#FestiveMugRugSwap

I’m such a sucker for these things.  And the sad part is, I really don’t need to add anything to my holiday schedule, but I just don’t seem to have any self control.  It’s like binge start-a-new-project.  The beauty of this one?  It didn’t take much time.  Okay, so maybe it was time that I was supposed to be doing something else, but at least it was only two days of distraction rather than two weeks.

As you may already know, I have a deep and abiding obsession with social media- Instagram in particular.  One of the many reasons that I just can’t get enough is all of these fabulous swaps that go on, and I just get so titillated when I manage to get in on one!  So this was the latest- the #festivemugrugswap hosted by none other than Angie Wilson, aka Gnome Angel, or @gnomeangel.

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Click the pic to check out Gnome Angel’s site!

As soon as I was all signed up through a website called Swap-Bot, I was ready to go!  There are about 90 participants in the swap, and it is international.  The person I make for is not the person who is making for me, and the deadline was set for

Oh crap!  I just remembered I need to sign up for another swap before registration closes!  I’ll be right back…

That just happened.  #RainbowMiniSwap.

Okay, back on subject.  The deadline for the #festivemugrugswap was set for December 17, 2014, and you know that this is a crazy time, so I had to get on it quick.  I got my assignment, but I can’t tell you who it is because I just took it to the post office today and I don’t want to spoil the surprise for my partner!  I will say this… it has a LONG way to go until it has arrived at its destination…

Wanna see what I made?

IMG_7859Yeah, I know, it’s pretty dang cute!

So, what is a mug rug?  Well, it doesn’t take a whole lot of Googling to find out, but just quickly, it’s really just a mini quilt, about 4″x6″ or 6″x9″, to cheer up your desk or workspace and have a cute spot to put your mug, water bottle, or glass of lemonade, along with a cookie, biscuit, or my personal favorite, a bit of chocolate.  Kind of an over-sized coaster, or an undersized place mat.  (I don’t think I will use mine that way- it will end up on the wall.  I’m sure of it.)  Anyway, there are lots of discussions about mug rugs, like on Gnome Angel, or on Two More Seconds, or even The Patch Smith.  There are also some free mug rug patterns on Craftsy that are just about to die for- I like the map of the US.  Hmmm… a mug rug swap of the country you are from… thinking out loud, thinking out loud.

Anyway, here are a few techniques I used while making this bit of fabulousness.

1- Background.  I used a technique that Bonnie Hunter over at Quiltville uses to make a Scrappy Trips Quilt.  This was a very simple process, and I used 1 1/2″ strips to put it together.  I really love this technique because the possibilities are literally endless.  To achieve the look I wanted, I proceeded to the point of making my strips into a tube, and then cut the tube into 1 1/2″ strips.  From there, I randomly “unstitched” the tube instead of following a particular pattern.  I wanted the background to be random because it was distracting when it was orderly.

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2- Frixion pen and sandpaper.  Generally speaking, this is how I mark things for quilting, embroidery, etc.  However, be it now known that Frixion pens don’t work on everything- sometimes they leave marks even after you iron them away, so consider yourself warned.  If you don’t test it and it ruins your project, it’s your own fault.  I’m just sayin!  I have long used sandpaper under fabric when I am writing on it, whether non permanent or permanent.  It keeps the fabric from sliding around while you are writing, which is very helpful.

3- Quilting before applique.  I know, not the norm, but I find it makes things a little easier.  I actually made two of these, because when I had the background made and fused my pieces on, I realized I was going to have to quilt around or over or whatever, and I wasn’t thrilled about it.  So I made another one.  This time I layered my quilt top with batting ONLY (no backing), and went ahead and quilted it down.  When I got to this point, I hand embroidered the text- through the quilt top and the batting.

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4- Machine applique.  I really love that quilting is all about resourcefulness.  I knew I wanted my little gnomes to have a swanky vintage camper to call home, but this girl aint got no drawing skills, so off to the Internet I went.  I found this super darling free pattern from Flamingo Toes, and knew it was the one and only for my gnomes.  A little Steam-A-Seam 2 (not the Lite variety) and a few scraps added up to some gnomey magic.  After adhering the image to the background, I added the piece of backing fabric.  Then when I did the machine applique, it appliqued and quilted the piece at the same time.  I forgot to get a pic of the back, but what you see on the back is an outline of the applique on the front.

