Dress, Patrice’s drawing challenge

I was so glad to be able to be a part of Patrice’s drawing challenge this week.

Let me just say that I love clothes, Chloe loves clothes, we both love looking good and feeling good in clothes, but what we don’t like is knowing that hundreds of pounds of textiles end up in land fills every year because the fashion industry has a terribly slavish built-in obsolescence. And we also don’t like that new textiles carry toxic ingredients in them, such as “safe” levels of lead and cancer causing fire retardants. Clothes are soaked in them and we are expected to put that against our skin. We also suspect that each sequin sewn on to clothes manufactured in developing countries has probably been sewn on by child labour.

So we tend to buy a lot of second hand, ethically sewn, and organically produced clothes.

This time around, I decided to see if I could do some eco printing on some clothes, and see what the results would be.

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So, with the gathered leaves, and a quick trip to the local thrift shop, which produced a shawl, a T, a summer dress and a linen tunic…
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I soaked the clothes over night in a vinegar water solution, and we started to layer the leaves.

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Now the thing about eco printing, there are very few instructions out there, and it seems that people give various pieces of the puzzle but not the whole process, so I basically pieced together a system, (which is probably pretty unique to me, since I have very little idea of what I’m doing), from several blogs, videos, and snippets of books on-line. One gal’s blog which I found very beautiful and inspiring is this one: Obovate Designs. You should check it out, Melinda makes the most beautiful eco prints.

One thing I knew for sure, there are things called mordants which change/deepen/fix/help with the colour, but apart form vinegar, they all seemed pretty chemically, and not wanting to contribute to more chemicals in the environs, I chose to only use vinegar.

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I used leaves, red onion skins and spent dahlia flower petals on my two pieces, and C got creative with pomegranate seeds and beet slices on her two pieces.

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That is, when she wasn’t eating the supplies. :D

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I turned the clothes wrong side out, and did a sort of sandwich of leaves in the middle. With the shawl, I spread the leaves on one half and folded the second half over. Then we folded the clothes and wrapped them around a stick and bound them with elastic bands.

Then we put them into my large turkey roaster on a steaming plate, and steamed them for two hours.

Then we put them aside to rest overnight.

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Some days I have about as much patience as a small gnat, and this three day project really stretched what little I manage to achieve, so on the third day, we ran to the kitchen first thing in the morning and started to unroll out clothes.

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The more leaves, seeds, slices and petals we picked off, the more delighted we were with the result, and the dye material all went into a large bowl and straight into the compost.

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Then we hung out or eco dyed creations and waited for them to dry.

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And this afternoon I gave them a little iron, and we had a fashion show!

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We are actually thrilled with our first eco dying try. We love the earthy quality the natural materials gave our clothes. And the best part is that we created something unique and genuine. Recycled clothes, natural dyes, Earth friendly products. It’s all good.

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If you’ve stuck with me thru this whole, extremely long post, thank you, thank you so much and bless your sweet, pink hearts. :D

Here, again, is the link to Patrice’s site where you can see more wacky, creative and fun twists on the Dress theme.

Big hugs for a wonderful, eco friendly weekend for all. :D

Chloe and I took a long lunch and got lost in vintage dresses.

Isn’t it wonderful to take one day of the week and take some time?

C and I decided to go to a favourite, funky part of Vancouver, called Commercial Drive, to our favourite coffee shop, Cafe Calabria, for lunch and a good mooch around the neighbourhood.

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It’s been one of those soggy Vancouver days where it’s hard to feel motivated to go anywhere, but the promise of visiting the owners (our long-time friends), hot tea, a sticky coconut macaroon and a Frank’s special panini, was just too tempting.

There was way too much macaroon and panini for us, so we took half to go.

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And we wandered up and down the block till we came to C’s favourite store, Mintage.

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You’ve got to love this store. Just look at the juxtaposition of those frilly tutus above the cowboy boots!

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There’s so much fun here, from vintage bridal…

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To heavy woollen sweaters.

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And accessories too. Shoes and boots, belts and purses, scarves, tuques, and the most amazing jewellery.

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When I look in my closet, I’d love to see funky cowboy boots, soft, beaded moccasins and an old pair of roller skates. I’d love it just for fun.

