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21  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Easter / Easter Eggshell Mosaics - A Tutorial on: March 12, 2013 08:22:33 PM
My kids love dying Easter eggs. For the past few years we've taken to making mosaic pictures every Easter from the eggshells of the eggs we dye. It's a lot of fun, an easy project for little ones and the results are really pretty. Tutorial below.

Step 1: Peel the eggs

Fairly straight forward, I admit. However, do your best to break the eggshell off in large chunks rather than tons of microscopic bits. You'll need a variety of sizes and shapes for your mosaic so this step is pretty important.

Step 2: Separate the egg membrane from the shell

If you've managed to keep the majority of your eggshells in large chunks/pieces this step will be easier. To keep the eggshells from smelling or possibly growing mold remove the thin membrane-like skin from the inside of the shell so all that is left is the hard outer shell. This is not part of the egg, but the actual shell. This step is tedious but crucial to ensuring your pictures will last for years. We've never had an issue with our mosaics going bad, smelling or discoloring over time and our oldest picture is from 4 years ago.

I run my finger along the inside of the shell, as you can see in the picture to peel off the membrane and use my nails to peel away any stragglers. Make sure you are putting the separated shell pieces in a separate container so you don't mix them up with pieces you haven't separated yet. I normally prepare the eggshells the morning of our project and we have a huge pile ready to use. I keep eggshells from previous years in a small Tupperware container so we can use them anytime.

Step 3: Print out your image. I don't have a picture of this step unfortunately. I normally find a black & white illustration online and just print that. Some years I get fancy and add a title and date like the images below Smiley

Step 4: Coat small areas of the image with a thin coating of white glue and begin adding your mosaic pieces.

We work in small sections so the glue doesn't dry out. The whole process goes fairly fast. Just keep filling in sections until your picture is finished.

Tip: as you press down on some of the larger eggshell pieces while gluing them, they'll break. That's perfectly fine, it ends up looking deliberate and just as nice.

Step 5: Admire the finished mosaic and hang it for everyone to see.

I hope a few of you will be inspired to try this fun craft with your kids this Easter. Let me know if you have any questions.
22  QUILTING / Quilting: Completed Projects / Manatee Art Quilt on: February 16, 2013 08:22:39 PM
I created my very first art quilt (or quilt of any kind for that matter) for a recent swap. My partner listed nature and manatees as one of her themes so I designed this guy for her. The finished piece is approximately 1' by 2'. The base is supposed to be a water pattern with little seed beads representing bubbles. I was going for a very loose, messy stitch art style but the end piece is a bit more finished looking than I intended.

The piece has little seed beads and star stitches scattered around the manatee to quilt the layers together.

A close up of the manatee. I sketched him on some white cotton and then brushed in the colors with watered down acrylics so the end image wouldn't be stiff or shiny. I really love the way the colors blended.

Experimenting with zig-zag stitche widths for the base:

My original sketch:
23  NEEDLEWORK / Needlework: Completed Projects / Doctor Who Hoop - An Odd Ood on: February 11, 2013 10:42:55 AM
The lovely Pottermouth agreed to a private swap with me in January. We settled on each creating a Doctor Who hoop. Here's the hoop I created for her. Luckily she shares my cracked sense of humor and love for Monty Python as well as an unhealthy obsession with Doctor Who Smiley

I knew the moment we agreed on a Doctor Who swap what I wanted to make!

Some close up detail shots.

Here's the original sketch and initial felt piecing.

24  MISCELLANEOUS TOPICS / Completed Projects / Harry Potter Pinback Buttons on: January 31, 2013 10:43:11 AM
One of my Christmas presents this past year was a button making machine. Inspired by my new toy, I set about designing some buttons. For anyone that knows me, it shouldn't be a huge shock my buttons are all, thus far, Harry Potter inspired designs. The pictures are rather bad, but I hope to have better ones soon. So far I have twelve designs and plans for another dozen more.

The last set is my favorite, although I had fun designing all of them.
25  POTTERY, CERAMICS, POLYMER CLAY / Polymer Clay: Completed Projects / Elves Behaving Badly on: December 18, 2012 02:44:21 PM
While chatting with my swap partner in a recent swap she mentioned that she thinks elves do most of the work at Christmas, even down to helping deliver presents. Which got me wondering, what if some of those elves occasionally get up to some mischief? After a long night of hauling presents perhaps
they want a little break.

This particular guy just couldn't resist shucking his clothes and taking a dip in a cup of Christmas tea the lady of the house left out. You just never know what those naughty elves get up to!

The main figure is polymer clay over a wire and foil armature. The elf hat & boxers were hand-sewn. I painted the decorations on a plain teacup and designed the teabag label in Photoshop. The faux teabag I created is wedged under the elf's knees as a bit of a cushion - he shifted while he was baking unfortunately and left a tiny gap between the edge of the teacup and his legs. This was my solution. The 'tea' is tinted resin. I forgot to get a picture with a ruler to show his size but this is a fairly large piece.

