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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fabric and Wire Mesh Ornaments

These ornaments, by Diane Nuñez and in the Quilting Arts Gifts 2010/2011, are made the same way these flowers were: strips of metal mesh and batting wrapped in fabric and machine-quilted, then manipulated into various shapes.

A tree, with sequins and beads:

A snowflake.  For this one I strung plastic and glass beads on the inside, to emphasize the snowflakiness:

A star (which I may or may not embellish):

A cutting error left me with an extra mesh strip, so I covered it in pink fabric and played around with it until I got a heart shape:
I sewed a bit of lace onto it, and am pondering more embellishments.  It will join my heart collection (which apparently I have not blogged yet).

Monday, December 23, 2013

Oh Christmas Tree

On Pinterest I discovered this lovely wire and bead ornament, by Wild Woman Jewelry; a smaller one around my neck would be quite festive, and so I whipped one up the other night:

I started with 24 gauge craft wire in green; I would have preferred a stiffer, heavier wire but that's what I had.  I made an isosceles triangle, and then for sturdiness I went around it twice more.  I then used round nose pliers to twist the top a couple of times into a loop:

Next up was raiding my bead stash.  Fortunately I already had a little collection of seed beads in mixed colors and finishes, from previous projects:
I then cut a very long piece of 26 gauge green craft wire, wrapped one end around a bottom corner of the triangle to secure it, strung on some beads, and began wrapping the wire around the triangle:

Once I got to the top, I used the rest of the wire (without beads) to wrap back down the tree for a bit of contrast.  Et voila! 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back to Crafting

Now that Beadboy3 is settling in nicely, I've started picking up a needle again.  First up was the Maltese Cross Ornament, by Needlecrafts Unlimited Co. and from the 2002 Just Cross Stitch Ornaments issue.  Two, actually, one of which I gave to my mom:
Rather than the pearl cotton called for, I used the Caron Collection's Wildflowers thread in Pomegranate and Blue Spruce, because pretty.
All of the Caron threads are pretty; I love playing with my stash.

Anyway, this ornament was an interesting finish; the main design is on point in a larger square marked out by a line of backstitch.  To close it up, the instructions have one folding back the four corners and stitching the sides along each point together, weaving in and out of the backstitch.

Next up was another Partridge/Pear Tree ornament, one of my own design (sort of).  Indygo Junction's Folk Art Jingle ornament pattern has one ornament that they call a teardrop shape but that looked like a pear to me.  Instead of using the floral motif on the pattern, I came up with my own -- a little partridge with embroidery and applique for embellishment.  Two embroidered felt leaves complete the effect:
I'm quite pleased with how it came out.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman

Soon I Will be Invincible (Vintage)is a straight-up superhero novel, narrated by Dr. Impossible, who breaks out of prison to enact his latest plan to take over the world, and Fatale, a recruit in the Justice League New Champions who vow to stop him.  In addition to fantastic inventions, origin stories, and epic battles, we also get insight into the psyches of these two.  Although they are on opposite sides their journeys are quite similar; both struggle to fit in and come to terms with their public and private personae.  It's this aspect of the novel that appears to be influenced by Alan Moore's Watchmen, although Grossman's story is far kinder, quite poignant in its depiction of lonely, regretful, mixed-up metahumans.

It's also a lot funnier. Dr. Impossible in particular is a delight, who manages to be egotistical, humble, neurotic, sardonic, and genre-savvy all at the same time.  He is obsessed with not only taking over the world but also with what constitutes his real self -- the dastardly supervillain and evil genius, or the lonely, invisible nerd. Which makes the climax all the more spectacularly ironic, because Dr. Impossible is just as guilty of not seeing past a costume or a power.  Turns out, metahumans are people, too.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Other People's Crafts, Part 2

Beadmom came to help with the baby, and stayed through Thanksgiving weekend.  This gave her the opportunity to bring back a craft from my childhood: a pineapple turkey centerpiece.  She created a turkey head, wings, and feet out of craft felt and pinned them to the pineapple; the leaves of the pineapple became the tail feathers.

She also helped Beadboys1 and 2 make turkeys out of apples, using cardstock inserts the boys colored, something my brother and I did in school way back when.
(The apples took a beating in the process.)

This is Gobbles, the physically challenged turkey:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Other People's Crafts, Part 1

With the arrival of Beadboy3 last month, my crafting came to a complete halt.  However, I'm not the only crafty person in the family.

Beadboy2 decided a couple of months ago that he wanted me to help him make baby clothes for his future brother.  After a long conversation where I explained 1) I don't know how to make baby clothes, 2) I don't think I'd be very good at it, and 3) I wasn't about to try in my ninth month, I came up with an alternative for him.  I picked up a plain white onesie and a pack of fabric markers and gave them to Beadboy2.  He had a very particular design in mind -- "clouds and stars all over, and a sun over the belly button."

The result:

Beadboy3 loves it.  Or, I'm sure he would if he were old enough to have an opinion.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

White Apples by Johnathan Carroll

White Applesis a magic realism novel about the recently deceased Vincent Ettrich, a rather benign womanizer who is returned to life so that he can raise and teach his unborn son, fated to save the universe.  We never find out too much about why his son is so important, or what exactly he is supposed to do in the future, but that's not the point.  Instead the focus is on Vincent himself, and the mother of his child, Isabelle, both of whom must overcome their flaws and weaknesses if they are to defeat the forces of chaos and keep their son alive.

Vincent and Isabel themselves are fully realized characters, by turns sympathetic and frustrating, and Carroll convincingly depicts their love for each other.  My heart even broke a little at the image of Vincent with exactly two dishes, two cups, two forks in his apartment, waiting in vain for the love of his life to join him -- impressive writing on Carroll's part, to make me feel bad for a man who left his wife and children.

Carroll's novel suffers sometimes from too much telling and not enough showing, as major metaphysical concepts are basically just explained to the characters.  On the other hand, those concepts are fascinating and inventive -- most notably, that life both on an individual and a universal scale is a mosaic of tiles representing every choice, action, and event, a mosaic that is constantly made and remade.  It's chaos's goal to prevent this, and the way Carroll depicts the struggle is both unique and horrifying.  I can't recall any other book quite like this one.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Bards of Bone Plain by Patricia McKillip

The Bards of Bone Plainmay very well replace Alphabet Of Thornas my favorite McKillip novel.  It contains many of the elements from previous books -- bards, unconventional young women, conquering armies, magic tied to the land, mysterious characters out of myth -- and combines them into one enthralling tale.  As with most of her writing, McKillip is a little weak in characterization and there can be a sameness to her world-building, but her language and stories more than make up for it.  This one, about a reluctant scholar trying to learn the truth of an ancient and dangerous bardic contest (and so much more), is no exception.