Hot Springs, Arkansas

A new state to add to our map!

As we were packing up to leave Hot Springs, Arkansas, I said to Matt, “It’s hard to leave. I was starting to feel settled in. I know where the laundromat is and where to shop. I found the post office. We made friends and I have a rug hooking group. It’s amazing how much can happen in a week!” Well, actually, I guess it was two weeks, but we sure did a lot! First we went into the town of Hot Springs to find out what it was all about.

Hot water bubbles through the surface of the earth. At some places it is 143 degrees! See all that steam?! Then we toured the visitor center for the national park which just happens to be in an old bath house.

The antiquated equipment was interesting and some looked downright scary! But overall, they had facilities to do the same things we do today: baths, massage, hair styling and a work out room. There were several places throughout the town where you could fill water jugs with the water. It is safe, and good, to drink. Here is Matt filling the one bottle we had with us with hot water. It was very good tasting.

The next day, we decided to see a chapel in the area. Anthony Chapel is part of the Garvan Woodland Gardens. You can visit the chapel for free and that is all we intended to do. What a gorgeous place to pray. I love windows, and this chapel was just about all windows!

We almost didn’t pay to see the gardens. I kept thinking that it couldn’t be very fun at this time of year. Surely it was best in the spring and summer when flowers would be out. But, we decided to chance it anyway and we are so glad we did.

There actually were some flowers out at Garvan Woodland Gardens. But what we enjoyed was the lovely walk in the woods. It wound beautifully around a creek and over to views of a lake.

The bridges were beautiful. The whole walk was rejuvenating.

Another day we took a drive through the Ouachita National Forest. Matt found a “drive” on the internet and we followed it’s instructions. There were supposed to be signs along the way where you could stop at interesting things. Well, the drive was great and we loved it! We had a difficult time finding most of the signs though. Later we found out that the information he had found was old and apparently not up to date. At this stop along the road, we were to observe how the earth swirled and therefore how the mountains in the area were formed. There just happened to be a geocache there too. He had to watch out for a hornets nest.

While on that drive, we found out that the area was known for quartz crystals! One of the places we stopped had us walk for a mile straight up a mountain. What a climb! It took us to a place that used to be a quartz mine and you could look for crystals. We found where people had dug and also some large rocks with quartz veins, but nothing worth keeping.

I’m glad we just made it back down the mountain. The path was rocky and we kept slipping. Thankfully, we didn’t get hurt. But I love rocks and gems. You know…jewelry maker and all… And I looked on the internet and found out there were several places to look for quartz crystals in the area. One was a mine where you could pay a fee and dig in their scrap pile all day. So, we went to Ron Coleman’s mine and dug in drizzly, 46 degree weather all day long.

At first we dug holes in the dirt and really didn’t find anything. Then I decided to start rolling over large rocks.

We found some lovely crystals and clusters!

We had lots of other pieces but settled on these few to keep with us. When we sold our house and got rid of our stuff, I had boxes of rocks to throw away that I have collected in various places. Just like Lucy in “The Long, Long Trailer.” I can’t allow myself to collect rocks again. I sure want to though.

One day while driving around, Matt said, “Wait. Arkansas. Whetstones are from Arkansas!” He loves sharpening knives and had a whetstone from Arkansas. So, I looked it up and sure enough, we were in the prime area for whetstones. There was a place only 20 minutes from us called, Dan’s Whetstone, so we drove out to it. We didn’t realize we were going to where they produced the whetstones. After speaking with the very gracious people there for awhile, they offered to take us on a tour of the facility! This saw was room sized!

Mary gave us an informative tour about how they bring the stone, novaculite, from their mine and then carefully cut, polish and grade it.

It is a major production!

The folks at Dan’s Whetstone were super nice and interested in us too. In fact, when they heard that I made jewelry, they invited us back for me to show them. They enjoyed doing their Christmas shopping and we loved visiting with them again. Several people mentioned that Arkansas was a place to mine for diamonds too. So, off we went.

