a bubble bath.

cleaning up its act

I swished it around in the mild dish-soapy solution every once in a while and changed the water from time to time.  Once the water became mostly clear, Stolen Broom was hung out to dry.

no coffee for you!

Now, Stolen Broom, after being backed and edged with wool, happily resides in my etsy shop, looking forward to the day when new horizons will open and new adventures will await!

Maybe you would like to punch, hook or stitch Stolen Broom ~ click here to view the pattern on Chestnut Junction’s website.

would you like to visit Stolen Broom on etsy? click here

All in all, a good learning experience, but there’s something to be said for cutting back on one’s coffee consumption!

enjoy a caffeine-free day today!

rebecca

details, details ~ making tags…

would you like to visit “little thief’ on etsy? click here

Having finished Little Thief and needing, desperately, to revamp my neglected etsy shop, I decided today it was time to get started, and I chose to start with a seemingly insignificant detail ~ new tags for my work.

I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to stamps and ink, but I had a clear vision of what I wanted my tags to “say”.  I wanted them to “say” that they looked old but not dirty, primitive but graceful, I wanted them to be soft on the eye and above all simple to make.  6 hours later, I had my tags all done.  6 hours may seem like a long time to spend on such a trivial detail, but, fortunately, art is about process and journey, and besides this project was FuN!

Here’s what I did:

gathering materials

For someone who knows very little about the stamping/scrapbooking world, I seem to have lots of supplies.  So, I got out my Distress Inks, of which I have a plethora, and narrowed them down to two colors I really like ~ Walnut Stain and Antique Linen.  I also needed plain tags, which I purchased some time ago at an office supply store, and some stamps.  Does anyone else accumulate things like stamps?  I seem unable to resist purchasing stamps, they’re just tiny works of art and so whimsical….  I feel sad for the stamps that are sitting on store shelves unused and unloved, I just have to bring them home!

cinnamon and coffee ~ who can resist?

Coffee and cinnamon are two heavenly aromas, so I use them whenever I can.  For this project, I put a splash or two of coffee in a small frying pan and added the stark white strings from the tags.  They’ll soak for several hours and, hopefully, come out of their bath a pleasing tan color.  The cinnamon will be used to sprinkle on the tags, once they’re stamped, which will add a layer of depth (I hope).

little tag on a big stamp

With my supplies at hand I started stamping.  I have to admit, it took me a good long time to figure out that life would be much simpler if I placed the small tag on the ink-loaded large stamp rather than the other way around.  I’m hoping that the image on this large stamp will lend the grace I’m looking for to the end result.  For these tags, I used Antique Linen on the background stamp.

aging

After trying several different methods of aging, I finally came up with the idea of using shiny tissue paper as the ultimate ink-rubbing tool.  I wanted something that wouldn’t absorb the ink or leave brush strokes or stippling.  I found some shiny tissue in a shoe box and it worked very well.  I dabbed the ink pad with the crumpled tissue and rubbed it onto the stamped tags, starting at the edges and working in.  I did a layer of Antique Linen ink over the whole tag first, and then used the walnut stain just on the edges.

before and after

It was exciting, for me, to see how the rubbed-on ink pulled the stamped bits to the fore.  I’m hoping that the tags now look aged, but not too grungy.

Stamp 2

Next, I centered my custom stamp, which has my info, on the tag.  I used the Walnut Stain ink for this bit.  Though I used the background stamp and aging technique on both sides of the tags, I used the custom stamp on one side only.  Now, I’ll be able to write things on the backs of the tags like the title of the piece and the name of the designer.

cinnamon bath

The final layer is a dusting of cinnamon.  The tags were the tiniest bit damp from the rubbing of ink, so, even though I wiped them well after the cinnamon layer, there was still just a hint of aroma to the tags and a bit of visual softness, as well.

finish

And so, another day passes in simple quiet fashion… a lovely day, filled with lovely fragrances and soft colors, and time ~ time to reflect on how the smallest of details can bring peace into the main…

I hope you found some simple beauty and quiet peace today.

happy labor day,

rebecca

 

 

 

 

coffee, cats and updates…

Some time ago, in fact I think it was back in May, I started an experiment with coffee. Would coffee-stain age hooked wool as well as it ages perle cotton and other flosses.  The short answer is, no.  However, I was surprisingly pleased with the results ~ what do you think?

hooking the mat with invaluable assistance from otis

First, I hooked a small mat using un-dyed and dyed neutral wools.  Otis was a really big help here, I’m not sure I would have made it through without him (that’s it for the “cats” part of this post).

