Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Tiny Tack Tuesday?

Maybe this needs to be a thing since I'm on a mini tack/prop kick...  haha

Today I'll be working on something...  tiny.

Also, a sighting in the studio.  How is that comfortable?

Cats...  they manage to look comfortable pretty much anywhere.

The critters are keeping me company in the studio on this beautiful, snowy day.

Back to making tiny things...

Monday, December 28, 2015

Motivation Monday - Seriously

Well, I'm sliding in toward the END of Monday on this one, but I thought I'd share a picture anyway.  I'm still pondering my goals for 2016 - and reflecting on how much I didn't get done this year...  I'm thinking I can wrap up what I'd like to happen in the future with just this one picture:

Sometimes (often times?) I have trouble being serious about my dreams.  That causes many problems, of course.  So, yeah, I think it's time to get serious.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Tassels and Snow

About all I have to report for the last couple of days is:

1. I'm making a ton of tassels.

2. We got our first REAL snow.

On the tassel front, I did decide to go with my first thought of two pinks, I just couldn't get brown to look right.  So this is the color scheme for the tassels:

Today my supervisor stopped by to check on my work.

Altogether I have 90 tassels now and I think that's enough for what I have in mind.  Hopefully tomorrow I can get more costume work done.

We woke up to this!

We've had a dusting out two of snow so far, but this was the first good snowfall that we've seen.  I am loving it!  I love snow.  Yeah, maybe I'm weird...

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Day After Christmas

Today feels more like Christmas than yesterday, because...

We finally have snow!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Japan!

It is Christmas here already, Christmas afternoon now.  Sadly it is not a white Christmas, although we have had some tiny snow flurries.  I'm hopeful that we will have snow by the end of the day, or maybe tonight.

In the meantime, here's a Christmas picture I took last year of my old Shire, Rose, with her sleigh and jingle bells.  This was in our backyard, back in SD.

As I said last year when I shared the picture on FB: how is she pulling the sleigh with no harness?  Magic.  ;)

I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Stablemate Rope Halter

This is something that I've had in mind to do for a few months now.  I had tried a time or two and given up, but day before yesterday I finally pulled it off.

More to come about it later.  I'm still ironing out some details and complications, namely adapting directions for a full scale halter to allow better construction in miniature, but I think I'm really close to being able to make a lot of these - in lots of different colors!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Full Speed Ahead

Yesterday I picked up a couple of things that I needed to move forward with the first Arabian costume.  Today I plan to do quite a bit of work on it, including much braiding and tassel making!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crafty Tack Day!

Today I worked on several little things, mostly parts of the first costume.

I built a saddle tree - my very first!

The book I'm following says to use polymer clay to build the tree, but I haven't used that yet and didn't feel like trying it today.  So I decided to go with epoxy for my first try.  I then decided to work on a bunch of other small bits of the costume while waiting for tree to harden.

Next up was to build the start of the stirrups,

the stirrup leathers,

and the stirrup bar strap, to be measured and finished when the tree is done.

I also put together the base for the breast collar.

Unfortunately, there wasn't much more I could do, because I need to go get some floss to start on braid work and tassels.  Yes, even with my big collection of floss, I still don't have quite the right colors...

As always, when working with epoxy, I had some left over.  So this guy got part of a neck.

Another little project for today was this, the start of my very first mini scale blanket.  I'm very happy with how it's turning out!

It was a great day!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Expanding the Tiny Forest

My bonsai collection is growing.

Yesterday, during the bonsai class, one of the other students brought a bunch of baby trees to give away and I ended up bringing home several.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Costume - Panel Construction

Today I did a bit more work on my first Arabian costume.

Using the frames I made a couple of days ago, I selected some pieces of fabric to cut out and used a chalk pencil to draw the lines.

Then I applied fray check around the borders.

After the fray check had dried, I cut out all three pieces.

Each piece was glued onto background fabric and a ribbon border put around them.

Finally, the fabric was trimmed, folded over, and glued down as a backing on three sides of each panel.

 As usual, I had to try a quick test fit on my model.  It was exciting to see some real progress!

That's where I left things for this session; I've got the panels being pressed in a book for now.

This whole project is kind of scary for me, it is all new, but it feels good to finally be underway.  I'm not expecting much from this first attempt, but hopefully I'll come out with something halfway decent on the end - and learn what I can improve on.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Thankful Thursday + Dash of Motivation

I'm always on the lookout for different pictures in my travels across the vast sea of the Internet.  A few things I'm constantly looking for: horse and tack reference pictures, funny pictures - mostly to share with Jeff, and motivational pictures - for me and to share with you in my Motivation Monday posts.  Once in a while, I come across a motivational picture so good that it's hard to wait for Monday to share it.

