Monday, April 7, 2014

Our World Our Art 2014

Hello Our World Our Art participants, and welcome to my blog, Twigs and Tulle!  I'm so glad you're visiting, and I'm looking forward to exploring your art and blogs in return.

(click on the photo above to be taken to Lisa Swifka's lovely blog, A Whimsical Bohemian for more OWOA information)

I'm your host, Michaele (pronounced My-kul, "like the boy's name") Sommerville, and I've been creating and crafting since I was a little girl.

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I didn't consider myself fueled by artistic passion however, until my thirties, when I fell in love with a soldier and we began our military family life together.  Living in new states and having the opportunity to soak in the flavor of each locale made me realize just how much I gravitated toward the art featured in museums, shop windows, art fairs, antique stores and craft bazaars.  It's a trait I'd never recognized in myself before because prior to our first duty station, I had been constantly surrounded by family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances who all "did something" in addition to their day jobs.  Where was this artistry-rich environment?  Alaska.

I'm not a full time artisan or crafter.  I'm a wife, mother, and kindergarten teacher, having taught four, five and six year olds for close to twenty years in Alaska, New Mexico and Kansas.  I've been a single mom and have held down the fort while my husband deployed, and have dealt with the ins and outs of public education long enough to recognize my need for emotional and creative balance, and a sanctuary away from politics, debate and stress. Crocheting was my first creative outlet as a child, and cross stitch soon followed.  Putting up bulletin boards and regularly using glitter, paint and play dough with my kindergartners probably enables me to add (large-scale) scrapbooking, painting, sculpture and altered art to my creative repertoire, but those projects have always been compartmentalized in my mind as work-related.  Changing out of work clothes and into a tee and yoga pants so I can sit criss-cross-applesauce in front of my craft room's drawers, tubs, shelves and bins is something I look forward to most afternoons when I'm home from school.

"Handmade" has always meant love, effort, and caring to me.  Watching my family and friends as they cooked, baked, sewed, spun, wove, assembled, knitted, composed and crocheted, I could see the investment of time, resources, and sentiment that was lovingly and generously poured into each gift.  When I taught in Alaska, the school staff was full of quilters (or the spouses of quilters), so each wedding, birth or retirement was marked by the collaboration of colleagues to create a beautiful quilt as a memento.  Can you imagine receiving a quilt where each block was created by a fellow educator?  It was a remarkable place that supported and nurtured not only young children, but the creative pursuits of their teachers.

When my friends and colleagues began introducing me to their favorite hobbies and talents, I became intrigued by the tools, the processes, and the end results.  With their indulgence and encouragement, I'm now fully aware that while I'm no quilter, scrapbooker or candle maker, I DO love to crochet, make collaged paper items, combine ephemera, fabric and other textures, add pops of color, decorate for the holidays and special events, write and read blogs, and create charms and ornaments with glass and solder.  I don't feel stress when I'm in my crafty nook, partly because I don't pass through its door when I'm exhausted or upset, and partly because the materials I use and the techniques I choose to learn aren't mandated to me by anyone.  My creative space is where I can heed my own inner voice and create items I enjoy and can share with others away from the constraints I feel within my formal profession, though let's be honest: teachers love jewelry!

Charm-making has become the one passion that makes it possible to combine almost all of the crafting that I like to do into one piece of wearable and/or displayable art.

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Using various papers, hole punches, adhesives, and ephemera, I create mini-collages that I then encase behind glass and solder or adhere to dominoes and seal with Mod Podge.

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After being introduced to soldering several years ago, I finally decided to equip myself with the tools necessary so I could solder whenever the inclination struck, which frankly, has been often.  Fun factoid:  solder is so hot it feels cold when it hits your skin.  I didn't learn ~that~ from a book or video!  I look forward to working on larger projects when the summer begins and I'm away from the classroom for weeks at a time.  Until then, my charms are available via my Etsy Shop.

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I keep my soldering wand, block of sal ammoniac, flux, solder, and a jeweler's "extra-hands tool" on an old baking sheet.  Pliers, jump rings, beads, pins and small clamps are always nearby.  Off to the right of my worktable is a larger vise for securing bigger/heavier ornaments.  Being hands-free to solder helps immensely!

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I've used 3 inch by 3 inch glass, 1 by 3, 2 by 2, and 1 by 1 "inchies" for my ornaments and charms, so I was excited when I stumbled across half-inch by inch-and-three-quarter "sticks" with which to work recently.

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I wanted to use my favorite color, red, for my giveaway charm, but also wanted to share layered hearts with you.  As I played with paper, the solution hit me:  make ~two~ charms!

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Visitors who leave a comment with a current email address will have the chance to win both the heart and the red-with-white-polka-dots charms... one winner, two pendants.  I'll draw the winner's name on April 18 and contact him/her via a blog post here at Twigs and Tulle AND email.

Many thanks to Lisa Swifka for creating and hosting this wonderful web event, and encouraging us to reach out in friendship within this creative community.  It's time for me to brew some coffee, add some cookies to a plate, and put my feet up as I visit all of you.  I feel like I'm indulging in my very own art retreat from the comfort of my crafty nook!

*****

~Michaele~

Friday, March 21, 2014

Simple Fix

It's almost always the ~simple fix~ that eludes me.

Blog browsing, I discovered Cathe Holden's studio barn this morning, and wouldn't you know it, after examining photo after glorious photo, I realized that she had provided the perfect solution to my lighting dilemma.

Open up her blog post next to this one.  Now scroll down three photos.  See that table?  See those lamps?  A simple solution, and yet also ~pure genius~.

