Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hark! The herald angels sing ...

Hark! The herald angels sing:
"Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas time!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Hommage à Jude ...

Yesterday night, I sat down in the middle of xmaspreps and started this "Hommage à Jude", a kind of what-if-project, using some of my favourite scraps (and the Jacaranda haze-thread!) which Paula sent me recently.

I needed a break, slipping out of that Mrs-Santa-costume, and I needed to do some stitching again:

I wanted to know what it felt like to be stitching like Jude ... and I do now realize that you can really get addicted to filling the fabric with those running stitches - it reminds me of weaving - taking you further and further, stiffening the cloth and at the same time shaping and re-shaping the surface ... Through the slow process of stitching, you come to care about the material in a new way.

And I enjoyed the fraying of the fabric, giving the piece a worn and kind of weary expression. Of course my thoughts went to Jude as I chose the dotted fabrics - which I had asked Paula for when swapping. While adding french knots for the illusion of more dots, I thought of Sara, who is frequently using them on her pieces of work.

I'm pleased with this sublime and still worked-upon look and will certainly return to this piece and probably integrate it with other special scraps ... next year.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Look - another one!

Surprise! Yesterday I rushed into the local post office with my late Christmas mail and was friendly greeted by my favourite post man - he had digged out some new "treasures" for me, among them another embroidered stamp!
No, I'm not aiming to present new stamps every week - but I was so surprised I had to show you!
(For those who haven't read the earlier postings, I just want to point out that this is an officially valid, "ready-to-use" Austrian stamp, but machine embroidered and thus made out of fabric!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The hard-working Mrs Santa ...

Christmas cards (embellished, of course), embroidered mittens, beaded stars ...

I'm sorry for not posting very often lately - but Mrs Santa is busy these days ... I've heard there'll be a life beyond Christmas as well ... Looking forward to this calm and peaceful new year, when I'll keep my (yearly) vowes to start crafting for Christmas during summer holidays - at the latest!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sharing the joy ...

I think I made someone very happy this weekend. My daughter Emily (she's 10) and I had an afternoon on our own, so we planned to have a bit of fun in my studio, just the two of us.

And then I decided to let her try out my embellisher ... She has a little "travel-sewing machine" of her own, but she's never been working on the embellisher till now. She asked what would happen if she made something wrong. I said: The worst that could happen is that a needle or a couple of them would break - but I have enough spare needles, and they are not that expensive.

So she boldly stepped on the gas and had so much fun! Her cheeks went rosy with excitement, she whirled through my stash, went back to the machine - and we both had a great time! And this is what she did:

The crocodile is ment to be a bookmark - I've already told her, that if I could make a wish for Christmas, I'd love to have that one ...
(By the way: not a single needle was broken. Next, I'll let my son (he's 13) try it out ...)

"Christmas tree, very pretty ... " - Whatiffing 51-59, Xmas-trees

So I've done some more Whatiffings, this time there are Xmas trees (green wool) punched to a grey woolen cloth, embellished with fabric, yarn, ribbons and lace ...

See the Santa up right? I'm especially proud of that - it's a simple xmas gift ribbon, embellished on, of course.

Friday, December 5, 2008

When I wish upon a star ...

This is a felted star I did some time ago - and I'm making some more now, for Christmas. It's wet felted with natural white roving over a metal wire, then embellished with some glass beads.


Yesterday was 'kind of Xmas to me - I received a wonderful parcel from Paula, filled with the most gorgeous small scale printed cotton and silk fabrics, colourful embroidery threads and glass beads ... and even one of Paula's fantastic 'skitches'!

I was so happy and inspired - and today I rushed to the post office with my mail swap for her!

I must admit I just love getting mail - especially this kind of surprise parcels! And I think it's a lovely idea to swap goodies from your stash with someone who appreciates similar things ... making yourself and somebody else double happy, both enjoying the gathering and packing as well as the receiving and exploring of the gift - well, if this isn't Xmas!

