Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Piling up

My studio where visitors visit is usually fairly disaster free but the work is piling up.

I'm showing my work at the gallery at Impresario Artisan Market in Cobourg this December and I'm happy to report that all of the work I've been doing seems to be coming together.

I'm even having a little opening reception which is very fancy indeed! Music, nibbles, faeries and quality holiday shopping on December 7th from 5pm to 7pm (37 King Street West, Cobourg, Ontario).  If you happen to be in the area, don't be shy! Come on out and have a peek. Even if you don't think you're an arty farty sort of person, the shop is amazing and you won't regret a visit :)

Fair warning, you'll be sick to death of hearing about this show because I'll be pushing it like crazy over the next two weeks!

Anywho, here's one of the new mixed media/collage pieces that will be included...

which matches nicely with this other piece I showed off a short while back...

I'm really rather thrilled to be combining my love of craft and art, and proving that the two can most certainly get along :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Cluckers, Eggs and Pixie Houses

Ok, first things first. Think these little pixie houses are super cute? Go over to Alpha Stamps immediately and learn how to make your own! I've put together a little 'how to' for this fun and easy project, perfect for gram-ma's and kidlets to make together (or crafters on the run).

P.S. The Gnomes & Birds Collage Sheet I used on this project is one of my faves. So stinkin' adorable!

Now, on to the chicken news...

We've had our hens (or 'the girls' as Mr. Pixie calls them) for around 3 years. Over the past year they have decided that it is time to retire from all this laying business and have been quite stingy with the eggs. Whittled down to one egg a day with Christmas baking looming?!?! Panic! So the mister brought these girls home last night.

These lovely ladies belonged to the Thai vineyard workers. They are leaving to do seasonal work elsewhere and so we greedily happily took them in. They seem to have settled quickly too because this morning 6 warm beautiful brown eggs were waiting in the nesting boxes.

There are very few things that can compare with holding a warm fresh laid egg in your hands. These are a wee bit smaller than our other girls were providing us with... but I think we'll manage :P

Finally, here are a few answers to the questions we are most commonly asked about our chickens.

Don't you need a rooster for eggs?
Nope. You need a rooster for fertilized eggs that will produce chicks. For plain old eating eggs, hens are all that are required.

How long do chickens lay eggs?
Most hens produce well for two years then their production begins to decline. Our hens each provided us with an egg every day for two years, then a little less over the past year, until finally we were only getting one egg a day from the whole bunch of them.

What do you feed them?
We buy chicken feed purchased at a farm supply shop. We also give our chickens treats like vegetable scraps and, their favourite, grapes. They will eat almost anything including bugs, mice and (if desperate) their own eggs!

What do you do with them in the winter?
Our hens live in a hen house for the winter. It is not heated (think of the birds you see in the winter months who do not have people caring for them) but inside there is loads of hay and they keep each other warm. They do come outside and sit in the snow. We toss a mix called 'scratch' in with them for them to... well... scratch and peck at.

How long do chickens live?
That depends. Some chickens can live up to 15 or 20 years! Chickens can (and do) get sick and are a tasty snacks for things like coyotes and foxes.  Being a chicken can be dangerous!

We keep the birds we raise for food for just 7-8 weeks. That may seem cruelly short but their breed, after that short period of time, have gone from being cute fluffy chicks to big white eating machines. They live in a pen that is moved daily so that they have access to fresh grass to scratch and peck at, but prefer to sit next to the feeder and eat. Their breed habits make them susceptible to certain health problems so it is important to 'harvest' them at the appropriate time.

What do you do with the hens that don't lay anymore?
Our hens that have decided it's time to 'retire' become soup chickens. They can be eaten but they do not provide as much meat and are generally tough and a bit stringy.

Don't you feel bad about eating them?
Our family eats meat and we appreciate that it comes from a living thing. Knowing that the food on our plate has had access to fresh grass, straw, clean water is important to us. While enclosed to protect them from predators, we like to know that the animal that gave it's life for our sustenance has had space to scratch and a place to roll in the dust. We do not feel badly about eating them but we do respect that they have given their life to provide us with food.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Roly Poly Snowmen

I use a product called 'Creative Paperclay' quite a bit in my work. It's gorgeous stuff. Light weight, air dries, can be sanded or carved when dry, takes paint like a charm, magnificent for detailing... but pretty pricey for an old cheapskate like myself.

I've been trying to come up with a recipe for my own version for the body/bulk of larger pieces to reduce costs. The first batch I made was really heavy and, although touch as nails, not the smooth light material I was looking for. Below is my second attempt.

