Sunday, May 31, 2009

Timeless pursuits - Or not?

This week has found me out of routine. Catching up on work, laundry and sleep has taken all my energy, or at least all my creativity!

Yesterday was my official "Closet Change of Seasons". I took the opportunity to go through everything in the closet to determine what still fits. This spring, I started an effort to lose weight and am seeing preliminary results. Not so much a size change, a size shift might be a better term. Still wearing the same size, but at the smaller end of the range.

Anyway, while going through the closet, I found a little booklet that intrigues me every time I look at it.

I do not remember how it came to me, thrift store, estate sale, antique mall. It is published by Dennison Manufacturing Company and is copyright 1922.

Inside, it provides instruction and ideas for creating art from sealing wax, presumably an item found in most homes back in the day.

"Beads, pendants, vases, favors and flowers" were all possibilities. The tools needed: Sealing wax, a few steel knitting needles of various sizes, a small vegetable knife, a wax spatula, a wax 'moulder' and an alcohol lamp with denatured alcohol. Interestingly, denatured alcohol was "impossible to obtain" in some localities so "methylated spirits" were suggested as a substitute.
An inserted chart shows the colors of wax available.

The thing that intrigues me about this booklet is that I don't believe that I have ever encountered an example of "Sealing Wax Art". Maybe it was a passing fad, or maybe it was not a durable media, but this booklet is the only evidence that I have come across.

That got me to thinking about passing trends, and why some things stay current with cycles of increased interest (knitting and quilting for instance) and some things enjoy a hey-day and then pass (Huck weaving, macrame and latch hook rugs come to mind, examples of all these can be found in a small sampling of estate sales!)

Just a glance through my 1959 edition of "Good Housekeeping's Complete Guide to Needlecraft" illustrates my point; Tatting and Weaving are still with us, but not in the mainstream. The 1971 edition includes "netting" which seems to be a hybrid of tatting and macrame.

The 1979 Edition of "Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework" includes machine embroidery, which of course, is a technology development, not a new craft.

Just as today, browsing the aisles of any craft store, you will find pamphlets to give you project ideas and instruction (and a list of supplies that you may need to purchase!), The Dennison Mfg Co, offered other booklets for such other intriguing crafts as "How to Make Paper Costumes" and "How to Decorate Halls, Booths and Automobiles" (I always tell The Mister - it's all about accessorizing at car shows!)

Scrapbooking and other paper crafts have become very popular in the past decade, or so. (I am the grateful beneficiary of the trend. Dearest Sister has created many lovely scrapbooks, two of which belong to me!) Huge sections of craft stores are dedicated to supplies and many magazines and books are available for ideas. Of course, origami (paper craft) and scrapbooks are not new, but today's memory books have infinitely more formats, motifs and accessories than previous years' pressed flowers, ticket stubs and photos.

In 1979 or '80, I worked with a woman who brought in an exquisite beaded Christmas tree that her cousin had made. Several of my co-workers and I wanted to learn how, so we contacted the tiny shop where the beaded tree craft was taught. We strung the beads on wire and twisted them into branches. We searched for tiny clay pots to use as 'tree stands' and interesting beaded jewelry to deconstruct to make ornaments from. I went to stores specializing in miniatures to get tiny motif wrapping paper to make presents with. The beads were sold in a "hank", with about 20 strings of beads about 18" long. When the store was closing out its bead inventory a few years later, I bought all they had, so I could continue the craft.

The last year she was with us, Deeply Missed Sister and I made trees for several gifts. (You can see the one we made for DS here) Shortly, though, the pre-strung branches were available to buy ready to assemble and tiny ornaments and wrapped gifts could be bought ready made.

It makes me wonder, are new craft trends created by the companies making the supplies that they hope to market, or does the market drive the suppliers to jump on the trend?

What do you think? Have you ever been in on the beginning of a craft trend? Have you ever seen "Sealing Wax Art"? Inquiring minds want to know!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Home again - 3500 miles later!

We are home and unpacked, but it will be another day or two before we return to routine!