And it's sensible recycling and resource consciousness par excellence, isn't it? (And it keeps the post men busy!) I love it! Anyone else out there wanting to swap with me?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Angels welcome ...

Two embellished angels - and a star - consisting of wool roving, fabric, lace and yarn scraps, some paper and silvery (metal) net - the faces are free motion machine embroidered.

A friend of mine used to have a shop with the sign "Angels welcome" above her shop entrance - I think I could use such a sign above my door, too, in order to attract some angels - or at least some good fairy who could give me a helping hand with those Xmas preparations ...

Somehow, Christmas always seems to arrive so quickly and sudden, as if these holidays were just popping up unexpectedly out of the winter dark ...

I'm torn between the wish to spend a calm and contemplative Advent season with my kids, having all the time in the world for crafting, baking cookies, reading, playing, leaving on long winter walks, snuggling up with a cup of tea at the fire place -

and on the other hand writing thoughtful cards and letters, finding or even better: making very personal gifts with beautiful wrappings for the family and the big bunch of dear friends.

I just want to do both - my problem is that time moves on so very fast and although I consider myself hard-working, I suppose I'm a bit disorganized ...

Maybe it's just vanity wanting to make it all - and make it good! Guess I should give that a thought, too ...

Concentrate. Keep it plain and simple. Stay cool. (That's what you wanted to say, wasn't it?)

Monday, December 1, 2008

A wonderful Christmas time ...

Look what I've got! This is an advent calendar for me from my 10-year old daughter Emily! It's filled not only with my favourite chocolate treats, but also with very personal letters and small messages ...

I'm a very lucky mum to receive such a loving gift!

Here are some more calendars, which I received from two friends of mine - they will lighten up my day every morning until Christmas day ...

I think it's a wonderful thing to receive such a calendar gift, even if I'm not really a kid anymore - I enjoy it just as much and appreciate it maybe even more now! I wonder what's in it ...?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An embellished angel and another advent calender

Christmas time is getting closer, and I decided to try out an embellished angel yesterday. The wings and the body are basically consisting of punched white wool roving, scraps of lace and fabric and finally embellished with some beads and a vintage fabric button.

The face is hand embroidered on a rosé-coloured muslin, which was stuffed with a bit of woolen batting and then stitched on to the background. The golden fringe and metal hair are Christmas tree decoration material.

I made another advent calender, too: 24 small packages of recycled Christmas cards, tags and other ephemera for a friend of mine, who always needs a lot of greeting cards at Christmas time.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sara's new book has arrived!

Today I received Sara's new book - "Gesichter-Faces" which I had pre-ordered from Amazon!

It's a most wonderful, well-edited gallery book with very rich and luscious pictures of Sara's extensive and so very inspiring art work - it's an absolute must-have for all of us who adore Sara's work and to anyone the least interested in textile art! I can absolutely recommend it to you and I can only congratulate Sara to this exciting and beautiful first book!

So I'm off, snuggling up in my cosy reading chair with Sara's textile fantasies ...!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Recycling for Christmas

Recycling is important to me; I think a lot about it and try to live as close to my ideals as I can in my daily life.

For my art work, it's a frame in which I can challenge myself - whether I work with embellishing and fibers, or fabric scraps and quilts, vintage beads, mosaics, plastic, or paper - I'm using recycled materials and stuff from my collected stash.

Every year, I write about 40-50 Christmas cards - I want them to be pretty and personal, and it's also important to me to use recycled materials. This year, I'm gluing and sewing used gift wrapping, odd ribbons, old book-pages and exotic newspaper together for the card itself, decorating it with an embellished heart, a button, a bead, stamping the inside with stamps I once bought or made myself from pencil rubbers ...

Here are some tags I made out of paper scraps - the two at the right are laminated (I put the scraps very close to eachother and try to use as little of the foil as possible):

I'm also doing some advent calenders each year: This one is for a friend of mine, it's a drawing pad with 12 sturdy pages, and I made a collage out of magazine pictures on both sides of each page, so that she can turn it around for the 13th to 24th of December:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Two necklaces

When my Mum visited me this summer, she brought a carneol necklace with her and asked me to change it - she wanted it longer and mixed up with some other beads.