People find diamonds there everyday. At least, that is what they tell me. We were faced with a huge area that is periodically tilled up. You can see here a building that was built years ago when they tried to mine the diamonds commercially. It didn’t pan out.

My husband is a very patient man and he stayed all day digging buckets of dirt, hauling it to the sluice area, using screens to rinse the dirt from the gravel and then searching the gravel for bits of diamond the size of a head of a pin.

 

No diamonds for us. Maybe if I had stayed there with him and worked all day we would have found some. I must admit to leaving him there and shopping in the town square nearby. Now that was more fun!

Just had to share this next photo. My dad’s name is Burl and you don’t find many Burls around. So when we saw this sign, we just had to stop.

It was quite the place and Matt had fun sharing stories with this character.

One more special thing happened in Hot Springs. I decided to see if there were any rug hooking shops in the are. I needed more wool! And I found Aileen Anderson of Bear Creek Studio. She invited me to her lovely home to shop. We hit it off immediately and I stayed for four hours. Such fun! Later, she invited me back for a hooking time with her gals. Aileen showed us how to make poinsettia pins.

So, yes, we loved Hot Springs, Arkansas. And it wasn’t just for the fascinating hot water seeping from the ground. No, it was for the people. I almost felt like they adopted us. And I hope we see them again!

A Whirlwind Catch-up Post

So much has happened since my last post that I barely know where to start! We made a huge change in our lifestyle by selling our home and getting rid of almost all of our possessions. A few precious things are stored with family, but otherwise, everything we own is in our camper. And that changed too! Since we will be spending all our time in our camper for a while, we decided to upgrade both the camper and the truck. Here is our new rig:

Selling everything was huge and someday I will write a post about it. It really seemed the thing to do for some reason and so we went for it. I worried that after everything was gone, I would miss it and be sorry. But just this morning as I was waking up, three months after dismantling the life we had lived for 23 years, I still feel relieved. I must have been dreaming about the house. I think my mind is still trying to make sense of all we did. As I awoke, I had visions of the basement and garage with all the stuff and my first reaction was, “Oh, I am so glad I don’t have to think about and care for all those things!” I feel more joy without those possessions tugging at me all the time, demanding that I do something with them.

So, since we went on the road we have put 4200 miles on the camper. We have rushed to Illinois to see our granddaughter get baptized. Next was a visit to Sauder Village in Ohio for a rug hooking event. Then back to Maryland to register the new camper. On to Pennsylvania to visit parents. Down to North Carolina to greet our son coming home from deployment. Back to PA to attend the memorial service for my husband’s stepmom. Then back to Ohio for another rug hooking event.

We have seen four bald eagles sharing a meal, biked 20 miles along Oil Creek, viewed gorgeous art in Cleveland’s art museum, toured Monticello, watched the eclipse, went on the Blue Ridge Parkway, saw several covered bridges, and did LOTS of hiking. All the while, Matt was working full time and I drove, grocery shopped, cooked, cleaned and did laundry. And of course, hooked rugs, wrote an article for Rug Hooking Magazine and made some jewelry. I had no time to write blog posts and half the time had poor cell signal. So, here are a few pics here to catch up. Put on your seat belt!

Our home of 23 years when we listed it for sale. What a lovely home it was and I am grateful for it. But it was time to move on.

Our son, Jonathan, baptizing our granddaughter, Beth. What a joyous occasion!

Our granddaughter heard me talking to her mom about our big change. I said it was a bit daunting knowing that we didn’t have a home to go back to. Beth suddenly showed up and told me to keep this verse, that I needed it. Indeed I did. It is on my refrigerator still!

I was thrilled that my artwork was chosen to be in the Celebration book. It is a book that is published once a year with the “year’s best hand-hooked rugs.” Here it is in the Celebration exhibit at Sauder Village in Ohio.

My rug, Transformation, featured in the Celebration book which is a juried collection of rugs.

My latest jewelry creation. I love labradorite and wire working!

