Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Two mushrooms and a bracelet

Since I bought some new colors of yarn recently, I decided to make a couple of funky colored mushrooms.

I know, I know. I finally got my crochet hook back so I should be working on the mushroom bag. Well, I am. But I get bored of working on the same thing for hours and hours on end. Especially when the stitch I'm using is not the most exciting...

So when I get bored while working on one of my bigger projects, I make a small mushroom. They only take about an hour from start to finish which makes for a nice, quick gratifying project. It's almost like it resets my mindset to keep the boredom at bay.

As long as it helps me to complete the big projects so they don't just sit in the WIP bag forever, I think it's a handy method. We'll call it the distraction technique. As in you are distracting yourself with a small project.

I also made a bracelet using some prefabricated stuff I picked up from the craft store. But I couldn't pass up the snake clasp and with my love for snakes I had to throw a heart on there, too.

It's nice and light and goes well with the new necklace that I bought from Lisa Leonard Designs. For those of you that haven't seen Lisa's work, take a look around the website. My necklace is perfect and makes me want to buy more of her stuff. Seriously.

So that's what I've made in my free time recently. What have you made in yours?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Jelly Bean Bunny Pattern

Just in time for Easter, I bring you the first crochet pattern I have ever published for other people's personal use: the Jelly Bean Bunnies.

If you remember yesterday's post, you will remember that I mentioned it took me from Friday evening to Sunday morning to finish these little cuties. This happened because 1) I was making two of them so the creation time was doubled and 2) these are presents for my kids so I could only work on them while the kids were asleep.

One bunny should really only take about an hour to an hour and a half of continuous work.

Jelly Bean Bunny


Work in the round using an F hook unless otherwise specified.

1) Chain 2.
2) Single crochet (SC) 6 times into second loop from hook (or first loop in the chain depending on how you look at it).
3) SC twice in each SC around the circle (=12)
4) SC in each SC around the circle (12)
5) SC one, then SC twice into the next SC. Repeat 6 times to complete the circle. (18)
6) SC 18 for 6 rows (18)
7) SC one, then decrease (DEC) one. Repeat 6 times. (12)
8) Turn the body right side out.
9) SC 12 (12)
10) DEC around the circle (6)
11) Tie off and resist the urge to stuff the body. You can, but things are a whole lot easier if you wait.

Ears (make 2):
Using an E hook, work across.
1) Chain 3.
2) SC in second loop from hook and SC remaining loop on the chain. (2)
3) SC 2 for 4 rows. (2)
4) SC twice in each SC across. (4)
5) SC 4 for 2 rows. (4)
6) DEC across the row. (2)
7) Tie off leaving a long end for tightening up the edge.
8) Using a children's needle (you know, those thick light blue plastic ones that are perfect for yarn), tighten up the edge of the ears by working in the long end along the stitches on the very outside of the ear shape. Once you've sewed all the way around, pull the long end and tighten it to a nice, neat ear shape. If you don't have a long enough end to attach the ear to the head, cut yourself a short piece of yarn and tie the ear on with that.

1) Chain 2.
2) SC 6 into second loop from hook (or first loop in the chain depending on how you look at it).
3) SC twice in each SC around the circle (=12)
4) SC one, then SC twice into the next SC. Repeat 6 times to complete the circle. (18)
5) SC 18 for 6 rows (18)
6) SC one, SC one, SC twice into the next SC. Repeat 6 times. (24)
7) SC 24 for 3 rows (24)
8) SC one, SC one, DEC one. Repeat 6 times. (18)
9) SC 18 (18)
10) Turn the head right side out.
11) Attach ears and embroider the face before completing the head.
12) SC one, DEC one. Repeat 6 times. (12)
13) DEC around the circle. (6)
14) Tie off and stuff the head.

Arms and Legs (make 2 of each):
Using an E hook, work in the round.
1) Chain 2.
2) SC 6 into second loop from hook (or first loop in the chain depending on how you look at it).
3) SC one, then SC twice into the next SC. Repeat 6 times to complete the circle. (9)
4) SC 9 for 5 rows (arms) or 6 rows (legs).
5) Tie off leaving long ends for sewing the legs to the body.
6) Stuff the legs if desired. I left mine unstuffed and the bunnies transition quite nicely from sitting to standing. I think that stuffing the arms and legs would make them a little harder to move around, but I could be wrong. Try it out and let me know!

