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 ūüėČ

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 ūüė¶ 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.

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 ūüôā

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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.

Collecting for far-off projects.

I am collecting acorn caps for a future project because, well, this IS the time to find them in abundance and vast variety. I’m going to eventually be making some little people using the caps for caps, of course, and also using felt, pipe cleaners, beads,wool roving for hair, perhaps some synthetic flowers for faerie skirts and some embroidery floss. Salley Mavor wrote a wonderful book about this that you can read about at:

http://www.amazon.com/Felt-Wee-Folk-Enchanting-Projects/dp/1571201939

Sally wrote this so that you can make these for your own children or relatives, but I may jump off into some original designs and make them for craft sales when I retire. I am going to do some experimenting with designs, so it’s probably going to have to wait for retirement, as I just can’t give it the time it requires at the moment. But I’m gonna be ready! Various acorn caps can be found online and probably at some local craft shop or other, but there is some enjoyment in the gathering process and some satisfaction in using what is right¬†here underfoot.

Here is a sampling of what I’ve gathered so far, ranging in size from less than 1/2″ to just under 1″ and in different depths and shapes:

This is going to be a fun project when I get time for it.¬† Retirement is coming in 14 mos. and 2 weeks, but who’s counting, right?

Elfing projects 2011

I had a great time making homemade goodies for gifts this year, and can now freely post about them.  Some of my favorites were these clay ornaments and gift tags.

These were so much fun, I was like a kid playing with play doh!¬† I found the tutorial online (though not free) and it was very detailed and helpful.¬† This project uses air-dry¬†white clay¬†(DAS is recommended) and¬†some cookie cutters.¬† I used some rubber stamps for texture, as well as rolling between linen fabrics.¬†¬†I had some special clay stamps for the lettering.¬† It takes a little patience for the drying, and you do need to flip them over frequently to prevent the edges from curling as they dry.¬† The final stage is some sanding (I used plain old emery boards)¬†of the edges, and then adding loops of 1/8″ white ribbon.

It was a very satisfying project and well received, because the ornaments were chosen and embellished for the individuals involved.  I did lots of extras to use as gift tags (just write on them with a fine point Sharpie.) What I loved about these is that they are simple, basic and earthy, somehow at the same time both rustic and elegant, and very personal.

I made¬†some brown sugar scrubs and¬†just packed¬†them in recycled cosmetic jars.¬†¬†The¬†luxury lotion bars were a simple matter of melting together three ingredients (beeswax, shea butter and avocado oil) and pouring into small molds.¬† I packaged these up rather grandly for the gifting, but you don’t need to go as far as I did!

One of my gifts was a box of hand-made ornaments for a person who will probably decorate a small tree for herself with them. There were several of the white clay ornaments, as well as crocheted roses in several sizes and different textures of yarns (forgot photos, sorry!)  There were some crocheted snowflakes and some fabric rosebuds, as well as these adorable yo yo flowers.

All the objects were white, off-white, or natural in color;¬† I just got started with the white clay and kept going, so I called her gift, “variations on a theme.”¬† There was also a button-covered, beribboned ball ornament and I am so kicking myself for not remembering to photograph it!¬†¬† She loves buttons and all of them were white, off white or natural variations with a large silk bow.

Another fun project (mostly because it was for someone really special) is this shrug for my violin teacher, Monika.  I promised her I would not post her picture here, so the second best thing would be these photos with the strange color (the sweater is actually black.)

I almost forgot!¬†¬†There was also homemade hot fudge sauce and caramel sauce, which people received with great enthusiasm.¬† I’ve already shown the caramel, but here is the hot fudge sauce being jarred.

I found a recipe that was very straightforward, though I must admit that the first batch got thrown out, due to a really dumb mistake.¬† I put about 10 times too much salt in it and it took for-EVER to boil, but it looked beautiful when it was done.¬† One taste, however, told me what I’d done wrong.¬† No matter how long you’ve been cooking, you can still make silly mistakes that destroy your project.¬† I tried not let it mess up my head and just started over.¬† In half an hour I had the project done correctly, but that was a long evening.¬† I was just grateful that I had enough of the ingredients to do another batch without going shopping again.

There were some huge batches of granola made for a few people, also.¬† I love this stuff myself and it’s a huge sacrifice for me to give it away, LOL, but the people who received it are very special to me, so it’s all good.

Hope your holidays are as wonderful and warm as mine.¬† I loved the making and giving….wish I could give handmade gifts to all on my list, but some don’t value it as much, or want/need more technical or practical things and that’s okay, too.¬† I spent time with my family (and Skyped¬†with the daughter not here) and ate a bounty of good food.¬† All the gifts I received were thoughtful and personal (including the kitchen¬†appliances that I specifically requested!)

Another project completed (almost)

I was given some fabric for Christmas that I wasn’t sure how to use, since nothing in my home coordinates with it (rust red, cream and warm tan).¬† I thought it was lovely, but just wasn’t sure where it was going to go, since my home is mostly blue and green.¬† Then suddenly, I found myself with all those cream-colored curtain panels for the camper and “bing!” the light bulb went off (came on?)¬†in my head.¬† They were so boring and since I didn’t have to make them from scratch, I could spend some time being creative with the ones for the bedroom area.

