Which is my favorite? It’s a Tie!

My mom sent me a great text recently: “I have access to lots of ties – want some for your crafts?” You betcha and yes ma’am!

So here’s some of the lovelies she picked out for me. What should I do with them?!

there’s art, upholstery, book covers…the possibilities are endless!
crowns and a feather, we’re spanning some decades here
the white and tan beauty in the middle defies tie-dom with its texture and lack of definitive creases – I think maybe it’s aiming toward sash-dom…on a party dress…

The purple one to the right of center might be my favorite (after I sing “Sailing” by Christopher Cross and “Lime in the Coconut” in honor of pineapples everywhere…wait, there’s no pineapple involved in that song?! P.S. I don’t want to talk about watermelon right now…unless you can quote a song that mentions it).

These ties are pure gold and all my thanks go to my mom, who took the time to pick them out and mail them to me. I can’t imagine what I’ll make with these beauties…any ideas?


Encyclopedias from the 1940’s

Oh what a great (free) find today!!

Cover image from the 1940’s encyclopedias…ah the dreams…!

A few months ago I signed up for a site called nextdoor-dot-com (syntax to avoid spam) that has turned out to be a great app that keeps me posted on neighborhood happenings (I think it’s US-only in scope but surely there are others?) Subject matter ranges from lost dogs (I’ve posted in this category more than once, maybe because I live on a corner?) to police/criminal activity (good to know!) to free stuff (be still my heart!)…so an overall amazing channel to tune into as it relates to the streets around my house, right?!

This morning someone two streets over posted a note about “boxes of encyclopedias from 1947-49 with spine damage and some mold.” I think keywords “boxes” and “mold” might have scared off the average person, but this crafter was all alerts on the ready! Turns out it was just a few stacks of some vintage books I’ve been trying to manifest for about 2 years. Maps and everything y’all…and I’ve only seen a tiny suggestion of the possibility of moldish tendencies on one picture. a.k.a. A Gold Mine!! I’ll be stamping seahorses on these pages very soon…

Without Further Ado and For Your Viewing Pleasure
(my two favorite introductions)

The spine and cover already intrigue me – they almost look like leather!

Random Pages

So I started opening books at random pages (before M. started frantically boxing them all up – I think he only got the “mold” alert and was a little worried…understandably).

The first page I opened: “Hostesses of the White House”
Different book: We’re learning how to make arrowheads now…

I honestly didn’t try to find the CA map too hard (I still don’t know which parts of the alphabet I have in this book set – they went into boxes way too fast), but this opened up pretty quickly during my photo search and I latched onto the kismet.


This is part of a six-page spread on animals and plants you’ll find in the “Rain Forest.”

Zoiks right? I can’t wait to look through all these books in my non-copious free time in which I am preparing my future artistic career. Getting right on that…but really, what a fun find. I better become a Certified Organizer immediately to deal with my ever-growing craft supply (I just made that up, but I feel certain people are making money doing that today…DIY!!).

Where Do All the Cigar Boxes Go?

I bought some more boxes, and now I’m wondering where all these amazing cigar boxes are going?! The cigar store owners seem to be very ready to get rid of them…like maybe it’s a problem related to selling cigars!

They're all so different!
They’re all so different!

I happened upon a new store recently and thought to ask about empty boxes. At first he said he sells them for $1.99 each, and that a man comes by every two months or so and buys them all – and he offers them to him for one dollar each at that time. I asked him what the man uses them for, but he hasn’t asked (ah well).

So then he offered me 11 boxes for $10. How can one resist? I mean, they’re so weird and different – every one! Some of them even have a little clasp to close them, like on my diary from a million years ago (e.g. childhood)!

So now I own “A LOT” of cigar boxes – some of which are being used for craft supplies (not labeled yet, so it’s a hunt-and-chase situation…mergh…:\ )

They come in all shapes and sizes (what crafter isn’t “wow’ed” by that alone?!). The one on the left is a trapezoid (I think…whatever, it’s a weird shape!)


It has a magic slide top y'all. Seriously.
It has a magic slide top y’all. Seriously. Are cigar smokers doing magic now and we just didn’t realize it?


This box has a wooden partition in it that has the label glued on
This box has a wooden partition in it that has a label glued on the edge…which says “Hand Made.”

So much wow.

