Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tiny Furniture

Well, you know all about my Tiny Houses. I’ve made a lot of them and I hope to keep on going. I think my interest in creating these structures comes from several sources. I’ve loved houses, house plans, and architecture since I was young. It was a favorite pastime of my family in childhood to tour houses under construction in our neighborhood, which was being built up during the time I was growing up.

In adulthood my husband and I continued this pastime of viewing sample homes, open houses, and the occasional house-in-process.

Along these lines, I also had several dollhouses in my young days, as well as building small villages outside with my sister and friends with scrap wood, under a shade tree to beat the hot summer days. And there were the boats my dad made for us with scrap wood that we sailed in the creek at the end of our yard…and how about all the little cars and the roads we made for them…and the paper dolls and their homes…

I guess I could go on and on. You may be saying, what does any of this have to do with TODAY?

Well, in the Build a Tiny House session I took back in July, I built houses. And then I thought I’d try some furniture. Here are my first attempts from that time in July.

Armchair!

Bed!

Small Chair!

How did I do these? It’s surprisingly easy. I constructed a basic form using thin (think cereal box) cardboard. It was important to take the time to make sure the form was sturdy and could hold up. For the two chairs, I built the forms from individual scraps; for the bed, I cut down a box to make the basic shape and then added the head and footboards.

Then, using the papier mache skills I learned in the Tiny House class (look here for a description) I covered the framework and built up the forms.

Once they had dried (about 2-3 days) I painted them with acrylics, acrylic markers, and India ink.

Wow! What a lot of fun! I will be making more furniture.

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Here is the armchair in the attic of Tiny House 9.

Here are the bed and chair relaxing together.

We Are More Than Our Labels

I made this postcard from faces I’d done some time earlier – I pasted them on the card and then it sat for quite some time. One day I was doing some Snippets poetry and I used some words as descriptions for these faces.

Well, it works fine for this moment in time when they are exhibiting these characteristics, right? But if they change their moods or expressions or their outlooks on life, their labels will change, too.

Something to think about, maybe.

2003 Calendar – May

Here’s a project I did in 2001-2002 that I had forgotten about. Now, here in 2022, I will take a trip down memory lane and show it to you, once each month.

Why this schedule? Because it is a calendar. For 2003.

I made three of these – one for my son, one for my parents, and one for my husband. It’s the last one that I am showing to you. They were all alike except for the covers.

I hoped this calendar could be a small record of a certain time in our family. I do not know if my son still has his version, and my parents now are dead and their things scattered and gone, but here is the version we still have at our house, a voice speaking up again from the past.

If you want to know more about this calendar, look here.

Here is the collage image I used for the month of May, 2003. It’s called “May Iris Garden” and was 14″ x 11″.

Here is the page in the calendar. As a note, Andrew in #1 is my son and May is his birthday month. Clovis, mention in #2, was one of our cats. In #3 I refer to mowing the grass – that was my job and one I still do today, quite willingly as I like mowing the grass and always have. #8 refers to my art show schedule – at this time, I was doing 20 or so shows a year with most of them occurring between the months of May through October.

The rest of this month’s notes show our preoccupation with gardening at that time – we had a large yard with flowers and vegetables, including a section that we seeded with wildflowers for a kind of meadow effect.

Happy May!

Figures appear

Here is something I like to do a lot – paint a random background and then see if I can make out any figures or objects in the colors.

Yes, indeed, in these two instances, there were people maybe too shy to emerge on their own, so I drew them out.

Yes!

Postcards from January, 2022.

2003 Calendar – April

I was doing some cleaning out and reorganizing recently and I came upon a project I did in 2001-2002 that I had forgotten about. Now, here in 2022, I will take a trip down memory lane and show it to you, once each month.

Why this schedule? Because it is a calendar. For 2003.

I made three of these – one for my son, one for my parents, and one for my husband. It’s the last one that I am showing to you. They were all alike except for the covers.

I covered two pieces of matboard with handpainted papers and secured the pages with sections of leather shoelaces wrapped with copper wire.

Inside, I had printed a page for each month with a collage image appropriate to the month. Additionally, I wrote out various things our family thought about or enjoyed doing during the month. Below it, as is usual with a calendar, were the days of the month (I won’t be showing them as it’s just a standard grid, though I did fill the empty day spaces with haiku or poetry, as mentioned above).

I hoped this calendar could be a small record of a certain time in our family. I do not know if my son still has his version, and my parents now are dead and their things scattered and gone, but here it is, a voice speaking up again from the past.

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Here is the collage image I used for the month of April, 2003. It’s called “April Daffodils” and was 14″ x 11″.

Here is the page in the calendar. As a note, Luna, as mentioned in #1, was one of our cats. The robins mentioned in #4 was a family tradition – ever since my son had a kindergarten assignment to make note of when he saw the first robin in spring, I have mentally done the same. You may be interested to know that at the time of this calendar he was in high school. And the geraniums in #9, well – I love geraniums and I have had at least a few pots of them every spring and summer for decades.

