I’m moving!

No, not me, just my blog. I have found a Weebly site where I can blog AND sell, which I may want to do in the future, so off I go into new territory. I think this will be my last post here, so if you’d like to check out my new blog, it’s chickadeeworkshop.weebly.com (Sorry, the auto link feature is not working)

There isn’t much to see yet, just some background designs, a home page and two blog posts. You have to start somewhere. At some point in the future, you may be able to buy my creations online through the new site. Fingers crossed for that (maybe next spring.)

Thanks to WordPress for being a great blog hosting site! I have no complaints, and if I didn’t plan to sell my creations online I’d just stay right here. I’m not planning on deleting this WordPress blog. You should be able to check on these old posts for quite awhile, if you so desire.

Photos at last.

I promised photos from June, but decided to just include those in with the more current ones. I’ve been creating items for my craft business as fast as I can (considering I’ve had two surgeries in two months) and I’m happy with what’s been completed so far. One of my favorite things is what I like to call “Felt Peeps,” because that’s what everyone thinks they look like. I’ve made literally dozens of them and will probably do more, because they are handmade from start to finish and I can completely make one sitting in my recliner, from the tracing and cutting, to the stuffing and stitching. They are totally hand stitched from high quality wool blend felt (not the acrylic craft stuff.)

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This simple little rag-type doll will be dressed in jumper, apron, pantaloons, bonnet and shoes and I plan to make quite a few of them in different hair and eye colors.

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She’s about 12″ tall and has embroidered facial details and yarn hair.

The smaller version of this doll, which is meant to be “her” doll, but will actually be sold as a separate item is here.

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And for scale:

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She’s only a bit less than 4″ tall and entirely hand made and painted. She will also have a dress, apron, pantaloons and bonnet. I can’t wait to make these tiny clothes!

Here’s just a small sampling of the tiny felt folk I intend to make.

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For scale:

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These are made from pipe cleaners, embroidery floss, wool felt, wool roving (for hair), hand painted (by me) wooden beads and real acorn caps for caps. The skirts and wings are from deconstructed silk flowers. I plan to make lots of fairies of various sizes, plus family groups of “regular” people, as well as a king, queen, princess, wizard, etc. These are very detailed, but fun when I’m in the proper mood. They are made in stages, so I do maybe 8-10 at a time and work a rather slow assembly line process.

I don’t see these as children’s toys, because of their delicate nature, but more as collectibles.

And last, but not least, and probably my favorite up to this point, are my Baby Dumplings. Approximately 10″ tall and made from flannelette, poly stretch knit, and craft fur, the faces are hand painted and needle sculpted for a more realistic shape. I love these sweet babies and made (and sold) dozens of them years ago. I hope they sell well, because they are a joy for me to make. They are toys, but probably for the 3 years and up set, due to noses and ribbons possibly being able to be removed by a rough toddler.

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I think the back is almost as cute as the front:

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Well, there’s a sneak peak at my progress, as it stands. I obviously have lots more to do and haven’t even begun clothing the poor little naked ones, but I’ve made a tiny drop in a big bucket for my future business. I’m loving it all.

I haven’t begun my “main attraction,” which will be my Waldorf dolls, and I’m still tweaking my paper doll, which is based on the Waldorf dolls. I also plan to do some clothespin dolls, if time permits, so I will have some more small, inexpensive items. And then, there are the American Girl doll clothes, too.

I haven’t pictured them here, but I also have made a ton of fabric Easter eggs. My first show is just a few weeks before Easter next year, so I’m thinking the eggs and the felt chicks will do well as moms are shopping for tiny things to add to Easter baskets. I can proudly proclaim that mine or sugar free, fat free and gluten free ;)

Whew!

SPOILER ALERT!!!   If you haven’t watched last night’s episode of Project Runway yet (Episode 12) please skip this post.  If you have (or you don’t care)  scroll down……

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply because I’m not on Facebook anymore, I’m going to have to say this here:   I was totally holding my breath last night, hoping against hope that Ken wouldn’t make a gorgeous dress that would make the judges have to keep him.  And I let out a big, loud “YES!”  to my empty living room when they said he was going home.  I don’t care how good he is, he doesn’t deserve to win.

I have no idea what’s in the contracts for these contestants, but there certainly should be something about this kind of behavior (Alessandro, too!) getting you disqualified from the competition.  People competing in a true contest of abilities shouldn’t have to deal with this kind of crap.   I don’t handle that kind of hate and anger being spewed at me and if I were competing, I wouldn’t be able to focus on my own project.  I’d be curled up in a corner somewhere, crying like someone hit me.  It’s an unfair thing to do to the contestants to expect them to continue, week after week, with that kind of vitriol all around.  So when I say, “Whew!”  I’m saying it for myself (cause now I can actually enjoy the designing competition for the remainder of the episodes) and for the other contestants, because it seems like it will be more just.  

I just had to say it :)

Apologies!