Make a small pom-pom and leave long ends for tying to the body.*

*How to make a pom-pom with your finger:
1) Wrap some yarn around your pinky finger close to the fingernail (for bigger pom-poms, use a bigger finger) about 10-12 times. Cut the yarn.
2) Cut another piece of yarn of the same color about 8 inches long.
3) Take the circle of yarn that you just wrapped off of the end of your finger.
4) Wrap the short piece of yarn around the middle of the circle of yarn and tie a knot.
5) Cut the loops on each side of the knot. (Do you see the pom-pom taking shape now?)
6) Trim the edges of the pom-pom until it is the desired size and shape.
7) Roll the pom-pom in your hands to fuzz up the ends of the yarn a little bit.

Attach the arms, legs, and tail to the body. Then stuff the body. Last, attach the head to the top of the body.

And you're done!

I hope you get a chance to try these out. Let me know if you have any questions, concerns, comments, corrections, etc.

Happy crocheting!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's been a crochet kind of weekend

I've been crocheting like a mad woman this weekend!

It all started early on Friday night when my husband rescued my F sized crochet hook from our evil couch. Overjoyed at our reunion, I got the bright idea to make a pair of amigurumi bunnies for the kids for Easter. One for the boy and one for the girl.

Considering my children are both under 4 years old, their toys generally get dirty pretty quickly. Because of that, white bunnies were out and I wasn't really too keen on the idea of making brown bunnies. So that led to the creation of our bright yellow Jelly Bean Bunnies! Come back on Monday evening when I will post a pattern for the Jelly Bean Bunnies.

By the end of naptime on Saturday I had made enough bunny body parts for two bunnies and by this morning, the Jelly Bean Bunnies were completely assembled. The kids are going to be so happy when they see them!

With that project out of the way, I was left with the rest of a perfectly good Sunday for crafting and other miscellaneous family fun.

So a little bit later on while the kids were napping (and their Dad stayed with them), I went to the craft store and bought some supplies to do the kid friendly batiking from That Artist Woman's blog. And after the kids got up from their nap, we completed stage one of the process. Now we wait until tomorrow after work and daycare when we will paint!

Next, I made a mushroom for myself. It's the first one that I've kept and I think it's my favorite so far. Purely by coincidence, but what a happy coincidence it is.

The last project of today was to put some more work into the crocheted mushroom bag. It's substantially bigger than any other mushroom that I have made to date. And I'm not going to stuff it so the shaping of the mushroom is a little bit less forgiving than what I'm used to. But it's taking shape. Slowly. At least it actually looks like a mushroom now instead of a hat. So that's a step in the right direction...

And that's what I have made in my free time this weekend. How about you?

Friday, March 26, 2010

What do you do when you have a sick kiddo?

Why, you stay home and decorate your boring DVD case with colorful hearts, of course!

Thank you, Katie Sokoler from Color Me Katie, for the fabulous idea! Anyone that needs a pick me up should head over to her blog and flickr photostream. This woman is the epitome of happiness and her work shows it. She has so many fantastic ideas and reminds us to stop and notice the colorful world around us.

Here is our rendition of her colorful hearts.

We started with this:

A boring white cabinet next to a boring white wall.

So I cut out some hearts for our poor, boring cabinet.

We wanted to make sure we only picked the best, most fun hearts of the bunch.

So I had my sick kiddo test them out.

Once we found the best and most fun of the hearts, we stuck them to the cabinet.

There. That's much better.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Oh, woe is me...

I've lost my F sized crochet hook.

Well, actually, I know exactly where it is. My evil couch ate it.

Normally I would not mind because I have plenty of other craft projects to keep me busy until I find it again. But this is not normally!

Right now, as I type this, I am midway through my mushroom bag project from the Work and Ideas in Progress page. I'm really excited about finishing this bag so I can show you! It's going to be so cool (at least I hope so, anyway) but we won't find out if I don't find my hook!!