Then,…

soaking the wool

I submerged the hooked mat in coffee and left it alone for several hours.  When I remembered that the mat was still soaking, I removed it from the coffee, wrung it out, laid it on a waxed-paper-covered cookie sheet and baked it for a while.  (I put the mat on the cookie sheet in a cold oven, turned it on to 250*, and shut the oven off as soon as it reached temperature.)  Because the wool didn’t dry completely in the oven, I hung the mat up over night.  Now dry, the mat went into the washing machine and the dryer with some other laundry.  It emerged wrinkled with the linen backing frayed, but in good, aged condition.

aged mat

I steamed it flat, and was excited to see that, not only had the colors softened a bit, but the wool itself appeared softer and older, and the loops themselves appeared to be happier with their neighboring loops.  I’m hoping to try this method on a larger rug, some day, though baking one in the oven would be out of the question!

As for updates, it’s the third Friday of the month (tomorrow) which is when Primitive Handmades Mercantile artisans add new items to their shops.  I have updated mine, already, so if you’d like to see what I’m offering or if you’d like to visit any of the fabulous stores on PHM, click here and then click on “Our Artists”.  My shop is The Simple Quiet.  I was hoping to have Magdalena’s Horses on the site this month, but no, so perhaps September. 🙂

until next time, enjoy some simple quiet today…

rebecca

fixing flubs and finishing…

If you are like me, punching invariably includes, for lack of a better word, flubs.  If you’ve never encountered a flub, here is a poor photo with a difficult-to-see flub:

white flub on bottom flower just above the pink ring above the dark center

Can you see it?  It’s a big one!  Here’s another not-so-great pic:

flub, again

I could just cut it off at the surface using a sharp pair of scissors.  However, I know if I do that I’ll be left with a SPOT ~ that is, a small area that will appear darker and different from the surrounding punches.  So, unless I absolutely cannot fix a flub, I don’t cut it off.  Instead, I treat a flub with gentle kindness and patience:

gentle kindness

Using the tip of my punch needle, I gently and patiently prod the flub back down, pushing it either into the weavers cloth or under the adjoining punches.

all gone!

I find fixing flubs is another advantage to using pearl cotton as opposed to 3 or 6 strand, for me at any rate.  It’s easier for me to prod two strands, but you may have no problem prodding 3 or 6 strands.

Once all my flubs are fixed, I’m ready to coffee stain.  I’m using the same method on Magdalena Horses that I used on Two Horses Six Birds.  If you missed that post and would like to see how I coffee stain you can click here to go to the post entitled, “colors and coffee…”.  I stained Magdalena Horses twice.  The first time I used more water and less coffee, and I let the piece air dry.  The second time, I used light brewed or watered-down coffee and baked Magdalena Horses in a 250* oven for a few minutes.

When I bake my pieces, I put a sheet of waxed paper on a cookie sheet with the piece to be baked on top of the waxed paper ~ weavers cloth edges tucked under the embroidery.  I put all that in a cold oven, set to 250*, as soon as the oven reaches its temp I shut it off and leave the punched piece in the oven until its cooled.  My oven runs a bit on the cool side and doesn’t hold it’s heat like your oven may.  If you want to try this method, I’d recommend starting at a lower temp and checking your piece periodically after you’ve turned off the oven, just to make sure your punching isn’t getting crisped.

baked and ready to finish

I’ve been thinking about how to tackle the lamb’s tongue edging.  I considered punching it around the top and bottom edges, but that opened up a whole other line of questions that I didn’t have the answers to.  So, I’ve decided to try a version of lamb’s tongue using wool.  Here are the bits of wool I’m contemplating.

wool options

The top wool is a piece that I marbled.  I love marbled wool, but I think this piece may distract from the punching.  My hand dyed brown, on the right, works really well with the pearl cotton colors, but I think that may be too much brown.  So, at the moment, I think the soft grey-blue that I dyed might be just the ticket.  The question now becomes, what is the best way to attach the wool to the embroidery, and just how will I create the tiny lamb’s tongues?  Time will tell!

 

until next time, be cool and happy!

 

rebecca

 

 

1820 Saltbox…

After coffee staining a few things the other day, I chose to finish the 1820 Saltbox (design by Bird in the Hand Primitives) first. I sent my client a picture of the punched piece and got her okay on the colors and staining. My next step is to add some backing and edging. I used a piece of my hand dyed wool in a soft blue color, for this part.

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I like to use a floss that I used in the piece itself to whip stitch the edging. Here, I’ve chosen the very pale blue from the background.

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Next, I stitch a tag to the back, using the same floss. The tag includes the title of the piece, the name of the designer, my name and the date.

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While I’m working, I’m visited by friends at the feeder…

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The finished piece is now ready to wend it’s way to it’s new owner…

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Enjoy some simple peace today!

rebecca