The Hidden (yet interesting) Side of Blogging

view from pender island

Writing and reading blogs is always fun, however the hidden side of blogging can be equally interesting and perhaps at times intriguing. The hidden side, as I call it, are the statistics and other information that bloggers can read behind the scenes.

I’ve noticed the more and more I blog the more I watch the “Stats” page. When I first started blogging I was only really interested in how many visitors and views my blog received each day. Once my two older sons started watching my stats it became all about “Views by Country”; they loved watching the map of the world fill up as visitors found the blog, and there was always excitement when there was a view from a tiny country on the other side of the globe.

I then discovered it was quite interesting to watch the section titled “Top Posts & Pages”. This became quite interesting as I could see the blog posts that were being read, the hot topics. Some posts are very popular and are still read months later while others are more just a post for the moment. Strangely I have discovered readers are more likely to push the “like” button on a frivolous post, yet exponentially more people read meatier posts about things like bad developments, problems with math in the Alberta education system and city hall not enforcing their by-laws. In a way it makes sense because honestly, how can anyone “like” habitat being destroyed or paying for an education system where children aren’t taught.

My most recent obsession has been watching the “Search Term Engines”, which shows the words and phrases people have used which eventually led them to my blog. This is a truly fascinating read and gives you amazing insight as to what the searchers are looking for. There are of course a lot of very boring terms, but then there are the ones that really stand out. For instance I have seen a huge number of searches regarding RV parking by-laws with the City of Red Deer……..to those searching I wish them “good luck”, you know the city isn’t going to enforce them, they are too busy holding”Red Deer is Ready” rallies and wanting to build yet another swimming pool. Another search that comes up all the time is “east pit mine”; this is a little recreation area west of Edmonton where you can walk and fish. Sometimes you find out about things by accident through the search terms, in this case it was an incident that happened at my son’s high school; that was an eye opening experience as to the seriousness of some searches. Some search terms just make you feel bad like the one that came up this winter reading “frozen septic system cabin lake isle”……those poor people.

pender island

I have also seen my name come up in search terms, which is quite normal as I have a lot of customers that remember me more by name than the business name. Today, however, I read the most interesting and specific search term I have seen. The search term read “debra hunter on pender island bc does she like living there”. Pretty interesting. The search term is so specific, and obviously not from a blogger or they would have gone to “about” or the “gravatar” and just gone to my Pender Island blog. Really interesting.

So I have decided, in this post to answer the question., but first, a little background to get everyone up to speed.  We are a little nomadic. Jokingly years ago my husband said “Wouldn’t it be great to have shacks all over the place?”, and some how this idea stuck. We have three places, “home, home” as our youngest calls it, which is in Red Deer (Alberta, Canada), the cabin which is in Lac Ste. Anne County (Alberta), and “Pender home” which is on Pender Island (BC, Canada). The search inquiry is about us living on Pender.

The answer to “debra hunter on pender island bc does she like living there” is YES. It is a quiet island, with pristine beaches and lots of hiking. It has a great climate which allows for hiking and kayaking even in winter. The people at the hardware store, grocery store and sushi restaurant couldn’t be nicer…..plus the recycle depot is amazing. We do like living there……well as long as they keep nasty development at bay……but that seems to be the threat everywhere. Thanks to the search term I could answer the question.

I’ll also pass on the link to my blog about Pender Island; it is www.islandhomeblog.wordpress.com . Check it out, it is like a virtual walk on a beach (literally).

pender island beach

It will be interesting to see what search terms will pop up tomorrow, hopefully something intriguing and not another “RV parking by-laws Red Deer”.

 

 

1 Day 1 World Project 12:00 am – 1:00 am

 star money

Late night stitching on the latest piece, while binge watching “Suits” on Netflicks, while waiting for child #3 to get to sleep.

I guess statistically it is quite good that 80% of our children are asleep, but still it IS late.

The latest piece is a bit of a folly. I had recently read about the idea of using fairy tales as a theme for art pieces. It caught my interest as years ago I had played around with nursery rhymes as a theme. So I cracked open a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales (oddly it took me less than 3 minutes to find it in this house filled with books), flicked through a couple of stories, then came across one called “The Star-Money”. This one I could see done in naturally dyed silk, stitching and beading.

For several evenings I have been stitching late into the night…..or early morning as it were on Friday (5 am!)…..yeah, that hurt the next day.

I am trying to get through the stitching portion so that I can tuck into the fun part of beading.  The stitching gives the foundation, adding bling is fun.  I have discovered I need to do the beading  near the end of the piece due to challenges with stretching the piece in the frame. Hopefully just a few more days of stitching and then on to the fun stuff.

