Craft Projects

August 30th Already? When Did That Happen?

In January, I wrote “So, welcome to 2014, the year of creative immersion” and then promptly was derailed by all of the non-creative bits of my life. If you’re a person who, like me, thrives on creative activities, then you know the tune and how disheartening it can be.  I know I’d been away from it for too long when simply inventorying the products for Harvest Moon Designs felt like a vacation.  Normally, inventorying is about as far from fun as I can stand to be.  Yet, it was nice just to see things that I’d made and be reminded of the creative process.

It’s time to get back on track again.  My Etsy shop has been growing cobwebs in my absence, so I’m trying to give it a little TLC and get it restocked in time for holiday shopping (hence the reason for inventorying).   I’m also attempting to get back into a daily creative practice, even if it’s only a few minutes at a time. 

I’m re-posting my list of 2014 creative goals as a reminder to myself what I’ve done and where I need to focus (while simultaneously attempting to cure insomnia in my readers).

  • Write at least 200,000 words – 100,000 each of fiction/poetry and non-fiction  – As of right now, the count is approximately 27,000 fiction and 10,800 non-fiction. After January, I fell off the writing wagon and haven’t really been able to climb back on.  I do plan to participate in NaNoWriMo again this year and if successful, will at least get my fiction word count closer to goal.
  • Quilt or crochet at least 4 new blankets for charity – One down
  • Create 24 new paintings or drawings – Two sketches down.
  • Make at least 10 new pieces of jewelry – No progress on this one.
  • Create a new batch of wands for my Etsy shop – I have approximately fifty wands in various states of completion.  This is my big push right now, as I want to get these up in time for Halloween shopping.
  • Take at least 50 decent photos to share – If pictures of my cats count, I’m almost there.
  • Finish at least 5 items from the Abandoned Projects Pile – Let’s just say they’re still abandoned at the moment.
    • Crocheted vest
    • Blue patch-work throw
    • Photo pendants for the shop
    • Woodland Santa cross-stitch
    • Autumn themed full-sized quilt

That’s where things are at the moment. With any luck, I’ll have at least one creative project to post about in the next few weeks. 

Hope you’re all finding time to feed the creative fires.

Chris Signature

 

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Resolutions – Progress Report

A few updates on that goal list I posted at the beginning of January:

  • Write at least 200,000 words – 100,000 each of fiction/poetry and non-fiction –   My total January word count is right around 31,000, which is approximately ten times what I expected it to be.  At this rate, I should be able to meet my goals without a problem. 
  • Quilt or crochet at least 4 new blankets for charity – One spiral afghan is in progress and should be finished by the end of February.
  • Finish at least 5 items from the Abandoned Projects Pile including:
    • Blue patch-work throw (from 2011 or 12) – The blocks have been assembled and seams pressed.  I’ve given myself a deadline of the first day of spring to have this one finished.
    • Autumn themed full-sized quilt (fabrics purchased in 2012/early 2013) – The bulk of the piecing has been completed on this one, but I still need to assemble everything for the top.  Another one that I want to finish by the end of the winter.

We’ll see how February goes.  Hopefully more words and lots of quilting progress.

Chris Signature

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Crazy Cat Lady’s Pumpkin

It’s official: I have turned into a crazy cat lady. When I saw allyou’s Kitty Pumpkin Template, I had to make one. Several hot glue gun burns later, I ended up with this…

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…  November is nearly here again, which means National Novel Writing Month is looming large in my world.  In twelve days, I’m planning to start the next novel.  The word counter is already posted here, so anyone who’s bored can come check my progress.  There’s just one problem.  I have no idea what to write this year.  I have twelve days to pick an idea, come up with something vaguely resembling a plot, create a cast of characters, and outline at least the basics of the story.  No pressure.  None at all.   If anyone needs me, I’ll be in the corner with my notebook, waiting for the ideas to find me.

Chris Signature

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Bowled Over

A few months ago, I nearly died of sticker shock when I saw the price tag for a coiled fabric bowl in a local craft outlet.  It was a lovely little bowl about six inches across in lovely watery blues.  It reminded me of something that should have had a place in my grandmother’s kitchen… folky, primitive, and homey in its style.  Unfortunately, this petite piece of folk art was priced at $75.  I left the cute little bowl right where I had found it.

While recently searching for some ideas for Christmas gifts, I came across instructions for making a coiled rag bowl very similar to the one I’d seen.  For less than the cost of a fast food meal, I was able to create one myselfl.  It’s an imperfect first attempt, but I’m pretty happy with it.  The creation involves strips of torn fabric, cotton cording, lots of pins, and a bit of thread.  Mine included more than a few pricked fingers and swear words, but that’s what usually happens when I’m allowed near anything sharp and pointy.  I imagine that a more graceful craft-person could manage the project without these last two inclusions.  At any rate, my wallet is still intact, even if my fingers aren’t.

Spring2013 263

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A Few of My Favorite Things

A friend asked a very good question the other day, one that I hadn’t given a lot of thought: “Out of everything you’ve ever created, what are your favorites?” To which I responded: “Why do my friends always ask difficult questions?”  To be more precise about it, I should have said “Why do my friends ask questions that I find difficult to answer?”