Each time we are back in Maryland, we love visiting with Philip and Emma. I do miss our dinners together. This was taken in Harpers Ferry, WV.

While in PA, we hiked at Ricketts Glen State Park. I still haven’t seen all the waterfalls in this spectacular park.

Here I am with my beautiful mom, Shirley Updyke. She put one of my rugs in a place of honor in her lovely home.

We were amazed to see four bald eagles in a field very near to where we camped in PA. Here is a photo I took of three of them.

I am so pleased that Jeremy is home from his deployment. It was wonderful to see him and Mary Claire together again.

I had seen Monticello as a teenager and always wanted to go back. We just happened to camp nearby, so I got to see it again.

Here is our family all together. We camped together in PA while we attended the memorial service for Matt’s stepmom, Jo. Even though we are sad she is not with us, we know she is with Jesus and we will be with her again!

We did our longest bike ride yet in Oil Creek State Park, PA. I think it was our most beautiful ride yet. And we finally got helmets!

I was blessed to take a class from Gene Shepherd at the ATHA bienniel in Cleveland.

Cleveland Museum of Art was great! I loved this Van Gogh painting.

The rock formations in Cuyahoga Valley National Park made me feel small.

That’s all for now! Lots of adventures ahead!

 

Rug Hooking in Florida

When I think of wool, I think of cold nights snuggled under a warm blanket…not Florida! And my latest art form uses a lot of wool. I love rug hooking so much that I’m willing to work with wool in warm temperatures, but I wasn’t sure other people in my RV resort would feel the same way.

Two ladies heard that I hooked rugs last year and approached me about showing them how to do it. Unfortunately, by the time this happened, it was already Spring and time to head home. But I promised to send them information about rug hooking over the course of the year, I signed up for a room in the Rv park, Sun N Fun, to hold our meetings and they said they would order what was needed to begin rug hooking. With that, we parted our ways for nine months.

All summer long, I sent out messages with ideas of where to buy a hook, frame and kit. I kept wondering if they would actually show up and want to learn. And the big question was would I be able to teach them how to do it.

Well, let me tell you that this season in Florida has been the best one for me yet! Here are the two lovely, FUN ladies that urged me to teach them.

Trisha and Sherry love to have fun!

And then another who parked her camper next to mine and saw me hooking my project from her window decided to come and join us.

I loved being Donna’s neighbor!

Donna, Sherry and I were already on the same street in our RV resort and Trisha decided to move over and join us. Our street became lovingly known as hooker alley. (I do at times wish this wonderful art had a different name!) We sure had fun getting together mid week to hook outside by our campers.

Hooking at the campsite

Even though I was still working on my hummingbird piece, I felt the need for a more simple piece to work on while teaching others. Something quick and easy that I could start and finish while showing the ladies each step. I designed the “Love Always” love bird piece. 

Of course, the birds are my sweetie and me. And of course, he had opinions as I designed it. At first I drew the birds to look pretty much the same. But he thought the male bird should be fancier, like in nature. We had a good laugh when he suggested a top knot! Even though he is bald, he thought the bird to represent him should have more feathers on top! So, I drew it out and liked it very much. I was able to start and finish it in a few days. I love my twist on Pennsylvania Dutch folk art. Pattern available here: Love Always

So, then it was time to design something else for me to work on. The hummingbird piece still needs to be finished. I don’t know why I’m dragging my feet on that one…. Anyway, there was one photo from our trip from Maine that I really love. I feel that it captures much of what my life is about: nature, travel and LOVE! Here is Matt and me by Bass Harbor Light.

I love the photo, but thought that the design needed to be tweaked a bit. Wanting us to be the focal point without having the piece huge, I made us a bit larger.

I had not yet hooked a sky, so I decided to follow the advice of Cindi Gay in her book: Pine Trees, Grass and Sky. What a wonderful book! And since I have’t done any dyeing of wool (although I am sorely tempted), I ordered “sky wool” from Cindi. It is just beautiful! My photo had no clouds in the sky, but I added some. Since I started the piece, I have spent quite a bit of time staring at the clouds in the sky. They are so varied and beautiful! Here is how it looks so far. My first hooked sky!

