DMC Project

November 29th, 2010

While in England DMC contacted me about doing a project for their booth at various trade shows.  When I arrived home there was a huge box awaiting me filled to the brim with every thread they manufacture.  They also sent me a birdcage to create a fairy scene inside.

I had met Mr. Davies last year at the Knitting & Stitching Show in London and purchased his magical book on knotted gardens.  I decided that was what I would do for the floor of the cage.  Yes.  I was out of my mind!  45 working hours later I decided to make a few changes. DMCFairyGarden1

My idea was to do cross-stitch, as shown with the black and white threads, a pond using seed stitch, then flowers using French knots.  I also started creating a path using a different stitch and woven leaves.  The photo to the right had taken me 45 hours.  So, I decided to knit some "grass" and use my embellisher (felting machine) to "grass" it up.  You can see the knitted piece before felting on the upper left side.

DMCFairyGardenGrass1 If you click on any of the photo's they'll take you to a larger image.

On the left is the knitted piece being "felted".  I find it helpful to felt on one side, then flip it over and felt on the wrong side.

DMCFairyGardenGrass2 This helps create the more grassy effect.  I also had to be careful to not catch my leaves.  I used a piece of tape to tape them towards the checkered walkway.

DMCFairyGarden4 After the grass was finished I started more French knots for flowers.  I used various threads from the magic box DMC had sent.  And the little curled up bits along the one path are made from DMC's Memory Thread.  This is beautiful threads wrapped around wire so you can shape it in any way you want. 

Because the knotted garden was taking even more time I decided to create a more fairyish scene by throwing down some Angelina along with the wool threads from DMC and felting them.  The tapestry I was working on is a 16 count linen, also in the box. 

It was now time to create the fairy that would reside in the garden.  I actually made 3 fairies, but ran out of time to complete them all.  I'll finish them after Christmas and take them to the CHA show in January and place them in the garden.

DMCFariyCloseUpBetter To create the fairy I reduced my "Leona" pattern by 30%.  Leona is normally 10-inches tall.  This reduced her down to 5 1/2-inches.  I had learned how to make fairy wings with Angelina and Angelina film from Rosemary Hernandez at the local doll club's Doll Camp.  Her sleeves and skirt were made from DMC's metallic threads.  Like a dummy I didn't take a photo of her before I placed her in the cage so didn't get many close-ups of her.  In her left hand she's holding a flower she's going to plant in the garden.

DMCFairyGardenFinished1 Even though she's too big for the garden, she still looks pretty cute.  She's actually one of the fairies that is planting the garden for the wee fairy folk, who are much smaller than the garden fairies.

DMCGardenFairyViewfromTop I created a few vines by wrapping some wire with DMC pearl cotton.  I added flowers I made with their wool thead.  You can see the vines in the photo taken from the opening in the top of the cage.

Now you know what I've been doing for the past two weeks.  John has been wonderful.  He's brought home dinner several nights so I could continue working.  I averaged 16 hours a day.  I did take Thanksgiving Day off until later in the evening.  And, Sunday's I only worked for a few hours in the afternoons and another two hours in the evening after church.

This was a fun project to work on and whenever you see DMC at any shows be sure to stop by and visit.  Don't forget, two more fairies will join in planting the garden.  Someday.

Doll Camp

November 19th, 2010

This past weekend found 16 of us getting away for a fun-filled workshop up in the mountain village of Julian near San Diego.  Doll Camp is sponsored by the local doll club – IOLCC.  A perfect name for a unique group of doll makers.  IOLCC stands for the Imitation of Life Construction Company, a Cloth Doll Society.  Karen Wooton came up with the name 20 years ago.  But, that is a story for another time.

DollCampWorking1Best We met at the Julian Meadow View Lodge, formerly known as Angels Landing.  In the center of the lodge is a conference room where the workshop was held.  Most of the participants stayed in the lodge rooms on either side of the conference room.  As you can see the room is quite large and very well lit.  We started the classes on Friday night, shown here.

