Well, here in Maine it has started to get a colder again. Baby is wearing her new fall outfits. They are a little big for her as I bought a size ahead, but by the time it warms up again (next June or July) I am sure they will be too small.
In honor of fall I have started a line of hats. This particular style is called the Tomboy Bonnet. It has a nice relaxed slouchy look. There will be a total of four different fabric choices. So far I have two up. They are called Fall Foliage and Fall memories. The next two are going to be a purple color scheme. I think they are really fun.
Baby is sleeping at present, so I am now going to go back to work while it is quiet.
I have not blogged for a really long time. I have been busy working on a line of fall hats. They are coming soon.
Baby is now crawling. She was satisfied with that accomplishment for about a week before she started to try and pull herself up to a standing position. Luckily she has not mastered that quite yet. When she does, we are all in big trouble, because walking will be the step after that. I am really not ready for that....
Thats all for now. I will post my new line of hats as soon as they are done.
We went to Crown Point last weekend, and had so much fun! I will post pictures, but I seem to have misplaced my camera. (its in the truck somewhere) Baby learned how to stick her tongue out there as well. She also now has consonants and is "talking" a lot.
A lady that I send some of my work to on consignment wanted a certain style of hat. So I spent all day yesterday making a prototype of it out of an old sheet. Here is the picture of it. I am almost done with the second prototype, and she has asked me to try another style hat as well. So baby and I have a busy day ahead of us.
I have finally finished another project, and it is up and listed in me Etsy store. It is called the crowning laurels choker necklace. I have decided to record the process I went through to arrive at this end product. If you write it down, it is really rather funny, how I get distracted. If you called it a journey, I guess you could say I got a little lost, but still ended up somewhere nice in the end.
So I started this project because I decided to do a choker necklace. I had done a custom one a while back and really enjoyed making it, and was pleased with the end result. I was going to do a similar one to the custom one. It had a rose as the focal point.
So I started going through my stash of silk. I picked out lovely pink on one side and purple-blue on the other side for the rose. For the band itself, I chose a purple on purple stripe. As I was laying out the fabric, this beautiful piece of green fluttered out from the folds of one of the pieces. I took one look at that green, and all I could think if was leaves on gold.
So, the pink and purple was immediately put back away, and the gold was dug out to go with the green. So I drew up a leaf "pattern" and I started making the rolled hems on the leaves. I was worried about all the leaves looking the same, but I need not have feared. That problem solved itself very quickly, as I had cut half of the leaves with the bottom on the salvage edge, and the other half just on a regular raw edge. Since I am lazy, I decided not to roll the bottom edge before pleating. For the salvage I just left it be, and the raw edge I just turned it once. My leaves now had a slight variety to them!
Next, I had to think about the front. I had to have a focal bead. So off to the nearest bead store it was. I came home with a bead, and got back to work. But I kept on questioning the bead. Was it too plain, too big....you get the picture. I tried my hand at wire wrapping, but that lasted about five minutes. If you don't have patience, then wire wrapping is not for you! So I went to another bead store. This one was bigger and farther away. I discovered Cabochons there! A whole new perspective opened up! For those of you not into beading, a cabochon is (as far as I can tell as a non beader) a bead with no whole in it. You glue it to a setting so you can string it (or in my case sew it) to whatever you are creating. I ended up coming home with two more beads. Then, I got to second guessing again. But this time I had some new knowledge. You can frame a bead. (who'd 'a thunk) I ended up taking my original bead and making a half rosette to mount it on.
My next dilemma was the back closer. A choker is a very personal fit, because it hugs the neck. I could put several sets of snaps, but that would show, and look ugly. Buttons and buttonhole that small would be so much work that the end product would really not be cost effective at all. I decided that it should tie. If I angled the ends of the band a little it would really look just elegant! But then I got thinking again. The knot could be bulky, and the ends would have to be really long. I finally decided to make a pin. Of course, that involved yet another foray out to the real world because, of course, I had no pin backs.
Well, three trips, three beads, two settings, and forty pin backs later, I now have a complete choker necklace that I am satisfied with. And now for my next project.....