As her birthday is coming up soon, I spent today re-making the necklace by mixing the carneols with apple corals, which irregular surface I find to be of an interesting contrast to the the polished carneols.

I also added a magnetic closure for comfortable opening and closing. As there were still carneols left after the re-make, I used them for a bracelet and some ear-drops to make the set complete.

It's been quite a time since I made some necklaces, so I felt inspired to do one for myself as well. And it was all there, in my stash, just waiting for me to put it together!

(Consisting of clear and frosted vintage glass beads, some Indian strass beads, some exotic organic beads, a couple of silver metal plates and a Sterling silver closure.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Embellishing a patchwork vest - a recycling project

This weekend I started working on an embellished patchwork vest.

Originally, this was a 2nd-hand-sweater, a bit too loose and sloppy, but still comfortable to wear, thin knitwear and of a soft orange colour.
As I rather wanted a vest, I cut off the arms and secured the cuttings by punching a piece of a bright coloured, light-woven Chinese (!) shawl to it - other pieces of this shawl are found on the front and back of the piece. I then added some other scraps of tweed fabric from my stash - the colourful squares are from an old tweed skirt.

Here you can see a detail of the punched pieces.

As I neither did use any wool to bond it to the base/to the sweater, nor put the fabric overlapping, there are small gaps between the different pieces of fabric.
I therefore began filling in the gaps - and also securing the fabric scraps to the base - with strings of yarn, sometimes just punching the yarn into the gaps with the embellisher, sometimes embroidering with the yarn and then punching it from both sides, in order to "melt" it into the fabric layers.

As this is a real recycling project, I was careful to use odd yarn ends from my stash, of course ;-) ...

I think the black yarn is a good contrast to the very bright colours - I don't know why my camera doesn't bring out the colours "for real" - and still I expect them to become a bit more softened, when I finally punch it all from the backside, and the original orange colour melts into the front fabrics.
Due to the punching and the fabric scraps the vest is now getting sturdier and narrower, as I wanted and expected it to - and this time, wise from my first experiment (see earlier posting), I'm not using the coarse felting needles ...
I will keep you informed as the project proceeds!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A textile stamp!

Today I went to the local post office in order to buy some stamps - I always buy the special ones as they are not more expensive than their actual value but so much more beautiful - and this time I found many exciting ones:

a 3D-lenticular-technique stamp, one with concrete sand from a WWII-tower, another with small glittering rhinestones on it, yet another one with real Swarowski stones - and finally a machine embroidered textile stamp! Fully official and ment to post with your letters or parcels!

I've never seen anything like it before and was absolutely surprised and pleased!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Embroidering white woolen mittens

When visiting Vienna last week, I found two very nice embroidery books, the original titles in French are "blanc. Motifs de broderie traditionnelle et au point de croix" and "rouge.Motifs de broderie traditionnelle et au point de croix" by Agnès Delage-Calvet and Anne Sohier-Fournel. (There is a "blue" book in this series as well, but I didn't buy that.) They've been translated into German, so I guess they'd be available in English as well.

These are quite simple embroidery books, showing mainly cross-stich and back-stitch motives, but in the usual absolutely charming French way and with beautiful photos on different things to embroider upon. The booklets also come with a small embroidery kit corresponding in colours to the titles - but I bought them for the sweet motives, of course.

The books really make you want to start embroidering instantly, and as I found a few pairs of real oldfashioned 100% woolen, knitted and felted mittens the same day in another shop, I knew what some dear friends are going to find in their Christmas parcels this year ... my criteria are: useful and personal - and maybe a bit special.

Maybe I just have to keep a pair of them for myself ...!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Experiment with faces

I made some faces today, punched them with pink wool to the woolen punched background - and "drew" some faces with free motion machine embroidery, then coloured lips and cheeks with a red pencil and embellished it once more.

