I’m baaaccckk to the Tatting World….Finally!



New Iowa house–I fell in love with the sun-room & the 3 decks.


Another view of new house


Jerry fell in love with the barn (not our RV)

It has been a heck of a year!  In the beginning of 2017 I freaked out when I got my property tax valuations for my home in Omaha, Nebraska.  The initial estimation would have almost quadrupled my property valuation and thus taxes.  I had been thinking for some time that it may be time to move anyway.  I had remarried 4 years ago and my wonderful husband agreed to move into my house so that my kids (college-age) could mentally and physically move out of their childhood home (that I kept after the divorce that was forced upon me over 10 years ago).  I felt that the old house had served its purpose and that it was time for Jerry and I to move on to a home of our own, together.  The property tax valuation was the ‘kick-in-the-butt’ to do this.  I went to Jerry and told him that I felt I could no longer afford to live in my/our old home.  He immediately went shopping for a house for us and within 5 days we had bought a small acreage in Council Bluffs, Iowa, just across the Missouri River from Omaha, Nebraska where I have lived for almost 35 years.  March was the start of my house moving hell and heaven.  The house I moved from was fairly big and had a lot of storage space (that I had crammed full of ‘stuff’).  I spent every waking hour from then on cleaning out every closet, drawer, storage area in my house.  I had 5 garbage cans of trash out for pickup every week, I took numerous carloads of stuff to the local mission for donation, had a church youth group take a half U-Haul full of my stuff, and still filled a big dumpster with junk!  After the cleaing out was done and I had most of the stuff I wanted to keep to the new house, I started the cleaning and painting of the old house.  All this while I was mowing and maintaining two large lawns (over a half acre each).  I spent a lot of time transplanting some of my beloved perennial plants to the new house too.  Husband was busy getting us settled into the new home with various projects.   I left the major furniture in the old home to ‘stage’ it for showing while I tried to sell it FSBO (For Sale By Owner) to no success.  It was a miserable summer working on all this matter.  I finally gave up the FSBO thing and turned it over to a realtor and it is still for sale.  My wonderful husband has been incredibly supportive of me financially to allow me to take the time to find a buyer for my home.  In October, I had all the furniture moved into my new home in time for a big party the 28th.  Since then we have been enjoying the peace and quiet of our new home in Iowa.

Jerry & I love our new home together and have enjoyed picking out a few new items for ‘our’ home.  The new house still has lots of storage (both a blessing and a bane).  I have a big room to use as my fiber art and enameling studio.  I just got back to enameling about a month ago and created about 20 new glass enameled tatting shuttles that are in my Etsy shop:  www.Etsy.com/shop/TheShuttleSmith.   The house is twice as far away from our work but takes us the same amount of time to travel…the Omaha traffic was getting worse.  Plus, we are just outside city limits and on the edge of the Loess Hills region which has loads of wonderful twisty, curvy roads for motorcycling (my other passion!).

So, I now no longer am “The ShuttleSmith from Omaha, NE”.  I am now an Iowegian.   I need to work on updating a lot of things with my new address:  my website, vehicle registrations, bank accounts, driver’s license, etc.

Karen Bovard SayreTheShuttleSmith,  19001 Perry Road,  Council Bluffs, Iowa  51503,   Same phone number:  402-960-7370

HS 1

Old Omaha house



Shuttlebirds Tatting Workshop–Part 2 & my life-style change


Just thought I’d post some of the pictures I had taken at The Shuttlebirds 2017 Tatting Workshop.

The first photo shows the materials and space we used to decorate the base shuttles for the Make-It-Take-It workshop of creating personal glass/enamel tatting shuttles. (See previous post for photos of the finished ART pieces.)

The second photo shows the space where/how I torch-fired the artwork into finished glass-coated tatting shuttles in flat/hoare-style.

I flew to the workshop so it was quite a challenge as to what to bring/how much I could bring.  I planned and purchased supplies for months before going.  There were a few items that the Shuttlebirds members brought for me to help with my space/luggage issues.  These included the cookies sheets, ceramic tiles and fire extinquisher.  I am happy to report that I did NOT need to use the fire extinquisher (I actually never have!).

