Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spinning, Spinning, Spinning!

Wow, a week sure can get away from me!  I have come to the conclusion ( a long time ago actually) that life is too busy, too stressful, and we are so busy spinning our wheels just to keep up that we are passing really important things as we zoom by.

This past week has been a roller coaster ride at work.  There have been many changes in the past month, and I'm thinking there are many changes yet to come, but it's been the indecision and not-knowing that has put everyone on edge.  On some level, I'm sure we are kept in the dark for very good reason - but no one likes to think that their job is in jeopardy of vanishing before their very eyes.

When I get upset or worried -  I clean.  I know - how dumb - but it works for me.  Last weekend I tore apart my craft room, really tore apart my craft room - to the walls actually.  It was a hideous mess and around 11pm Saturday night as I sat among a craft supply, saturated living room, I wondered why I started the project (cleaning) and why I had so much craft stuff anyway!

Seriously - I was overwhelmed - and my first inclination was to grab a garbage bag and start tossing.

Fortunately I seldom go with first inclinations!  I persevered through Sunday, and the evening part of Monday and I am so happy that I did.

In the end I did have 4 garbage bags of junk and 3 garbage bags of things to donate to the thrift store... and a wonderfully clean and organized craft room.

The craft room is so organized that I have spent every evening this week in there working on Christmas gifts.  However, I can no longer say that it is still clean!  I work the best in organized clutter!

So while my head is spinning with worry over work issues, my hands are busy creating, creating, creating...

At this rate I will get all my Christmas crafting done by mid November!

Spin Away!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

And then there was Joseph - the Restoration.

I don't know how many figures were created before Joseph - but I do know that of all the figures Mom created in this Nativity set - Joseph was the worst.

He was somewhat of a design flaw from the start I think, and of the returned figures, he was the most beat up and in poor repair.

To begin with, for some reason Mom decided to give Joseph more facial hair than any other figure, and she crafted a wig of hair from fun fur for his head as well.  True, Joseph was a carpenter - a woodsman, a working man - but did he need to be so hairy?

Mom - really!

Joseph wears a very simple robe of burlap-type material, he has a rope tied around his waist, he had no real head covering (except fur) and the weirdest thing ever - blue eyes that had smudged across his face.

I decided I really needed to rescue Joseph from his comical image so the first thing I did was tear off his beard, mustache (yes that was fur too) and his hair.  I am not sure what kind of glue she used to attach these items, but after removing these furry items, there remained a shiny residue with pieces of fun fur stuck to it.

The smudged blue eyes bugged me, so I decided to completely repaint Joseph's face.  Bad idea - the acrylic paint I used picked up every piece of un-removed glue and made it look like he had a terrible skin condition... and the flesh-colored paint was so pale beside the other figures, that Joseph looked like a woodsman with a severe skin condition AND anemia.

So I took the poor guy to the bathroom sink and scrubbed off my paint job. The smudgy blue eyes would not wash off, so I took a black Sharpie pen and outlined them and darkened them as best I could.

I put a piece of fur back on just the back of his head and then wrapped his turban around his head - and you will agree - not so good!

I let him sit this way for a few days, but I really didn't like the way he looked - he looked just plain creepy to me.

So off came the beard and head wrapping again, and over the course of the next few days I tossed all kinds of things his way.

In the end I decided to keep the fur beard off completely and I decided to add some different color to contrast the green.

Here is how Joseph looks now.  I think he is just going to have to be happy with his new image.  I still am not 100% happy with him, but I think he does look a lot better than the hairy man he was before.

I didn't have the dip and drape material so my head covering is simply cotton.  It doesn't drape well so I had to glue it to his clothing in strategic spots to make it looked draped.
You can see the difference and the benefit of using the dip and drape - It really did work well.

Oh, and I gave him a walking stick - his hands looked like they needed to hold something .

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mary - The Restoration.

The Mary figure, in the dip and drape Nativity set I have been working on needed nothing in terms of restoration.  She is is perfect original shape, she only needed a little dusting off.

