Saturday, February 28, 2015

Rust-Dyed Critter Gallery Addition

Perhaps a spirit giraffe? This will go with my rust-dyed kitty and owl in previous posts. I need to rust-dye more fabric if I want to enlarge this gallery. Fun!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No More!

I started to wonder about the silkworm cocoons I purchased on Etsy to make my mini-books. I always knew cocoons to be part of a life-cycle. The fact that I had purchased these whole on Etsy, with a dead silkworm still inside, started to make me feel uncomfortable. So, I did some research and learned about silkworm farming for profit, and the worms don't get to live their entire life-cycle. They never have a chance to become moths.

(Photo credits: Wikipedia)

Process of silkworm farming:

*The silk moth lays thousands of eggs which hatch to caterpillar larvae, known as silkworms.

*The larvae feed, grow, and moult several times, then weave nets to hold themselves in place for spinning a cocoon. 

*They swing their heads from side to side in a figure '8' distributing saliva that forms silk when it solidifies.

*They spin approximately 1 mile of silk filament and enclose themselves in cocoons within 2-3 days. 

*The cocoons are then boiled, which kills the developing moth. Then the outside end of the silk filament is found to be wound on a reel of marketable raw silk, or the cocoons are sold to be used in other ways.

(Photo credit:

Since the process of harvesting silk kills the larvae, it has been criticized by animal-welfare activists. Mahatma Gandhi was critical of silk production based on the philosophy "not to hurt any living thing". This led to Gandhi's promotion of cotton-spinning machines. In the early 21st century the organisation PETA has campaigned against silk.

Now, I'm not a big fan of worms, but I believe in respecting life. If a living thing is being killed to benefit an unnecessary commercial venture, I'm uncomfortable taking part. So, I won't be putting my silk cocoon mini-books in my Etsy shop, nor will I be crafting again with silk cocoons. 

However, I really like making mini-books using my hand-made paper, so I now need to find something else for the mini-book covers. Please post suggestions!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Third Silkworm Cocoon Mini-Book

These cocoons are naturally white, and this one is tea-dyed which I like best for adding color. The 8 pages are cut from my homemade paper, and the collaged words read "Giving Perfect Love -- Welcome -- Living Well -- Always Blessed --Special". When I finish a couple more of these, I'll choose a few to put in my Etsy shop. 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Easy Homemade Lip Balm/Moisturizer

Only 3 ingredients needed:  

Coconut Oil,  Beeswax,  Vitamin E oil

Measure 2 parts coconut oil to 1 part beeswax in a microvable container (tip: if the coconut oil is hardened, melt it in microwave until pourable). The beeswax can be chipped into small pieces for measuring. I used 1/2 cup coconut oil to 1/4 cup beeswax (which will provide enough lip balm to last a year or longer).

Add a couple drops of Vitamin E oil and stir. Put in microwave and heat until it is all melted. 

Be careful taking it out of microwave as it will be very hot. Stir and allow to cool to room temperature when it will become lip balm/hand salve consistency. 

I filled small plastic tubs to keep handy in my purse, car, bathroom, etc. I bought these at a beauty supply store for .79 each. My son has allergies, and this works very well for his skin issues.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rust-Dyed Fabric Critters

While it was snowing, I added a rust-dyed spirit owl to my kitty. It's the beginning of a gallery! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Handmae Paper Fun

Today I spent some time replenishing my low supply of handmade paper. The lilac sheet has embedded lavender buds, and it made my kitchen smell great! The light red sheet has red onion skins and dried weeds. The yellow sheet has rosemary leaves, swamp grass seeds, and glitter. The green sheet has dried and pressed red flowers from my Christmas Cactus plant, and the white flecks are pressed Baby's Breath flowers from my Valentine's bouquet. Although I can only make one sheet at a time, I like making paper a lot. I never know for sure how it will turn out, and the possibilities for things to add are endless!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Using my Rust-Dyed Fabric

