I have been hard at work for a couple weeks making ornaments for the TwoTwelve Arts Christmas show. I have glass birds, and decorated trees. And I made some new pendants too. This is just part of what I’ll put in the show for sale. I’ve been working on embroidery designs for pillows.
And, in case you wondered, I’ll show you the princess formerly known as Monkey Arms. Her proper story name is The Golden Ball.
Last night was our Games Night Hallowe’en party. We were a mixed group. There were pirates, clowns, a guy in a flight suit, a chef, and Men in Black from the Future. That was us. We had black robes, jet packs, and helmets with funnels on top. It was fun. We played Outburst, and Trivial Pursuit. We ate too much, and had pumpkin pie on top of it. Take a look.
Today I took a picture of my dining room table. Why? You may ask. Because I work there on jewelry, and use it as a staging area for all the things I take to classes, and stash whatever I don’t know where to store, on the table. But tomorrow my sister Chris and her husband Erich (aka the Candyman), are coming for dinner. And 2 of my grown daughters and their families and my son, will come too. There will be 15 of us, so we need a place to sit.
Here is the proof I can find the table! And here are my pies, set in the care of Sam The Elf. Yum!
Today I finished embroidering a princess, and realized that no matter how I arranged her, she looked funny. I made one sleeve first, before the dress. It looked too long, but I figured I could make the princess taller, and it would work out. Then I stitched the dress, and the sleeve was still too long. So, I figured I could make her proportionately larger, have a large head and hands, and she would look fine.
I made her head big, with lots of full, curly hair hanging down. And I stitched her hand and foot big. Then I made her other sleeve and hand, with the elbow crooked, so it looked shorter. Finally I showed my husband across the room. He immediately asked what was wrong with her. I threw in the towel then, and started cutting the threads in defeat. Now that only her dress and head remain, she looks better.
I never draw a design before I sew. I always go with the flow, and make whatever comes to mind. This is one of the problems with doing it my way. If you never draw a pattern, you never make a mistake by not following the pattern. But occasionally, you make one by distorting the design while sewing it. So, Princess Monkey Arms is history.
The story in the title is by the Brothers Grimm. I first heard it on The Storyteller, played on CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, about 25 years ago. It’s a wonderful story of the dangers of getting what you wish for. On Friday I went to see a Grimm Fairy Tales show at the Edsel Ford House, in Grosse Pointe. While the show was not what I expected, I was reminded of this story, and others I also love. The Grimm show would be good to take young kids to see. The playhouse the Fords built for their daughter was worth the trip.
But I wanted fantastical art showing elves, goblins, and other characters we can only imagine. There were some lovely paintings and assemblages. Just not the scope and variety I wished for. So I started this embroidery on Saturday, when my husband urged me to make embroidered books of stories. It isn’t going to be a book. It was very fun to make, and you know girls want to have fun.
The fabric I used for this is an old cotton dinner napkin. Usually I use cotton dishtowels, which are quite loosely woven. I was afraid this might be hard to needle, but it was not.
Sewing embroidery is soothing, mood enhancing, humorous, and brings memories to mind of times long ago. My mother was always happiest while working on her hand sewing. At that time, I had no patience for handwork. I was all about speed. I even taught a class called Speed Quilting. It featured rotary cutting, machine piecing, and machine quilting. But now that I have closets full of quilts, (and so do my kids and grandkids), I find I want to handle my sewing in a more personal way.
The embroidery I make is small, about pillow size. I can sew it start to finish easily in a week. The most fun part is finding out what I’ll make. It’s a surprise to me every time. I think of fairy tales, and they come out of my fingers. These are mash-ups of story characters, and imagined images. A long time ago, I read all the books, Red Fairy Book, Blue Fairy Book, etc. And I read Greek mythology collections, and Aesops’ Fables, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, and all else I could find. And I watched The Storyteller, a Jim Henson production, which is a fantastic visual treat. And now I sew stories, parts of this, bits of that.
Here’s the latest. It has birds, a pink giraffe, a scary crocodile, a pig in a sweater, with watermelon and flies, and a rose, with a drop of blood on a thorn. .
And this one is The Swan Boat. Make up your own story. Be sure to include magic fish.
All life goes in cycles. Sometimes we feel like creating art, other times we need to spend time with loved ones. I have a combination of those this week. My wonderful husband found an old book for me, that I have searched for in vain for years. When I was 7, I read stories from the book Giants and Fairies. But I left the book at an elderly relatives’ home, and never got it back. After years of looking through all the stacks of old books I saw in antique stores and resale shops, I finally mentioned it to him. In 5 minutes he had found it online and ordered it for me. I had trolled through many old book dealers websites without luck, but he found it in minutes.
Do I need to tell you how I enjoyed reading it all the way through? How I remembered all the pictures, and stories I’ve never come across anywhere else? I have a fascination with fairy tales and folk tales. You can be sure I’ll be making more embroideries very soon. But here’s the one I made this week.