Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Moving House and the Mystery Cat

Since last I blogged, my husband and I ended up taking advantage of the slow real estate market and buying a house (my first). After what seems like months (well, weeks anyway) of packing, moving, cleaning, fixing, unpacking, reorganizing, etc, we're finally mostly settled in but still have boxes to be unpacked and art lying against the walls rather than hanging on it.

We had seen a black cat hanging around our back yard, but hadn't thought much of it until after the first big snow when it showed up at our front door looking for food. We asked our neighbor who it belonged to and he said as far as he knew it didn't have an owner. The previous owners of our house had been leaving food out for it the past few years, and it apparently lives under our deck.

It's extremely shy, though it has let me pet it while it's eating. This is the best photo I've managed to take of it because when it hears the camera whir open, it bolts. We've been waiting to hear whether the realtor was able to learn anything from the previous owners - did they ever take it to the vet? Have it neutered? Give it shelter in winter?

We can't let it inside, even if it wanted to come, because we already have two cats who can be very aggressive and territorial. (Nuts once chased our landlord's dog out of the yard at our old house, and Ruby freaks whenever she sees another cat out the window. They don't even get along with each other very well.) If it truly is a feral cat, it can't be adopted in the traditional way and suddenly be transformed into a house cat. And assuming it's been living here several years and knows this territory well, it might not do well being relocated (as much as I would like to take it to my sister's farm -- haven't convinced her to buy into that one yet ;o)

It survived our subzero temperatures before Christmas, but after doing a little research on-line I made a temporary feral cat shelter using stuff we had around the house: cardboard box, plastic sheeting, foam insulation board, and duct tape, plus some hay from my sister's farm. I'm not sure yet what the long term plan will be....

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thrift Addiction

IMG_4726x Vintage Tools IMG_4727x Vintage Tools
Not that I'm procrastinating the pile of dirty dishes waiting to be washed, but I just thought I'd take a moment to show off the box of old tools I bought at an estate sale around the corner from us last weekend. On the Friday, I had stopped and fondled the tools (marked at $1 each) and bought five that I thought I would actually use, including a cool scrap of folding wooden ruler and two awls (which I have been using this week for punching holes in metal). The woman in charge said these had been her father-in-law's and they would be half-price on Saturday, but I knew I'd be gone all day for the Milwaukee ATC group's monthly meeting (which included a field trip up to West Bend to visit the Museum of Wisconsin Art)

So Saturday morning, I left home a little early so I could stop at the estate sale again, and I asked how much she wanted for the entire box. $10? So for $15 total I am now the proud owner of some 40+ tools, many of which I have no idea what they do. But they have cool wooden handles and that worn look that you just can't fake. My favorite is a spiral screwdriver stamped "Goodell Bro's Shelburne Falls Mass/ Patented July 22.1890 Nov.17.1891" It still spirals in and out beautifully! And hoorah for Google Patents and all those tool collectors who share their research on the internet!

And the sad thing is I'm not even a tool collector.... I just adore old junk...
IMG_4728x Goodell Bros. Archimedean screw-driver!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Forever (well, for June anyway)
We don't have much of a strawberry patch, especially since I let the weeds take over both this spring and last, but I harvested just enough strawberries in June to make the following recipes at least once.

Venetian Strawberries
(a recipe from my friend Laura B)
1 pint strawberries
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

- halve strawberries
- add sugar and toss to coat
- let stand, mixing until moisture of berries melts the sugar
- stir in vinegar and toss to coat

Glazed Strawberry and/or Peach Pie
(a recipe from my mom - this is my version)
I didn't have enough strawberries so I threw in a can of sliced peaches (drained)

6 cups sliced strawberries or peaches
3/4 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup orange juice
1 baked 9-inch pie shell (I use Pillsbury pie crust - don't tell my mom!)

Mash enough sliced strawberries or peaches to fill 1 cup. Reserve remaining fruit.

Combine sugar, corn starch and cinnamon in small saucepan. Stir in the orange juice and mashed fruit. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for one minute. This will thicken into a glaze.

