I carved a welcome sign with carving knives. I used plywood. It was hard cutting into more than one layer of wood. Next time, I will use solid wood, it should give a better result. I encourage you to try chip carving, I really enjoyed it.
I visited my parents for a few weeks in the Alps. While I was there, I saw some beautiful mountain flowers called edelweiss. (picture from Wikipedia) At the library, I saw a beautiful big wooden flower. After trimming the trees, I decided I could try to carve some. It was my first attempt at whittling branches and it was quite enjoyable.
Let's make a small(1,5 inch to 6 inches) poseable needle felted doll.
This is my first tutorial. I hope you will like it. Let me know how I can improve it.
First, decide what kind of doll you want to make(fairy, people, animal...). Then, draw it or find a picture of the doll at the size you want to create it.
What you need:
wool roving for the body in the colors of your picture/drawing
embroidery floss for the hands, or polymer clay, or wool roving
wire for the armature:
one or any mix of these wire gauge 16 or more(the higher the gauge, the thinner the wire) The pipe cleaner and thinner wires are easier to bend but break more easily. It all depends if the doll will be bent a lot and how strong the person bending the doll will be. 16 gauge is a bit hard to bend. You can also twist thinner wires together to make it thicker and stronger. Pipe cleaner won't let you get very thin parts( limb, tail...) but the roving attaches very easily on it.
wire cutters and pliers
felting needles, more than one as they sometimes break
felting mat: some foam would be the best but a sponge or a brush would work well. Since you mostly will hold it in your hand, you likely can do it without any mat too.
embroidery needle if using embroidery floss
Instructions for the armature:
Draw the armature at the size you want. Put tracing paper other the picture and draw the armature or draw it free handed.
Bend the wire and check the size and shape by putting the wire pieces over the armature you have drawn. Make the legs way longer to allow enough wire to create the feet.
Add the arms: You can make them at the same time as the hands or on separate wires.
Attach them to the body but leave them free to rotate.
Add hands: You can create hands with polymer clay too. It's easier but they won't bend. If you choose to make hands without polymer clay, create the armature for the hands. You can make plastic figurine hands, best for tiny dolls with tiny hands:
or more realistic hands:
It helps to use a drawing or picture of the hand at the size you want it to check the size and position of the fingers. For small hands, make the fingers a bit longer toward the hand as the floss will take some space. As you can see, this hand is too thin at the base of the thumb and the thumb is too long. That's why you need a good picture of the hand as a reference.
Bend the wire to form the feet and check that the doll can stand up:
Do not wrap as much wire around the torso to attache the arms as I did, it will be a pain to felt around that much wire and may break needles. Do not wrap wire around the fingers as you see in this picture, you will end up with fingers too thick.
Instructions for the doll:
First, polymer clay: If you choose to create the feet, hands or head with polymer clay, now is the time so you can bake it before wrapping any wool roving or embroidery floss.
You could also use beads for the head, hands and feet.
hands: If you choose to make hands with wool roving, they likely will be fuzzy, especially tiny hands. Maybe wet felting would help. I did not like the fuzzy hands so I used embroidery floss. Wrap the floss tightly around one finger working toward the end of one finger.
Pass the needle in the tiny hole at the end of the finger so as to prevent any unraveling. Do this as many times as needed to cover all the wire.
Wrap back toward the hand and do the same for all fingers. Then, wrap around the hand.
In no particular order, you will have to create the head, feet, tail eventually and, body.
head and feet: wrap the roving, pock it with the needle, many many times so that it felts and hardens. Add roving until you get the size and shape you are looking for. Do not pock too hard as the needle will break if it touches the wire too fast. Pay attention to your fingers, these needle felting needles are sharp. This head is not felted or shaped enough.
Adding more wool roving to create Hobbes' cheeks and snout:
body: Take a piece of roving about 1/4 of an inch thick or a bit less and about 3 inches long and wrap it around one leg. Do the next one. Felt it by pocking the needle a lot in it. Add roving and felt. and so on...
tail: I don't recommend using this kind of mat, it makes the opposite side very fuzzy.
Once you are satisfied with the shape, you can add the details like the eyes, the stripes or the hair.
For Easter and birthdays, I sometime make eggs filled with confetti, called cascarones. My son especially loves to shower us with confetti. They are easy to make.
First, gather some empty eggs. You don't need them to have a tiny hole or a perfect one. Rinse them and let them dry. I used spray paint to decorate them. Next time, I will spray the paint in the last step, so the eggs will look even better.
Then, take a funnel or make one with a sheet of paper rolled in a cone shape and fill the eggs with confetti.
