Look at what's happening!

Ignore the dust...

It's been forever and a day, but Rosehill Cottage is back on the work table! (I am laughing at myself - my last post on this was last Thanksgiving!) I am finishing the wall structure in the kitchen and realigning the windows in the front of the house. I will be making an upper cabinet between the two kitchen windows out of mat board and painting it like the lower cabinets, and also need to texturize and paint the kitchen walls. I am going to scratch-build the refrigerator and tiny stove but haven't figured out what I will be using for those yet.

Another angle of the kitchen.

A big head scratcher for me has been the lighting. I want to fully enclose the house, so everything is viewed by peering through the windows, which means the lighting needs to be LED since they are not hot. From viewing The Holiday a billion times and studying stills of the set, the set designer used a lot of small lamps throughout the set. For example, the kitchen has two table lamps, a four-light chandelier, and a fireplace which would be a three LED fixture. I found this website, Model Train, which has everything you would ever want to know about LEDs, and has a great looking flickering fireplace kit. Apparently you can run 50 LED lights with a 9 volt battery, so I won't need to plug this thing into a wall. I need to write out a plan for where all the drill holes need to go, where to run the wires and hide the battery.

View through the front window.

My plan has always been to finish the downstairs then layer on the upstairs. The exterior will be completed after all the wiring is finalized. I am probably not doing this at all the way I "should" be, but I am just happy to be working on it again. 


Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating it! This year I will be cooking a turkey for the first time ever. We usually go to relatives for the holiday so in the 18 years I have been married I have not had to deal with making Thanksgiving dinner, but this year circumstances changed and we are home tomorrow. I bought a 12 pound turkey, which I think will be manageable, and I am going to make the stuffing in the bird. Adventure! Today I am going to make the pumpkin pie, and prepare the green bean casserole so its ready to pop in the oven tomorrow. I will let you know how it all turns out.


"Make do" door hanging

I used an old embroidered tea towel for the rod loop.

My younger daughter's room does not have a window, but does have a pretty French door that leads out to our back deck. Since it is the only light for the room, I have left it uncovered for many years, having once been the room I used for a studio.

My DH has wanted me to make something to cover it for privacy for ages, but the project kept getting pushed back behind everything else I have been doing. I started a quilted hanging about three years ago, but I got stalled out during the quilting phase and just couldn't get back into it. The piece just sat there in my studio, mocking me with its raw edges and gathering dust, but I just could not bring myself to finish the unwieldy mess. 

Flower basket.

Early this spring I found a batch of half-finished vintage needlework squares at an antiques shop, measuring about 2 feet square. You know the kind - blue lines on cheap cotton, usually not very precise. 
I thought they were charming and could not resist the price of $1 each. 

Star and flower.
I was deep in the thrall of a vintage sewing kick and wanted to use up some of my stash of thrifted embroidery thread on them. In no time I had them finished and laying across the back of the couch to admire them. What would they become? They were too cheap and fragile for a quilt or pillow, and a little too big to hang on the wall. When DH walked in the room I asked him what he thought (usually a bad idea because he is a self-described non-creative). He looked them over and said "why not sew them together and finish the door hanging for the bedroom?" Wow. Great idea from DH and it made us both happy. Plus, there was the vintage Singer just waiting to sink her needle into a fun project.

Sunburst with gradated thread.
The binding got wonky during sewing.
Now, I am fully aware that this piece is far from a perfect sewing job. I am still figuring out how to deal with tension on the old machine, and the narrow foot may not have been the right one to use for a big piecing project. My binding job is amateur and the material skewed a bit. BUT I love love love it and that is the point, isn't it? I wasn't making this thing for a juried show, I was making it for my sweet girl's room and it has such charm. Every day I get to look at the needlework that would otherwise have been packed away in a drawer, just like it was when I found it. For me, this kind of project is exactly the way to showcase the lovely handwork that often gets discarded in our digital age. 