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C and I grabbed a hand full of vintage dresses each and tried on the fifties. (These dresses were such keepers…OMG)

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We squeezed and wriggled our way thru the sixties…

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We flower powered our way thru the seventies. (Hey, I had an almost identical dress to this one for my high school dances, and, if it wasn’t for the $180 price tag, I so would have bought it! Loved the way it looked and felt on.)

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And we giggled our way thru the eighties. C dubbed the black dress “the Avril Lavigne” dress.

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We ended up with this keeper bunch which we loved to pieces.

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When we were speaking to the lovely Alex at the cash register, we told her we couldn’t think of any place to wear the (above) pink and lace dress, and she told us a story. She was late for work, dressed in her wonderful vintage, ran to the bank for some cash and suddenly she was aware that it got deathly quiet in there. She thought for a split second that there might be a bank robbery happening and, looking around, she saw people smiling and complimenting her on her dress. So she said, “It was the fabulous dress all along!” So that’s it, we shall wear the pink and lace one to do our deposits and withdrawals.

Too much fun :D

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Back to Princeton, (part two-ish)

It takes about thirty seconds after one sits down for a dog to find a lap.

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Dachshunds, Nash, Eddie and Baxter, are generally lap dogs Coco the Wookie thinks she is too, so tea, coffee and reading always include a dog nose in your book or cup.

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And while they ran around with the big dogs and barked at and charged any visiting squirrel, sometimes their short little legs need a helping hand.

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Margot trained as a farrier, and has hung some of her horseshoes into a funky wind chime.

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There is plenty of wood for open fires to keep the cabin warm and heat the area around the fire pit.

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There are plenty of games at the cabin. Some I’ve never heard of, like Settlers of Catan, which six of the twenty-somethings played for hours in the evening, and some like Guess Who and Crib, which are old favourites. And while those games may stay on the shelf in the city, there’s always time to play them at the cabin.

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And the horses, General and Levi, were in their element up there. They do come back to the city after the weekend, but the glorious freedom of those meadows, forests and open country, will stay in their hearts till they come back to the cabin again.

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And so was Lizzy…who thinks she’s one of the small dogs. Chloe thinks she’s a divine creature, and she certainly looks it, with her big blue eyes and silky coat.

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This weekend, our friend’s cabin, this beautiful semi-arid, meadow and forest country of sage brush, yellow pines, deers and owls, was such a welcome break from the hectic city. We got the rest we so desperately needed and were able to forget our worries for a while, and that is priceless.

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We must leave this place and go back to the city now, but we will take this country back with us in our hearts.

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Got even further out of town to Hedley.

Years ago, before a faster, more direct road was built to the interior of BC, my family and I used to travel this way.

This was years before Chloe was born, but I remembered the road beside the river and the charming little towns along the way. Sunday afternoon I asked Chloe if she’d like to come explore with me.

She said yes.

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So we jumped in the car, stopped by the river to pick some late wildflowers, and followed the highway beside the river for 25km.

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I found the little town I was after. This is Hedley.

It’s built under an old gold mine and has about fifty lovely little houses, two streets, three restaurants, four stores, one old saloon style hotel and a yard sale.

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We asked the ladies of the yard sale where to walk and what to see. They sent us down the street to visit Rod.

We found Rod’s funky junk and anything store and said hello. Rod was sifting thru a gold pan with loads if little gold flecks and he was putting the gold flecks into a tiny glass bottle.

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He said, “do you ladies want to see something special?” We said, “sure we do!” He opened a door and said, “step inside and close the door behind you.” He turned on some black lights and we were standing in his amazing imaginary universe. It was the most surreal moment. Gorgeous futuristic buildings and paintings straight out of Rod’s imagination made for the most amazing out of this world experience. There was no way to truly capture the moment with a photo but I tried.

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We walked around, looked at everything and mentally moved into several of the charming little houses and imagined what a summer cottage in this town would feel like.

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Oh, and, I bought a paint by number set from the ladies at the yard sale for $2.50. I’ve never done a paint by number because it’s a cultural thing and I didn’t grow up in North America, but boy is it a lot of fun. :D

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Got out of town, Princeton, part one

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Hi everyone, it’s Monday night and I just drove into my dreary, rainy city of black forests and snow capped mountains, but my spirits are full of gold leaves and small towns, grasslands, rivers and lakes.

