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Category Archives: Craft

It’s a Kitty!

You would not believe the variety of art supplies I have. I started as a painter, then found polymer clay. After that I discovered paper, beading, resin, mold-making, flower arranging, mixed media, sewing, embroidery, wood burning, and everything else except knitting and crochet. Those last two… I can’t even, so don’t get me started.

I used to go to a craft store every Friday and spend at least fifty bucks. When my dining room filled up (because I don’t have a real studio) I stopped.  Once in a while I go back and find materials that inspire me and then shit like this happens: I make tiny wire cats. Now I have forty tiny wire cats just like this one in a Tupperware box and don’t know what to do with them.  Whoops.

Maybe I can pair them up with the thirty wire people I made before moving on to wire cats.

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The Evolution of the Sticky

I haven’t created any new sticky note art in a few days. It’s my curse as a moody person to have stretches of time that are not productive creatively (as anyone who follows my music can attest). I have, however, taken pictures of everything I’ve done with the intention of sharing them with you. Let’s get started.

This first one is inspired by pure silliness found on Facebook.

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Still a hoot after all these years.

I met Jym McMurdo my first year at Washington State. He was The Guy With The Room To Himself on my floor at Orton Hall. He’d also lived at Orton the previous year and had a leg up on everything one needed to know about life there. His room was full of interesting stuff and people smoking, drinking, and eating pizza. I vaguely remember him doing something rude to a teddy bear I had with me one time. Jym was, as my mother would say, a hoot.

This is Jym wearing a knitted animal balaclava of some sort. This is an illustration of the selfie he took while wearing it.  I thought it was hilarious, and now here it is. I framed it.

I managed to get my hands on more of those watercolor pens. I couldn’t help it – I like new products and trying out new things, and watercolor is a new thing for me in any form – there are so many things I want to try out with them! I’m not good with color in any way but I force myself to work with it. You can’t get better if you don’t practice, right? I wanted to practice, even if it meant falling on my face with advanced tools.

The result is a lovely girl in a dress, and proof that I cannot stay within the lines of anything. I’m a little disappointed in how messy it got and debated sharing this note at all because of it.  The illustration under all the messy color is still pretty nice. Should I try to cover it up? I don’t know. Maybe it’s okay as-is.

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To correct or not to correct… THAT is my question.

This last one I’m pretty happy with.

The Face of Boe joined my household last year to keep my BFF Martha company since I was feeling a little overwhelmed by being the center of her universe. I had never owned a kitten before. Martha had had kittens before she joined me, so I figured the two of them would be okay, right? Well… kinda.

Boe is not very smart. Okay, that’s unfair – he’s just really juvenile. Still, whenever I see him zipping around in the morning and annoying Martha, I hear “LOOKIT ME IMA TIGER” in a little kid voice. He also kind of walks like he thinks he’s a tiger. Scared of everything, I’ve trained him to relax when I tell him he’s a good boy.

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YESH HE IZZZ SOISH A GUD BOY BOE YESH YOU ARRRR

This was done with different markers entirely. I found a set of Faber-Castell pens at Snapdoodle Toys in Kenmore that seemed like they’d be fun. It intrigued me that there were two white markers in the set – how the heck does that work? It’s a subtle white, that’s for sure. Where the Faber-Castell white didn’t do what I wanted I used an extra-fine Sharpie paint marker. The whole composition captures Boe perfectly. He IS a tiger!

I’m sure there will be more. I’m just not there yet.

Little Face

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A while back I made a small Green Man mask I was pretty pleased with.  It took me over a year to feel okay about parting with it before I could post it on my Etsy site, and it sold within 24 hours. A friend of mine bought it for her mom out on the East coast, who gets a number of remarks on it. I think that’s pretty cool and have been wanting to create more works people comment on. The magic hasn’t quite happened yet.

A month after I sold my original Green Man I got an email from my friend. Her mom’s neighbor likes that mask so much I’ve been asked to make another one. Of COURSE I’m happy to make one! I just need to get on it already. My original estimate was a week. Add a major health issue and a new job, and now we’re at least three weeks overdue.

I’m not happy with myself but have been spending what time I do have at home on this project. In the pic I posted here you clearly see two masks — one is the one I’m making for my friend’s mom’s neighbor, and the other is one I’ve been working on as an experiment. As you can see, they are in completely different stages of completion. On one of them I was on my way to the oven with it when I realized the eyes were too creepy so I scooped them out. It was an uncomfortable but necessary task that made me feel like a serial killer. The other one I didn’t like his eyebrows, but he was baked already, so I had to pry them off with a tile nipper.

Does my art sound glamorous yet? Try not to think too hard about it. All good art goes through phases of clunky backtracking and do-overs. I sometimes think that’s why artists talk so much about their work — it’s not always the result that makes the art, it’s often the process. My process for these happened to involve eye-gouging and tile nippers. ToMAYto, toMAHto.