It’s been awhile since I posted, and actually, I had a post ready to go in late May-Early June, but it needed photos; I saved it in draft form and then forgot about it…and never took the photos :( I’m so embarrassed.

Life has taken some crazy turns since mid-June…breast cancer (caught early and I’m going to be fine!) and the decision to go ahead and retire. I had planned on working till the end of the year, but knowing what I was going to have to deal with (surgery and radiation) caused me to rethink the whole thing. I’m lucky to have worked for a state agency that allows me to keep my insurance as a retiree. As I’m not 65 yet, Medicare is not an option, so this was an absolute necessity. So I retired as of Aug 1, but actually left my job two weeks before that to have surgery.

I have most of the surgery behind me (they do have to go back in a remove a tiny bit more) and still have the radiation to deal with. Probably 5 times a week for 6 weeks. Yuk, I know, right? But I don’t have to lose a breast (or my hair) and I don’t have to lose my life, so I’m not complaining. Just dealing with it and moving on.

The good news is that I’m already up to my ears in doing what I love, which is making things with fabric, stuffing, thread, yarn, ribbons, etc.–especially dolls. I am stocking up on inventory in preparation for my first craft show, which will be next February. It’s a big one–Friday night through Sunday afternoon–so I have to really have a lot to sell. I probably need enough to fill my tables and then have some in reserve to re-stock if supplies dwindle. This is daunting in itself, but not knowing what will sell well and what won’t is the hard part. The last craft show I checked on had NO dolls being sold, so I think I have a niche, but how much?

My plan is to make a lot of small, inexpensive things, that I can easily restock, a little less of the mid-priced, mid-sized, things and just a few of the larger items. My Waldorf dolls will be the least in number, but I plan to take custom orders for these, so I just need to have maybe a half-dozen for display.

American girl doll clothes are something I can stock up on and I know they’re popular, but how many other people will be selling them? Ah, there’s the rub.

And then there are all sorts of other things to be considered….table covers, signage, pricing tags, display containers (racks, shelves, baskets, suitcases.) It’s a lot to decide and do, but now that I’m not having to deal with “work” my mind is free to play with all of this, and find bargains, too.

So, even though it’s in reverse order, I will probably get those photos taken that were supposed to go with my LAST post (ahem) and get it up here very soon. And then I will wait a couple of weeks and get photos of my more recent stuff and update everyone.

OH! I almost forgot….I probably will….at some point in the next few months…be moving my blog to a Weebly-hosted site. It’s rather inexpensive for an account that will allow me to sell my items online, as well as continue to blog. It seems easier (cheaper) and more cohesive than Etsy and search engines will still be able to access it. A fellow entrepreneur has her own site and blog there, and it looks like a good plan. Cheap and easy, what more could I ask?

So look for further updates to all of this soon, along with photos! I’m well and doing what I’ve been waiting for 30 years to do.

Tools and ‘quipment

I am so lucky that I have a husband who understands the need for the proper tools for the job, and not just in home repair and construction, but in any kind of production. If I say I need it, he says, “get it.” However, in this case I said, “You can make this, can’t you?” and he said, “Yes!”

This is a reversible ironing board used for sewing doll clothes. I saw one for sale online and thought that the price was reasonable, but why buy it when he can make it with scrap wood and I can certainly sew the covers myself. So here is what we made:

Doll clothes ironing board

This is going to make pressing in those small spaces so much easier and I won’t have to keep the larger ironing board set up during the construction.

If anyone wants to buy one of these, I can’t help you because the Etsy seller who originally had them, no longer has any up for sale. So glad I could at least still find the picture in her gallery so we could model ours the same. If I had it to do over again, I’d make it shorter….less space between the boards…but it’s still fine. I’d say the larger board is about 15″ long and the smaller one about 12″ Both boards are covered in several thin layers of cotton batting (like you would use for quilting) and then a double layer of muslin with a drawstring to hold it on tightly.

We are going to the camper on Thursday (yay!) and after we return on June 2, I can get started on making some American Girl doll clothes for my craft business. I. Can’t. Wait. For both things–the camping vacation AND the doll clothes making.

One thing and another, and maybe one more.

I have still not finished the reorganization of my sewing space, but progress has been made. I do have both of my large cabinets in place and I’m still loading them up and adjusting things on shelves. The rest of the room is gradually getting better. I didn’t get the second cabinet painted, but I needed it desperately and decided to decoupage it later. I can do that while it’s loaded and in place and not have to move it.

I did make a new tablecloth for my dining room, using some fabric that my son gave me that goes perfectly.
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And then…and THEN (she says with emphasis)…I finally began some crafting for next year’s shows. I have painted many, many little teensy faces on wooden beads, which is the beginning of some Wee Folk of Felt. I am loaded up with pipe cleaners, faux flower petals and good quality wool felt and embroidery floss to make the wee people and fairies. I found I’m not so excellent at painting the beads that are smaller than one inch, and most especially, the ones that are one half inch. I think the one-inch ones turned out well, though, so unless I get a lot better at the smallest ones, I’ll stick to the larger people and fairies in the future.

