I’ve been reading

I’m still dyeing and sewing, but first I’d like to share what I’ve been reading.

Belonging to a book study has really encouraged me to read some books I wouldn’t normally read. Also, a couple blogs I follow do this from time to time, and I really have enjoyed seeing what others are reading.

Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms: Who and What you see before you die.

If you are afraid of dying or you have a loved one who is nearing the end, I recommend you read this. What if we really don’t die alone? My Dad, although I was not in the room and only reported to me by my stepmother, talked to mom in his last days. Oh, how I wish I could have been there to see his face. I’ve always believed the visions. This book just confirmed my belief. This is an easy read and so worth the small investment of time.

 

 

 

Erasing Death: The Science That is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death

When does death occur? Had the Titanic occurred today, how many lives could have been saved? What is my hospital’s procedure in keeping the body and brain cool? Where does the “soul” reside?

This is an important book to read if you are at all interested in death. I will admit that it is a hard read, in that there is a lot of technical medical information. The author seemed to go on and on when he could have said a lot of the info in a more concise way. However, there is a lot of good info, and it’s one of those books that really makes you think. This should be required reading for medical school. I read this for a book study and we had some great discussions!

Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity

 

“Ministers David Felten and Jeff Procter-Murphy, along with an all-star cast of Bible scholars and top church teachers, provide a primer to a church movement that encourages every Christian to “live the questions” instead of “forcing the answers.”

The above description says it all. This is an easy read, but one of those books to go back and reread, highlight and talk about. Our book study had a lively discussion on this book.

 

When Breath Becomes Air

This is the account of the author’s journey of on the verge of completing his training as a neurosurgeon he is diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. I found it a really slow read. He details he’s work journey more than his internal journey. His wife’s epilogue was more heartfelt and powerful than any of his words. This was a recommended read for me, but I didn’t feel I got that much out of it.

 

 

Here is another book to mention that I read several months ago.

Hillbilly Eulogy

I have mixed feelings about this book. I do believe it gives us an understanding of the hillbilly culture. Even though I spent a large part of my work life working with the marginalized or who we called “poor” people, the population I knew was much different than the culture Vance describes. It was a memoir so it was about his life and how he made it out of the culture, although it still remains with him. And that was the good part. However, I found it hard to finish the book because the last several chapters were to put it bluntly – boring – and at one point even made me angry. Some of the problems he experienced while at Yale, were problems that most of us experience in school – not just hillbillies – and I found it offensive that he felt it was only his culture who had these issues. And in the end I was hoping he’d tell us how he’s working to encourage and motivate this culture to improve their lives. No, no such conclusion. However, I did see him interviewed in the past couple weeks where he was talking about an initiative he’s started to do that very thing. That makes me feel better about the book.

Of course I’ve been reading a variety of craft books. Of my mandala books, this is my favorite. However, I have yet to get the dots looking good!

On my stack of books to read or I’m in the process or reading include Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates,  What is the Bible by Rob Bell, and Some Go Hungry by J. Patrick Redmond.

I’ve also been ice dyeing.  The August red challenge in my Icy Delights online class is all about adding any red dye with another color. My goal is to stretch students to use colors they don’t normally use or combine. After dyeing a fat quarter I just had to dye a tshirt with Oxblood Red and Azure Blue. The patterning still amazes me.

This tshirt is just a couple of my favorite colors.

And a little sewing. This is made with my indigo-dyed fabric. I’ll be sewing more of these once my machine gets back from it’s tune up.

Also felted a couple of bowls. Not real happy with them and they need more work.

Hope you’re having a good weekend. What are you reading right now?

 

Posted in book review, Books, ice dyeing, Sewing | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Ice Dyeing: Batching in the sun

What about batching ice dyeing in the sun instead of waiting 20 to 24 hours?

I really like to give the fiber reactive dyes lots of time to work. I usually let them batch (sit) for 20 – 24 hours. However, due to several students of my Icy Delights online class asking about sun batching, I thought I’d do a couple experiments.

I found that in the hot sun, it takes about two hours for the ice to melt.

I wanted to compare these fabrics batched for only two hours in the sun to the ones that sit in the garage for around 24 hours. I’m using the exact same fabric and size (fat quarter), and amount of dye.

Here are my results:

The Brazil Nut test shows the sun batched piece as faded.