The third photo shows my vendor table:  It includes the 7 books that I have authored/published including the debut of book number 7:  Snowflakes in Split Ring Tatting.  I had been working on the designs for this book for a while (ca. a year).  So when I found out that the theme for this workshop was ‘A Flurry of Flakes’ I decided that it was a ‘sign from God’ that I should try to attend.  So I used the workshop as a self-inflicted deadline to get my book done and published.  Also on my vendor table are some of my glass/enameled tatting shuttles and some homemade ‘thread holders’. I shall have to photograph my new book and my thread winders soon to show you all.


The Creation Station–where the art was applied to the base shuttle


The torch-firing station—where the creations were finalized (by me). (The fire extinguisher did not need to be used!!!)


My vendor space–my seven books on split ring tatting technique and designs, my glass enameled shuttles, and handmade ‘thread-winders’ (see them soon on my Etsy store).


Right now, my life is a bit in ‘limbo’ because I am moving–leaving my home of 31 years.  I got fed up with the high property taxes in Omaha, Nebraska and so my husband and I bought an acreage across the river in neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa.  I am no longer going to be a Nebraskan/Husker but will soon become a Iowegian/Hawkeye.  (I much prefer yellow to red!).  Right now my life is a mess!  I have just finished getting rid of and/or moving the majority of my stuff to the new house.  Now I am seriously trying to clean/paint/prep the old house to get it ready to sell.  At the same time we have some work to do at the new house.  I have 2 big lawns to move and work on the landscaping at the same time!  Half my ‘living stuff’ is at either house.  I am keeping my furniture at the old house to ‘stage it’ for selling.  Husband is living at the new house working on prepping it for our use.  We have new furniture on order.  So far he has had to install 2 separate garage door systems and tear out a closet in our master bedroom so that we can fit our (king-size) bed into it.  When I sell my old house I can move all the furniture and clothes into the new house and live there completely.  I have all of my studio stuff in boxes and am dying to get back to making enamel shuttles again.

Shuttlebirds Tatting Workshop–part one

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending The Shuttlebirds Tatting Workshop in WA/Idaho.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was testing out a workshop concept of ‘Make-It-Take-It’ enameled/glass/copper shuttles. The idea was that I created the base shuttles of one color. The workshop part was that tatters (or non-tatters—I will not discriminate) would decorate their shuttles themselves in various techniques that I provided and I would then torch-fire the piece to produce the final product.

I would like to report that the workshop was a resounding success. 29 beautiful shuttles were produced!

The following photos show the results.

Several people were ‘painters’ and used acrylic enamels to paint designs onto the shuttles.  Several shuttles were created using sifting techniques and stencils.  Two shuttles were created using a rubber stamp lacy design.


DSCN0582 DSCN0583 DSCN0589 DSCN0590 DSCN0592

Shuttlebirds Tatting Workshop & Make-It-Take-It Glass/Enamel Tatting Shuttles

DSCN0382 DSCN0381 DSCN0379

I’M SOOO EXCITED! I leaving tomorrow to go to Spokane, WA to the Shuttlebirds Tatting Workshop. I have been there once (probably 15+ years ago). Looking forward to seeing alot of old and new friends from that part of the country. I’m teaching, vending, and trying a totally new venture: Make-It-Take-It Enamel Shuttles. I have been creating the shuttles with various (somewhat innocuous) base colors. I am taking several colors of enamels with me and various ways to decorate the shuttles further. Then tatters will use these materials to decorate their own shuttle. I will torch-fire the shuttle into a unique work of art. This is a pilot project for me….I have been prepping for months. The pre-sale response has been overwhelmingly good for me. Now I just hope this whole idea works and tatters get shuttles they are happy with. If it works like I hope it does, there should be some beautiful new shuttles produced. I’ll try to take pictures.

New Enamel (Glass) Tatting Shuttle for Valentine’s Day

257aI just found this tatting shuttle in my stash. 

The bottom line is that I enjoy making them much more that I enjoy marketing/selling them!