Spread half of this glaze mixture over the bottom and sides of the baked pie crust. Fill will the reserved fruit. Pour the remaining glaze over the fruit, spreading to cover completely. Chill at least 3 hours. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

IMG_4600 Glazed strawberry pie

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Attempting Tracy Roos' Faux Tintypes

Last weekend, because I was teaching my Colorful Faux Tintype Collage on Sunday, I thought I should actually try the technique described in the Cloth Paper Scissors article that had inspired me: "Traveling Back in Time: The Making of Faux Tintype Photos" by Tracy Roos (CPS #2 Spring 2005). There's a scanned copy of the article linked from this page. (Links are in the caption under the vintage photo.)

Tracy's technique involves making ink jet transparency transfers onto copper sheets and then covering them with mica. She also warns that "this process can often be unpredictable. There are days when I don't have one successful transfer and others when every transfer works like a charm!" So I was forewarned.... Here are my attempts:
IMG_2814 Mixed Results
(Click on the photo to see my notes - Crafting 365, Day 180)

I do like the effect when it works, because it does look like a real tintype, but I have to practice a lot more! I'll probably be using these somehow in ATCs for the next Milwaukee live trade.

I distinctly remember when I was looking for something new to do for the Milwaukee ATC live trade last October and liked the idea of her technique, but I
1) knew how problematic ink jet transparency image transfers can be so decided to use laser jet transparencies, which were easier for me to print anyway
2) didn't want to go to the expense of using copper sheet so used aluminum foil tape
3) wanted to do something more colorful!

I had already been playing with transparencies before this:
ATC277 Three SistersATC325 Hungarian Women (my copy)
So it wasn't that big a leap to using the aluminum foil tape I had on hand:
Fanciful TendenciesThe Lost Heiress
The fun thing was seeing what the artists in my class would come up with using the same techniques (and this photo doesn't do their work justice)!
IMG_2821x   What everyone made!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Alice & Tenniel

This week's Make It Monday theme is Cartoons, and since obviously I'm into the vintage thing, I had to go with a Victorian cartoonist, John Tenniel, best known for illustrating Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

I made four ATCs using the Alice's Wonderland faux postage set from Ten Two Studios, hand-colored and collaged with related text torn from an old dictionary.
The Big Squeeze, or Alice in a JamTweedledum & Tweedledee
Petty LampoonAlice & the Dodo
The Punch website has a British take on the History of the Cartoon, which also shows how the word "cartoon" came to mean a humorous (er...humourous) sketch to be enjoyed in its own right, and not just a preliminary sketch or study for a work of art.

Crafting 365, Days 175 & 176

Monday, April 21, 2008

Something Hidden

I finally finished 4 pages for the "Something Hidden" page swap in the Mount Mary Book Arts Group! (Click on the thumbnails to see larger images in my Flickr photostream.)
Something Hidden: ProdigySomething Hidden: Play
Something Hidden: Mystery WomanIf Music Be the Food of Love
Yesterday I got the hidden images and text glued into place under the tags, and today I rubber stamped the text, adding "Secret Music" to the angel page and the clear-embossed word "HIDDEN" on the back of the other three pages. Then I stitched around three sides of each page just to make sure the front and back sheets hold together.

As was mentioned earlier, these are each 5.5 x 8.5 inches and will be bound on the left side. The large floral images were torn from an old calendar to match the scrapbook paper backgrounds, and I used Dear Dolly and Fashionable Flapper tags and Little Children and Little Women collage images from Ten Two Studios for the three pages not already mentioned.

Earlier this month, I also finished assembling the copies of my page for the group's other book project inspired by The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman.
Whimsy Tip-in Spread
This is a 6x11" sheet folded in half and collaged on both sides to make four 6 x 5.5" pages. At our May meeting we're going to be deciding how to bind all our pages together, which should be interesting since one member did a pop-up in the middle of her spread!