However, the lavender doesn’t show as much difference in waiting the extra hours. This may be due to the red in the dye. Red strikes first on the fabric while other colors take their time dyeing the fabric. Since blue takes longer to dye, you see less blue on the sun-batched piece.

My last test is this piece with three colors: Antique Gold, Eggplant, and Dancing with Raisins. All of the colors are pretty washed out in the sun batching compared to the 24-hour batch.

So in my limited experiment, I found that when compared to the regular batch, the sun-batched pieces colors appeared washed out or muted. However, the lavender sun-batched piece was almost as pretty as the regular batch except for less blue.

For me, it’s not worth saving time for the muted results. It’s also a waste of the dye to not allow it to completely color the fabric. Of course, if the fabric had been sun batched longer than two hours, it might give a better result. It was an interesting experiment.

Something new I have wanted to try lately is acrylic pouring. I saw a video and just had to try it.  It reminds me of marbling. I didn’t get the cells I wanted, but that will come with more practice. I really like the texture.

Hope you are having a good Sunday. Thanks for dropping by.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To: Foam Stamps

I vaguely remember making foam stamps years ago and I was not happy with the results. However, after more experimenting I think I may have a new love.

Working on fabric is a bit different than stamping on paper. Also, if you have a electronic cutter, you can also cut some of these stamps out with it. I’ll give the Brother ScanNCut settings later in the post.

If you’d like to see me demo these foam stamps, I appeared on WEHT Local Lifestyles this morning. Here is a link to the video.

I think of these stamps as giving an “organic” print. If you are looking for perfect, these may not be what you want. However, some of my suggestions will help to get a good print.

Here is what you will need:

If you want to print on fabric I suggest the following:

Let’s get started. Gather thick foam, adhesive-backed foam, and cardboard.

Cut the thick foam and cardboard to size and glue together.

Now you’re ready to cut your design and add to the stamp base. This foam is real easy to cut. Since the adhesive-backed foam has paper on it, you can draw your design on the backing and cut it. Or like I do, just cut and add to your base. For these stamps, they do best with simple designs.

If you have a ScanNCut you can scan your drawings into the cutter, and use thin foam (without adhesive). Because there is no adhesive to the back of your design, you need to glue the design to the cardboard. Here are my settings: Deep Cut Blade 8, Speed 1, Pressure 7. Please do a test cut before you cut out the design. You might even start with less pressure and less blade so you don’t end up cutting up your mat. I could not get the adhesive-backed foam to work in my cutter.

When I made these stamps, I added the thick foam last. It’s really easier to make the stamp bases first, but either works.

For stamping on paper it is important to work on a foam stamp pad. Even an old mouse pad will work. This one is great with all of the lines on it (link above).

Once the glue dried, the stamps were ready to take on a test drive on paper. Add ink and stamp.

Here are the first images for these stamps.

A couple cards

Now let’s talk about printing on fabric. First you need a good printing surface. I cover mine with fabric that I can take off and wash when done.

I’ve tried using a brayer or a foam brush to spread a light film of fabric paint on the stamps. It really didn’t work well for me. I found this great stuff called Cut and Dry stamp pad foam (link above)  where you add your own paint. It works much like a stamp pad. Add some fabric paint with either a brayer or a foam brush and you’re ready to stamp.

Here is one of the fabric pieces.

I also tried a different substrate. Instead of the foam and cardboard, I used Grafix clear craft plastic .007 thickness. I bought these for stencils, but they are too rigid. What is nice about using this plastic is you can see where you place the stamps on the paper or fabric. What is not nice about them is they are hard to handle.

I think I’d like a thicker plastic so it would be easier to hold on to. Adding a handle would help. Also, it might be good to use a thicker foam to prevent smudging.

Here are my tips for getting a clean image:

  1. Use a light touch when using the stamp pads.
  2. Smaller stamps seem to work better and are easier to control.
  3. Simpler designs work best.
  4. A thicker foam might even work better than what I used. I’ll try that in the future.
  5. Accept that you won’t have “perfect” images every time.

If you’ve made foam stamps, I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Posted in foam stamps, tutorials | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Stencil materials

In my last post I wrote about making my own stencils from my drawings. Today I wanted to share with you the stencil materials I use in my cutter.

