Nellie"s Needles

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Basil the Crow

... arrived in MacCowCowa today from Portland, Oregon. I cannot believe how quickly he got here. Terry must have a bit of magic she included in his creation.
He's already found his perch here in Studio North.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Few Patches That Make Up My Life

I read this meme on Stop By With Di's blog today and thought it would be fun to do. Since I've skimmed through all 99 points when I've run across it on others blogs, I thought a few of you may be interested in my answers ... all of which are patches that make up my life ... so far.

1. Started your own blog
2. Slept under the stars
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than you can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo
11. Bungee jumped - no way!
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea.
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill

24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb a lot of other farm animal babies (even delivered a litter of piglets)
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (even a moon set)
31. Hit a home run (broom ball count?)
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person (awesome!)
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught yourself a new language
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (as long as there's enough for a few fat quarters then I'm happy)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance

47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain (and the snow)
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (been on TV)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class

59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check/cheque
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy (those of my children)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades (fished for crabs with chicken necks on a string)
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been a passenger on a motorcycle,
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper
85. Kissed a stranger at midnight on New Year’s Eve
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88.Had chickenpox (subsequently shingles)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Got a tattoo
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

That was fun! Here are the rules for you to play, too:
Copy and paste the above list.
Bold or lighten the things you’ve done in your edit box.

Post on your blog!
As for the photo, I played with it in Elements. That's the "Patchwork" filter. More fun!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Another Bird

Isn't she a hoot? Being slightly under stuffed, her looks bring to mind an aging beauty whose overdone it with the "feather weaves" and is wobbling around on spindly legs. This full of personality bird is put together by Joyce making it the second Canada Bird in the album. The other one being a farout funky bird created by Arlee.

Again, I want to thank Terry Grant for the inspiration behind my bird pattern. I had seen her first fabulous two birds on her blog and needed a project with which to play when my friend, Alicia, came to visit for ten days. Looking at the photos of Terry's birds I drafted the one that I've been using and sharing. It's amazing how each bird made from this same pattern ends up with a unique personality. Wondering what the next one will "be" is why I ended up making so many. When there's the factor of each maker's creative choices and skill level involved in the mix, the results are amazing.

Terry's marvelous birds are not only the "originals", but reflect traits of actual species. She is now selling them on Etsy. Go here to see them and read the post announcing their introduction to the world. If you're familiar with Terry's art, you know of her wonderfully unique creativeness and highly developed skill level. These most likely won't be in her Etsy store for long and I predict that she's going be awfully busy creating birds to keep them in stock.

PS: I just purchased Basil the blackbird from Terry's Etsy store. I'm thrilled that it will be another mascot in my studio. I like to think he will radiate a bit of Terry's creativeness. The bird's name is the same as our sixteen year old Sheltie who died last fall, so there is an extra personal connection for me to this bird.

PPS: The wired beauty of a bird two posts back is created by Shelley at Mermaid's Purse. Checking out her link for this post I see that she's made another ... and his name is Homer.
This one called Flitty was created by Shelley back in March. Go here to read about him ... her?
All these birds have been added to the Bird Album at Picasa.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Prairie Flower Update

A month ago today I introduced the major installation piece about prairie flowers on which I'm spending all my time. Back then, a base layer of "ortwork", or underpainting, had been done for all 25 panels. Go here to read or review the "beginning".

Quite a bit of time was spent online looking at photos for reference before beginning the detail layer of this installation. This photo was key in the work I created for the top row ... the horizon.
Here are three photos of the same panel. The first one is the foundation layer, the second with the materials to create the details layered on, and the third with the netting layer added and quilted.
Here's a close-up of the flowers on the horizon. I've free-motion quilted with varying sizes of zig-zag stitch and multiple variegated threads.
This photo was taken during the process of laying the details of roving and crumbs.
... and some of the "crumbs". I was pleased to find those plaids in the scrap bag that had been left here in Michigan. I hadn't brought any scraps from Tennessee which makes looking through this bag a treasure hunt.
The last panel in the top row was half done on my design table when this photo was taken of the template into which I drop or replace photos as the work progresses. Here is the whole piece with the new photos of the four that are finished dropped into place.
Elvis is hiding in a cloud. With the large scale of this piece and the clouds being so high on the wall, I doubt anyone will ever spot him.
Only me and those I let in on my slightly deviant sense of humor will ever know.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Birds, More Birds!