For more 1 Day 1 World Projects check out this blog by Northwest Frame of Mind.

 

artwork by Debra Hunter
www.thehuntergroup.ca

Prep Day

The downside to any creative pursuit is the prep work. Prep work is not fun, it often feels like it gets in the way of “doing” something, but in the long run it is needed to create a better quality product.

I moan about prep work a lot. I don’t like to do lighting tests in the studio (but I do), I don’t enjoy stretching watercolor paper, and I am often tempted to dye yarn and fabric without prepping it properly but I know in the long run I will regret it so I do the proper prep work.

priming panels

priming panels

The least painful of the prep work to be done today was priming some panels for painting. It was just a couple of panels, so not a huge outlay of time. I am challenging myself to learn to paint smaller and enjoy it. I like working big, but not small so much, so in a effort to step out of my comfort zone I have prepped a few small panels to tackle.

 tied yarn

tied yarn

The next item to tackle was prepping yarn, thread and fabric for dyeing. The yarn and thread is the trickiest. I pre-plan out the colors I eventually want,  then the rough lengths I require, and finally color code with scrap yarn what each skein is destined to be. Add in two different yarns that seem kind of similar when wet and you realize what a life saver color coding is. I always dye in VERY small batches with specific ideas in mind so that I don’t have a stash of yarns just sitting there.

The threads are for a piece I am currently stitching plus a couple that are in the back of my mind. I need some greens which means dyeing the threads yellow and then a dip in the indigo vat.

scour and mordant

scour and mordant

Speaking of the indigo vat, I decided that thread was not a good enough reason to get it going again so I decided I might as well scour and mordant some cotton fabric too, after all everything else had already been prepped in this pot. A few smaller pieces of cotton were popped in as was a cotton scarf  all hemmed up. I want to play with some stitched resists mixed with indigo dyeing.

 tied yarn drying

hung out to dry

After scouring and mordanting and cooling (which took forever!) the yarns and threads and fabric are hung out to dry. Perhaps this evening some yarn will hit the dye pot; it is more than one day’s worth of dyeing. Lac, cutch madder, logwood, pomegranate, marigold and turmeric (and possibly tansy) are all on the “to dye” list. The indigo will have to wait until I get the stitch resist done. Lots to do, but at least the prep work is done for now.

 

Hunter Photographics & Studio H
art, photography and handmades by Debra Hunter

www.thehuntergroup.ca
www.debrahunter.wordpress.com

A little bit of whimsy…..

 

crochet snowy owl

A little, yet whimsical , post for today.

This little guy is all the rage in our house at the moment. He is a two inch high crocheted snowy owl. I thought it would be fun for my eldest daughter to learn to crochet making little stuffies, so I thought I would make one up in advance just to see where the problem areas might be. I think it was around the time I had the head and half the body done that everyone was shouting “Make me one, make me one!” This was followed by “Can I have a seal, can I have a dolphin,…..etc.”

crochet snowy owlOur little snowy owl is a real hit. A little bit of whimsical fun.

crochet snowy owlAs you can imagine another owl is in the works as I write. The next little friend is being made out of the wool yarn milled right here in Alberta.

 

Handmade by Debra Hunter.
Red Deer, Alberta

www.thehuntergroup.ca

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1 Day 1 World Project: 11:00pm – 12:00pm – Into the Studio

Joining in with Northwest Frame of Mind’s  1 Day 1 World Project I thought I would share what I was up to this evening. This evening, shortly after 11:00 pm I popped down to the studio to shoot a painting I completed yesterday.

studioI must confess I am a night owl. When most people are already tucked nicely into bed I’m just gearing up for the evening. I have been known to say to my husband around 2:00 am “What would you like to do for the rest of the evening?”…..followed by him rolling his eyes and saying “It’s 2:00 am!”.

The joke in our home is that the only way I see a sunrise is if I haven’t gone to bed yet………okay it is true.

I like the night.

I like the quiet.

(By the way if you would like to see the painting feel free to click HERE.)

 

Art and photography by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta
www.thehuntergroup.ca

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“Grain Elevator and Tansy” (2014)

One of the W.I.P.’s finally finished. I think the roughness of the cotton works well with this prairie piece. I am quite happy with how the piece works with the subject matter. It is quite nice to work with Alberta imagery.

Debra Hunter - Canadian photography, art and handmade

"Grain Elevator and Tansy" (2014) 14.75 inches by 15.25 inches “Grain Elevator and Tansy”
(2014)
14.75 inches by 15.25 inches

“Grain Elevator and Tansy” is my most recent fibre art piece to complete.

Grain elevators are a classic Alberta scene, however many are disappearing as they age and cities and towns expand. It was nice to acknowledge these giants of the prairies using age old stitching, dyeing and beading methods.

