Railbirds Paint-by-Numbers

In January, I stopped by a shop to find a puzzle. The employee suggested checking out their paint-by-numbers, which I did. My gramma always had them laying around when I was growing up so it reminded me of her. Why not? I’ve never really painted, but 2017 was to be a year of artistic creation, was it not? I did not really like any of the designs, but I settled on Railbirds.

Had I read reviews about it online first, I would have known about this issue, but my voice can be added to many others. First, the numbers in the chart do not match the numbers on the canvas. Second, there are two #10s and no #58 paint pot. And third, perhaps because it is part of their “artist collection”, the finished painting (particularly the birds) would just look like color blobs if you didn’t essentially toss out the concept of painting by numbers; maybe it is designed for people who want to paint with a level hard difficulty? (Or maybe that is how all paint-by-numbers are; I have never done one.) Oh, and fourth, some of the paints did not cover well at all, and I struggled covering up the printed lines at times.

I wrote to the company hoping they would send me a #58 paint pot. Instead, though months later, a package arrived in the mail containing two free products! Who knows if I will ever paint-by-numbers again, but it was certainly nice the company wanted to make up for my disappointment. I didn’t think companies did much of that anymore.

I began painting by following the numbers, and learned quickly that I hated painting that way. It made more sense to paint backgrounds and layer foregrounds than trying to go around little details. I completed the sky first, then the wooden fence. It was with that fence that I realized I had to scrap the idea of painting-by-numbers and just paint. Only, I did not know how to paint, so that was a bit of a learning lesson. Apparently, I took to it pretty quickly though. I am pretty proud of the result!

It took me five long months to make (because I also learned that I don’t prefer painting in general) and I gifted it to my mother-in-law who took the Master Naturalist class with me last year and fell in love with birds. That class now has helped me identify what I painted! Some are obvious, of course, like the Blue Jay:

Or the (Northern) Cardinal. But between the two is a Black-capped Chickadee and an American Goldfinch.

And on the other end is a Baltimore Oriole and an Eastern Bluebird.

I imagine the greenery to be grapes, though I have no idea in truth.

For now I have a love/hate relationship with painting. Sometimes it was cool and I felt the pride while working. But most of the time I found it boring and tedious. Yet, at the end, I am very proud of the final piece. I am curious to see how well I could do with an image that isn’t pre-printed on canvas….

Folk Art Florals

So, I did it – I bought the rest of the project from a seller on eBay!

I was shocked by how small each panel was – but then I read the print on the actual project and realized that they were exactly the size they are suppose to be! Ha! Anyway, I stitched them up real quick like. Couldn’t help it. It’s addictive.

And then I was unsure how to flatten the fabric out. I checked my go-to gal, Mary at NeedlenThread, and found her post on Damp Stretching and Blocking Embroidery. Now, I do not have a corkboard or tacs, and I wasn’t in the mind to wait til I could go buy some, so I just used what I had on hand: pins and needs-to-be-replaced carpet. It worked as you can see in the above photos, though! Another new technique has been added to my repertoire.

Pennsylvania Dutch Tree

What is old is new again! This is a candlewick embroidery project (yet another aspect of sewing I had never heard of – though it kind of makes sense considering I was all of 4 years old at the time this hit the shops, as marked by the printed date on the bottom of the fabric!).

In the April embroidery guild meeting, we each got to rummage through items from one of the former members who had passed away recently. Since I am new to the guild, I did not know this person and it did feel a bit awkward sorting through her items but we were assured we could take as much as we wanted. There was so much stuff, it was pretty neat to go through. Unfortunately for me, it was entirely cross-stitch with patterns that clearly were from the 80s – just not my style. Or, so I thought! Mixed in with these items was this adorable panel that clearly deserved me to complete it and hang it up in my craft room, wouldn’t you agree?

Candlewick embroidery is the art of using knots (originally out of thread for candle wicks, if you can believe it!). This pattern called for colonial knots, which I also had never heard of. A quick google told me that it can be used interchangeably with french knots since they look the same. I struggled with it at first, the same way I struggle with crossing my arms “the other way” (cross your arms with “the other arm” on top; I dare you to try it, ha!). I really had to think with each knot at first, and in fact had to rip out the first flower to begin anew. Somehow I ended up simply making backwardly-wound french knots. While I like french knots, they can frustrate me. Mine tend to stand upright and therefore be spikey rather than flat and rounded. Once I mastered the colonial knot, though, I joined the ranks of those who prefer it. The knot does what I want it to do! Huzzah!

The pattern, called Pennsylvania Dutch Tree, is from the Creative Circle, and designed by Charlotte Reilly. I checked google and you can find it on ebay. I hope to find the other two panels that match and then transform them all not into something to be framed as suggested by the pattern, but a mini-quilt to display on my blank craft wall. Wish me luck!

embroidered buttons

My embroidery guild is hosting the State Day this year, so each member is assigned to make two buttons. I enjoyed making such tiny (one inch) pieces so of course I made more (and I might still, yet!).

This pattern might look familiar to you: it is the same I used for my O-hoop.

Oh, and my gosh, have you seen this Monoprice Ultra-thin Light Box?! Holy smokes, it is amazing. And not cost-prohibitive. And it comes in two sizes so you can pick what is best for you. And it dims for the perfect amount of light. My neighbor/step-mother-in-law got one and I was dumbfounded that I hadn’t heard of it and that it was so cheap.

My second button pattern came out of a book my sister-in-law bought for me: 500 Simply Charming Designs for Embroidery. I am no pro when it comes to satin stitching but I am getting better with every effort.

This pattern came out of a book I picked up spontaneously once at one of the few brick-and-mortar stores still in the area (in the next county over! I am so sad to see them vanish). It is called Scandinavian Stitch Craft. I have since added that part of the world to my bucket-list and will likely want to buy all the things. There is a local Vikings shop that deals in Nordic, Scandinavian, Sami, etc items and we picked up this Ekelund Kuse table runner. I pretty much love everything in that shop – even the jewelry (which makes me sad because I am not a jewelry kind of gal but if I were, this would be where all my monies went!). In fact, the owner has made several pieces used in the HBO series – how cool is that?!

This last one is just a lot of colonial knots. You’ll find out why I became a huge fan of them in a later post:) Down with the french knot!

We will be transforming our creations into actual buttons at a future guild meeting.

skull pillow & tuatara

I would be seeing my bioanthropology friend from New Zealand at a conference so I wanted to make her something – of course I chose a skull pillow!

She also brought me a gift; a tuatara – a native reptile of New Zealand. It is from a company called dodoland and there are many cool options. Super easy to put together so even small children could do it (with adult supervision). I love it!