I have a small lamp on my desk, and another on top of a set of my fabric storage drawers.  Tucked in a corner strung over branches are twinkle lights, and other than the morning light that streams in from one regular sized window and one narrow partner for the first half of the day, all I have to truly brighten my workspace is a regular old overhead light.

Though it's bright, I end up casting shadows with my own head and shoulders when I work on charms or bunting.  I have no idea how it's possible, but the overhead light actually sets a dreary tone.  One look at Cathe's work table, and I knew just what to do with the small table lamp that had been **this close** to being added to the summer yard sale pile.



It's taller than my lazy Susan storage, and thin/narrow enough to not take up a bunch of room on my table.  Instead of two lamps, twinkle lights and the overhead light, I can now set the tone and comfort level with this small lamp, but don't worry: the twinkle lights stay on.  They're essential.



I'll be shopping for just the right lightbulbs in the future, I'm sure.  I want colors to be true, and I want to see details.  Improved vision will also be aided by another simple solution:


Hello magnifying glasses.  Welcome to my forties.




Sunday, March 9, 2014

First Fridays

I've lived just outside of Kansas City for six-ish years now.  Being the late bloomer that I am, I had no clue that a vintage/thrift/antique/artisan/gallery/crafting/eating ~event~ was held every "first" Friday (and weekend) of the month.

Until recently.

Yesterday a teaching colleague (and fellow creative soul) joined me on the adventure that is "First Fridays in the West Bottoms," a gallery and shopping event in KC that had us climbing multiple narrow staircases inside historic warehouses located along an unfortunately ~smelly~ older area of the city, encountering many, many fellow treasure hunters.

Despite the smell (outdoors only, thankfully) and the narrow staircases, we weren't disappointed.  We met and visited with vendors, artisans, crafters, repurposers, and many other cheerful purveyors of "junque," vintage finds, furniture, jewelry, quilts, and art.  The least foo-foo location?  "Stuffology."  What filled its floors?  STUFF.

We didn't make it to every shop in the West Bottoms, which means only one thing: we're going back next month, oh yes.



















My haul from this inaugural visit includes yarn, hollow metal eggs, chandelier drops, playing cards, dominoes, embroidery floss and lots and lots of inspiration.



We've already made plans to return in April and May: watch out, West Bottoms, here we come!

And next time, we'll be wearing tennis shoes, thankyouverymuch.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Snow Days, Spring Dreams

Our sixth day home from school this year thanks to Mother Nature, but I'm dreaming of spring.

Pink... bunnies... sparkles and lace.  I just can't help it.

Fuschia crowns, lilac-ish/pink crowns... inchie charms.


White with baby black polka dots, pink and cream stripes, and lilac-ish/pink glittered bunnies... SPRING charms.


See-through vintage lace trim charms.


What do you create to mark the change of seasons?

Monday, February 17, 2014

On a Day Away From Work...

... I like to get caught up:




And indulge with a Peanut Buster Parfait.

Can you blame me?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heart to Heart Swap 2014

Life has its peaks and valleys, calm ponds and raging rivers.  Find a little hill and a chilly stream, and that's how I'd describe the past week.  Nothing major, but significant enough inconveniences, shocks and transitions to make a person want to call a time out, brew some coffee, snuggle under a blankie, and inhale a tray of tiramisu.

Maybe that's just me.

When this box arrived on my doorstep, I was suddenly willing to drop the blankie, shuffle over to the door, and carefully carry the box to the dining room table.  It's a special box.  It's the box from Sarah:


Open the top...


... and let a happy grin spread:


Carefully unpack each item (hey, there's something HEAVY at the bottom of the box):


My heart started to race.  Seriously.  Let the Heart to Heart Swappy Goodness begin!

The painted rock was so sweetly painted by Megan, from Life at the 800 House.  S-w-o-o-n!   And the rectangular ornie with pipecleaner and bunting trim?  That was sent by Michelle and Ashley at The Tattered Quilt Cottage, though Ashley sent another ornie shown further down in this post.  The felt, tulle, lace, fabric yo-yo and button stitched heart was made by Rachel at Pink Misfit.




The pair of sage/minty green felt hearts are handwarmers!  Thank you, Jennifer Z.!  Look at the beautiful button that Wanda of The Rat's Pajamas sewed onto the softest cream heart.


I am all about heart jewelry this February.  The red felt and sequined heart brooch that Debra, The Early Bird made will be perfect for my lapel this week.  Look at the sweet kitty!  Isn't she the cat's meow?  The adorably pink pipe cleaner ornie was made by Tamera, The Menopausal Supermodel, and oh yes, I'll be visiting her blog again, and again, and again!


Shara at Monkeybox made this adorable deer-in-cloche ornament.


... and Mikey at Shabby French Cottage sent chalkboard love tags. He knows how to appeal to my teacher's heart, doesn't he?



Who-hoo will be my valentine?  This bright ~Owl Cherish You~ card was made by Tina.

Sarah made picture frame ornies, sprinkled with stars (my favorite!) trimmed with a ruffle, and featuring a glamour girl from yesteryear.  See the ornie from Ashley?  It's a mason jar lid!


Finally, Tiff at Folded Gingham made a multi-fabric heart ornament with silver beads and heart ribbon... so sweet!


*****

What did I make for the swap?  Altered domino charms/ornies!


I layered cardstock mini heart punches over gray and white polka dot scrapbook paper, and Mod Podged it to the back of a mini-domino.  After drying, I soldered around the edge of the domino, added jump rings to the top and bottom, and suspended a pearl dangle at the end.  I glued a heart shaped button to the top for a dimensional touch.  I hope all of this year's swap participants enjoy them!