An improvement over my first batch, this dried lightweight and was fairly smooth. In the end my biggest issue with this batch was that it was too papery when dried and not quite smooth enough for my needs. BUT I did manage to make these fellow with it...

Roly Poly Snowmen! I used the commercial product for the noses and lips and my homemade concoction for the rest. They're fairly big, standing at around 9 inches, so using my own mix cut costs significantly. And yes, I did knit those little scarves, but I am TERRIBLE at knitting so it's not much of a feat :P

ALSO, I know that my American friends are looking forward to Thanksgiving. If you're lucky enough to be entertained (rather than entertaining) why not take a bottle of something nice as a hostess gift and gussy it up? This 'thank you' tag was created using products from Alpha Stamps November 2013 Kit - Fall Foliage

The Miniature Pine Cones are adorable!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spring is in the air?

It's warmed up. No frost in sight this morning. And here I was getting giddy for snowfall! Geesh!

Anywho, the warmth seems fitting with Graphic 45 revealing my little Secret Garden project today.

Whenever I visit the craft shop I always make a stop at the bargain bin to pour over the broken wares. Those beat up and mangled pieces call to me. Damaged, dinged, and discounted they beg me to save them. And I do. I grab them all! And while my husband shakes his head, my mind races with possibilities. 

This pretty little garden, overflowing with Petaloo flowers, snails and moss, began life as a 37¢ broken box, odd chess piece and little wooden candlestick. A bit of paint to the base materials, add some darling Graphic 45 Secret Garden papers, Petaloo flowers to finish it off… “Ta Da!” a sweet and sentimental treasure created from a forgotten box at the bottom of the bargain bin. 

Hop over to the Graphic 45 blog for more photos (and a stunning dreamcatcher made by Miranda Edney) AND here's the full supply list if you'd like to create your own bit of spring...

Olde Curiosity Shoppe > Butterfly Specifics       
Assorted Petaloo flowers
Tiny white paper roses
Small wooden box
White chess pawn
Stringed pearl trim
Cotton lace
Snail shells
Ivory acrylic paint

Good Morning: Just like that....

I am asked, often, where I get my inspiration from. Truly it comes from everywhere, everything and everyone. Buttons, music, messes, old folks, young kiddies... but mostly from the riding lawn mower.

Today, for example, I saw this little piece of birch bark curling away from this fallen trunk and thought 'Surly this how faerie books are made!' Which leads to the thought 'I wonder if there are words already scribed on that strange paper? Maybe they peel away as they are completed?" and on and on it goes. Those thoughts bump around in my head. They become forgotten. They are remembered again. Then one day I'll get around to making something that kind-of-sort-a had to do with stories on birch bark.

P.S. To the ladies taking a stroll down Bullis road at 8:30 am, if you happen to be reading this, I pinky swear I was taking this photo and not crouching to pee near the trees this morning.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Scrappy little things

Finished up this piece this morning. It's a bit different than the other pieces I've been working on but I'm sort of smitten with the scrappy little frames made up of the tiny bits of Graphic 45 papers that were nudging to be used. 

I've used this particular girl in another piece a couple of years ago and am starting to feel a bit sorry for her brother who gets omitted from the pieces. Perhaps he needs his own scrappy playground.

For far too long the bird feeders at Pixie Hill have been empty. This weekend I stocked up on seed and filled all of the feeders around this old place. Today the birds finally took notice and swarmed the joint!

Crows, chickadees, woodpeckers and about a dozen blue jays were all fluttering about and enjoying their meal this morning. It's quite a thing to see several different birds feed at the same feeder at the same time.

If you don't have blue jays where you live, they are pretty rough and tumble birds. They are quite beautiful but have an awful song voice. I swear, sometimes they sound like a kid with a broken whistle!

Before long the squirrels came out and I remembered why the feeders were empty to begin with. I don't mind them taking SOME food but the little buggers eat EVERYTHING from every feeder and chase away the feathered things.

I suppose you can't blame them. If someone left free food out for me I just might gobble it all up too!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fetch me some clover

I've just completed this piece. Mixed media on 12" x 24" canvas. Quite big for me. I love the intamcy of small pieces but the impact of the larger scale is growing on me.

I'm really enjoying mixing up my mediums. Papercrafting, painting, collage... all smashed together! Sort of a banana split of art.

The four leaf clovers on the piece are real. I have a knack for finding them and have a whole collection of them in an old tobacco container.

On the bottom edge of the canvas, out of view, is a line I cut from a children's book which reads "Fetch me some young clover leaves" I was going to put it beneath the leaping hare but it didn't quite look right so I hid it.

Chances are no one else will notice it, but we will know it's there :)