Friday, November 23, 2012

fuzzy forest friends...a retrospective

This is how I spent my thanks for our animal and plant friends who share some of them selves with us so that we can create some new friends .

It looks way cooler if you click to watch it on utube full screen . My bad photography is actually not as bad for some pictures . 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

DIY tablet holders from table to tummy rests

There is little doubt that I am an aspie , the real question is will I use this super power for good or evil . I'm not sure if the above picture answers that but it certainly does have some pretty colors . My model above is headless, (and armless) so it may be difficult to tell what is going on here but this happens to be my invention to get on Shark Tank . (Totally kidding, they would eat me alive . ) I do think I created something that meets a specific need that I could not find on the open market .A little tweeking and I might look into getting a patten ....but I doubt it .

My goal was to find a way to support a 7" tablet while allowing the wearer to avoid the neck strain of looking down at the screen but still be able to drink coffee AND pet the cat . Mostly I just wanted to avoid the neck strain thing but the cat demanded I add the free hand option . It is still easier to stabilize the base with one hand during manic AngryBird game play then trying to hold it in one hand at eye level....arm gets tired .

I do plan on making a trip to Menards to look for other "parts" options but the goose neck does seem like the best fit for being able to adjust the tablet stand for several uses and different eye levels . Ideally I would like to find a plastic gooseneck  that can go around the neck, wrap under the breasts ,(to create support and replace boring bras) and connect in the middle of the breast bone with the actual tablet holder...oh, and it should only weigh a few ounces . Will see if Mendards can come up with something because googling for 3 days has left me more confused then ever .

Anyway...I decided to "make do", something that I think is an aspie "hoarder" specialty . I ran around the apartment looking for anything I thought might work as well as my usual decorative materials and tools . I never know what I will need when crafting at work so I tend to arive like a pack mule .

I also needed something for the base of the goose neck

Above are some of the bases I thought might work for holding the tablet...
an old book cover
thick board from picture frame
dividers from an old DVD shelf unit
A DVD case
an old record(wasn't sure if I could cut this)To the left are the metallic paint and
wood sealer , and old photo album. ( I chose the scrape wood that I covered in leather, paint and sealer for my base)

 Above and below are a few other odds and ends I thought might come in handy for construction and decoration ...below list are just the things I actually chose to use...

Two sided tape
two sided iron on fabric stuff
goose neck (recycled from an old lamp)
plastic arch shaped object (used to be the light shade for a solar lamp) It actually had a hole that with a bit of widening, fit the gooseneck and added support to stabilize the whole thing...arches provide great stabilization !

 Above are some other things I thought I might need but got very little use .
Below items came in very handy and should be in everyones crafting tool kit .

The insert for the DVD player made a good basci pattern for covering the DVD case that I chose to use as the first tablet holder . I used two glued together shelf dividers for the second holder and both were covered in leather and fabric which were then sealed to make wiping them clean easier .

This isn;t a step by step instructions, just a few tips to get seome one thinking about how to create their own with what they may have around the house or nearest thrift store . This was how I began, covering the wood base with some leather and gold paint with sealer . I  painted the  inside of my inverted plastic bulb cover and added a bit of enamel paint on the out-side . I then threaded the goose neck male part through a small hole in the top(bottom) of the bulb cover and held it in place with a nut . I used the lock tight super glue to attach the wood base to the plastic bulb cover .

I couldn't find any more nuts at my house ......most of my family lives out of state  : ) I tried an old wooden spool and much to my surprise, it fit perfectly ! The wood was soft enough that I could just screw it on but tight enough to hold with the advantage of being able to remove it at any time . I just left the thread on because I liked the color and used some blue permanent marker to paint the wood and coverd it all with several layers of sealer . I then used my indispensable super glue to glue the back of the tablet holder to the top of the spool .

To hold it in place on your chest is an old purse strap with open clips but I plan on making a more comfortable "sling" out of some fleece fabric . The important part is just clips that fit over the goose neck and can be slid up and down for repositioning comfort .

 I was originally intrigued that the 7' tablet fit so perfectly into a DVD case which even has plastic clips inside to hold it . I cut off the top part where the DVD goes and tried to use some two-sided tape and leather and cloth to decorate but....
 it was hard to decorate with the weird little angles and below you can see that my added screen protector cover was....a bit short for it's intended goal . I do think this would work Ok if you sewed a cover for the plastic . Again, you just need to glue the back to the top of the thread spool .

