Category Archives: Handmade goodness

One Way to Reuse a Wine Bottle . . .

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So, ages ago (years ago, really), I had an idea for a cool polymer clay embellishment for an empty wine bottle.  It has taken me a long time, working in spurts, to finally finish it, but here it is:

The front shows a little cabin in the woods, with snow-covered mountains in the background.  It is a spring scene, so the birch or aspen trees have yellowy green leaves, and there are wild roses and irises in bloom.  Sigh.  It’s really not spring here (-28 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, and that’s warmed up about 20 degrees since last week!), so I’m gazing wistfully at this little clay world, willing spring to get here soon. 🙂

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The back lets you see the backyard.  The axe is stuck in the chopping block, and there’s a path back to the outhouse (you can just see that necessity – it’s in the middle left of the photo, above the irises).

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And here are a couple of close ups.

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It is for sale in my Art Fire shop, Butterscotch Grove, along with a few other things.  I’ll be going through my old never-posted stock from when I worked the Tanana Valley Farmer’s Market a few years ago and adding those items to my shop over the next week or so.  Those things will be bargains!

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Because I didn’t have enough going on . . .

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I proposed a class on hand embroidery to the Fairbanks Folk School, and it was accepted! Yea! I get to teach grown-up people! Who are not my children! (Well, the class is open to people 12-years old and up, so I might be teaching somebody else’s kids, but that’s ok.)  Here’s the class description, as well as a few pictures:

Hand embroidery is an easy and enjoyable way to decorate your life. You can embellish clothing, make art pieces for your walls, and produce lovely gifts for friends and family. You can spend hours or minutes, pennies or big bucks on your projects – no matter what your commitment level or budget is, once you know the basic stitches, you can create beautiful items easily.

In the first session of Easy Embroidery, you will learn basic hand embroidery stitches, including running, back, chain, and blanket stitches (and some variations), and the French knot. In the second session, we’ll add some simple filling stitches to your sampler and begin work on a small embroidered picture that you can frame, or mount on a pillow or greeting card. You will learn how to choose the correct fabric and thread to create the look you want for future projects. In addition, you will learn several ways to transfer a design to fabric: tracing with a lightbox or window, using an iron-on transfer pen, and using dressmaker’s carbon paper.

 

Yea! Go me! (It has been awhile since I did anything creative, so I’m pretty psyched about this class.) The Folk School is interested in a class on making rag dolls, as well as possibly something with polymer clay, so I’m working on putting together a couple more classes for them.  The embroidery class is 2 2-hour sessions, 6-8 pm on October 14 and 21, 2016.  Click here to sign up!

I managed one other little creative thing last week, too.  My sister needed a pair of earrings for a friend’s birthday.  The birthday was on September 8, which was the date of the debut of the original Star Trek series in 1966.  The friend is a fan, so here’s what I came up with:

They are a little wonky, but I love them.  I’m gonna make me a pair!  If there’s enough interest, I’ll make a bunch and list them on my ArtFire shop.

 

And the winners are…

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I was going to use the random number generator to pick the winners of my One World One Heart giveaway, but so many folks asked me to “toss [their] name into the hat” that I decided to use this:

This is a straw hat made for me by my Wonderful Husband, after I told him about the chapter in Little House in the Big Woods where Ma makes straw hats for every body in the family.  Such a nice hubby.  In the hat are 182 teeny slips of paper, each with a number on it.

I had two willing helpers to draw the winners:

First my 5-year old Girl picked Anji from Juneau’s number (can you believe that? 182 responses from all over the world, and the 1st winner is from Alaska!).

Then my 3-year old Boy got to pick the 2nd winner, concupiscent335.  (As you can see, this event took place pretty early at our house – the wee ones are still in their pjs.)  Then, the Boy put the hat on his head and shook all the bits of paper all over the living room. Sigh.

So, CONGRATULATIONS TO ANJI AND CONCUPISCENT335! If I don’t hear from you by Friday, 2-19, I’ll choose another winner…and I really don’t want to pick all those little bits of paper out of the vacuum cleaner bag. 🙂

A Good Day to be ME!

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Yea!  Yesterday was a good day to be me.  Well, other than slicing my finger with the kitchen scissors while doing dishes (see? doing dishes is BAD NEWS), and having to clean up after the Boy (who is resisting potty training vehemently).  Why was it a good day, you ask?  Well for starters, I got my order from Amazon:

I’ve already read through most of the Maureen Carlson book and am perusing the Katherine Dewey book.  No more arthritic space alien hands on my sculptures! (Unless I’m sculpting arthritic space aliens, of course.)

Secondly, I finished a goofy little bird I’ve been working on:

Chirp!

This is the first thing I’ve ever made that looked anything like the picture I drew first.  I’m either getting better at claying or I’m getting better at drawing. 🙂

And one more thing:  On Thursday I took my sewing machine in to have its yearly (um, more like once-a-decade) check up.  While there, I succumbed to the sales lady’s offer to show me some of the features of the cool little Baby Lock I was looking at.  They were having a floor model sale – which ended  today.  After a lot of thought (no, I didn’t buy it right then) and a conversation with Wonderful Husband, ta da!

