Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"October's poplars are flaming torches lighting the way to winter."

Quote by Nova Blair.

As you may be able to tell, I'm getting caught up on some blog posts I have had tucked away in a dusty corner of my mind. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and though this has been a difficult fall, I'm grateful for many things, far too many to enumerate. I'm grateful to be enjoying the lovely weather we've had, although I hear that will be ending this week. A blustery prologue from winter may greet us immediately following Turkey Day. My office smells like cinnamon, courtesy of the scented sticks I brought in to decorate. I feel as though I'm sitting at home every time I take a deep breath.
October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came -
The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The Sunshine spread a carpet,
And everything was grand,
Miss Weather led the dancing,
Professor Wind the band.

~George Cooper, "October's Party"

Last evening I had my third glass workshop, fall leaves in the hot shop. They won't be ready until next week, so I won't tempt you with details without a picture just yet. But I missed telling you about my wine topper workshop, a flame workshop using the torch.

I sucked at it. And not just a little, like clay. A lot. Don't get me wrong, I like my little fubar wine topper. As my instructor Melissa (who attempted to comfort me) said, it's MY wine topper. I don't think that's a satisfying defense. After all, you're just pointing out again that it's my mess. That's her working with another student and you can see the torch going. The torch takes a lot of practice (which admittedly I don't have) and a lot of patience (which I do have, but not enough). It's hard to know if you have it blowing hot enough or with enough oxygen vs. gas, plus the time it takes to heat up the glass rods to manipulate them seems endless. It was more frustrating when I tried to shape it, messed up, couldn't fix it because it had cooled already plus you can't touch it, and then have to wait for it to heat up all over again before another attempt. I had maybe 5 or 6 different shapes/designs and either I would like it and try to move on (and instead accidentally ruin it) or I didn't like the design. After receiving help from Melissa (who rounded it quite nicely for me) and then ruining it again, I decided to make it a square shape. I had put so much color in it that I had no idea what it would look like when it came out. And the attachment I used to get it off the punty ended up sticking, so I just swirled it and made it appear deliberate. I just noticed while taking photos of it that I somehow managed to add bubbles!

Long story short, I have a far greater appreciation for glass working than I did. It's very frustrating to not be able to touch it with your hands and shape it how you want. You have to let the tools do it for you. And it takes skill, knowledge, and patience. For now, I prefer the hot shop with it's almost instantaneous ability to heat up the glass.

"I'll bet living in a nudist colony..."

"...takes all the fun out of Halloween." ~Anon.

Of course it's the day before Thanksgiving and I am writing a little blurb about Halloween. You could either consider me behind (as usual) OR that I love Halloween so much I can't stop thinking about it no matter the time of year. Either works. :)

I really enjoyed my costume this year even though we really didn't do much for the holiday. This fall has been even crazier than usual (I didn't think that was possible!) and so we just watched our local parade and handed out candy to trick-or-treaters. I took a sudden liking to the Mad Hatter costume a la Johnny Depp and decided to make my own.

The hat was the first part, naturally! I found some very easy instructions online and used scrap pieces of paperboard from here in the lab. Using hot glue, staples, and muscles, I wrapped the middle section based on my head measurements, secured it, and attached it to a dinner-plate size piece at the top of the hat. I picked up some fabrics from Joann's, which included the lovely textured purple fabric on the hat. I hot glued that as well and then added decorations. I needed to include the wide ribbon, the sign with the price, and a hat pin. I had been eyeing these feathers at Joann's for quite a while and finally found the perfect use for them! The little bird on top just added to the cute style. The only trouble I had was in locating a hat pin. I eventually realized I could just make one. I have various thickness of jewelry wire and all kinds of beads. It just took a little bit of wire wrapping and voila! A nice yellow hatpin that offsets the purple fabric nicely.

I was lucky enough to find this black Anna Sui coat (with matching skirt!) at Goodwill with a great tailored look that fit me well. I didn't really want a black coat, but it looked so good that it made the color worth it. I added lace cuffs that are white with black polka dots. It's hard to see in the picture but I also found a wonderful paisley silk vest filled with golds and purples. It was a perfect detail! I still needed fingerless gloves, which I fashioned out of purple lace with black polka dots on them. I finished off the body of the costume with a scarf I owned and created the sash of spools. I couldn't find a smaller version to purchase for an inexpensive amount so I used my own. I cut a plain brown leather belt in half (also from Goodwill!), strung the spools using a thick bookbinding waxed thread, and then sewed the ends to the belt. I need to take it apart to use my spools again, and because I have no need to wear a sash of spools, but it looks so lovely that I wish I didn't have to.

I added the green and black fake eyelashes instead of orange bushy eyebrows and didn't spray my hair either. I figured the bleach blonde I have it is bright enough. I don't need orange hair! I had that last year as a redhead. :)

This costume was great fun to wear because people really enjoyed it, kids and adults alike. Most people enjoyed either the hat or the sash the most, but a few told me I had "butterflies" on my eyes. The hat was heavy but luckily I made it perfect for my head measurement and with the addition of the fabric, it was a little tight. I just had to take it off every now and then or suffer a headache. And it was very easy to poke people (accidentally!) with the feathers so I had to be careful I didn't tip my head back too far.

I have an idea for next year's costume, so maybe I'll get started very early this year! I also have a few craft ideas for the holiday that maybe you'll see next year. I usually have no time for the bare minimum at Halloween, despite it being my favorite holiday. I might start early this year and show some creativity!

Monday, November 8, 2010

"If your only goal is to become rich..."

" will never achieve it." ~ John D. Rockefeller

I think I've been very honest with myself when thinking about getting rich doing all my crafting and artwork (i.e. not going to happen). And before you think it's a case of low self-esteem and a lack of belief in what I can accomplish, it's really a matter of enjoyment. I like designing and editing and creating my latest project. And then moving on to something else. I'm not big into marketing or sales or figuring out what my price point should be. I do this for fun and to share my creations with others. You may have noticed that I still haven't listed the books I made for the craft fair back in June on my Etsy site. Again, meh.

But I've had so many comments on my tape measure watch (from friends and strangers alike), that I'm considering making a few to post on Etsy. Just to see if people like them enough to purchase and if it's worth my time. However! (no cheering yet) I have a dilemma. Although I was able to measure my wrist and use that number, I still had my wrist to test it on throughout the creative process. I have no idea if I could make a watch that fits well with only the circumference of their wrist. So you, dear readers, must help me!

If you would like a free (yes, FREE) tape measure watch that may...or may you, please leave a comment with the circumference of your wrist (in inches) around the spot you would like the watch to rest. I will only be giving out one free watch, so if many people comment, I will just draw a random winner. You have until Friday, Nov. 12th, at 5 PM (Eastern time). If the winner is a female, I will use a watch face similar to the one I used for my watch (see my previous post). If the winner is a male, I will try to locate a more masculine-looking watch. Unless you want the other one! And if there are only two people who want one, well maybe I'll just make two.

I'm hoping this will work out since so many people enjoyed the watch. Good luck!