I’ve really enjoying making stencils since I bought my Silhouette Portrait machine several years ago. Since then I’ve moved on to the Brother ScanNCut and continue to look for stencil materials. For those who have the ScanNCut I’ve posted the settings that work for me at the end of this article.

I started out using Grafix Dura-Lar, but felt it was too stiff. I also tried Grafix Craft Clear Plastic, similar to Dura-Lar. It will do in a pinch, but I don’t really like it except that it comes in 12 x 12 sheets.

My go-to stencil material is report covers. You can purchase these at the office supply store for $8 for 10 covers which makes 20 sheets or 40 cents a stencil. They are strong enough, but pliable. Then last week I found a another option at the office supply store: Avery 8 tab Insertable Style Edge Pocket plastic dividers ($8 or $1 a sheet) made of  “extra durable tear resistant plastic.” They are similar to the report covers, but even more sturdy. However, they are a bit pricey.

Lastly, I tried heavy duty 2-pocket plastic portfolios for 50 cents each or 25 cents a stencil. I found them at Office Depot in the school supplies. They came in all colors, but I thought white would work best. These are even heavier than the report covers or the tabs.

Here is the stencil made with the portfolio.

I like all three of these. The 2-pocket portfolios are the cheapest and the sturdiest, but they all work.

One of my favorite for fabric, when I’m looking for perfect and not in a hurry, is freezer paper. I use precut sheets, but you can also just buy a roll at the local grocery store and cut your own size.

For those of you who have a ScanNCut, here are my settings. Make sure you test on your machine before cutting out the design.

  • Grafix plastic sheets – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 5
  • Report covers – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 3
  • Plastic dividers – Blade 5, Speed 1, Pressure 3
  • Two-pocket portfolios – Blade 7, Speed 1, Pressure 7
  • Freezer paper – Blade 4, Speed 1, Pressure 1

If you don’t have a machine, you can cut these by hand, but the cutter sure makes it easier. I love being able to take my drawings and make stencils.

If you have a favorite material you use to cut stencils, I’d love to hear about it. Meanwhile, I’m off to Office Depot to pick up more of those two-pocket portfolios before they’re all gone!

 

Posted in craft product reviews, drawing, mandalas, stencils | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Making mandala stencils

This is a project I’ve been working on for awhile – mandala stencils. I’ve spent quite a bit of time being frustrated – trying to figure out how they are made. There are a lot of beautiful stencils out there, but I wanted my design. Also, making it myself, I can make it as large or small as I need.

It really takes a different mindset from drawing mandalas to drawing mandala stencils. What I need to continue to remind myself that what is black will fall out.  I have to make sure I don’t connect any of the black areas or the design will be gone.

So when drawing the mandala or any design for a stencil, black parts can’t touch. I guess the way I finally am thinking of it, is that all black areas need to be surrounded by white.

So as with any mandala I start in the middle and work out. I draw the outline and then fill it in.

Even though I know the lines can’t touch, I still forget. Here is an example of how close the lines got. I ended up taking white paint and painting over the black.

Here is the finished design.

Here is another one.

Now I take my drawings to my Scan and Cut. If you don’t have a cutter, you can cut it out with an X-acto knife. I don’t trust myself with those things! If you have a Scan & Cut, here is a great video on how to scan your drawing. She’s working on a card, but the information is still applicable to making stencils.

I really like to use report covers purchased from the office supply store for making stencils, but I used other plastic too. I’ll be blogging about stencil material in my next post. I like to secure my stencil material to the mat with painters tape. That way I am assured that the plastic won’t move.

Here’s the second stencil cut and ready to use.

I made these stencils to print on fabric, but before I take them to the fabric, I try them on paper first to see how it looks. Below is the paper print and the stencil.

If I’m happy with that image, I’ll start stenciling on fabric.

And the finished results on fabric.

They also work great on paper.

Finally, after many tries I came up with a couple mandala stencils I actually like and that work!  Next up is my comparison of several stencil materials.

Posted in drawing, mandalas, stencils | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Berea Art Getaway

Last weekend hubby and I took off a few days and drove down to Berea, Kentucky to take some classes at their annual Festival of Learnshops. Oh what fun! Here are the projects I made while there.

This was also the weekend for the annual craft festival.

Here is Dave standing by one of the many hands in Berea.

But let me tell you about the classes I took.

My first class was Embossed and Punched Jewelry with Scott Mattingly. I can’t believe how much fun it was.

