Frustrations with health and parenting

11:23 AM Posted In , Edit This 1 Comment »
When we signed up to bring Maxx home and parent him, I did not know that I was agreeing to be sick for weeks on end, all year long, regardless of the weather or how healthy everyone else around us is.

Maxx was a preemie. We do not have specific information about his time in the NICU yet, but he was 4 weeks premature and his immune response betrays this fact. Every time I turn around, he has snot. In fact, he is a veritable snot rocket. He can shoot a wad of mucous out of his nose as far as 5 feet. We tried to warn the Pre-K teacher, who brushed aside our admonitions to "beware the sneeze" but she had to admit surprise (and chagrin) at the open house two weeks after school started.

His colds generaly start with bad behavior accompanied by clear mucous production and progress to coughing and a mild sinus infection complete with great green gobs of greasy, gooey Maxxwel snot. It gets everywhere.

That alone is a challenge. What is worse is that I also get sick. Most of my first 5 years of life were spent in a miasma of second hand cigarette smoke (mmm... Marlboro and Camels, yum!) so I also have a compromised immune system. When Maxx starts shooting snot, I know that a sore throat, clogged sinuses, headaches and poor sleep are in the works for me. I haven't been keeping close track on a calendar, but I estimate that I have been sick approximately 8-12 weeks out of every year since Maxx has come home. That makes approximately 30 weeks of upper respritory infections and stomach bugs in 3 years. The rate of infection has increased since Maxx started attening Pre-K.

I'm getting a little tired of it. I guess I should be celebrating that we have managed to be healthy since the stomach bug in Early March, but today, I'm feeling just a bit sorry for myself.

How to make a stamp

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Here are some photos of the scarves that I finished last week and a short how-to on stamp making.


Making a stamp for silk resist is very easy and requires only an idea, a piece of plexiglass, a plexiglass cutter (both should be available at your local hardware store), a sheet of fun foam and some glue - I use either super glue or rubber cement.

Your design should be fairly simple and read well as either positive or negative space. Transfer your design to the fun foam and cut it out with scissors. Scissors will create a smooth beveled edge that works well for gluing and stamping. If you have multiple shapes within your design, it is a good idea to draw a map of pieces onto your plexiglass with a sharpie marker so that you know where each small element is supposed to go once you start gluing. Use the plexiglass cutter to cut the plastic to the appropriate size for your stamp.

If you use super glue, apply tiny dots of glue at 1/8 inch intervals to the back of the fun foam and quickly stick the pieces onto the plexiglass. These should stick for just about forever. Try not to get your fingers too involved, you don't want to wear your new stamp all day.

Rubber cement allows for some adjustments after placement and is good for the accident prone. Apply a thin layer of glue to the plexiglass and to the fun foam. Allow it to dry until it is tacky on both surfaces and then press the foam pieces frimly onto the plexiglass. Lay the assembled stamp flat and place a heavy book on top for about an hour. This results in a sturdy stamp that can be removed in case you want to re-position the pieces or use the piece of plexiglass for something else.

Where to get a design motif?

Sometimes my design ideas come from my own drawings, sometimes they come from other design sources.

These carnation blossoms are two of my favorite stamps.


They are from a small study of carnation buds and blossoms I did about 8 years ago.
















I found the spear-like buds very intriguing so I made a stamp of that simple design and used it for a couple of years. then I wanted to add some variety to the designs I was stamping with that motif and created the blossom stamp to co-ordinate with it. They have ben very successful. I can create rigid, static upright motifs with these stamps or use them as a garden element, adding fern patterns, birds, insects or my signature moon stamp.



These fuschia blossoms were created in a similar fashion. I did a quick setch of a friend's hanging basket and later translated that into a set of fuschia blossom and bud stamps. These ae wonderful bcause in order to make the design read corectly, I stamp the flowers on, allow them to dry and then draw in stems and leaves with my fine line applicatr after the scarf is in the stretcher frame. This creates a scarf that can be painted in a groovy, 1970's stained glass window look.

