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Monday, November 01, 2010

Guest Blogger - Mary Anne Richardson

I honestly can't remember when or how I met today's guest blogger.  I feel like I've know her all my life!  She was so very kind to me when I had my breakdown.  She sent me so much love & encouragement and so much comfort.  I've admired her work for quite some time now.   She has much to share in today's post so I will stop rambling here.  Please welcome my dear friend and today's Guest Blogger, Mary Anne Richardson of Magpie's Mumblings blog.

Pam has asked me to tell you a little about how I made my own walnut ink and to show you a little of the work I do. Thank you for having me Pam!


Walnut ink is really simple to make. All you need is to fend off squirrels while you collect about 20 black walnuts! It doesn’t matter if they are damaged in their fall from the tree, because they will look a whole lot worse when you’re finished with them! I put mine into a plastic bag and then used a hammer to crack them a bit. Place the walnuts (including the shells) in either an old slow cooker or a large pot that you don’t plan to use for food later on. I don’t know if black walnuts are toxic, but it’s better to be safe. Cover the walnuts with water and simmer for approximately eight hours (keep an eye on it to be sure the liquid doesn’t evaporate too much). The walnuts will turn black and your liquid will become a rich dark brown. I strained the liquid off, saved it, and the next day I added fresh water and re-cooked the same walnuts (only because I was curious to see what would happen – you don’t have to repeat the process if you’re happy with the amount you made the first time). I then re-heated the liquid and poured it into hot canning jars. I made sure the lids were hot in order to have a good seal on my jars. I’m not sure that all the care with the sealing of the jars was necessary but I wanted to be sure my ink didn’t have a chance to spoil. Now I will use it to either dye fabric or paper. I ended up with five jars of walnut ink with very little effort. It’s perhaps not quite as saturated with colour as the walnut ink you can buy commercially, but certainly the price is right!!








Now I will tell you a little bit about me and my creative life. I really don’t know when I haven’t been doing something creative, but my earliest memory of my first project was years ago when the huge granny square afghans were ‘in’. My aunt made several and showed me how to start off. The pattern was simple – one gigantic granny square which you went round and round until you were heartily sick of the process! I hated that afghan, however I did love crocheting and still do.


From there I progressed into macram̩ and, I think, horrified every person on my gift list that Christmas by giving them horrible jute plant hangers Рcomplete with ceramic pots (another phase I went through). Looking back I realize just how horrible they were! A few people were brave enough to hang them up but most of them I never saw again. Needless to say, macram̩ was not my forte.


Over the years I think I probably have tried pretty much every craft going – leatherwork, tatting, knitting, beadwork – you name it, I’ve tried it. I decided a number of years ago that knitting would be my ‘thing’ and, being a generous soul, I undertook to knit a pair of socks for my husband. The nice lady at the yarn shop assured me that the pattern was quite easy and if I started them right then (it was October) I would definitely have them done for Christmas. Well, I knitted. And I knitted. And I knitted some more. I knitted on those socks every spare second I had for weeks. Christmas came and I presented my husband with ONE complete sock and the ball of wool for the second one. After Christmas, I knitted and (well, you get the picture). There endeth my knitting career – or so I thought. Fast forward twenty years, and guess what I like doing now? I’m not good at it, but I do enjoy it. My best effort so far has been to make at least a dozen pairs of felted slippers. As for socks? Nope – not going there!!


I was bitten by the crazy quilting ‘bug’ in the early 90’s and it is now my first love. It combines so many techniques, all wrapped up in one beautiful package. I stumbled across a book by Judith Baker Montano and my obsession began. I rapidly discovered the cheapest place to get fabrics for use in crazy quilts was the thrift store. At that time I could pick up beautiful silk blouses for about two dollars which was w-a-y cheaper than buying yardage. Vests, skirts, blouses – all became fodder for my projects. Then came trading bits of fabrics with people I met online to expand my collection.


My next discovery was that there were a whole lot of people out there who were anxious to trade their work with me – either an entire block or in the form of a round robin. What a learning experience that was – I rapidly found that in crazy quilting ANYTHING that can be sewn down is fodder for use (broken jewellery, bead necklaces, brooches, buttons, coins – the possibilities are endless). It’s possible to glue things onto a piece too, but I don’t generally do that mainly because I don’t trust glue to hold over the years.

Art Dolls are another love and last year I took part in an exciting project – the Art Doll Coolaberation 2009. It worked in a similar way to a round robin with each participant creating a basic doll body and the rest of the artists adding to it and also telling a story about the doll along the way. It was great fun and a total learning curve. Being able to see how others work and what they create is so exciting! We had so much fun that we have begun another project this year. Can’t wait!


