first attempt at vegetable dye

Perhaps not entirely my first attempt to dye something using natural dyes, but I’m thinking dyeing poodle ears with beetroot juice doesn’t really count…

I’ve also done heaps with tea and coffee, but again, I’ve always considered those more of a stain than a dye.

This time I got it into my head to try to make my own re-usable shopping bags out of the millions of vintage plain linen sheets I’ve been collecting from mom and my aunts. Great fabric, but not great as sheets any more cause most of them were made for shorter beds than we have now.

Anyway, I had the sheets so I cut one up and made 2 shopping bags in the most simple way I could (ie no side gusset). The whole point was to make something I could carry with me easily.

I also wanted the bags to be pretty so I needed colour – using natural dyes and stamps. Hence the Junk4Joy stamps I made. Fiddly for a first attempt at linocut in years.

I wanted to brand the bags obviously. I even added a wonky recycled logo to the name.

I did a lot of reading about natural vegetable dyes online and decided to go with purple cabbage to start with as I liked the colour. Plus I’d just made some rice paper rolls and had purple cabbage on hand.

Following the instructions, I boiled the cabbage, then strained it into a bowl. I added salt as a mordant (cause I have no idea where or how to get pot ash) and got to dyeing.

I wanted an ombre look so I wet the bags and hand dipped them a few times, then let them hang in the solution overnight.

The resulting colour is very soft. Maybe I needed more cabbage and less water, who knows. Still, its quite pretty for my first attempt.

After they dried, I ironed them then got out the fabric printing ink I’d bought with the linocut supplies and stamped on the logo. Last I added a button and some elastic so the bags can be rolled up and put in a handbag.

Pretty cute I’d say.

To be honest I’m not sure I’ll bother trying to make bags to sell… I had a long conversation with myself lately and the upshot of it was that I do too much. I spread myself too thin with all the creative projects I do. I’m better off to stick to what I’m best at and that is painting. I’m an artist AND a creative person with unlimited interests, but I am better off concentrating on the work that I’m best at in order to earn some money from it.

My pet portraits on commission and my marble and rock paintings sell. It makes sense to concentrate on that.

Making bags or critters from recycled fabric or baskets from found ropes etc are all lovely and fun. So are my art from trash dog and bust sculptures. But most of those things take a lot of time and space and so far haven’t sold. The aim is to sell stuff.

I have tried selling online a lot over the years, but postage has always been an issue. I’m not saying I won’t try ebay or my esty shop again, or even Facebook, just that it seems selling something for under 10-20e with postage of over 15e seems ridiculous.

Anyway, there’s always so much to do and so little time.

z

lace curtain feline makeover…

Remember the beautiful lace curtain I made during the first lockdown?

This is what it looks like now…

Yep. In tatters.

All that work… took me days to make it. A cat destroyed it in a couple of hours.

Did I mention kitten-gate? When a cat got locked in my house accidentally?

Well, it could have been way worse. It could have been locked in for days and I could have come home to a dead cat. Ugh. I think I should consider myself lucky the only casualty was the curtain. I have more doilies and lace. I can make another.

Lainee is quite relaxed about it. In fact she and her teddy bear are both taking it all in stride.

z

faith necklace

Just quickly sharing a little textile necklace I made a couple of weeks ago for a friend. This was made in her favourite colours – pink and black – and the word faith which is what she wanted. She would have preferred a gold loop and cross but I had to use what I had – so I added this cute mother of pearl cross and a silver jump ring.

I used a piece of pale pink linen I had for the ‘body’ and added a scrap of vintage lace to the front and a bit black lace flower detail for a little punch.

The close up pics aren’t the best but I no longer have it to take better photos.

She loved it. That’s all that counts.

z

fabric jewellery

This is what I’ve been working on most lately. In case you were wondering. Little puffy pouches to hang around your neck on cords of waxed cotton or leather.

I make them using all kinds of fabric scraps (I have a whole suitcase full of small scraps I’ve been collecting for years) which are too small to make much else out of. Plus some recycled beads, gem stones, trinkets, buttons and old lace. Oh, and the occasional chandelier crystals.

Basically whatever I have on hand. And I have quite a lot on hand…

The cords are mostly new, of course. As is the odd bit needed to complete each piece.

They make great little gifts and I have someone interested in buying a lot of them for his shop next year!

I also plan* to set up an Instagram shop but have run into all kinds of trouble – I once tried to set up a Facebook shop and, despite trying to follow all FB and google instructions, I cannot for the life of me figure out how to do it. Cause the links/buttons/whatever are never where they say they are for one thing! I’ve tried just about everything and I’m about to scream!

(*Plan: something we make to convince ourselves we have some control over things.)