A spirit kitty with sage inside for good vibes, about 6" tall, with vintage button eyes...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

From my Doll Quilt Swap Partner

All the way from Washington state to NJ! This lovely spring quilt is about 15" x15", paper-pieced, and free-motion quilted. It's hard to see in this photo, but the white fabric has the most lovely sparkling thread throughout. Sparkle is one of my favorite things! 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Doll Quilt Swap Group

My February swap partner likes batiks, so here is the mini-quilt I'm sending to her. It's the "Jacobs Ladder" block, measures about 18" square, and this time I secured it with vintage buttons instead of ties. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Silkworm Cocoon Mini-Book

This is another dyed silkworm cocoon fashioned into a mini-book. I used my handmade paper with inclusions of seeds and weeds for the 8 little pages, each with it's own positive word collage. They read "cherish, peace, forever, new ideas, super, special, beautiful". Then I added glass beads for 
a sparkly finishing touch. Silk cocoons are actually sturdy, and they take stitching well. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

An Extra Goodie

This water bottle cover is crocheted of 100% washable cotton yarn. My mini-quilt swap partner included it with the quilt she sent to me. It makes handling and carrying my smooth aluminum water bottle so much easier, and I love it! 

Facebook Doll Quilt Group

I hope this isn't a duplicate post, but I can't recall showing it before. This is the first mini-quilt I made to swap in the Facebook doll quilt group. It's made of string blocks using Aunt Grace fabrics, and it's held together by ties and glass beads. This group keeps me sewing! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Sewing Room

This extra bedroom is my "sewing room", but actual sewing happens less often these days. I've tried to start calling it my "studio" or my "crafting room", but nothing else feels right. I guess it will always be my "sewing room". 

What do you call the space where you create things???????

Here is my cutting table that always seems to be cluttered with other things. Two of my weavings along with numerous gifts, swaps, and giveaways are on the wall.

This is the top of the chest of drawers that stores many of my supplies. Once again, there are treasured gifts and giveaway wins sitting among my own creations.

Finally, here is my desk top in front of a great window. It always holds what I'm working on at any given time. Today it's silk cocoon mini-books. I made the alpaca teddy bear for my daughter a few years ago, but he has since lost an eye, so he patiently waits to have his sight restored. The rust-dyed fabrics are just waiting for an idea. 

The rest of this room is occupied by a bed, a nightstand, and a bookshelf. It's not a large room, but I work best in a cozy space. Plus, it has the best window! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

January's Doll Quilt

My Facebook Doll Quilt swap group partner posted this photo of the January mini-quilt she made for me. I should receive it by Thursday. It has my favorite blue colors, a bit of sparkle, and an incredible amount of beautiful hand-embroidery. This is an awesome group of talented and caring ladies swapping one mini-quilt per month. I love this group! 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A Blizzard Post

Our daughter has launched a new blog, "A Running Story" in my sidebar. If you want to know what it feels like to be marooned in this Boston blizzard, yesterday's post makes it clear. We are driving there tomorrow. I don't think we will have any issues getting there, but where to park our car may be a problem. Most spaces are already taken!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Silk Cocoon Mini-Book

I bought silk cocoons and showed them a few posts back. They are naturally white, so I dyed some for crafting. We all get ideas from the web, blogs, Pinterest, etc., and I've wanted to try making a mini-book with a silk cocoon since Katie of TheRedTin blog originally made one a few years ago. I've tried to put my own spin on it by using my handmade paper for the book's pages. This paper has many things embedded in it including lavender buds, grass clippings and weed seeds. I've done my own style of simple beading, but I plan to do different stitches on the next one. This cocoon is tea-dyed and has 8 pages, each with it's own special word collage. Alhough silk cocoons appear to be fragile, they are actually very sturdy and take handling well. Yet you can still see delicate silk threads if you look closely. Thankfully, I enjoy working small!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

PS from Last Post

The curved rusted object in the last post was too large to lay flat, and it didn't make enough contact with the fabric to dye it. So I wrapped it with a strip of water/vinegar soaked white muslin, tied it tightly with string, put it in a plastic bag overnight, and look what happened!