Here’s a photo of Shudayra, the doll that came home to me from the ’09 Coolaberation...





More of the dolls I’ve made...



My other passion is to make things using recycled denim jeans – mostly bags and jackets. I took a class several years ago about how to make the basic jacket and then I’ve gone on and added my own twist. They are in the crazy quilting style with lots of button clusters, recycled pockets, and labels for decoration. I’ve made over thirty jackets so I guess they must be well-liked!






A couple of years ago I joined in the colour challenge with SharonB and made a block each month using the colours Sharon suggested. Many of them turned out to be so different from the colour combinations I would normally have used, which was good for expanding my confidence. The blocks were eventually turned into three wall hangings and are the ones you see pictured with this article.













Thank you once again to Pam for inviting me to visit with you today. I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a little bit of my work and would love to have you visit me at my blog (http://magpiesmumblings.blogspot.com). Please say hi when you’re there!

I would like to thank my sweet friend Mary Anne for taking the time to put this post together.  Mary Anne's work is phenomenal and I just knew my blog followers would enjoy her.  Thank you so much Mary Anne!!

I'm going to put my Guest Blogger Feature on hold now until after the holidays.  I know everyone is going to be busy for awhile now.  I'll resume this feature after the New Year.

19 comments:

shirley said...

What an interesting life you have had, Mary Anne, and kept very busy too. I just love all you crazy patchwork and the embellishing they are gorgeous. I was bitten by the bug about the same time as you, and by Judith Baker Montano, but then I digressed into underwater scenes inspired initially by her.

It was so nice to read your story, and I hope you continue on your journey of making beautiful things.

MosaicMagpie said...

Pam and MA,
What a pleasure to read this blog post. Written by two dear friends about shared love of Crazy Quilts. MA your journey of crafting sounds similar to mine. I enjoyed seeing the blocks you made with Sharon B. Such beautiful work and certainly an inspiration to a newbie CQer like me. Thank you Pam, I look forward to the next guest blogger in the new year.
Debbie

Gerry Krueger said...

WOW I've never even heard of walnut tea and I have a HUGE black walnut tree right behind the house... and they falling right now...Hmmmmmmmmmmmm Gerry K.

Scarf It Up! said...

So nice to hear your evolution and to see the wonderful work you've done over the years. Keep it up! It's fabulous!

Whytefeather said...

Great guest post, Mary Anne!! Those blocks are gorgeous... so much to aspire to in CQ!

Connie Eyberg Originals said...

What a treat, two of my favorite ladies on the same blog. Wonderful article Mary Anne. You and Pam both do such fantastic work and are so generous in sharing your CQ knowledge. You have both inspired this newbie! Take care, Connie

agypsyangel said...

Mary Anne is so very talented and such a lovely, sweet lady. Its wonderful that you shared her beautiful work. Hope you are having a very happy Monday.
Hugs,
Kim

Francie...The Scented Cottage Studio said...

Thanks Pam ... your guest bloggers are very interesting and talented...just like you !

(())

karen said...

great post!! Mary Anne is a star!

debi said...

Mary Anne, your crazy quilt blocks are beautiful! So many wonderful colors and embellishments! Thanks for sharing your beautiful work!

Beedeebabee said...

Hi Pam! I so enjoyed reading all about Mary Anne. What a lovely post, and like you, she's a super talented lady! I'm going to pop into her blog and say hello next...
Your crazy quilt tutorial in the post below is just wonderful. Have a great day today! xo Paulette =o)

Yvonne said...

How nice to get to know Mary Anne better. Loved seeing more of her beautiful creative work. Enjoyed this guest blogger post very much.

Dolores said...

Thank you for featuring Mary Anne. I now know more about her. Gorgeous work. Very inspirational.

Magpie's Mumblings said...

What fun to read the lovely comments, both here and on my blog! Thank you everyone and most especially Pam for inviting me to visit with you all.
Cheers
MA (Mary Anne)

Laurie said...

WOW! Thanks Pam for sharing Mary Anne with us! Excuse me while I drool over her work!! Amazing!! I look forward to your Guest Bloggers, and what a treat Mary Anne was!

~*~Patty S said...

Hello ~ I am visiting from Mary Anne's blog. Super interview and so much eye candy too!
All the best to you and yours!
oxo

arlee said...

And she's the nicest person in person, my SIS :)

cq4fun said...

That was really interesting! I loved reading and seeing all the beautiful things she's made. Thank you for sharing her with us, Pam.

suziqu's thread works said...

Hi Pam
What a lovely idea having this guest blog spot. Mary-Anne's article is just wonderful to read and so inspiring as is your blog.
All the very best Pam,
Suzy

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