The swallow image originated from a one of Graham Leslie McCallum's source books. I like these books because they are full of simple B&W line drawings of relatively simple design motifs. I like other souce books, too, but I find that I am often distracted & overwhelmed by the addition of colors or including complete designs on the page instead of simple elements.













I made the first stamp from a line drawing inspired by two or three of the swallow images in the book. I wanted another swallow, slightly larger and swooping in the opposite direction, so I simply traced the first foam swallow onto another piece of foam before gluing it to the plexiglass.

You can also get nice stamps at Michaels' and other shops that sell foam home decor and kid's craft stamps.
One your stamps are made, use a foam brush to apply Elmers School Glue Gel, diluted 2 to 1 with water and stamp the designs on the silk. Allow the resist to dry, stretch the silk and paint. Do not paint over the resisted image, as the glue is water soluble and will break down.

When the scarf is painted, cured and washed, you can embellish the resist design with textile paint or ink. I like Dahler Rowney's Acrylic inks - they are supple and shimmering and flow nicely onto the silk.

Wash the stamp with warm water after each use and allow to dry before storing it away and it will last for many years. You can also use the stamp for paper creations, for stamping paint or thickened inks to fabric or even for home decor.

Scarves and studios

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So, I still have plenty of special commission scarves to finish this spring and I've been experiencing some challenges getting to them. I've been experiencing challenges getting to everything, lately!

I have, simply and irrevocably, outgrown my studio. The place is a mess. Yards of fabric are folded and heaped on top of the fabric bins that are too full to hold them, the fabric bins perch atop one another in front of the shelves that are too full to hold more bins. Bead jars containing saleable beads and project beads are scattered across every flat surface in the room. Water jugs, dyes and chemical bottles compete for space on the uppermost shelves. Used studio towels litter the floor, a massive box of Uline paded envelopes lurks under the table - Ziggy is quite put out at this intrusion - and inventory that needs to be photograped, stored, posted in my shops and generally managed is scattered everywhere.

I am losing my mind.

But the good news is that we are moving to a new home soon - assuming that we can make the bank happy enough to give us a very small mortgage. Our new home will have a new studio. Twice as big as the one I'm working in now. With running water.

Let me say that again - my new studio will have running water. Running water uncontaminated by cow poop. I cannot begin to tell you how happy this prospect makes me.

I will have separate, dedicated work spaces within the room which means that I will be able to leave a scarf drying on a frame on the dyeing table and move immediately to a sewing or beading project at the dry table. I will be able to mix my dyes and clean my tools in the same space that I am working in - no more running up and downstairs with buckets and jugs of water or trying to wrangle stretcher frames and chemicals all around the house! No more 7 hour days trying to dye devore scarves on my hands and knees on the livingroom floor before the holiday season. I will have little shelves to house all of my bead canisters on so that I can see al of my beads at once and find what I need without picking each canister up individually and peering in to determine the contents.

Here are photos of two new scarves I painted yesterday. I recently made two new swallow resist stamps - featured in these scarves. They are backlit but you can still see the designs pretty well. I'll post a stamp making how-to in a few days.

Now on to housecleaning, scarf curing, and class prep!

Wedding Photos and new earrings

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Here are some photos of our beautiful bride wearing her jewelry. It was such a lovely day - an unexpected gift from Mother Nature in March. Lauren's look from her dress to her hair was very vintage - the pearls complimented this look quite nicely but they were nothing compared to her radiance.



One thing that really strikes me is that while many brides spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and many days and weeks preparing themselves for the wedding, Laren's day was relatively simple and she looked happier and lovelier than any big spending "bridezilla" I've ever seen.























Also in this post - some new earrings I've made with some beaded beads. These are my new favorite thing (wonder how long that will last) and the instructions can be found in the latest issue of Beadwork. These beaded beads are included in the Vintage Charm bracelet by
Amy Haftkowycz on page 73. You wouldn't expect to find these fun beads in this project but there they are and they can be used for so much more than dangles on a charm bracelet. Now I know why you need lots of 3mm fire-polished roundelles! I've alwas focused on having 4mm and up but I'll mend my ways in the future. ;)
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