DollCampWorking2 All of the furry bits you see in the foreground are some of the Tibetan skins I brought.  I also provided Fairfield Polyfil for those who needed stuffing.  It is my preferred stuffing as it is slickery and easy to needle sculpt.                                                                                                  For those who came long distances I brought 3 of my Bernina's.  I had just purchased a Bernina 380, which is a wonderful machine for classes.  It is one of Bernina's more affordable machines and a machine that isn't as heavy as some of their others.  

DollCampPattyFixingFace Saturday morning we colored the doll faces with Shiva Paintstiks then fixed them with Prismacolor's Workable Fixative.  This is similar to Krylon's Workable Fixative, but made by Prismacolor.  We didn't have the luxury of 3 days to allow the paintstiks to "cure", so fixing them allowed us to detail the faces later in the day.  Patty Smith is shown here spraying her dolls head.  You can see the beautiful area we were staying.  Julian is wonderful.  It is 4,000 feet up in our mountains, so not too high.

DollCampLynnLookingforHead Lynn Tesch, from Georgia had flown in for Doll Camp.  She really got into fixing her dolls head.  So much so that she nearly fell down the mountain as her dolls head went rolling down hill.  She was able to save the head as several of us came to her rescue and held on to her as she reached for the head.   We'll never let Lynn forget that episode.                                                                  




One of the more popular events at any doll gathering is "show & tell".  Saturday night was the show & tell night and it was so exciting seeing what everyone brought.

DollCampMaryDollyFrancisCamel Mary "Dolly" Francis came from Arizona and brought her "Arizona Camel".  This is her doll clubs mascot and he goes everywhere Dolly goes.  You can click on the photo to go to a larger image to see the details on this wonderful creature.  We all thoroughly enjoyed Dolly's wonderful sense of humor.

DollCampCarolineSLVeggies Caroline Weber made two of the cutest veggies from one of Sally Lampi's patterns.  Caroline and her daughter, Jennifer, drove down from San Francisco.  Both are extremely talented women and it was fun having them at Doll Camp.

DollCampLoisDragon Lois Boncer, of Carlsbad, California, brought her 7-headed dragon, along with her adorable ballet class for children.  Lois is a past president of IOLCC and has a company called Aardvark to Zebras.  She's been featured in Soft Dolls & Animals and other publications.   Another very talented woman.

DollCampDeborahBeadedbracelet Deborah Ditson of Santee, California shared some of her amazing beadwork.  She, and her friend Martine met me at the San Diego Quilt Show and are first time doll makers.  They say.  Both made wonderful dolls during the weekend.

And, you can see by this photo how talented Deborah is.  Her beadwork is stunning.  I wish I had more photo's of some of her other pieces.

If you ever get a chance to attend a "doll" camp or any other retreat I highly recommend it.  It is a fabulous way of getting away from the phone, tv, computer, children, grandchildren, you name it.  We had great food, beautiful scenery and developed friendships that will last a long, long time.


High School Reunions

November 1st, 2010

John and I arrived home this evening after 4 hilarious days with some of our classmates from 1960.  This was our 50th high school reunion. PCHSClass60SchoolQuad1 The group to the right is just a few of us who went to the Saturday morning Continental breakfast and tour of the school.

From left to right are:  Steve Kerr,  Teddi Neal Nicolosi, Rosemary Davis Logan, Betty List Zaslowsky, Leona Spurling Nelson, Patti Medaris Culea and John Culea.

PCHSClass60CuleaKerr PCHSReunionCuleaKerr                    These photos show Steve Kerr and John Culea in 1958 and 2010.  These two were some of the "class clowns".  Steve refered to John as "you big dummy!"  He still does.

Steve was one of my favorite classmates from 1958 to 1960.  I loved his car almost as much as I loved Steve.  I didn't love Steve as a "boy friend", but as one of my best friends.  As you know I ended up marrying John in 1973.  But, in high school. I didn't like him.  I found my diary from high school and I wrote in my diary June 15, 1959 "Had a date with John Culea.  Didn't like him.  He kissed me at the door."  We've been married for 37 years so guess I got used to the kisses!