But Mary was the biggest challenge of all the figures to create.  At the time Mom was working on these figures, there was little available for heads and hands to create these pieces.  The wisemen, shepherds and even Joseph's heads and hands came in sets of three, and if you look closely you will notice that they are somewhat repeated in the different characters.  I believe this is why Mom chose to give the shepherds facial hair - so they would look different from other figures, even though the heads were the same as the wisemen.

Mary was another story.  Mom searched and could find no suitable doll heads for her Mary.  I was still living at home when she made these, and I had a sizable doll collection in my bedroom which was in a floor to ceiling glassed- in shelving unit.  I came home one day from nursing school to find my Mother sitting on my bed staring at my dolls.

When I asked her what she was doing she said she was "looking for Mary".  I was in my 20's in nursing school and so not-on-the-same-page as her so I didn't even really listen to her reply.  But then the next day I went into the craft room to get something and there lying on her work table was one of my Barbie doll heads lying in among a pile of fabric.

It was my favorite of all time Barbie!   The very first Barbie to come out with bendable legs, the one that is now known as the bobbed-cut Barbie.  I was upset, and we had some words... which ended with Mom saying with a fair amount of frustration - "Your doll doesn't work as a Mary anyway, she's too made up!"

I think she had almost given up on Mary and then my parents went down to the USA on a trip and when they returned Mom couldn't wait to show me what she had found.  It was a Madonna head in a package, and she had found it in some clearance bin in a dime store in Wisconsin... she was elated!  There were no hands with the head, but she was also doing eggery at the time, and low and behold she had a set of praying hands from another project - and so became Mary -


I think she is adorable and sweet, and almost the perfect Mary.

Don't you agree?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lions Tigers and Breasts!

Lions and Tigers and Breasts, Oh My!

The Surgery team at HSC (the hospital where I work) along with the help of staff, family, friends, puppies and a pink-clad crew from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Services, created an amazing Wizard of Oz-themed video for this year's international Pink Glove Dance video competition! HSC is the only participant in western Canada vying for the title of Pink Glove Dance champion, with their eyes on the prize of a $10,000 donation to support Keeping Abreast and our Breast Reconstruction Program.

You can help:

Log onto H - Health Sciences Centre) to view the video and vote. The video with the most votes wins.

Voting runs form October 12-November 2 (voting extended)

You can log on and vote once during the competition from your Facebook account. We're aiming for 75,000 votes!

Please help support this very worthy cause, and congratulations to HSC participants on the amazing video.

Thank You from breast cancer survivors everywhere....

If you are not on facebook - you can view the video here

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Shepherds - The Restoration.

Here is the set of Wisemen that Mom made for me.  I particularly love the little kneeler.  He has always been my favorite of all the figures that she made over the years.  As you will notice these are not nearly as elaborate as the set designed for the church.

But they remain a very special part of Christmas in our home each year.

                                                                The Shepherds

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

The Next two figures in the Dip and Drape set created in 1975 by my Mom are 2 Shepherds.

These two figures have always made me smile.  It is pretty obvious that they are not Kings, nor are they rich, nor are they regal.  Rather they are working men, they have a beautiful career watching sheep.  Their job requires them to be outside during the night, so their clothing must be heavier because nights in the dessert can be cool.  Some accounts say they lived with their sheep - so I'm quite sure they would have had long bushy beards.

Are you ready to smile?

Told you.....

That's okay Mom always smiled at them too - chuckled even.

So here they are, they are bright, they are warm and they are posed the way they are for a reason.

Originally they each held a sheep.  The purple Shepherd held a small lamb sort of between his hands and slightly over his shoulder.  The blue Shepherd held a much larger sheep.  The sheep were large plastic animal toys - remember from when children actually played farm -  but Mom had actually covered their bodies with sheepskin and they were very realistic.  They were missing from the group when it was returned to me.

I am still looking for toy sheep to replace the lost flock but in the meantime I decided that they could at least hold the Shepherds hooks, so I made a couple from wire.