Ok, so that is a horrible pun. But here is a sneak peak at my latest project. I have spent my creative time making silk leaves (16 of them) with hand rolled hems. Here they are in a pretty arrangement. It is not, however, how they will be used in the end. (You'll just have to wait and see for the finished product)
I am thinking of buying a knitting machine. I think I could really have fun with one. (and be productive, of course) I am watching a few on Ebay that are not too pricey, and I am also getting very excited about this future purchase.
I had to work on Thursday. It was the first time in three weeks. Go figure, I ended up with the one truck whose air conditioning did not work for most of the time. Apparently they have been trying to get it fixed, but the mechanics told the truck's main driver that it was all in his head. Sometimes, I have got to wonder about mechanics. They should try driving those trucks around for two to four hours at a time before they come to a conclusion like that. Drivers spend enough time in their trucks that they just might know if something was wrong. (end trucking rant)
We took baby swimming for the first time today. Of course, I forgot the camera, so baby's second swim will have to be recorded for posterity instead. We had purchased a life preserver for her, but it did not fit. Her cheeks were too big for it! I am serious! The life preserver pushed them up so high she looked like a cartoon character of some sort. (perhaps Dennis the Menace?) It was really cute and funny looking, but poor baby did not think so, of course. She did, however, enjoy the water once we took back out of the life vest. I think I will get her one of those floaty rings with the seat in them. Just carrying her in the water makes me a bit nervous. She is all tired out now, and fast asleep.
So I have decided to start featuring another artist from time to time. The artist today is Melissa of Tangible Daydreams. She is a multi-talented fiber artist. I don't think there is much she hasn't tried in the fiber arts department. This is a picture of her wearing a shawl she wove and dyed. The curtains in the background are also woven by her.
Hi! I'm Melissa. I guess I'm a textile artist, primarily. You'll find me spinning and weaving most of the time, with dips into felt making, gourd decorating, silk scarf painting, and threading together seed beads into sparkling creations. I find all of these activities oddly related--taking small, unassuming ingredients and combining them into something extraordinary. And the techniques often cross over from one media to another. I find the creative process playful and invigorating, the work itself meditative and soothing (and I like to pet the fiber!), and the results? My creations are so, well, themselves that I sometimes have a hard time remembering that they are actually the work of my own hands.
2)How did you pick your shop name and what does it mean to you?
My shop name is the same as my business name, "Tangible Daydreams". I'm enchanted by the idea of dreaming something up, and then through my craft having it emerge into reality. To take the image in my head, and make it into a form that someone else can hold in their hands? Pure magic! I did an internet search, and nobody else seemed to have that name. So I snagged it, and registered it with the state of Arizona when I needed to be all official and pay my taxes and stuff.
My studio was a spare room downstairs in our home. For years, it was a guest room. After I picked up my first floor loom, I actually had the loom out in the family room. But then we rescued a pair of kittens. Do you know that kittens can run upside-down across the back beam of a loom when it is warped up? And little kitten claws can snip through warp threads in nothing flat? Yes. Well. I needed a room with a door I could close. So I retiled and repainted, added shelf space everywhere, wove some curtains, and moved in to the guest room. I swear, it used to be bigger! Several years of stash accumulation will sure shrink a room.
I wrote this a year and a half ago:
The Dragon's Lair -By Melissa McCollum
I sit in a room filled with the ingredients of creation... strings and beads and fabric and wire, all the raw materials I need stashed in jumbled bins, hedged in by looms and wheels, shuttles and spindles, and all manner of specialized tools. And books. Research books everywhere, piled on desks, leaning over drunkenly, ready to leap from the crowded edges of crammed shelves, all vying for my attention. The cutting table, the ironing board, and the weaving benches creep toward the center floor until there is barely enough room to turn around and every surface holds projects waiting for my hand... half sewn costumes, partially strung warps, mounds of raw fleece.
I lounge, surrounded by a dragon's trove of artist's riches... But I have no room to work!
4)Can you tell me a little about some other activities that you enjoy doing?