PS...Gene asked if the lines are from a design on the fabric. The fabric was plain white muslin, so no, the lines are not from fabric design. They resulted in the rust-dyeing process, the thinnest lines being from the string I used to tightly tie the fabric to the curved rusty object.  

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rust-Dyeing Fabric Process

There are many ways to rust-dye fabric, and these are the steps that work well for me. It doesn't take a lot of supplies or much time to do this, and you may enjoy it if you like surprises. I'm not good at tutorials, but here goes.

CAUTION...wear rubber gloves whenever coming in contact with rust. That's a universal suggestion no matter what instructions you read. 

Here is my rusty stash outside. Whenever I find another worthless piece of junk with rust, I toss it here.

Use a shallow flat-bottomed plastic container with a lid (mine is about a foot square, from Target, around $6) and a plastic spray bottle (also from Target for 99 cents). Line the bottom of the container with a piece of fabric to be dyed, 100% cotton is good. 

Mix equal parts of water and white vinegar in the spray bottle and spray the fabric in the container until it's saturated. 

Lay rusty items of your choice on top of the sprayed wet fabric.

Put another piece of fabric to be dyed on TOP of the rusty items, and spray again until that piece is also wet. Then cover it all with plastic (Saran Wrap works) and push down in and around all the rusty items for the fabric to make good contact around them. Then close the lid and put in a warm place. This is how it looks before closing the lid. I put mine near our heating vent. 

After a few hours, rust starts to dye the fabric (exciting!). You can quit then for subtle rust-dyed effects, but I left mine until the following morning to get darker results. 

When you want to stop the dyeing process, take the box next to a sink and start to remove things beginning with the covering of plastic, which goes in the trash.

Then remove the first layer of fabric laying it in the sink.

Next remove all the rusty items and also put them in a pile in the sink. Then remove the bottom piece of fabric, into the sink it goes with the first piece. Everything smells like rust, so put it all in the sink to be rinsed. 
The rusty items will be saved after rinsing for next time.

Soak the two pieces of rust-dyed fabric in salt water (15-30 mins) to stop the rusting process before washing them (in the washing machine is fine, I put mine in with dark laundry). 

In the end, here is something like you may have on your two pieces of rust-dyed fabric. I started with peach and yellow cotton fabric. For the most dramatic results, I like using white. 

I love doing this, and I find myself looking for rusty things everywhere I go. Now for the biggest challenge -- deciding what to create with my new rust-dyed fabrics! 

PS...if your rusty objects are too large to lay flat like in this tutorial, you can wrap your vinegar/water soaked fabric around them, tie with string, and put into a plastic bag for dyeing. The tightly tied string produces a very interesting striped effect. I will show that result in my next post, a shorter post, I promise! 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Handmade Paper Additions

I've been collecting things to add to my handmade paper pulp in this box. I like that they are all at my fingertips while I'm working, but I often can't decide what to choose. So sometimes I add a little bit of everything, and I love the surprise I get in the end! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Silk Cocoons

These 1 1/2" white silk cocoons were offered on Etsy uncut with a dead silkworm still inside, but I didn't want to deal with cutting and removing the worm. Thankfully, the seller was willing to do that for me before shipping. They are very sturdy, and I have some crafting ideas for them. However, at this point, I'm just experimenting with dyeing some them. The tan ones are tea-dyed, and the red and green took a couple drops of food coloring. More to come! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

January's Group Mini-Quilt

I just wrapped up this little12"x18" mini-quilt for mailing tomorrow to my assigned Facebook group swap partner. It's made entirely of light and dark batik half-square triangles, and is tied with DMC floss. There are so many layout options with light and dark half-square triangles. Picking one was fun!