Crafting 365, Days 157-159, 171, 174-175

Thursday, April 17, 2008

If Music Be the Food of Love

If Music Be the Food of LoveI've been working on pages for the Mount Mary Book Arts Group. I had missed meetings all fall and winter, but some other members gave me their pages from the "Something Hidden" book project, so I'm finally making some in return. Since this week's Make It Mondays theme is "Music," my first completed page has sheet music and an angel musician from the Ten Two Studios Metal Tin Angels collage sheet. The angel image lifts up to reveal another musician angel hidden below. Page size is 8.5 x 5.5" with space on the left side for binding.

Crafting 365, Day 171

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring? Spring!

Temperatures in the 60s? Crocuses blooming? Grass turning green? Could it really be spring? But I've learned not to get my hopes up too early.

This past weekend I had a craft day with my friend Laura. The past two years we've gone to the International Quilt Festival outside Chicago, but this year she had to work on the Saturday, and neither of us saw any classes that really caught our eye, so we just got together and played at her house. I used her as a guinea pig for my Faux Tintype Collage class that I'm teaching on April 27, and also showed her how to solder microscope slide pendants. Her first attempt was much neater than my first, second and third! (The other photo is her cat Dexter turning his back to the camera.)
IMG_2659  Laura soldering her first microscope slide pendantsIMG_2665 Dexter ignoring me.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spring is at Hand

Signs of Spring
The crocuses are slowly coming up, and all the ice in the yard has finally melted (though it's 40F outside, and I've got my office space heater on as I type this). I'm slowly working on spring-themed ATCs for the Milwaukee live trade on April 26. This week's Make It Mondays theme is "Hands" so I finally used this folding hand ATC pattern from the Ten Two Studios "ATC Art Dolls" CD that I've been wanting to try since last year.
Spring Within Reach
I also made the folding flower ATC from the "Amazing ATCs" CD using floral patterns cut from a fabric catalog and a vintage flapper from the Little Women collage sheet.
Crafting 365 Days 161-162

Monday, April 7, 2008

What to do with Bamboo

Ten Two Studios has these bamboo domino-shaped beads, and Lisa Vollrath challenged members of her design team to make something with them. I decided the shape and location of the holes made the perfect form for an art doll body. I've been wanting to make a button fairy after seeing so many posted on Flickr (including Margaret Field's tutorial) so I came up with this.

It had to have a bottle cap head, of course, with a face from the Tinted Twenties Rounds, and the wings are from a sheet of butterfly wrapping paper that I bought at Artist & Display.

IMG_2637x Altered Bamboo Tile PendantLisa posted a bamboo pendant tutorial with an Asian theme, so I tried a more Victorian version, making a faux tintype with aluminum foil tape and a packing tape transfer of a Victorian lady from the Little Women collage sheet jazzed up with a bit of Sharpie coloring. The cool beads are from Jess Poor, who has been cleaning out her studio space, and I strung it on silk ribbon.

Crafting 365, Days 159 & 160

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Make It Mondays" Returns

Lisa Vollrath has revived the "Make It Mondays" weekly creative prompt at Go Make Something, and I'm going to do my best to participate this year.

This week's theme was "Paris," and since I'm not one of those enamored with all things French, I didn't have any Eiffel Tower stamps or similar lying around. But I did find the brochure for the Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmartre exhibit that I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I had the painted ATC backs and floral wrapping paper that I planned to use for the Milwaukee ATC group's April theme "Spring has Sprung." So this is what I came up with:
La Fleur Du NuitNo Time Toulouse
Jane AvrilLe Dernier Cri (The Latest Thing)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Getting ready for the weekend

Crafting 365, days 148 & 149
Finishing up my ATCs for our local live trade on Saturday - The theme is "Random Words (Found Text)" and I've used text cut out of an old dictionary and a Regency romance novel. For the cards above I was inspired by a project on the Ten Two Studios Basic Transfer Techniques how-to CD and made contact paper transparencies using images from the CD. The cards below used Dover vintage clip art hand-colored with ink pads, Permapaque markers and gel pen.