PCHSMemoriam We were amazed at how many of our classmates have gone on to Heaven.  We have lost 12, that we know of.  Two of the photo's are from a surprise birthday party my friend, Betty List, gave for me in 1958.  Shown are Anne Malmgren Raines, who went to heaven this year in March;  and Jim Round who was killed in a plane crash shortly after we graduated in 1960.  Below is Chuck Reedy, who was killed in a car accident in 1958. 

PCHSClass60MaryCoyles Below are a few of us who went to one of our favorite hang outs after football games – Mary Coyle's Ice Cream Parlour.  Mary Coyle's is still around and we had to go after the Homecoming game Friday evening.  Starting at the lower left is Rosemary Davis Logan, me, John, JoAnn Stephens Harte, JoAnn's husband Jim.  Then Teddi Neal Nicolosi, Leona Spurling Nelson, Hazel Schierbeek Andringa and her husband, Jack.  As you can see we can still enjoy ice cream sundaes.  What am I saying?  I'm a farm girl.  I always enjoy ice cream sundaes.  In fact, on our way home today John stopped in Dateland so I could have a famous date shake!

Our classmate, Bob Porter, and his wife Judie opened their amazing home to our class for our get-together Saturday night.  Bob and Judie are the most generous people John and I know.  They are very humble and are dedicated 100% to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Their home is built for entertainment.  We had Macayo's Mexican Restaurant do the catering and we all enjoyed catching up with what we have been doing the past 50 years. 

All I can say is I highly recommend attending your high school reunions.  They are fun, hilarious, emotional and rewarding.


Crafty Notions in Newark, UK

October 17th, 2010

One of my favorite stands to hit when I go to the Knitting & Stitching Show in London is Crafty Notions.  Sarah Lawrence is one of the most innovative and creative people I know.  Last year she and I discussed my coming to teach in her new workshop at their warehouse.  I naturally jumped at the chance. CraftyNotionsSarah                   

We decided on my Fantasy Purses as a project and 7 women joined in.  The photo is of Sarah setting up a machine for one of the participants.

PattisPurseCloseUp We used both regular sewing machines and embellishing machines.  Some had never used the embellishing machines before and all decided they loved the technique.









Sarah's workshop area is full of inspiration.  All of her "stuff" is there for all of us to use, which we did.  I don't have samples here, but Sarah has new Mica powders that have a binding agent in them so all you need is water and  you have the most beautiful, shimmery paints.  But, back to our time there. CraftyNotionsGillandChris

Here Gill and Chris are looking over the base of the purse Gill has finished.  Nearly everyone got their base done, which included stamping a face onto plain fabric and painting it with Sarah's Colourful Thoughts all purpose paints. 








I didn't get photo's of everyone in the workshop.  Jacquie and Elinor are missing in nearly all the photo's.  Don't know how I missed them.  They were obviously downstairs in the warehouse shopping.  Which we all did a fair amount of.

CraftyNotionsValAlbum Val brought an album she had made of her grandchildren and said it was based on my book "Creative Cloth Explorations".  I think it was all her original idea.  There were several pages dedicated to her 3 grandchildren and the book is fantastic.  Wish I had space to put photo's of each of the pages.  Beautifully done and such a terrific idea.










Today, Sunday Oct. 17, was another free day and Peggy took me on a walk-about through downtown Newark.  I wish I had a photo of Peggy and I together.  She's almost 6 feet tall (5'11 1/2").  Together we made quite a pair (I'm 4'11").

CraftyNotionsNewarkSwans Newark is a beautiful city.  It is about 1 1/2 hours north of London, by train.  The weather was absolutely perfect today.  Clear, sunny, cool.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the 5 young swans as they started swimming towards us hoping we had some bread for them.  We didn't so they swam on.