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I do think these look better in person than they appear in these photos….maybe it’s my camera? Or the photographer who knows nothing about photography??

I will soon be painting some clothespins in preparation for clothespin dolls. I want to have the painting on these things mostly done before my first camper trip of the season, so I won’t have to be painting while I’m there. I’d rather just have faces done and get to work on clothing and hair, and in the case of the Wee Folk, embroidery floss wrapping.

I tried my hand at polymer clay, making some simple buttons. My inexpensive thrift store toaster oven scorched them, despite my best efforts at controlling the temp and even using an oven thermometer. I also decided that, without purchasing a $70 pasta roller, this type of clay work is too hard on my arthritic hands. The purchase of said roller would be a risky one when I don’t know if these things would sell or if I can even get the temp control problem fixed, so I decided to let that particular craft idea go. I hadn’t spent a lot of money on it up to this point, so I don’t feel too badly about cutting my losses now. Live and learn….if you don’t try, how will you know if you can do something?

Just tonight I have been working on woodburning some bamboo kitchen spoons for gifts. This. Is. Fun. Simple, rustic, free-form, design-as-I-go. Can’t say who these will be for, but I think they will be well received. I think I’ll buy another woodburning tip or two, so I can add some more designs. It’s one of those times when less is NOT more, MORE is more! If I wanted less, I’d just leave them plain in the first place :)

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These are not finished; I do plan to add more designs to them, but it gives an idea of what I’m talking about.

Oh! And my birthday present this year is an American Girl doll, Marie Grace. She’s of the historical time period of New Orleans 1863 and comes in the appropriate clothing and shoes. I’ve always wanted an A.G. doll for my collection, but never wanted to spend the $100+ for one. However, since I plan to make and sell A.G. clothing, then not only do I NEED at least one doll for fitting purposes, but the cost will be deductible when it’s time to pay taxes on my earnings. Win-win, right?

Getting to the point of counting down the weeks till my retirement….at this time a little over 38 weeks. It’s kind of surreal and reminds me of my senior year of high school. I’ll be happy to be putting 8-5 days behind me and dealing with the public in the way that I currently do, but jumping off into the future and leaving behind all that’s familiar does cause some anxiety, too. So, I’m excited (a lot!) and apprehensive (a little.) Doing my best to be prepared financially and not have any unpleasant and expensive surprises, of course.

New Cookbook Review

The Homemade Pantry – 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making is a book I wish I had written and really wish I’d had back in the 70′s and 80′s when I was a stay-at-home mom. I did a lot of home cooking in those days, making my own bread, cereals, muffins, biscuits and all sorts of other things.

The writer, Alana Chernila, writes the recipes in a conversational tone and each chapter is begun with an anecdote from her own life experiences, as a child, a young woman, a wife, a mother, a sister, a friend, and when you put it all together you have quite a life story all mixed in beautifully with the recipes. I loved her honesty in discussing her family life. She is not a supermom with perfect children who eat every exotic and/or healthy thing she places in front of them. She deals with real life, real time constraints and very real (normal) strong-willed children. I felt like she could have been my friend and I’d have been happy to commiserate with her over child raising and cooking, while we grabbed a few minutes to have a cup of tea in a lovely cup.

The recipes…I have not tried a single one yet, but they all look fantastic and doable. “Pop Tarts” are the first on my list to try, and graham crackers, both chosen for the simple reason that I’ve never made either of them. I’ve made a number of her other items over the years – homemade bread, butter, granola, jam…..I’m not new to this party, but I’m eager to try her versions. If you ARE new to home cooking and baking, try a simple one and see how good it feels to cook something where you know all the ingredients that are in it because you put them there yourself!

Alana is also honest in recognizing that some of these things are NOT cheaper to make yourself, nor are they quick, but that the rewards are great. Each of us has to decide, on any given day, what is worth our time and the extra effort it takes to measure, pour, chop, slice, stir, whisk, mix, whip, fold, saute, roast and bake. Some days we can get ahead and make good things that will help get us through the days when we can’t keep our heads above water. We all have those.

This book was an enjoyable read for me and I read it straight through like a novel, instead of skipping all around looking for my favorites as I normally do with a cookbook. I am really looking forward to trying some of the recipes SOON.

I’m also enjoying Alana’s blog, “Eating From the Ground Up.” You will find the link on my Blogroll on the right side bar. Please go check out her entries about food and life. Enjoy!

Addendum: I got a chance to try Alana’s graham crackers and they were a success! The only thing I need to do is practice more even rolling and then get a fix on how long to cook for that thickness. I like them to be crunchy and some of mine weren’t because they were thicker. I also don’t care for having to measure them for cutting, which you need to do for consistency of cooking, as well as fitting together for peanut butter sandwich-ing purposes. :) I might just cut them with round cookie cutters in the future to help with that. I definitely think they need the cinnamon sugar for the extra sweetness. But yes, they taste like the store-bought kind and even have the same texture. Bingo!

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