Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Day 2

Today's give may have been slightly cheating. I had my metals class tonight and a friend of mine had been talking about wanting sea glass to play around with. I believe I've waxed philosophical about my love of sea glass/ sea glass hunting on this blog more than once, so I told her that I had plenty of it and would be willing to give her some. This was a few weeks ago, so I decided to make good on the offer. I picked out two rare colors for her (green and blue) and then brought a bunch of brown and white since I have a lot of that and just let her pick some. I have to say, it was a hard give. While I have tons of sea glass, I can get quite hoardy about it. I think it's partly about the fact that hunting for it is something that I do with Andrew; but in all honesty the other part is that I'm an only child and I have issues with the concept of sharing. There, I said it.

I DID give a little less self-consciously today as well. I visited my dad after school and he had collected a bunch of guinea hen feathers in a cool wicker box for me. He had gone to take the chickens from the farm to be processed and there were also guinea hens meeting their maker, so he grabbed a bunch of really cool feathers. If you've never seen a guinea hen, I kid you not when I say that their feathers are polka dotted. It's the nuttiest, coolest thing. So I brought the box to class to show my teacher (she loves cool nature stuff maybe even more than I do) and spontaneously gave her a feather. Again, something that I definitely could have gotten hoardy about, but I knew she'd appreciate it.

So today was about tamping down my only-child impulses and beating the hoarding habit. I'd say it was a success:)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 1

Bear with me. I'm going to post each day to record my gives for the 29 day gift challenge and so there may not always be a photo involved (my apologies to all you visual learners out there).

Today's gift was probably one of the louder ones I'll make because I was trying to drum up support from the kids in my school. Since the goal is to have 2000 people signed up here by today and they were only 200 and something away from that goal last night, I figured I could tell the kids I work with each day to go sign up! So I announced at morning assembly today that for anyone who gives me a high five, handshake, or hug throughout the day, I'll donate 50 cents to the annual fund of our school.

Some nice things happened - kids I don't usually interact with sought me out to give me a high five, I posted the sign that you can print out from the 29 gifts website with those little rip off thingees that people can take - - and people took them, and in one class, a few kids actually gave me a few extra bucks to throw in. Plus, as an added bonus, I got lots of hugs today:)

Donation to the annual fund: $38.50

Sunday, September 28, 2008

36, 29

We are about 36 days away from election day, and the suspense is killing me. Really. I'm having more and more trouble talking about it without losing my cool, and I've had at least two nightmares about it. Even typing these few sentences has me a little keyed up. While flipping the channel between the two candidates on the talk shows this morning, I said to Andrew that I wasn't quite sure I was going to survive the next month or so.

Do you ever get the feeling sometimes that the universe is "watching", ready to smack you upside the head when you really need it. Well, this afternoon I stumbled upon 29 gifts and I've taken the pledge: to give 29 things away in 29 days. While deciding to sign on to this, I found myself focusing on the concept, not the length of time...but shortly after signing up, I realized that this may be the perfect way to keep my mind otherwise occupied for the next month. Rather than focusing on the impending doom that will befall us if we make the wrong choice on November 4th (See? I told you I get worked up), I'm going to try to turn my attention instead to what I can give. Maybe it'll be money to a favorite charity, maybe it'll be a hug to someone who really needs it, maybe it'll even be some time volunteered at the local campaign headquarters...but for the next 29 days I'm thinkin' good thoughts.


Oh, and P.S. - the photos are of my first ever attempt at a sock! Boy, it's hard to photograph your own foot in a way that artfully displays the sock!! In any event, it's a bajillion times easier than I thought it would be and I'm loving the self-striping...and the serendipity that leads to a little heel that's entirely yellow.

Visit 29-Day Giving Challenge

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Choose Your Color Wisely

I picked up some fantastic raw Bombyx mori silk cocoons at the fiber festival a few weekends ago. I had some visions of putting them together with metals in my jewelry class. I knew that I wanted to dye them and that I wanted to leave them stiff (which you do by skipping a step in processing silk called degumming).

And so, one night last week I experimented with some Kool Aid and my microwave and dyed one cocoon. Aside from some messy boiling over that occurred in the second phase of zapping (note to self: WATCH the microwave whilst dying with nasty stainy type stuff), the cocoon kept its shape nicely and I accomplished the deep red I was going for when I mixed up some red Kool Aid with a dash of purple. Of course, upon stepping back from my finished creation I suddenly realized that my color choice, paired with the natural shape of the cocoon looked an awful lot like, well, let's just say a certain feminine product. Used. Needless to say, some fruitful ideas for what to make with this dyed cocoon came out in my subsequent metals class. Ahem.

