Seattle Lights

I know today is supposed to be WIP-Cracking Wednesday, but I simply don’t have the energy to upload and edit photography today. I may be coming down with a cold… Instead let me share some photography with you that’s already processed and ready to go!

Last month while leaving Urban Craft Uprising I still had my camera out as we walked outside. It was already dark and I decided to snap a few photos on the way to the car. I had NEVER done any night photography before, nor had I ever attempted to capture lights as the subject of photography. I fully expected the photos to be atrocious, but I thought they would be a good learning experience. Imagine my surprise when I uploaded them. Here are some of my favorite shots, all of which required minimal editing:

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One of my fuzzy goals for the year was to see daylight more often and perhaps take my camera outdoors with me, but after seeing these photos you can be sure I won’t be entirely discarding my night owl ways.

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Urban Craft Uprising! (Part 2)

And the Urban Craft Uprising vendor love-fest continues…

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More narwhals were sighted at the Bread and Badger booth! I have bought several of their etched pint glasses as presents in the past – including one with a honey badger for my mom – and every time I see them again they’ve come up with something even more awesome!

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Fable and Fury is another UCU regular that I was thrilled to see again. I’m always fascinated to see what gothy-geek silhouettes they’ve come up with.

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The biohazard symbol necklace is one that I don’t remember seeing before, otherwise I’m sure I would own one already!IMG_9447

I bought the red thistle necklace one year as a birthday present for my mom, and it’s still one of her go-to pieces!

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The highlight of Fable and Fury for me though is always their portrait necklaces. They have so many icons – David Bowie, Nick Cave, Tom Waits, Jimi Hendrix, Frankenstein’s Monster…

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But my absolute favorite, and the very first thing I ever bought from them, is the H.P. Lovecraft silhouette – complete with tentacles. It’s my stealth-geek necklace! So few people I run into know who Lovecraft is, let alone what he looks like, so if I’m wearing this necklace and someone squees in delight I KNOW I’m about to meet someone cool!

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Okay, I have a confession to make. I have a bit of a fetus phobia. Even babies who have escaped the womb tend to creep me out. I’m a monster, I know. I tried to pass by Kniffin Pottery with my eyes closed, but I just couldn’t look away. The pottery is disturbing, yet fascinating. Maybe having my fruit hanging out in a bowl propped up by baby arms could be some sort of exposure therapy for me…

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After the shock of the fetus pottery, the Bella Sisters were a comforting retreat into loveliness. They are also UCU regulars, and every time I see them there’s another gorgeous coat (or two, or five) that makes me cry on the inside because I know I can’t afford to take it home with me. Except that one time I DID take a coat home with me! And I loved it and squeezed it and called it George.

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More yarn was to be had at Yarnarchy! There were a variety of beautiful skeins on the walls, some hand-spun, some hand-dyed, and the owner was there busily spinning more! She also had some hats and fingerless mitts for sale made from her wonderful yarns!

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I was weirdly drawn to the light lavender pair of mitts…it’s not usually my color, but the yarn just called to me.

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Ugly Baby is the best booth to hang out in for a laugh. Their shower art is just the right mix of weird, absurd, and sometimes vulgar to keep me entertained for quite a while! Even the concept is a bit absurd…art for your shower? But why? BECAUSE IT’S AWESOME, THAT’S WHY.

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What better way to start your day than staring at brightly colored toys embedded in glittery rubber? Look, there’s even a unicorn!

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The toys are great, but the messages spelled out in letter beads are what makes these genius.

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Every time I see this booth I have a new favorite piece – this time it’s Hell Bunny.

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I was thrilled to run into Heidi Kunkel, one of the authors of Needles and Artifice! That’s another book on my wish list from Cooperative Press. It’s a collection of steam-punk inspired patterns from The Ladies of Mischief.

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Heidi designed the Incandescent Cowl, Mountain Lily Scarf, and Warm & Tingley Headscarf and Mitts, and had a wall full of them for sale!