We started punching a circle out of a copper blank. Here is Scott explaining all of the different tools that he had to punch holes.

Love that orange hammer!

So my first punch. We were aiming for off center.

Then we embossed.

Scott then showed us how to use the dapping block to dome the metal.

Then to polish it.

This is my finished pendant – our first project.

Then from there we could create whatever we wanted to. I made a set of earrings, but what I wanted to do was make a bracelet. I still need to add a clasp and then I can wear it!

You will definitely see more of this. It was so much fun and so many possibilities.

The next day I took Delicollage with Jacqueline Sullivan. Last year I took the eco print retreat with her in Cincinnati. She’s a wonderful teacher and if she comes to your area, check out her classes.

This class was all about playing with deli paper and then making a collage on canvas.

Jacqueline shows us how to paint on deli paper.

We added bling, stenciled, and stamped. Here are some of my papers.

What a fun weekend and great classes. This event is held every year for two weeks. There were other classes I would have liked to have taken, but we were only there for the weekend.  I hope to return next year.

While I was in my classes Dave was taking classes on growing mushrooms (Shitake and Oyster Mushroom Log Inoculation) and making natural artisanal sodas.

Puddin and Ace returned from camp (vet) refreshed and ready to get back into their routine. I caught Puddin doing some cat yoga yesterday.

Well, now to get back to my other art. Thanks for dropping by.

Posted in art classes, collage, embossing, jewelry, road trips | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Review: Uni-Posca Markers

I’m on the quest to find my favorite ink/markers for painting on rocks. Today I’m reviewing Uni-Posca Markers. I am using the extra-fine point set of 12 markers.

I’ve been using inks to draw and paint the designs on rocks, but thought it would be fun to see if I would like to use markers. I’ll tell you about the inks on another post.

Here are the colors on paper.

You can see by the rock, that they are pretty true to their colors even on this somewhat rough surface.

These markers work great. I felt I had a lot of control of the colors and loved that I could use the black to outline my design.

However, the white doesn’t work well on the rock at all. So, for the white I use this ink with a dip pen. I have found that a 512 nib works great to draw on the rocks.

So using the Posca markers and the white ink I completed this rock design.

The colors from these markers are a matte finish compared to the inks. In the photo below, the first rock is painted with these markers. The other two are painted with ink. They look different, of course, because the ink-painted rocks are outlined in white, but if you focus on just the colors you can see that the inks are richer and darker.

But there’s nothing wrong with that. It just depends on how you want your finished rock to look. I like them both.

These markers come in extra fine, fine, and medium point. I have just used the extra fine. Since I’ve only used these for about a month, I have no idea how long they will last. But I will say, so far, so good.

So here are my pros and cons.

PRO

  • Easy to fill in color – more control than ink
  • Great tip to outline
  • All colors are easy to see on an unpainted rock except the white. If you want to outline in white, you need to use ink or some other marker.
  • These markers come in a three tip sizes.
  • $18 for set of 12

CON

  • Matte finish makes the colors look a bit dull.
  • Limited colors

I really like that the paint is so easy to control on the rocks with these markers. If you are just starting out painting on rocks, I would recommend starting with these before moving to the inks. However, I love the intensity of the ink colors. I’ll be back later to review the inks I’ve been using.

Disclaimer:  I purchased these paint markers, and am not getting any compensation for this review.

 

Posted in craft product reviews, drawing, mandalas, rocks | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Colorful Sunday

Good Morning!

Another beautiful day in Southern Indiana. The weather here has been glorious. I’m not sure I’ve ever used that word for weather, but it’s the only way I have been able to describe it.

Where has the time gone? I did get around to dyeing a couple things. These are for Jillian’s birthday.  I love dyeing these small shirts. They are so cute!

I have lots of white stuff to dye including some old mens’ hankies that I love to use. Since I had mixed up some dye I decided I’d dye a bunch of them. I love pulling color out of my purse in the winter!

If you look closely on the left, you can see the pattern in the hankies. I remember my dad carrying these type of hankies. Of course, they were white!

The dyes have had to move aside in the studio to make room for resin. It’s been a fun diversion from dyeing and drawing on rocks. I’ll be blogging about this new interest soon.

Talking about rocks, I’m continuing to draw mandalas on mine, still experimenting with different markers and inks.

