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31  IMAGE REPRODUCTION TECHNIQUES / Stenciling: Completed Projects / Really BIG freezer-paper stencil of a tree on: February 19, 2010 08:35:31 PM

I saw these vinyl sticker wall transfer things on etsy, and loved the look, but hated the price tag.  Plus, I didn't really like the idea of sticking vinyl to my walls...

So, I found a picture of one I liked from this shop: http://www.etsy.com/shop/PopWall, divided the image into squares and blew each square up with a photocopier.  I then reassembled the squares like such:

I then put freezer paper on top and traced my assembled-square image (the image was very pixelated from enlarging, so I drew the cut-lines with a crayon to make sure everything was smooth and pretty).  Next I used a pen knife to cut out the stencil

I ironed the stencil to the wall in three big pieces.  I used masking tape to smooth the stencil pieces together wherever my stencil cuts didn't match perfectly at the seams.  I also used masking tape to help hold the stencil up while I painted (I wasn't sure if the freezer-paper would have enough stick to support its own weight.

... a couple coats of paint...

... and tear that stencil down!

Unfortunately I had a bit of stencil-bleed which I'll have to fix with a brush, but all-in-all I'm very proud of how it turned out!

32  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / Sign with Polymer Clay Bears - Tutorial with Oodles of Pics on: December 31, 2009 10:45:52 PM
My parents just built a new house.  My dad wants to build a bar in his basement rec-room and call it the "Bear-Foot Bar".  For Christmas, I made him this sign out of some wood I pulled out of the lake and super sculpey.  I'm not sure what posessed me to take so many progress pics... but here's my first really detailed, long-winded tutorial on how I made these bears:

Choose a piece of wood for your sign as I mentioned, I used a piece of inch-thick old wood I found in the lake.

Cut a semi-circle of inch-thick wood as the base of the bear.  I traced a CD, cut out the entire circle with a scroll saw, and then used a miter saw to cut the circle in half.  (Actually, I used a little less than half of a circle for each bear to get the look I wanted.)

Cover the up-side of the base with polymer clay.  My sign will hang on a wall, so I only covered the parts that would show.

If youre patient enough, its good to leave the project for an hour or two at this point.  Because youve softened the clay when spreading it on the wood, it is sensitive to stretching.  Walking away from the project base to give the clay some time to cool off makes it easier to build upon.

Start adding detail to the bear by making the back leg.  Make a big sausage for the hind half of the bear (left).  This sausage will be the bum and the leg of the bear.  Smooth the sausage into the base of the sculpture (right).

Make another, longer sausage for the shoulder and front leg of the bear (left).  Smooth the sausage around onto the side of the base (right).  This provides some continuity and a look of strength to the bears shoulders.  Smooth the piece into the base of the bear maintaining the definition of the shoulder (see later pictures).

Ive added a can to my bears hand here (see bottom of post for what that's all about). Roll a ball of clay for the bears head (left).  Push your thumbs into the ball (right).

Pinch in the sides of the head to narrow the forehead (left).  Use your fingers to smooth and round the head.  Round out the snout and smooth down the forehead

Using the side of a sculpting tool or a wooden skewer, press channels into the clay under the snout (left).  Use your fingers to define the underside of the snout and the cheekbones (right).

Use a sculpting tool or a knife, press the outline of the nose into the clay (left).  The nose should be rather large, a third of the snout should be nose.  Use a sculpting tool or toothpick to smooth out the lines into a more organic looking nose (right).

Heres a large picture of the head after smoothing.

Push down a depression in the shoulder for the head to fit (left).  Place the head in the depression, and gently smooth down the joint (right).

Use small bits of clay to add brows and ears to the head (left). Smooth the additions into the head (right).

Add eyes to the bear.  I used 4.5 mm doll-maker eyes.  Although these cant be baked, it is helpful to position the eyes at this point, as the character of your bear is starting to come forth (left).  Using a needle sculpting tool (or a pin, needle, toothpick), score short fur lines into the body of the bear (right).

Leave most of the face (except eyebrows) and paws without scoring.

The last step before baking is to smooth out the score marks and remove the crumbs of clay.  Use a q-tip soaked in nail-polish remover to gently smooth out the lines (left). The nail-polish remover must contain acetone for this to work.  Make sure not to soak the piece.  Remove the plastic eyes before baking.
Bake the bear together with the board at 275F for 20 minutes. If you are using pine, some sap may leach out the board when it is heated.  I recommend using a scrap piece of wood in this case.  After baking, leave the piece to cool completely.  Using a boring tool, clean out the eye holes, as they may have collapsed during baking.

Here are the two baked bears that I made, dry-fit to the sign before painting.  The eyes are just put in place to test the fit.  Remove before painting.