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She’s multi-talented too – aside from being a knitwear designer she’s also an accomplished potter.

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She had all kinds of beautiful pieces for sale – from yarn bowls to mugs, and everything in between!

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This is another great gift idea for the knitters in your life: go to Heidi’s Pottery and order a yarn bowl!

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There were also bowls made from wood at Salad Days. At first I was drawn in by the beautiful maple grains…

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but as I got closer, there was a surprise element that made these bowls even more special.

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Some of them have designs carved into them and then inlayed with crushed turquoise!

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The turquoise even fills in any knot-holes in the wood, making those potential imperfections into a wonderful design element.

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I ran my hand over the inlays and they are completely flush with the carvings and holes, so the bowls are totally smooth inside and out.

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This bowl was my favorite with its dramatic slashes of turquoise traveling up the sides and over the lip.

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To order, email them at oregonwoodenbowls@aol.com or call (503)359-1000.

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Moulton Garden Bon Bons are seeds disguised as delicious truffles! It reawakened my intermittent desire to grow an herb garden and always have fresh herbs and vegetables at my disposal. Then I remembered that I have killed not one, not two, but three air plants – quite possibly the most idiot-proof greenery on the planet – and perhaps I should leave those poor unsuspecting seeds to someone who isn’t wanted for first-degree plant murder in two states.

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Sage and Sea Farms was back for a second round at UCU offering delicious sipping vinegars. I had never heard of sipping vinegars before seeing this booth at the summer show. It’s a delicious concoction of fruit, a bit of cane sugar, and vinegar that you mix with water (or sparkling water if you like it bubbly). It sounds weird to drink something vinegar-based, and it sort of is, but it’s really tasty! It’s got just enough sugar in it to bring out the fruit flavors, but it’s nowhere near as sweet as the usual sparkling drinks you can get at the store. I can see this as a fabulous alternative for those times when you’re craving something flavorful to drink but don’t want to reach for something packed full of sugar.

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I especially enjoyed the Apple Pear Ginger flavor, which had just enough ginger to give it a bite, but not so much that it overwhelmed the other fruit flavors.

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Last but not least was Smitten Artisan Truffles. This booth was really hard to photograph because the whole time it was PACKED. These are hands-down the sexiest truffles I’ve ever had! The Vanilla Carmel + Tahitian Vanilla Bean Sea Salt are my favorite with the gooey caramel, the vanilla bean-infused chocolate center, and the perfectly layered grains of salt encased in a milk chocolate shell (there I go with the salted caramel obsession again). They have other great flavors as well, like a bourbon caramel which tasted a lot like the vanilla caramels had a run-in with a pirate and had beautiful truffle babies. There was also a Passion Fruit Habanero flavor which was the most intriguing taste profile I have ever encountered! As if the truffles weren’t perfect enough, the samples were even served by handsome young men.

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I straight up ordered my boyfriend to buy me a box for my birthday and he complied. They were gone by the end of the night – my birthday isn’t until next Sunday…oops. I could say so much more about these truffles, but it’s starting to get a little upsetting to describe them when I’m all out. I really hope they’re back for the next show, and I hope I have some cash then, because I will be buying ALL THE TRUFFLES.

Urban Craft Uprising!

Yesterday I made my bi-annual trip to Urban Craft Uprising! Usually I end up coming home with bags full of goodies, but since I’m dead-broke this year I was content to just marvel at all of the glorious hand-made things. This time I came armed with my camera, and I have LOTS to show you. So much that I can’t possibly fit it all in one post. Let me introduce you to some of my favorite vendors from the Winter show.

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Our first stop was Craftwich Creations with beautiful hand-carved crochet hooks making me wonder if those pointy sticks are all they’re cracked up to be.

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I bought a gorgeous shawl pin here at the last show, and it’s now my favorite! (Some people may call them hair sticks, but those people clearly don’t have enough shawls).