CraftyNotionsPrinceRupert Newark is full of beautiful, old buildings like the one below where Prince Rupert stayed when he had an argument with King Charles.  The building was built in 1475!  Peggy took me upstairs so I could see the ceiling beams and how low the ceilings were then.  Simply amazing.



Below is a photo of David & Sarah Lawrence, and Peggy, with whom I stayed in her home.  The embroidered wall hanging behind them was lovingly put together by many people and Sarah pulled it all together.  It is the main streets of Newark as it was in the past.  It was given to the Millgate Museum and if you are ever in the area go see it.  The lighting was really bad during the time we were there so I couldn't get a really good photo.  It is a master piece.                

I really hated to leave Newark, but my time here is over.  I head to Heathrow tomorrow and fly home on Tuesday.  England is close to my heart and I'll be back next September/October.




October 17th, 2010

First, before I report on my time in Prague I have to share a new photo of my grandson, Theo.  A friend gave them a new outfit for him. TheoinPumpkinOutfit He's now ready for Halloween.

Isn't that the cutest photo you've ever seen?  He is really enjoying his new pumpkin outfit.  He does love pumpkin to eat, too.

How I miss him, and his mommy and daddy.  My time with them was far too short.

After my 3 1/2 days with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson in Belgium I flew to Prague to teach a workshop.

PragueShivaFaces1I taught one of my favorite classes – creating faces with Shiva/Markal Paintstiks.  This group took to it like a fish in water.  They loved the technique and every face they did was

PragueShivaFaces2 excellent.       After several of the doll group members shared dolls they have made from either my books, patterns or when I was there in February.  This is an extraordinary group.                                                                  Very enthusiastic and extremely talented as you can see by these photos. PragueDolls3a Praguedolls12010 Praguedolls32010
PragueMiladolls2010 PragueFredGinger2010 After my workshop I had a free day to do a bit more site-seeing and Jane, the club president and Bohdana, who owns the Creative Center where I taught the workshop showed me around town.  The two buildings are called Fred & Ginger.  Truly beautiful buildings.  PragueMuchaOct2010

Bohdana then took me to see a special Mucha exhibit at their National Museum.  Fabulous.  Photo's weren't allowed inside the exhibit, naturally, but I did get this near the entrance.  His work is one of my sources of inspiration for my work.

PragueBeading2010 I also got to meet Sarka Rooya, who owns a fabulous bead store in Prague, and also is editor of a bead magazine.

While there she shared with us some of what she's been doing with lampwork beads.  She gave me a beautiful heart shaped bead she has made.  Beautiful young woman.                                                          PragueMirekBohdana2010


Below are Mirek and Bohdana.  They always show me the best time.  Prague is a beautiful city, but the people are the best part of it.

Life with Theo

October 10th, 2010

For the past 3 fabulous days I've been with our daughter, son-in-law and grandson here in Belgium.  Oct10Market We've gone to a kind of flea market, small village but mostly just hung out at their home so I can get reacquainted with Theo.

Oct10TheoSmiling The weather has been amazing.  Sunny & warm for two days and sunny and cool today (Sunday, Oct. 10).  All I have cared about is playing with our grandson.  So, here are a few pictures of my time here:


Oct8HeidiTheo Oct8TheoLaughing

The Knitting & Stitching Show

October 9th, 2010

Thursday, Oct. 7, before I took Eurostar to Brussels I attended my favorite fiber art show – the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexander Palace. AliPali   This isn't really a palace, but more of an event center.  It is perfect for this show.

Oct7MrsSmithK&S The whole area really catches the excitement of the show.  A Mrs. Smith made the seat cushion, pillows, leg cuffs and cover for the bus stop in front of Ali Pali (what the locals call the palace).  This was a beautiful greeting to those arriving and departing.
                                                                                                                                             MaudieAtK&SShowAs soon as I arrived my friend Maudie found me.  It was fun going into the show with her.  In the entrance is always a challenge.  This year it was fabric bags made from scraps leftover from projects.