Oh, woe is me...

Nothing small and crocheted will be made in my free time until my couch gives up that F hook!

It's on, now. This is my house, couch! You will not take my stuff from me!!

What have you made in your free time lately?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Curious George pillowcase

Pillowcases are cool.

Just ask my daughter.

The only thing cooler than a pillowcase?

A Curious George pillowcase. That’s what.

I realized that my daughter’s bed was still sporting the good old navy blue store bought pillowcase that I gave her when she moved to her toddler bed over a year and a half ago. This will not do, my friends!

So, I recently took on the project of making her a pillowcase of her very own. Preschooler style.

I think it looks nice with her Tinkerbell bed and rainbow star blanket, don’t you agree?

Okay, let’s be real for just a sec here. There are so many different patterns going on in that picture that it’s just a huge eye sore. But you know what?

My daughter doesn’t care. So I don't either.

Pillowcase tutorial, you ask? Sure, I’ll write one!

I’ll even make sure it was made in my free time! :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Curtains, Anyone?

Our front room has been needing curtains since...oh, I don't know...we moved in.

And there really wasn't much of an excuse after my mother, in an effort to get me to make some curtains, bought some very nice fabric while in Hawaii about 4 years ago. It has dragons and bamboo--quite nice indeed.

If you have ever seen our living room, then you know that this design fits right in

But the timing couldn't have been worse. Despite the beautiful fabric, my sewing machine and I were going through a battle to end all battles. Some things were said (by me), some needles were broken (by the machine), tension issues arose (machine again), I got angry and put it in storage. It was time to take a break from sewing for awhile.

Well, since I finally dug my sewing machine out of hibernation (after almost 3 years!) this month, I thought that I had better make good on the promise to my husband to make those curtains.

Sorry for the plants in the way, but that is where they live

And I did.

Isn't that red accent on them nice? Oh yes, I agree. I didn't mean to do that, but I made a dumb move and did some needless sewing.

Now, I could have ripped stitches, but let's be honest here. I hate ripping stitches. Especially ones made by sewing machines. So I opted for another option: Add a color coordinating border!

The original plan was to have the border go around the whole outside, but I like it better just in the middle. And since I'm the creator, that is how it stays!

Since these were such a long time coming, my husband even watched the kids so I could hammer these out. Normally crafting must wait until after the munchkins have gone to bed, but not this day. This day I got to live the dream while making...curtains? Oh well, it was still nice.

With the mistake and all, this project took me about 5 hours. I'd say the mistake took at least an hour and a half of that time. Yes, I know, costly mistake. The bulk of the rest of the time was spent pinning and ironing.

This is not labor intensive work. There is a whole lot of ironing, pinning, and straight seam sewing going on when making curtains.

One tip that I would like to pass on:
My mother gave me this tip the first time I made curtains and it has saved me a ton of frustration.

Wait to sew the bottom of your curtains until after you hang them for the first time.

Then pin the bottom of the curtains while they are still hanging. That way you can be sure that the finished bottom looks straight when they are hung up. You would be surprised how many windows there are out there that aren't perfectly straight and square. Save yourself some seam ripping and do this extra step.

I made these in my free time (with a little bit of child care help). Imagine all the things you could do in yours!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Freezer Paper Stencils

I tried out freezer paper stencils this weekend. I love designing clothes for my kiddos and this little project was a lot of fun.

I made a couple of mushrooms and I think that they turned out nicely.

And it was super simple! The hardest thing to do with this project was wait for the paint to dry.

Close-up of my finished shirt design

Freezer paper is great for many reasons. It is readily available at any of the larger grocery stores and you can cut it to any shape your heart desires. In application, when the plastic coating on the freezer paper is ironed, it makes a nice seal to fabric and doesn't leave a residue after you peel it off. And you don't just have to use it with paint either--I used it on a bleach distressed shirt and it also worked like a charm. This stuff is magic!

