Friday, March 20, 2015

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone and Embracing Homespun Goodness

"Morning Bear" by Cynthia Crane
Just as Mama Bear emerges from her long winter's rest to enjoy her first cup of morning coffee, I  have emerged from my cozy habitat here at The Crane's Nest to embrace the coming of spring. In case you're wondering where I've been, well I gave myself the gift of a long winter vacation from painting, potterying and blogging and immersed myself in 3 months of homespun goodness.

There were many, many fun little projects that had been on my to-do list for a very long time and this was my opportunity to see some of them to completion. Over the next few blog posts I'll be sharing those with you. So pour yourself a cuppa your favorite beverage and cozy up in your chair while I share a few of those fun winter projects!

As many of you know, we finished a large kitchen renovation last year, and today I want to share a couple of small decorating details I added there this winter.


Something new for the wall above my range.
I'll start our little tour with this lovely green tole tray purchased from Etsy shop VintageKeepsake. This tray was just the thing I'd been wanting to hang above my range.

Close up of new green painted background.
But it wasn't quite the "right" shade of green so I re-painted the background (eeek! gasp! you didn't, says the "vintage purist"!)  This wasn't easy to do, but using my somewhat limited decorative painting skills I was able to add a little more detail to the flowers and leaves motif to integrate the newly painted area.

Speaking of my limited decorative painting skills, I also did up a French Garden Jug to place on the island in the kitchen.

Hand painted French Garden Jug.
I fell in love with a brown painted French Jug on Ebay, but it was priced very high so I thought I'd try my hand at painting my own. I found an inexpensive plain metal jug at Hobby Lobby and with my already existing supply of metal craft paint, that was that. I can't wait for my lilacs to come into bloom, they'll be so lovely in this jug!

Little details make for a warm and cozy and kitchen.


Time to step out of my comfort zone (painting and pottery) ........... and create some homespun goodness!

Now this was a fun and somewhat challenging project for this crochet newbie. Actually, I've made a few blankies - yes, "blankies" - 'cos that's what they were since I made them in the '80s - one each for my 2 babies, and then nothing else til now. But crocheting is sooooo easy, and the yarn community sooooooo generous, it was no problem to pick back up. Well, that may be stretch......

Here is a photo from blogger Hopeful Honey which shows the lovely slouchy hat I was trying to make:

Chunky Slouch Beanie Crochet Hat Pattern available from Hopeful Honey Blog
Instructions for this hat are free on her blog! Thank you Hopeful Honey!

So I got some bulky yarn, dug out my old circa 1984 crochet hooks and made a slouch hat - 2 of them actually -  one for me and one for my daughter. If I was being honest I'd tell you that the first one I made ended up way too large. I kept thinking, "Hmmmmm, this looks like that floppy hat Jared used to wear in his Grateful Dead days when he had dreadlocks." Jared is our son and in his teens he had the most beautiful long sandy blond hair, stick straight and oh so lovely. But what he did to his hair - ugh! Never mind, I don't want to go there!

So I'm thinking this but not saying it, showing the hat off to Papa Crane, and he says, "You know, that hat looks like one of those Jared used to wear." **sigh**

Of course, garden lover that I am, my hat had to have a flower!
But determined to get it right, after a good night's sleep (Papa Crane banished to the sofa so I had the whole bed to meself), I got up the next morning and re-read the directions. I had made too many rows of double crochet! Duh! No wonder, silly!

This is what comes from trying to watch episodes of "Parenthood" and learning to crochet at the same time! (OMG! I had not watched that show before and LOVE it. So hooked now!)


More homespun goodness and stitching 'til my fingers hurt!

For the longest time I've been wanting to try my hand at making fabric cuff bracelets. So after a little shout out to my lovely friend Jill from Etsy shop Fiberluscious I had everything my little heart desired to make that happen. Darling Jill gifted me with this wonderful box of bits and bobs to help me on my way to homespun goodness heaven!

A box of pretties from Jill at Fiberluscious
Jill makes the sweetest handmade pincushions and various other charming homespun creations, and her lovely blog is chock full of photos of these as well as quite a few fantastic tutorials!

Click for Pincushion Tutorial by Jill of Fiberluscious!

There will be future posts on the various things I'll be making with Jill's lovely gifts, including her charming needle felt flowers and leaves, but today I want to show the 2 cuff bracelets I made using some of her fabric scraps, ribbon and lace along with a few of my handmade porcelain buttons.

New cuff bracelets from Cynthia Crane's Pottery!
It has been a very long time since I've done any hand stitching at all and I enjoyed making these oh! so much! The lovely blue pincushion in the upper left of this photo is one of Jill's creations!

New completely handstitched fabric cuff bracelets embellished with my porcelain buttons.
I REALLY want to keep these fabric cuff bracelets, but they're headed to my Etsy shop tomorrow.

