Monday, April 25, 2016

Easter Crafts

Talk about getting behind!  Just before Easter, I was lucky enough to get to have Walker and Raegan over to do Easter crafts.  They'are always so enthusiastic, and we did a couple of different things, but my favorite was the string-wrapped Easter eggs.  I remember making these as a kid and loving them, and then trying again as an adult, with only limited success, so I was determined to make it work this time!  After some trolling around online, here's what worked for us.

1. Soak a ball of thin cotton string in starch for a while (maybe about an hour)?  I put the string and starch in a ziploc bag and that seemed to work ok.
2.  Cover workspace with plastic and pour ball/starch into a bowl.
3. Wrap string around a blown up balloon all over-  don't try to leave a hole for the opening, it will make you crazy.
4. Put string wrapped balloon in oven at ~200 for about an hour.  Alternatively you can let them dry overnight, but they need to be really really dry, and it's really tempting to poke the balloon out.  We actually cooked in the oven for about an hour, then I turned off the oven and just left them in there until the next morning.
5.  Carefully pop balloon.  Mark where you want the opening to be using a marker and then cut out with sharp scissors.
6. Hot glue trim or rick rack around the opening to help stabilize loose open edges.
7.  Stuff with Easter grass and candy!

Walker wanted red thread with turquoise rick-rack and Raegan wanted pastel rainbow with pink ribbon.  I used pastel rainbow thread but went with creamy brown ribbon.

Of course afterward, there were still partial rolls of starch-soaked thread with which it is impossible to do anything else, so I made a couple more.

We also painted canvases, using cut out letters as resists, and the kids seemed to like the negative space leftover when we peeled off the letters.

Thursday, April 21, 2016


When I look back I see it's been almost a month and a half since my last update, and even before that things were sparse, short, and not really in-depth about my ongoing artwork.  Part of that is because some of the projects I'm working on are for entries with restrictions on showing things before the entry, part of that is because I've been working on my same large illuminated manuscript quilt and I feel like continual tiny updates are boring, part of it is because I feel like I don't have energy for more than look-what-I-made-today posts, which I think are sometimes less valuable than thoughtful posts describing why I'm working on something or even how.  However, the largest reason for my absence and slow progress is just life.  We all have it, and shifting obligations really impact what gets posted here.   The fact is, that sharing what I'm working on has to come behind actually working on what I'm working on, and sadly that has had to take a backseat to other outside commitments.

But I really like posting, and showing what I'm working on, if only because it's a fun record for me, a way to look back at how I'm spending my time.

I'm in a slightly better frame of mind just now, having recently returned from a fabulous annual retreat with my mom (Vicki Conley) to the Empty Spools Seminars out in Asilomar CA.  I'm not generally a California girl, but as my mom says, Asilomar is truly the happiest place on earth.  Excitingly, my mom was artist-in-residence this year, and she was awesome.  Her lecture was great, and I was so proud that she got to share some of her work with such a receptive audience.  Here she is at her workspace with several of her in progress pieces up on the wall.

While there, I took a 5-day workshop with acclaimed artist and teacher Jean Wells Keenan and it was really wonderful.  It was very freeing to learn from her and work in her intuitive and free way.  I tend to work with a very precise plan, and so forcing myself to work with her approach was new, expanding, and very satisfying.  Much more about what I worked on in the workshop later, but for now just a few more pictures of Asilomar.

Yellow flowers in the morning, then the same flowers at midday.

Afternoon sun on Merrill Hall.