I will get the little guy on the right new eyes this week. As for his larger friend on the left I think he’s going to be just fine.

Weeping Angel packaging

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About a year or two ago I made this. The image on that post is not of the finished product — since then I’ve cleaned it up, artificially aged it a bit, and added a means to hang it up on a wall somewhere. At one point I found it among my other finished pieces and worked on it more (even though it probably didn’t need it). Now that I’m waiting for my day job to start (oh lordy what a mess that is turning out to be. Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be PMs) I have been working on packaging up the bigger pieces so they’ll be ready to go when they sell.  The Weeping Angel is a size I don’t really have a USPS box for so I had to improvise.

This box is by no means supposed to be a high-quality piece of stellar workmanship you can pass on to your kids. It’s a candy box I covered with blue card stock and a Photoshopped printout of a papercraft TARDIS I found on Cubeecraft. I used a glue stick and Scotch tape to hold it all together. NOT a collector’s item. So why bother? I bothered because it was fun and I didn’t want to send a piece of my art to someone in a goddamn candy box. It just seems wrong to not make some kind of effort.

But you know what? I had fun throwing this together, and the box will be missed when I ship it off.  I originally won it in a Hallowe’en costume contest for dressing up as a box of French fries. It used to be full of tasty chocolates. Now it is not. With its interesting interior fold and magnet closure I figured I’d keep it and do something with it eventually.  Turns out that even though I did something with it I won’t be keeping it after all.

The listing for the Weeping Angel mask can be found here.  The box won’t be in the listing but will ship with the item — in this particular case, the Phone Box has the Angel.

Wayback Machine Time

A couple of days ago I bit the bullet and applied for a table at my first official craft show, The Crafty Underdog in Portland, OR.  Melody and I have been hoping to pool our efforts to do more craft shows, but weren’t really sure how to do that until now.  I submitted my entry fee, answered all their questions… and now I wait to be approved.  At least I think that’s how it works.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I win a space at this show, heaven knows we’ve been working all summer to make sure I have enough inventory for one.

If it helps my chances, there’s a lot of other great stuff I have done that never got sold.  I either gave them away or kept them for myself.  For your consideration, and for The Crafty Underdog, here is a portfolio of my notable past works.  Enjoy.

This little fella was my first effort in a very long time. I have Christi Friesen to thank for the inspiration. I gave it to a friend as a gift for her bridal shower.

I once worked for a Sikh man who had a young son. The Sikh do not have a holiday equivalent to Christmas, but his son was obsessed with Santa Claus! I made Santa Singh so he could have a more relatable jolly fat man to admire. Other than a turban that probably could have been a lot bigger, he was very well-received. I might even make more someday.

Since the first one turned out so well I decided to try again. This time around I added limbs, scales, and accessories, and eventually mounted him on a wood base for display. He currently resides with a dear friend in Atlanta, GA.

My late cat Grady loved to watch the birds outside our windows. He wasn't much of a hunter, despite his fascination. In this sculpture, I imagine what it might look like if he actually did come face-to-face with those birds.

Grady and the Birds, from another angle. After his death in early 2011, I couldn't bear to part with this. It sits on my mantle next to my favorite picture of him.

These offbeat ornaments have been best sellers in my Etsy shop for the last two years. I made molds for the skulls and reinforced the candy canes with floral wire. The set pictured here were purchased by a woman in the UK for her first Christmas with her boyfriend. My first overseas sale!

Need More Metallics

The transition from budding entrepreneur to crafter-with-a-day-job has been a little rocky. I’ve been a little sad at the growing loss of my free time and adjusting to my new work environment.  With home computer problems, I couldn’t even pretend to be crafty through the wonderful world of blogging. Still, I’ve been giving it my best effort.

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After running polymer through my pasta machine, I cut off the fraying edges, coated them with different colors of PearlEx powders, and then layered them. Pretty cool, eh? This effect was created using #651 Pearl White and #662 Antique Silver on black clay. I wanted to reproduce the raw and aged metal effect on a larger scale.

After a really uninspired craft night this week I decided to take the weekend and FORCE myself to make something. My summer Scrabble tile project left me with a desire to return to my clay work, so I’m experimenting with making frames for them.  I mean, Scrabble tile pendants are cute and all, but I can’t wear something so… light.  Adding a polymer clay frame would give my pendant the necessary weight for it to hang comfortably around my neck.

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For some reason I was trying to be artsy with the camera angle here. What it doesn't show is how running the piece through the pasta roller took the shine out of the metallic powder.

I love the look of black clay gilded with PearlEx powders – there’s something very elegant and spooky about them – I did a stamped texture, a raised texture, and then this layered design that looked really cool the first time I tried it. The second time I tried the layers I think I may have overworked it a bit.