This is one of those pictures, I found it today:

I thought those were great motivational words and in thinking of a way I could share it today, I thought: Well, what is today...  Thursday.  Thankful Thursday?  Seems like an odd thing to share this picture in a Thankful post, but stay with me...

I've been thinking a lot about the goals I had set for this year - and how a lot of them haven't happened.  Last week I actually decided to get a jump on goal setting for 2016 and I started drafting a blog post for that list of goals (coming soon).  In some ways I do feel like I'm in the same place that I was last year at this time, but that's really silly, isn't it?  In the past year we've moved halfway around the world, to Japan.  So obviously I'm far from the same physical place that I was in a year ago.  However, it's so much more than that.  I've already experienced so many wonderful, beautiful, and amazing things in our short time here.

From a hobby standpoint, in the past year, though the Stagecoach hasn't been touched much at all, nor has my very first Rio Rondo saddle, I've acquired a lot of really awesome hobby materials, like How-To books that I've had my eye on for a long time.  I had a fantastic Day in the Studio with Candace Liddy back in March that took away a lot of the fears of the unknown that I'd had about a lot of creative processes.  I met one of my hobby/tack making heroes and had a great day with her.  I have also "met" another of my hobby/tack making heroes via e-mail and I've thoroughly enjoyed our conversations!

I could go on, but really, I do feel so blessed, so thankful.  I think instead of focusing on what hasn't happened, what I haven't gotten done, I need to continue to be happy about all of the wonderful things that have happened!

That being said, I am still going to keep the words of the picture in mind as the next year begins to unfold - there is still a LOT I plan to do!  Much of it is scary for me, but I've got to get started, before another year goes by.  ;)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

So Much Sea Glass

A side project over the last few days has been to work on cleaning up the sea glass I've found on all of the trips to the beach.  I've been rinsing them off, then soaking them in bleach water.  Finally, another rinse, and laying them out to dry.  It's been fun and boy do I have a lot of neat pieces and colors.

Batch one - including a piece of china in the lower left, also found on the beach:

Batch two:

Batches three and four, rinsed and laid out to dry at the same time:

I've still got at least two or three batches left to clean up.  Then I plan to sort through all of it.  So far I haven't had a concrete plan for what to do with it, but I'm getting some ideas.  So I think the pieces that I don't want for my projects I'll be giving away, or possibly selling if they are very nice, but not quite what I'm looking for.

There are some large chunks that I'll have no use for, but I did gave one of them to a friend yesterday for her fish tank, along with a handful of a type of rock she's collecting that I had some of in my beach loot stash.  The sea glass piece was one she'd seen on our last beach trip a few days ago, but decided not to pick up.  Then she said she wished she had.  She was happy to hear that I had it, I guess me picking up all of it, whether I'm sure I'll use it or not, is okay.  (ha!)


The title of this post is inspired by a Kid Snippets clip.  If you haven't heard of them, you should go check out some of their videos.  The premise of their videos is this: "If movies were written by our children".  This is the first video of theirs that Jeff and I had seen, a few years ago.  

Kid Snippets: "Salesman"

We use quotes and partial quotes from it, and some of their other videos, fairly often.  In the case of this blog post, "Did you see so much money??"  Replace money with, anything...  Another favorite from that episode is: "I'll have it."

A couple of our other favorites:

"Cooking Show"
(favorite quotes: "AAAAND THE MILK!!" or "Yeah, and the ice cream.")

"Math Class"
(favorite quotes: "I. Don't. Know."  or "Ten!")

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Costume - Second Session

A few days ago I made some tiny baby steps towards making my first Arabian costume.  Today I did a bit more work.

In trying to decide exactly where to cut the patterned fabric that I want to use, I decided that I wanted a "frame" to use, versus a solid pattern piece.  So I drew two more pattern pieces on card stock and then cut the inside out of them, leaving a frame around the space.

For a comparison, here's the solid pattern piece on the fabric...

... and here's the frame.  I like this WAY better for deciding what I want to cut out.

Up above is the long piece that drapes over the horse's back and down below is the rear panel that sits over their rump.

I'm having a bit of trouble deciding on the whole color scheme.  My plan all along was to do two shades of pink, and then have white as the third color.  Now I'm leaning towards the trio of brown, pink, and white - or brown, and the two shades of pink.  It's hard to see in these pictures, but the scalloped design around the rose pattern is brown in color.  It's very subtle, but I like the idea of using brown in the costume, versus running the risk of looking like someone poured Pepto-Bismol over the horse (too much pink?).  There are hints of green in the fabric too, but I though that might be tricky to pull off, so I've decided (I think) that brown and pink will be in there, but for the third color... another pink... or white...?  I'm not sure yet.