Spy the Johanna Masko quilt hanging in the bedroom?


Handwork, and head work.

I've been busy doing more projects on commission lately, and I just finished these hand knit and crocheted washcloths for a friend to give to her mom for her birthday. Each one is done in a different technique; seed stitch, basket weave, eyelet, half-double crochet and straight double crochet with border. My favorite to work on was knitting in seed stitch - there is something so satisfying about creating the even field of bumps. The worst one was the basket weave. I am not kidding when I say I had to rip it out and restart it FIVE times. Such a pain, but really a lovely pattern once it was done right.

I took some time out today and worked on a dollhouse project for a few hours. My poor dollhouses are so dusty and neglected. I just haven't been in a "dollhouse-y" frame of mind lately. Ever feel like something you are passionate about is too good for you? Or taking time for yourself is too selfish? When I allow myself to get them out and lose myself in mini making I just want to tune out everyone and everything else, and end up feeling like a bad mom, housekeeper, whatever. So it's been easier not to do it lately. I wonder if its because they are "toys", and somehow not worth the effort? I want to accomplish a finished Rosehill Cottage, I really do, and I feel guilty about taking forever on it. Anyone else out there in miniatures feel like this, ever?

I don't mean to be a bummer... Maybe I just need to interact more with other artists and get excited again. Thanks for listening!


Vintage Singer sewing machine

Machine ready for oiling.
 I posted this a looooong time ago, that I found a working vintage 1941 Singer model 15-90 sewing machine in someone's trash. I have a sewing project I need to do for my younger daughter, and wanted to use the machine for it, so I am finally rehabbing it - making it look pretty and getting it into working order. I found a great online resource for parts. After taking it apart, cleaning and oiling it, it works wonderfully! I was even able to find a free PDF of the original manual which was of immense help in the set up process. I also found Lizzie Lenard on YouTube who has a number of tutorials for using vintage machines, which is great for us visual learners.

This beautiful cabinet sewing machine is in the living room which will make it so easy to use for quick, simple sewing jobs. I am SO excited that something I got for free is beautiful and useable.

Testing the bobbin winder.
Perfect bobbin, despite the dried-out wheel.

Beautiful shiny metal!

Good as new.

Achieved nice thread tension after lots of adjusting.


Etsy Store reboot

I just renamed my Etsy store to more closely align with this blog, and have started to add to the sales inventory. I am including my fabric work on a commission basis, so if you want an old family snapshot turned into a fabric wall hanging, here is where to get it! I will also be adding some miniature items, since you probably think I've given that up. I haven't, but the dollhouses have fallen off the radar for a while and I need to get some work done in that department. Poor Rosehill Cottage has been silently gathering dust in my studio... Anyway, my Etsy store is back in business!


2013 Alumni Exhibition - Stamps School of Art and Design

Yesterday evening I went to the opening reception of the 2013 Alumni Exhibition at the Stamps School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan. Over 160 artists participated this year, and the range of work is really outstanding. You can view an online gallery here.

The work is divided into two galleries; the Slusser Gallery is in the art school, where the reception took place, and the Work Gallery, which is on State Street in downtown Ann Arbor. I didn't get to see my piece hanging, as it is in the Work Gallery, and I didn't feel like taking the student bus downtown during our stifling heatwave. My friend Maria visited Work this morning, and sent me these photos.

Today is the last day of the Ann Arbor Art Fair downtown, which means lots of viewers will see that half of the show, and possibly go visit the Slusser Gallery as well.

This is a fun show to participate in every year, and always brings with it the possibility of reconnecting with former classmates. I don't think there were any others from my class this year, but I did spot a couple former instructors at the reception. Alas, I didn't win any awards, but had a great time!


Knitting weekend on Mackinac Island.

I just got back from a lovely weekend on Mackinac Island with a group of ladies I knit with. We enjoyed the hospitality of Sharon and Bill Hahn at their home, Hahn Cottage. I had such a wonderful time, as it has been a couple of years since my last visit to the island, and I always wish I could have stayed longer. (If I ever win the lottery, Mackinac here I come!)