This is actually a unique idea that one woman started here in the UK.  Bags are made and passed out to people who are shopping so that plastic and paper bags aren't needed.  These are given free to whomever wants one.  I love that idea.  Who wouldn't love to have a hand-made shopping bag.  There were hundreds of bags at the show and all beautifully made. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to start this all over the world? 

About 8 years ago several of us got together and decided to have a stand at the show.  I did the show for 3 years with Betts Vidal, Barbara Willis and Michele Meinhold.  The 4th year I worked with Rainbow Silk, then after decided to just come and enjoy the show.  Barbara took over the event and added Gloria McKinnon, who is our friend from Australia. 

Oct7BettsGloria                                                                                Oct7ColleenBettsBarbara It was fun seeing Colleen Babcock at the show, too.  Here she's with Betts and Barbara. 

Not sure you can see the amazing Asian Dreams crazy patch quilt on the wall next to Colleen.  I bought all the blocks from Gloria last year and have started putting them together.  Gloria also comes to Piecemaker's Country Store in Costa Mesa, California to teach.  It is there that we all take her classes to learn all the wonderful silk ribbon work that Gloria does.


The exhibits at the show, as I said earlier, are all breath-taking.  Below are some miniature hats that simply blew me away.  All are made of fibers, even the strawberries on the hat towards the front.

Yes, that is a shark attacking the straw hat.  He's made of fibers, too. 

Jan Beaney, Jean Littlejohn, Maggie Grey, Val Holmes, Richard Box and so many others were there with new work.  I didn't have time to see everything as I only had 3 hours.  I then took the tube to Kings Cross then to St. Pancras, collected my luggage and took Eurostar to Brussels and then another train to Rixensart to see our youngest daughter and her family.

More on that next time.

Torquay, England

October 4th, 2010

This is my 4th year coming to Torquay.  My class was a bit smaller this year, but I really didn't want more than 12 in the class, and that was the final number.  We were creating my LiMei doll and she's quite involved and smaller numbers in a class means more gets done. Torquay Naked Ladies

The first day was the nitty-gritty day,  We created a wire armature and filled the bodies with stuffing around the wire.  Then we drew and sculpted the face.  Day two was the dyeing day.  The bodies were dyed, along with the clothing fabrics.  We had a beautiful day for everything to be outside to dry in the sun.

One of the things I love about coming to Sylvia's here in Torquay is the walk in the mornings and evenings.  I can walk along the edge of the cliffs and see the sea below.  It is truly beautiful.  But, as you can see, they have the same problems we have in California – cliffs falling into the sea.  TorquayAdventuresWithCarl

In the evenings Carl whisks me away for an adventure.  This trip was to Brixham to see where more D-Day events happened.  Many of our men and women embarked from various points along the Devonshire coast before D-Day.

But, as were leaving the Battery Gardens we noticed we had a flat tire.  Every year I have to have some adventure with Carl.  Last year, as he was helping me on the train to return to London the train took off with Carl still on the train with me.  Fortunately, Torre is a short distance from Torquay and he was able to get off and return to Torquay to meet Sylvia.  Who was standing in shock as the train took off with her husband still with me.





TorquayCliffs TorquayBridgeOct4 

 After the class on Sunday Carl took me to see two very narrow bridges that are hundreds of years old.  With the recent rains the river was running quite fast and the sound wonderful.  After we visited the bridges we returned to Buckfast Abbey for Sunday Vespers.  We had gone there last year and Carl knew how I loved the pipe organ and the chantings of the monks.  This year there was an additional Benedictine service.  I even knew the hymn sung at the end.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       TorquayClassOct.3                                                                                         Here's the fun group with their dolls in various stages of completion at the end of the day on Sunday.  Everyone enjoyed working with the Embellisher machines we had, and we all loved the All in One dyes from Colourcraft.  Everyone did like using the Shiva/Markal Paintstiks for coloring the faces and upper bodies.  I do have to say that everyone's dolls turned out great and I can't wait to see the finished dolls when I return next year. ToquaySylviaOct4                                                                                                              Today, Oct. 4, was my last day in Torquay.  Sylvia took me to a beautiful spot along the coast where we had tea and a light lunch before I had to get on the train.  The day was perfect – warm, sunny, breezy.