The small black "thing" is the actual case I bought to keep the tablet safe...the tablet "holder" you see sitting inside of it actually has a little fabric "lip" on it to hold the tablet BUT....I am going to add the soft bit of a strip of velcro to the back of the tablet and snaggy side of velcro to the tablet holder/tray .

Anyway, I will probably start felting again if I can actually get this stand and the tablet to my sister this week .....(will I go through angrybird withdrawl ???)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Apoxy Sculpt + Little Miss No Name doll+ needle felting+beading

I spent a good 15 hours removing her old hair and rooting in mohair with front highlights of silk to make my no "Little Miss No Name" doll into an alien . I also replaced the eyes and made lids, cheeks and pointed ears out of Apoxy sculpt . I can tell you now that I am going to have a very fun winter with this stuff . It works great on the plastic and latex doll .  I made a huge mistake rushing the process and not spending more time blending in the edges . (live and learn_ ) She has some lovely fur lashes and is painted with multiple layers of blued wood glue with a sealer ....all in all, I give myself a C for end result but an A for patience in painting and rooting hair since the whole process took most of the week . I have several other less expensive dolls that I plan on being a bit more creative with horns, textured skin and layers of leather and fur .

 The previous week I made her two fuzzy friends
 .....and beaded a few needle felt bangles which I made several years ago (talk about WIP),
I also made small steps toward opening my Etsy shop by joining so I can weigh and mail out packages . I still am not satisfied with the tags I have for my animals so I have some supplies coming in a few weeks that I hope they will work .

Hope all of you are still exploring and enjoying making things....when it comes to crafting , the more I learn, the more I want to know so it will great to play around a bit more with the new sculpting medium and I have a cheap little rotary tool winging it's way here, so stay tuned

Friday, October 5, 2012

Needle felt animals with fur and leather "Franken ears"

These are my latest two felties . Both have the natural fur/leather ears that I am going to show how I made in a bit . The "table head" , (verses a wall mount head ),  has a neck that is covered with the coat sleeve of a mink coat . This was very experimental process as I wanted to just attach the bottom and top of the sleeve to allow for a wrinkly neck like a Shar-Pei dog . It was a bit fiddly but I like the end result . Both critters also have the fur eyelashes that remind me of alpaca lashes .

My goal with the ears was to create something more realistic then my felted ears but it has a major drawback . The wood glue makes the ears very stiff and I can imagine this being a huge pain if you plan on shipping . I suppose that means I wont be able to sell them unless I take them to shows where they wont be thrown about like some mail packages . Or I can just keep them : )

That warning said here is the basic process I used .
Above supplies......
wood glue in Tupperware(with just a drop of dye to make pink ) and gel super glue
stiff angled brush
ruler (for making ear pattern)and marker for drawing ear on leather and skin side of fur
repurposed leather for inner ear
repurposed fur for outer ear
strong stiff wire (craft wire works fine but I used copper)and wire cutter
scissors for cutting leather
exacto type knife for cutting non-fur-side ONLY of fur
Dremal or drill (or in my case a vintage electric eraser that I used dremel bits from thrift store)
 ..... The above is for making the end of the wire needle sharp so you can stick it in the needle felted critters head ....(ouch)

first is to design the shape you want for your animals ears,
draw onto suede side of leather and cut out with scissors
I used these as patterns to draw on skin side of fur collar here
(However...if you want an even more realistic ear make the bottom of the leather wider then the fur ear and you can then add those cool little wrinkles we all have in side our ears )

Tricky but important part is cutting out the fur part from skin side without cutting fur...I think an exacto knife works best for this but go slow as holding the fur between your fingers to keep it stiff enough to cut is dangerous and tricky but you lose very little fur this way .

cut the wire to the desired length (depending on the size head they are going to be pushed into but at least a few inches in) and use super glue gel to attach wire to skin side of fur . (pressing it down with a craft stick is better then using your finger...(lesson learned the hard way .) The super glue dries fast so don't leave the stick in one place to long just sort of pet the wire with it from top to bottom ) .

Once super glue is dry, paint the skin side of fur with the wood glue(or whatever glue you use) to seal it and wait a few hours until it is mostly dry and add another layer of the glue and match up all the edges of the leather inner ear with the inner fur ear and press down with craft stick(Popsicle stick) . I let this dry another few hours then add a layer of glue to the leather inner ear that is now covering your wires . If you want to add a bit more realism you can add a few strands of alpaca hairs or cut up tiny pieces of it like flocking .