Supplies Required:
  • Fabric (I made T-shirts this time around)
  • Freezer paper
  • Scissors and xacto knife
  • Iron (with the steam function turned off)
  • Permanent fabric paint
  • Paint brush, foam brush, and/or squeegee
  • A flat place to dry your stuff

Here are the super simple steps for applying a design using freezer paper:
  1. Draw design on the freezer paper.
  2. Cut out the parts of the design that you want to print using scissors and/or an xacto knife. NOTE: Cut in the paper = Color on the fabric: The freezer paper is the guide to where the paint will end up. If you make an accidental cut in the paper, either plan for paint to show through there or start over from scratch.
  3. Iron freezer paper to fabric.
  4. Squeeze paint onto open section of stencil and use a paint brush, foam brush, or squeege to cover the hole in the stencil and paint the fabric. Using the brushes/squeege will cause the paint to lay more evenly on the fabric than if you were to just squirt it on.
  5. Allow paint to dry completely.
  6. Peel off the stencil and admire the product of your not-too-hard work.
  7. Repeat steps 1-5 for additional colors.
  8. Iron the paint for 20-30 seconds to set it to the fabric.
  9. Allow to stand for 72 hours before washing the fabric inside out.
It is easiest to work the color on multi-color projects in layers starting with the lightest color paint when you want multiple colors on a project.

For instance, on the mushrooms, I wanted a white background so I used the white first, then added the color to the cap second. I had it easy because all my color was going to the same place.

If you are doing a multi-color project where the colors appear on different areas of the stencil, then you could potentially do all of the painting at one time while being mindful of not mixing the colors or going into areas that you want other colors to be. That would certainly make the drying time for the project less because you wouldn't have to wait for layers of paint to dry before adding more.

I have read that you can use up to 5 layers with success, but I only tried the 2 so I can't give you any real life feedback on that. Perhaps in the future I will be able to, though. This was fun so I have plans for more freezer paper stencil projects.

I made these in about 2 hours, with only about 30 minutes of that spent actively working. The rest of the time was spent drying.

My inspiration for this project came from:
Made - In this post, Dana made super cute toddle pants with Goldfish stencils.
Craftster Forum - A place where tons of really creative people have made all sorts of things and then posted pictures and wrote about them.
Neither Hip Nor Funky - I used this post to check myself during the actual process.

If I made these in my free time, you could crafts some serious works of art in yours!

Try it out sometime!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Needless to say...


I just got done making a few things. Interestingly enough, none of them are green.

Wait! One of the projects has a teal interior...there's green in teal so there you go.

This is a needle book. For those of you that don't know about them, it's a place that you store your needles when not using them.

I was inspired by this post over at Craft Blog. Of course I had to make it my style with a little bit different finished look and I didn't have any buttons so I had to make ties, but it was still my inspiration!

Well, I've been needing a needle book for some time and I refuse to buy it if I can make it. That tends to mean that I go without things for awhile, but it's how I roll. So we have tons of those little wheels-o-needles all over the house because I can never find a needle when I need one.

Well I will have that problem no more! This brightly colored needle book should fix us right up.

It's made from a printed quilter's fabric (outside) and some teal felt (inside). I added an extra layer of each fabric in the middle to give it a little bit more cushion and to help the teal not to show through on the outside of the book. (There was probably an easier way to do that, but this was my method.) I wanted the extra cushion because I'm clumsy and stick my fingers all the time. I figure making it thicker than two layers of fabric will help save me from a few extra pin pricks to the fingers. That would be really nice.

It was a fun little project that took about 45 minutes to an hour to make.

I made it in my free time! Really people, if I can do this, then imagine what you can do in your free time.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

More fun with Shrink-a-Dinks

As the title suggests, I pulled out the Shrink-a-Dinks again tonight.

Made a couple of things that are destined to be magnets and key chains for the most part.

The main reason for this post is to show that you actually can mold the Shrink-a-dink plastic. If you look closely at the picture, one of the trinkets is twisted. I think that one will make a cool little pendant.

I played around for about an hour tonight to create these and a few other things. The longest part of this process is drawing stuff out on the plastic. Baking takes like 30 seconds once the oven has warmed up.

A new tip I would like to share is to bake your creations in batches. And make sure the pieces in each batch are of similar sizes. This will ensure you don't over cook anything. I think I came close tonight...and it was smelly...avoid over cooking at all costs.