This piece consists of hand dyed cotton, dyed in natural hand crafted dyes of marigold, cutch and madder. The piece is then detailed with hand stitching and hand beading. The stitching threads of cotton, wool and silk are also colored with natural dyes. If you look closely there are some pale yellow threads in the stitching dyed from tansy collected from ditches in Alberta and then turned into dye. Truly a home grown piece.

Photography and art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta

www.thehuntergroup.ca

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Tackling the “Works in Progress”

It always seems like no matter what the project, there comes a time you hit a dead spot, a time where the project is almost finished but it is almost painful to put in the last few hours to finish it up. Looking around my home and down in the studio it is time to tackle these projects before they are simply left as “U.F.O.’s” (UnFinished Objects).

In this post I will share a few of these “works in progress” in the hope of actually finishing them in the next week or two.

 beading

From left: Cotton hand-dyed in lac, indigo, tansy (just a little showing through) and madder.

Let’s start with the one that is causing me the most misery. I’ve been developing a few hand dyed, hand knit and hand beaded items as an expansion to the current hand knit items I sell to a few shops here in Alberta. The dyeing is enjoyable, the knitting is fine as is the beading, however throw it all together and it is one hugely time consuming item. If I were just doing it for fun it would be fine, but after years of costing out photography jobs I can’t help but think how unprofitable these items are, and this thought process alone seems to stopping me from completing them. I have 11 more waiting to be beaded, so I really need to finish those in the very least. I could toy with different ways to bead them that might be a little quicker, but I like beading to be bomb proof. I really dislike it when you buy a beaded item only for the beads to fall off in a flash, so cutting corners isn’t an option. I should really just try to finish these this week and then reserve beading on knitting for only higher end items.

 beads

The next “work in progress” is a fibre art piece that has literally traveled with me everywhere  for the last few months including the coast four times and the cabin at least six times. The piece, depicting a grain elevator, is hand-dyed in natural dyes, masked, stitched and beaded. It sat in its “Is it done ?” phase for a very long time. Then when I finally reached the decision that it was “done” I had to decide how to mount it. Did it want to stretch it or board it or hang it? Last night I decided to go with hanging it as I have a frame in mind that I think could work with my hanging pieces.

grain elevator pieceSo all is good last night. I iron the piece, cut the backing, make sure everything is square (well square-ish, this is fabric), and get ready to machine sew the backing on. Ah yes, the sewing machine………..that white piece of machinery buried on one of my work tables. No kidding I had to dig through hand-dyed yarn, knit items, multiple chargers for devices, dried marigolds, dried tansy, dried onion skins (natural dyers are all nodding their heads knowingly at the moment!) and driftwood…….an awful lot of driftwood, which is kind of funny sitting here on the prairies in Alberta, but it is there because “I had an idea!“.  An hour or so later the sewing machine was finally in a useable environment, with all that work to sew 60 linear inches. That pretty much explains why some things just don’t end up finished….hassle factor.

This piece is almost finished. Maybe 10 minutes of hand sewing, another 15 minutes to sort out the doweling, and then buzz it down to the studio to shoot. Hopefully I will be sharing the finished piece here next week.

sewingSpeaking of shooting finished pieces, that brings me to the next “W.I.P.”. A painting. A painting that looks fine under natural light, incandescent light and flourescent light yet shows a flaw when I shoot it in the studio. The flaw is in one small spot, but it drives me crazy. Fact is, everything needs to look great on a computer screen so it is important that I fix it. I’ve come across colors recording differently with photography before, bride’s maids dresses are notorious for it, but at least this is a quick fix. I just need a quiet house to focus on it and get it done……”quiet house ” is not happening at the moment with 5 kids running around…..I think this will be a “middle of the night” job.

painting detail (iPhone pic)

painting detail (iPhone pic)

 

The final W.I.P for this post is a piece that might familiar, a stitched, beaded and lino cut piece. I did a piece late last year that was similar. At the time of doing the previous piece I also started a second one that was similar but not the same. I have started to do this with a few of the fibre pieces, having two to work on that are similar, because usually part way into a piece I start to think about what the piece would have looked like if I had done things differently. I tend to be fairly conservative on the first piece. The second piece I can be more experimental with, use odder colors, or more beading, or whatever comes to mind. I want to get this piece really happening before I get too involved with the skull piece.

Other than that there are two more paintings in progress to finish, coffee sweaters to weave in ends, embellish and package, and a special request  item to knit………oh, and tweak the website again.  Time to get busy and get a bit of this off the books.

Photography and art by Debra Hunter
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
www.thehuntergroup.ca

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