Ichi and the Traveling Purse

My BSF Debra and I got together to make handbags, and what fun we had!  Inspiration for these bags came from multiple sources and came together for a couple of cool purses…at least we think they are cool! My small bag features my cat Ichi who is a walking piece of graphic design. I copied the photo onto cotton ink jet prepared fabric.Ichi-Purse-FS Debra custom designed her interior to hold files, an iPad and a water bottle with all the other typical purse needs.Debra-Purse-inside-DSWhile she designed it to take on vacation is using it every day, and it’s fantastic!


Inspiration and direction came from many people and materials. First, Mary Glenn gave a class on easy handbag construction at DOL in Ashland and made it look so easy. Honestly she really came up with an efficient way to construct a purse. She has a blog entry for instructions: http://inspiredsewing.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/making-colorful-handbags/

The second inspiration came from Diane Ericson and her  plumbing supply line discovery. We both used the woven stainless steel for our purse handles.

The third inspiration was the fabric that Debra found at a local thrift store. It feels and looks like leather and she found a couple of yards of this stuff for $4.00!


Last, but not least, my new metalsmithing skills came to use attaching the straps to the bags…


and make the mouse dangling from my cat Ichi.


Fort Collins Museum of Art



I have a sculpture in the new show at the Fort Collins Museum of Art. The exhibit runs from July 25 through September 28. My piece, Portal to the Past, is based on a map of Fort Collins from the 1890’s. I went scavenging for a wagon wheel to frame the map and came across this wheel with this triangular piece attached.Fort-Collins-Sculpture I immediately envisioned the triangle shape as our Old Town Fort Collins. The triangle gave me my scale for the map. The knitted wire represents the Poudre River.WFranzen_Portal-to-the-Past If you want to see more of my artwork check out my website: WendyFranzen.comPortal-to-the-pastD2

Steel Smithing at Anderson Ranch

I just came back from a fantastic class at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, CO. The mountains are beautiful this time of year and cooler than in Fort Collins. If you don’t know about Anderson Ranch you need to check it out. They offer 1-2 week workshops all summer. The ranch offers arts and crafts classes including painting, photography, sculpture, ceramics and woodworking, and the topics and instructors change every year.

This year I took a class from Natasha Seedorf on steel smithing. I focused on learning skills, but still ended up with a few finished pieces. I plan on using my new skills for my encaustic, for example these rings will be a frame for a wax piece I’m working on.Steel-class1In sculpture I can use both hot and cold connections. Hand formed steel rings are at the top of the necklace and cold riveted bars on used on the bottom. The two pieces below on the left are bar steel torched while in a vice and then twisted while red-hot. I have to admit how fun it is to twist steel like putty! Far left is a “bead” for a future necklace and the long piece is an awl for woodworking. I can also use these connections for my fiber arts and sewing.
Steel-class2In addition, it never hurts to make a piece of jewelry once in a while! Below is a necklace and a couple of simple earrings.Steel-class3I went home and immediately gave away my Acetylene/Air torch and purchased a Smith mini torch that uses Acetylene/Oxygen to get a higher temp. I’ll keep you up to date on my future adventures with metals!Little smith

Winners and Losers

Since I have been traveling so much the knitting has increased, and I have finished two projects. The bad news is project two didn’t work out so well, but I’m going to be brave and show you both hoping that someone has a solution before I unravel or just send it to the charity bag!

Smaller projects work best when traveling and I usually stick to one color. I broke that rule in this first shawl/scarf project since the yarn was a small gauge, and it is an easy pattern. 

I wish you could feel this yummy yarn. I used Blue Sky Alpacas – Blue Sky Metalico in Platinum and Gold Dust Purchased at my LYS The Loopy Ewe. It’s 90 degrees out and I want to wear this!! The pattern is IWO from Berroco purchased on Ravelry.IWO-Scarf

Now for the fail. I really love the look of this pattern the Hope Tank by Tahki yarns.IWO-pattern-photo I didn’t think this was an appropriate pattern to substitute another yarn, so I searched on the internet and ordered it in my favorite color. My first warning should have been the yarn when it arrived. Don’t get me wrong, the yarn is lovely but those thick nubs produce a much warmer fabric than the Summer weight shell pictured.

Second mistake…I always swatch to get the appropriate gauge. How did I not notice the pattern required two swatches, one in garter used at the edges and one for the drop stitch which is the majority of the top. Of course the second one is the one I missed. So here it is: Hope-tank-originalAdmittedly, Roxanne is one size smaller than me, but you get the picture. Here is a try at draping the extra fabric off to the side. Hope-tank3I added a tie on the front and back for this version, but I think the tie should be lower. So viewers is there any hope? Comments or ideas are welcome…Hope-tank2

I’m back!

Multiple trips and then family visiting has kept me away from my blog, but I’m back with new ideas and a few new skills and techniques to incorporate that I can’t wait to share.

But first I have to finish my show and tell of my trip to Ashland for the DOL retreat. The town on Ashland is a fantastic arts town with beautiful scenery, but the shopping is what caught my eye! The downtown has textile shops of yarn and fabric and a bead shop.Fabric-Purchase1web

As you can see I went a little crazy with the fabric, but they were so beautiful, and I don’t buy woven textiles often so this is a new start for me. Notice the little cat on the umbrella fabric…cute without being too cute. Several of these fabrics look different but great on both sides allowing for some interesting details.Fabric-Purchase-2web

Then there are fabulous clothing stores in all price ranges including a wonderful resale shop, and SHOES!!! My shoe enabler husband (is he a catch or what?) took me shoe shopping and I ended up with 4 pairs of new shoes. Ashland-Shoes-BrightwebImelda eat your heart out. Aren’t these cool and unusual?Ashland-Shoes1web

I have cleaned up my studio after returning from a small steel smithing class and promise that next week I will start to show more hand-made projects, including what I learned about working with steel. So exciting!