Bass Harbor Kiss by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

My friends and I also went each Monday to participate in hooking time with others an hour away. They were doing some overdyeing with ice. So I took some wool and gave it a try. What gorgeous colors! I really am getting quite interested in the dyeing process.

Well, my RV lady friends actually each finished a piece. Here is Sherry with her beautiful mat. (Notice her AWESOME name tag!? If you don’t have one yet, here is where you can order one: Rug Hooking Name Tag)

Sherry did great with her first hooked mat!

And Trisha finished her version of my “Happy Campers” rug pattern. She put the words, Joy, joy, joy, into it because RVing gives her and her husband such joy. What a joy to see her finished piece!

Happy Campers design hooked by Trisha Senterfitt. Design by Janine Broscious

So, rug hooking in Florida has been an amazing experience. I’ve had a great time seeing others enjoy learning a new art form. And I’ve made some lasting friendships! We are all looking forward to next season with many others promising to join us.

Matt Makes 3D Name Tags

Wow! This 3D printed name tag thing is really catching on! Lots of you have had questions about how they are made, so I thought maybe some photos would help. Here is Matt with the 3D printer.3D Printed Name Tag www.joyfulwonder.com www.gentlespiritcreations.com

After designing each name tag on a computer program, Matt puts the information into the printer. It takes over an hour to print each name tag. Think of it more like manufacturing than printing. The plastic comes on spools sort of like weed-wacker filament. It is threaded through a nozzle that heats the plastic.3D Printed Name Tag www.joyfulwonder.com www.gentlespiritcreations.com

These nozzles then move all over as the program tells them to and lay thin layer after layer. The build plate moves down after each layer.3D Printed Name Tag www.joyfulwonder.com www.gentlespiritcreations.com

The designing is an exact process, but the print is always a challenge. Will the printer heat to the proper temperature for the filament? Each filament color seems to have it’s own special needs. Sometimes, the colors will drip on other colors. But overall, it is a fascinating process! I took a little video of it making a name tag.

Here are some name tags that Matt printed to show the different colors.3D Printed Name Tag for Rug Hooking www.gentlespiritcreaions.com www.joyfulwonder.com

I’m the lucky girl that has all these yummy colors to wear!3D Printed Name Tag www.joyfulwonder.com www.gentlespiritcreations.com

We have offered the name tags for purchase on my website, Gentle Spirit Creations, at this link. I’ve always wished people had on name tags when I’ve gone to rug hooking events. My poor memory just can’t keep up with all the new names! Well, they’ll remember mine now!3D Printed Name Tag www.joyfulwonder.com www.gentlespiritcreations.com

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly Rug

I finally finished off one of my favorite hooking projects! Because of my love of butterflies, I decided that I would hook a wall hanging of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. It all started with a photo that I took in 2009 at Longwood Gardens in PA. It was the first time that I was able to get a sharp photo of one of these gorgeous creatures with my new camera. The butterflies there almost seemed tame and this one posed nicely for this photo.Butter and Honey www.joyfulwonder.com

After editing the photo on the computer, I had a nice image that would help me to see the use of colors more easily.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

After sketching the butterfly onto linen, I laid different fabrics and yarns onto it. This would be my first hooking project to include fibers other than wool. I was really excited about trying them out and a bit apprehensive too.  I used sari silk, velvet, satin and yarn.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

Even though I hadn’t yet drawn up the background or the flowers, I decided to jump in and start the hooking. Maybe the rest would figure itself out!Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

Black yarn worked great in the butterfly. And I was excited to try the blue silk. At first, I thought the pale yellow wool I had purchased would be just right for the butterfly. But I found that I liked it better if I hooked various tones of yellow with it.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

Here is a closeup of the various fibers. I loved how the velvet looked with the silk.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

