Okay, we’ve been sick. We’ve been feeling all around miserable around here this past week. So I’ve been slacking in the blogging department. Hey, I can’t keep it ALL together ALL the time. I’d run out of duct tape.
So I thought I’d share this quick little project as a sort of mini half-post. I promise I’ll write a better one in a few days.
I’ve told you before how much our daughter loves Star Wars, and has a crush on C-3PO? So I should also mention, she’s a pretty rough-and-tumble little girl. She’s not afraid of a few bumps and bruises. Which also means sometimes she wears holes in the knees of her jeans. When I decided to get a little more life out of those jeans with a patch, I thought, “Oh, cool! I’ll put some simple, cute design with iron-on patches, and BOOM, done.”
…Until she said, “Can you do one as C3P0 and one as R2D2?”
Well, darned if I don’t like a challenge. So I did.
It took me AGES to figure out if that was even possible. I thought about hand-sewing felt, about stitching the detail on with embroidery thread. I thought of all kinds of magically impossible ways this could possibly work, and was coming up blank every time. Until finally, I lowered my standards.
I finally just cut a simple outline of the body out based on the references I printed out (in black & white in the center), filled the detail in with Sharpie, and ironed them on. Bam, easy peasy.
She liked them so much, she insisted she wear her Lego Star Wars shirt to match.
FAIR WARNING: One trip through the washer, and the edges started rolling and looked horrible, so maybe this isn’t such a cool project after all, unless you’ve got wicked mad sewing skills. …In which case, can you please sew my daughter some Star Wars patches?
Anyway, we’re all on the mend here. Hope you’re all feeling well!
It’s SO amazing to see all the beautiful entries coming in from all over the WORLD for the contest…and even more amazing hearing all the wonderful stories of the fun you all had creating them! Don’t forget, Monday is the last day to enter, so let’s see what you’ve got!
Contest entries are coming in from all over, and they’re so awesome! Have you entered yet? …Looks like you all are having a lot of fun with it, and I want to see MORE! One more week to enter! If you want to give it a shot, head on over to the last blog post and try it yourself. Good luck and most importantly: have a great time with it!
Sometimes, inspiration is found in strange places.
There are some children’s books that are so dull and obnoxious that every word irritates you as you read it to your wide-eyed kid. These are usually the same books that your kid is madly in LOVE with, and therefore insists you read them over and over and over again until the grumble inside your head starts to show on the outside of your face. But there are good ones, too. Sweet ones with beautiful drawings and lovely stories and poetry, charming and funny and endearing.
And then there’s Calef Brown. He’s a different sorta bird.
We discovered “Polkabats and Octopus Slacks” quite by coincidence, but the fact that the poems are so strange and lovely, combined with the use of the words “polka turds” cracked the Kid up, and we were hooked. I had never seen a kid’s book like that before. I’ve read them all tons of times, and I have yet to be bored by them. He’s a whole lot of funky, a little bit full of one of those giggles you cover with your hand, but all kinds of fun.
One of my daughter’s favorites (especially, I think, since we like to combine animals and people in our own doodles), is in a book called “Flamingos On The Roof.” I was reading one of her favorites, called “Allicatter Gatorpillar,” when she said, “I sure wish I could see an Allibutter Gatorfly.”
You know what? I would, too, kid. That sounds like fun.
So I decided to sew one. Challenge accepted.
I’ve made a few dolls before…..thing is, I can only follow a very simple pattern, and can’t really do anything fancy. But this shouldn’t be THAT difficult, right? I’ll walk you through what I did for your own amusement, but I’ll have you know I’m no perfectionist when it comes to this sort of thing. With things like this, I sort of frantically jab and tie and cut everything together and glue it and tape it and bandage it up and say (dusting my hands off), “whelp, that should just about do it.”
So I sketched out a little shape of the gator part, and just sewed the top seam, from the tip of the tail to about the bottom of the…”chin?”
I wanted the wings to be bendable, so I dug in my wire drawer for some very flexible wire I have used in sculpture before, and laid it out on two separate wing shapes. There was a front & back to one side, and a front & back to the other. I sewed them together without the wire, right sides together with the end open, and turned them two make two top wings. Then I did the same for the bottom wings. (PS, from the looks of my desk, I should probably make better use of my cutting board.)