The background technique for both sets was inspired by Kelly Rae Roberts' patchwork collage article in the Nov/Dec 2007 issue of Cloth Paper Scissors, but I used glue stick and ink pads instead of gel medium and acrylic paint. I also got carried away drawing swirly curlicues with my Crayola Spider-Writers. (They've been discontinued. What will I do when mine run out? Oh, woe! Oh, woe! Oh, dreadful, dreadful woe!)
Random Words & Found Text ATCs

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Grandma's Chicken-Killing Pancakes

First I should clarify that this recipe was from my husband's paternal grandmother, whom I never had the chance to meet. At her funeral, family members shared stories about her and handed out this pancake recipe with that title. Apparently one day, she threw some leftover pancakes out for the chickens, and one choked on a piece and died!

I used to make Bisquick pancakes, but now I only do these. I usually do half the recipe, which makes about six large. If I don't have buttermilk on hand, I substitute milk and lemon juice. (Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice to measuring cup, then fill with milk to make one cup liquid.)

Grandma P's Chicken-Killing Pancakes
Mix together:
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt (I usually cut back a little)
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. sugar
2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk

Pour on hot griddle and serve with syrup. (Gotta have real maple syrup too!)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Spring in Wisconsin

IMG_2473 Spring in WisconsinIMG_2476 An accident waiting to happen
I wish I had taken a photo yesterday of the little green crocus leaves pushing up, but now they're buried under a foot of snow. I saw my first robin of spring yesterday on the first day of spring. Hope it has a warm nest! (It was 50 degrees yesterday!)

Since the weather's so gloomy, here are the ATCs I made for the Gothic Alice in Wonderland swap at IllustratedATCs.com
Off With Her Head!Goth Alice
The Mad HatterUndead Alice

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Morbid Tendencies?

My brother just sent me an e-mail to say Arthur C. Clarke died. I have a paperback copy of 2001 signed by him, but I never met him. When we lived in Sri Lanka over 25 years ago, I knew people who knew him.

The odd thing on clicking through to the WaPo obit that my brother sent, I noticed that the obituary writers now have their own blog Post Mortem. In the comments on "About this Blog" someone asked why we needed a blog about obituaries and death, saying it was "offensive and in such poor taste." Yikes!

I remember when two of my friends were going through med school, and both of them in separate conversations remarked upon the fact that a date with my then boyfriend had included a trip to Crown Hill Cemetery to see where John Dillinger was buried. "Does he suffer from depression?" they asked. Apparently the medical books consider an obsession with cemeteries a negative thing. Whereas all my history friends saw nothing odd about it! In fact, one of my internship supervisors collected Victorian mourning artifacts and would dress up as a Civil War widow for Crown Hill events.

There was recently an article in the Journal-Sentinel about photographers who donate their time to photograph stillborn or recently deceased babies for the parents and the comfort that gives. Some people find Victorian post-mortem photographs creepy without thinking about the reason these photos were taken - fixing the image of a loved one who may never have been photographed in life. We are so overloaded with visual images today that we forget how precious they once were.

Morbid Victorians: Pale DeathMorbid Victorians: On an Infant Dying

Friday, March 7, 2008

What's New in March?

Check out the Ten Two Studios holiday countdown March 7-23 covering St. Patrick's Day and Easter.

This weekend I'm teaching the Board Book class at Artist & Display. Since it's on the Sunday we're turning the clocks forward, I wonder how many people are going to show up an hour early.

On Saturday, March 15, I'll be doing ATC demos at A&D with some other members of our local ATC trading group.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Where did February go?

So I'm not very good at keeping up with the blogging... My Crafting 365 efforts lately have been finishing this board book sample for a class I'm teaching at Artist & Display on March 9. Yesterday's entry was "Taking artistic photos at Lakefront Brewery and KCDs"!

IMG_2154 Cat WalkIMG_2201 Have no idea what this doesIMG_2196 Take me to your leaderIMG_2250  Bar DiceIMG_2277 A Shot of DoctorIMG_2235x  Born with a Cue Stick in His Hand
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