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5- Quilting and binding.  Just to add a little more stabilization, I did just a little more line of quilting in the aqua on the side where the hand embroidery was.  This is where I made a mistake in not basting enough as I was going along, and it puckered a bit on that stitch line.  Hopefully my partner will for give me.  Anyway, once that was done, I did something I rarely do on a larger quilt- I squared it all up.  I don’t normally do this because I have a certain way I prefer to do binding, and squaring up doesn’t work well for me when I use a 2 1/2″ or 2 1/4″ binding.  But that’s for another blog post.  In this case, I wanted the binding to be tight, and tiny, and as close to perfect as possible.  So, I cut a 1 1/2″ binding.  I also cut a 1 3/4″ binding just in case I decided that the 1 1/2″ one was going to make me want to kill someone.  But I didn’t need it.  1 1/2″ turns out to be one stinking fabulous binding.  It finished at 1/4″ on both sides, and it was beautiful, if I do say so myself.

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6- The extras.  I didn’t take a lot of pics of the extras I sent, mostly because my partner hasn’t gotten her package yet.  If she posts a pic when she receives it, I will steal it and show it here.  But, I do have a pic of the little coaster and/or Christmas ornament I sent.  Oh, and here’s a link to Generations Quilt Patterns for the free Economy Block pattern.

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That’s all folks!  I really had a lot of fun making this one, and I hope you feel inspired to make some mug rugs yourself!  They really are fun little gifts, and great little distractions from whatever big project you just need a break from.  Enjoy!

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#Stockingpalooza2014

Thirty-one Christmas stockings.  (I. Like. Big. Numbers and I cannot lie… Sorry Sir Mix-a-lot, you come to my mind at the strangest of moments.  Back to the point…)

This year one of our daughters asked if I could make stockings for her and her family, so I proceeded to call and text to find out who all wanted a new Christmas stocking this year, and before I knew it, the numbers were climbing… to 31.  That may seem a little extreme, however I find that with just a few tips and tricks, this really is a quick and easy project.  They end up being perfect for everything from charities to last minute gifts.  And even Santa can get on board with that.

A guild that I belong to has made these stockings for several years to give to a local women’s shelter, so that’s where I learned to make them.  I did a little prowling online for “Magic Christmas Stockings”, and everything I found was pretty similar to what I had been taught several years ago. However, in one of those “Eureka!” kind of moments, I had an idea of how do make them a little different this time around.

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So, are you ready for some Stockingpalooza?  Fabulous.  Here we go…

Be sure to read all of the instructions (or at least look at all of the pictures) before proceeding.  There are two options included in this pattern based on the kind of fabric that you choose to use.

Tools:

Required:  Fabric scissors, pinking shears, coordinating thread, marking pencil or pen, pins, iron, sewing machine in good working order

Outline of desired stocking shape traced onto a large sheet of drawing paper, parchment paper, or pieced-together printer paper.  You can do this using a stocking that you already have, or a template from the Internet.  A search for “printable Christmas stocking patterns” will produce a number of them to choose from.  The amount of materials listed in this tutorial allows for a stocking that is approximately 12″x18″ finished.

Optional, but very helpful:  Serger/Overlock machine, invisible thread

Materials:

Option #1-
Stocking Exterior- 1/2 yd printed duck cloth, canvas, or other heavy fabric
Stocking Interior- 1/2 yd printed duck cloth, canvas, or other heavy fabric

**If fabric is directional, be sure that the stocking outline will fit in the proper direction
Binding- (1) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strip of coordinating fabric
Ribbon- 40″ of 1″ satin ribbon

Option #2-
Stocking Exterior- 1/2 yd lightweight or quilting cotton fabric
Stocking Interior- 1/2 yd lightweight or quilting cotton fabric
Binding- (1) 2 1/2″ x 20″ strip of coordinating fabric
Lining- (2) 18″x 22″ batting scraps
Ribbon- 40″ of 1″ satin ribbon

