Sunday, December 30, 2012

Oh, December!

December has really been a weird and wacky month. It's like 2012 saved up the best (and worst) for last.

Calgary finally got a chinook yesterday - a warm wind that changes the temperature drastically. It went from -23C to -1 in the course of a day. Snowy streets turned to slush *like that*.

It has been plain cold here for most of the month. I really wanted to check out the opening celebrations of the West LRT leg, but it was very cold that day! A ten minute walk to the bus stop froze my legs and I just couldn't go on. It was a real bummer, as that day was also $1.43 admission to the zoo! Brrr!

And speaking of brrr, the flame sensor wasn't working right in our furnace. The repairmen from Fagnan's Furnace noticed that the igniter had also bubbled and was on its way out. Thank goodness we got this fixed! I had to throw comforters over the bird cages while the furnace was off. I really like Fagnan's - we get them to clean our furnace and they're always great.

Then it looked like we weren't going to have a white Christmas - but Old Man Winter didn't forget. The trouble was that the temperature dropped again to a bone chilling -25-27C. With the extra wind, it felt even colder - just running to the super mailbox seemed like an ordeal.

I had lots of good times visiting with old co-workers, friends and family too. I would show you some of these good times, but my smartphone died on December 24th! I was so bummed - I suspect the battery died - and the solutions I found online just didn't work. Poor little smartphone! I had some serious anxiety without it.

"What's the temperature?" my husband asked as we waited for the car to warm up.

"I don't know, I don't have a smartphone!" I wailed.

"What time is it?" he asked another time.

"I don't know, I don't have a smartphone!" I wailed.

And so forth. It's hard to believe how much one can depend on these little devices. Fortunately the Bell store was open on Boxing Day and now I have a sweet Samsung Galaxy 3. It's so big and fast! And everything is at my fingertips again :-)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The ACEO Challenge

This is my first time entering the ACEO Challenge! Usually I always miss these deadlines, but I squeaked in with a wintry caribou. Voting starts December 10th; please check out all the lovely ACEOs and vote for your favourite! The caribou is snipped from semi-gloss heavyweight paper and glued to a card that has been painted with watercolours and acrylic.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Lucky loot!

"Pick up tonight?" my husband texted me.

"Nope! No class tonight."

We celebrated the end of classes by going out to a fashionable Indian restaurant called Tamarind in the northwest. The dishes are really unique and delicious.

Time for another "That's a wrap!" post. Six more credits in the bucket for my BFA. And thank goodness! My house is such a mess. The cleanest place to be is the birdcage :D I thought without studio classes that the house would be neater, but nope. Since every place seemed equally messy, I started with the coffee table where loot from British scrapbook magazines that I get from Billy's News downtown. Let's take a look...

That's a lot of loot from the past four months! Sometimes I buy two or three magazines at a time, depending on how good they are.

These glitter tubes look fun! I think last year there was even glitter watercolours.

This is pretty cool - although it's hard to see - a snowflake embossing folder for a machine like a Cuttlebug or Big Shot!

Hands down, clear rubber stamps are the most popular kind of loot. I was surprised to get some Holly Hobbie stamps in my latest haul. I had a Holly Hobbie doll as a girl.

The best for super cool is this? A mini scoring board? Just the thing to tuck in my kit instead of my big ScorPal!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Spotted at ACAD...

Birds? Butterflies? Paper airplanes? Whatever they are, I spotted them on Monday at ACAD. You never know what will turn up sometimes. Sculpture can be simple to be cool!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Prairie Rim Images: This shoot was for the birds

I just happened to come across this on Google + and had to share it with all the other bird lovers out there! It's rare for "common" parrots like budgies and cockatiels to get the star treatment :-)

Prairie Rim Images: This shoot was for the birds

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Creative Stitches and Crafts Show Calgary

The Creative Stitches and Crafts Show was held just in time for winter! Yesterday it started softly snowing and it continues today. Nothing says crafts like winter :-) Mom and I enjoyed bobbling about, even though the show is mostly aimed at quilters. There was so much fabric, and I managed to resist buying any despite often deep discounts. There were some lovely art quilts on display, including a "Crow Tea Party" that I know Magic Love Crow would like! Fortunately there's a picture on Flickr, as picture taking was not allowed. All the new sewing machines there were amazing, especially the Brother Dreamweaver XE. It lets you trace a drawing right into the machine and get stitching right away. You can design your own stitches too! There was something fascinating about watching it work away - one could easily fire it up and do something else. The cost is prohibitive though - it costs the same as a decent used car. There was a scrapbooking section and a crop corral. Again, I didn't buy anything here as nothing caught my eye. I was really surprised at that. Usually I go a little crazy when it comes to paper. But I did cave and bought two beautiful balls of yarn called "Marble" dyed in blue, purple and green. I want to make something special with it, like a shawl or maybe a hat and scarf set. We'll see!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nice Needle Tools

Here's a post that I saved as a draft back in July!