I already am using a cream-colored fleece blanket on the bed and sometimes use a bright-colored throw across it as well.¬† So I decided to use the rust print as a trim on the curtains.¬† I didn’t want to trim the ones behind the bed, because very little really shows of them anyway, but the ones on the front wall and back wall windows could use some zing.¬† So I made 2″ wide trim using one of these gadgets:

It’s a Clover product and I love using these in various smaller sizes, but the 2″ one is rather difficult to keep consistent.¬† The trim winds up a little less or a little more than 2″ in some areas, depending on how fast you pull it through.¬† It isn’t a great issue in this instance and it was a HUGE time saver for making the trim that I will use on the panels.

The ones that need trimming are currently ON the windows of the camper, so my plan is to take them down, one at a time, while we are there vacationing, and sew the trim on (just above and over¬†the topstitched hem edge) using an obvious¬†running stitch (as if¬†I were quilting a quilt)¬†with¬†some tan quilting¬†thread.¬† I think it will give it a nice “rustic” quality and I can do it while I sit by the creek, so I don’t have to drag out the sewing machine and spend time indoors if it’s nice out.¬† I think it will be quite relaxing, while being totally productive.

After I cut out the¬†trim from the¬†two¬†yards of print fabric I¬†decided that matching pillowcases would be nice on the bed. I didn’t have quite enough, so I used some of the extra curtain panel fabric to make¬†them long enough¬†and trimmed them with some purchased¬†tan bias tape, topstiched with rust red thread, and sewed some decorative leaf stitching across the cream end.¬† The pillowcase¬†construction¬†was all done on the serger, so the insides will¬†never ravel.¬†¬† I am so happy with these and Jim thought they were amazing (he’s easy to impress when it comes to sewing, LOL.)

So here we have the results:

Here you can see the trim all made up (right side and wrong side) and ready to take with me to apply:

I will take photos of the completed bedroom when it’s done.¬† I think it is going to be very warm and cozy looking.¬† My family will be shocked because I rarely (never???)¬†do anything for my home that isn’t blue, green, or white.¬† I am thinking of doing a similar color treatment in our guest room at home sometime in the future.¬† Ummm….NOT roosters, though!¬†¬† It would be a deep, warm red, a soft, “bisquit-y,” golden beige and¬†cream,¬†maybe with some metallic gold accents somewhere and some beading (maybe some small amounts of velveteen or microfiber.)¬† I’m thinking rich and luxurious, not rustic.¬† I can see it in my head….but it won’t be soon, because it is so not “necessary” and it’s probably going to be expensive, even with my home dec sewing skills.

I also whipped up another two dozen of these tonight:

In case this photo looks like nothing but a lump-of-white-something to you (as it does to me!) it is actually more of the cloth “paper towels” I use in my kitchen.¬† Previous post from last spring explains these.¬† Since this blog is partly a documentation of my projects, even the boring ones make it to publication.

To give credit where it is due, I thank my son for the fabric I would have never thought to buy on my own.  I wasted NONE of it!   And the 4 yards of two different blue prints (roosters also) that I was given will be used as well, though probably for something at home.

Tomorrow is Monday, so it’s back to work, but only for five days and then next Sunday we’ll be on our way back to our little piece of¬† heaven for the last time this year.

Back home to reality.

Well, almost.¬† I still have a few days off, thank goodness, but home brings you back to real life almost instantly.¬† Laundry, cleaning, garden, groceries.¬† I decided to be good to myself today and ease in gradually, only doing the laundry (which was considerable!)¬†and some picking up, along with some errands in town.¬† Oh, and reconciling the bank statment–not difficult, but time consuming and tedious, since we pay for nearly everything with our debit card.¬† It’s been a quiet day alone, since Jim had a “field trip” with my sis-in-law and her brother.¬† It was nice to be with myself.¬† I need that sometimes so I can clear my head and listen to my own thoughts.

But to show you how relaxing most of our trip was, here is a good representation:

The weather was mostly fantastic!¬† In the seventies and breezy, which was great for napping out by the creek.¬† Or handsewing by the creek, which was mostly what I did, but I took my turn in the recliner on occasion, too. ūüôā

I discovered the joy of making yo-yos, which is quite addictive.¬† I wanted to have an assortment made up for embellishing some little dresses I’m going to make for a charity.¬† And of course, they have other uses, too, such as on handbags, sweaters, hairbands, etc.¬† Real afficionados sew them together and make placemats, table runners and even quilts.¬† I’m not fond of that look.¬† Sometimes less is more.

For the non-sewers, yo-yos are little fabric¬†circles that are gathered up, so they look a lot like flowers.¬† They way they are done, there are no raw edges¬†showing and they are very quick to make with the little plastic discs sold in sewing stores, though women have been making them for probably at least a couple hundred years.¬† You can make them in various sizes and layer them, or add buttons or beads to the centers. Here’s a sampling of mine in two sizes:

Flowery patterns/colors look great, of course, but even geometric designs like the stripes turn out beautifully.¬† When I ran out of the scraps I brought with me, I went shopping at Goodwill for something inexpensive to cut up and that’s where I found the flowery pinks.¬†¬† You can get lots of beautiful fabric cheap if you are willing to shop at thrift stores, flea markets and yard sales (and if you only need small pieces.)¬† You just have to get over cutting into a beautiful garment.¬† Sometimes it’s hard.

So that’s my vacation.¬† Traveling a beautiful countryside, laying in a recliner by the creek, visiting with relatives on the deck, marshmallows over a campfire….and yo-yos.¬† Now it’s back to making more camper curtains and shortening some I bought (also at Goodwill), saving myself a¬†LOT of¬†time.

We did one other exciting thing¬†on our last day¬†and it involves a purchase I can’t talk about yet, so I will update on that in about a week.

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