The bear is painted using a dry-brush technique.  Black, dark brown, and light brown paint are required.  Use a mix of the dark and light browns to make an intermediate brown.
First, paint the entire bear black and let dry.  Make sure that all creases are covered with the black paint (left most bear).  Using the darkest brown, load the paint brush, and then remove most of the paint by dabbing on a paper towel.  Dry-brush the dark brown onto the bear using short firm strokes, building up the colour slowly (second from left).  Dry-brush the intermediate brown in the same manner, using slightly lighter strokes, some black and dark-brown should be left showing (right most bear). Finally, using the lightest brown, dry-brush highlights on  the highest parts of the sculpture with light, short brush strokes (second from right).  The dry brush technique give lots of depth and complexity to the colour of your final sculpture.  Using a wet brush, paint the nose black.

Spray the entire sign with several coats of clear-coat varnish.  Glue the eyes into place with super-glue or your favourite alternative.  Use the glue gun liberally to stick the bears to the wood.  I finished the back of the sign with black felt to provide a nice clean finish, and to prevent the sign from scratching the wall. 

Side Tutorial:
I wanted my bear to be holding a bear can.  I thought it would be cool to duplicate a real beer can

First, make an empty beer can.  Do this by purchasing a full beer can, then drink the contents (ha ha).  After rinsing the can with water, use tin snips to carefully cut the top and bottom off the can so youre left with a tube.  Make a vertical cut down the tube and flatten the can.  Put the flattened can on your scanner, and scan it in colour.
Shrink the scanned image.  (I knew I wanted the can to be 3 cm high. I inserted the picture into MS Word, and formatted the picture such that the vertical dimension was 3 cm high.)
Print out your smaller label and cut out.
Roll a big fat sausage of polymer clay.  Roll the sausage just thin enough that the label will just fit around it.  Cut a section of the sausage equal to the height of the label and smooth the cut ends.  Make a dimple in the clay for the can opening. Sculpt a tiny pop-tab, stick it to the top of the can, and then bake.

That's the end! I hope somebody find this useful.  My dad loved his Christmas gift. Cheesy

33  TOYS, DOLLS AND PLAYTHINGS / Toys, Dolls and Playthings: Completed Projects / Felt Forest Animals - Pillow with Finger Puppets on: December 27, 2009 08:49:50 PM
Hello Craftsters!
This is the pillow/ felt animals/ finger puppet set that I made for my nephew for Christmas.   I made a pillow case for a 21" square pillow form with 9 pockets.  Each pocket holds a different forest animal made of felt.  I designed all the patterns in AutoCAD myself, so I'm pretty proud of how they turned out.
Here's the pillow with all the animals.  If I did it again, I'd make the pockets lower on the pillow - the animals stick out too much on the top row of pockets.

Fawn and Bunny:

Skunk and Beaver:

Owl and Frog:

Bear and Butterfly:

Moose (this one might be my favourite):

It was my husband's idea to make them all into finger-puppets, so I sewed a little bit of coordinating felt on the back of each of them to make them all into finger puppets.

My nephew liked the pillow part, he might be a little young for the puppets yet, but my bro and sis in law seemed to really appreciate the gift and the fact that it was home-made, so that was pretty rewarding.  Grin  I feel really lucky to have two little nephews to make things for.

34  CROCHET / Amigurumi: Completed Projects / Mercanized Cotton Fox on: November 11, 2009 05:02:06 PM
This fox came about because I wanted to crochet something that looked like it was sewed.  I started in the craft store trying to purchase real wool yarn that I could crochet and felt.  I couldn't find ANY natural fibre yarn except for a giant ball of "fisherman sock yarn".  So, I thought I might try really thin yarn and a really tiny hook so I'd end up with super-small stitches.  I ended up with mercanized cotton and a 2.7mm (Size 00) hook. There was no orange mercanized cotton, so I died two white balls orange.  I really like how it ended up turning out.  The eyes are 21 mm diameter

Many, many stiches later, here's my fox. 

I had to include a close-up of my tiny stiches.   Cheesy

I'm not sure I was successful in making something that doesn't look crocheted, but I think that it is a nice alternative look to crocheting with heavier yarn.
35  CRAFTSTER CRAFT CHALLENGES / Craftster Craft Challenge Theme Ideas, Etc. / Craft Challenge - Marvellous Magnetics! on: September 29, 2009 02:01:49 PM
So... I was thinking of a craft challenge that challenges people to use magnets in their crafts... I'm not talking fridge magnets, although this is of course a possibility.  I've seen people use magnets in pretty craft ways on craftster, and there's lots of possibilities:
1) placing magnets inside amigurimi to make them hold things or kiss
2) magnetic bookmarks
3) magnetic jewlery
4) magnetic calendars
5) paper clip holders, bottle cap catchers
There's lots of options... basically, I was thinking that you'd have to craft something that couldn't be made or wouldn't function properly without a magnet.  Magnets are accessable, and this would be open to many mediums of crafts.
36  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Papier Mache Monsters on: July 23, 2009 06:02:26 PM
I made these guys for a swap, but my partners have received and I really wanted this guy and gal to have their own post.  I took progress pics for once too.