 Directions for Option #1-

opt1, step1Fold both the Interior and Exterior fabrics right sides together, selvedge to selvedge, and press.  Layer the Interior and Exterior fabrics on a cutting mat or workspace with the Interior on the bottom, as shown above.

opt1, step2Using an outline of the desired stocking shape, trace the shape onto the fabric.  My template happens to be made of a clear acrylic, and I used a Frixion pen to outline it.  However, you don’t need either.  The pen marks will not matter when the stocking is sewn together, and a paper template will work just as well.

opt1, step3For ease in the next step, go ahead and cut away the excess fabric from around the stocking outline.

opt1, step4Pin the layers of stocking together, well inside of the stocking outline.  There are two ways to proceed from here.  The picture above shows using a serger to cut out and stitch together the layers at once.  If a serger is not an option, simply cut the layers of stocking fabric with fabric scissors using the traced outline, then stitch the layers together using a 1/4″ seam allowance on a regular sewing machine.

IMG_7692The above pic is what the stocking should look like at this point.  If the layers do not look like this, then the stocking will not turn out the correct way.  Reach in between the two Exterior Fabrics and pull the stocking right side out.  It should look like this…IMG_7695

To bind the stocking, begin by taking the 2 1/2″x20″ piece of fabric to an ironing surface.

To bind the stocking, open the stocking so that the Interior Fabric is visible.  Line up the binding on the inside of the stocking with raw edges together as shown below and pin in place.

binding1The orange mark on the binding in the picture above is to show where to begin stitching.  It is important to leave about a 1/2″ or so space between the fold and the beginning of the stitching.  It isn’t important that this space be exact, only that there is enough room to tuck the binding tail into.

binding2Using 1/4″ seam, stitch the binding to the inside of the stocking, rotating the stocking as needed.  Stop stitching, with the needle in the down position, just before you reach the folded point of the binding.

Fold binding to the outside of the stocking and pin in place, as shown below.

pin bindingUsing either matching or invisible thread, stitch binding in place by stitching very close to the seam created earlier.

finish stitch bindWhen complete, the outside of the stocking will look like this…

binding stitched downFold the top of the stocking down about 2″ or as desired.  mark the back edge of the stocking for ribbon placement.

Fold the 40″ ribbon in half width wise to mark the center of the ribbon.  Align the fold in the ribbon with the mark on the stocking and pin in place.

Stitch the ribbon in place along the fold mark, fold the top edge of the stocking down, and viola, it’s done!

finished two layer

Directions for Option #2-

When using a lighter weight fabric, add layers of thin batting to make a more substantial stocking.  The directions are exactly the same, except at the very beginning.

IMG_7732Following the directions as above layer the Exterior and Interior fabrics, but put one of the pieces of batting in between the two fabrics. You may have figured out by now that it doesn’t matter what order the Exterior and Interior fabrics are layered.  It only matters that they are right sides together, and in this case, that there is a piece of batting between them.

IMG_7733

Lay the second piece of batting on top of the layers of fabric and batting.  Trace the stocking outline onto the batting, similar to the directions above.

Pin all of the layers, serge (or cut and sew), trim the top, then run a second seam just inside the serger seam.

Just as above, pull the stocking right side out by reaching in between the layers of Exterior fabric.  The red check becomes the inside of the stocking, and ultimately the folded cuff, while the peppermints are the outside.

Bind and finish as directed above.

I personally prefer the binding method, but if you would rather have a cuff, like the one pictured below, measure the width of the top of your stocking, double that measurement and add 1/2″.  Cut a cuff 8″x the measurement that you just found.  Sew the cuff together on the short sides, then fold in half on the long side, creating a tube.  Sew the tube to the top of the stocking, raw edges together, and cuff to the inside.  Don’t forget a hanging loop.  Then flip the cuff to the outside.