Lastly, cut some tiny discs of tissue paper and glue them over the hole. I used basic white glue.
Then, if you haven't done it at the beginning, decorate the eggs whichever way you choose. As they will be broken, I suggest something fast and easy. I spray painted them.
Now, you have a bunch of cascarones ready to be squashed in your hand over a friends' head. This will release a shower of confetti and tiny bits of egg shell.
We also throw them at the ceiling so they brake and let all the confetti slowly drop. It's a bit messy but a lot of fun. It really makes for a fun party.
For my partner in the IYP, I created Santa's workshop to fill her Advent calendar. I made the wooden workshop and the trees, and the table out of thin plywood. The furniture is made mostly with balsa. The accessories are made mostly from polymer clay, but also from wire, wood, fabric, paper, cardboard...
The elves are bendable and pose-able. I made an armature with wire. I added heads and shoes with polymer clay and put them in the oven. Once cooled down, I wrapped embroidery floss around the hands shape with a needle. Then, I wrapped wool roving around their bodies and felted the roving with a three needles tool. After that, I sew, cut and, embroidered them some tiny clothes that can be removed. I made 6 elves who each are in charge of a part of Christmas. The elf in charge of the mail and the naughty or nice list.
The elf who stuffs the toys. Well, he just had a little accident and fell head first in the stuffing.
The carpenter elf is able to create lots of nice toys with all his tools.
This elf has lots of ribbons, tags and wrapping papers and can wrap toys real fast, and neat too.
The sewing elf has a sewing machine, but he also can sew by hand. He embroiders too and likes to choose fabrics from the many ones he stores on his shelves.
The cooking elf is very busy at this time of the year baking cookies and cakes an candies.
All the elves like to take an afternoon snack together. They talk together while enjoying the baked goods.
Here are some of the toys they made this afternoon.
This year, I made an Advent calendar on a winter theme. everything is built with construction paper and white glue. There's a bunch of trees as they are easy and fast to make, and you need a lot to create a forest.
It is mostly filled with cookies and chocolates, things tiny enough to fit inside the trees and log houses. The bigger items are inside the mountains.
The school with a bell on the roof, a modern log cabin with wide windows, a traditional Swiss chalet.
An A frame log house, a tiny mazot from the Alps, another chalet and a fairy house( or maybe a girl's house?) in the back.
The witch's cat was tired to fly on a broom stick on Halloween night. Sure, it was fun at first but he wanted to get treats too. So, he made himself a mask with a jack-o-lantern and went to town. He lifts his pumpkin head to reveal his huge smile.
Just turn the handle and he will show his face.
Here is a view from the back.
In order to create him, I first made a rough draft of the way it would move. Then it involved two separate steps. One, making the puppet: I drew the cat and planned the moving parts so his arms would be long enough to lift the pumpkin fully over his head. I tried to calculate it but in the end, I just drew and measured. Then I turned his body and head on one block on the mini-lathe. I used carving tools to make his ears and glue them on with wood glue. I sanded and painted it. I made the tiny pumpkins for the decor with a scroll saw. The pumpkin mask is made of papier mache with orange tissue paper. Second, making the moving mechanism and the box. I had planned to put a cam under the main rod to lift and lower the cat but I then realized that I would need a box twice as high as the cat! So, I decided to make a gear and a specially indented rod to go up and down. That took less space but needed more precision and a few tries to get the dents to fit in the indentations. calculations, drawing and paper model were necessary to get it to work. For example, you can not have 6,5 dents on the wheel! Then, I made them in wood. I had to find a way to keep the rod vertical and really close to the wheel, hence the bottom where the rod slides inside. I added a few pumpkins to decorate the bottom but still left the box open so one can see the mechanism at work.
I made this for my partner in the Vintage Halloween swap. I hope you enjoyed.
An advent calendar has one surprise everyday from December 1st till December 24th and sometimes a bigger surprise for December 25th. It's fun to make for loved ones but it's also great to receive. Most have little pockets or boxes to fill for each day. This swap would be for those who already have an empty advent calendar or no calendar at all. It could be for yourself or for anybody you choose. You would receive 24 little gifts already wrapped.
To minimize the shipping cost, you could send 24 gifts to one partner or two times 12 gifts to two partners. Half to all of the items should be crafted, a maximum of half of the items could be bought. example of bought items: supplies for your partner that you buy for the swap or that you have at home( fabric, ribbons, washi tape...), crafting kits( you could make these), food...
You could send 24 unrelated gifts or up to 24 gifts that go together, like mix-and-match jewelry, a winter inchie village with each house counting as one day, a miniature scene, doll accessories, felted food...