This one is newly available for adoption ($25) in my Etsy shop:  https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheShuttleSmith

The color is a deep, rich burgundy.  I had to hunt down this enamel…it is no longer commercially available.  It is a really rare enamel.  Reds are particularly expensive and a bit more tricky to use.

Art as technique

Sub TitlesTatting as Art; What I Learned from Book Club; Everything Can be Related to Tatting; Reading vs. Tatting?–or both!

As a kid, I was a ravenous reader…even nightly tempting the rath of my father who used to yell at me to stop reading and go to sleep.  But my reading stopped when I got to college (there were so many things I HAD to read and soo little time).  When I got married out of college, my life was filled with starting a job and keeping up with an active husband who always had a new hobby to investigate as well as learning to relax.  It was also in this same time frame of college and new home/job/marriage that I rediscovered tatting.  Tatting I found, was cheap and portable and I could work on in little spurts of time–the perfect relaxation technique for an active person.  Thus reading was further usurped in my life.

Soo….flash forward to about a year ago, when I was invited to join the neighborhood women’s book club. My kids are out of the house, my home is fairly the way I want it to be…I was ready for a new challenge.  This seemed like a good way to get me out of my ‘normal’ routine and embrace something new (plus I knew that book club events involved wine and treats!) so I joined.  Some of the books I have liked, some not so much.  However just recently we were to read Shell Collector by Allan Doerr.  As usual, I had drug-my-feet in getting/reading the book and the time was coming close to ‘book club night’.  So I went onto the author’s website to see what I could learn about the book and whether I truly wanted to invest $12 and the time to read it (time that I could be tatting &/or creating tatting patterns!).  I was pleasantly surprised to read some Essays he had on his website and learned that I did enjoy his writings.  On the website was an essay that Allan Doerr had written about traveling to the Arctic in which I found the following quote:

Among the things I’ve brought to the Arctic is a 1917 essay titled “Art as Technique,” by a Russian named Viktor Shklovsky. In it, Shklovsky argues that routines function as a kind of anesthetic in our lives. “If we start to examine the general laws of perception,” he writes, “we see that as perception becomes habitual, it becomes automatic….If one remembers the sensations of holding a pen or of speaking in a foreign language for the first time and compares that with his feeling at performing the action for the ten thousandth time, he will agree with us.”

But art, Shklovsky says, ought to help us recover the sensations of life, ought to revivify our understanding of things—clothes, war, marriage—that habit has made familiar. Art exists, he argues, “to make one feel things, to make the stone stony. The purpose of art is to impart the sensation of things as they are perceived and not as they are known.”

Sometimes you have to make yourself a stranger to your own life in order to recognize the things you take for granted. Like sunsets, or hot showers, or alphabets. My health, my family, the streams of photons sent from our star—how had I stopped actually seeing these things?

This is how I ‘see’ my tatting…as art. I use tatting (ie. my tatting design work) to view the world in a ‘special’ way.  I look at pattens and repetition in all kinds of places and convert those ‘discoveries’ into my unique tatting designs.  It gives me an ‘excuse’ to look at the world around me much the same way that the author of the essay “Art as Technique” refers to. I have been known to ask women if I could photograph or sketch the design on their purse or scarf in coffee shops!  I see pattern/repetition in architectural elements that can be converted to a tatting pattern.  I scribble out design ideas on any scrap of paper that I can find at a moments notice. I am comforted knowing that the deposit slips in my checkbook are always there for an emergency sketch.  Cash register receipts are always and option too. I have many designs/ideas/sketches waiting for their turn to become ‘tatting’.  (If only I could quit my day job and devote myself to that endeavor full-time!!!!—such a pipe-dream!)

New Tatted Cross Done (almost) in Time for Easter


I just finished the tatting of this cross this morning.  The ‘almost’ done part of this project is all the ends (2 ends X  20 motifs = 40 thread ends) to complete.  I have a train trip planned in about two weeks that this project is perfect for!  This cross has 3 of my favorite colors in it.  It is a bold color choice….but it is MY color choice.