Wednesday, May 9, 2018

May Flowers

Happy May, stitching friends!

I have several projects in the works right now, including some fall projects. What is it with me and the seasons? When it's winter I want to work on spring projects, when it's spring I want to work on fall projects.

The design bug has bitten me HARD. I have been working on a series of little seasonal houses, but they are still not quite where I want them to be. Just when I think I have them nailed, an "Aha!" moment comes to me when I'm driving or in the shower, and back to the drawing board I go.

Here's a sneak peek....
I sketch something out on graph paper, go to my floss collection to pick out potential colors, then stitch it up, changing my sketch as I go. Sometimes when I'm finished, I think, "Meh," I argue with my internal critic, and I start over. And sometimes I gush with joy, and I think, "YES!!" Then I chart it online on Stitch Fiddle, export a PDF, fine-tune that in Photoshop, then create a pattern with instructions and a key in InDesign. It's a lot more work than I ever imagined! But fun every step of the way. I'm looking into design software for my Mac, but I haven't committed to anything yet. Do you have a recommendation?

Oh, on the stupid cancer front, I have good news! My latest scans showed some improvement (improvement! yes!) and showed that some of the bone lesions in my longer bones have actually gotten smaller. I didn't think that was even possible, to be honest. And my tumor marker, a measure of a protein that cancer cells emit, was actually in the normal range! How about them apples?

Remember the Country Cottage Needleworks monthly cottage series I've been working on? I have been using the same glossy black frame for each month, swapping out the framed piece to save money. I decided I really don't like the black frame. I adore the frames the models are displayed in, the ones by the Family Tree Framing Co., but I haven't been able to locate one. So.... I thought, "Why not make my own?"
I started by sanding down the black frame to remove the finish and to give the paint a gritty surface to cling to. I think the black frame already looks better sanded, don't you? I purchased the little ornate wood onlay from Fullretrovegas on Etsy. (I measured my frame a couple of times to make sure the onlay would fit without being overwhelming.) Because the onlay shipped from China, it took a few weeks to arrive, but it was well worth the wait. So pretty! I bought a base grey chalk paint, white chalk paint and some clear wax from Michael's, and some Elmer's wood glue.
First I painted the frame and onlay in my base grey and let them dry several hours. Next, I followed this tutorial on YouTube that showed how to distress with glue. I painted the frame with a thin layer of Elmer's glue, let it dry a little bit until tacky but not wet, then painted the white chalk paint over it. As it dried further, the glue shrank, revealing my grey base coat through little fissures and cracks. Once the white chalk paint was dry, I glued the onlay to the top of the frame. Once that was dry and secure, I brushed a layer of clear wax over everything, let it dry, then buffed it. The result?
Ta da! How do you like it?

I finished framing Country Cottage Needleworks' May cottage today (better late than never!), and I am just so, so happy with my "new" frame. The antiquey cracks aren't very big, but that's how I wanted them. If you want deep, big, dramatic cracks, just paint on a thicker layer of glue. By the way, aren't the colors in this month's cottage sweet? I just love the pop of that green ("Frog Legs" by Classic Colorworks) and the bird, the bees and the birdhouse. They make my heart happy.

Before I got back into cross stitching, my passion was cardmaking. I haven't been doing much of that lately, but in the spirit of spring flowers, I got in the mood to do a little watercoloring. Bear in mind, I am NOT a painter. I like to play around with watercolors, though. I love their unpredictability. I never know what I'm going to get when I put brush to paper.

I stamped some flowers and leaves on watercolor paper with clear ink, then heat-embossed them with white embossing powder. Then I put on some paint and waited for the results...
They're messy and wonderful!
Next I cut them out (in the papercrafting world, they call this "fussy cutting"!). I try not to stress about the cutting part. They don't have to be perfect to be pretty.
I saw a YouTube video of someone painting leaves, and she used blue. It never would have occurred to me to use blue to paint leaves. But when the blue and green flow together, don't they create a delightful palette? So unexpected.

So now I have flowers and leaves to embellish cards or make magnets or do whatever else comes to mind. I made a card for my brother...
A little luminescent gem in the middle of the flower gives it just a little bling.

Wishing YOU a day filled with happiness and a very wonderful Mother's Day. I just returned last night from spending several days with my mom. She had surgery on her ear canal (I won't go into gory detail). She has lost almost all hearing in that ear, and this surgery will hopefully restore some of it. Fingers crossed!

Happy stitching!