Overworking the really cool layers flattened and dulled them. rather than waste the clay and the effort I attempted to salvage things with more PearlEx. While the results I got were exactly what I expected and looked nice, I still lost the part I thought was awesome in the first place.

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Liquid Polymer can be tinted with alcohol ink or oil paint (among other things). For my purposes, I wanted to be able to brighten the metallic areas of my tiles. A combination of liquid polymer, clay softener, and pearl powder should do the trick.

Rather than write everything down twice I have elaborated on my steps in the image captions for this entry.  I figure it’s like getting two posts in one — one fully of blabbity text, and another filled with semi-informative claygeek data.  Helpful?  Probably not.  I’m doing my best here, people.  Throw me a bone.

These are now baked and ready for me to do something with them.  I think I’m going to add a clay bail to the back instead of gluing a metal one.  As much as I love metal findings, using them feels like cheating sometimes.  Will they be necklaces?  Earrings?  Brooches?  Come to think of it, they were supposed to be frames for my Scrabble tile pendants, right?  <scrolls back to the top of the page> Yeah, they were!  After all that rolling, mixing, and stamping, I only made two frames.  Go figure.

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About a tablespoon and a half of liquid polymer and a quarter teaspoon of powder should be more than enough. A little powder goes a long way -- start smaller and work your way up. Combine the polymer and powder thoroughly before thinning down the mixture with clay softener. Use as much as you need to get it the consistency of thin maple syrup.

Experiments with the powders in hopes of creating something really cool (or better yet, something awesome) will continue. They have to. My theory is that if you keep making things, no matter how boring or dull some of them turn out, you will strengthen your creative muscle. The stronger that muscle becomes the more you will get out of your craft,  whether it is art, music, or writing. Even the shittiest projects are worth the lesson of what doesn’t work.

And still no matter how hard I try I cannot come up with enough text to reach all the way to the bottom of my photos for the entry.  Maybe a different layout would help?

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You can't see it in this image very well, but the liquid polymer mixture did exactly what I wanted to. I repeated the process with the Antique Gold and Pearl White colors.

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I got a number of different ideas out of my system in this batch. Stamping, cutout exchanges, and a couple of other minor techniques were played with.

Always Making Something

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This is our display from our space in Foolscap's Art Show. I got the unfinished case from Ben Franklin Crafts on sale and painted it red and black. It looks nice but needs shellac.

I originally posted this from my mobile phone.  It has since been edited so it doesn’t look so crappy.  -WC

Melody and I ended up spending several very long days preparing for our first “show” at Foolscap, a teeny little sci-fi convention in Redmond. Our work ended up on display in the art show instead of the merchants room, which was not what we were expecting but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I wasn’t able to hang around for the end of the event to see if we sold anything… I should probably call Melody about that.  I figure if nothing sold we at least got some exposure and parted with a few business cards.

In the days that followed I had a lot of creative energy I didn’t know what to do with. Two more Christmas doll sets are complete and a third is awaiting final touches. I guess now I have plenty of time to start and finish a few Halloween dolls as well. I’ll go into more detail about them in another post.

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This is the finished product. I missed a few spots with the paint, but the effect is like worn denim.

I dug out the white bridal corset I wore at my wedding a hundred years ago and repurposed it as a costume piece to perform in. That was fun – a can of craft spray paint and some decorative trim left over from an old dress project and violá! From bridal novelty to fashion accessory in just a few simple steps. I included a couple of pictures to show you how it turned out.

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See? Worn Denim. Actually if you look close up you can tell the effect is because I missed a spot. Darn.

You know, I had been meaning to do something with that corset for a very long time but didn’t think I had a right to, even after the marriage became ancient history. Plus, I thought I’d screw it up somehow. What made me take the plunge? I had reached a point where one, I didn’t care if I screwed it up, and two, I really needed something to wear for my gig on Sunday. I rather like it. It looked pretty good on, too (despite the fact I could hardly move in it).

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There is SO MUCH hardware fabric left over from this project I will likely try again . This works great, but I'd like to be able to put the lid on it.

The project that exhausted my creative energy was the cat litter filter.  I spent my entire Monday evening including the Kate Plus 8 finale and two episodes of My Big Fat Gypsy

Wedding putting it together. Martha now has a litter doohickey for her Feline Pine, and I have a need to see more gypsy princess dresses.

Speaking of gypsy weddings, I noticed a lot of them had huge cakes adorned with Barbie dolls in bridesmaids’ dresses. It’s a cute idea (heck I’ve done something similar) but dangit those dolls’ hairdos looked horrible!  Seriously, people, a boil perm isn’t that hard. After I finished thinking how much better I could have made them look I wondered if I could make a living doing that for a bakery or something. Hey, I watch Duff and his cakey friends. They sculpt some fun stuff, but I can do better.

Right now I’m coming down from my creative high and hoping to find my motivation again. I can feel it right around the corner, I just need to be ready to grab it when it crosses my path.