I've been saving photos of or links to birds that have been created by talented people in blogland. I've just spent an hour trying to find the email or notification or blog for this beauty that features wire head and tail decorations ... to no avail. If you made this bird, please leave a comment to claim the glory.

This more subtle bird with "knees" is in Bonita's Flickr album.
Jovita's bird

There was a bird making party in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin recently. It sure looks as though they had fun time. I like the small feathers they've all used for headdress and tail decoration.
This is the one made by Patti who got the party going.
This one is made by one of Patti's friends who wasn't at the party.

On a different subject, I've had a week of computer wackiness that's driven me nuts. First, my grandson shook beach sand from his hair INTO my keyboard while he was playing games. My cursor went nuts and it was nearly impossible to write anything without a great deal of attention and care as to the location of that cursor. Then photos on my blog and others that I read regularly began disappearing from posts. Whaaaaaaaaa! Their html codes were there, but no pics.

Well, the sand in my keyboard was cleaned out by my son and that computer is now working fine. However, it's no longer mine. He purchased a new MacBook Pro and presented it as a gift to his Pop on Father's Day ... the real gift being a happy wife/mother with a new computer. Now to figure out all the clicks and scrolling patterns that come with it.

It just happened that Firefox went crazy and played havoc with blogs at the same time. They're still whacko, and I've switched to Safari for reading and composing. I find it more difficult to do this in Safari, but am glad to have something that works. Has anyone else had problems with blogging and servers?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Miniature Dolls

At the time I was ready for people in my dollhouse room, I was collecting old and new porcelain dolls. I took a workshop to make a miniature lady doll so I would know how and what went into the creation of good porcelain. This lady is the result.
Setting her glass eyes was the most challenging part to me ... she ended up a bit cross-eyed. Her hair is made from silk roving. Curls were made by wetting a small hank, wrapping it around knitting needles, and then baking it at a low temperature to set the curls. I enjoyed the process of creating her, but only needed to make one doll from "scratch". I purchased the already painted and fired porcelain body parts to construct the people and toy dolls for this dollhouse room.

Both ladies dresses are made from silk fabric. They're wearing all the appropriate undergarments and hooped petticoats from the Victorian era. They even have silk stockings and high-heeled shoes made from fine leather. The baby's smocked dress and bonnet are Swiss batiste cotton. I had knitted the baby blanket from sewing thread using the the largest sewing needles I had to knit it.

As you can see, the dolls are small, especially the dolly.
She's also wearing a smocked silk chiffon dress with petticoats and leather shoes. As I recall, all the dolls shoes were made from old kid leather gloves.
You may recognize that I've done English smocking, which is a surface embroidery across pleated fabric. This scale is too small to make pleats by rows of running stitches. Tiny pleats were formed by drawing up threads in the fabric weave at even intervals. It was hard to see the gathering thread as a guideline for the embroidery, so I drew chalk lines to help me evenly space the smocking stitches.

I'm glad I did all of this about thirty years ago when my eyesight was good. I could never see to work on this scale today.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Doll House Tour

The lady at the door with the baby is coming to "trick or treat". Mother doll is getting candy from the entryway table for them. The side windows at the door have curtains that are pleated silk with lace trim panels. The rug is one that came in a book of rugs printed on a fuzzy paper. I colored in the pattern with felt tip pens and then mounted it on course fabric that is fringed on the two ends. The figures on the shelves are porcelain.
I have decorations for three holidays ... Halloween, Easter, and Christmas. The only digital photos I've taken are these of Halloween.I like to think that father doll is taking a break from carving pumpkins. I don't know who was playing cards.
Under the newspaper is an inlaid chess board in the center of the table. The chess set is stored in the highboy along with a lot of other things.I made this easy chair from scratch. It's upholstered with silk fabric and trimmed with twisted floss. The protective doilies are motifs cut from lace, as is covering for the pillow. The window covering and valance are also pieces of lace trim and finished with the same floss twist plus tassels. The clock is made from a kit.

The corner china cupboard is also made from a kit. There are silver pieces, real glassware, and porcelain dishes.
I hope you're clicking on these photos to see the details such as father's pipe and pocket watch on the side table between the chairs. The smaller chair is where mother sits to stitch. There's a threaded needle waiting for her in the work in progress (embroidered by me with a single ply of fine silk thread ... but not with that needle). The hoop really does slide up and down the stand. Note the spool rack filled with threads on the end of the mantel.

The bird's name if Bob.

