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Friday, September 10, 2010

ATC Swap

The swap this summer in my Crazy Fridays class was ATCs. My inspiration was some fabric I picked up a few years ago, printed with images of the cards from the Mexican Lotería game -- perfect for cutting out and placing on 2.5 by 3.5 cards. The fabric was a repeat of 24 different images, so of course I had to make all twenty-four cards (just as well that the fabric did not have all 54 cards).

My base was the "tissue fabric" technique I have used before, from Fabric Art Collage. I wanted it to be a mix of purples and teals, but the end result was heavy on the blues:
I'm not thrilled at all with the color, but oh well.

The next step was to fuse the Lotería fabric to the background with fusible webbing and cut out all the cards. To secure the fabric images, I edged each one with hand sewing of some sort, using embroidery, rickrack, beading, and ribbon. It was fun, albeit time-consuming, coming up with a different border for each one. The final step was to back the cards with ultrasuede in different shades of grey and blue. I couldn't bear to zigzag stitch around 24 cards, so I used a straight stitch, which went a lot faster. Unfortunately, at the time I was embellishing the cards I did not think about what would be going under the pressure foot, so some of the cards are a little lumpy and crooked.

The final products:
I gave one to Beadmom, another to Beadfriend, and five were swapped. Which leaves me with a big stack left. Additionally, as I said above, the fabric only had 24 of the 54 cards, which distresses the completist in me. I have the actual game, with all the cards on paper, so I may in the future make a complete set of paper ATCs.

I was also left with scraps of the tissue fabric, which I turned into bookmarks for Beadboy1's therapists:
and an inchie for my collection:

The ATCs I got in return:
This was by the instructor of the class, Diane Rode Schneck, using the stretchy shape bracelets that are so popular with the kids these days. Diane had wanted to glue the shapes down, not couch them, but no glue would hold. That's ok, though, because I like the look of the couching.

By another student in the class. It was created from some sort of technique from Julie Balzer's Journaling class.

A fishy, made from free-hand machine embroidery, a technique that intimidates me (and that also came from Balzer's class). The edges are fuzzy because the creator zigzagged over both the edges of the card and a fuzzy yarn held in place. She owes me a second ATC, because she took two of mine.

The last classmate to participate in the swap was not able to make ATCs because she was too busy sewing dozens and dozens of these little bags for a wedding shower. Instead, she made us cute little bags too, with a bead and a chocolate inside.

On to the next swap!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I may actually finish this by December 1

Of course, now that I have written that, I have probably jinxed it.

Anyway, I've four more advent squares completed.

An orange:
Oranges were traditionally put in Christmas stockings as a special treat, back when they were not available year round. Even though they are not an exotic fruit anymore, I still give one to the beadboys in their stockings. To mimic the texture of a real orange, I attached the orange felt circle to the felt square with lots of tiny seed stitches, pulled tight. It didn't quite come out the way I wanted, but it is a neat effect nonetheless. The leaf is in the vandyke stitch, and the stem is a bit of DMC's memory wire twisted into a spiral.

A sugarplum:
The sugarplums of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" and the Sugarplum Fairy are not real plums (although there are real plums named "sugar plums," which are small and oval and tart), but chopped up dried fruits rolled in sugar. Alton Brown has a recipe I want to try this year.

For this project, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I could replicate the crystally look of something rolled in sugar. Glitter was an option, but it's a pain to work with and I thought the result would be too chintzy. I also thought about some kind of tinsel or cellophane overlay, but I wasn't sure what to use. So in desperation, I began searching the wide, wide world of web, and Flickr in particular, for inspiration. Imagine my excitement when I found Autumn2May's lovely sugarplum ornament, crusted over with delicas. I even had the perfect shade of beads.

For mine, I started with a dark purple piece of felt (in a vaguely fruitish shape) and began sewing on the seedbeads with purple nymo thread. I sewed most of the beads in groups of threes like little picots, with pairs and single beads to fill in any gaps.
Once the piece was completely covered, I appliqued it onto the felt square, and attached a bit of the same memory wire, twisted into a little stem. (Sugarplums don't actually have stems, but the piece looked a little bare without it.) I'm really excited about the finished product. Thanks, Autumn2May!

A candy cane:
Apparently, there is this whole story that says candy canes were invented by a candymaker who chose the shape to resemble a shepherd's hook, the white to represent Christ's purity, the red to represent His blood, and so on. That sounded a bit pat to me, and confirmed it's an urban legend.

I got the idea for using rickrack from Martha Stewart, and it was quite simple, if a bit fiddly. I braided together red and white rickrack, getting their curves to nest together, which resulted in a bumpy, ugly mess. Fortunately, instead of just chucking the idea, I reread the directions and saw that I needed to iron the hell out of the rickrack to flatten and smooth it. That did wonders, and all that was left was to bend it into a hook and tack it down with small stitches, tucking the raw ends underneath.

A snowman:
In our house, there are two kinds of snowmen -- Frosty the Snowman and Frosty That Doesn't Talk. The beadboys prefer the former, unfortunately, although the latter is growing on them.

This one came to me as I was sorting through buttons; I had always intended to make a snowman, and I realized big white buttons would be perfect (and a change of pace from the wool felt I use for most of these squares). I attached the two bottom buttons with a cross stitch, which in turn represent the "buttons" on his body (and yet snowmen don't have clothes . . .). the head I attached at the top two holes with french knots for his eyes, and I sewed a size 6 orange seed bead (the closest I could get to a carrot) over the bottom two holes. Memory wire branches for arms (I bought the memory wire for another project, might as well use it up) and a little felt hat completed him.

More than halfway done!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Did you know . . .

Baseball is for conservatives? It's true -- Caroline May of the Daily Caller said so! She masterfully marshals quite of bit of evidence, too, for her thesis. For this intensely researched article she interviewed four (four!) conservative "serious baseball fans," one of whom mentioned that he knew of two liberals who "enjoy the game." Well that settles it. Clearly, 66% of baseball fans must be conservative.

And the reasons why baseball is for conservatives are just as logical:

1) Conservatives like baseball because it doesn't change (change being evil) -- "the distance from home plate to first base will always be 90 feet and a foul ball will always be a foul ball." And an umpire's call will never be overruled by a camera and the pitcher will always be a batter . . . oh wait.

2) Conservatives like baseball because it is slow, and conservatives want to slow the world down. (Not us liberals, though; I hear our godless scientists are on the verge of creating a machine that will speed up the universe.)

3) Conservatives like baseball because it is elegant like ballet, music, and gymnastics. (Have there ever been three activities more suited to manly, gun-toting, meat-eating conservatives than ballet, music, and gymnastics?)

4) Conservatives like baseball because there is no clock. (And liberals . . . love clocks?)

In my long and illustrious career as a litigator I have never read a more beautifully crafted, fully realized argument. I must drop my obsession with the Red Sox immediately, and take up with an appropriately wussy, un-American sport like soccer. Or maybe cricket.