There was not much to restore on these 2 figures, there was a bit of loose clothing so I re-glued some of the material.  I did darken their eyes somewhat but other than that these 2 are in original shape minus the sheep.

Actually none of the animals made it back with the set.  There were 2 ceramic camels , a really nice donkey and the 2 sheep - all missing.  

Also missing was the baby Jesus.  I have managed to find a Jesus replacement, but the animals are a more difficult find.  If anyone has any larger farm animals in their stash of old toys - I'm in need of sheep and a donkey...

Next post - Mary and Joseph...

Friday, October 12, 2012

Meet the Wisemen - The Restoration

Last post I was talking about the "vintage" (doll making) using Dip and Drape fabric.  I mentioned that my Mom tried the original method of making these dolls and then changed the whole process to create a completely different looking doll.

These dolls are her original creations, and are as beautiful today as when she created them in 1975.  She was a seamstress so she had a huge stash of beautiful fabrics - velvets, brocades, etc.  She bought costume jewelry at garage sales, flea markets and church rummage sales, and then she put it all together to make these very special heirloom quality figures.

                                                     Meet the Wisemen

 Here is the first set of Wisemen that Mom made from the Dip and Drape fabric.  She bought the face and hands sets and then used brocades and velvets to create the clothing with the dip and drape fabric beneath it.  She cut all her clothes first then the dip and drape fabric.  Once the dip and drape fabric was wet she folded the velvets and brocades around it, and draped it.  These figures have multiple layers so she worked from the inside outwards.

Beneath the layers of material is a simple Styrofoam cone, which formed the base for her sculpture.

The material of these clothes adhered to the dried dip and drape fabric and is permanently affixed to the dolls.  I wonder how she worked with the velvets without getting sticky finger prints all over it.

Her detail is incredible, and I think you will agree these figures are works of art.

This particular set is the set she made for her church.  It is the set that I have been working on for the past couple of weeks.  Some of the jewels had fallen off over the years, heads were crooked etc... I am donating these to my church, which would make Mom very happy, as this was always where she intended these Wisemen to be.

Mom completed this set along with the rest of the nativity for her church, and I will share the rest of the figures with you next week.
She made one set of Wisemen for each of her children.  With the church set - 5 sets in all.  I don't know if my siblings still have or use theirs, but mine sit under our tree every Christmas and remain a most precious gift from Mom/ Grandma.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A Vintage Craft!

Back in the 70's, crafters used many mediums for their work.  Some of the more popular mediums were feathers; fun fur  - to make flowers of course; tin cans and wire.  Another craft that became an instant fad was making dolls from dip and drape material.

Dip and drape material was sold in packages of 1 yard, and it was a white, fairly dense cotton (i think) which had a sizing or a glue of some type dried right in to the material.

To make a doll you would use rather common items, such as a bottle for a body, or a Styrofoam cone, Heads were usually a large Styrofoam ball, hands were smaller balls shaped like hands, and feet were sometimes several of a lot of things.  You formed the structure first, and then you would wet the dip and drape fabric and shape the doll, by moulding the fabric over the body form.  Once the doll was dry you would then paint on features and detail your doll.

Books were sold with patterns and instructions, like the one above.  My Mom had several of these books and she made quite a few of the different dolls, but she was always frustrated with her results.

I really don't know why - her dolls were great, but she said she didn't have the artistic talent for this type of work.

In the meantime she had purchased a lot of the fabric.  Every time she went down to Wisconsin to visit my Aunt she would buy up all the fabric they had... I guess she had intentions on perfecting the craft.

What she ended up doing was not perfecting that craft at all - she changed it.

She used the fabric, still draped it, but when you looked at her sculpture you could not see the fabric at all.

I have been restoring some of her original designs the past few weeks, and while I have been working on them I have taken a real close look at her workwomanship!  She was a true artist.
I'll be sharing her creations with you over the next few days - and I'm sure you will agree.  Only a true artist could create these very usual and beautiful dolls.

Do you remember the flowers made from fun fur?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Moving along...