Never mind, though. I had it in my head that I was cutting the thing in half anyway, so we'll see what it becomes. In the meantime, I had some beets that I kinda sorta forgot about in the fridge (which is a shame, because I do make a good Borscht, if I do say so myself) so I made some dye from them. I cut them in half, brought them to a boil, and simmered them for about an hour. Then I let them cool, chopped them up into little pieces, and simmered for another good while longer. I think the dye I have is pretty concentrated and could even be thinned. I've poked around on the web and found that beet dye is actually not the best natural dye. Mostly because it apparently dyes a golden color, not that beautiful intense pinky red you would expect. I read pages where people complained of ugly beiges and tans and such. I'm not sure why these colors get such a bad rap, frankly. I took an incredible painting class in college (a hundred million years ago) with a teacher who just taught us about color. In fact, we never picked up a brush once in the whole semester - just a palette knife. The point was to dissect the colors that went into everything we saw, and I quickly learned that browns, beiges, and tans were my most favorite to figure out. This was the only period in my life that I think I've truly seen in color. To wit, I had an argument with my then-boyfriend one day when I remarked on how much purple there was in the clouds one day. He could only see white and grey (poor man), and I should have known then that it would never work out between us.

The point is (there was a point, I promise) that I don't care if my beet dye turns out to be a browny gold color. But I do care that I figure out how to make it colorfast. So I'll try to dye a few cocoons just straight into the beet juice, and then I'll talk with the Chemistry of Art teacher at my school and see if we can't mix up a mordant and test that out (although the whole natural dye thing pretty much gets shot to hell when you use a mordant, doesn't it?) In the meantime, I need to doodle out some ideas for this lovely deep red cocoon that I've Kool Aided...
Oh, and as a complete aside (and shameless self promotion), I was lucky enough to have a piece of mine featured here!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

projects for credit

After two years of hemming and hawing about continuing education and making a portfolio and thinking the stuff I make isn't worthwhile, I've finally enrolled in a metals course at a local university. It's a breath of fresh crafting air and each class I find myself doing an internal dance of joy when I realize that I have access to good dremels with all kind of bits! Enamels and a kiln! A tumbler! I think I freaked a fellow student out the other night when I came out of the back room and quietly expressed my sheer joy over the fact that we have those little letter stamps (she looked at me, slightly askance, when I lovingly held out the piece of scrap metal that I'd imprinted with the letter 'k'.) It's fantastic to be a student again and just about the funniest thing (not in a ha ha way, maybe more of a sob sob over a Campari and OJ way) to feel like I am a completely alien generation from the 20 somethings in the class. I can feel my inner grandma bubbling to the surface when I hear them singing along to a Beastie Boys song...that's MY generation's music, darnitalltoheck...and when I was in high school, we all worked in nothing but silver because it cost $3 an ounce (cue the wide eyed, gaping stares from wrinkle-less students).

I've been given the OK from my professor to just play (!) since I haven't taken a metals class since high school (and in case anyone was wondering, no, the technology hasn't changed and soldering is still a pain in the ass) and so I'm experimenting with putting fibers and metal together. I'm currently playing with singed polyester (thanks to this fantastic tutorial from Foundling), and this stone. I'm going to wait to show you until I actually have a finished piece, but let's just say it involves the fabric, the stone, a handmade bezel that will be the death of me, and perhaps the loss of the majority of my right arm hair as I learn the nuances of the classroom torches.

Next fiber up (maybe): silkworm cocoons I got at the Fiber Festival last weekend.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Endless Mountain Fiber Festival

I drove up to beautiful NE PA today to go to a fiber festival which was small, but satisfying and involved:
Alpacas with big, brown eyes,

Skeins and skeins of fiber,
And angora rabbits.
Truth be told, I took the trip to check out rabbits because I'm interested in getting an angora. I think I'm leaning towards an English angora only because they have extra tufts of hair on their ears so they look extra ridiculous (normal looking animals need not apply in this household) but the French angoras were pretty cute too (the picture above is a French). Too bad for Andrew, but it looks like rabbits are pretty simple to care for;)

Off to look for some hutch designs...

Monday, September 1, 2008

Completed / Begun

With the completion of summer comes the beginning of the school year (yep, I'm still on that subject) and here are some projects, finished and un, for the pivotal moment that is called The Night Before the First Day of School:A leaf scarflette (from here) that I made for Laurel a while back when she was going through a hard time. I stuck lots of little pearls on with my kandi kane thingee (I can't get on the official website right now, but here's a link to show you what I'm talking about) because I'm a big fan of sparkle. I'm thinking a lot of Laurel lately as she usually helps me to herald in the start of a new school year but she's out of commission for a little while. She's back!!
My angora neck warmer which ended up being a pattern all my own and a showcase for this knockout vintage button I had stashed away. There's nothing like knitting up a fuzzy lovely to get me excited about the cooler weather.And new* on the needles (*sort of, I just picked up this UFO from the spring...much frogging and I'm back on track with a project I never thought I'd pick back up again), my Wallis Cardigan.
And with that, here we go!........

made. by k.d.