Here are a few highlights from the trip -

First destination was Colorado and we had a beautiful sunset on Sister's birthday! I love a pink and blue sky!

This is me on a Jack-a-lope at Wall Drugs in South Dakota. Honestly, I was disappointed in Wall Drug. I was hoping for an oldtime-y general mercantile, but it was just a tourist stop. With many, many tourists... I couldn't resist the photo opportunity, though!

The next step was for Lovely C's graduation. It was a very different ceremony than what we were accustomed to. When we first saw her footwear (!) we were surprised, but it turned out that she was almost over dressed compared to some of her classmates!

Next stop was a visit to Dear Aunt. She was embarrassed that her bed was not made when Sister and I stopped to visit. We were thrilled though, because her quilt is a friendship quilt with an embroidered block by my grandmother and my great grandmother and many other relatives long departed. The fabrics were bright and vivid and the embroidery was intact. We had never seen it and Cousin told us later that it was a recent gift, a keepsake of a great aunt who passed away in the last 10 years or so. We also had a very fun visit!
We went to Greensburg for the Memorial Day Alumni Celebration. There was much re-building to celebrate and I fulfilled my goal of helping the effort by spending money on souvenirs!

Some of the esteemed members of the class of '59!

And from the class of '64

(A "Simpson's sky")

The weather was warm and for once the wind was fairly quiet!

We put the Colorado, South Dakota and Nebraska stickers on our camper. We had to "camp" in front of Sister's house in Colorado to be able to add that one! Some would say that doesn't count, but we are counting it!

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Friday, May 22, 2009

While we've been gone...

We have visited lots of folks and had lots of fun!

One of the "points of interest" that we have visited was the Crazy Horse Monument in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

I thought that posing in front of the gigantic sculpture would be 'slimming', but no luck!

It is an inspiring project that has been underway for over 50 years and has many years to go, before completion. The scale is enormous - the whole of the Mount Rushmore faces could fit behind Crazy Horse's forehead!

There is an interpretive center and museum, of course.

I have always been fascinated with Native American bead work. This display of glass beads was so beautiful! The photo doesn't really convey how impressive it was (to me, anyway!) Every color bead imaginable!

I would love to be able to accomplish bead work like this! Maybe someday I will learn the technique.

I am not sure that a Native American motif bag or gloves would be a practical project for me, though. Maybe I will have to start tucking in my shirts so I can wear a beaded belt...

Monday, May 18, 2009

88 Stitches of Fun!

Two more tiny onesies!
I counted 88 stitches in this tiny motif! They really are a quick, fun project, because they turn out sooooo cute!

I think that I solved the drama of the bad floss. I had used some floss that was in a wall hanging kit, which would not have to be color fast! I have learned my lesson and will only use floss from "known" sources that are made for things that may be washed regularly.

See the little bird peeking out of the house? I should have used a little darker color, but I just think of it as a "hidden picture"!

I reduced both of these motifs to 60% of the original, since I wanted to put them on these tiny shirts. They are about the size of a nickel.

These are the last ones for awhile, since we are traveling. I gave away all the dishcloths that I have knitted since the holidays while I was at Sister's house, so I have to knit some more, just in case. One cannot be without a stack of dishcloths at the ready!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Late Season Surprise!

This is Zandria!

Zandria is one of those really striking iris that all garden visitors notice and oooh and aaah over. Very velvety falls, and the bright orange beards really pop!

The bud looked a lot like Grape Snakez and it is growing next to GS, so I thought it was the same.

Until it opened!

The plant is a bit undersized and so is the bloom, but I was thrilled! Zandria has been a notoriously slow grower - slow to increase and kind of tender in my previous gardens. We always planted back several different clumps of Zandria, because the odds of them all surviving were pretty low.

I guess it just likes the heat!

It is the last of my iris to bloom this year. (I think that I have said that before the last two, but I really think this is it....) The timing couldn't be better, because soon, we leave on another road trip odyssey. The first destination is Dearest Sister's house!

I can't wait!!

Salvaged - mostly...