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone.  In some respects it's hard to believe that it is already this time of year, but mother nature has been trying her best to get us used to the idea of fall, and even winter these past few days.  We have had considerably cooler temperatures, rain - and yes, even snow.  The snow has pretty much melted when it hit the ground, but there were a couple of mornings when it must have been cold enough to allow it to stay on the car.

My mind has been on Christmas - seriously, I have been thinking about which projects I'd like to do for gifts.  The top of that list is quilted table runners.  I found a great little tutorial for a fairly simple but wonderfully pretty table runner that I think I can manage for a early wanna-be quilter project, so on saturday my friend and I hit the fabric store looking for Christmas fabric.

We were all excited about the Christmas print right by the front door, until we happened upon the racks of print at the back of the store.  You know what they say about fabric at the back of a store - it is cheaper - and in this case there was a lot more to choose from.  I surprised myself by choosing  very non-traditional patterns and colors.  It is Christmas, but defiantly not green and red!

I have 4 runners cut and ready to sew - only to discover that I neglected to buy batting!  Told you I was a novice!

So this takes care of the ladies - what about the men?  Not that I need the challenge (or maybe I do) but I have been thinking about knitting gloves... REALLY!  I tried knitting gloves once a long time ago, and never finished even one hand.  So I am cautiously thinking I will try 1pair!  But in Dale fashion I have already decided to make 6 pair (but you didn't really read that)! Wish me luck!  The pattern I have uses the 4 needle method - something challenging, and really frustrating (to me) at times.

If anyone out there knows a simpler and less stressful method of knitting gloves - please let me know!

So off I go to make Christmas gifts...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Think Pink!

It's October - that means its Breast Cancer Awareness Month... are you aware?

I am a 6 yr breast cancer survivor, happy to be so - but still sad that this disease continues to grow and take more womens' lives than almost any other disease affecting women today.  Huge strides are being made every day in finding a cure - diagnosis' are being made earlier, treatments are more effective, and survivors are living longer - still Breast Cancer is a reality for many women like me, that will never ever go away.

Today I am going to share a poem I wrote during my breast cancer journey - actually this was written early in that journey.  I have shared it with many women who have or are going through the process and every one of them said that my thoughts, feelings and general attitude were exactly what they felt or are feeling - they were comforted to know that they were not different, alone, forgotten.

So here it is and here I am ......Perennially Pink!


By Dale Graumann

T’was a hot July day when first we met,
Through circumstances I’ll not forget.
I the seeker, he the sought,
To save my life or so I thought.

The office crowded with such as me,
I ventured forth at five to three.
Mind aflutter I took a seat,
Controlling tears that weren’t discrete.

Nerves kicked in, my breath drew short,
I’d never been a panicked sort;
But this was wrought with pain and fear,
This very thing that’d brought me here.

A lengthy wait for one and all,
Then certain dread when name was called.
Two steps, three steps, ten or more;
Then “Have a seat, I’ll close the door.”

First impressions seldom fade,
Especially when so gently made.
Soft warm eyes, a caring smile,
Advised that I’d be here awhile.

Biopsy past, breast cancer cells;
Percent involved - no one can tell.
Surgery certain, more treatment too;
As much as needed – okay with you?

Feeling sick, head’s buzzing some,
Husband’s crying; I’m feeling numb.
Swallow the lump that quickly has gathered,
Focus on thoughts that suddenly matter. 

                    Death is first on my list of fears,
Then leaving my son of tender years.
Don’t want to go, not ready yet;
So much of life, I’ve yet to get.

Plans are made, operation’s booked,
A week today - well I’ll be hooked!
No wait indeed, no none at all;
And here I thought I’d wait till fall.

First cut’s not quite deep enough,
This demon seems to be so tough.
Return again this time it’s fall,
And now this time, they take it all.

Awake my eyes awake and see,
This brand new view of who I’ll be.
One breast gone, the other there,
Is this much more than I can bear?

Not so I cry, not so at all,
Pity and grief are so appall.
Make of life the most I say,
Don’t you waste one single day!