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn

KuKuRuZa Gourmet Popcorn simultaneously exploited my addiction to popcorn AND salted caramel by offering tastings of their Hawaiian Salted Caramel Popcorn. Holy crap, it was delicious! The popcorn was thoroughly coated with the caramel so it had a satisfying crunch, and the balance between sweet and salty was absolutely perfect! They also had a Tuxedo flavor – caramel corn covered in white and dark chocolate – which in this household is known as “crack.” I avoided tasting that one out of consideration for the vendor. I’m really not kidding about being dead-broke and I cannot guarantee the safety of anyone standing between me and a bag of crack.

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The first geekery of the day was provided by Polymath Design Lab and their wonderful collection of scientific adornments. What self-respecting lab rat wouldn’t want a test tube necklace?

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There were cufflinks for the male geeks.

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There was even a Cthulhu.

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A variety of geeky Christmas ornaments were available as well. My favorite was the chromosome.

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Circle Couture 2

UCU always has at least one booth featuring breath-taking fashions, and this time Circle Couture was the one.

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LOOK AT THE PRETTY.

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Back in tasty-land, I came across Afternoon to Remember Fine Teas and Gifts. You know it’s a good sign when the tasting tray is nearly empty. The Creme Brule Tea Cookies (middle tray) were so heavenly! The cookies themselves weren’t for sale, they were there to entice people to buy their cookbooks. The Creme Brule cookie recipe is in Drop by for Tea, by Amy Lawrence.

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For the French enthusiasts among us, I apologize for the appearance of the words “creme brule” in the blog. I can’t for the life of me figure out how to add the appropriate accent marks in WordPress, and without those the extra “e” looks really weird. It’s not just you, it’s bothering me too.

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My first narwhal sighting of the day was at Cellar Door Mercantile, where they had shirts and cards featuring my favorite animal!

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They had really cool non-narwhal illustrations too!

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Almeda Pottery was absolutely mind-blowing.

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These are the teeniest tiniest vases I have ever seen!

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I mean seriously, look at how small and skinny those are! And the glazing jobs on them are gorgeous!

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HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?! (Pro tip: there are process videos in the link provided above…I still don’t believe it though).

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In case your brain still can’t process the scale of these things, here’s an adult human hand for reference. Rumor has it you can buy some of this miniature pottery at the Seattle Art Museum gift shop.

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This was one of my favorite booths from the last show and I’m so glad Careful It Bites was back for another round.

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I would have killed for one of these as a kid. Hell, I’d STILL kill for one. Who wouldn’t want a severed Sasquatch head?

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This booth is all about the details…bloody fur still sticking to the shears, fresh from the Sasquatch beheading.

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Other monster parts can be found poking out from under the tables. Best. Booth. Ever.

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For your cooking pleasure, Beautiful Briny Sea was back again with more delicious salts! I LOVE these salts and have been spreading them throughout as many kitchens as possible. At home we have three flavors so far: Chorizo, Truffle, and Magic Unicorn.

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While all are delicious, Magic Unicorn is probably my favorite. It seriously goes with EVERYTHING.

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Yarny contact was finally made with Victory Garden Yarn! I had a fabulous time talking with Anna about her crocheted creations. Here she is modeling her super-cozy Wisteria Wrap, which she had available in a variety of bold colors.

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Her booth was piled high with giant color-blocked and striped cowls.

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This sky-blue and orange one really caught my eye, and it was SO SOFT. I was shocked to find out it was an acrylic/wool blend! I know intellectually that there are good acrylics out there that don’t feel like plastic, but it’s rare for me to actually find one! This whole booth made me want to find some super-bulky yarn to cast-on with…

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For more yarny goodness I went to the UCU regulars, Spincycle Yarns.

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I’ve had my eye on their Natural Novelty Yarn for a while now because I am just itching to knit Purlieu. I was waiting for the right color to come along though, and of course the second my wallet is empty, there it is. They came out with a new color called “Fever Dreams” that is the most beautiful purple with tufts of blue and cloud gray in it. Someday, Fever Dreams…someday.