I'm part of a historical recreation group, called the Society for Creative Anachronism. We stu the Middle Ages and Renaissance, by doing it. (http://sca.org/) Basically, if someone in the Middle Ages did it, someone in this group is studying and trying to recreate it--and would love to talk your ear off about it! So a couple of weekends a month, I dress up in 12th century clothing and become Mistress Gwendolen Wold. I can shoot archery in the morning, watch my champion win a tourney for me in the afternoon, cook an authentic feast for 75 over an open fire, and then dance the evening away in high Renaissance style. Great fun! http://s15.photobucket.com/albums/a366/lissamc/Estrella%2025/?action=view¤t=CIMG3602.jpg
5)How and when did you begin all your diverse talents?
Well, when I was in high school I was convinced I couldn't do art. I went to college, and got a degree in social work. After college, marriage happened, and career burn out happened, and children happened, and I found myself happily being a stay at home mother of two. I turned to crafty projects to keep myself occupied and somewhat sane. Then my family joined the SCA, as I mentioned earlier. This gave me a focus and an outlet for my crafty dabblings, as well as lots of positive support. Between taking classes, doing my own research for Arts and Science competitions, and picking the brains of anyone who stood still for a moment or so, I absorbed all sorts of neat information. I learned to spin and weave and sew, to make baskets and glass beads, to fletch my own arrows and knit chain mail, to make felt from raw wool...all sorts of varied and wonderful things! And as soon as I learned something, I turned around and taught it to the next person. Eventually, I was honored with the group's highest award for arts, the Order of the Laurel. That was a bit of a shock. I still had the self image of someone who wasn't good at that artsy stuff. So, since the kids were old enough by then, I started back to school at the local community college, to take more formal art classes. I started branching out beyond the limits of what had been done centuries ago, exploring more modern techniques and medias. Occasionally along the way, someone would buy a piece of my work. It gradually occurred to me that I really really enjoy this creative stuff. And with enough practice and sheer stubbornness, I found I wasn't too bad at it after all.
6)Do you have a "real life" job, and if so what is it?
I work part time at that local community college, and at local museum, as a life drawing model. Basically, I take off all my clothes and sit very very still while students try to make a vaguely human shaped drawing of me. Think of it as my mid-life crisis, in artistic form. :) See, I had taken the life drawing class a couple of times as part of my art curriculum, and saw the trouble they had getting female models. I figured this would be a good way to kind of 'pay it forward'. The hours are flexible, and I still have time to be here for the kids, and to work in my own studio. Tell you what though, it is very odd to go to a museum or an art show, and look up to see yourself on the wall!
7)From where does your inspiration come?
Often, I just play in my stash of ingredients, or leaf through my books looking for a technique I haven't tried yet. I also carry a digital camera in my pocket every day, and snap pictures when a detail, or a color combination, or an angle of the light catches my eye. Well, for instance: I was sitting on the beach in Mexico a few years back, watching the waves roll in and thinking about the hand woven curtains in my hotel room. That led to admiring the color combinations of the water and the sea foam. I watched how the waves curved in to the land, which led to thinking about undulating twill weave. So I snapped a picture, and jotted down some notes. Then later I was at a fiber retreat, and one of the merchants had some merino/tencel blend roving in just the colors of the Mexican ocean that day. That led to a couple of years of spinning on and off, then taking a workshop to learn how to draft my own weaving patterns, and finally weaving a undulating twill table runner in turquoise and white. It is on my dresser now, with my antique walking wheel (and several happy cats) on top of it.
8)Gives us one fun fact about yourself that we can enjoy.
I also collect--and use!--antique textile equipment. My collections of weaving shuttles hangs on my studio walls, where I can pull one off as needed. The mid-1800's great wheel is in my bed room on top of the dresser when not in use. I have an old clock reel, or spinner's weasel, that I use to measure yarn with every time I spin up a batch. I still haven't quite got the nerve up to use the spindle whorls that are actual Medieval artifacts...but I will! You can almost hear the happy sigh when a piece of equipment gets put back to doing the work it was designed for.
I do hope you all have enjoyed this interview and have been inspired as much as I have!
I am officially on a sailor hat "bender" I made four the other day. One had to go to baby, of course, but the other three I took to a store called Matchaversibles. They sell handmade children's clothing and accessories. She was kind enough to take my hats and even sent me home with some of her material! She wants me to make hats that match her outfits. She is having me start with soem boy's hats. I am so excited, and I really hope they sell. I have started cutting them out tonight.