One thing that has always interested me are nice needle tools. It seems a shame to have to make do with cheap plastic bits and bobs. When my great aunt passed away ten years ago, I thought I would find something fun in her old sewing basket. It would seem plastic bits and bobs existed in the 50s too.

Searching online was fruitless. When I did find nice needle tools, they tended to be made from sterling silver and really $$$!

Quite by chance, I found a cool little store called The Stitcher's Muse in Nanaimo. I couldn’t have missed it - because it was conveniently connected to our hotel. It was everything any crafter would want in a store - cozy and packed to the gills with everything for lace tatting to hardanger.

Had I been employed at the time, I would have bought more than the three things below - a magnetic needle holder, a needle case and a mother of pearl embroidery winder. Perhaps it's just as well to have a reason to go again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Bird Humour

Just testing out the new official Blogger apply - the unofficial one I used to use had ads. Anyhow, I am alive and hope to reconnect with my online friends!

If there's one thing Muffin loves, it's bread. He'll slice through a bread bag in seconds!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Back to School!

I popped into Staples on Labour Day for a couple of things and instantly regretted it. It was like being in a toy store at Christmas! I felt sorry for the staff. This year I'm taking two classes a semester - all evenings except one on Saturdays. And then, unfortunately, I will have to give it a rest because I have literally run out of money to attend ACAD. It's not the cost of classes or supplies, but the cost of living while going to school, and I'm hesitant to get a student loan. In this regard I can really sympathize with the younger folk, especially after finding out how much it costs to live in residence. My one class is on science and technology, which I'm pretty jazzed about. The other is on Canadian art history. After looking at the class outlines, I think I overdid it. I'll have several essays and a group presentation to work on. I'm going to have to cut down on craft sales this year as a result as well.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What Else I Did This Summer...

Not much actually :-D I think I forgot to mention that I have been working six days a week this summer. My contract ended at the end of May. I was bummed! Summer is the worst time to find a job. I was offered a one day a week paid summer position at the resource centre for an artist run centre, which I gladly jumped on. Then my old workplace asked me to come back! I hated to let the resource centre down, so I stuck to my agreement. There really isn't a cooler place to work than the John Snow House. It's actually a century home, as it was built in 1912.
Calgary artist John Snow lived there until he died in 2004. Now The New Gallery uses it as a home for their archives, artist in residence program and Artist Trading Card night. I have been working on inventorying and cataloguing the archive along with the summer student. It's been a lot of hard work, but worth it to discover all the cool stuff and artsy ephemera. Merely shuffling through the items has been a great historical lesson - I honestly would not have thought that so much artsy stuff happened here in Calgary. It's a perception that a lot of people are working hard to change!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Handwoven Tapestry with the Martha Stewart Loom Kit

So a year or so ago I bought myself the Martha Stewart Knitting and Weaving Loom set while I was in Las Vegas. It came with a bunch of different pieces to make your own sized looms. Simply put, what a great idea! Nothing is more frustrating than something that is too long or too small. This is the project that Muffin found so fascinating earlier in the week!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Longest Scarf

The longest Scarf is the shortest one I have ever made. It's just not working out with me and the Knifty Knitter. The yarn us called Sashay and I bought it on a whim. I thought, with its plaited edges, it would be easy to knit with.

Unfortunately it proved super slow to knit with as I tried to loop it around the pegs. Then I ran into some really tight tension.

Realizing I would grow old with this thing, I alternated one row of Sashay with two rows of regular burgundy yarn. This only mildly improved things. After a foot and a half, defeat was at hand!

Some projects are not meant to be :)

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Unintentional Fibre Week!

Hi friends, It has finally cooled down enough to feel like I can do things again. Our house is an oven and the other week it was regularly hitting +30 C (86-89 F) and it was extremely oppressive. It was hard to keep the birds cool and despite being tropical birds, they were suffering as much as the people. My husband came down with a dreaded summer cold as well!

It was so hot I couldn't even bear to read to keep my mind off of it. Sleepless nights abounded. The craftiest thing I could get up to was warping a loom for a new tapestry. It required very little thought and the only decisions to be made was selecting colours.