I could have shrugged and said “I dunno.”  Or I could have gone the noble route and decried “Favorite?  How can I chose a favorite among these creations?  They are my children.  I love them all equally.”  Well, no, actually, I don’t love everything I’ve ever made.  Thinking about it, I realized that I do have some favorites among the works that I’ve done.  They aren’t necessarily my best works or the ones that have brought recognition or monetary reward.  My favorites tend to be those peices that have given me the greatest sense of accomplishment or in some way appeal deeply to my own tastes.

After some thought, this is what I came up with… eight of my all-time favorites, in no particular order.

These are (starting clockwise at the top left corner):

  1. Logo for my online herbal shop. This was a utilitarian piece, obviously, created because I didn’t want to buy a pre-made avatar.  I won’t claim that it’s a great piece of art, but I loved the process of transforming a badly snapped shot of my garden and turning it into something unique.
  2. Beaded star necklace.  To be techinical, this was the first one beaded star that I created and it took hours to get it right.  What a great feeling of accomplishment when it was all done.
  3. Butterly mobile.  I’ve been creating butterfly suncatchers from recycled plastic and clear paints for years.  It finally occurred to me to make a mobile out of them.  It’s impossible to be unhappy when working on these.
  4. At Scythe Point.  This novel was the product of my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month.  I am incredibly amazed at my own capacity to write an entire, mostly coherent novel in thirty days.  Creating it was an absolute rush.
  5. Favorite photo.  I take pictures everywhere I go and doubly so if there’s an old cemetery, but this one is my personal favorite.
  6. Dream quilt.  This was my first (and probably next to last) attempt to make a full size quilt.
  7. Seaglass necklace.  This piece was created by me for me.  The seaglass came home with me from a trip to the Carribean several years ago and finally found a home as part of this peice.  I’m particularly sentimental about it.
  8. Fall broom.  Autumn is my favorite season so I am perpetually making little fall decorations.  This one is my favorite, well loved enough that it hangs inside the house the other three seasons.

So there they are, a few of my favorite creations.  Give me a few days, a little creative time, and I’m sure I can add to that list.

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Works In Progress – Stars, Blogs, and More

Winter is usually my slow time, but I’ve been fairly busy this year trying to catch up on some creative works. Here’s a run-down on what’s been happening.

The latest projects for Harvest Moon Designs are shown here.  I’ve been working on some variations of  the beaded star necklaces that I initially created last year.  I’ve been playing with colors and bead types and having too much fun with it.  As soon as I can free up a bit of time, I’ll be taking better photos of these so that I can get them posted in the shop.  The earlier versions of these, all in variations of red, orange, and yellow, have already found good homes.
I’ve also managed to get some writing accomplished, although it’s mostly in the form of blog posts.  I’m trying my hand a travel-related blog at the moment, although I haven’t entirely decided where I’m going to go with it (no pun intended, I swear).  If I ever get it whipped into something readable, I’ll post the link here.  I’ve also been busy adding chapters to the online version of At Scythe Point.  That’s more of an editorial/IT project than actual writing and a boring one at that.
In the works are several more wands.  By in the works, I mean that I have the materials purchased, but they’re sitting on the shelf collecting dust.  I thought I’d be able to get through them in January, as I had three long weekends off of work.  Unfortunately, the crisis with my feline and then a terrific cold kept me sidelined the entire month.
More later, as I have time.  Until then, hope that you’ve been able to get some creating of your own done.

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Write, Sew, Sleep… Repeat

November is well under way already.  For most, it’s a month for turkeys and football. In some cases, these are one and the same, but I promise I won’t comment on the recent fiasco at a certain university. For me, November is a time to go into creative overdrive as I try to write a novel, get ready for the holidays, and finish all those little projects that clutter my craft room.

It’s day thirteen of National Novel Writing Month and I’m pleased to report that I’ve hit the half-way mark today, at least as far as word counts go.  The novel itself, which still remains untitled, feels as if it has hardly started.  Dr. Maggie Bailey seems to be developing a life of her own, in spite of my best efforts to stick to a basic plot line. There’s so much more of the story to tell at this point that I may be writing well into December just to finish the first draft.

As a reward for hitting my word counts, I’ve been allowing myself time for quilting.  Instead of putting together a new piece to post in the shop, I’ve decided to finally finish the bed quilt that I started for myself earlier in the year.  I’ve just finished piecing the top and am so glad to have it nearly done.  I’m absolutely in love with the colors and the overall combination reminds me of winter skies.  I should have it completely finished and on the bed by Thanksgiving.  Below is a quick snap of the quilt top as it is now.   I’ll post another picture when it’s completely finished.

Happy Sunday all.  Hope you have a creative and inspired week.

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Wandered Off

I’m not sure how two months went by so quickly, but I seem to have wandered off and forgotten to post.  I’d love to say that I was called away to the tropics for eight weeks of snorkeling and sun worshipping. One can dream!