Happy April!

Spirals

Our library in Glenside PA has been making up craft kits free for the public to pick up and take home to work on. They generally use discarded library materials such as magazines or decomissioned books and the projects are simple to do but rewarding and fun.

A while back I picked up the instructions for making coasters out of magazine pages, plus a couple of scrap magazines from the pile they had by the door. Here are the instructions:

I spent a few evenings early in January making some of these circular objects while watching the PA Farm Show on our state cable channel (laugh if you want, but you start watching and you’ll see what I mean. My favorite things? Sheep to Shawl competition and the bunny hop race).

But back to the subject. Here’s a view for you:

They are maybe 3″ in diameter. I stopped spiraling when one strip just overlapped itself with maybe a quarter-inch to spare.

I’ve got a group of them now. Here are some glamour shots.

I’m not going to use them for coasters. I think they are beautiful just to look at and I think I’ll keep them around just for that.

Thanks to the staff at the Glenside Library not only for all they do to make sure we have our books, but also for keeping our hands busy, in these crazy times.

Leftovers Fly Together

I was making a lot of paper dolls in late 2021 and as you might expect, the activity generated a lot of little scraps of paper. Naturally I felt the need to arrange them into something. Here’s a postcard that I did using these bits. I took whatever scrap my hand fell on and pasted it to the cardboard back (cereal box cardboard cut to postcard size).

Guess what, it looks kind of like a bird, that’s what I said to myself. I added an eye and called it done. Postcard, December, 2021.

Very satisfying. I encourage you to try this method. Save your odd little scraps and start gluing at random. At some point it might look like something to you and if you want, add papers to make it happen.

And if nothing occurs, then…paint or draw over it. Or add more papers or anything else you can think of. Something will eventually emerge, it’s fun, and you’ll be happy. I guarantee it.

Good-Bye, Old Friend

Not too long ago I bought a new sewing machine to replace my old one. At the age of 24 years, its motor finally had given out.

That machine, a Babylock 6600, was purchased in 1997 from Granny’s Sewing Den in Glenside, PA, which was also my primary place to buy fabric for many years. Granny’s has been closed for some time; it was owned by two women, mother and daughter, the mother now deceased, the daughter retired. Both of them were friends to me.

Anyway, this machine was responsible for my success in the fabric part of my art career and without it, I do not think I would have gone on to to work in paper collage, or to paint. Or all the other art things I now do. I do not think my work would have progressed enough for me to make those leaps without the techniques this machine allowed me to master so that I became able to express in fabric my visions.

Here is an example of a fabric wall hanging I made with this machine. It’s called “Garden in the City”, was made in 2000, and was displayed in Philadelphia’s City Hall in an exhibit devoted to community gardens. I still have the piece.

I also made many garments for my family with this faithful friend, as well as home decor items, tote bags, dolls and toys…you get the idea. This machine worked HARD for me and never once did it let me down.

Well, after I bought the new machine (another Babylock, the Jubilant model, which is very similar to its predecessor in my sewing life), I kept this one for a while. Finally I decided that since it could not be repaired, there was no reason to keep it around.

We decided to dismantle it. Maybe I could use its parts in some of my hanging metal sculptures. I hated just to throw it out. My husband spent two or so hours taking it apart. Sure enough, I now have a box of parts for a future project.

But I am saving some just for a keepsake. Here is the assortment:

What’s in the photo? First of all, you see a tag for a cleaning; my name is written in the handwriting of one of the women at Granny’s Sewing Den. I kept it on the machine’s storage box all these years for sentiment’s sake, I guess.

You also see two feet from the machine – the metal one (with grooves worn on the bottom side from pins and the like passing under it) – and the purple plastic one. I used a lot of free motion stitching in my fabric work and this foot was purchased separately – the machine at that time did not have its own proprietary one. I do remember it was called the Big Foot.

Here is the throat plate. This is the part of the machine that lies under the needle and it’s what I looked at the most in all those years of using the machine.

And here is the plastic plate that I used as part of free motion stitching. To do free motion work, you need to disengage the feed dogs, the part of the machine under the throat plate, that move the fabric along. This machine did not allow for the feed dogs to be dropped; they needed to be covered instead. Hence this plate.

It snapped on over the open section at the top of the throat plate, where the feed dogs would have been. I could never remember in which direction to orient the plate. Usually I realized I had set it in wrong and fixed it before I started stitching. But…sometimes I didn’t. That is why you see the holes in the plate. The needle punched right through it.

I am getting older now and can look back on a lot of years that I have been doing this thing or that thing. Sewing is one of those activities that in my life extends back decades; my mother taught me to sew about 55 years ago on a totally mechanical Necchi machine that she kept until the end of her life.

I’m not a great seamstress but I was able to take my sewing skills and use them to make art, something I never would have thought of in my childhood lessons. Trial and error and experimentation and a lot of enjoyment is what got me along the path. That, and this machine.

Thank you and Good-bye, old friend.