I wanted the wire to go all the way across to span the top two wings for strength and the bottom two wings the same. I pushed the wire into the open wings, and held the wire in place with machine stitches. I also stitched the top set of wings to the bottom set, so they’d sort of stay in place. Now I had a pretty cool pair of wings…with no way to attach them together. I decided to at least get some embroidery floss and sew the open ends to each other to sort of hold the wire in place and keep the wings from just sliding off. This is where all hell broke loose.
So now I’ve got all these exposed seams on the wings. How the heck do I get it on the body? I can’t sew through wire. So I made a little green “belt,” wrapped it around the open seams (which covered them fairly well) and then stitched that onto the back of the gator’s body. Pretty sloppy, and if you look at it closely, the wires will pop out. Good thing I bent the edges so they don’t totally cut you like a brassiere underwire.
So with the wings shoddily attached to the gator skin from both the outside and the in, the time for stuffing had come.
After what seemed like 18 hours of hand-sewing the bottom of the gator’s body (a good tutorial for hidden stitches here, by the way), it was time to paint the eyes. I got out my acrylic paint, and risking my daughter’s critique for putting both eyes on the same side of the head (it’s like that in the illustration!!), I painted them on. I wanted to add some antennae as a final little touch, and found some bendable wire floral rope that I had lying around that I can’t for the life of me remember why I own. Do I have any clue how to attach it to the head? No. In hindsight, I probably could’ve just used embroidery floss to tack it to the back (Yep, I probably should’ve done that). Instead, I cut a couple of tiny snips in the back, threaded the wire through, and glued a fabric panel down with fabric glue. This did actually keep the antennae standing upright, but I suppose a few good stitches could’ve accomplished the same effect without making this fella look even MORE strange.
And so here is the final result in probably the weirdest little doll I’ve ever made. The thing is, though, I think he sort of matches the style of the one in the book, which is sort of what I was going for. I mean, an allibutter gatorfly’s not SUPPOSED to be “cute”…right?
Well, it’s okay if he’s a little creepy. When I picked my daughter up from school and presented her with it, she sighed with delight. “He’s so BEEEAAAUUUUTIFUL!” she said.
And that’s all that really matters.
I’ve found being an artist a very solitary lifestyle…it’s something I often do by myself. I could spend hours and hours at a time on my own, just painting and drawing, sewing, sculpting…creating. Often, I wouldn’t start a project unless I could devote three to five hours on it.
After I had my daughter, I found it difficult to find the time to carve out to create. I couldn’t have the hours and hours on end to myself–there was another little person there, asking, needing, wanting, and I enjoyed her very much. I still felt the tug to create, I just had to learn to enjoy it in smaller increments. To be able to put it down at a moment’s notice, and pick it up again quickly, when I got a chance.
People ask me all the time, “how do you find the TIME to do all these projects??” And the answer is that I didn’t much, for the first couple of years. I waited until bedtime.
But now that our daughter is four, the answer to that question is: DISTRACTIONS. She’s developed a love of art and crafty things. When we’re out of something (anything), she’s been known to say “well, let’s just make our own.” I’ve taught her that there are no mistakes you can’t fix. I’ve taught her about “happy accidents” (an artistic lesson my mother instilled in me when I was young, and Bob Ross reasserted). Now that’s she’s a little older and enjoys crafts and drawing and creating, I’ve learned that I CAN create with her around. I’ve learned a little bit about how to SHARE my time, which has always been difficult for me, especially concerning artistic endeavors… And I’ve learned that if I let her go wild doing something similar to what I’m doing, she not only enjoys herself, but she learns from me. If I’m painting on fabric, I let her paint on fabric. I don’t mind a mess (but I also don’t put her in her best clothes when we paint). Sometimes I let her use the “good stuff” (like acrylics and permanent markers), and teach her how to use them correctly. I remember being a kid and the feeling of using new paints, or having a marker that was dried out, or the difference between drawing on newsprint versus fine sketchbook paper. If she’s into it, I want her to experience all that, too.