I have not been completely idle in my absence, however.  I finally created something with some beautiful but unusually shaped tiger’s eye beads that I bought several years ago at a gem show.  As you can see from the picture to the left, the beads are of two sorts-  center drilled lentils and concave cylinders.  For small beads, they have a lot of beautiful golden tones.  I paired them with some  small silver beads that are a a staple in my collection.
What motivated me to finally do something with these lovely beads was finding a leaf shaped Ganesha pendant at a local craft store.  I paired this silver piece with a stamped brass disc that was recycled from an old (and rather large!) earring.  The final result is below.  I’m more than pleased with it and glad to have it as a personal piece.

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Of Cakes and Diapers

Diaper cakes are a relatively simple, but fun gift for a new baby.  Since I’ve promised several people that I’d show them how to construct one, here’s the directions, followed by illustrations of a cake that I recently made for a niece who’s expecting.

The basic supplies that are required are: a base to support the cake, one or two packages of diapers, an internal support such as a large bottle of baby lotion,  rubber bands, tape, and decorative embellishments.  How many diapers you use will depend on the size cake you decide to make.  Choosing a theme (such as rubber ducks) or a color scheme will help bring the look of the final cake  together.

The basic instructions are as follows:

1. Roll all of the diapers into little round cylinders and secure each one with rubber bands or ribbon.

2. Affix your internal support (e.g., a bottle of baby lotion) to your cake base.
3. Create each tier by encircling your internal support with the rolled diapers standing on end.  Tie off each ring of diapers to hold them securely. Keep adding rings of diapers to the outside until the first tier reaches the desired size.  Build each consecutive tier on the previous one using the same method.
4. Decorate the cake using ribbons, toys, or whatever you like.

Ok, I admit that’s the really quick and basic version of the process.  Here’s what the process of constructing a diaper cake looks like in reality.
For my niece’s cake, I wanted to do a rubber duck theme, as I’d found a hat and ‘onesies’ with ducks. I used a 10-inch cardboard cake base (available at most craft stores) and one package of newborn disposable diapers.  The items pictured to the right also all went into the cake – two bottles of baby products, two fleece blankets, 8 baby washcloths, a hat, two’onesies’, a little cloth hat, 4 pairs of socks, two ‘binkies’ (pacifiers) and three rubber ducks.  The colors I picked were primarily blue and yellow, with a good dose of green and splashes of other shades.
Step 1 – Preparing the Diapers
This is probably the most time consuming part of the cake construct, but the simplest.  The diapers get rolled from bottom to top and secured with rubber bands.  I’ve used ribbon in the past, but have found that rubber bands are easier and more effective for this.  Forty-eight diapers later, I had enough to get started on the actual construction.  If I wasn’t including baby blankets and other cloth items in the cake, I would have needed to roll up more than one package of diapers.
Step 2 – Creating the First Tier
I’ve taken a bottle of baby lotion and taped it to a cardboard cake base using a bit of clear packing tape folded over on itself and placed between the bottle and the cardboard.
The lotion bottle was then surrounded with a ring of diaper stood on their ends.  The first ring was tied off with ribbon and a second ring of diapers was added to the first tier.  This layer was then wrapped in a fleece baby blanket that had been folded up to just fit the height and circumference of the cake.  The blanket was secured with diaper pins on the back side of the cake.  Ribbon was wrapped around the blanket and a pacifier tied to the front side of the layer (as seen in the photos below).
Step 3 – Creating the Second Tier
Because my internal support (i.e., the lotion bottle) wasn’t tall enough to reach into the third layer of the cake, I taped a smaller bottle of baby powder to the top of it, as shown in the picture to the left.   This gave the internal support just enough height to support all of the tiers without sticking out of the top of the cake.  Once this was done, I began encircling the support with diapers just as I did for the first tier.
For the outer ring of diapers on the second tier, I wrapped colorful baby washcloths around every other diaper to give a bit of color and contrast to the relatively simple decorations on the first tier.  The diapers I used had pre-printed designs, so it appears at first glance that the entire second tier has been ‘decorated’.   This layer was then wrapped in a ribbon, secured at the back of the cake.
Step 4 – Creating the Third Tier
  After creating the second tier, I only had three diapers left, which were not enough to encircle the top of the cake.  Instead of picking up another package of diapers, I wrapped the support in a cloth hat and the onesies and then surrounded the entire thing with the other fleece blanket I’d bought. Diaper shortage was solved and the clothing was incorporated into the cake structure.
Step 5 – Finishing the Cake
I’d already embellished the cake as it was built, but I did add a few finishing touches to the final cake.  The cake was topped with a large rubber duck and the second tier with two smaller ducks.  Little pairs of sock in were then pinned to the outside of the cake.  The finished cake is shown above complete with ducks and socks.
And that’s ‘all’ there is to making a diaper cake.  The basic construction is simple, but there’s plenty of opportunities for creativity in the process.

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Autumn Throw

Well, the crocheted autumn throw for the craft room is finished, but I’m not so sure that I like it.  Meh, perhaps I’ll like the next project better.

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