Meanwhile I’ve been preparing my tiny home for going away for a month or so. I’m not leaving straight away as I have a couple of appointments which have delayed departure, but I will be going soon enough. I figured it was time to basically tidy up and pack away things I don’t need on display gathering dust.

You wouldn’t think a tiny place like mine would take so long to organise. But it does. I’m still at it.

Mind you, for me tidying and organising is an adventure in meandering distractions.

“I better start by packing away the objects on that shelf.”

“Oh look! I forgot about that xxx! I’ll find a box to put it in with others like it.”

Two hours later I get back to packing away objects on the shelf. Or not.

In that vein, I’ve bought and hung new (cheap) eyelet blockout curtains on the bedroom balcony door. Something I needed in summer… but at least it will keep the room warmer in winter as well.

I put fertilizer in my pot plants. Good thing. It rained for a couple of days straight. Constantly. Not like here at all. Normally we get a downpour which floods the place but only lasts a few minutes. This was good watering rain. I hope we get more, we sure need it on a dry island where the population explodes in summer.

I bought some cheap plastic tubs (like the kind you use to cart washing around) and put some of Lainee’s old cushions (I make new ones each winter using old pillow stuffing) in them and placed them in the only under cover area around my place so the the stray cats have somewhere dry to sleep.

I must remember to toss out the old cushions from the cat houses I have on my porch and put in new ones (ie, Lainee’s old ones – I have heaps of them).

I took out my measley Christmas decorations and put them out. Considering whether to put out the fairy lights. I normally hang them all over the bookcase. I wont be here for Christmas but I may as well enjoy the Christmas spirit while I’m here. I never do a Christmas tree, but I love fairy lights. I’ve already lit the outdoor ones.

I’ve made a key rack for mom’s new house. And finished another project I started a couple of months ago. I’ll share those soon.

I’m also thinking of rearranging a few things in the place. I mean, I have a gorgeous shelf which was given to me by a good friend and there really isn’t room to put it up. I want to make room for it!

So, as you can see… I keep busy.

I saw a Tshirt on Facebook which I really want. It says: “In my defense, I was left unsupervised”.

I must have it!

Just like the old one I have which says “I make things cause if I don’t I get sad”.

Anyway enough blabbing on for now. I have things to do, places to go, dogs to groom, electricians to oversee and meetings to attend.

later!

z

meet patch

As promised, here’s Patch. He’s the first ever dog sculpture I made – this time using the same system for the armature but hand sewing the body for the finish.

He turned out great and I love him. He’s about twice the size of my usual dog sculptures and he took way longer to make due to the hand sewing. I want to make more like him but they are very time consuming, and I also love the glued fabric look… hm… Then again I love the hand sewn patched look as well… Oh the dilema!

Whatever. I’m really surprised I couldn’t find him on my blog yesterday. I was sure I’d shared him. Obviously not. Either that or I called him/the post something totally unrelated so he didn’t come up in my search.

Odd.

z

footstool summer look

This is a small easy update to a very wintery looking footstool I bought this winter. This is what it looks like:

Nothing fancy, just warm and furry, goes well with the faux cowhide rugs I throw over the couch in winter.

But in summer I wanted something lighter, more in keeping with the summer look of lighter throws. So I dug out the old flour bags I’d collected in Tasmania. I was going to get a friend to make a quilt out of them but never got around to unstitching them to give her. Now I have a few very old and some not so old ones I’m not sure what to do with sitting in a suitcase under my bed.

I selected a not so old one (its in kilos) to make this cover.

I don’t have progress photos cause I always sew by the seat of my pants (ie sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t though I always make them work somehow)… but basically these are the steps:

  • I cut the bag open to separate front from back.
  • I laid the front fabric upside down and placed the stool on top (also upside down) and traced the shape.
  • I cut the circle allowing plenty of seam allowance.
  • I cut the back into a strip deep enough to cover the sides and go under a bit – the length wasnt enough so I used a piece from the front (with writing on it) to make it long enough.
  • I sewed the two pieces together to form a long ‘side’ piece.
  • I hemmed the side piece with a channel to fit elastic in it.
  • I slid the side piece onto the stool inside out and placed the top piece on inside out and pinned it all together.
  • I sewed it all together, trimmed edges and zig zagged them to stop fraying.
  • I threaded elastic through the channel and voila:
  • Fitted it onto the footstool!

I didn’t bother ironing it (cause I’m basically lazy and ironing would have meant cleaning the stove top of the sundry bits and pieces its collected, putting out my ‘ironing’ towel and getting the iron out from under the sink*), so its the edges aren’t all sitting in the right spot, but you get the picture.