Here is baby in her latest hat. I even managed to find a dress that matches the colors perfectly. (She has a rather extensive wardrobe, so that really wasn't that hard.) I will hopefully be making some more in my own fabric choices as well to go in my own shop.
I am also really excited because I am going to be featuring my first Artisan this week. She is a wonderful weaver. That is all I will tell you for now as I do not want to give too much away.
I finally finished my latest project. Can you believe that they are too small for baby's chubby little feet? I guess that is really a good thing, because now I am not tempted to keep them for her. They are called "Guiding Stars" They photographed really nicely. I hardly had to do anything with the photographs. And, of course, I used my full spectrum light. I actually made two pairs of these booties, and the other pair I submitted as a sample to a local artisan shop. The shop is juried, and I am crossing my fingers that they are willing to accept some of my pieces. In the mean-time, I am keeping my eyes open and exploring new venue options all the time. I think, once I get my inventory built up a bit more, I would like to apply for some craft shows. I guess you could say that is my long term business plan. I helped my mother in law with her historical publication The Pine Tree Shilling today. It is all about life in colonial America. She is kind enough to let me write the occasional article for it and help a bit with the research. I really enjoy it. It comes out quarterly, and there always seems to be a bit of a mad dash to the finish line right before it goes to the printers. Well, it is late for tonight, and I must get going on the early side tomorrow. I am going to explore an possible idea for another venue for my wares. My mother is kind enough to accompany baby and me. I think I am the only truck driver in the history of trucking that doesn't really care to drive. I mean, I like driving and all, and I love, big, loud, smelly, diesel trucks, but I would just as soon, if I am with someone else, ride shotgun, as drive. Most truckers have this obsessive need to be behind the wheel any time they are in a moving vehicle. I don't. Or maybe it is a guy thing. Well, thats all for now.
So I revamped another listing! Here are the before and after pictures. The first one is actually the after picture. I don't know why they got flipped on me. These were called "purple please baby booties" but I have decided to rename them "Lavender Cottage baby booties". What do you think? I am trying to get more creative about backgrounds, without getting too busy. My husband saw me unrolling the full spool of ribbon, and thought I had completely lost my mind. I explained to him it was for my "photo shoot" (which, being a superlative husband, he was helping me with) but I still think he was wondering about me. He was wonderful enough, however, to help me roll it all up again. Ah, well, such is life. After all, I put up with him just about swerving off the road over a nice big rig or old truck of any sort . I mean, come on, I like to admire and all, but I have more pride than to start swerving! Now really!
It was a beautiful day today and baby and I did manage to spend some time outside. We baught her a walker, and she really enjoys it. I know walkers are considered unsafe, but we just use it for very short periods of time to give her a change of scenery. She likes to change it up. One day she sits in her basket, the next in her stroller or her bouncer. Or, she can lie out on her blanket and work on crawling. I think she is going to start that really soon. She gets her knees under and pulls herself forward, but then she goes kersplat.
Well, I am off to bed now, so I can have a long productive day tomorrow. good night all!
I started retaking my pictures tonight with help, of course, from my amazing husband. He is very good with the camera. I also discovered the art of photo editing. I took some advice I was given and downloaded the photo editing software picasa 3 by google. Boy did I have fun with it. Between the new background I thought up and the "airbrushing" I think that my new photos are much better. So here is a before and after. The first is the old picture, and the second is the new picture of my Rosy Toes Baby Booties Thats all for now.
Today I am back from the land of the living! I was sick yesterday, and baby and I slept all day. Baby was kind enough to sleep all night as well. Today I am going to try and get back to my sewing a bit. I am definitely not going very far, however, because I will probably have to work tomorrow. I have also decided to retake my pictures. I had seen a forum post on Etsy saying that your pictures will come out really well if you use a daylight lamp. It makes sense, if you think about it, because that is full spectrum light, the closest thing to natural light. I think the best part of it is you can move the light, which of course, is a little difficult to do with the sun. I will be sure to keep you updated on this experiment. I will post some of the pictures for comparison as well.
Baby and I have had such a busy week! On Tuesday, my sister in law came up. Niece and auntie met for the first time and were quite taken with each other. It was a whirlwind week of sight seeing and getting things done. Here are some pictures of the week.