So that's only a few of the fun homespun goodies I completed this winter! I'll be sharing much more as time goes on.

But for now I've returned to my comfort zone - my pottery studio - in order to bring forth a few new designs that have been whirling in my mind with the onset of spring.

New spring designs for my Etsy shop! Listing March 21 around 1pm ET.
Of course bunnies are the order of the day, so too scenes of flowers in bloom with bees buzzing all around. These new designs will be listed tomorrow mid-day Eastern Time in my Etsy shop.

New monthly plaques, made to hang or display on a plate stand.
What better time than the coming of spring to introduce my new line of monthly wall plaques. I've only made this one, but special orders are welcome. There will be a new design created for each month of the year.

I hope you enjoyed this little window into how I spent my winter vacation! There will be much more to come as this was only just a tiny bit of what I actually accomplished.

Happy Spring everyone!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Grow Your Blog Party 2015 and a Giveaway Contest!

Hello and welcome to Cynthia Crane's Art and Gardening Goodness! If you've landed here today you may well be visiting in response to the yearly Grow Your Blog party hosted by the fun and fabulous Vicki Boster of 2 Bags Full. I want to send a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to Vicki for this generous effort - last year my blog went from under 10 followers to nearly 100 in just a few short weeks!

Thank you for visiting me and I hope you enjoy your stay! I promise to try and keep this post short and sweet because I know you have LOTS of other blogs to visit today. And because your visit means so much to me, I am having a GIVEAWAY CONTEST! But first a teeny weeny bit about me and the "skinny" on what you'll find on my blog.

My first outdoor show with my porcelain ceramics!
I have been a working artist for nearly 30 years and have recently begun working with porcelain ceramic clay. This is a photo of me at a show this past fall in nearby Berryville, VA.

Cacapon River in Morgan County, WV

I recently returned to my home state of West Virginia (east coast USA) after living in Virginia for over 30 years. It is good to be back - it is so wild and beautiful here! 

Harpers Ferry, WV
My home is very near the historically rich town of Harper's Ferry, WV.

The Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers at Harpers Ferry, WV
It is understood that this was the part of West Virginia that inspired John Denver to pen his famous song "Take Me Home Country Roads."

My new cutting garden.
When I'm not traveling the hills and valleys of this beautiful area, I can be found working on my gardens. I have lots of gardening ideas I'll be sharing here on my blog. I do a series I call "I'd Rather Be Gardening" because, well, I would probably rather be gardening than just about anything else!

Coming soon: new post on how I made this kitchen island.
I also enjoy decorating my home, which includes making over furniture. This island was made from pieces/parts I put together from here and there. I'll be blogging the details on that soon.

I collect tole painted trays.
We did a large kitchen reno right after we moved into our home. You can see and read more about that here. We "finished" about 6 mos ago and I've already made some changes to my decor. Like replacing a painting over the range with this lovely vintage tole painted tray. I found this tray at a shop on Etsy - VintageKeepsake - and I know I'll be shopping from her again. (I see she has added some new things recently, but the Vintage Shabby Chic Floral Picture is MINE so hands off ya hear?!!!) Just kidding! Actually I can't buy anything else until I get my buns back to work on my own Etsy shop and start making more pottery!

I love crafting!
I've been playing in my studio lately making everything BUT ceramics actually. I made some fabric covered balls today, something I've always wanted to do. 

Fabric covered balls.

And I had the perfect basket to display them in! Get the how-to here: The Feathered Nest. I love sharing how-to's, whether of my own creation or someone else's.

Well, I better get on with that GIVEAWAY CONTEST now! Because I adore making little sewing projects that involve buttons (and I hope you do, too!) I'm giving away this set of sweet little birdie buttons from my Etsy shop. They are hand sculpted from porcelain clay and have been hand painted and fired to stoneware temp so they are quite sturdy. I do suggest hand washing only, however!

Little birdie buttons from Cynthia Crane's Pottery
The buttons you receive are not this EXACT set, but are very similar. Here is a really sweet idea for a way to use one of these little buttons:

Fabric Wrap Bracelet by Etsy Shop AndreaCreates
I had Andrea of Etsy Shop AndreaCreates make this lovely bracelet for me, but they would be quite easy to make if you like to sew. I have a lovely pin board just for button craft ideas on my Pinterest. Take a look - lots of really pretty button projects on there!

My button GIVEAWAY CONTEST is open to anyone and everyone both near and far. All you have to do is comment on this post and be sure to leave me an email address to contact you if you win. The Contest closes on February 15 and the winner will be announced soon thereafter. 

Good luck everyone and thanks so much for visiting!

UPDATE: All entries were placed in his big old popcorn bowl and Papa Crane picked the winner - Congratulations to Andrea for winning my Buttons Giveaway! Many thanks to everyone for all of your lovely comments!