When this last layer is "mostly" dry...barely any wet spots but not to stiff, you can shape it a bit to curve in at bottom and edges . I use a Styrofoam head to stick the wires into to keep the shape as it dries . Last steps not shown are just experimenting with ear placement and once found, adding a few drops of superglue gel to the bottom edge of the ear and pressing (hard) into place .

(Just make sure that your placement is exactly where you want it as it can't be moved once you press down and don't go crazy with the crazy glue as it's more important to make sure you press and hold it deep into the head then use a ton of glue . (You don't want the glue showing at all so sink that ear in firmly so glue goes down into the wool and not around the edge of the ear . )

OK, so I am not a huge fan of these ears . They look interesting but take a long time and most importantly, they don't have the softness of the felted ears . That said, I did promise to show how so there you are, perhaps something in there is usable for someone to play around with but here is the best tip I have to share ....

That is the eyelashes . I tried several different methods for making lashes with many time sucking failures   . The only method I found worked for me is using an exacto-knife to cut a very thin sliver off the edge of real fur . This might work with fake fur but the important thing is that you have a natural backing for the hairs to attach to the edge of the lid . Worked a charm and you can trim length of lash as desired . I left mine long because I'm a sucker for long lashes . Actually I think I should make myself a pair to wear as my lashes are almost nonexistent .

Besides making a few critters and lots of experimenting, I also got my craft room a little less cluttered so I can enjoy looking at my own critters ....

You can see the floor now and I can get into the dresser drawers to get my supplies...whoa hoa !
Still a lot of organizing to do but the sewing table is almost usable . I will be adding a TV with netflix to lure me to the sewing table ( I hate sewing) .

So, not all goals completed but making some headway and that's better then a poke in the eye with a sharp stick . Happy felting to you all !

Monday, September 17, 2012

Franken-critters...mixing needle felt and recycled fur "bits"

 As if my needle felted trophy heads weren't "creepy/offensive" enough, I hope I don't alienate even more animals lovers with this post . Above and below are my latest experiment in creating new animal friends . The controversial bit is that they have bits of recycled fur coats as accents . Now, I know that "my crowd" <----liberals, are pretty much of the mind that fur belongs on the original beast that grew it and I agree ! My favorite fur is attached to a living, breathing, bouncing, running critters . I would never take theirs or pay someone who did but...the reality is that this still leaves a big bunch of old fur hats, coats that are bound for land fills . I know, dust to dust and all that but putting something that beautiful into a pile of rotting food and old diapers just seems shameful to me . So, for the past 20 years, when I could afford to, I have rescued a few such items from thrift stores and stored them in my closet . I have about 10 of them and no idea what to do with them until .....
 I was googeling a good home-made craft glue and happened on a video by a taxidermist . I watched the video on utube where he making the glue and using it to apply the pelt to the animal mold and I thought, wonder if that would work using s wool animal "mold" . Spoiler does . I tried several different methods from sewing to gluing and found them both very effective . If the skin is thick it works fine to sew it but many of the old coats have thin skin that rips easily when sewn and I think the glue works better . I use a nontoxic book binding glue and the trick seems to be to tack the edges down with pins as close together as possible as well as making sure that you have felted the sculpture very solid . I don't know how much of this I will do but it does seem a good way to recycle the fur .
 The above ear was also an experiment to make more realistic ears  . I used two layers of recycled leather with wire in between and some glue mixed with tiny bit of red dye . I wont go into details now as I plan on doing a brief demo soon .
 Here you can see where the fur meets that needle felted base . If you do have any edges that don't get glued down well it's pretty easy to redo them with a bit more glue and some pins(I think the best pins are the kind with little "pearls" on the ends which you can find in most craft stores .
 One of my larger franken critters . Right now I am not doing any fancy patterning, just cutting out a rough shape for the back and head and leaving the face and arms needle felted .

 Below is a WIP that I am waiting for time to do an ear demo with pictures . He looks pretty weird with out ears . This one I sewed the back fur on but glued the "mohawk" on top of his head .
 He also needs a rework on his eyes . I finally found a good method for eye lashes but not before several failed attempts that ruined his eyes .
 Below is Max, my camera bombing cat who assumes every photo-shoot must mean I want him to pose .
I also got my "creepy" trophy heads on the wall so I could free up some table space . I think they turned out pretty good and hanging them gives me an idea of what head/neck position works best for these .