*My iron is only out when I’m dedicated to sewing. Naturally.

Underneath you can see the elastic holding it in place.

One small project finished!

Meanwhile I’ve been busy doing stuff, painting on marble, grooming dogs, going swimming, napping in the middle of the day when the heat gets too much for me, making baskets, watching a lot of Netflix…

I finished Orphan Black (loved it), started iZombie (loving it)…

Hey, at least most of the time I work while watching Netflix, don’t get on my case!

Gotta go groom. Later!

z

walking dead dolls

I know I’ve shared a couple of my Walking Dead doll remakes, but I found I had this post in my drafts folder and it includes one previously unshared doll: Sasha.

sasha2

This is Sasha in the show:

Sasha_Williams_TWD

And this is my Sasha, complete with a high powered rifle with moving parts.

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Remaking Sasha included a total repaint of her face and a new hair style. I made her singlet top and she wears Bratz jeans. I bought her gun on ebay as I’ve bought various other accessories at times when I can’t make them myself. I already have a crossbow to make Daryl… I just have to get there.

sasha5

Let’s revisit the other girls… Firstly my all time favourite: Michonne. This is how she began, a very messy Bratz girl I bought in an op shop. That’s one thing I miss here (among other things…) No op shops. I’ve never seen dolls I can remake for sale anywhere for instance. I’m glad I brought a ton with me! When I eventually get around to re-making some again.

doll2

This is Michonne on the show…

walking-dead-michonne-danai-gurira-season-3-amc

And this is how my interpretation, complete with a katana and a chain to hold her pet walkind dead.

michonne1 (3)

In Michonne’s case I had to do a total overhaul. I had to remove her hair and make dredlocks by wet felting a combination of wools. I made her top, including a leather vest plus a studded belt. Her jeans are original Bratz jeans as they’re just too hard to make.

michonne4
michonne5

Last but not least, Carol. This is Carol on the show:

carol

This is what the doll looked like before I started. A typical overdone Bratz doll with wild hair.

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And this is the finished Carol, complete with a gun, a military warrier knife and bag.

carol2 (2)

In Carol’s case I did a repaint of the face, gave her a haircut and coloured her hair grey. I made all her clothes and made a pair of Bratz sandals into boots by painting and adding laces.

carol5 (2)
carol4 (2)

I miss remaking dolls. Its one of the things I planned to work on in winter but never got around to it for two winters in a row. This winter I was working on sculptures and last winter who remembers… All I know is that time never seems to be enough.

And I get bouts of laziness and inspiration blocks.

I should really be working on things like this constantly but instead I spend hours doing all sorts of things instead of creating. I really work best when I have a ton of projects going at once cause then I can pick what I want to work on at any given time. Space becomes an issue in a 2 room flat.

Last night I was up till 12.30 working on one of my new (old) cabinets. I didn’t even realise what time it was till I saw it was pitch black outside.

I love it when I’m in the zone like that.

z

visible mending – lockdown 2 day 149

Yesterday when I put Lainee’s little blue jumper on I realised it had 3 holes in it. I have no idea where they came from but they were definitely there… And getting bigger. So something had to be done about it.

So this afternoon while watching Bold Type on Netflix (light hearted, fun, easy to watch while I work) I began mending with embroidery thread I had on hand. Lucky I had just enough in each colour to create a border around the holes to keep the jumper from totally unravelling.

Oh and for those who noticed, I did create 4 rings when I said there were 3 holes. That’s because I decided to make another hole so I can put Lainee’s harness on underneath the jacket and still clip on her lead through the hole.

Ok, so I’m not the neatest… I see mending by others on Pinterest and drool and want to emulate but mine always ends up looking like it was done by an sightless mole without opposing thumbs.

Still, Lainee isn’t complaining. She’s an easy girl to please.

Poor little darling is in the wars right now. You may remember she has a huge mammary tumour which I wanted removed a while ago but she’s got a heart murmur we’ve been treating meanwhile to make it safer to put her under… Well, she began licking the tumour while I was away in hospital and yesterday she made it bleed. Hence she’s swaddled in bandages and vet wrap around her middle now. I have her booked in for surgery to remove the tumour next Thursday… sigh.

At least she’s been a happy little girl, she loves the wind and goes bezerk when I take her out in it, and she’s playful every morning. So although its bothering her she’s been well in herself. That’s something.

z

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cheating – lockdown 2 days 37 & 38

Yep. I’m cheating. I’m combining 2 days in one post. Why? Well, cause I missed posting for a day and really, I didn’t feel like posting. I didn’t even log in till now. Sometimes you need time off the computer.

I had a couple of busy days in terms of life in general, yet lazy days when it came to doing creative stuff and blogging.

