Freitag, 31. März 2017

'Twas Lovely

Home Again

The anniversary is celebrated, memories made, refreshment gained, and lots of pictures taken. Behold the first:

The destination of our anniversary trip was unknown to me, but we drove  toward the canton of Bern. Then I hear that we are by the "Kambly Store" to which the motorcyclists of my family often take guests on a very scenic drive. I had never been there, so we stopped. We resolved to be tough and not leave with the usual vast quantities that normally go home from such a stop.

This is a factory outlet store to sell large packages of "leftover" cookies and crackers at special prices. The  hook is that bowls of  free samples of each kind are sitting there to tempt you. They are all good. We started picking up a few, more, a bunch.

They also make and decorate pretty chocolates.

And they have a well-stocked table for children to decorate their own.
Well, we left with the usual - a lot. Then onward...

In a nearby unused train station was a serve-yourself farmers market, from local producers. The word HOF is here a pun: it stands both for the Bahnhof (train station) and the Bauernhof (farmyard).

Inside, in one small room, were arrays of various products amid Easter decorations.

Sauces, pestos, granola bars, soup and rice mixes, etc.

Knitted socks

All on the honour system: write down which items you buy and put the stated amount of cash in the slot. Simple. Products shown here include heirloom seeds, handmade cosmetics, photo cards, fruit leathers, and Easter wreaths.

The mountain cheese and the farm sausages were delicious.

Fruit leathers in decorated packages.

Handwoven baskets

On the left are walnuts in honey with rum. We haven't tried them yet.  The recommended recipe suggests putting it over frozen jogurt and topping it with whipped cream. Yum.

An Easter tree. They are typical here all over. We saw many such trees in yards these past days, and usually try to have one at home, inside, but only from Holy Saturday to after Easter, not in Lent.

One of  the farms which supplies produce. Note the typical Bernese house architecture.  The farm has 18 hectares, is organic, the cows "are proud horn carriers," (this is a point of contention among farmers now, horns or no horns, for important reasons), and they have sheep, two Swiss horses,  a dog and cats, "bee folk," and two Dexter cows with calves. On the right is a picture of a bee house with coloured doors, so the bee families know which door to go in. Bees know colors.

Bernese architecture.

More to come.

Donnerstag, 30. März 2017

"Tiny Treasure"

From Michelle

She said she rarely gets time to do creative things these days (she is is helping others), but she did make this assemblage of pretty little things with personal significance to herself.

Thanks, Michelle. It is charming and a lovely way to keep and display some memories.

Have a good day making memories, All.

Mittwoch, 29. März 2017

Watercolours 21 and 22


Today, my Better Half and I have arrived at Thirty years of Wedded Bliss (most of the time, surely). This called the Pearl anniversary, I hear. Anyway, we will be away - I have no idea where; it's a surprise - and my i-pad is uncooperative, so I can't post blogs on it, so there will likely be no posts a couple of days, unless one of you wants to share something. (I am writing this the day before.)

On Monday I did these next watercolours (and was happy not to post them, because Katie showed us her marvellous felting). The first is from a bouquet from my darling daughter. The next .... well... it just turned out that way.

First washes, leaving whites

Hmmm.... practice piece

Montag, 27. März 2017


Winter might be just about finished with us here, but I am not finished with anything I've started this week...

I am a few chapters into a book I am reading. I have written part of a short story. I have done most of a doodle. Gathered together the ingredients for a necklace that is not properly started. Only sort-of-completed the non-artsy tasks I have to get done before the end of the month. I am half in and half out on life. Want to make my goals and do things that matter, but also feel like giving up on just about everything.

So yeah, I don't have much for you this week. But here's a picture of the cool, weird, frosty clumps of snowy crystals that were on my car window one morning as I was getting ready to go to work:

And here's a picture of the string and charm I'm going to use on that necklace I mentioned above:

I'm not sure how much I'll be able to get done before next week, but we'll see.

Felted Purse

I know a local lady who is an expert in all things wool.  Two Saturdays each month in the winter and early spring, she hosts "Fiber Arts Day" at her house.  People come, bearing delicious food, to learn and create together.  She owns four spinning wheels and teaches spinning as well as other wool preparation tasks-- cleaning, carding, dying etc.  She teaches knitting and crochet and felting.  

I have been intending to go, and every time there is something in the way.  So I determined to make it there this last Saturday, and I did.  It was a good "first day" because there weren't many others there, so she offered to teach us the felted purse class she had just taught the day before at a local gallery.  

She has piles of beautiful wool, so she helped us choose some batting to start with, then showed us how to fold it around a "resist" (a piece of tule that is placed inside and keeps the sides of the wrapped wool from felting together, creating an opening inside).  Then we laid very fine wisps of roving on the outside in criss-crossing layers in order to make a smooth, tight felt.  We choose colored pieces of wool to decorate.  I laid mine out in hopes of getting an abstract flower design.

We placed pieces of tule on top to help hold the design in place at the beginning of the felting process.  Then we soaped up our hands, poured hot water gently over the wool, and began to gently rub.  Our teacher showed us all the steps of felting, slowly increasing the intensity of the rubbing to preserve the designs and make the felt turn out right.

After lots of rubbing and working the wool with our hands, we ended up with smooth, beautiful felt.  Then she showed us how to cut and opening and pull the resist out of the pocket inside.  There are many ways it could be cut, usually with a flap to fold over, but I chose to cut so that it would have a handle like a tote bag.

We had to turn them inside out and felt the inside surfaces, then do the finishing rinse and stretching the bag into shape.  I stretched and rolled the handle of mine so that it would be round and strong.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out!

I like that my flowers did not get lost in the rubbing.

I'm definitely hooked on felting now, and I bought a bag of wool to play with.  I'll be going back for more Fiber Arts days for sure!

All this time, the kids were playing downstairs with a giant collection of legos.  They built quite a world.  When they wandered upstairs, we were about done.  Jonah was curious about the drum carder, and so he got a lesson in carding wool

He is hooked, so when we go back next week, she will put him to work carding wool.
"Child labor is excellent for wool." she said with a wink.

And we have been reading books about birds, so today I decided to try to be a good homeschool mama and find an art project to go with it.

I stenciled bird shapes onto their papers and they collaged feathers and painted details.  It was fun, if a little chaotic.

Samstag, 25. März 2017

Watercolours 18 - 20

Spring Flowers

Everyone is apparently out in the sunshine.

More flowers opened here.
First tulip, a mini one

First hyacinth

Next watercolours. Not very successful, but they add to the practice count.