Made in my free time: Imagine what you can do in yours!! :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

The pink elephant and the devil duck

Interested in testing my metal as a free form crocheter, I offered to make some animals for my kids last weekend.

They picked the kind of animal that I made and then I gave them free access to my yarn stash to pick the colors. Let's see if you can tell by what I created:

The duck on the left is for the boy and the elephant on the right is for the girl.

That's right, folks. Flaming red with baby blue accents was the idea of my almost 2 year old son, not me.

Anyhow, the elephant was pretty easy to figure out. The hardest part which wasn't really hard at all, was figuring out how to get the trunk to curve. It's all single crochet with increases and decreases worked in the round.

This project went really fast and I had it completed in a couple of hours.

Then there's the duck...well, let's just say that it has a nickname now: The Devil Duck.

The nickname was created not just because of the color, although it does make the duck look a little bit devilish. No, the nickname came because it took me MANY hours and MANY stitches to figure out this pattern. I'm talking: Crochet a shape, look at shape, decide it's not right, rip the stitches, crochet, look, decide, rip, crochet, and on and on until the duck started to take a duck-like shape. The head was really easy, but the body was certainly not. <--UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR

Right before I figured it out, I looked from the pile of ripped out yarn to my husband and proclaimed, "This is the last time I'm going to try this. If it doesn't work, the boy is getting a duck head and that's it!"

So I tried one last idea. An idea that if it hadn't worked would have been hell to rip out (see the theme here?). And then, to my utter amazement, the duck's body started to take shape.

In the 2 days that it took me to make the duck, I spent about 8 hours on the dang thing. Sad considering that once the pattern was figured out it took me about an hour and a half to complete.

I can tell you this: I won't be making another duck anytime soon. And when I do, I'm using a pattern.

All that trouble and turmoil and I still managed to pump out 2 crocheted critters in a weekend.

And the best part is that my kids love the animals. To date, they have slept with them every single night. That right there makes all the duck frustration worth it.

As I always say: If I made this in my free time, then imagine what you could do in yours!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Shrink-a-Dinks: Not just for kids anymore!

Today was fun with Shrink-a-Dinks!

I happened upon them while at our local craft store and couldn't help myself.

A few of the things that I made today

Do you have about 30 minutes to an hour of free time? Then this project is right up your alley!

I didn't take any pictures of the process but it basically goes like this:
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees (F)
  2. Stamp, draw, and/or color your desired images directly onto the textured side of the Shrink-a-Dink plastic
  3. Punch a hole in the top if you want to hang the finished product
  4. Cut out your image making sure to leave clean edges
  5. Place the cut outs on to a baking sheet lined with a brown paper bag
  6. Bake for anywhere from 1-5 minutes until the plastic lays flat on the baking sheet plus 30 seconds (the 30 seconds is to cure or set the plastic)*
  7. Pull out of the oven and press flat with a folded up piece of paper to ensure the plastic is completely flat. You only have 10 seconds to do this. If your finished product isn't the right shape/flat enough after it has cooled, then return to the oven until the plastic heats up enough to flatten down and reshape again. **
  8. Allow to dry completely.
  9. Use as desired. I think that a pair of tiny mushrooms might make for some really cute earrings. Most of the things that I made today are going to be keychains and zipper pulls, though.
*The Shrink-a-Dink plastic will curl and twist and move while it shrinks. This is normal! When it has shrunk as much as it will shrink, it will lay down flat on the baking sheet.

**If the plastic isn't flat after you've cooled it, please do as instructed here and in the directions that come in the package. If you try to force it down, the plastic will crack/break and all your work will be ruined. Yeah...I had to find that out the hard way...argh...

One of my creations in action

I mean, if this was all made in my free time, then imagine what you could do in yours!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Reversible Pouch Tutorial

I made reversible pouches for my kids recently and thought that I'd share the pattern.

They are super simple and take about 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

This pattern is very versatile for a couple of reasons.
1) The pouch can be made to virtually any size.
2) The pouch can be made with a drawstring close, snap close, zipper, and I'm even thinking about putting some rivets in one someday so a caribeaner can be used to attach it to belt buckles or a backpack.