Then it was time to tackle the flowers. I had no idea what kind they were but online friends identified them as Joe Pye weed. That helped as I was then able to look them up online and view various photos of them. I decided it would be fun to try making them puffy since that’s how they really were. So I hooked them with yarn and then snipped some of the loops.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

I’m not even sure what sort of ribbon that was that I used in the leaf, but I wish I had more of it! I’m hoping to get some of it from a vendor at Sauder Village this year. My edited photo really helped to figure out the background.Tiger Swallowtail www.joyfulwonder.com

And here’s the finished product! Tiger Swallowtail Hooked Art by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I thought this project would be really tough and I did learn a lot from it. But really, it was one of the easiest hooked art pieces I’ve done because God already did the color planning for me! I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know his marvelous creation just a bit better by studying this beautiful creature.

Now on to a new project…Garden Love… which features a hummingbird and hibiscus! Something new to shop for at Sauder Village Rug Hooking Week.

Might As Well Go To Mt Rushmore

Life sure can be unpredictable. Especially when living with my hubby. On his birthday a few days ago, I gave him a birthday card that said he is my biggest adventure, and it’s true. We were only supposed to be going to Illinois to see family for a couple weeks, but suddenly he said, “Well, since we are going that far, we might as well go to see Mt Rushmore.” That man knows how to make me happy. I packed with a huge smile for this trip. Not only would I see precious family, but I’d be going on an adventure too.

First we spent almost a month with our son and his family, which includes our three adorable grandchildren who have absolutely stolen my heart. We were able to see Jonathan fulfilling his role as campus pastor at New Hope Newton church.

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We experienced lots of rain and even a couple tornado warnings while in Illinois. I smiled as I did my Bible reading this morning. It was Mark 4:37-41 where Jesus slept in the boat during a terrible storm. His disciples were terrified and woke him with the question, “Don’t you care?” I admit that storms do scare me a bit. It might have something to do with watching the house next door burn after being struck by lightening when I was 4 years old. But as I get to know Jesus a bit better, I am learning just how powerful and loving he is. He said, “Quiet! Be still!” and the waves and wind totally died down. During the storms of life, I am learning to trust that God will still the storm. So as we waited in the basement of our son’s house during tornado warnings, I attempted to share the faithfulness of our almighty God with my granddaughter. With all that rain, we had plenty of time to do art.

Oh, how those children love art! Even one year old Aaron will not be left out. If he sees me sitting down with his sisters to do “arting”, he fusses until he is on my lap and holding a pencil. He’s happy that way for an hour!IMG950460

My daughter-in-law, Johanna, and I learned a new artform: mosaics. Here we are with our instructor, Dinah Nuelle.DSC_7894 3

And I had the privilege of teaching my first two students how to do rug hooking. Johanna and her friend, Morgan, enjoyed designing their own projects and I got them started.  Aaron wanted to get in on the rug hooking too. I started calling him Leonardo because he seemed interested in so many things.

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It was difficult to leave those wonderful people, but it was time to explore. After stopping in Nebraska to visit Matt’s sister, we made our way to the Badlands in South Dakota. I found the lovely green plains and the big sky fascinating. I could see forever! It was the first time I had seen a speed limit sign for 80 mph! Don’t worry, I didn’t go that fast with the rig.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Beautiful bright blue butterflies flitted around and I snapped this pic of two mating.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

I had made reservations right in the park for our camping. It’s almost boondocking, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. There is electricity at the site, but no water or sewer. So, we filled our holding tank with water ahead of time. I like that we are one step closer to being able to camp with no hook ups! The Cedar Pass campground is right next to beautiful Badlands formations.Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Our neighbors were lovely people that actually knew of the college where Matt and I attended and met, Houghton College. Not many people know of it. We enjoyed visiting with Max and Betty for a bit and then went driving in the Badlands.Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

What lovely formations!