Saturday was baby's first fourth of July. I had purchased a little blue sailor dress for her, and I decided Friday night (typical of me) that she needed a sailor hat. So, we went to the store and got some red fabric with white stars, and some patriotic colored ribbon, and I made her a little sailor hat. It is so ridiculous it is cute!
Sunday baby got baptized. She wore a civil war era christening gown that my "fairy godmother" had given to me, and a bonnet and jacket that is my husband's family heirlooms. She was so beautiful, but getting her into the car seat sure was an adventure. I had to roll the gown up a few times and it kind of billowed out from the side of her legs.
This week I must crack down and get to sewing for my shop again.
Well, we are back from our weekend at Fort Ticonderoga. We had so much fun. Here is a picture of myself and baby wearing our eighteenth century costumes. We are sitting next to her grandfather's forge. Baby got so many compliments on it, that it made all the hard work worth it. There were so many pretty things for sale, but I practiced much self control, and managed not to come home with too much. It was a struggle though. I had to work again today. I think business is picking up a little. I guess that is good, but that means I will have to work more. Thats all for now.
I Had to work today. Didn't get to drive the nice truck, but it was at least a short day. Tomorrow we leave for Ticonderoga. I will have to finish up the handwork in the car on the way. I will post pictures of the event and our costumes when I get back. We get back on Sunday night, and I should be able to get pictures up no later than Tuesday, hopefully. Next week is shaping up to be pretty busy as well.
I don't know what it is about us re-enactors but we all seem to be really shortsighted. It seems that the week before an event we all decide we need new costume pieces, and therefore are sewing like mad up until the last minute. (and when I say last minute, I mean LAST minute) It is not just me either. I know many people who have been caught doing this.
Today at work, I think I made a poor driver feel insecure in his "man-hood". I drive a 22 wheeler tanker vehicle and deliver gas to gas stations. The little oil trucks, like the kind that come to your house we refer to in the business as "peddle trucks" (the peddle from door to door) Well, I was talking to a peddle truck driver down where we fill our trucks up (we call them the racks) and I couldn't see if there was still another peddle truck under the rack, so I asked the driver I was chatting with if he could see if the little truck had moved out yet. That poor guy immediately started justifying why he drove a little truck himself and why he liked it. (something about weight lifting and getting into shape...) I just don't understand why some guys think they have something to prove by the size of their truck. Maybe it is just that "boys and their toys" thing. I mean, I like trucks and all, and the bigger the better, but if I can't drive the biggest and best of them, I don't feel a lesser person for that. Ah well, I guess I shouldn't over analyze it. One would think I should be used to it by now.
I must get to bed now, for I have a full day ahead of me. So until I come home again, that's all for now.
Well, I sewed all day today. Our eighteenth century costumes are almost done. Two adult petticoats, one adult gown, one baby gown, a baby cap, and a baby shift. That is a lot for a few days. I hope I don't have to work tomorrow, because that will give me a little much needed extra time. But for now to bed...
I had to work today, and it was a longish one-10 hours. The good news, is that I got to drive one of my company's brand new trucks. They have just barely 50,000 miles on them. That's nothing for a big rig. I had some much fun with it. They are 2009 long nosed Kentworths with a lot of chrome. A really nice looking truck. Drives like a sports car. The top of the hood is so tall, I can barely reach it. Must be over six feet. Things went kinda smoothe, but I lost an hour loading up cause they decided to shut the place down to upgrade their computers. Oh, well. Delays just don't jive with the trucker mindset, which is go, go, go. Tomorrow it is back to work on the eighteenth century clothing. I am very close to being done! Thats all for now.
Well, I have got a fair amount accomplished today. I spent most of the day working on prototype number one of my newest idea. I am getting excited about it. After that I finished working on and photographing these two preemie sized hats to be donated to a neonatal intensive care unit.
Hats are very important for premature babies as they help keep their body heat. They are also, I am told, the one personal thing these infants are allowed to have with them. These particular hats that I did are made with alpaca, and of course, lots of love. Alpaca is very very soft. I really enjoyed knitting them, knowing that I was helping out.