The tutorial that I'm doing today will feature a basic open pouch.

Materials Needed:
Scissors or rotary cutter
Sewing machine
Iron and ironing board

How to Make the Reversible Pouch:

Click on pictures to see a larger version

Choose your fabrics and iron them flat before trimming to the desired size.

Cut the fabric to about 2 inches larger all the way around than you would like the finished bag to be. I cut and then iron--do not make this mistake as I had to go back and straighten my edges after I got done ironing.

Flip outside pieces and inside pieces facing the rights sides together (pictured left) and pin 3 of the 4 sides.

Note: I had to cut all 4 sides of my fabric because I was using a print that had a top and bottom. If you don't care that one side of your bag's pattern will be upside down (or you are using a fabric with no distinguishable top and bottom) then cut a long rectangle double the length of your bag's desired size plus 2 inches. That way you won't have to sew the bottom shut because it will already be closed. Save yourself some work.

Sew the outside pieces together leaving one of the sides open. This will be the top of the pouch.

Sew the inside pieces together leaving one of the sides open and a 2 1/2 inch gap in one seam for turning the bag out in later steps. My gap was smaller than that and it was tough to turn the bag out. Don't make my mistake!

Once the sides (and bottom, if applicable) are sewn, turn the inside pouch right side out and work it into the outside pouch. Pictured below left.

Line up the seams as pictured above right. The orange arrow points to where the seams are lined up. Pin the pouch so that it doesn't twist while you sew the top closed.

Sew along the top of the pouch. You may need to stop a couple of times to adjust the fabric so that it doesn't twist as you sew. I've found that the smaller the pouch, the more it twists.

Once you've stitched all the way around the top, pull the inside of the pouch out as pictured above.

Find the opening that you left in the inside fabric (pictured above) and pull the whole bag through it so that the right side is on the outside (pictured below).

We're almost there! Hang in there. Oh, and...

That's right. Fold over the edges of the hole in the inside fabric (iron them down if they won't stay on their own) and sew it shut. You can sew it shut the easy but visible way: via sewing machine. Or you can sew it shut the more time consuming but less visible way: by hand. I've done both and they both work well.

Push the inside of the pouch into the outside of the pouch and stitch about 1/2 to 1 inch away from the top edge of the opening. This is the finishing hem that will show on the outside of the bag, so take care to make it straight! If you're really worried about it, then I've found that using a zig zag stitch sometimes helps to camouflage my inability to sew in a straight line.

Sidenote: Do you ever have days like this where no matter what you do, you can't sew in a straight line to save your life? I certainly do...

And there you have it! You've got a reversible pouch. Perfect for little hands with little things or big hands with little things. Protect your cell phone or Ipod, a book, anything really.

Here are all of the pouches I made that day

These were made in my free time. Imagine what you can do in yours!

Happy sewing!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Mushrooms!

I love mushrooms.

As a teen, I used to spend hours drawing/coloring mushrooms to hang on my wall. I'm not sure where it all started, but I love them.

So naturally, I decided it would be a fantastic idea to crochet one.

The first amigurumi pattern that I ever created was a mushroom. In fact, here is that first mushroom right after I made it:

I didn't have a pattern, the right sized crochet hook, or the typical mushroom colors (red and white), but I did it anyway. It measures about 4 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide or so. My kids love it.

The process went well, so I bought a smaller sized crochet hook and I made another mushroom. Then another. And another.

Since the creation of the first mushroom in the beginning of February, I've made tons more.

I perfected the pattern so that the mushroom will stand up on it's own and I've even reworked the mushroom pictured above with a smaller crochet hook.

Here are a few more of them:

I've given them away as gifts and I have even made a trade in which I got a really nice soy candle in exchange for a mushroom.

I've also made a mushroom trivet for my Grandma:

And some mushroom afghan squares for a blanket that I will make for myself *one day*:

The sky is the limit with mushrooms! I've made all of these projects in my free time since the second week in February.

If I can do this in a couple of hours a night here and there, then imagine what you can do!