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

The mounds had stripes and the ground looked quite parched.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.comBadlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

What a great day. The sunset was amazing and bathed our camper in warm light. We hadn’t made it to Mt Rushmore yet but that’s next! Stay tuned.

Badlands Photo by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com

Treasured Shells Rug

I’ve written about my love of hunting for shells. Well, I decided that I needed a shell rug for next to our bed in the camper. We are always staying in our camper when I have the opportunity to look for shells and our bedspread has shells and fish on it. At first I planned to model the rug after our bedspread but I love to come up with my own designs. As I reminisced about our time shelling at Gasparilla in Florida, I had a brilliant idea. Why not make a rug that featured shells I had found?!My shells

I ran to the closet in my studio to pull out my favorite shells and my eye caught something on my desk. A wonderful memory flooded through me of standing on the beach in North Carolina, watching the sky. As I stood there, a plane approached and I watched as one, two, three, four, five people jumped from the plane into the ocean. That’s why I was there… to watch our son, who is a U. S. Marine do a jump. I scanned the sky trying to figure out which one was our son. I told Matt which one I thought it was because of his long legs and looked like he was doing so well. Pride mixed with fear filled my heart as I waited for each Marine to land in the water. Whew! It looked like all were safe. I relaxed and looked down at my feet. There was a large, perfectly whole sand dollar! I had never found a whole one before. What a treasure! As I now looked at the sand dollar on my desk, I decided that it would have to be the centerpiece of my rug. I sat down and started to draw while holding each shell.01-Shell Drawings-001

Even though it was December, I was looking forward to heading down to Florida after Christmas. As I dreamed of warmer weather, I began hooking each shell while holding it in my hand.04-DSC_6585-001

What wonderful colors were in each one.05-DSC_6589 3-001

I had to remind my hubby that what I was doing was an artist’s interpretation of each shell. With my limited wool stash, there was no way I would have each color I needed to make the shells look realistic. And I had also decided to make the colors a bit more vibrant than the shells looked because the sun and bleach I had used to clean them had taken away some of the beauty. It was coming along pretty well.06-DSC_6598 4-001

Finally, we made it to Florida. This would be the perfect project to work on while in the sunny weather. I was also excited to reach the sunshine state because I was going to meet a rug hooking friend that I had made on facebook. What a wonderful time we had chatting about rugs and everything under the sun. Susan Sutherland was working on her own beach themed rug.07-DSC_6605 2-001

I told her of my plans to make this a neutral toned rug that I wouldn’t mind putting on the floor in our camper. But I had tried putting colors in the background for sand and I just wasn’t liking it. Susan excitedly ran to her wool stash and pulled out a lovely turquoise piece. “How about that color?” she exclaimed. Oh yes! That would be so pretty. But I stuck to my idea of earth tones so I wouldn’t mind stepping on it. No matter what I tried after I got back to our camper, I was not happy with a sand background. I started dreaming of that lovely color Susan had put next to my shells. I attended a hook-in with the ladies from Searsport and they had a gorgeous hand dyed yard of wool that was just perfect! I forgot to take a photo of it before I cut it up to use, but here is some of it.1-DSC_6770

Would I be able to make it look like water? Susan suggested twisting my hand back and forth as I hooked. She called it the higgledy piggly stitch. I gave it a try. I also decided to take out the sea glass and put in more shells.08-DSC_6746 3-001

I loved how the water was looking, but it was quite a shock after envisioning sand all that time. Did I like it? Everyone else who saw it said it looked great. It was time to go to the Searsport Florida Hook In and I was excited to work on my project there.  What a wonderful time I had meeting other people. Susan and I enjoyed meeting Kay LeFevre. I was almost done with my rug!09-DSC_6995 3-001

My shell project was nearing its end. I took a pic of the shells that were my models on top of the hooked sand dollar.13-DSC_7242 4-001

And here is my shell memory rug! Not sure it will go on the floor in the bedroom. Such lovely memories might just have to go on the wall.Shell Rug designed and hooked by Janine Broscious www.joyfulwonder.com