Here are some of the floss and ribbon colors that I was considering today:

After studying the fabric through my frame pieces - and studying the book - I changed my mind on the style of costume.  Instead of the type with a long panel over the horse's back, I think this fabric would work better with the style of a rear panel and small side panels.

So, I repeated the pattern piece and frame cutting to get the frames for that style.

I might still shift the rear panel around some (the bigger one on the bottom), but I like how the smaller side panel looks; the rose design fits in there about perfectly.

Here's my model with some scrap fabric pieces haphazardly stuck on to try and eyeball the panel sizes.

And that's where I left it for this session.

Next time I think I'll plan on actually cutting out some of the rose fabric and try to nail down the colors of floss and ribbon that I'll be using.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Good Mail Day

Jeff came home from work and his nightly stop at the post office with this:

I couldn't wait - I've already read through the digital edition - so I knew what to expect, but I'm still very happy to have the actual issue in hand.  It's much bigger than I had thought it would be and I love that it was sent in an envelope.  That way it didn't get all beat up - particularly on its long journey here to Japan!

The article I'm most happy to have, and look over again and again, is this one:

Despite the fact that the vast majority of custom horses I've done have been minis - and despite the fact I've done a bunch of haired customs - it never occurred to me to try and use embroidery floss for hairing!  I will certainly be trying this technique in the future.

I'm also eager to re-read the other articles, and interviews, and the ads, and, and...  :D

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Beach Treasure Found

I had fun a the beach and did find a bunch more sea glass and rocks.

This little piece is now the prize in my sea glass collection:

My first cobalt blue piece!  (my favorite color)

We saw a lot of really neat things along the beach, including this tiny stream of runoff that was building some amazing sand structures.

Jeff and I agreed we could have sat and watched this for hours.  It was fascinating to see water erode and relocate sand, in miniature.

Today I'll be recovering from the beach walk; it's always quite a workout.  I may go over to a friend's house to watch movies and do some crafts.  I also need to start getting my sea glass and rock hoard-- er, "collection" cleaned up.  :)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Beach Day

Today we are off to the beach with some friends.  It's the same beach where I've been finding all of the sea glass.  This will be Jeff's first time there, where I usually go with a couple of friends.  Their husbands are joining us too.  It should be a fun day and maybe I'll find a more treasure!  ;)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Costume - The Very Beginning

Yesterday, Tealight "helped" me cut up some scrap fabric.

Today, I put some of the fabric to use, taking my first tentative steps into the world of Arabian costume making.

First up was transferring part of a pattern onto the scrap fabric.  I then stuck it to a cutting mat, using double-sided tape.  For cutting I decided to try the little rotary cutter I'd bought at the 100 yen store.

Hmmm, it turns out the cheap rotary cutter may be cheap. This may actually be my fault, as I think I stopped cutting at the corners instead of going past them like I probably should have.

No matter, a bit of trimming with scissors and the pieces were free.

This is where I stopped for now.  I've got to do some more adulting (boo!) before we go over to a friend's house for the evening.  Not much to see here, but it's a start.

I wasn't sure which mold to use for my first full costume, but I figured a PAM is a nice place to begin.

Remember this post, folks!  When I am making awesome costumes (years from now) this is where it will have started!  ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Tealight Says: Trash = Toy

I had a bit of help in the studio last night:

I was cutting up an old pair of pants to use for scrap fabric.  She wandered in, found my discard pile of seams, hems, and pockets on the floor, and helped herself.

(Here's the pile I'm keeping)

A purpose I have in mind for the scrap fabric, is to start on some initial work for my very first Arabian costume.

If you haven't noticed...  Yeah, I tend to jump around ( a lot) from project to project.  That's probably why I tend not to get much actually finished.  Sigh.  I'm going to try and be better about that.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Behind the Craft: Tatting

It dawned on me recently that, while I've mentioned tatting a few times here - and showed a couple of in progress pieces - I've never actually done a post about tatting - or showed any finished work.  It's also been a long time since I've done a Behind the Craft post, they are fun to do.  So, here we go!

I first became aware of tatting as a little kid.  My Granny tatted and I remember many a night spent watching TV with Granny and Granddad, hearing the *click-click* of her tatting shuttle as she worked on something.  She entered many things in the county fair and brought home many ribbons and rosettes.

When I was pregnant, she sent me a tatted baby bonnet and booties.  I still have them.

At some point, several years ago, I thought that it would be neat to have Granny teach me tatting.  I had talked to Jeff about it a few times.  I thought I would need to go and stay with Granny for a couple of weeks to learn.  That didn't happen, but I really wanted to learn and felt more and more like it was something I had to do, to carry on the tradition for our family.  No one else, such as my mom or my aunt, had ever learned it.

Three years ago, Jeff and I made a trip from South Dakota to Arizona to see Granny for Thanksgiving.