Friday, March 5, 2010

A bag and a pillow

I made a couple of things for my kids earlier this week.

One of them had to stay home sick, so what better time than then to make something to make them feel good?

My daughter got a reversible butterfly bag with pockets. Her brother got the dragon pillow.

They are both happy campers!

The bag took about 4 hours to complete. The pillow took about 15 minutes. They are both basic designs that you can find patterns for by typing "pillow sewing tutorial" or "reversible bag tutorial" into any search engine.

I made these in my free time. I know you could do so much more with yours!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Polymer Clay

I'm having so much fun finding new mediums to craft with.

Today I'm going to discuss polymer clay.

I have used polymer clay in the past and had a lot of fun with it. In kindergarten, my best friend and I used to make all sorts of odds, ends, widgets, and other treasures with it when I'd go visit her house. I think I even still have a little pink pebble shaped lump that she gave me floating around my house somewhere.

The thing is, as a young child, polymer clay is cumbersome. You can't do it right unless there's an adult present and willing to run the baking portion of polymer clay treasure making. You could leave it and wait until and adult is ready, but kids want instant gratification! I was more of a do it on my own kind of kid. Plus my parents were always really busy. So I found other crafts to play around with and forgot about polymer clay.

That is, until a few days ago.

I picked up some polymer clay (Sculpey was the brand that I used) and my husband and I made some mushrooms for my terrarium.

I didn't have any varnish to seal them with so they haven't been put in the terrarium yet, but they look very nice on my windowsill next to my plants.

Some polymer clay making tips:
  • Like many humans, I use my hands when grasping and shaping things. So because of this, most of my projects were "textured" with fingerprints. The fingerprints didn't bother me, but if they bother you then you can wear some gloves. Polymer clay tools may also be helpful.
  • Some of the color on the clay will come off on your hands. This is significant if you roll up, say, some red clay and then go grabbing for the white. Soon your white will become pink! To avoid this, you should wash your hands between colors. At the very least work the lighter colors before moving to the darker colors if you don't feel like washing in the middle of your project.
  • Large products may crack during the baking process. I didn't have this problem with the stuff that I made, but I've heard others talk about it being a problem. Apparently Sculpey makes a polymer clay that is supposed to be resistant to cracking like that, but I live in Interior Alaska and our craft stores don't seem to carry that version. At least I can't find it. Though I didn't really look that hard either--just a quick look over the polymer clay section at each of the 3 small stores in town.
  • You can paint polymer clay. Not happy with the colors of your project? Only have white clay when you want to make a blue bird? No problem! Paint works great on these. I didn't paint mine, but it can be done.
In about 45 minutes, I made these mushrooms. Most of that time was spent sculpting.

These were made in my free time: imagine what you could do in yours!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ninja Heads

I like to crochet things that one doesn't always see patterns for.

For instance, I recently decided to crochet a ninja. And being the free spirit that I am, I decided to make my own pattern for it.

So I set off with some black yarn and a G (4.25 mm) sized crochet hook. In about 15 minutes I had created the head of the ninja and started on the bandanna. A few more minutes and I had created this ninja head:

Numbered List
Ninja-like, right? I thought so, first.

As I tend to do, I soon started picking the pattern apart. Small changes to make it better, the curse of a perfectionist is in the details. I could spend hours ripping stitches for perfection.

The biggest change that I wanted to make was to add an actual face patch. As it is above, the ninja is very cartoonish and the placement of the eyes is a big factor. I think that the pattern would work well as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, but for an actual ninja's head? I just don't think it worked.

So with my modifications in mind, I set out to create the new ninja and I'm quite proud of the result:

A full view of the crocheted ninja head awesomeness:

Remember Spy vs. Spy from Mad magazine? This is my ninja head rendition--crochet style. Strung together on braided yarn for my husband. Now he can stop complaining that I never make him anything.

He's going to hang them on the rearview mirror in his car. Crocheting for guys is always tough. I'm quite proud that he deems them good enough to put on display.

Just think, I made this in my free time. Imagine what you could do!

And now I'm off to do some yoga. Good night all!

Yes, little phantom ninja head, I will find something for you to do, too. Coming soon...