Last Wednesday I took a road trip to Bloomington to see some friends. In addition to having lunch with Gail, I dropped by to see Judy and Joe, who I’ve not seen in many, many years. It was an enjoyable visit. I gave both of them rocks I had painted.  Joe gave me a couple rocks he found while fishing in North Carolina. The bottom one would be perfect for a feather.

That’s about all for now. I’ve got lots to blog about, but just not ready yet to post.

Hope you’re having a colorful day!

 

 

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Sunday Recipe: Roasted Veggies

With lots of goodies coming in from the garden, I wanted to share with you roasted veggies, one of my favorite new way to cook them.

As most of you know, Dave and I share cooking duties here at Happy Acres. I cook two weeks and he cooks the next two weeks. One of our favorite dishes in roasted veggies.

In the past I’d line a baking pan with foil, spread out the veggies, and bake. That was good, but the secret to even better roasted vegetables is the cast iron skillet.

Roasted Veggies Recipe

  • Veggies: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlrabi, sweet potatoes, fennel, potatoes, carrots
  • cast iron skillet
  • olive oil and salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. When oven is ready, put the cast iron skillet in the oven to heat up.
  2. While the skillet is warming, rinse and cut vegetables in small pieces. We’ve found kohlrabi roasts best in thin slices. Toss veggies with olive oil and a little salt. Of course, you can also add other spices.
  3. After the skillet has warmed up for 30 minutes, carefully remove it from the oven.
  4. Place the vegetables in a single layer on the bottom of the skillet.
  5. After roasting for 10 minutes, remove the skillet from the oven and turn the veggies over. Put back into the oven and continue roasting.
  6. Check back in another 10 – 15 minutes. Usually it takes about 30 minutes. However, your time may be different depending on how you cut the veggies and your oven.

Roasted kohlrabi

What I love about this treatment is it’s easy and it absolutely delish! If you have mom’s old cast iron skillet – we are using Dave’s mom’s skillet –  dig it out and start roasting. If you’ve been roasting your veggies without the cast iron skillet, do give it a try. You will be surprised at the difference.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday! See you later this week.

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Posted in gardening, Recipes, Sunday recipe | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

June Green Challenge

For the month of June I’ve challenged my Icy Delights students to make a combo with a green and another color. This is a good exercise in seeing how the colors play together, and a great way to find a new favorite combo. Because of how the dye colors split in ice dyeing, you never can be sure what you will get unless you try.

Everyone who participates will be in a drawing for some dye and other goodies.  I decided to join the group by playing too.

I’m not a big fan of Lime Squeeze, so I combined it with 14 other colors to come up with 14 different combos. I do like the majority of the pieces. Here they are all together.

I would never know that Lime Squeeze is in every piece. At the end of the month we’ll all have more combos to play with.

If you’d like to join in the challenge, check out my Icy Delights class here. 

Meanwhile, I’ve decided to play a bit with resin. I’ve been wanting to do this for several years, but hated to drag myself away from my dyeing. I saw something on Facebook that convinced me that I needed to try it. So this past weekend I played with the resin on a tile. The flecks in the tile are glitter and they really sparkle. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to capture that in my photograph.

Anyway, I feel it’s something I need to explore further.

In the gardening arena, we continue to wage our war against the deer. The shade garden contains a variety of hostas we’ve purchased over the years. The hosta addiction started back in 2009 when I was chair of the local master gardener’s garden walk. One of the gardens on the walk was almost all hostas. We both fell in love with this plant and decided to dedicate part of our new shade garden to hostas. The deer in our area seem to think the shade garden is a buffet just for them. We’ve done about everything we could do to keep them away from food and plants in our yard. The main garden is fenced. The blackberries are netted. Dave has purchased a variety of concoctions spraying them every couple of nights to keep the deer away. We’ve done everything but fence and throw down human hair. So last night we gave up. We went out and cut down all of our hostas. I thought I was going to cry. We decided if we can’t enjoy them, neither can the deer. I’ll be digging the hostas up either this fall or this spring, and finding something else to plant there that is less deer friendly. Below are before and after pictures of a few of the hostas in this area.

We may need to turn this into a fern area since the deer don’t seem to care about them. We’ll see. We’ve got plenty of time now to decide what we’ll do with this area.

Thanks for dropping by and letting me whine about the deer!

Posted in fiber reactive dyes, ice dyeing | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments