Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Elegant Felted Mittens

Winter's on its way so it's time to pull out the knitting needles. Here's a pair of felted mittens that I made last week. This is an easy & free pattern that I found on-line. It's called "Elegant Felted Mittens." Felting is easy, very forgiving if you're not a great knitter like me, & best of all ~ extremely warm!

I modified the pattern to make the overall mitten shorter by reducing the cuff to only 4 row instead of the original 16. I also just used the two strands of yarn instead of the "fizz" yarn for the cuff. I also crocheted a mitten string ~ is there a term that's used for the long strand that keeps mittens together & is worn inside your coat? I'm sure there is but I don't know what it is.

Lately, I'm all William's mittens & mine on the "strings." It's so much easier to keep track of the mates. I felted the cord for these mittens & it turned out nice & thick. After it was dry from the felting I sewed it to each mitt.

The design on the top of the hand is needle felting. I used strands of wool & some spun wool with a special needle that's used to poke the yarn threads into the existing felted wool. As you poke, the yarns intermingle & the design becomes felted into the main piece. I think I need to add some beads next!

Thursday, October 15, 2009


This weekend, October 17th & 18th, is the Alaska Bead Society Bead Show. This year it's at the Conoco-Phillips Atrium in downtown Anchorage. Stopbye, visit, get inspired & buy some beads! It's always a great show & fun to see what all the artists are up to.

I'm going to be selling off a lot of the bead inventory from the gallery. Lots & lots of loose beads, beaded jewelry & findings...I think. There's lots of "rules" at this show & we each only have one table so I usually bring lots of inventory & keep replenishing the table as things sell.

Mention this post to me at the show & I'll give you 20% off everything you buy at my table! Woo-hoo! Don't you love a good deal?? See you this weekend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Making Of A Mask ~ Process Not Product!

I'm working on a series of masks. It's been a frustrating process & I haven't been happy with the results. I usually try to use glass left over from other projects or scraps when I'm experimenting due to the expense of fusible glass ~ thus the colors & hodge-podge used below.

I have a few mask molds that I've made & the goal was to learn how to use the glass in the molds with the correct placement for features as well as kiln temperatures to achieve the glass movement into the mold without over firing. I want nice crisp features in the face without devitrification.

The beginning of another mask with estimates for the features. The ring around the outside will create a lattice so I can add beads, metal hair & any other ornaments. Here she is after the firing. The lattice is curled under so you can't see if from this angle but it turned out nicely.

Here's another mask that I found in the cast-off bin. I probably started this over 10 years ago. This is the problem when one is a production artist ~ I get started on new concepts but if contracts & commissions come in that becomes the focus. Money talks my dears!

Overall, I think these are all pretty ugly but I've learned a lot in the process. It takes a lot of work, trial & error, to create pieces that look effortless. These are getting there but I think it's time to get out the glass saw & drill & see what else evolves.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Closet Tap Dancer

I've been tapping for about a year & a half. I originally started because my son, William wanted to tap dance, & I thought it would be good for me to learn so we could practice together. It's been so much fun & we're both still tapping at the Children's Dance Theatre of Alaska. I'm hooked & I really look forward to my class with the group of women I dance with weekly. The Children's Dance Theatre is preparing a "Nutcracker Sweet" performance / recital in December & my group has been coerced into doing a number. Like I need anymore stress in my life!

The picture above is when Will was 3 1/2 years old & obsessed with tap! I found the "girls" tap shoes second hand (don't tell him now that they're girls shoes) & Sherrill (bff) gave him the bow tie, cumber bun, hat & cane. He worn it everyday, every where....EVERYWHERE we went...thanks Sherrilll. Now, I look back & think, "oh...he's so precious!!!) Just like every Mom.

Anyway, here's little list about what's so cool about tap dancing ~

  1. Tap dancing is a lot of fun – Have you ever watched any of the great tap dancers perform? They always look as though they are having the time of their life. That’s because they are. Tap classes shouldn't be too serious. When I allow myself to relax and have a good time I do better in the class.

  1. It will help you lose weight! – Everything about tap dancing is aerobic, whether you are learning it or performing. It takes energy and concentration to execute all of the sounds and movements in time with the music. Let’s face it…legs are not the lightest parts of the body…in fact, they are often the heaviest.

  1. It develops your balance! – Since becoming a tap dancer I have noticed that I am more able to maintain (and regain) my balance. When you first start taking classes, one of the most important things you do is start balancing yourself on the balls of your feet. Doing this while executing the other movements is a little tricky at first, but in time you will see a noticeable difference in your balance.

  1. You’ll learn to keep rhythm with your entire body! – This is a skill that is useful, not only for dancers, but for musicians (yes, accordion players!), and athletes as well. Many famous boxers have taken up tap dancing to further develop their timing and coordination. The same can be said for many musicians…particularly drummers. In fact, many tap dancers are also skilled drummers.

5. You get to dance and make music simultaneously! – This is one of the things I love most about tap. With most other dance forms, you are dependent upon some external source for the music. This is not true for tap as the visual and auditory elements are combined. In tap you can take the musical ideas in your head and communicate them through your feet.

  1. It’s an American Art Form! – Tap dancing could not have been born anywhere but here in the good old U.S. of A. It was the interaction of Irish, African, English, and Native American influences that led to the creation, over time, of this beautiful art form. It also grew up alongside another American art from…jazz ~ my favorite music to listen to in the studio!

  2. It can aid you in learning many other dance forms! – Who has more complex footwork than a tap dancer? Tap dancers use our footwork to create sound which has to be executed with precise timing to be correct. Training as a tap dancer develops the communication between the brain, legs, and feet. This ability is a key to learning about every other form of dance…especially those with swift footwork! I'm still working on this aspect of the dance & learning to make each precise sound.

  3. It’s mysterious! – I can imagine that you are wondering what that even means. Let me explain… I can still remember what it was like to see people tap dancing and have no idea of how they were making those sounds. To me, it was like magic! Maybe this one doesn’t impact you, but it certainly impacted me. I think this is what attacted my 3 year old child when he first told me he wanted to dance...or maybe it was watching re-runs of Lawrence Welk. I was watching the accordion players & William was watching the tap dancers.

  4. You can express yourself! – True of tap and any other form of dance. Dance is a way of expressing yourself. You can sometimes say things with a step or a combination that you are unable to express with words.

  5. It relieves stress! – Remember that old advice about punching a pillow when something upsets you? Tap allows you to strike the floor instead! Ok, not quite the same thing. As stated earlier, tap is a form of expression. As you study it, you will find that tap steps and combinations can have moods and ideas associated with them. This can be an excellent way to relieve stress through expressing those emotions!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cool Cats & Accordions

Hey all you cool cats & hip daddy's! Monday night (October 5th) , the Anchorage Accordion Club meets from 6 to 8 pm at BP. Join us for a foot tapping time...