I think I’m officially addicted now to cigar boxes. (According to all the labels, I’m better off addicted to the boxes than the cigars…have to figure out how to remove all those useful labels…P.S. DON’T SMOKE…but check out smoke shops because they probably have some cool boxes sitting around that they want to get rid off).


Hand-stitching a garment

So this is what I’ve really been up to in the past few days.

Alabama Chanin stitching – left side has been cut out and right side hasn’t


Chanin stitched corset pieces
Chanin stitched corset pieces (some are backwards so you can see the knots on each leaf)


Geranium in the mix
Geranium in the mix

I bought some great beads a few days ago that I think will make great embellishments. I’ll keep you posted…

Cool Cigar Boxes!

My Significant Lovie got his hair cut today, and his haircut place happens to be next to a smoke shop that apparently has been featuring empty cigar boxes at cut-rate prices for some time now. He now knows how important such things might be to me (crafting maniac that I am) and he texted and offered to bring some home. Uhm…yes please, how many will the car hold?!

This is my new stash and I’m awash with the possibilities. Please comment with any ideas you might have for these beauties!

Stack of cigar boxes!
Stack of cigar boxes!
They needed to be in the garden with the baby squash...I'm not sure why.
They needed to be in the garden with the baby squash…I’m not sure why.
Romeo and Juliet y’all!! It’s the same picture inside the lid, with a nail holding the lid down on the box…so official…

I’m heading back tomorrow to purchase the other 75 boxes.

Petit Point – Needlework from long ago

Today I attended a Cyber Security talk with my local ISACA chapter (blah blah blah what I do during the day blah blah blah), but there’s an amazing set of needlework art on the walls of the college where we meet. And that’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Petit Point: Bird detail 1
Petit Point: Bird detail 1

The plaque describing where these come from was gold and shiny and defied all pictures. And my brain was filled with cyber security details related to  my work, so I didn’t even write down the details or take a rubbing (now that’s a good idea for the next meeting! the plaque is engraved!). I promise I will write this down at my next monthly meeting – specific credit is due!

The mixture of small and large needlework stitches fascinates me on these works (and they’re not even behind glass y’all! I didn’t touch the stitches – I swear – tho I wanted to…). So here’s the best visual I’ve found so far of how this is created: Petit Point . I believe these items are from the early 1900’s.

Mastery to the Nth degree, in my book. Reality: This artist started with long blank canvases and stitched complex three-dimensional patterns on them with different threads in different material:stitch parameters. I’m just beginning to imagine how to create this kind of diversity in my threading.

A close-up of another bird
A close-up of another bird

I love being a part of this long history of tapestry, embroidery, needlework and crochet. We are making pieces of love that last the ages (on this topic: Please please check out what Amy Meissner  is doing with historic handcrafted and found pieces. She is a huge inspiration for me, and I love to see how she is incorporating sewn pieces from our cultural past into a new future. I also love how she uses found items in her art. Very thought-provoking for me…).

Things That Make Me Smile

You!! If you’re reading this and starting a smile, you make the list. I want to take a moment to recognize my readers out there. Love y’all and your “following of my blog” makes me smile. If you add comments, I’ll prolly smile even more…

Today while I was sewing the rest of the doll parts for my upcoming retreat I was listening to a comedy channel on Pandora and laughing out loud.


They're inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll?
They’re inside-out and not filled, but maybe you can see the beginnings of our Long-Legged Lulu doll? Pls note amazingly even hand-stitching on the orange piece that looks like machine-stitching. Oo’s and Aah’s are appropriate here – or maybe that’s just me. 🙂


It’s my newest media addiction: listening to stand-up comedy while I’m sewing in the sun (Netflix is getting way too distracting). So I started thinking about all the things that make me laugh out loud these days, and I’m happy to see that the list is not short!