They are of course not ment to remain boldheaded, but to be integrated -maybe as X-mas angels? -with hair and body, and I'm sure they will look a lot better then!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Red miniquilt ready!

So I've got the red miniquilt ready - in the end I added some miniature squares, fastening them with a french knot only - the smallest squares are tinier than 1/4" (6-7mm)! - and the whole quilt measures about 11x11".

Monday, November 3, 2008

Inspired by you!

Today I used the warm morning light to sit outside in the garden and carry on with my "Yggdrasil"-project. Though November already, this south-eastern part of Austria, where I'm now living, is blessed with a warm and sunny climate, so different from the north of Europe, where I come from.

Still, every country has its own charm and I was delighted by the beautiful photos of early autumn in Sweden in Hanna's blog and in Canada in Margaret's blog - both very gifted and creative women. Have a look for yourself!

Whatiffings No. 33-41 - Non-figurative skitching and No. 42-50 - Sculptural

As it's a brand new month, I can continue doing "Whatiffings à la Sara" again - and today I'm spoiling you rotten with 18 new ones!

These are the numbers 33-41, consisting of punched white or pastel coloured wool with non-figurative "skitching", using tiny fabric scraps and some sewing and darning thread (thinking of Paula!).

And here are the numbers 42-50, where i used light-grey wool mixed with a little multicoloured one. For most of the pieces, I punched them flat with the 12-needle-embellisher, then continued punching on the spot with the 7-needler until I had a "bubble" (learned it from Sara!) I cut up this bubble with sharp scissors and fastened the loose parts with a little punching. On the right photo you can see that it's quite sculptural. Number 47 is of course woven (got inspired by Jude there!).

I really enjoy doing these experiments - guess you figured that out by now! - and it's most inspiring to be a part of this textile network ...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

What if - there was a face coming out of the dark ...

This is a very dark face - yet sparkling. I wanted it to "come out" of the darkness, like an illusion or imagination, a dream, a hallucination ... (hey, it's halloween, isn't it?)

Anyway, I used a gold-lurex fabric, punched it with dark red wool from the backside, put a thin layer of light pink, a little rosé, dark brown, greyish brown ... from the right side, in order to kind of "model" the face with its contours, then added some layers of black and dark red for the shadows behind . I punched it all several times from the back and the front and finally squeezed the piece with luke warm water and damp ironed it. It's approx. 11x17" (27x42 cm).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Remember the what-if pre-felt?

Do you remember the what-if pre-felt on linen I started last week? Well, today I proceeded punching small scraps onto it, then filling in on the gaps with a funny, multicoloured yarn I discovered on my trip to Vienna this weekend. Finally, I made some stitches with a red velvet ribbon I found in my stash.

Free Motion Faces

Today I just had to proceed experimenting with free motion machine embroidery - this time I "skitched" two faces. The background is embellished, wool, yarn, ribbons, lace on white fabric - and then machine embroidered (except for the freckles: they are french knots :-).

If you wonder about the hair of the two girls: it's a chopped-up scarf!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yggdrasil and a red miniquilt

This is a detail on quite a large project, which I am working on right now. It's called "Yggdrasil", which is the tree of the world in the Nordic mythology. At the moment it's as long as 230 x 35 cm, but I expect it to shrink a bit during the final wet felting procedure. It can be used as a wallhanging or as a tablerunner for a long table (like mine!). It consists of six pre-felted segments on which I've punched the dark leaves and which I'm now embellishing with threads of hand-dyed wool.

Below you can see the red miniquilt, which I'm also working on - this piece is somewhat easier to take along, as it only measures about 28x28cm ... I found it among my fabrics, just half-way finished - had forgotten about it - and decided to go on with it now. The technique even fits in a bit on the Whatiffing- and quilting-by-going theme - and the different shades of red remind me of Christmas, especially combined with the green squares at the corners!