Friday, November 25, 2016

Secret Santa for a Special Friend

Besides trying to get my By Way of Salem orders out from my Etsy store this holiday season, I've also been working on a secret Santa project for a special friend of mine.

Funny, cause I don't know her all that well really, though we've known each other probably for 12 years. I mean we've not had lunch out together or really gone on any outings together, haven't talked on the phone, and I actually haven't seen her in many years. I think the last time I saw her was out on a trail, riding our horses, up in Enumclaw, WA, up on Mud Mountain. She was with a group of friends and I was with my friend, Jennifer. We all knew each other from a stable we used to board at a couple years prior. We keep in touch through Facebook and Messenger, going back and forth, and supporting one another through life's daily ups and downs. We all need friends like that!

My friend, Deb is a special woman. We're "sisters" in many ways I think. She has a gypsy spirit, loves horses and art, has gone through some tough, tough times and doesn't seem to falter, just plows right through. We both share things in common too; a love of mountains, skiing, being outdoors, animals, a good haircut, and of course horses. This woman just has SPIRIT! So you see, it doesn't matter that I haven't actually been around here in a long time, we're together in spirit.

So my project for her, is a soft sculpture wall hanging of her horse Leo. I've been working on it in between my other stuff, picking it up, working a little, going back, stitching some more, getting new ideas, and just building on them bit by bit. I'm finished now.

Leo is a gorgeous Gypsy Vanner horse. They are amazing! Feathers on their feet, long flowing manes and forelocks. Hers is white and black, and large like a draft. Here's a pic of one to give you an idea of their beauty!

Deb admires and encourages me in my art and has been a long time supporter of my creativity since my first By Way of Salem Facebook post I think, and I truly appreciate that. She's wanted me to make her something, and so I did, but it's a surprise. Shhhh! I'll be mailing Leo off on Monday. I can't wait till she gets it!

Deb moved from Washington state to Colorado, then to California, and now lives in Oregon. Gotta love a gypsy girl! Last year, she broke her back while riding Leo. It wasn't his fault, just one of those freak accidents. She's recuperating and no doubt will ride again. See, the girl's got spirit!!

Ok, the project:

I drew out a pattern for my quirky character on paper and traced it out on pre-washed, unbleached muslin.

Once he was cut out and ready for stitching, I had to think about what I wanted to do; make him a scary, Halloween-ish type horse like my Monster dolls, or just make him fun. I went for fun this time. 
I always keep a good stash of buttons

Lots of messy fun!
I painted him as accurate as I could with spots of black and left the white portion unpainted and natural.
Deb and Leo
Then I added buttons for eyes, stitched a nostril and painted it pink-ish, and added lots of "feathers" of different fabrics and materials for the forelock, mane, and tail. I used frayed muslin, various ribbons, strings of pearls, lace, ribbons and different favorite fabrics that I thought would fit Debbie. Things like jean fabric with sunflowers for her love of the outdoors and fancy trims for the bling she loves to adorn her horses with.

One thing Deb always had was beautiful, bling-y tack and I wanted to incorporate that on this Leo as well.  For his "bridle", I added turquoise glass beads of different sizes, and "silver conchos" were silver spacer beads. I stitched a brass cross (cause we all need blessings!), and bling to the headstall as well.

On his body, I added stamped ink words onto layers of fabric and hand stitched them on, then frayed muslin around his feet for his "feathers". Finally, I stitched a couple of loops on the backside for hanging. Or not. She could put him on her bed as a decorative pillow too.
I really hope this captures the spirit of Leo, and it makes her smile!

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