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Posing with Mannequins

It may be because she’s used to posing for photos like this that my youngest granddaughter can’t pass a statue without posing in front of it and requesting a photo. The last time we walked to get an ice cream cone she posed in front of the Angel of Death on the way there and pulled her sister in for another photo on the way back.

Of course when we went to the Oz park she insisted they pose in front of the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy.

But the funniest thing is that everytime she goes to Target she expects to take a photo with the mannequins.


I thought it would be fun to participate in this Instagram challenge. I had wanted to do one ever since I first heard of them but thought embroidering something suggested by a prompt everyday (like Stitchtober) would be hard. #embroidermay gave me the opportunity to post new and old work and to reflect on my practice. I haven’t shared the old pieces here on the blog so I thought I’d feature a few.

I posted these Irises for the Day 2 prompt May Flowers. I designed it many years ago by adapting a print my youngest sister had.

This is the only piece I shared that I didn’t design. I shared it on Day 8 Most FAQ’S since most questions people ask me are technical rather than creative. This piece used to hang in my parent’s bedroom along with another botanical piece I stitched from the same book Cross Stitch Embroidery I by Gerda Bengtsson. The matted and framed pieces had some foxing damage so I took the frame apart and salvaged this one. I was so glad to find this gold frame which went well with the other gold frames in the workroom. It hangs above the iris piece which is hung pretty low since it is covering a large circuit box.

I shared my Japanese lady based on a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag on Day 29 Favorite Project. It is funny that this piece which is such a favorite is in what doesn’t seem like a great home in our Chicago condo. It leans up against the wall in our bedroom next to my bed under the mermaids. It actually isn’t such a bad place as I have a perfect view of it when I’m reading in bed.

More Felt Food

When my Chicago niece sent me an Instagram link to @andreaanimates, a fiber artist who films her pieces and processes I was taken with her felt pizza video. And when I was wondering what I could make for my grandnieces’s first birthday presents, I remembered messaging my niece that after seeing the animated pizza I wanted to make some felted pizza and also that she had once asked me if I would make felted food for her son which I hadn’t done (although as regular readers know I had made him a felted playmat and accessories). I also remembered that when I had downloaded some play food packaging from Miss Printables to items for my granddaughters’s play refrigerator that there was also a template for a pizza box. So I downloaded the template, enlarged it a bit, printed it twice on cardstock, assembled the boxes, and got busy needlefelting some pizzas! I also wet felted them a bit at the very end which eliminated the needle holes and really gave them a nice finish

I made a one with basil and one with pepperoni. Now I just need to figure out which twin is a vegetarian!

Kid’s Birthday Parties Come Back

At least outdoor birthday parties are happening this Spring. My oldest granddaughter had two this year. The first one was in a park with a school friend who was also turning eight.

They did get to take their masks off to eat their cupcakes.

Themes are back too! She had a tie dye party at her house with some friends and their siblings the next weekend.

My grandnephew also had a themed party in his backyard.

And my youngest granddaughter attended a Big Cat themed party.

So many masks!

More Suns Up

Our Northampton condo had 3 sun areas – behind the dining room table, in the first floor bathroom, and outside and right inside the front door. We hung the dining room suns up as soon as we moved here but that’s as far as we got. This week we hung the front door suns. Since we live on the 11th floor and don’t have an outdoors we hung the outdoor ones right inside the front door.

My youngest sister bought the oil can one but not exactly as a present. She said something like, “I already bought your birthday present so you’ll have to pay me for this sun I bought you.” I was a bit taken aback but I’m glad I did. I love it and it actually looks better here than it did on our outside shingles. The two green ones also hung outside. The top one was a gift from my Pennsylvania brother in law who wins the prize for person who has given us the most suns. The bottom one is from one of the Baby Group Moms.

The suns that hung together right inside our front door in Northampton now hang in our entry closet a few feet down the hall.

I’m pretty sure the key holder is from my Maryland in laws who have also given us a lot of suns and the one over the coat hooks is another one from my Pennsylvania brother in law. It is a replica of an antique fire insurance mark.

I’m so glad we finally hung these suns up. We haven’t hung the colorful ones that were in the downstairs bathroom yet and we may never hang them here. However, when we first moved in I was happy we had a place to hang our first purchased original piece of art. We bought it in Buffalo and I don’t even know when we hung it last but now it’s around the corner from the entry closet and it’s great to see it again!

Crafting in the Time of Corona XI

I really enjoyed figuring out how to make the letters when I cross stitched the Nero Wolfe covers so I decided I wanted to do a letter focused cross stitch. I know my sister likes illuminated manuscripts and I had seen some embroidered letters on Instagram using metallic thread so I thought it would be fun to make my sister a cross stitch of an illuminated manuscript using gold thread.