After soaking and rinsing, soaking and rinsing, I finally threw the onesies with the running dye in the washer with a load of towels and washed them. Most of the dye came out. There is still traces of a 'halo' around the teddy bear, but it is not too noticeable.

I also threw these two in with them. They had not been rinsed, but I figured I would have the same result so I might as well add them, too.

These are tiny onesies for a tiny boy, born a little earlier than we would like. They fit 5 pound babies, so I reduced the size of the transfers and they are too, too, cutie-wootie! (The others are size 12 month - for 18 to 24 pound babies)

Look at that precious pup! He is about the size of a penny!
I simplified the horse a bit, since the scale was much smaller.

The horse came out of the wash looking good, but the puppy had major dye run. So, it is soaking again!

I may have to re-think my habit of buying floss at estate sales and thrift stores, unless I find skeins that are labeled. The only problems that I have ever had, before now, was some floss that broke easily and I threw it away. I guess I can't make that claim, anymore!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

An unhappy ending!

I was all set to share my finished project.
I finished up these onesies this week, the last one while I was watching TV this evening. They are to be a gift for a new baby that we hope to meet while we are on vacation. I was very pleased at how they turned out and I gave them a little wash to freshen and remove the transfer pencil marks.

I laid them on a towel outside to dry and a few hours later, brought them in to take some photos.

That's when I noticed.

No problems with the boat (Noah's ark? What other boat would have a giraffe...)
But the bunny looked a little 'smudgy'.
Then I saw that the horse was a little 'smudgy', too!
And, the bear definitely has a halo of dye around it!

I have never had a problem with color fastness in embroidery floss!

I have them soaking again in Oxy-clean and hoping they will be salvageable, but my joy at completing the project has deflated. I am glad that they are a quick project and not something that I spent many hours on (maybe 3 or 4 hours total). And the blank garments are not expensive. But still....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Iris on Mother's Day

My mother and iris are always associated in my mind.

This is Grape Snakez ("snake eyes"). Please ignore the wheel of my neighbor's car...

For about 20 years, Mama and I shared an iris garden and a small 'business' that we made from it. The garden moved several times, as circumstance and life changes occurred. Sometimes it was in my yard, sometimes in hers.

It didn't start out to be a business. In 1987, we had some iris that were extra and we needed to find them homes. We took them to a local farmer's market in the hopes that someone might be interested in them. Mama had some photos that showed what a few of them looked like in bloom. We made tags for the rest of them with descriptions of height, color etc.

We were delighted that we sold the iris that we took that day and we realized that the ones in the photos sold very quickly, even though some of the others were really prettier iris!

That started the effort to take attractive photo's of all our iris.

It sounds easy enough, but the challenge was to have a freshly opened flower at a time of day without wind (a rare condition) and when the light was good. Then, we would take the roll of film to the one hour photo processing place, ideally in enough time to get the photos back the same day or a do-over if needed. Then we would go through the photos and see if they were 'true' colors and in focus, etc. If the iris were not shown to the best advantage, we would make a list of "re-takes", and wait for another fresh bloom, good light, etc.

The photo processing place got a bit of an education in iris, since if the prints were not the correct tone, Mama would ask them to re-do it to see if they could get it closer. Sometimes, she took a flower in with her to show them what color it should be...

My mother was a lifelong photographer and she gave me my first 35mm camera for a wedding gift. Whenever I take photos with my digital camera, I think about how much Mama would have LOVED having a digital camera! Even though she really liked slides, she would have loved being able to see how her photos looked immediately!

Our iris business grew from a way to justify spending way to much on our compelling need to buy several of the new introductions each year, to an fairly significant income supplement for us both. In later years, Ms A took over sharing some of the "heavy lifting" parts of the process when Mama couldn't do as much and financed a very nice cello with her part of the profits one summer.

Mama was known as "the iris lady" by lots of folks around town. She always had time to give advice or help someone dig and divide overgrown iris and show them how to re-plant them - "not too deep and at least a half day of sunshine".

