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11  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Step Stool with a little mouse for my little girl on: March 20, 2013 07:24:21 PM
I have a tiny (almost) 3 year old, and oddly high bathroom counters.  Regular step stools are just not high enough to help her reach the tap to wash her hands.  As any self-respecting crafty mom would do, I measured and made a custom stool for my little girl.

I had some scrap wood (pine) in the garage left-over from another project, so I drafted up some little stairs on some freezer paper and cut them out with my trusty scroll saw.  Then I did a lot of sanding.

My daughter has an imaginary mouse friend.  So I painted a little mouse on the top step and cut a stencil of mouse footprints to decorate the steps.  (Two coats of white water-based stain prior to painting, then two coats of water based poly topcoat)

The profile is shallow enough that it doesn't interfere with the swing of the door and the stool is high enough that she can wash her hands by herself... and she loves it.

12  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Tissue Box - blue with white trees on: March 18, 2013 07:39:50 PM
I painted this the other night.  I felt like painting, but didn't want to get into anything too complicated, so I grabbed a small brush and painted a little forest of leafless trees.  
I had the wooden tissue box holder in my stash, already with the blue stain on it. (Water based stain from a company called SamaN)
I used masking tape to define the border, then painted a white line along the edge of the masking tape. To create a bit of depth I did the background trees in a washed-out white, then the foreground trees in the full-strength white. It's nothing too special... but its prettier than the plain old tissue box.  Undecided

13  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Keepsake Boxes with Forest Animals on: January 25, 2013 06:49:35 AM
I painted a crap-ton of these before Christmas.  I used the same technique as here:

It was more work than you'd think trying to draw all those animals... my drawing skills are a little rusty, so I did lots of erasing.  I like how these ones turned out... although I had two attempts at painting bears that were too embarrassing to post here  Undecided ...

14  JEWELRY AND TRINKETS / Trinkets and Jewelry: Completed Projects: General / Delicate Chain Stacking Friendship Bracelets on: January 06, 2013 12:27:02 PM
I don't often post in the jewelry board, but these are so cute and simple, I thought somebody else might be interested in making them...  I got 2m (6ft) of chain for about $5 and 100 eye pins for about $3.  The beads and clasps were from my stash.  (So I guess you could call this a stash buster project!)

You basically just thread a few beads on an eye pin, add some delicate looking chain, a clasp, and voila. (It is as simple as that, but if you want a full step-by-step tutorial with pics, I did post one to my blog: http://www.artisan82.blogspot.ca/2013/01/tutorial-delicate-stacking-bracelets.html) I made a bunch and tried a few different looks by switching up the chain colour and mixing in some cording/ tiger tail. 

These are so quick and easy, I'll probably make a bunch more to give away... so I guess they're a bit like a more grown-up version of a friendship bracelet.
15  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / Toddler Viking Hats on: December 29, 2012 05:47:43 AM
I didn't invent the idea of a crocheted viking hat - but I did make my own pattern, so I guess I'm pretty stoked about that!  Worsted weight grey yarn from Walmart, the horns are cotton yarn - the stuff people make wash cloths out of, the piggy tails are yellow dollar store yarn (that was so horrible to work with I would not recommend it for anything other than something like hair!)

The hat is crocheted in the round, mostly half-double crochet with back post double crochet to make the 'seams'.  Popcorn stitches make the rivets around the base of the 'helmet'.

16  Archive of Past Craftster Challenge Entries / CHALLENGE 81 ENTRIES / Modern Dreamcatcher Necklace - Just Thread It! Challenge on: December 04, 2012 12:10:17 PM

For some reason, when I read the announcement for the Just Thread It! Challenge, I started thinking about spiderwebs (could have been that the challenge was announced near Halloween, or that I've been doing lots of nature-inspired crafts lately).  With spiderwebs on my mind, and the desire to make a new 'statement' necklace, I really got into this challenge!

I made this:

I started with a sketch of how I wanted the segments to look.  I cut and shaped sections of wire coat-hanger accordingly.  (Very sore hands after that, I tell ya!)

I used hockey tape to secure little loops made of beading wire to the coat-hanger shapes. This was so I could attach the shapes later.  The hockey tape actually made a really nice surface to work on also.  (If you don't have hockey tape, any sort of cloth-like slightly-stretchy tape would work.)

