In-Between Large Projects

I can finally see the floor of my tatami room studio again! Finishing one big project and before jumping into the next big projects(s), I’ve spent my time “spring” cleaning my studio.

As a very visual person I like to see all my options at one time. All my pieces, all my mediums displayed within easy reach as I work. In reality, this means pulling everything from their boxes, drawers, and shelves out onto whatever flat surface I can find, so by the end of a project it looks like my studio has projectile vomited all over itself.

This In-Between Large Projects time is all about putting these items back in their home, deciding if I really need to keep 6 different kinds of metalsmithing hammers and where to hang my latest art acquisitions.

I do have a couple of small creative projects going that I pick up during breaks in the deep cleaning but have essentially kept the major projects on the back burner. Yet, their presence still leaks through, the ideas still simmering and flowing out:

1. Last night I tweaked my Tako Stir Fry Recipe with a bit of kabocha.

2. Decided the Travel Journal Art Books I am creating need a larger number of pages than what I am currently putting together.

3. That pot of simmering projects on the horizon may be on a bit too high the more I watch video podcasts. I’m beginning to think video documenting my progress wire crocheting the Tropical Butterfly Garden art installation will be a great idea!

Eek! Turning that burner down a bit.

Testing, Testing…My First Art Book!

This is a post of fun with mediums, stitch work and mistakes. Lots of mistakes!

Using the theme of a creative octopus filled life, Tako Life, in which tako, 蛸, is octopus in Japanese. I picked up a meter of a lovely linen/cotton blend fabric and set about determining a good size and shape for my book. 25cm high and using the full 100cm length I thought I was being smart and could create four books from each 1 meter piece. As you’ll see in the following layouts that 25cm is just too high, it leaves way too much open space for the elements I want to include.

IMG_0283I pushed on to see what more I could learn.

The title is hand embroidered on the cover page, there is a thin layer of quilt batting added to the front cover along with a piece of cardboard for durability but not enough of either. That mistake will be corrected in my next Tako Life Art Book. It may be another mistake but I would really like to overstuff that cover!

After printing the photos I wanted to use, I immediately placed them in my new book using Liquitex Matte Medium not using any forethought as to how they should be framed within each layout. Oops. Being a bit sloppy with the medium I now have hard, crusty “frames” around each photo. They are clear so it doesn’t seem too bad but really is not a look or texture I’m going for.

This did give me a great opportunity to test those fancy stitches my simple Singer Sewing machine offers and I’ve tested most every one of them at varying stitch lengths and widths. I feel most of them worked in the way I’ve tested in my Tako Life Art Book except for the thick black zigzag stitch. It seems like an overused texture and not very creative.

IMG_0284I improved on the machine stitching in some areas by adding hand threaded colors into the embroidery project photo frame, and used a sharpie-type marker instead of thread to frame the Stuffed Yakiimo photo.

IMG_0285For looks I added the chain stitch onto the spine, it would interrupt the layout of the inside pages if I pushed it though all the pages. Using hand embroidery work to provide the charted crochet edging pattern is a look I’d like to continue in the next Tako Life art books.

In the meantime, while I wait for more printer ink to arrive, I’ll still be playing with more mediums using paper and fabric and whatever else that’s fun from my studio stash!

Working hard but nothing to Show: Stitch Experiments

For all of my hard work this month I don’t have much for completed projects. My disappointment with my art book ideas has led to a lot of experimenting. Mostly fails, but lots of playing with lots of different mediums.

A friend introduced me to Liquitex Gel Mediums as a better alternative to Mod Podge and I’ve really liked the results much better. Super quick drying and non-sticky. Plus, I had a 30% off coupon from Yuzawaya.

IMG_0248_2My machine needle easily goes right through and hand stitching is also possible. Markers, too!

Finding the balance between the super, awesome time-&-money is no object ideas and the reality of deadlines has left me plowing through my entire studio for any materials not nailed down to be the next great idea.

IMG_0247_2My 14 yo simple Singer Sewing Machine has now learned how to use several new stitches at several new widths and stitch lengths.

IMG_0249_2Leaning back on my hand stitching roots I chose to present my charted crochet edging pattern in embroidery. I really like to look and hope it is understandable to other crocheters.

How do I create a fabric book without all the work of stitching each and every single page and then binding it all together? And what size will be the most economical yet will allow for an eye-catching presentation of my content?  I have an idea that may work….but I suspect more experimenting is in my future. Wish me Luck!

Octopus Expression

This adorable Octopus was designed by me last fall but I just couldn’t decide which expression she wanted to wear.  Yesterday I finally embroidered her face and hope she likes it. IMG_0193She will be available as a pattern this summer along with several other Octopus-themed stitch designs.


Tokyo Int’l Quilt show at the “Thunderdome!”

The intensity at yesterday’s Tokyo Int’l Quilt Show made it’s location in the Tokyo Dome feel more like the Thunderdome! Teaming hoards of quilters descended on the show in a mad crush to see the latest efforts by both famous and student quilters alike. The crowds were so thick we were all elbow to elbow and simply walking down the aisle was like a bumper car ride at the county fair.


Vendor booths were filled with fabrics and supplies in every shape and color a fiber artist could possibly need. Attendees crowded in and consumed the wares like locusts. I picked up a few lovely ocean colored and themed fabrics for my Tako Life zakka projects and a locker hook for unique crochet work.

We were able to take photographs of most of the quilt work on display so I’ll let the photos show you how amazing these quilts are.

Special Thank You to my friend Lobin for a wonderful Tokyo Day Out =)

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Happy Expat Thanksgiving!!

Turkeys are hard to find in Japan.

Just needs a face…

Almost done! My first Amigarumi; an Octopus in the colors I want and a design I like :) As a prototype, it will get a few improvements as each one is made but this is basically it.  The final design pattern will go in my Tako Life octopus cookbook.


Coinciding with NaNoWriMo, is National Non-Fiction Writing Month in which I am participating by writing a cookbook. My first foray into writing a book, I’m having fun deciding which recipes to include, taste testing and designing the look I’d like to have for the book.

FYI – I like broccoli. I like octopus. But most definitely NOT together in a recipe…UGH!