I did do a few things cause even when I’m couch potato-ing I still do some things. For one I got Christmas lights and put them up. Outside. I bought them – I still haven’t found my old indoor lights. I obviously put them in a real safe place!

I also bought 2 new short battery operated light strands and put one in the window and one in the coffee table display.

I made a new bed for Lainee. I’d made her one out of a fluffy sweater last year*, which she loved, but I thought it was time to upgrade. I found that the best (and cheapest) way to make dog beds is to buy cheap throws and recylcing old pillow stuffing. It might be yuck for us, but for the dog its a bonus if it smells like us! And buying the fabric costs way more than the cheap throws. Go figure.

I bought the grey throw as it suits my bedroom. As you can see, Lainee enjoys her own space while sleeping on my bed.

*I recycled Lainee’s old dog bed as a bed for stray cats. They appreciate it even if its a bit ‘doggy’ smelling.

I’ve begun sorting Christmas gifts for family and friends. Small things I’ve made basically. I like to give gifts, mostly home made, cause they cheer people up. And it cheers me up even more!

I’ve done a little more work on the latest clay projects but they aren’t nearly finished yet. Worked on a new dog. Also not finished yet…

Other than that it seems like I’m always washing dishes… what is it with that? And putting the new vacuum cleaner to work… and picking up Eric’s toys…

Ain’t life exciting?

I’ll be back in form and feeling like posting again tomorrow. I hope.

z

paros day 26: tinned fish

Its weird that time both drags and rushes past during this surreal time of isolation. On the one hand it seems like days just fly past; suddenly its almost halfway through a month I don’t even remember starting; its almost the weekend and I barely noticed the week go by. I realise its Friday suddenly and I better go shopping before Sunday cause in Greece supermarkets are closed on Sundays.

On the other hand, time drags cause you’re home all the time, not seeing friends, not going to work, not living fast.

Actually, I rather like not living fast. I definitely like not spending a ton of money (mainly cause I don’t have it or I probably would be ordering take away food and buying stuff online all the time).

I’m not exercising as much as I told myself I would during this time. I’m rather lazy unless it comes to working on projects that I enjoy. When I’m deep into creating I forget to eat. When I’m watching Netflix or reading I tend to nibble. I enjoy nibbling. Its one of the great pleasures in life.

But I love being at home and working at my own pace on whatever I feel like making.

The wind has died down a bit today. Tomorrow is meant to be the start of another period of great weather. Tomorrow I go back to long walks every morning. I’ll go back to the garage and start on some workshop work.

Today I painted a bit but the whole morning was taken up by getting Winston to the courier, picking up more broken marble pieces, collecting my seedlings from the friend who was babysitting them while I went on the trip to Denmark that never happened, and shopping. I combined everything so I wouldn’t have to go out in the car more than once.

Some of the seedlings are doing great. Some are bashfully peeking out. Others have decided they won’t grow or maybe they’re just taking their sweet time about it. I re-potted some into larger pots and put them all out the back to nurture.

Unfortunately the labels I put on the plastic cups I used to grow the seeds have faded so now I won’t know what’s what till they grow and I can tell by looking at them.

I also visited the Post Office to enquire about anything that might have arrived for me since things shut down. No they say.

But do I believe them? Last summer a package arrived for me and they held it for 3 weeks, during which I had no idea it had arrived (and yes, they should have left a notice that I had a package), and they sent it back. I’m not happy.

I also asked about getting a post office box in the group of boxes on the nearest corner. No they say.

There are no free ones.

I suggested I might get together with a few people who live in this group of buildings all year round and see if they want to put together some letterboxes in our driveway. No they say.

In order to put out letterboxes we have to write to the council to apply for them to put a sheltered box there for us to put in letterboxes…

Ok… Is Greece the only country in the world where you need council approval for a letterbox? And for the council to actually put a box there for you to put letterboxes in?

sigh.

So, having wiped myself out doing nothing much most of today and not having any finished paintings or crafts to share, I thought I’d share something I made a couple of months ago that I forgot to post about.

A long time ago I’d bought these little tin cans in Athens thinking I’d like to make fabric sardines to go in them. So while I was in sewing mood one day I some small fabric scrap fish.

I then designed and printed out the labels:

I wanted to make my tin of sardines a little different from the ones I’ve seen elsewhere – mine aren’t just fish in a tin, they’re tiny mobiles.

I only had 4 tins, so I made 4 sets. They’re in my etsy shop for sale.

I think I’ll go make something to eat and maybe even have a nap. Cause I can!

I love being at home and having nothing I NEED to do.

Providing my creative mojo stays strong.

z