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Chloe and I spent the long Thanksgiving weekend at our friend’s cabin, with five parental units, seven 20-somethings, six dogs, two cats, two horses and one huge roast turkey.

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How lucky were we to have a weekend of horsey kisses, campfire chats, table games, late evening silly movies and chilly morning breakfasts?

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Very lucky indeed. More tomorrow. :D

Cookie, Stefanie’s drawing challenge

Stefanie says “cookie is a nice word, isn’t it?”

Oh it SO is!

I’ve done so much of the painted cookies in the past, that I decided to do something completely different.

So when is a cookie not a cookie, but still is? When it’s a little silver cookie necklace.

Here is a little fortune cookie with a fortune to keep you happy and lucky all the time you wear it.

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I had something in my mind, and as usual, I took the approach of, “how hard can it be?”

I cut out a small disk of silver, which I then bent and hammered out and bent and hammered out about a half dozen times. (yes, that is a hockey puck, we are Canadian after all :D ) Anyway, turns out, bending a small silver disk in two opposite directions is bloody hard! But, after heating it red hot, it became a bit more pliable for a few seconds, but that was enough to get a good bend.

Then I cut a little fortune in which I engraved, “Love is” one one side and “you” on the other.

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Then I punched holes and soldered jump rings and chain, and pickled and filed and polished and polished and polished.

And then I got a certain freckle faced girl to model it for me.

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I’m really happy with it.

Come visit Stefanie over the weekend and check out other cookie enthusiasts, and please pardon my absence till Monday afternoon, I’m getting out of town to a friend’s cabin for our Thanksgiving weekend and will not have internet, but I’ll be around just as soon as I get back into town. Sending big chocolate chip cookie hugs your way. :D

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Afternoon break in a hectic day

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This little urban park was such a welcome break in my rather full and hectic day. Clover and I walked around and thru it and noticed that the city really did plant an amazing assortment of trees here. This is an old part of town and some of the trees have probably been here for for the better part of a 100 years, and it was lovely to stop the car, go for a walk and watch the squirrels and birds.

And then we got on with this long, but successful day, made even better by taking some time to stop for a while.

Hello from Monday night (Can’t get my act together these days…lol)

It’s been a quiet, low-key weekend round here.

Nice for a change.
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But we did have Kerstie, Adam and our little girls come for supper.

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Mom came too, and we had a lovely visit.

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Jonathan was missed. He originally said he would love to come for dinner, but double booked himself with the new girl friend, (who we know nothing about 8O )

Oh well, we had a lovely time.

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Today dawned bright and sunny, and, after I did some laundry, I got into my silversmithing studio.

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I turned on some Bowie music and contemplated an ancient flint with a hole thru it.

And, although I haven’t finished that piece yet…
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I did make some earrings for Clove. She was admiring some earrings similar to these at Blue Ruby and another chic little boutique and they cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of $50, and I thought, “are you kidding me? There’s like $5 worth of silver and a half hour worth of work!”

And you all know my motto: How hard can it be?

Not that hard as it turns out. :D

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Now it’s evening and everything’s quiet and calm and I’m trying to resist the urge to get back out into the silversmithing studio tonight.

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Hello from Sunday night

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Well, hello autumn! Is everyone ready? Ready for the mountains of leaves and crisp apples and chrysanthemums? Bring it on!

It’s been a rainy week here on the West Coast, and just as well for me because I really needed to cocoon and spend some time in thought and meditation, but the glorious weekend brought sun and loads of it and a wonderful Saturday at the river and Sunday at the beach.

Dogs, and farmer’s markets abound and also strange little art get-togethers. I love that, you know. I mean I love dogs and farmer’s markets, but so love to see a group of people, of all ages and expertise levels, set up their easels, paints and canvases and just go for it for the day. There was a group at the river, about 30 strong, ages five to 85, who painted En Plein-Air for four hours and presented their masterpieces in one of the historic shipyard buildings as an exhibition. I just loved every painting I saw.