That was it for the past month, little created but many experiments tried and a few new skills to keep tweeking .This is my favorite time of the year to be out-side so  I'm not sure how much felting will be getting done. I need to store up a nature fix before the snow falls and in MN that may not be to far off .

Happy felting and experimenting !

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Alpaca,Llama,Mohair amd wool needle felt animals

 The above critters are a blend of fibers with wool needle felted sculpture an added thick layer of alpaca, llama and mohair felted into base and then reverse felted . It takes almost as long to do the reverse felting  as it does to shape the base sculpture , about 50-60 hours total for each animal . Below is the guy I worked on all last week and I did add the leather lids with mohair lashes but I still need to find a better way to do them . The hardest part is getting the lashes to curl up . I ended up using hairspray but that leaves them spikier then I would like .

One of the things I have always wanted to mention about working with animal fibers is that it actually has "memory" . You can see on the new animal below that one ear is open and one is curled . Although they are not wired, you can actually do some basic repositioning and they will stay that way until you reposition them .
 Below, I am holding the arm up and when I let go, you can see that it retains some of that movement and then you can simply return it to original position . Although the animals are very firmly felted, they still have some natural movement if you want to move their arms, head or legs . I just think that is pretty cool .

Now I just need to get a green screen so I can do some stop motion movies with them . (That will never happen because I am so tech stupid but maybe someone else will try it ?)

Happy felting .

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Adding eyelid,lashes and whisker details to needle felt animals

 Above and below are two of my latest needle felt animals . The one on the left is my usual style and critter on right is with leather lids and lashes and a little shading on the "skin" . This is very much the experimental stage and still needs a lot of tweaking but these are some ideas that I have been wanting to try for a long time so thought I would share for you to take it in your own direction . Unfortunately, my usual low lighting is still a problem but if you click on the pictures you can see a little better detail .
 Below are some of the items I collected to start this experiment . What you will need...

 leather scrapes from recycled coats I bought and cut up from the thrift store .
Two sided tape from AXMAN both wide and narrow styles .
fingernail polish bought specifically to match pink skin tones
acrylic eyes
scissors or box cutter for cutting leather
brown/black mohair or alpaca for the lashes
A large or heavy book to hold leather strip
eyelash curler
hairspray or diluted clear drying glue( to shape lashes upwards)
 The first step was adding the two sided tape onto side of leather you don't want showing .
Then cut along the edges of the tape for a nice straight line .
if you are using a thin leather, you can forget adding the pink nail polish to the edge and cut out larger then eye and wrap around back of eye . If you are using a thicker leather........
 You can place the leather in pages of book as a clamp and with leather edge exposed add nail polish . just remember that it can drip and you don't want any of that on the front of lid so lean book in opposite direction . When it appears dry enough to not drip you can lay book down until it is completely dry <----(I learned the hard way that this is important )
 Next step is the lashes and this picture shows what not to do ! I cut a strip of the thin two-sided tape and added directly to the eye above where I wanted the base of lid . I then peeled off the paper and added some of the brown mohair leaving about 1/2 of tape to fold over and hold lashes in place and that sort of worked soon as I tried to trim and shape with lash curler , several of the lashes pulled out and I ended up with a bit of a mess .

Sorry no pictures of the solution but I basically took a larger then needed strip of the two-sided tape and taped the ends of it down leaving stick side up and placed a thinner layer of lashes on it . I then folded the sticky side on top of that (folding it in half ). That did work but next time I am going to try a thin layer of glue instead of folding tape over . you then cut to size and place above the line that will place the edge of the leather lid to cover the tape .
 The second two experiments were......

 shading using mineral make-up (instead of traditional paint in airbrush ). I did try using permanent markers for shading when I first started felting but I didn't like the crunchy rough texture that resulted . I thought some of my " never used" make up might make a more subtle result with out altering texture of the wool .

 second experiment was how to add whiskers "if" I ever decide far I like my animals better without them but I thought I might want to try it on some critters, some day . I bought some horse main? on Etsy and a beading needle that has a "hole" the length on the needle so is easy to thread .The needle is strnge enough to go through the wool but thin enough not to leave a big hole . Only problem I see is someone pulling on one end of the whisker could pull it all the way threw but hey.....Don't pull on the whiskers and problem solved . ( Although my goal is to make the most durable animals possible I don't think it is to much to ask that someone treat them as they would a living't throw them around the room, don't lift them by their arms or ears or pull on their tails or whiskers . )
That's it for now, more experiments to follow and hopefully, better pictures of my latest critters .


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