When I return next year we'll be doing my new Kiri doll based on the movie "Avatar".  Keep tuned.

Next, I'll be briefly visiting the Knitting & Stitching Show in London Thursday, then that afternoon heading to Belgium to see our daughter, son-in-law and grandson.             

Greetings from England

October 2nd, 2010

FobblesMuncasterCastleKathrynBeverley After days of trying to find a cable for my new Sony camera a friend got one of those card readers and I was able to start downloading photo's.  I'm a bit behind, as I'm presently in Torquay, but do want to start sharing my amazing trip to England.

Kathryn had picked me up at the train station in Preston, then we drove up to Cumbria.  Beverley and Kathryn then took me to Muncaster Castle so I could see the grounds.  Last year I didn't arrive early enough to do so.

As you can see, this is a beautiful part of England.  Where we were is on the west coast of Cumbria.  On clear days you can see the Isle of Man across the sea.  It did clear up while I was here but we were a bit busy to look for the Isle of Man. FobblesMuncasterCastleOwls    

While walking through the grounds at Muncaster Castle we came upon an owl sanctuary.  Many of you know how I love owls.  I was in owl heaven!

FobblesMuncasterOwls2 I took dozens of photo's but will only share a few.  Do click on the photo of the two grey owls and check out the pink eyelids on the owl facing the camera.  I had no idea there were so many kinds of owls.

FobblesMuncasterOwls3 This is one I am familiar with, a Great Horned Owl.  We have them in our neighborhood in San Diego.  Very majestic.

I'm afraid they were feeding the owls, which put Beverley off for having dinner with Kathryn and I.  What were they feeding them you ask?  Baby chickens. FobblesSprayDyes

Beverley owns a wonderful store called Fobbles.  I had fallen so in love with the area last year that she asked me back this year.  I taught a 3-day workshop and we made my Xiuying doll.  We worked on a simple body armature then spray painted the bodies with CraftyNotions Colourful Sprays.  And, yes, the dolls heads are in plastic bags.  No one wanted their dolls heads to get sprayed with colourful inks.

FobblesGroup2010 By the end of the 3 days the dolls were almost finished.  The group was fun to be with and we all enjoyed our time in Beverley's converted barn.  Beverley rents the barn from an active farm.  They grow potatoes, so the barn isn't needed anymore for livestock.  If you are ever in this part of England, do look up the shop.  Check her website before going, though.  She offers a lot of wonderful classes, but isn't open every day of the week.

Breast Cancer Awareness month soon

September 14th, 2010

After sending off my doll for a fund raiser in October I thought I'd remind everyone to schedule your mammograms for October.  If you haven't had one for awhile.  October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we need to spread the word to get those breasts smashed.
SusanandHelen                                                                                                                            The photo to the right is my friend Susan (with the short hair) and her partner, Helen.  Susan had a double mastectomy in February 2009.  She went through a long series of chemo treatments, then excruciating radiation.  But, she has survived and is doing very well.  She developed a couple garments to help women after surgery.  It sometimes takes someone like Susan, who is a designer, to come down with a dreaded disease to come up with solutions.  You can see their products at:

PaulettesBreastCancerDoll This doll was done for a fund raiser by Paulette, a wonderful doll maker.  Like me, she's lost friends to cancer and wanted to do something.  She made this beautiful doll that will be sold at a fundraiser to raise funds for breast cancer research.

We may not have money to donate, but most of us can make something.  I highly recommend it.  You feel so good when you make something and send it off to be donated to a good cause.  Very rewarding.

Until next time, keep well.