Now I can sew with BOTH HANDS!

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Look at all the stuff that came with!  This is the newest machine I’ve ever had.  It was a floor model, but it is not “pre-owned.”  So it actually had all the stuff that it it was supposed to.

Feet!

Wonderful Husband thinks I have a foot fetish. 🙂  There is one more on the machine – an embroidery foot.  Yep, this is a sewing and embroidery machine.

Oh, I’m so psyched!  I played around with some of the decorative stitches and embroidered the kids’ names and the word “Alaska” on the fabric that was conveniently hooped up for me.  I spent enough time playing with the machine that Wonderful Husband and the kids had the living room cleaned up for me by the time I came upstairs to cook dinner.  Which ended up being nuked potatoes with salsa and cheese.  I don’t think we’ll be having any multi-course meals for awhile.  I can only be diva-like in one domestic sphere at a time, and until I’ve worked the novelty out of my new machine, I’m afraid the kitchen will not be the one.

This is Didimaa

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She was my entry for the Polymer Clay Smooshers Guild of Art Fire’s January challenge, which had an Asian theme. I’m so glad I decided to enter this challenge. I’d been thinking about trying to sculpt a woman in a sari for a long time, but I kept putting it off. I love doing sculpture: it’s wonderful to watch a character emerge from blobs of clay.

Polymer clay has been called “the chameleon clay” because it can mimic so many things so beautifully – stone, metal, wood, etc. It also works great as fabric. For Didimaa’s attire, I started by dressing her in a blouse and petticoat:

(This is a good shot for showing scale, since she’s sitting on an Altoids tin and resting her foot on a cookie cutter.) I wasn’t sure, at this point, what color to make the background of the sari fabric. So I went upstairs and did dishes for awhile. Problems often seem to solve themselves at inconvenient times, like when I’m up to my elbows in dishwater, but only half done the chore. Sigh.

So, when I came back down to the studio, I’d decided to go with green’s compliment, red. I didn’t want it to look Christmasy, though, so I chose a kind of pinky red. I chopped up some red and dark pink Cernit and added some translucent Fimo, in hopes of making the finished sari a bit transparent. That didn’t work too well – next time I’ll use more of the translucent. I also added a bit of green Cernit to tone down the pink a little. Here’s the beginning of the sari:

After a few passes through my pasta machine, and the application of a few cane slices and gold trim, that mess up there turned into this:

(Canes, for those of you who don’t play with clay, are logs of clay that have a picture running through it, so that the cross section of the log shows the picture. Ever buy those tubes of cookie dough at the grocery store that have a picture of a ducky or a chick on each slice? Same idea. Here’s a better explanation, with pictures. The paisleys and patterned dots on the sari fabric are cane slices. The gold dots are just smooshed balls of clay. )

This fabric was still too thick, and the decorations needed to be smoothed into the background, so back to the pasta machine it went. After a few more passes, it was as thin as I could make it, and starting to stick to itself. Trying to drape 15″ of extremely thin, sticky clay into a sari around a seated figure was, um, a challenge. (I would have used a stronger word, but my mom is probably reading this….) Next time, the figure will be standing. And holding her arms out to the side. And on a bigger scale!

She still needed jewelry, make up and something to sit on. I made her a little polymer clay stool for her foot to rest on, and a seat, covered with more polymer clay fabric decorated with another paisley cane.

Make up and nail polish are painted on with acrylic paint. Jewelry is jump rings and the chain off a bracelet that’s supposed to keep you from losing it if the clasp breaks.

I think I might need to make some grandkids for her to be telling a story to!

Update:  My good friend Tammi just returned from her winter break trip to visit her hubby’s family in India, and she gently pointed out that “Didimaa” is not spelled “Deedeema,” as I’d first spelled it.  I also tied the sari a bit goofy, as the part going over the left shoulder should be going over the right and it should cover her chest more.  Next time….!

Mother-In-Law’s Christmas Present

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Now that it won’t be a spoiler, I can show a picture of the polymer clay pendant I made for my mom-in-law for Christmas. We’ve had some issues with mailing stuff (one box went missing, one went to the wrong town in Alaska, the winter storms in the lower 48 delayed delivery of her package….oh, and I procrastinated sending Christmas boxes until AFTER Christmas!), so she’s lucky she got it, finally! Actually, I like it a lot, myself, so she’s lucky she got it for more than one reason!

The pendant is strung on doubled brown silk cord.  The flowers are made with a petal cane from Donna Kato’s book, The Art of Polymer Clay Millefiori Techniques. Donna’s flower petal starts out with a purple and white Skinner blend bullseye cane.  My Skinner blend was gold and chocolate.  I love the way those colors blended.  It looks both festive and warm – perfect for Christmas, even if it’s not red and green.  And it’ll be good at other times of year, too!