The West Bluff.

While I of course spent quite a bit of time knitting, I also spent a good part of Saturday walking the island and breathing in the fresh lake air. I visited the Island Bookstore and found an inspirational book called the Hand-stitched Home by Caroline Zoob. Every project in the book is so charming, and I want to do them all. Of course I bought some fudge from May's Candy Shop, and later got another kind of fudge from Murdick's.

My favorite structure on the island.

A secret path in the woods.

View of the Grand Hotel from our ferry.

The Grand Hotel is the most impressive structure on the island, and normally you have to pay $10 just to go onto the porch. They now have a ice cream parlor called Sadie's, which is open to the public, and is named after the Grand Hotel proprieter's Scottish terrier who won Best in Show at the 2010 Westminster Dog Show. I treated myself to a cone of Blue Moon and ate it on their porch. Yes, it was a ridiculously large amount of ice cream!

My giant cone of Blue Moon.

Back at Hahn Cottage we weren't hurting for food either. Everyone was responsible for a meal, and I think we all brought way more than we needed. Each meal was incredible, and filled with cameraderie and laughter.

Lilacs are still blooming on the island.

Many thanks to the Hahn's and all the other friends who made the weekend such a blessing!


New artwork for my alumni show.

I just dropped off my latest artwork, made for my alumni show at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. The title is Bonds (May, 1941), and the materials are fused fabric and colored pencil. The piece is 18" x 24" framed. The show runs from July 15 to August 3, and I will let you know if anything exciting happens, like selling it or getting a juried award.

The original image, a tiny snapshot from May of 1941.


I love my job!

I don't know how some of you bloggers out there are able to post every week. I get so caught up in my life and responsibilities that the blog just falls into the ether. One of my latest responsibilites is finished, and I am excited to show you the results! I have been hired over the last year by a couple of friends to do some home improvement projects involving mostly painting, including ragging and glazing techniques.

This bathroom involved painting, but I was also asked to do a couple of really fun projects. I added a custom mosaic frame around the large mirror, and I customised a valance for the window.

For the mirror I combined a variety of small tiles, both in glass and stone, and affixed them directly to the mirror with silicone glue. The end result created a kind of patchwork feel.

For the valance, we picked a lovely fabric of gray bird and vine silhouettes on a white background.

I applied some wonderful batiked and hand-dyed fabrics over portions of the design using Steam-A-Steam, which is a great fusible product that is re-positionable and can be cut with the fabric for a perfect edge. After all the elements were ironed down I added stitching using perle cotton, to emphazise the applique and tie the design together. I loved doing the needlework so much I actually lost track of the hours I spent! Don't you love it when that happens?


One completed project.

Here is what I've spent my recent free time making - slippers made out of wool sweaters with wool embroidery. Very fun to make, and it feels good to finish something. These are a gift for a friend. The sheep pattern is from a lovely book titled Woolly Embroidery.


Baby it's cold outside!

View out the front window. Poor chilly geraniums!

So sorry for not updating for so long, but I actually haven't had much opportunity to work in my studio lately. I did have one lovely day just before Christmas where I spent a 12-hour stretch in my studio sewing up some handmade gifts. Since then, my husband had hip replacement surgery on January 8, and has been away during his rehabilitation. I've been taking care of my girls by myself, which really leaves very little time for minis and other artistic pursuits.

Today most schools around here have been cancelled because of the deep freeze we are experiencing. I didn't discover that our charter school was closed until we got there - they were having power and water problems and sent out the notice later than usual. Oh well - a day at home with nothing to do... Maybe I will spend some time in my studio. I did start a tiny hand-stitching project out of desperation, just something I can carry around with me. I don't really have a plan for it, but my thread stash was taunting me. I am adding a bare tree on the right and seed-stitching snow over the background.

Hope it's warm where you are!