(some of the) Things That Make Me ROFL, LMAO and LOL:

  1. The Carol Burnett Show (Here’s one I actually own on CD! Subtitles are a youtube bonus and my encouragement to learn a new language if that isn’t your native: Carol and the Jackson Five. It’s PURE GOLD (I think there’s an earthquake during filming and she doesn’t miss a beat. Because she’s amazing.). And there’s so much more…Mrs. Ha-Wiggins!) A whole separate sentence goes to her recent SAG Lifetime Achievement Award presentation (lots of tears, but happy tears so it counts for this list right?). SHEESH. Way to start a happy list huh? I’m crying the happy/sad/happy tears over here – don’t mind me – nothing to look at – moving on.
  2. A station on Pandora called “Comedy Death Ray” (I don’t know why it’s named that – sounds kind of menacing – but it’s not!). I added a few female names to the channel (like Kathy Griffin) and now I’m finding gems like Jackie Kashian, Tracy Ashley, Ophira Eisenberg (of NPR “Ask Me Another” fame!), Erin Foley. And of course there’s Kathleen Madigan. (The fellas are still bringing the jokes – they just came with the channel. John Mulaney, Gary Gulman and Jim Gaffigan also make me smile lots. Like this: :D)
  3. Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County – He’s back on fb only y’all, and it’s a new highlight of my day (he happens to be on a brief sabbatical at the moment but you can spend the time until his return catching up – it’s so worth it).
  4. CakeWrecks – I started following this site recently and now I can’t get enough. I also have a picture to submit of a strange T’giving cake I “captured” in an HEB in San Antonio, TX a few years back…I just need to find it in my files! This is real-life funny in every day life – can’t make this stuff up folks. Nobody’s photo-shopping cakes over there…I’m just sayin’…
  5. Jen Hatmaker – She lives near my hometown, tickles my funny bone AND inspires me on a regular basis. (We didn’t go to college together or anything, but I feel like we could have…)
  6. Scruffy Momo (a.k.a. Scruff-a-licious; Scruff-a-Doodle; Scruff-a-Bee, etc.). He’s such an old soul – a gentleman really, in the form of a small furry being. That’s why he never smiles in photos: he’s approximately 82 years old inside and really can’t be bothered. But you should see him chase a circle when it’s time for a walk! I’ll try to catch video of that to share, because it also makes me (and anyone else nearby) smile a lot.
    Grumpy Doodlebug
    Grumpy Doodlebug (taken on my lunch break today when he realized I wasn’t actually going anywhere; despite the all-black furry haze you can clearly see his frown and lack of approval. So judgmental.)

    Plus there’s the left ear that only raises on special occasions. I haven’t captured the exact details yet – it’s still a random occurrence with no apparent pattern (I’ll keep trying to get a photo – it’s kind of like the Loch Ness Monster – you definitely have to be there).

  7. Heirlooms!!
    Gift from Marge, crocheted by Aaron's mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old - probably older.
    Gift from Marge today, crocheted by Aaron’s mother, which means it must be at least 60 years old – probably older. It’s freshly laundered and kind of curly – I tried to smooth out the middle design for the pic.

    Me and Scruff visited Marge and Aaron today and she shared some more amazing things with me that carry so much of their history. The doily above is one example, and the rocks below are another.

Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven't identified yet (clues welcome)
Petrified wood, Rose Rock, Mica, and some other stones I haven’t identified yet (clues welcome)

Aaron was doing well today and we talked about Scruffy as he sniffed around the house. On a good day dogs make Aaron smile, and this makes me smile. 🙂

Eucalyptus and Leaf Rubbings

I’m happy to report that I got a tiny bit of exercise today walking to run an errand. And Scruffy is happy to report that he got a walk today!

Scruffy Momo as a wee one. He's 8 years old this month and the exact same size.
Scruffy Momo as a wee one. He’s 8 years old this month and the exact same size.

On our walk I picked up some fun things to make art with. The first was a set of eucalyptus leaves that got blown down in a recent wind storm we had.

Eucalyptus leaves
Eucalyptus leaves

What I love most about them is all the chomping bites that were taken out of all the leaves before the little branch got blown down. All the leaves on the ground were chewed up like this and it was all I could do not to gather them all up to take home with me. Because I. Love. Leaf. Rubbings. A. Lot.

"Indian Feathers"
“Indian Feathers”

I’m addicted to the unexpected textures of the leaves that I often can’t see with my “naked eye,” and also to the variety I can create with different colors. My sketch pad cover has a great bumpy rough texture that I like to use as a background/stage. Maybe you can see it in the background colors on the close-up of this one.

"Going, Going, Gone"
“Going, Going, Gone”

But mostly I love the mystery of coloring over something to find out what shape it is. I figured out today that it reminds me of these books.

It took me at least 5 minutes to figure out the right search term for this dinosaur!
It took me at least 5 minutes to figure out the right search term for this dinosaur!

