Pumpkin Season

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Every fall for the last 5 years or so I’ve made glass pumpkins. In college I made them as part of the glass department’s pumpkin sale/fundraiser and since then I’ve made them at another glass studio that runs a pumpkin sale. This fall I got invited back to my old college to help with their pumpkin sale in exchange for making some of my own to sell. It was a very rewarding experience. Not only did I get to make a lot of pumpkins and have fun in the process but I was able to talk to and share ideas with a lot of other creative minded people. Making pumpkins 6 hours+ a day for 2 weeks really made me think seriously about doing more production. I’ve been selling online but haven’t done much in the way of selling my own work since college. Since I’ve moved I’m only a few blocks from a public glass studio where I can rent time and I’m already thinking of things I can make and sell. I’ve sold out of all the pumpkins I’d made, so unfortunately I won’t likely have any for sale on Etsy this year. Though I am designing some Christmas ornaments that I’d like to start making and listing soon. Keep an eye on MadelineSteimleArt on Etsy and see how they turn out.

Converging Media Art Show

This fall after moving to Indianapolis I got the opportunity to organize an art show. I’ve shown a few times since I got out of college, but never more than a few pieces and certainly not at a show I put together. To make the show better I invited 3 other artists who also work in glass or metal. From the show statement:

“Converging Media is about mixing media and techniques in unique ways to discover new ways of making. In this show steel meets glass, glass meets plastic, and metal meets paper. 3D printing is used alongside casting, and glassblowing is
integrated with metalworking.”

Since the show came together in about 2 months time, we were each able make a few new pieces to show alongside older work. In all there were about 15 pieces. Before the show we made pedestals, wrote a statement for the show, made postcards and advertised. Installing a show in a gallery downtown in a big city was a much different experience than any art show I’ve done in the past. All in all it was well worth it and it’s something I look forward to doing again.

Recent Finds

So I recently moved to a bigger city and am still finding all the best yard sale routes. I’ve had a few weeks practice now and am getting pretty good at finding the best sales. This weekend was probably one of the last great yard sale weekends, as the mornings keep getting chillier and chillier. Still I had fantastic luck and like usual met quite a few friendly people.

 

This weekend was definitely the time for strange little ceramic creatures! The one in yellow intrigued me the most. It took a good bit of internet sleuthing to find out that it was mostly likely a little 50’s Japanese import of a pixie/devil and would have originally held a trident. I was more than a little confused at first, thinking it was a child in a cat costume with real hair on it’s butt and a hole in its hand.

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This vintage Kodak camera isn’t going to be much use to me but it is absolutely beautiful and in the original box. I bought it with another, newer SLR camera for $5.

This “Souvenir of France” is likely from the first world war. It’s a little postcard with silk embroidered pocket holding a die cut bouquet and a photo of a soldier.

 

 

Tiny House Final Update

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I’m happy to announce after a year of work we finally have the tiny house finished and moved to its final location. The house was built for my parents to use as a tiny vacation house (a step up from the decrepit parked camper we had all previously crammed into). We moved it about 300 miles south to the Ozarks to stay a little piece of woods in the foothills.

After putting in most of the final touches (we’re waiting to install solar, hook up water and figure out a solution for waste water), we hosted a tiny open house. At the busiest we had 10 people inside the roughly 160 sq. ft. house. After building it in my parents’ backyard our first hurdle was to haul it to the street for the open house. We had dreaded this part the whole time building it because the alley was narrow, the backyard fenced in and the path riddle with power lines and low hanging branches. After cutting down a section of the fence, the tiny house sprang to life with ease, rolling down the alley to stop on the street in front of the big house. Aside from curbing the tires and hitting the neighbor’s tree, the first part went as smoothly as possible.

The next day we hitched up the truck and loaded up a second vehicle to lead and watch for low power lines, street lights, bridges etc. Every step of the way, from their little street into town, from town out to the highway, from the highway to the interstate and forward to the mountains, we crossed off every obstacle we thought we might encounter. Later we shared the fears we’d had (the house falling off the trailer, the house capsizing, the roof being ripped away by a low bridge, a tire off the road sending us into a ditch, etc) and laughed when nothing terrible happened.

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After about 7 hours of driving we got it to the final location. About a year ago we’d had someone clear off a section of woods and lay down gravel for the house. We pulled the house onto the spot we’d cleared. It only took two tries, which is amazing given that we had to make a turn over a 10 foot wide culvert with an 8 foot wide trailer. After the house was parked and everyone had let out a sigh of relief, my dad, who had piloted the house managed to get stuck in about 3 feet of mud simply trying to get his truck back to the road. It just goes to show you that you can work on something for a solid year with no hangups and run into the least expected problem just trying to read the road again.