By good fortune, I also had an eye appointment which was very close to one of Calgary's premier wool shops, Gina Brown's. Thank goodness tapestry wool is inexpensive :-)

Muffin loves fibre arts as much as I do...and I have had trouble keeping him out of the tapestry wool :-)


Thursday, July 12, 2012

It is HOT!

I'll be back when I can form coherent sentences :S

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Draw Something!

I'm in love with Draw Something. It's a game where someone else has to guess a word and draw something in retrun. Some people simply write out the word, so I'm only trying to play with friends.

It's awfully addictive! My old laptop died, so I replaced it with a 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab. It's so easy to draw on, especially with the big red crayon shaped stylus I bought to go with it. I'm screencapping my favourite ones. Naturally, I do draw a few stinkers too.

They say you should draw every day, and I'm definitely doing it :-) Check out this public album as I add more items to it by clicking on the duck.

From Draw Something

Monday, June 18, 2012

Printable Castle Card - New!

Here's something fun and new I worked on all last week! It was actually an old idea that I was finally determined to make reality. While folding strips of paper, I had a flash for a fun folding card.

Here it is, available from my Artfire shop! More pictures can be seen at that link too. There's lots of room to customize the card, so I hope to make some more samples. Stickers, hand much potential for customization here.

A lot of effort went into designing this card - the best designs often do look effortless, but it took about 20 hours from idea to blogging :-)

Here is the original concept art. I'm not great at drawing on the computer, so I still do everything the old fashioned way. I used CorelDraw's colour picker to go from there.

Then there was much testing! As you can see, it's easy to, hehe, flip things the wrong way :-) Each piece had to be tested to make sure the size was right and that it would all line up according to plan. The colour in the final card also got a huge boost - the original colours were too light.

All in all, this was a fun card to make, and I hope others will enjoy making it and making it special for a birthday boy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Nanaimo, BC

My suitcase was barely unpacked from California when Mom and I were off to Nanaimo. Every year a group I belong to has its annual conference in a different Canadian city. Nanaimo is a small little city on Vancouver Island. Unfortunately, I was unusually rainy, cloudy and icy cold, even at the beginning of June. Maybe it was a blessing because I didn’t do a lot of picture taking. I'm still sorting out California! Here's one to get started at least. Nanaimo is a harbour city. The actual airport is 20km outside of town, so if you're brave, you can take a seaplane and be there a lot faster :)
Harbour, Nanaimo, British Columbia by Calzephyr
Harbour, Nanaimo, British Columbia, a photo by Calzephyr on Flickr.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Somewhere New, Somewhere Blue

I'm back near an ocean! Will tell you all about it soon.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

San Francisco Cable Cars

It's amazing how you can know something without really knowing anything, and I sure learned a lot about San Francisco's cable cars on our trip. We had no idea that the cars needed to be manually rotated on a turntable whenever it reached a terminus. We couldn't pass up the chance to ride a piece of history and neither could dozens of other people. I hoped we could ride the red one...but four cars went by before we could hop on. They come in blue, white, burgandy and tan as well as red. You can catch them at any point in the city, but we got on at Hyde Pier, which is close to Fisherman's Wharf and other touristy areas. It took about 45 minutes in line to get on a cable car.

San Francisco Cable Car by Calzephyr
San Francisco Cable Car, a photo by Calzephyr on Flickr.
It was crazy fun! The cars travel about 9 MPH and make a lot of noise. Years ago San Francisco thought about even getting rid of them. I learned about their neat history and saw the cables on action at the Cable Car Museum where admission is free. It's also pretty loud, as that's where the cables are turning endlessly for most of the day. If there is one fact you must truly know, it's that the cars are not trolleys, because they do not use an overhead line. It's $6 to ride the cable cars one way; get a one day pass for $14 and hop on, hop off to your heart's delight!

San Francisco Cable Car by Calzephyr
San Francisco Cable Car, a photo by Calzephyr on Flickr.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Life's A Beach...

Especially in Venice Beach. My husband and I took off on an impulsive two week long trip to several points in California. It was a great time and you can bet I took my camera!

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Monday, April 23, 2012

School's out!

And summer is practically here (at the moment). Time to turn off the furnace and open the windows, at least until it snows in May :D

I wrote my final English exam on Friday - where we had to draw a little storyboard as an answer - and then after work I was off to Bubblegum Sass's house where I met her new little person, our friend Craft Quotient and some new people! It was great to see people outside of work and school - especially when I haven't seen them in months. Here are the cute little favours that Sarah made:

I'm totally stealing this idea for the next time I have people over :-D After that, it was time to clean ALL THE THINGS on the weekend. Man, it's great to be able to vacuum again! It's the only time of year I really love to clean :-)

Monday, April 16, 2012


This is my last week of classes! Looking forward to reconnecting with y'all!