Ah the memories (“Yes & Know” so clever!), and now the smirks (“HOURS and HOURS of “BY-YOURSELF ENJOYMENT” – their capitalization, which also happens to be a registered trademark apparently). Uhm, oh my…but only in retrospect. At the time, my mom included these as part of her genius “Travel Treat Bags,” which we took on any long car/plane ride, and since I was an only child and she was the only adult…these were pretty fun for both of us! (P.S. I used the “Travel Treat Bag” strategy countless times with my young’uns – highly recommended. The younger the child the cheaper the “treats.” They tend to lose the pieces en route – it’s all about short-term fun.)

So anywho’s – grab a greenish leaf from the ground, a piece of scrap paper from the counter and a pencil and see what secrets that leaf has to offer. I guarantee you’ll reveal life-giving veins and edge details you couldn’t see with your indecently “naked eye.” I would love to see pics of your findings! Post a link in the comments and we can start a gallery!


fun red buttons

Marge is an angel

I just got off work and I plan to finish up my crochet tote bag tonight – so hopefully more pictures to come. But I had to take a moment and share that my amazing friend Marge called this morning out of the blue and when I answered (I never know if she might be having an emergency she needs help with – it’s happened before), she said, “Is this the artist lady who is making art with buttons?” I find her at her sharpest right now – never missing a trick. I love that she absorbed our last conversation about art and thought to check in with me on it. It was a nice morning wake-up call/reminder of what makes me happy.

I am envisioning an embroidery picture I can make with some of her buttons as flower centers….

A story about Marge and Aaron that I love:

One day we stopped by while walking the dog and a basketball game was on the TV (it was the San Antonio Spurs so I was particularly interested). They were watching the game together and Aaron told us that they met in high school because they were both on the basketball team (separate teams for girls and boys of course) and because of their shared interest they began to date. I love to imagine Marge and Aaron as high school sweethearts and athletes, and it’s certainly no stretch to see the way that follows through as they care for each other in old age.

Going go to string a few more buttons together…

vintage buttons

Keep On Keepin’ On

Today’s art was more about process than end result. I’m pretty close to the end of the crochet bag I posted yesterday, but the picture won’t look much different. I think I finished the last part of the strap tonight (I got very distracted on the last/50th round by “Meet the Patels” on netflix – I gave it 5 stars even though the captions didn’t cover all the parts in Gujarti. I had to guess and extrapolate for those parts.).

I suspect I just need to connect the two pieces of strap and attach the Grisly Adams elkhorn button and I’ll be done (if I decide not to line it…should I line it? what will I put in it that might fall out of the crochet holes? Maybe a crochet hook for the next project? I’m pretty sure I’ll line it with a piece of white curtain that doesn’t fit any of my current windows.).

So I’m back to the buttons. There’s so much life in all these collected pieces, I’m taking my time sorting them and stringing them (back) together. It’s occurred to me that using sandwich bags or containers might be quicker to categorize them, but I’m sad to cut the old thread system that held them all (as soon as I lifted it they started breaking off). So I’m sewing them back together in loops like Marge must have done at least 60 years ago. It seems like the best way to store them for their next life in crafting.

As they arrived
As they arrived

I think I just figured out the way to link to larger versions of images!! Watch out. 🙂

All connected on one string
All connected on one string
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she's storing these in.
The green background w/ white tree is part of the tin she’s storing these in.
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress!
She told me these were buttons from a sailor dress! Hand-painted for sure – they’re so big and impractical. It must have been an amazing dress.
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall?
I have never seen white buttons this BIG and this SMALL! What shall I do with this amazing windfall? (can you spot the square button?!)

(P.S. Speaking of made things, the background is our dining room table to which I affixed a National Geographic map when my kids were young. We played lots of fun geographic games over meals in those days…I still think it was genius, if I do say so myself.)

And now for something completely different…

Scruffy ears, with pine cone frame
Scruffy ears, with beginnings of pine cone frame
Meditation Session
Meditation Session

OK – so here’s my next project. I’m heading to an art retreat in early March and I need to sew some arms/legs/body for a doll. So here’s the materials I’ve picked out from my stash.

I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)
I think dots are legs, orange is body and hearts are arms (tattoos!)

(Clicking on those images will give you some close-up opps.)