We were only able to stay for about 4 days as a mini work-cation. We worked to build a porch around the house and make it seem more like home. We got all of this accomplished in April and have had a chance to stay in it a few times since. It’s a tight fit but it’s so much nice than the camper we had used before. I’m looking forward to many more weekends spent down there, enjoying the fruits of our labor.

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Antique Store Chair Makeover

I’ve wanted a vintage wire frame chair for a while now, but gave up on finding one and bought a lounger instead. The other night at an auction I saw a wire chair that looked exactly like what I’d wanted, but unfortunately, it’d already sold. I was pretty dissapointed but took a picture of it anyway, thinking I might find one in the future. Lo and behold, not a week later I found the same exact chair (only with hideous green velvet cushions rather than black leather) at an antique store. I swiftly carried it upstairs from the basement and bought it. My mom, whom I was with at the time and Jason, who saw it get dragged into our house both agreed it was hideous, but I saw potential.

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I don’t have a lot of time right now to make it look the way I want, so I just did a few quick changes.

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Since that metal parts of the chair are still in great shape, I just changed the arm rests and made a slipcover for the cushions. I sewed both of the cushions together in the middle to make one, then laid it out on a piece of black cotton fabric I already had. I then traced around the cushions with tailors chalk to make a template and sewed the two pieces of black cotton together for a quick slipcover. I made a small pocket on the back so the cover and cushions could just rest over the wire on the back. For the arms I cut out new arm rests from cedar and plan to eventually sand, route and stain them. If I end up keeping the chair for a while I would like to make a more sleek cushion from black vinyl or leather, but at least for now it looks good enough to keep around.

The chair was likely made by Homecrest as an indoor/outdoor piece. The Minnesota based company still makes furniture today and has a page on their website talking about the “vintage wire” collection. A lot of the ones I’ve seen were used as patio chairs but others with leather or vinyl cushions seem to look good indoors. Since I didn’t really have room for it, I’m using it to replace my computer chair. With its sturdy steel and enamel design and comfortable swivel and rocking motions, it should be functional and comfortable for many years.

Running season

So this fall I picked up a new hobby and started running. I thought it would be a great excuse to get myself outside during the winter and make winter suck a little bit less. Also exercise is good and shame on me for waiting 25 years to start. I did Couch to 5k which I would certainly recommend to anyone wanting to get into running. It’s a program that starts out alternating between walking and running, increasing the amount of time spent running each session. In about 2 months I went from being unable to run for more than a minute or two to being able to run a 5k. I kept running all winter when the weather permitted and can now run pretty close to 10k.

When I got started I went thrift store shopping and bought every manner of cold weather athletic wear I could find. I soon realized that even when it’s freezing, I wouldn’t need the down jacket to keep me warm but put the sweats to good use.

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Now that spring is getting close I’ve decided to do something I never thought I’d want to do. Later this March I’m running in a 5k. It’s a big step for me. The last time I ran with a group of people for the sake of competition was in high school when we had to run the mile once a semester. Back then I spent most days hiding in the bleachers trying to read during PE and barely cleared a 16 minute mile. I still run slow, but I enjoy it now. My average 5k speed is about 36 minutes. Since I hadn’t been able to run much last month due to weather, I’m setting a realistic 5k goal of running the entire time without stopping. I mailed off the application today and went thrift store shopping again, this time to find everything I’d need to run in the spring and summer. Not only did I find everything I wanted for running (armband, shorts, capris, tank top and massage ball), I lucked out and found they had new bike tubes for super cheap. I stocked up and bought several of the size my bike tires take. Bring it on warm weather!

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Winter Sock Surplus

Winter seems to have saved all of its force for the very end! We now have a few inches of snow on the ground in March, which is something I can’t remember ever happening. Luckily I now how 2 new pairs of wool socks to keep me warm while I’m shoveling the last bits of winter from the sidewalk.  I had planned to buy more of the no wool sock yarn but after a trip to the craft store I couldn’t find any colors I liked and came home with a different plan. I made these two pairs using the same pattern as the first but switched to Patons Kroy sock yarn. It’s a bit bulkier, mostly wool and comes in some beautiful colors.

Unfortunately when I finished the second pair of socks today I had an unexpected sock mishap. As I was trying them on and walking around I got the heel of one caught on a screw on the threshold and snagged a hole in it. Now I’m faced with having to darn a pair of handmade socks I just spent a week making. So that should be exciting.