Take your burdens, throw them aft,
Cling to life as though a raft.
Make it your’s and make it strong,
Ride it hard and ride it long.

Fast forward now two years or more,
Am I cured? Not known for sure.
Time will tell what lies ahead,
No matter if I fear or dread.

This is me; it’s who I am;
A pebble in the master’s plan.
Happy I, and grateful too;
For all the folks that helped me through.

Life goes on, it always does;
I can’t go back to what it was.
But I am here, and here I’ll stay,
Until my Lord takes me away.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Legend and a Doll

This past weekend Canada lost a Sports Legend  - Figure skater Barbara Ann Scott died at 84 yrs of age.

Barbara Ann Scott was the first Canadian to win a world figure skating title and she was the only Canadian to win the Olympic women's figure skating gold medal.  She won that Gold medal at the 1948 Olympics in St. Moritz Switzerland.

She was Canada's sweetheart.  She was a role model for young Canadian women in the 1940's and 1950's.  She won the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete in 1945, 1947 and 1948 and was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of fame in 1955 and the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 1991.

She became an officer of the Order of Canada in1991 and was inducted into the International Women's Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

She started skating at the age of 7 -  and there is a very interesting write up about her early life in the Ottawa Citizen.

She was petite, and pretty, and in 1948 she had a doll fashioned in her likeness.

In 1976 I accompanied my family to my brother's home in Edmonton for Christmas.  I had been collecting dolls for some time, and my brother announced that he had found a lady in Edmonton who had a doll collection who was selling off some of her dolls.  He had arranged an evening meeting for me to visit this lady and her dolls.

Off we went - my brother and I.  It was a frigid cold night and we headed downtown to a trendy apartment complex.  I don't remember much about the lady - but I do remember the dolls.  She had hundreds of them mostly old and rare all in perfect condition.  She had a Barbara Ann Scott doll in her collection.  She was for sale for 75.00

For some reason I was drawn to this doll.  She was a composition doll, had her original costume and there was something about her that made me return to look at her time and again.  I remember my brother whispering that I was nuts if I was thinking of buying a doll for 75.00.  But buy her, I did...

This was my doll

It's not the greatest picture - I had to scan it from a rather old photograph taken with a even crummier camera.

She was one of my favorite dolls over the years, but sadly when we hit some rough times financially, I had to sell her to pay some bills.

I wish I still had her -I'm sure if I could even find one, I would no longer be able to afford to buy her.

But I do still have my picture, after all...

RIP Barbara Ann...

Monday, October 1, 2012

Warm sunny days!

We had a beautiful warm weekend, here in the Peg this past weekend.  Saturday it was like summer had returned ...   30C - beautiful blue sky and outstandingly beautiful organge, gold and deep red trees.  It was a day for photograpers - one where beautiful images of fall could have been captured to enjoy long after these perfect days are over.

I should have been outside snapping it up - but instead I was inside - making those darn cabbage rolls.

I had all the windows open, the tunes playing on the sterio and I blissfully rolled 6 doz cabbage rolls in less than 2 hours.

The house smelled like my Aunt Olga's farm home on a fall day.  I associate the smell of cabbage rolls cooking  - to her.  In my opinion she is the cabbage roll queen of the universe...  Well truth be told - she is the cook and baking queen of the universe... or she was in her day.

Aunt Olga is Hungarian by birth... and no one I know cooks and bakes like her.  She can make the most simplest of meals taste like heaven - and she says it's all because of paprika.  We all know it's more than that - but still, since I have been adding paprika to my dishes - they are tasting a lot better.

I make my cabbage rolls the way she does - and mine are pretty close in perfection to hers - but not quite.  We sampled mine for supper last night, and they were mouth-watering delicious.  So thank you, Auntie Olga for your wonderful inspiration.

While I was blissfully rolling cabbage leaves, hubby was outside in the perfect weather, fixing cracks on the stucco on the house. The plan was to wash all the windows before winter as well - but that will have to wait for the next warm weekend should we get one.

A week before Thanksgiving and it looks like we are back on track. 

What will this week bring?