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Finally, I ran into Moxie/Hi-Fiber Needle Felting Kits, which is where I got my needle felting kit that I used to make my test pony in The Art of Stabbing Oneself.

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As usual, there were lots of super cute needle-felted things on display.

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There were even some with lights!

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I spent some time watching Moxie work (without stabbing herself at all, I noticed). She gave me some tips on how to build up a design – in this case a simple ball. She didn’t poke the ball nearly as vigorously as I did, which probably added to the lack of blood-letting. I will try to be less violent next time and see how that goes.

I’ll have many more vendors to show you tomorrow! There are just too many craft artists I’m excited about to fit into this one post!

If you want to help support a developing craft artist, there are still 5 days left to contribute to my Knotty Narwhal Indiegogo campaign! There are many cool perks you can claim in exchange for your donation, including my own needle-felted art! (I promise not to bleed on them).

The Art of Stabbing Oneself

I’ve had several questions lately through my Indiegogo campaign about needle felting. Namely: “what is it?” Well, I think I am prepared to share with you all my “sketches” in needle felting to illustrate the process.

Basically, it’s just a form of sculpting, except with wool instead of clay. You start with some unformed batts of fluffy wool, a very sharp needle, and a surface (preferably not your hand).

I had some needle felting kits I got from the Moxie booth at Urban Craft Uprising to work with. Since I was still very new at this, I also bought My Felted Friends which had some great instructions on how to make and connect certain shapes.

I decided to try for a pony, of the My Little Pony variety of course. In order to turn those balls of fluff into something with any semblance of form, you have to stab it with the needle. A lot. This locks the fibers together into one mass, felting them. Ideally this process would be done on a stab-worthy surface, like this Ecofoam provided in the Moxie kit, but I found it difficult to control the felting process that way, so I ended up picking up the wool and stabbing it in my hand. Sometimes into my hand. I stabbed myself many times actually, but I only drew blood once. What is art without suffering, anyway?

Very quickly I had roughed out a body that looked remarkably like a pony!

After making a few edits to the overall shape I started to add what details I could given the limited color palette I had to work with. I tried adding a unicorn horn, thinking making something so small and specifically shaped would be difficult, but it was surprisingly easy!

I took a good look at the colors I had left and consulted with my sister, the resident Pony expert, and determined that despite the horn, this was mostly likely going to be Roseluck. I added a rose Cutie Mark and then worked on installing the mane and tail. Now, keep in mind, this is only a sketch. The mane turned out…alright. The quality of wool provided in the kit was great for needle felting purposes, but it was rather wooly-looking and not very hair-like. For a more finished product I would use a higher quality wool for hair details, possibly even something with silk content. Even if I had taken the time to comb the wool before installing it may have improved the overall appearance, but I was really just testing out techniques with this pony and wasn’t particularly concerned with how it turned out. I didn’t have the right colors to attempt to add eye details, so I just left that out.

Not bad for a rough sketch of Rose Luck.

Here’s a pic of Rose Luck for comparison:

Roseluck from fimfiction.net

So, there’s my first rough, just-trying-to-figure-out-the-basics attempt at needle felting! Just from that short experience I can already tell that practically ANYTHING can be needle felted. Especially if I have a reference photo to work from (which I did not have Roseluck in front of my as I did this, just a few other Pony figurines so I could get the basic body shape right) I should be able to replicate figures fairly easily! By the end of it I was even getting better at NOT stabbing myself. For more example of what other people have done with needle felting, try checking out the Moxie Flickr Pool. I have also seen some really cool needle felted interpretations of celebrities from Felt Alive.

I am still trying to raise money to replace my stolen computer and tools so I can start my own business. Any amount helps, but if you donate $25 to my Knotty Narwhal campaign I will needle felt anything you want! Even if you can’t donate money you can help out by spreading the word.