I grabbed some shades of blue embroidery thread from my stash and wrapped around the coat hangers. (...and wrapped and wrapped and wrapped.)

Then I used some contrasting thread and a few tiny silver beads to turn each section into a little dream-catcher web.  There's a good tutorial here for the stitch to use: http://www.nativetech.org/dreamcat/dreminst.html

I used some jump rings and chain to put the thing together and... voila!

Action shot!

This was a really great challenge idea. I was inspired to try something different and didn't have to buy a thing (although I did have to steal a wire coat hanger from my mom b/c I never save them).  Grin

17  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Family of Foxes - Tutorial for a keepsake box worth keeping! on: November 25, 2012 06:55:58 PM
Heres a step-by-step tutorial on how to make a fun  keepsake box with an illustration of a fox family.

Supplies you will need include:
- a blank wooden box.  The one Im using is cigar box shaped and measures 8 x 8 x 2 inches (21 x 20 x 4.5cm)
-fine sandpaper (220 grit or higher)
-masking tape
-pencil, fine black marker
-wood stain or paint (optional, could leave the wood natural)
-acrylic paint, brushes
-polyurethane (optional, can use any clear topcoat, even watered-down white glue will work in a pinch).

Youll need a drawing that you want to transfer onto the box.  You can use anything that has a definite outline.  Colouring books make great sources, if you want to use my drawing of a little fox family,  Ive provided the template of my illustration of a little family of foxes in pdf format on my blog: http://artisan82.blogspot.ca/2012/11/tutorial-family-of-foxes-keepsake-box.html

Give the entire box a really good rub down with the fine grit sand paper. Dont skip this step!  The finish of the box really depends on the smallest effort sanding at first and in between steps.

Cut out the template and tape it to the box.  Trace around the outside of the template with a pencil.

If you're not leaving the wood natural, use a small brush to stain (or paint) around the box outside the outline.  Its not a big deal if the stain bleeds a little or if there are a few slip-ups.  Paint can cover any goofs.

Stain the rest of the box inside and out.  You can switch to a bigger brush here if you want. Let it dry.

The next step is to transfer the template illustration onto the box.  You can use carbon paper or something similar, but what I do doesn't require anything but a regular old pencil.
Just scribble all over the back of the stencil.

Flip it your template right-sides-up and re-position it in the unstained portion of your box.  Secure with some masking tape.

Using a mechanical pencil or ballpoint pen, trace over the image.  Use firm pressure, but its not necessary to press into the wood.  

The graphite from the pencil scribbling on the back of the paper will transfer onto the box.  (Ive upped the contrast on the photo here so you could see it.  The transfer is not usually this dark, but good enough to see the illustration to paint it.)

Start painting!  I usually start in the background and work my way into the foreground.  In general, the farther back forms should be darker.  When everything is painted to your satisfaction, let it dry for a good while like overnight.

Give everything a light sanding.  I know it seems counter-productive to sand your lovely painting job, but this really makes the final finish look smooth.  If youre using acrylic paint, this will get rid of any ridges that the brush strokes leave in the paint.

Use a fine black marker to outline the illustration.

Add in texture and shadow with cross-hatching.

As the final touch, I use a fine brush to add white highlights to the eyes.

Give everything a couple coats of polyurethane (sand between coats) to seal it.  Now you have a keepsake box worth keeping!

18  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Painted cupboard with trees and forest animals (boatload of pics!) on: November 22, 2012 02:17:27 PM

I just finished painting this cupboard and it was a real labor of love for me.  I'm really proud of how it turned out because it was a tricky shape (tall skinny rectangle) to work an illustration onto.  The tree layout was tricky!  I first drew the trees onto large sheets of paper, then traced them onto the sides of the cupboard. (I did this before assembling the cupboard, so you're looking at the two side panels on my desk.)  I started painting from the top of the tree working down, so as not to smudge paint.  This is totally opposite from how I was taught to paint trees.  Wink

I used artist-quality acrylic to add in the animals and leaves.  Then I used a black marker to add in some line work.  The line work is done on the left panel and not on the right panel.

The linework is done on both panels here.

Here are some detail shots of my favourite tree dwellers:

And one more of the finished cabinet.  I bought the cabinet at a place that sells unfinished pine furniture. Sadly, I don't have the skills to build it myself.  Tongue

19  HOME SWEET HOME / Crafty Housewares: Completed Projects: General / Painted bench toy box - forest theme on: November 08, 2012 11:46:37 AM
I very nervously signed up for my first ever craft show.  This is the first (totally) finished piece that I've made.  Since I've never done a craft show before, I'm only making things that I would also like in my house (In the case that nothing sells.)