 

First Sock Knitting Project

I’m super excited, not only did we get a few inches of snow last night but I finally finished my first pair of socks. When I took up knitting this is the one project I really wanted to tackle. It took about 3 failed attempts before I finally made 2 socks. They match in all aspects, except the self patterning yarn striping at different points and a slight difference in height. The yarn I used is Premier Wool Free sock yarn in Grand Canyon, a beautiful mix of rich blues and earthy tones. The yarn is acrylic and it’s the easiest yarn I’ve used so far. It has a lot of twist to it so it doesn’t split easily and has a bit of stretch that I think will add integrity to the socks. The pattern I used is from the book Socktopus (by Alice Yu), which I’ll likely be renewing a few times before finally returning to the library.

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I had enough yarn left over that I think I can make a pair of ankle socks. I plan to order a few more skeins of this self patterning yarn in different colors before tackling some more complicated sock patterns in solid yarns.

Tiny House Update Week Infinity

Work on the tiny house has been pretty slow as we’re finishing up the interior. Since I last posted we’ve finished up the kitchen counters and started installing the sink and 2 burner gas stove. We built a ladder to access the larger of the two lofts (the smaller one will have a collapsible ladder, as it’ll get used less). The ladder we built attaches to the loft around a metal rod, allowing it to slide to the middle of the floor for use, and back to the side to stay out of the way. We’re in the process of building a couch that folds out to sleep another 2 people. The arms on the side and railing at the back fold down to support the top when it converts to a bed. There will be 2 doors underneath with storage under the couch. We built a small table that attaches to the wall with piano hinges and is held up by a triangular support that is hinged to the wall. Once all the furniture is finished the house should be able to sleep 4 people with features that fold up to make it roomier if just 1 or 2 are staying.

We still need to build a box to go around the hot water heater, run gas to the stove and figure out a solution for electricity. We’re aiming to move it in March and are finishing up what we can before we go. My parents have had land cleared out where they are going to park it once its moved. The land was leveled and gravel laid down. The land is supposed to be getting city water run to it, but we’ll need to find out own solution for waste water disposal. We’d like to install solar, but haven’t started working on it yet. We’ll also be buying a small generator as a back up for the solar, or to tide us over until we can get the solar installed.

Adventures in Knitting

Winter is a strange thing here in the middle of the country. Last year we were blessed with foot after foot of snow. I expected the same this year and decided to buy snow boots and take up knitting. Of course it seems I’ve cursed us as it’s now February and we have yet to receive more than a dusting.

January seemed like the perfect time to find a new hobby. I’ve always loved sewing but there are so many things I’d like to make that don’t necessarily sew up well (hats, scarves, socks etc.) Knitting also appealed to me because it requires no expensive equipment and is relatively portable. Sewing is an involved task of rounding up supplies, firing up the sewing machine and monopolizing the better part of the living room. It’s great, but I wanted something relaxing I could do while I settled in to watch TV at night. I wanted a hobby as therapeutic as knitting was reported to be.

I went on a road trip a few weeks ago and with a few skeins of yarn, knitting needles and book from the library, taught myself to knit. So far I’ve made a pair of leg warmers (which look great but don’t fit so well) and a set of coasters. I can knit rows all day but I need to learn to gauge or everything I make will end up having elastic put in. I have my sights set on making socks. I just think hand knitted socks would be the most luxurious thing ever. Luckily for me the local library got a grant recently to buy craft books. I stopped by there and it was like a  heaven for craft books. I looked through the shelf of knitting books and came home with 3 entirely devoted to sock knitting. It’s been a steep learning curve but I have no doubt I’ll eventually knit a pair of hideously constructed socks (and then subsequently less hideous pairs as I get the technique down).

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My mom is an avid crocheter and gave me a few skeins of yarn and some knitting needles to start. As someone who buys craft supplies in bulk at estate auctions and thrift stores, she always ends up with an odd pair of knitting needles. I’ve been lucky so far to not have spent any money to start this hobby. If you’re looking to get into knitting and want to start for cheap, go to the library and get a few books and watch a few Youtube videos. You can find yarn at a lot of thrift stores, and may even run across a pair of knitting needles. Ask your friends who craft if they have a pair they’d be willing to lend or trade. Salvaging yarn from old afghans is a great way to get a good amount for very cheap, but it’s likely to be acrylic, rather than wool or cotton which would cost much more.