One more thing which means super fall to me is HOCKEY! YAY! Clove and I caught the first Wolf Pack game. C’s boy Bryson is an extraordinary skater and has been serving as a linesman for the higher league hockey games, and this game was being played 10 minutes away, so naturally we went to support him. The Wolf Pack team is the last minor league boys can play in before they get called up to the NHL, (or not), so scouts are watching, and the game is fast paced and…um…testosterone-y to the max. In the third period, there were three WP players off the ice in penalties for roughing at the same time. I’m so glad that Bryson has years of Aikido as offensive training…lol. Although we’re technically cheering for the refs, it’s nice when the home team wins, and the Wolf Pack did! :D

So, two more days and we technically put summer 2014 to rest. How is everyone feeling about that? Does anyone do anything about celebrating the equinox? A little pagan ritual or something? I’ve been watching Outlander and now love all things Scottish…including Robbie, who is Scots…but now want to do something spectacular to bring in the fall, like build a stone henge right in my back yard and have a ceremony. I know, I don’t tend to do things by half…lol. Maybe I’ll just make a piece of jewellery from one of the pieces of ancient flint I’ve strung up on a copper wire. What do we think? Maybe a necklace with mystical powers? Looking up the powers of flint, I think I need to get this book!

Well, that about sums up my week and weekend. Hope yours was wonderful and you got the best out of it. If it wasn’t, then oh well, tomorrow’s a new day. Big hugs for a wonderful and shiny week ahead everyone. :D

PS: I have another of those darn spaghetti squashes round here. Anyone know something spaghetti squash fabulous?

Sharing with Judith and the mosaic bunch. :D

Hello from Sunday night, which turned into a Monday post…again

Well, I must admit that this operation has knocked me on my butt!

Here I was all lah-di-dah thinking, “right, op on Monday, yoga class on Wednesday.” Well, not exactly what I managed. Actually, not even close to what I managed.

I did some research and asked my mother, (who is an anaesthetist herself), and the long and short of it is that the anaesthetic drugs settle in the fat cells and take a while to clear, and the longer the procedure, the longer the clearing. It seams that the 90 minutes might take up to one month for my body to get rid of the toxins. Damn, wish there was such a thing as organic anaesthetic. (Don’t say they could have hit me over the head…lol) So I’m plodding along feeling awfully tired and moody and no yoga at all.

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There have been some lovely and bright spots in my week though, The weather’s been so warm and sunny that I washed all the quilts and feather pillows and hung them in the sunshine to dry, had a lovely harvest of organic grapes from the garden, and I also caught up with some of my children for a fabulous curry supper under purple lights…mmm prawn vindaloo. We had Ziggy with us and she was so good that she slept almost thru the whole supper.

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Who else loves curry? Do you make it at home? I hardly ever do, except maybe for butter chicken or something like aloo gobi, but I think I should make it more often.

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Also, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck at home and have not had much energy for art, so I decided to rearrange things round here to look a bit more late summer-autumnal. I decided I wanted to look at this large oil of a late summer meadow. I painted this several years ago, but it’s one of those paintings I really love, so have never sold it.

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Over the years I’ve built up a collection of vintage decoy ducks, (I buy one each time I visit Quebec), and I decided to have my lone goose on the mantle. Behind it I put an oil I painted when I was 20 something, of aspen in the autumn.

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Further along are some potted plants and a wooden quail/partridge I found in the forest close to my father’s cabins.

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On the other side are the two stupid white cats, (as my children call them), a little art piece of fog in an old tobacco tin I did last year, and a little porcelain of my great grandmother. I have to tell you the story of the stupid white cats: so I found one about 20 years ago and just loved it. Then the second one shortly after that. These two hung around the fireplace off and on in two previous houses for years, and, about five years ago, my children thought it would be funny to start buying me every white porcelain cats they come across, and now I have seven! They still come and go, but these two original ones seem to be hanging around more these days.

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I’m hoping for some cooler weather soon, (the garden sure needs it), and, to help with the cooler weather wishful thinking, I’ve brought in some firewood.

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So now that I like my living room I have to go redecorate the rest of the house…just need a bit more energy.

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But for now I’m rearranging my wardrobe, filling the house with garden dahlias, and enjoying every warm, late summer day.

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