Many of our trips to the craft store are spent with me getting my supplies and her picking a “project.” Sometimes they are the pre-made ones, and sometimes she comes up with projects all her own. This bird mask is a project she came up with all on her own. I mean , she knew exactly what she wanted to do:
We also subscribe to something called Kiwi Crate, which sends out a box every month full of 2 or 3 super easy, super fun kid projects. She’s always so excited to get them in the mail and get started on the projects. And best part? They require very little parental assistance!
…So this is how I do all the creative projects I do, now that we have a kid. I’m very grateful that she is so artistic, and I’m enjoying that for as long as it lasts. I know as a parent, things constantly change, at just the moment you think you’ve got things under control, but for now I am enjoying sharing my creative time.
My daughter just started preschool at the end of last school cycle and she loves it. She loves having a backpack and a packed lunch. I have very fond memories of the little notes my mom would leave for me in my lunch box. Since my daughter’s only 4 and can’t read, for awhile I was having a ton of fun decorating her lunch bags with Sharpie doodles…
But being a bit of a pseudo-hippie, it bothered me a little, throwing so many bags away every day. I mean, I’m not super hardcore, but when I notice ways I’m being wasteful, I try my best to find ways that might be a little better and aren’t TERRIBLY inconvenient. We used cloth diapers when she was little, we use cloth grocery bags (when we don’t forget to take them into the store), so why not whip up a few quick reuseable bags?
When I looked around online, there were a great many DIY options, several of which seemed quite complicated for an amateur like myself, with zippers and pulltabs and fancy fabric and such….except for one: this tutorial from Rhinestone Beagle. Our local fabric department didn’t have any of the fancy nylons I had seen in some DIYs, but they did have very inexpensive fusible vinyl, which is SUPER easy to use. You iron it on, and boom–whatever you’re making is water resistant. So that was good. Secondly, I’m not good with zippers, but I can sloppily fake some velcro like no one’s business, so score another point for this tutorial. Thirdly, I worried that certain opening fasteners would be difficult for my kid to open at lunchtime, so if I wasn’t fancy enough to put in my own zippers, I wanted one that folded over a bit. And lastly: I felt a little like I was taking the easy way out, not being able to doodle something new with every lunch. (I felt I had to live up to things like this)…I compromised by going with a plain fabric, so I could doodle some monster faces on the bags (with Sharpies, of course. …They should sponsor me).
And there you go! Personalized lunch bags!
Now, in hindsight, they’re a BIT small.
…Okay, they’re tiny. The sizes I had seen online just seemed so HUGE, so I sort of winged it and made them smaller. But I can fit a cookie or two in there, or a couple of small strawberries. But just for giggles, I decided to try a few of the fancy ones. I found a shop on Etsy called Cute Little Bugs, who seemed to have the best quality & the best deal. Zippers, nylon liner, cute fabric, and even a little tag for you to write your kid’s name on it. Super cute. And they’re not tiny at all.
So, as my daughter gets ready for her second year of Pre-K, I think I’m going to have to look into trying again to make some more baggies of my own–this time human-sized. That can fit actual food inside. The point is, I want to make lunch a little special for my kid. And there’s always room for some creativity!
For awhile, my neighbor friend had a very aggressive Craigslist furniture habit. So when I asked her advice on finding a big wooden dresser for my daughter’s room, I was thrilled when she brought me to her garage to pick one out. Twenty bucks later, I was the happy owner of a huge (but quite plain) dresser.
My neighbor was crafty enough to sand her furniture finds down, prime them and repaint, but with a little kid at home and a deployed husband at the time, I didn’t have time or patience for all that.
Instead, I took the hardware off (super easy to do–just unscrew from the inside drawers). I got some scrapbook paper from the craft store, and for mine, I wanted to pick some thin, more intricate paper. Gold isn’t really my color, but it’s what they had the most of at the store. And with a big ol’ jar of Mod Podge and an XActo knife, I pasted down the paper to each panel.
If you’ve never used Mod Podge, it’s super easy. It looks like glue. You glop it down with a paintbrush on your object (the dresser), place your paper down, and saturate the paper with Mod Podge on top. It gets bubbly sometimes, but if you smooth as you go, they usually fix themselves. The glue consistency dries clear (or shiny, if you get the gloss version), and your paper is sealed down. Fun & easy!
