Friday, June 12, 2015

Making Stuff

I always enjoy coming back from a vacation trip because time away gives me some perspective on my life, my time and how I spend it.  Our wonderful month in Florida in March meant that I came back eager to tackle new things, but not necessarily to sew.  Therefore, if you only want to read about sewing projects, you'll have to wait for a future post.  What I really saw in myself in the last few months was how much I just enjoy "making stuff."  I've always had a crafty streak in me and I've usually associated it with time spent in the company of creative, fun women.  When I started my first job out of college it was a time for macrame and needlework and I joined up with a weekly gathering of girlfriends.  I did needlepoint, cross stitch, a little crocheting and yes, a lot of consciousness-raising.  None of those projects have survived the four decades but I still enjoy the chance to dabble in creative projects which is just what I have been doing this spring.  
In the very beginning of April, immediately after we returned from Florida I headed up to The Mannings The Mannings a huge store and classroom center near Gettysburg and York, PA.  I don't knit, don't crochet anymore but I do love needle felting and wool roving and all its possibilities.  I treated myself to a class on nuno felting.  Despite having several books and watching a few youtube videos, I enjoy taking an in-person class whenever possible.  The instructor, Mary Wilson, was a delight and she brought many samples for the three of us students to be inspired by.  We got a pick a scarf "blank" from the store inventory and then two small wool roving packages and any of the drawers of wool pieces we liked.  My first attempt was fun and I definitely see more nuno felting in the future.  There's a real opportunity to create your own fabric with this technique so this fall I'll be experimenting some more.
Nuno felted scarf

a classmate's shawl in progress
the high tech tools we used to felt the wool roving through the silk

Mr. Lucky and I have modest but time-consuming garden chores each season.  We have large flower beds, about a dozen or more pots of annuals and a modest vege garden.  This year we spent time refurbishing the front lawn and garden beds torn up by a huge back hoe replacing our sewer line in the winter.  I decided last fall that I wanted to add some "garden bling" to my perennial beds to give them some sparkle when those particular plants are not in bloom.  I had seen a California friend creating these "garden totems" a few years ago and many Pinterest inspiration pictures later (and several visits to local charity shops and yard sales) I was ready to try my hand.  It's a very simple process.  Gather glassware of all sorts, shapes, heights and sizes, stack them until you like the form then "glue" them together with silicone caulk from hardware store, the clear type used for installing windows in your home.  In an afternoon or two I put together six totems for my gardens and two three layer stands for the treats at my Downton Abbey Tea in mid-April.  Various vases and glass plates and bowls that were sitting unused in my cupboards are now glittering out in the garden and make me smile as I walk around.
Garden totems ready to go outside
Plates, bowls, candle holders, vases, jelly jars, cocktail glasses

Downton Abbey Tea with new tiered servers on the left

In the garden
Helping to brighten up the newly replanted area
The glass totems are joining last year's "garden bling" project, the decorated several bowling balls, large and small and turned them into garden ornaments also.  Two more mosaic bowling ball projects and one mosaic birdbath are on my project list but then I'll be done with outdoor bling.  Just like clothes projects, too much of a good thing is still too much.
Large bowling balls as gazing balls
Small duckpin ball covered in mosaics
Last bit of non-sewing "making stuff" is from a jewelry making gathering held by a very kind and creative woman I met through my church.  She no longer lives in the immediate vicinity so I don't get to see her often but she included me on her class list for an earring making session at her home in May.  I have done some jewelry making in the past, very modest, so enjoyed getting some useful tips and these two completed projects.  As sewing people, you'll appreciate that the green beads were first bought to coordinate with some fabric and a just completed project.  I'm not even sure I still have that sewing project in my wardrobe but I am very happy with how they turned out and now could always reverse the project and sew something to match them.  The cluster earrings are among my favorite type of design and again were inspired by fabric so they would coordinate with my sewing project.

When Mr. Lucky's 96 year-old dad passed away earlier this year, it was a time of reflection for us as we discussed his legacy and influence on our lives.  One thing we agreed upon is that experiences are more important than stuff.  So yes, I enjoy creating, whether it's these projects or my sewing projects, but I also love the time spent with family and friends and Mr. Lucky.  We are grateful for good health in our current retirement years and we are having lots of mini-adventures that are piling up as wonderful memories.  Just this spring we enjoyed a day trip to see the tulips in bloom at Longwood Gardens and now that I am a member there will be plenty more of those trips in the coming months. 
Longed Gardens in April.
We ventured south to Virginia for two nights and three days and packed in a hike at Cold Mountain in the George Washington National Forest, a day at Monticello and then a creative day for me learning about air brushing from my talented friend, Julie, who I think is the epitome of Alabama Chanin chic. Check out her completed projects on her beautiful blog, from these hands - Journal  Me, I just have all the books, the Natalie Chanin Craftsy class and now the painted well as many good intentions.  Let's see how they turn out.....

Julie showing me how to use Alabama Chanin stencils and air brushing
One of my air brushed fabrics
A pewter black paint on the other fabric
Last week we headed up to Mountain Top, Pennsylvania to visit a dear Florida friend.  We hiked again at the loveliest park at Ricketts Glen and I got to read and meditate on her deck in the company of her dog Riley while the other two humans were golfing.  Sometimes mini-cations are just as restful and enjoyable as a big trip somewhere.

This weekend Mr. Lucky and I are heading off on a 16 day trip to England and Wales. We will start with three nights in London, a city we love. We were in Kent and Surry six years ago but haven't been in London proper for perhaps a dozen years.  It will definitely be a change from my first visit this time 43 years ago when I back-packed with three girlfriends through Europe all summer long.  I fell in love with London and England right from the start.  I was too late to get an Alexander McQueen exhibit ticket this time although I will get back to the fabulous V&A Museum.  We are also interested in the new World War I exhibit at the Imperial War Museum.  From London we head out to north Wales to meet up with a group and we will hike in the Mount Snowden area for a week.  After that we head to the Shrewsbury area to visit with friends who are wonderful gardeners and terrific companions.  If you are traveling this summer, I wish you good journeys.  And most importantly, I wish you good times in your sewing "zone."