Philip is the young boy's name. He's in a rocking horse chair that I constructed, stained, and caned with silk thread. He's playing with his favorite toy teddy bear that I made from fine wool felt. The fur is embroidered in a straight stitch with a single strand of floss.

Lucia is playing with her dolls at the bay window seat. Her doll and trunk were made by me from kits. Although, I designed and made the doll's clothes. You'll see that up close in my next post.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Doll House

Well, it's really just one room.
Initially my plan was to make a small vignette of a decorated Christmas tree in a bell jar-like display. Then I begin collecting and making things. Before I knew it, I had way too much for a small display. So ... I had to collect and make more to fill a room. My husband's uncle built the room for me back in the early 1980's.

Come back for a tour on my next post.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


The kind of doll I wanted most as a child was one that looked like a real baby. I would've adored having this one.
And I did have her, but not until I bought her when I was in my forties. She now belongs to my great-niece.
I more than made up for my childhood deprivation with a huge collection of dolls. About five years ago I began gifting a special doll to each of the girls, old and young, in my family.

This French doll went to my great-niece when she was nine years old.
She very much wanted an American Girl doll with all the accessories that her family could not afford to buy. If there had been one in my collection it would've been hers. I included more clothes with accessories. These are three that I had designed and made.

Also included was that chair in the above photo plus a lot of other "stuff" I had collected for dolls.
This limited edition art doll is the last doll added to my collection. She was gifted to a grown up niece who is seriously collecting dolls.
The foundation of her collection is the dolls I had dressed and gifted to her throughout her childhood. No little girls in my family went without.

PS: One excuse for, or result of, my doll collecting was writing two books about smocking for dolls that featured patterns I had designed. Here is one of them:
The pattern I had made for the doll on this cover was also published as "Allison's Dress", a multiple sizes pattern for real girls.

Monday, June 08, 2009

My First Spirit Doll

... was made reluctantly a number of years ago at Arrowmont.
It was an exercise to start the flow of creativity in a week long workshop, "Healing Art", conducted by Susan Shie and James Accord. At the end of the orientation assembly the night before, everyone in our class was instructed to bring a sock to class. I was a bit put off when we were told to spend the first day making a sock doll. There was no instruction other than to make the doll. It seemed a waste of time because each of us had already spent a lot of time and effort to prepare for creating a specific piece of art that dealt with healing.
Somewhere I have a group photo with my classmates and their dolls. One that has really stuck with me is a most gorgeous beaded mermaid doll made from a grungy tube sock.

I don't know why, but the first thing I did was to turn my sock inside out. The extra lengths of thread where the knitting changed colors intrigued me. As I stuffed and shaped her body, childhood memories began to surface. For some reason I could not explain, I just couldn't give her arms. She was endowed with all other female attributes, including underarm hair. She even got a cute little hat made from the top part of the sock.
I stayed late in the studio to finish her ... there was going to be no more time wasted on a sock doll when I had a BIG serious project to work out. Just before I fell asleep, the memory of making a sock doll when I was in a children's home hit me. I really, really wanted a doll. The only way I could have one was to secretly make it and her clothes from my socks. It's pretty certain that I did have some thread and a pair of scissors. She was probably stuffed with a pair of panties. Of course, I had to hide her and could only play when everyone else was asleep. The disappearance of my socks was a mystery to everyone else.

The second day of class opened with a discussion of our experience in making the dolls. Then we were told, what by then was obvious to each of us, that the act of creating a doll with no instructions or outside input was a way of opening channels of creativity on a deeper level.

The theme for my healing art quilt was my broken family, which is why my siblings and I were in the children's home. Making the sock doll opened a floodgate of memories for those years over half a century ago. That quilt was never finished, but the process of creating it brought a closure for a difficult and painful childhood. This spirit doll is a presence in Studio South. Can you spot her?

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Spirit Doll Update

The spirit dolls have changed hands three times.
These first two pictures are from Patty. She's in charge of the exchange.
My contribution to each is a pair of breasts since I didn't include any when I designed the pattern*.
They are made "yo-yo" style, stuffed with a circle cut from batting, and have nipple decorations to conceal the hole and stitching where the fabric is drawn up.
This one was given "Bee" wings and button buttocks by one of the participants before I got her.
What are the chances of my finding a fabric in my stash that matched the dolls body so well that she looks bare breasted?
We Thursday Bee ladies are having fun!

*click on the word "pattern" to be taken to the introductory post for the Spirit Doll. There are two links at the end of that post ... one for printing out the pattern and the other for printing out assembly instructions.