After the market each Saturday, we would go have lunch and talk about the day. It was fun to see what we made and plan for the next weekend, but I think what Mama enjoyed the most was just visiting with folks about iris.

I never look at my iris, or any other, without thinking about Mama.

Happy Mother's Day, Mama

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rhymeland #12 - The End of Chapter one!

I have finished the blocks for Bean's quilt!

This is the twelfth block and it is Mother Goose, again.

I started with Mother Goose at the beginning, but I decided to go with different colors. At the time, I didn't intend to re-do this block. But, since the quilt motif is her namesake, I decided that she should be included.

Looking at the photo in the post, I realized that the goose is blind! I forgot to do the eye. I am glad I noticed before the quilt was put together! In this quilt, I forgot the hand on the Hickory Dickory boy and had to add it after the quilting was done!

Chapter Two will be the piecing together.

And I will be helping!

The Mister and I are planning another road adventure. This time, we are going first, to Dearest Sister's house. I will get to share her birthday with her for the first time in a very long time!

We are going to South Dakota from there to see Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument in progress (and so The Mister can add the South Dakota sticker to the back of the camper!)

After that, we go to Kansas for Lovely C's graduation from high school and a visit with Wisest Sister.

On the way home, we will have a visit with Dear Aunt and have a bit of a meet up with family and friends in Greensburg.

A new season of Greensburg on Planet Green channel began this past week, the second anniversary of the F5 tornado that destroyed all but a tiny bit of the town. It will be exciting to see the progress of rebuilding.

One week from tomorrow, the adventure begins!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Polly Pocket, I mean - Lucy Locket (and Jack)

These are blocks 10 and 11 of the Rhymeland blocks that I am making for Bean's quilt. (You can read all about why Bean is Bean, here.)
This is Lucy's story:

Lucy Locket lost her pocket,
Kitty Fisher found it.
Nothing in it, nothing in it,
But the binding 'round it.

Apparently, Lucy was careless with her things. Not a tragedy. I imagine we have all been careless with our things, at least once. Lucy's story is a mild cautionary tale.

My Aunt Ruth always referred to her handbag as a "pocket book". Now, it sounds very old fashioned, but I never really thought about it then.

Polly Pocket was the latest thing when Ms. A was at the age of plastic toys, and I am always confusing Lucy with Polly!

This is Jack. His story is a more familiar one to me:

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.

Jack jump over the Candlestick!

Familiar story, but curious. I know little boys can be rambuncious, but was he really allowed to run around, jumping all over everything, including an open flame!?! Did his father brag to his buddies that,"My jack can jump over lit candles!" and someone else said, "no, really?" "Sure, wanna see?" I am thinking that this may have been the incident that spurred passing laws requiring fire retardant sleepwear for children!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happy Birthday!

On this day in history, my mother and father became parents!
Happy Birthday, Wisest Sister!

This is a photo of Wisest Sister and our glamorous Aunt Ann. I love this photo, because it looks like they are both having a great time. Not posed, or stiff, like so many studio portraits. (I am guessing WS was about two, or Deeply Missed Sister would probably be in the photo, as well.)

I hope you have a great day and many more birthdays ahead!

Grape Goodness!

I thought that this would be the last iris to bloom in my garden this year. I was happily surprised to see two more plants with buds coming up! Neither are labeled, but one of them is Quaker Lady, I am almost positive. The other one does not have a very distinctive bud shape, so we will see if I 'recognize' it when it blooms.

This is Grape, an old-fashioned 'flag'. The petals continue to stretch for a day or two after the flower opens and take a dog-tongue shape. Kind of ho-hum when you look at an individual bloom, but a clump with many fluttering petals is very nice. Especially when the fluttering petal give off a wonderful grape Kool-aid smell. If you don't remember what grape Kool-aid smells like, you would be instantly reminded after one whiff!

I have really been enjoying the spring flowers this year. Exploring the surrounding neighborhoods on foot have really given me a chance to observe things much more closely than I have in years past. In fact, the buds that I have noticed, have helped me maintain my motivation for my evening walks.

And that is a good thing!