I found this picture and began developing the pattern. It quickly became obvious that because of the thread count I was using (20 count) and the amount of threads I needed for the letters, not to mention the size of the piece of linen I had left (finished size is 6″×9″), that I was only going to do a fragment of the page. It also became clear that, due to transforming the design to straight lines and boxes on graph paper, the finished piece was going to be inspired by the original rather than a replica of it!

And when I began stitching it another thing became clear. While I had seen attractive embroidered pieces using metallic thread on Instagram, I had missed this meme until after I started attempting to stitch with the gold thread.

I’m sure the verses of this song cover the reality that metallic thread separates, shreds, and makes for very messy stitches.

I recently read an interview of a person who designs cross stitch patterns and she said that one should always stitch their patterns before offering them for sale. I can see why now as I made lots of changes to my pattern while I was stitching. This was probably the most challenging cross stitch I’ve ever done and while I wish the gold stitches looked better I am pretty proud of finished piece.

Beanie Baby Boulevard

I went on a vacation trip with my daughter and grandchildren last week. My oldest granddaughter was very excited to hear that Galena, Illinois has a main street with lots of stores. I was worried that the shops might not be what she was expecting and that did seem to be the case at first as she quickly decided she only wanted to go to the “tie baby candy store”. When we did go there after checking out a lot more stores it turned out she was saying TY Baby Candy Store and it sure was! In addition to having lots of current TY stuffed toys for sale, Galena’s Kandy Kitchen has the largest collection of vintage Beanie Babies I’ve ever seen.

And these are just the small classic ones! The other wall hosted lots more large ones.

My granddaughter considered purchasing a large TY stuffed toy but decided to just buy some gummy worms and save most of her money to spend at the toy store at the other end of the street. So I guess we won’t have to be on the lookout for a Beanie Baby Boulevard sign for her room!

Mr. Imagination’s Grotto

I first learned of Mr. Imagination (Gregory Warmack), a Chicago outsider artist, at Intuit before we moved to Chicago. Now that we live here I’ve been recognizing his pieces around Chicago including a series of his paintbrush heads at the Uptown library and a bench at the Children’s Museum. When I heard that there was something called Mr. Imagination’s Grotto I definitely wanted to take a look so when we headed to our third architecture tour walk last Fall, which was to historical music sites in Bronzeville, we took a detour to the Elliott Donnelley Youth Center Community Art Garden. The meditation grotto is a concrete structure embedded with found treasures and ancient fossils and was built in 1995 according to The gates were locked (perhaps because all parks were closed because of the pandemic) so we couldn’t go into the Garden to see the grotto or any of the other artwork but we got a pretty good look at (and photo of) the grotto through the fence.

Signs of the Times

When we added this peg rack to our hall alcove last year our thought was that it would be used for guest coats but it turned out it was for our face masks.

And this musical note clip is meant to be holding our tickets to upcoming concerts. It does still hold the tickets to the Liz Mandeville concert at Buddy Guy’s last March that we decided we better not attend. But now on top of those tickets it holds our “tickets” for our second coronavirus vaccine appointments next week. Here’s hoping that means tickets to concerts in the musical clip and guest coats in our closet soon!

Other People’s Collections VII

Intuit offered another virtual collector tour this month – this time of Chicago collector Patric McCoy. He estimates he has over 13,000 works – mostly but not exclusively by contemporary Black artists. In my post “Horror Vacui” I quoted William Swislow who wrote that horror vacui or the fear of empty spaces was a “defining characteristic of many Chicago collectors”. Patric McCoy is certainly one of them. His art covers every wall in his apartment from floor to ceiling.

Photo from

In that post I also wondered what the word is for people who want to put all the like things together. Whatever that is Patric McCoy’s collection embodies that too. One of his bathrooms hosts paintings of flowers, the other paintings of faces and hands (“dedicated to mothers who always say to wash your face and hands”), his bedroom is filled with nudes and landscapes (“the landscapes make it sensual rather than sexual”), and the front hall with paintings that feature eyes.

Photo from

He also arranges his artwork by themes including “The Problems of Black Men”. Facing that is another section that celebrates the accomplishments of Black men.

Problems of Black Men -photo from

After the virtual tour people had the opportunity to ask questions and in answer to one McCoy said he usually doesn’t think about themes when he’s buying artwork. He buys art that he likes and then when he gets home he figures out where it goes. And while I still don’t have a word for a collector who wants to put all the like things together I did learn a new word and concept from an interview of Patric McCoy at When asked what he does when he brings home a new piece (wondering I’m sure how on earth he finds room for it) he says, “I shuffle things around…there is a math field called topology. You can have a particular orientation of things and it looks like it’s full, and all of a sudden, boom: you’ve got all this space.” Topology – the reason a collector will never have too much!

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