I bought an unfinished pine storage bench, stained it in green water-based stain then painted my illustrations on the back and front panel. The stain I used was by a Canadian company called SamaN. I would highly recommend it to anybody who needs to stain indoors or who is making stuff for kids - the stain is totally non-toxic and odourless (and no lapping marks is an awesome feature too.)

My sketches:

Close up of the seat back:

Close up of the front panel:

I'm very happy with how it turned out.  If it doesn't sell, I'll happily put it in my daughter's room.  Wink
20  CRAFTY BUSINESS ADVICE / Crafty Business Discussion / Adventures in starting a craft business on: September 05, 2012 07:54:20 AM
I really, really want to start selling things I make.  I've started reading some books regarding how to sell crafts, and how to start craft businesses.  I haven't really found anything that's a step-by-step idiot-proof, here's how you get started.  So, I'm giving myself some assignments, and posting them here. Hopefully someone else who is struggling with taking the first steps towards making money from crafting will learn from my mistakes.  Hopefully people who have taken this journey already will comment here and help me struggle through this.

So... here goes:

Assignment 1:  Sign up for a craft show.  This will give me a hard deadline (motivation) to at least get some things done business-wise and make enough stock items to sell that I won't embarrass myself the day of.

I e-mailed the lady who runs the "Nick of Time" Christmas craft show at the Buckhorn community centre.  The fee is only $60,  so I figure it's a small cost, even if I don't sell anything.  At least I can say I have done a craft show.

Assignment 2: Pick a name for my business.

A while ago, before my second baby was born, I started an etsy shop called The Turnip Truck Co.  My husband calls me Turnip Truck sometimes, so that's where that idea came from.  I think it was a decent name, but I don't want to use that name going forward.  I think the name suggests a certain sense of humour, which I like, but I think it also pigeon-holes me into making items with a sense of humour.  If one was looking for a goofy monster brooch, then they might look in a shop called "The Turnip Truck Co"... but the name doesn't really lend itself to handpainted fine home furnishings.  Since I make many different things and I haven't really done any market research yet, I need a name that will work no matter what the shop contains.

I came up with two options I like "Jennifer LaBelle Handmade" (origin self-evident) and "Artisan 82" (being that I'm an artisan and I was born in 1982.)  I really like the word artisan and like calling myself an artisan (rather than artist or craftsperson) because I think it most accurately describes me.  I took a quick e-mail poll of a few friends whose opinions I respect in this regard, and the majority liked "Artisan 82".

So... officially the name of my new craft business is "Artisan 82".  Yippi!

Assignment 3:  Make a logo.

Realizing that I will need to make a sign for my craft booth and probably some sort of facebook and/or blog page, I will need a logo.  I really wanted a logo that said: crafty, handmade, stylish, professional.  I started by scribbling my company name in a sketchbook:

I thought I could manipulate my own handwriting on the computer to make something that I liked.  I traced around the letters in autoCAD, and struggled for hours playing with the image in a free image manipulation program called GIMP http://www.gimp.org/ that I didn't really know how to use.  Here are various versions of what I came up with.

After sleeping on it, I looked on the above with fresh eyes, and determined that I needed to try a completely different approach.  And so down the tube goes two hours of struggling frustration

Well, an education is never free... and in my struggles, I noticed that this nifty GIMP program I was using had a 'create logo' function (did I mention that this software is free!).  So I messed around with that for a while and came up with this (using a free, scribbly looking font I had.)

Although I don't love this, I was getting close.

I took a similar approach with a different font, and I think I found my winner:

The flourishes make it look artistic and stylish, but I like how there's some gouges and splashes... it gives it a hand made look.  I think I'm sticking with this one.

My next goals:
Get a facebook, blog, and etsy account.
Make business cards with the above information on them.  This way at least I'll have some form of marketing material to hand out at the craft fair.
Oh yeah, and stock.  I need to produce stock to sell.  That should happen too.

I'm going to keep this post going, even if nobody reads or comments as a way to be accountable to myself.  I do hope that somebody does read it...  Oh, and if anybody reading this thinks that my final logo stinks, please tell me!  I'd like to know before I start printing business cards.  Undecided

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