IMG_7751This is actually an incredibly versatile project, and I look forward to doing another batch next year with another spin to it.  I’d love to see what you do with it- maybe a toe with a bit more curl?  Or some applique?  Embroidery?  Pieced fabrics?  Hmmm…  I’ve already got some ideas for #Stockingpalooza2015!  Maybe a little Christmas in July?  What about a stocking swap?  Well, well, well, I guess we’ll have to see about that.

 

 

Stash Bee 2014, Hive 11- An experiment in commitment.

StashBeeMany moons ago I had my first experiences with a Bee.  We were a military family living at Ft. Lewis, Washington.  I loved living there, and it was a place where I made important strides in quilting.  I met a group of ladies there that were also interested in quilting, and we met once a month, taking turns hosting the Bee.  We each chose a block each month, and the others in the group would make the block and bring it to the next meeting.  It was a lot of fun, but I was very novice.  I haven’t found a Bee to belong to since.

Until last Fall.  As I was beginning to delve into the world of quilting on social media, I kept seeing people posting Bee blocks, and I really wanted to participate, but the Bees were all full.  Then I managed to get in with Stash Bee, an online modern Bee composed of people all over the world.  We don’t meet in each others’ homes for cookies and chatter, but we do send each other goodies in the mail.  Which is awesome.

It’s now the end of the Stash Bee year, which runs from January to November, and I have just completed my final blocks.  So, here’s a little rundown of this past year’s blocks-

2014-01-31 10.49.56-2January’s block was designed by our Hive Mama, who lives in the United Kingdom, Warwickshire to be exact.  This one was fun, and I got to use some of my Jane Sassaman scraps, which are pretty dear to me.

2014-03-04 18.27.00This was February’s block, which I wasn’t sure if I liked or not, but after I made it, my brain started swimming with ideas for a Union Jack.  Hoping the new royal is a girl so I can celebrate…  I really love it when a plan comes together based on fabric I’ve had forever, a pattern that crosses my path, and inspiration from real life events!

2014-04-24 18.22.45This cuteness was from March- really a fun little bit, and didn’t take much time at all.  The hardest part was picking out the fabrics!

IMG_7608April’s block was very cool, and also opened up some ideas for me.  I think I will make this one again.  The only hard part about this one was hoping that the reds and aquas I chose were compatible with her palate.

2014-05-22 10.26.18I have to say that May’s block ranked pretty high as a favorite.  So much so that I made three!  Will definitely be revisiting this one…

IMG_5419And here is June, in all of her stellar glory!  This one took a minute to make, but I imagine that the finished quilt is pretty amazing!

801f6111No pic for July- I’m not sure how that happened!  It was an impov star block in red and yellow for a favorite team, Kansas City Chiefs I think-

IMG_6557August’s block was pretty awesome, and I learned a few things from making it.  Around here, school and my seminary duties begin in August, so things are pretty busy.  I wish I had had more time to dabble with this arrow and make a few for myself.  One day.  Maybe.

IMG_6554September was my turn to be Hive Queen, so these blocks are the ones I designed and posted- Hijacked Hashtag.  These were so much fun- fast and easy!  I loved all of the blocks I received, which are all waiting patiently for me to put them together!  Click here for a link to my post with the how-to!

IMG_7605October was a real reach for me.  Our assignment was a section of a bookshelf, which I have seen before and should have been able to come up with some inspiration.  But no.  Every time I went to work on that block I just ended up walking around my studio mumbling to myself.  It was terrible.  Then, at the very end of November, inspiration struck and the block was done in just a couple of hours.  No, they aren’t books, or even book ends, but they are a collection of little sewing machines to keep all of those books company.  I think this one might have turned out to be my most favorite accomplishment of Stash Bee 2014, although I am not sure I will ever replicate it!

IMG_7601And last, but not least, November.  I can’t tell you how much I love a Pineapple block.  One of my all-time favorites.  This method was a bit of a stretch for me as I prefer foundation piecing or a ruler for this process, but I think it came out well in the end.  I hope the recipient loves it as much as I do!

Well, that wraps up Stash Bee 2014!  Looking forward to a new year . . .