Tomorrow I must get back to work on my eighteenth century costume. The gown is almost done. It is so pretty. All it needs is hemming, which I cannot do until I make my two petticoats. I also have to make a stomacher as well. I cannot wait until we go to the event at Ticonderoga next weekend.
Here is the new fabric I bought yesterday. It is so yummy! I cannot wait to start sewing with it!
The blue is linen and the stripe is a really high quality cotton twill. They will be used as part of my eighteenth century costume. The print is cotton, and that is for my latest idea that I am working on. I am very excited about it. I hope to have it rolled out no later than early July.
Today baby, hubby, and I are off to the tool store. It is three floors of floor to ceiling old tools. A wonderful place that you can easily spend half a day wandering through. Across the street from the tool shop is a t-shirt store. They sell beautiful nature themed screen printed t-shirts, and they use only water-based inks. They sell their seconds for only five dollars each. You can see all the beautiful prints they make here. http://www.libertygraphicstshirts.com/
I am almost done with my gown. Now its off to the fabric store to get some stuff for the finishing touches. I can't wait! Also have to do other less interesting errands like grocery store and post office, but I guess that is life. Baby is up a raring to go, so we're off!
Well, I am sooooo excited. I have been working all day on an eighteenth century gown. I have a reenactment to go to in two weeks and none of my clothes fit anymore. (Something to do with having a baby...) So with some help from my wonderful mother in law I am now about half way done. When it is finished, I will be sure to post pictures.
My mother in law is an expert on all things eighteenth century. Especially clothing and textiles. If you are interested in these things, you can go to her website http://www.pinetreeshilling.com/ She also has a wonderful quarterly publication.
Well, I have got some lofty goals today...we'll see what happens. But for now a story. I was delivering gas to a customer late one night. These kids pulled on to fill up (it was a Friday or a Saturday) and the finish up. The pull out directly on top of one of my bright orange traffic cones. They were in line to hit another, and cause worse damage so I went running to them to point out the next cone. The kid looks at me ad says, "you should have put a cone out" and I said "what do you think you just ran over?" Sometimes you just have to wonder a little about people...
Well, I had to work yesterday. Not what I really wanted to do...My truck got stopped and inspected, but I got off pretty easy on that. I still lost over an hour of time. Oh well. Still working on those booties. must get them done soon.
I have finally got my first sale shipped today. It was a custom item and it was so much fun to make. You can see it here http://www.etsy.com/view_transaction.php?transaction_id=16183046 I have to admit I am excited and a bit proud. I am working on a pair of reversible silk baby booties. I think they will come out really well. Hopefully they will be finished within the next couple of days. I will post them here as well, when I am done. Thats all for now.
Well, I guess I will tell a trucking story today. I am breastfeeding my baby so when I go to work, I have to use a breast pump. Now when you are a trucker, the only place you can really pump in is your truck. So I stopped at the rest stop about my third day back so I could pump. My uniform is button down, so of course I had to unbutton my shirt, etc. I'm happily pumping away, when I notice a UPS tractor-trailer kinda swerving around a bit. I look up and the driver is turned completely around staring at me. I don't think he had any idea what he was looking at. Its a good thing that I don't pump while driving down the highway. That would be a road hazzard! (at least to the other truckers) I saw that UPS driver again at the rest stop a few weeks later. He was craning his neck again, but I wasn't pumping yet. And anyway I've got a "dirty old trucker baffler" I bought myself a cape.
I should put a little something down about my featured product. They are silk on the outside and cotton flannel on the inside. I had so much fun making them. They are based on a pattern sold at ithinksewdotcom.etsy.com. They are trimmed with delicate vintage lace, and ribbon rosettes. If you like them, you can thank my beautiful baby daughter for inspiring me to make things like these.
Well, I now have a blog. The reason I set it up is that I have heard it can be good for business. Please feel free to look at my shop thefiddlintrucker.etsy.com And here is a little about me. I am a new mother and a truck driver. Reconciling these two worlds can be very interesting, and a little nerve wracking. I guess if I have nothing better to write about, I can always tell stories of being a "mother-trucker" Thats all for now.
I am a new mother and a part time truck driver. Reconciling these two aspects of my life sure can be something. I also am starting an online store of hand sewn accessories. Please visit it at thefiddlintrucker.etsy.com