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Fawnette and Fancy Reflektion

I feel like my mind has really turned to mush! I was so sure I had blogged about this before, but apparently not. This is a commission that I finished earlier this year. It was started in summer 2011, but delayed due to the postal strike. It arrived at its destination last month and the commissioner is thrilled. Fawnette and Fancy are Arabians, although the picture is not as red as it seems. It was very difficult to photograph indoors.

January 5, 2012 ::: Golden Acrylic ::: 8x10"

Friday, April 6, 2012

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Cozy Commuter

Crit today :) The assignment was to design an object for society on the move. I made a four piece set that includes a pillow hat, neck warmer, neck pouch and fingerless gloves. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, especially trying on the hat :)

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Monday, March 19, 2012

ACAD Show + Sale Starts Thursday

Man, have I been busy! Our latest textiles project is to spend half an hour a day working on a fabric "journal" - a 24x24" piece of cloth or garment. On top of that, I was in crazy card making mode getting ready for this:
Come shop for great student art! Cash, credit and debit accepted! Free admission! Click image for larger! Check it out on Facebook. Here's hoping I can catch up with y'all soon!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

For The Birds

School has been keeping me busy as of late, but I think the hardest part is over. Our second fibre project was to make a large scale sculpture. If you're wondering about the first project...well, it turned out so badly I don't want to post a picture of it anywhere online! I was really stuck for the idea of making a sculpture. Part of the problem was the weather, part of the problem is that large scale 3D things are not my forte. I had only one idea and I made it as best as I could - I call it Armature for Attracting Avian Acquaintances. Essentially it's a giant bird play gym or bird feeder, and Muffin took quite an interest in it, especially when I tried knitting sisal.
It stands about 5' tall and is made from recycled or biodegradable items. The entire crate is wrapped in jute and sisal, with apple and cherry tree branches tied to it. I tried making a god's eye to hang in the centre, but it turned out miserably, so a bunch of dried flax stems turned it into more of a doll. With some seed bells and millet sprays on top, I hoped that there would be a flock of birds at it by the time my class came out for the critique. No such luck...but it would have been cool! Everyone seemed to like it, so that made me happy. Sometimes it's hard to tell how something will go over.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

How Cool Is This?

I was absolutely thrilled to get my wax seal in the mail yesterday. And even more thrilled to try it out this morning! All the talk of wax seals in A Game of Thrones made me want one, so the search was on!

At a local stationary store I found initial ones, but the font used was Papyrus, which, like Comic Sans, is considered a terribly overused font. Online searching fared better and I found a place called Seasons Creations which did not want an arm and a leg for Canadian shipping.

The seal is just the cutest little thing. The instructions were easy to follow - moisten the seal on an ice cube or cold water and light the wick and hold at a 45 degree angle to get wax flowing. It was hard to guess how much wax would be too much or too little, but a spot about half the size of a penny did the trick.

I think next time I will use cold water instead of an ice cube. When it came time to stamp, the seal was stuck to it! But it was handy to put the wick out. Now I can't wait - just imagine all the ACEOs and whatnot I can send out bearing my own purple pony seal!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To My Crafty Valentines!

I was in a tizzy last night because it suddenly came to me what I could do for a Valentine's post. And it almost never happened too! Years ago I made a bunch of little cross-stitch patterns using a free program. I found the files and to my horror, the program spit out "Error reading file". Nooooooo! I scoured my back ups and breathed a sigh of relief when I found a GIF of this little teddy bear! It never hurts to make back ups in different formats sometimes. I made the bear into a few pins on plastic cross-stitch canvas, such as dark brown, light brown and white, but they were hard sells for some reason, so I didn't make any more. Have a happy Valentine's and happy stitching!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings

Part of the fun of coming to a series late is not having to wait in agonizing anticipation for the sequels to arrive. This happened with Harry Potter and now it has happened with George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. Somehow this series was totally off my radar until it gained more publicity with the HBO TV series, so it was a huge surprise to me that the first book was published in 1996. I worked at the public library then, so I'm sure it must have gone through my hands at some point!

On a whim I bought the four book eBook bundle at Christmas time and started reading when I came down with a wicked cold last month. It was a good thing too, because I could literally not stop reading. I probably would have taken a day off just to finish it. I was expecting a typical, cliched fantasy saga, so I was amazed that it is more about political intrigue, mystery and deception instead.

