More clay candy canes
Dec 30th, 2005 by Dawn

I got the striped clay working this time, but there was a lot of contamination (red clay gets all over every surface and tool and white clay picks it up so easily) so I only got one sort-of-OK candy cane out of it before giving up. That’s the flat one in the upper, left-hand corner. What worked better was twisting strands of different colors together as you can see in the other canes.

Pipe cleaner ornaments
Dec 23rd, 2005 by Dawn

We saw these at a museum gift shop and I said, oh just pipe cleaners and styrofoam balls and glue. I can make those. Of course, it was harder than it looked. The difficulties are: 1. keeping the lines straight and 2. not getting glue all over everything. If you needed a license to operate a glue gun, I wouldn’t own one.

Clay ornaments
Dec 15th, 2005 by Dawn

I didn’t make any ornaments this year. Usually come Christmas-time I’ve got a box full of that year’s output but this year I had to sit down and make some. I decided to make clay ornaments from cookie cutters. Here are an angel and a stocking, decorated after baking with glitter.

Then I made a raft of candy canes. At first I was trying to get a real candy cane stripe going using that cane method (not named for candy canes but hey, it works) that I’ve read about but that wasn’t working out at all. I ended up with some crazy results and they started to grow on me, so I made crazy tie-died candy canes. Each one is unique, front and back. You just keep putting red and white clay into the pasta roller, folding and twisting, until you see something you like. Then cut. Fun.

Christmas Tree Skirt
Dec 3rd, 2005 by Dawn

Finally! I bought this kit about four years ago. I didn’t have anyone to make it for (my mother made my own tree skirt) but it was so beautiful I couldn’t resist it. Then my friend Sheila’s tree skirt got ruined in a cat/tree accident and I started it for her. This was all year in the making but it was worth it.

Here’s an overview (click for full size photo)

And here’s a close-up of the detail:

Holiday bowls
May 2nd, 2005 by Dawn

Can you say obsessed? I started working with my stash of holiday fabric. This is the basic square pattern but I made it smaller. The size called for in the book makes a pretty big bowl. I ran out of the gold thread I was using so this one has a different color thread along the top.

Another example of running out of thread partway through but it really works with this design. It takes a fair amount of thread to do one of these bowls. This is the alternate hexagon shape, also made smaller.

Another variation of the hexagon shape where you use a circle on the outside but a hexagon on the inside and cut the darts as for a hexagon. As you can see, these really do reverse although most of them look better one way than the other.

This one was a nightmare. First of all, it was made with canvas instead of the craft interfacing. That’s how to get the floppy corners. The book calls for two layers of canvas which I tried to fuse together but the fusing didn’t hold very well on the canvas so, as I was working, my textile sandwich (as she calls it) was coming apart in the middle. Also, the canvas shreds along the edges, so when I was doing the satin stitching around the top, I had to contend with strings of canvas everywhere and so the edge didn’t end up very smooth. On top of that, I was using this fancy gold thread as you can see. It didn’t like being wound on a bobbin very much and until I learned to lighten up the tension it kept breaking as I was sewing. Came out OK in the end though and I learned some things. The material doesn’t photograph very well because it’s shiny but it’s a beautifully elegant bowl.

My masterpiece. Isn’t it cute? This is the other circular pattern which is made with canvas. Having learned from the last one, I basted the two layers of canvas together instead of trying to fuse them. Then, once I’d trimmed my textile sandwich down to the final size, I did a line of zig zag around the top to keep the shedding to a minimum. Although you do cut through the stitches as you make the darts, the book recommends to cut and then sew each dart, one at a time, so there’s not much time for the stitches to unravel before they’re oversewn.

The other thing I learned about working with canvas is that it’s harder to pull the edges together when joining up the darts. The book has you start by joining the darts with zig zags and then going back over with satin stitch but it recommends that you start right off with the satin stitch once you’ve got the hang of it. That’s OK with the stiff interfacing but with canvas I recommend doing the zig zag pass first. It allows you to concentrate on the practicality of joining the edges on the first pass and worry about making it look pretty on the second.

I’m trying to restrain myself from making more bowls but they’re calling to me. It’s so much fun picking out two fabrics and a thread color and a shape and size and then seeing how it all comes out because they all seem to come out so nicely.

Clay snowman
Dec 28th, 2004 by Dawn

This was made from polymer clay. The basic shape was formed using a cookie cutter and then embellishments were added.

Ornament toppers
Dec 28th, 2004 by Dawn

Three more ornament toppers crocheted with thread from a leaflet. I’ve also made the snowman. I think that elf’s a little demented looking.

Quilled elf ornaments
Oct 6th, 2004 by Dawn

These were made from The Book Of Paper Quilling which has a nice variety of patterns.

I found that I had to use bigger quills to duplicate her work. The elf on the left was made from 2″ quills which is what the book called for but that was making for tedious, cramped work. The other two are made from 3″ quills and I think the more open quality to the quills looks nicer for something like a Christmas ornament. Now that I’m using the needle tool instead of the slotted tool to roll my quills, they come out smaller overall. I haven’t been able to prevent that yet but using a longer piece of paper than called for seems like a good compromise for now.

The hat bobs are fringed. Ouch. I’ve been reluctant to spend $50 on a fringer but if I had to do much more fringing than this I certainly would. Fringing is a shortcut to carpal tunnel.

The faces are painted on. I’m not such a good painter! But the lopsided features give each elf a certain unique charm.

Snowman ornament topper
Sep 15th, 2004 by Dawn

This was my first attempt from Ornament Toppers. It came out OK except the embroidered face is a little crooked. I’m bad with anything freehand. You have to imagine that it’s on top of an ornament because I was mailing this to someone and it was easier to mail without the ornament (which gets glued on). The pattern called for a lot of the pieces to be glued on but I mostly sewed them. I think it will hold up better.

Polymer clay cookie cutter ornaments
Jun 29th, 2004 by Dawn

These I think came out just adorable. For my first efforts with polymer clay I decided to start with stamping shapes out with cookie cutters, seeing as I’m not that artistic. The books make it sound awfully easy to make characters – just make a ball, now add a square, etc. But experience tells me it always takes more artistic ability than they let on.

So first I made a tree. Using the pasta maker to roll out sheets is fun! I made tiny little Christmas tree lights and strung them on, then balls of different sizes to fill in. The hardest part was the star on top. I didn’t have a cutter that small so I had to free hand it. This was the best of about a hundred tries.

Next I made a gingerbread man. Isn’t he cute? And so simple too. My favorite part is his curly hair. It was cuter before but I accidentally broke a little bit off trying to force a hanger through the hole.

Lastly I made a star. At first I couldn’t decide what to do with the star shaped cookie cutter. How do you decorate a star? Just a shape cut out of clay would be pretty dull. I thought about painting it and adding glitter but then I had an inspiration. I decided to make it look like a star shaped Christmas cookie of the sort we used to make every Christmas when I was a kid. So I applied “frosting” made out of a couple of different shades of red/pink, not fully blended to give it a swirly look. And then I made a bazillion little white shots. Yes, each of those is clay! The brilliant part of this idea is that any imperfections only add to the authenticity. I should have made one with multi-colored shots plus silver balls and green sprinkles on top of red and yellow swirled frosting, which would have been a more accurate representation of the kind of work we did as children.

All in all, I’m not sure I like working with clay. A lot of time is spent house-keeping. Either warming the clay up or cooling it down or cleaning it off your hands and your tools so you can work with the next color. But I do like how these came out and there are so many fun ideas out there, I’ll probably try it again.

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