Spontaneously, I think on the last night of our visit, I asked Granny if she could show me a little bit about how to tat.

We sat down for about 20 minutes before bed that night and we ended up having an audience.  My uncle Mark, who is the historian of the family took pictures I think (he is always taking pictures), but I don't have them.

Granny explained how tatting is just rings and chains, that's all there is to it.  She showed me how to do the double stitch, how to make a ring and how to make a chain.  When we left, she sent me with two of her tatting books, a ball of thread, and a tatting shuttle.  She told me to practice making rings and chains, until I could do them well, and then make something simple, like a bookmark.

Well, I did just that!  As soon as we returned home, I started making rings, rings, rings, chains, chains, then I set out to decipher a pattern and made a bookmark.  (I gave Granny my first bookmark for Christmas the next year).

Afterwards I made another one and another, then my first doily.  I was off and running!

I think it was shortly after, Granny called me and said she was sending me a box of tatting thread and boy, did she!  I received a box stuffed with tatting thread, both the larger crochet thread (size 20-30) and actual tatting thread (size 80).  Tatting thread is so fine, it is like lightweight sewing thread.  I've only made a few things with it, but they are so tiny and delicate.  I can really see how tatting is often referred to as a type of lace.  As Granny explained it to me, tatting itself is just a technique; you can "tat" anything - thread, rope, leather cord, yarn, etc.  She uses mostly the crochet thread (20-30).

((picture of threads, different sizes))

So I had my very first tatting lesson in late November 2013.  In late 2013, I decided that I wanted to further follow in Granny's footsteps and make something for our fair in SD.  In the box of thread, she'd also sent a bunch of patterns.  One that caught my eye was for a Barbie wedding dress.

She had noted on some of the patterns which one she'd entered in the county fair in Colorado and how they had done.  On the dress pattern, it said she'd won 1st place. I decided to go for it.

I started the dress in late December and the fair was in August.  I finished it just in time and, very nervously, entered my first fair.

The day the exhibits went up on display, with the results of the judging, I almost couldn't bear to go see how I'd done.  When I did see, I was shocked: I won first place!

Also there was a large rosette near the dress with "Best of Show" on it, but I couldn't be sure if the rosette went with my tatted dress or a crocheted item next to it.  I realized after looked at other divisions that each one had a sign listing the Best of Show, Judge's Choice and so on.  I went back and there it was.

I immediately called Granny and told her the news.  She was SO excited!

The next year, I had to enter the fair again, but March came and I still hadn't started on anything.  After talking it oer with Granny, I decided to do another pattern of something she'd made that won her a first place, an American flag.  Once again, I finished it just in time (seems to be a trend) and once again I was all nerves entering, and awaiting the results.

This time, in addition to first place, Best of Show, I also won a Best in Class rosette!

It was made even sweeter, because Jeff was there with me the second time.  The first year I'd entered with the dress, he'd been deployed to Afghanistan.  But the year of the flag, he was there with me when I went to see the results of the judging.

Fired up and wondering if I could possibly pull off a three-peat, I started work on my next planned fair entry right away.  It was yet another prize winner for Granny.  It is a large red doily in the shape of a heart with an arrow through it.  It was well underway when, in mid November, we got the news that we would be moving to Japan in May of 2015.  No more fair for me.

I stopped tatting for quite a while and months went by before we arrived in Japan and started to get settled.  I found a craft group here and during one of their get togethers I brought some tatting supplies and started making bookmarks and bracelets again.

I did make several tatted ornaments for the vendor show this past Saturday.  I did a quick preview of the tree and wreath in an earlier post.  Here's how they look when finished:  

I still have the started heart and arrow doily and I'd like to finish it while we are here.  I might also work on a couple of other, larger tatting items here.  Maybe I can enter a fair when we get back to the States, or maybe I'll find something to enter it in here.  As it turns out, tatting is actually done here in Japan too; I've even found two Japanese tatting books at a local craft store!

I've heard many people, including Granny, say that tatting is a lost art.  Thanks to the Internet, I see that there are many people who still tat, but it's rare that I encounter someone face to face who has heard of it, and much more rare that someone knows how to do it.

One last note...  There are different types of tatting, two that I'm aware of: shuttle tatting and needle tatting.  I use a shuttle.  There are shuttles that have a bobbin in the middle, I imagine they are quicker to load thread onto, but I use the type that click.  Each end of the shuttle joins in a point and they click back together when thread passes through the point.  Using that type is a sentimental thing for me, after growing up hearing the *click-click* of Granny's shuttle as she worked.

I'm sure I'll be sharing more about tatting in the future; I'm currently finishing up a Secret Santa gift for a fellow crafter.  (I'll show pictures after I give it to her).  Plus I have some ideas of more things to make for the next vendor show.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to use tatting to make something for model horses...  Any ideas?