To be honest, I didn't think there was anything exceptional about Martin's writing style. In fact there is something flat and repetitive about it - I noticed certain word pairs used over and over again which always kinds of grates on me. His descriptions of meals are always insanely detailed. But there is still some great craft going on as he divides the saga by the view points of different characters which allows parts of the story to be revealed in a very cunning way. It lets him avoid going the route of the info dump so common in science fiction and fantasy. And the cliffhangers! Wow!

I almost feel that describing any little part of the book would give away too many spoilers. It would be hard to condense the thick tomes, but basically the peace of the Seven Kingdoms is threatened in many ways and finally comes undone as characters are executed, kidnapped or accused of crimes. In the second book, A Clash of Kings, focuses on the conflicts between the many who declare themselves king of all the realm. There were some very exciting action scenes in the sequel and now I can't wait to get started on the third one, but I really do need a break from the series! Martin is unflinching in his depictions of medieval life and after a while all the killing and maiming and destruction does become onerous. I could almost pick up a romance novel before getting around to the third one.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Time for Tea

I missed class and work this week because cold germs finally caught up with me! Blah! I'm just not one to sit around lying on the couch, and neither is Muffin. The idea for a tea cozy made on the Knifty Knitter has been brewing in my mind for some time, so there was no better time to give it a try. Two tries actually. I was shocked when the first one ended up being too short. I guess there's no accounting for the shape of some things. Hopefully the pattern for it will be on my website when I get better. The dummy is sewn for my fibre homework project, but I don't trust my judgement right now to further cut up my husband's sweater :-)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday This and Monday That

I'm finding the pace of this semester to be pretty leisurely. There are a lot of readings in my English class, but that's OK, because I love reading. It seems like I haven't had time to read in the past five or so months. We're reading mostly short stories, but have three novels to go through. The dummy for my stuffed animal is sewn and I'm going to take apart the sweater tonight. It's due February 9th and I'm just enjoying using my sewing machine to piece things together. I should haul it out more! One of my classmates was smart and is converting a pair of boy's lederhosen that she found at a garage sale into a purse, so she's practically done. It's surprising how heavy it was! I splurged on a $25 beef roast and we had it for dinner last night. Tonight I made a beef casserole with mushroom soup and spiral noodles for dinner. There's still lots of beef left, but it's in the freezer now lest we get tired of beef pretty fast. Ah! Cooking is another thing I sorely missed. It seems nice to just do normal people stuff! The Crafter's Devotional is coming along pretty good. I have been able to do most things, such as "Make something from old photos" (I finally got our wedding photos into an album), looked up Greek and Polish folklore and reflected on why I made art. This book is such a winner! Oh, and I also decorated a sketchbook with leftover cardstock:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

First Fibre Project!

Today was really fun. After a brief meeting, I headed to Fabricland to buy supplies for the first homework project in my fibre class.

We have to take a garment and transform it into something new. After much negotiating, my husband gave me one of his old sweaters. He looooves his sweaters and once he found out I would be cutting one up, my selection dwindled :) I'm going to be making a stuffed animal out of the sweater. Stay tuned!!

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

The first day of 2012 is a bright and sunny one here. Most people would probably not guess it, but Calgary is one of the sunniest places in Canada with an average of 333 sunny days a year. We spent New Year's Eve with friends watching movies and playing games, and a birthday dinner for my mom. Yup, she narrowly missed out being a New Year's baby! I imagine that many people are eagerly beginning new Painting/Drawing/Whatever A Day today. I tried to do this once and I don't think I got past February. I'm not sure how successful I'll be either as I go back to school next week. But I'm going to give it a good try with a book I bought a couple of years ago called The Crafter's Devotional by Barbara R. Call. It's a bumper book of 365 creative ideas that are coded in different ways such as Monday-Sunday, 1-365 and by category such as ideas, journalling and collaborating. In fact day #1 is journalling. I do keep a paper journal, but I often prefer the online ones. I buy cute little notebooks and then usually they get misplaced around the house :-D Maybe I'm just an idea squirrel at heart. Sometimes I find half-filled journals from when I was younger and it makes me glad the Internet wasn't around back then. We don't really get a feel for how we grow and change. Don't rely on your memory either, because even after five years things can get fuzzy. I was only laid off a year ago and have trouble remembering the name of some co-workers.
The activities are pretty free-form and a variety of genres and techniques are represented, which must have been hard to do. Beads, wire, collage, stamping and mark making are just some of the things to be explored. Sometimes it's easier to just have an "assignment" to try instead of thinking up something on your own. The inclusion of personal and family history was interesting to me because I took several unsuccessful stabs at genealogy a long time ago. This book will definitely keep crafty types busy all year long!