Here's the armature before it was covered in clay:

My naughty elf is now in his new home with my swap partner and hopefully behaving himself for once.
26  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Altered Christmas Tin - When You Stop Believing In Santa on: December 18, 2012 11:30:47 AM
I created this tin for a recent swap, inspired by my partner's theme "elves." I love, love, love this Christmas quote and couldn't resist creating a little altered tin featuring it: "When you stop believing in Santa you get underwear." As my swap partner is British I switched the word "underwear" for "knickers."

The elf is inspired by vintage elf images from the 50s. I drew him on watercolor paper, painted him with watercolors and then cut out the underwear from some holiday scrapbook paper. The top of the underwear is a bit of ribbon painted gold. The back of the tin is lined with scrapbook paper and the edges were finished with miniature red tinsel. The feet of the tin are little wooden beads I painted and the outside of the tin is covered with green velvet scrapbook paper.
27  OCCASIONS AND HOLIDAYS / Winter Holidays / Pressed Christmas Elf Ornament & Tutorial on: December 18, 2012 11:23:35 AM
For a recent swap my partner wanted elf themed things and I hit on the idea of creating an elf smashed between two panes of glass. The idea was inspired by the fabulous Lady Cottington's Pressed Fairy Book http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Cottingtons-Pressed-Fairy-Book/dp/1862057001/.

What can I say, my sense of humor is a bit warped. Now I can tell  my kids "Of COURSE Santa exists. See, mommy caught one of his elves and hung him on the tree." I'm sure the mental scars will fade eventually. The elf was hand drawn and painted with watercolors before being scanned into my computer and printed in a smaller size.

Unfortunately I don't have any process pics but here's a written tutorial.

Supply List
Drawing of an elf
Watercolors or art pens
Glitter tape
3.5 x 5" pane of glass (I got mine for $.80 in a hideous little frame from Goodwill)
Transparency film/sheets (The one I used is for an inkjet printer to create transparencies for overhead projectors to be used during presentations)
Clear Glue (I used Aileen's 3-in-1 clear glue)

1. Color an appropriately sized drawing with watercolors, art pens of whatever medium you like. If the image is too large and you have access to an art program such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements you can shrink it to the right size later.
2. Scan the image into your computer using a scanner.
3. Trim the image in Photoshop to clean it up, adjust colors etc. Make a copy of your image and flip it horizontally putting the two images side by side.
4. Print out the final image on nice card stock.
5. Cut out the two images and glue them back to back so you have one piece with your colored drawing on both sides.
6. Use a tiny bit of clear glue to secure the edges of your image to the glass.
7. Cut a section of transparency sheet the same size as your glass. Lay it over the glass with your colored drawing sandwiched between.
8. Secure/seal the edges of the glass and transparency by wrapping them with glitter tape.
9. On the back of the ornament glue the ends of a ribbon strip to each side to act as a hanger. Allow glue to dry for at least 24 hours.
10. Enjoy your new pressed image and go hang it on the Christmas tree.
28  Halloween / Halloween Costumes / Llama Llama Red Pajama on: November 04, 2012 10:48:36 AM
My son loves the Llama Llama Red Pajama kids books so we decided to make that his costume for this year.

I started with a sheep costume, that I thought would work well. It's definitely not something I'd normally dress my son in.

First the gigantic bow had to go. Then I dyed the heck out of the costume. Three times before it finally took and stayed the right shade of light brown. Next I whip stitched the blue collar down and the little ears up. Then it was on to the pajamas.

I found a good simplicity pattern that would work well and cut out and stitched the pajamas, making sure to leave a hole in the tush for Josh's tail. That tail is my favorite part of the costume because it bobs a bit as he walks, so cute and funny.

Here's a picture of the Llama Llama book cover for those not familiar with the story. My son has the stuffed llama as well and carried it around with him Halloween night.

Josh loved his costume and couldn't wait to get dressed up.
29  PAPER CRAFTS, SCRAPBOOKING & ATCs (ARTIST TRADING CARDS) / Paper Crafts: Completed Projects: General / Harry Potter Collage Pins on: October 12, 2012 11:13:22 AM
I ended up with a HUGE sack of promo buttons from a convention I attended. While I liked the convention I really don't need 50 buttons with the logo. So I decided to breakout an old damaged Harry Potter book, my stamps and have a bit of fun with collage. I cut up pages from the first Harry Potter book (it was in very, very bad shape) and glued them onto the pins after adding a layer of gold paint. Next I used some of the official HP stamps (made prior to the movies) and my colored pencils, cut up some text and added some more gold paint. I love how the pins came out.

30  MORE ART, LESS CRAFT / More Art, Less Craft: Completed Works / Sneetches on the Beaches on: October 12, 2012 11:07:07 AM
Just a little 8x8 canvas I made this week. I love, love, love Dr. Seuss and the Sneetches is one of my favorite stories. I might make some Zax next Tongue

Acrylic on canvas

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