 

Don’t Be a Chicken- Birds of a Feather will Flock Together

AKA- Go to the retreat even though you don’t know anyone- it will be amazing…

I’m not gonna lie.  I’m crazy addicted to social media.  Instagram is by far my favorite.  I discovered Instagram in the Fall of 2013, and not long after my obsession began, I found an open registration for a quilt retreat that actually was planned for a location in my own backyard.  It was the second annual Stash Bash, put on by Chris Warnick, also known as Frecklemama.

I was loving the other IG users that were signing up for the Stash Bash, and travel wasn’t going to be an issue, so I thought “Why not?”  Never mind that I did not know a soul that was going to be there, couldn’t figure out how on earth a Google group worked, and wasn’t quite sure what exactly to expect when I got there.  When April 2014 rolled around and it was time to pack up to go, I actually had the wrong dates in my calendar, had no idea who I was going to bunk with, and really didn’t understand what I was supposed to do for a secret sewing pal.  I was a nervous wreck by the time I got there and started setting up, and it seemed that maybe all I could hope and pray for was a productive sewing weekend.

Well, it was a productive sewing weekend, but it turned out to be way more than that.  I met some amazing people while I was there, and we talked, sewed, ate and laughed.  And I don’t just mean tee-hee-hee kind of laughing.  I mean tears, falling out of chairs, I-think-I-just-peed-a-little, makes-me-giggle-a-little-now-just-to-think-about-it kind of laughing.  And the friendships.  And the creative inspiration.  And the encouragement.  My stars, it was a great weekend.

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Click on the link for info about Stash Bash 2015

A few of these amazing creators live “locally”, which is a pretty generalized term in the quilting world.  One of them happens to be Kristi McDonough of Schnitzel & Boo who hosts the insanely popular IG mini quilt swap known as… you guessed it… #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap, or #makeaquiltmakeafriend. Kristi and I don’t live too far from one another, so when our schedules allow it, we get together from time to time to sew.

Of course, most of the time we aren’t that productive because we are too busy chatting, eating, or buzzing around town in her Mini Cooper or my Miata MX5.  We’re just cool like that.

But yesterday we actually got some stuff done.  I was impressed.

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Getting to know Kristi, Chris, Safieh, Nisha, Becky, Karie, Lee, Jenny, Elizabeth, and all the other amazing people that I only know by their IG names has been one of the highlights of this year for me.  And that’s saying a lot because it’s been a really good year.  I feel more confident in my own creative skin than I can ever remember, and so much of that happened when I started praying for help to plow through my fears.

So, the moral of the story is, if you have the chance to extend yourself just a little bit more, take it.  It will be worth every anxiety-ridden moment.

 

Charmed Jelly Placemats by Gnome Angel

IMG_6258I know, it isn’t a placemat- I will get to that in a minute…

In June of 2014 Gnome Angel (aka Angie Wilson from Canberra, Australia) posted on Instagram that she was looking for a few pattern testers.  I was fortunate to catch her post early, and totally wanted on that bandwagon!  So, in between our crazy summer travels, which by the way are always crazy, I whipped out this way cute table runner using her pattern for placemats.

IMG_5035Her pattern is called Charmed Jelly Placemats, and you can find out more about it by clicking here.  It’s really a cute pattern that works up quickly and is perfect for fussy cutting scraps.  They didn’t take much time at all, and I have plans for the future… gifts maybe?

For the pattern test I had a really great line of fabric that I wanted to showcase that worked perfectly for summer.  However, I really pictured this as a table runner rather than a set of placemats, so with Gnome Angel’s blessing I plowed on!

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I cut scrap batting to use to quilt each of the four blocks.

I wanted to make the table runner reversible, and wanted to try an idea that had been floating around in my brain for a bit.  So, instead of sewing all of the blocks together, layering and then quilting, I actually quilted each block individually, sans the backing.

This made it possible to do a different kind of quilting on each block, which was pretty fun.  I then chose a different backing for each block and cut the backing to fit.  The trick with this is to layer everything correctly to sew it together with each block and backing made from different fabrics and using different quilting.  After sewing the different blocks and backing together, I quilted it just a little bit more to secure the backing, and then bound it to finish.