This is my geeky girl monster.  She has pigtails, glasses, and socks.

This is my gentelmanly monster.  He's got a top hat and is presenting a flower.

Okay if you're anything like me, you like the progress pics better than pics of the final project.  So, from the beginning...

They all started out as a random bunch of body parts. I use newspaper, masking tape, and wire to make the structure.  Then I cover everything with a few layers of paper mache.  These are all arms and bodies.

When the body parts are dry, I use wire, a glue gun, masking tape (whatever) to stick them together.  The wires inside the arms and legs let me position them.  Then I cover that in a few layers of paper mache.

When thats all dry, I cut off the top of the head.  This lets me make a jaw.  I make teeth out of sculpey and install eyes (I used plastic eyes for these ones, but I usually make eyes out of sculpey too.  At this stage my monsters start to have some personality, so I can make any accesory items I want (hats, glasses, etc).  I installed the hook in the back of the geeky girl at this point, as my swap partner requested that she hang up.  All this gets papier mached again.  On this final round of mache, I add lips and eyelids.

When the last round of paper mache is done, I mix white glue and brown paint together and slop on a few thick coats  This step adds strength and gives a base coat.  Then I layer up several colours (from dark to light) to get the final skin tone.  And there we have it!

I have a few more monsters in progress (The extra body parts from pic 1 above), I just need to get motivated to finish them.
Thanks for looking!  Grin
37  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Weddings and Bridal Showers / Rice Krispie Wedding Cake on: June 07, 2009 05:02:10 PM
A coworker of mine got married a couple months ago in Serbia.  His wife finally got her visa to join him here in Canada, so we threw them a little congratulatory barbeque.  I made them this wedding cake of rice krispie treats.  I basically used three round baking dishes (didn't have cake pans) and a mug for the moulds.  It took 3 batches of Rice Krispies made according to the standard recipe.

The ribbons are fruit-roll-up type things and so are the roses.  They don't have Rice Krispies in Serbia, though - so we had to explain that the cake was actually edible.  Not sure if it was ever eaten - the happy couple took it home with them. But, they really liked it - so yippi!

38  CROCHET / Crochet: Completed Projects / DIY: Old crocs into crochet boots on: November 06, 2008 06:10:32 PM
This is how I turned some old crocs into these nifty crochet boots.

Here's the shoe I started with.  Pretty worn out.

First, I used a measuring tape to mark every centimeter or so around the shoe:

I cut off the top of the shoe with a pair of small scissors.  There's a line on the shoes that you can follow that divides the sole from the rest of the shoe. Then I put a pin in each of my marks around the circumfrence so that I could more clearly see where my marks were.  This allowed me to double-check that my marks were all fairly evenly spaced.

Using an awl, I poked a hole through the rubber at each pin.  You can use a nail or a screw or some similar poking device if you don't have an awl:

Using a metal crochet hook, I slip stitched my yarn into the sole.

After I had the slip stitches in place, I continued to crochet in the round, using single crochets to build the foot part of my boot.  I sort of just finessed the decreases I needed as I went along.  Once I got to my ankle, I started increasing again, and used a series of back post/ front post crochets to make the pattern on the shin part of the boot... but really you could do anything you wanted, just crocheting in the round until the boots are the height you want.

And tada!

39  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Papier/ Fabric Mache Dragon on: October 24, 2008 03:19:05 PM
One of my co-worker's sons is obsessed with dragons.  Smiley  He's only 11, but he can draw the most amazing dragon's I've ever seen.  For his birthday, I took one of his dragon drawings and made it into a papier mache dragon.  Him mom is giving it to him for his birthday (tonight!).  I think he'll be really excited when he sees it.  Unfortunately, the original drawings is too light to scan - but trust me, it was awesome.  This kid sure know's his dragon anatomy.
I took some pics of the finished dragon this morning on my ice-crystal encrusted fence.
Here he is:

40  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Papier Mache Monkey on: October 04, 2008 05:45:54 PM
This is my papier mache monkey.  His basic structure is made of balled-up grocery bags.  Then I wired his arms/legs/tail onto his head and body and covered the whole thing in cloth strips dipped in white glue.  His "skin" is papier mache pulp mixed with some saw dust for texture.  I made him to test out my pulp recipe before completing a bigger project that I have in the works.
His eyes and teeth are made of modeling clay which I covered in resin to make glossy and wet-looking.

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