All in all, the goldish colors I chose ended up looking very vintage and awesome.
Since I was solo with my kid at the time, I only did a single drawer or two a night, so it took a few days, but what an easy way to dress up a dresser! I love Mod Podge. I thought maybe some old comic book pages would look awesome later down the road on her nightstand…
Our kid likes to draw a lot. I mean a LOT.
I take photos of all of them, because I’m so fascinated by them. I love watching her skills develop, and love seeing how her mind thinks, how she can see something and observe how it’s done, and sort of meld that with her own work.
Through all my scouring the internet, I’ve seen lots and lots of ideas of what to DO with all these doodles, and I’ve done quite a few of them. We have bulletin boards where we’ve pinned some of our favorites. We have some in changeable frames. I’ve had strings with doodles clipped to them with clothespins. My mother uses the photos of doodles in the backgrounds when she makes a digital photo album. I’ve heard of people making books full of kid doodles.
I wanted a way to show them as a decorative piece in the house; a way we could enjoy them in an awesome way while putting all those doodles to good use.
So I got some laminate paper, stuck them on there to keep ‘em safe, punched some holes in them, and strung them from eachother. We hung them in her bedroom window, and I think they turned out lovely!
Our daughter went through a Shrinky-Dink period for a few weeks, where she created TONS of Shrinky Dink doodles. What to do? Why, same thing, of course! Strung up little doodles look like lovely little wind chimes hanging in our kitchen windows! With Shrinkies, you have to either punch the holes before you shrink them in the oven, or spend some quality time with your Dremel and a tiny drill bit….
So what do you do with all your kid doodles?
I’m an army brat. I grew up around the army. Later, I did about 4 years in the army, where I met my husband. I am army wife. Now I’m an army mom. I’ve been all over the place with my family, and wanted a way to show all the places we’ve been. For years, I’ve seen the plaques with pendant boards hanging down, listing each duty station (like this), but I wanted to see if I could do something a little different.
My husband & I met when we were both stationed in Hawaii. We got married there, and when I got out, I worked as a photo editor/graphic artist for King Digital in Honolulu. The photo paper they used came on these large thick cardboard “toilet paper roll” tubes, which they sent out for recycling. Before we PCSd, I was able to get a few of them to take with me. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with them at the time, but they were calling my name. They looked REALLY fun to paint on.
I decided to make each tube a sort of painted collage of the things we had done at each duty station, the things we remembered most about it. My husband and I have fun trying to choose what will go on each tube. I started with one for Oklahoma (where I was born) and one for Ohio (where he’s from).
We’ve got a good collection going! Only now….I can’t seem to find the “toilet paper roll” tubes anymore! I’ve run out! I have a couple of smaller ones, but none like these. I was even the crazy lady, asking for them at Wal-Mart’s photo lab. I can’t seem to find any anywhere!
So I’m going to keep looking. I’m running behind, though, since I try to do one after we leave each duty station. We left Alaska several months ago…so we’re due for a new tube! In the meantime, share your stories! If you’re a family that moves around a lot, is there a special way you commemorate your duty stations, or the places you’ve lived? Do you frame a photo? Make a list of license plates? I’d love to hear your ideas!
My mother once found hand painted wooden jingle figures in the Czech Republic that were absolutely BEAUTIFUL. Years later, when I tried to find my own blank ones, all I could find were blanks of the Russian stacking dolls (which are also fun to paint, by the way). But these don’t open, and when you shake them, they JINGLE!!
After days of calling several Russian art dealers (never mind the difficulty of explaining what they WERE), I finally found someone I could buy a few from. I thought they’d be fun to do portrait orders on at local craft shows. Well, the time put into them was more than a craft show crowd was willing to pay, and the idea just fizzled.
So now I do my own things with them! This is King Arthur, King of all Britons, and his faithful sidekick, Patsy.
I’ve done Santas, animals, wookies and celebrities, but these guys are my favorite. If you’re not up to the task of going through the trouble of calling all over the world to find jingle dolls, there are nice alternatives at your local craft store–little paper mâché eggs, pressed cardboard shapes and wooden boxes. You could draw on them, paint, even mod podge little printed photos of family and paint on top if you’re feeling crafty. They make great gifts!