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Now, I know full well that that was clear as mud.  I promise to do a tutorial on this method, which is a great way to use leftover batting, at a later date.  I even think it could be used for a larger project, but I have to play with the idea a little.

I hope that you will scoot on over to Gnome Angel’s site and check her out.  I especially love her Sew & Tell page, and what a fabulous blog layout!  Enjoy!

Not a WIP anymore-

IMG_6359I started this project quite a while ago.  I was totally engrossed by the colors in this line of fabric from the first time I saw it.  Backyard Baby was designed by Patty Sloniger for Michael Miller, and I don’t think I can get enough of it.  I didn’t have a reason to buy it or anyone to make anything for, but I couldn’t resist finding a reason to work with it.

IMG_6373So, I started this baby quilt using the traditional Indian Hatchet block.  It sat on my design wall for a long time, just making me happy.  Then I got an invitation to a baby shower, and the deal was sealed.

IMG_6266I hadn’t been sure how to quilt it, but was thankfully struck by inspiration.  I decided I wanted the quilting to loosely follow the design of the hatched block, so I “freehanded” straight diagonal and vertical lines throughout the quilt.  I was pleased with the outcome, although I was also reminded of why I am looking forward to having a longarm machine one day!

IMG_6375Once it was complete, I sent one of our daughters out with quilt and camera in hand and told her to take a few good ones.  I really love her perspective.  One of these days we will get a decent camera.  As well as a longarm quilting machine.

Being a little Frank about things.

I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.  I don’t like to pick favorites because when I like something or someone, it is usually because of the unique aspects of that thing or person, and claiming favorites to me is like comparing apples to oranges.  Which do you like better?  Well, I don’t like one more than another because I like them for totally different reasons.

So, I don’t know that I would say he is my favorite, in part because I don’t have favorites, but also because I don’t know enough about art and architecture to make such a claim.  However, I would say that I love his work.  Everything I have ever seen by him I have loved.  Clean lines.  Simple design with bold impact.  Neat and tidy.  Exploding with beauty.  I just love it.

So, you could say his work inspires me.  I’ve wanted to do some quilting in his style for quite some time, but have never had a good excuse to try it.  Until I needed a birthday gift.  What better excuse than that?

It needed to be relatively small- 5″x7″ to be exact, so I knew this would present some challenges, but I was really excited about trying.

IMG_7115I thought the easiest way to do it would be foundation piecing, so I sketched out the idea I had on a piece of 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper using the 1/4″ and 1/8″ markings on my Creative Grids rulers.  It took some planning to include seam allowances, and I wasn’t sure how it was going to work.  I’ve done improv foundation piecing before, but never one that I wanted to actually be precise.

IMG_7116Next I dug into my scrap bins.  I chose batiks for this project because I wanted the translucent look of stained glass.  Again, I had no idea how this was going to turn out but I just went for it.

I went about my work in the usual foundation piecing way- I cut my design into five sections that I would later sew together.  I started in the center of the larger piece, working my way to the outer edges and making sure I had at least 1/4″ hanging off of each side for piecing the two sections together and for putting into a frame.  Then on the four smaller pieces I started at one corner and worked to the other corner, alternating which directions my seams were going in for easier “nesting” when I sewed the sections together.

IMG_7125In the process of doing this, I learned something that I hadn’t known before regarding foundation piecing.  Because these lines were SO tiny, it was really important to try to get the seams as straight and correct as possible.  I didn’t accomplish this perfectly, but I think I will get better over time.  Anyway, I discovered that it was much easier to stay on the drawn lines of my pattern if I used an open toe foot instead of my usual quarter inch foot.  It allowed me to be able to see needle placement much better and I was able to stitch on the line much easier.  That open toe foot sure gets used a lot in my studio.  (Think of that last sentence as if you don’t know any sewing terms.  Oh boy.)

IMG_7120Overall I was pleased with the finished product, but I have to admit there were a few things I would do differently next time.  And there will be a next time.

IMG_7126Remember that neat little stack of batik scraps that I showed you earlier?  Yeah, if you are familiar with foundation piecing, you know how that pile looks after the fact…

IMG_7128Creative carnage.