Thursday, December 31, 2009

Winter Center Piece

Here is the centerpiece that I made for Christmas and New Years. I debated long about posting it here because it is not my "normal" handmade decoration; but it was so pretty and will be reused every year. You will need clear tape, one silver balloon weight, one sliver spray (like the kind they sell in party, floral, craft and stores) and one white snowflake. First hold the silver spray up to the balloon weight and measure how high you want the spray to stand; then cut the extra off with a pare of wire cutters. Tape the spray to the balloon weight. Use the remaining wire to tie on the snowflake and adjust it so it is standing upright. Use scissors to curl the remaining sliver spray and it is done.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Bottlecap Pies

These cute little pies are great to have on hand for last minute gifts. They are wonderful to glue to picture frames, on top of ingredient jars, place on nature tables, and wonderful in doll houses. The ideas are endless.I will show you how to make a "cherry pie" but the basic instructions can be used for any type of pie, cake, pot pie, shepherds pie and so forth that you can think of.
To start you will need bottle-caps, clay tools (my favorite tool is a silver nut pick), polymer clay, and an imagination.
Roll small pieces of red polymer clay in your fingers till you've made several round balls. Fill the bottle cap with them till the bottom of the cap is covered and there is a slight dome above the cap. Then press down slightly on the balls so that they all stick together. This will help keep them together once the finished pie is fired. Then take a piece of "pie crust" colored clay and roll it like you are making a snake.Cut the clay snake into several pieces and flatten them slightly. The next part is a bit tricky. Carefully weave the pieces together. You can start to see how this will look like a pie.
Cut off the overhanging clay and take a small length of the clay snake, wrap it around the outer edge of the bottle cap. Make small indentations around the around the rim. I used my nut pick but you can use anything, a side of a metal file, a safety pin, the edge of a butter knife, a toothpick (you get the idea). When it is complete fire it in your oven at 275 for 20 minutes. When you remove the pie from the oven it will be brittle while it is still hot. If it still feels a little spongy after it cools you can put it back into the oven for a little longer. Use your imagination and see what you can come up with and Have fun!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Saint Nicholas day

Happy Saint Nicholas day one and all. Saint Nicholas day has been a family tradition going as far back as I can remember and longer. In several European countries this is the time to leave your shoes (or stockings ) out in anticipation that they will be filled that night in the spirit of Saint Nicholas (or Black Pete depending on who you talk to). When we asked our Mum who was leaving the gifts she would just smile and say, "Some one who loves you very much". She never lied. when we were older we discovered that it was indeed 'someone who loved us very much'. The stockings in our family began with my Great Grandmother. The pattern is from a 1920's McCall catalog and labeled as "Vintage Stocking". I don't know how old the original pattern is. The stockings are made with several colors of good thick felt, vintage beads and sequins, sewn and beaded by hand. My Grandmother kept the tradition going and when she died I became the stocking maker in our family. This is the first Saint Nicholas day that Bear and I are celebrating as a married couple. Yesterday I presented him with his stocking made in the same tradition as the rest of our family's stockings. I had been working on it in secret for the past few months; some of the patches I have saved for years for my future husband from an unfinished stocking that my grandmother had started. This was a labor of love and all he could do was sit there and smile; his eyes however, were full and said so much more than words ever could.

Happy Saint Nicholas day every one, from my family to yours. What are some of your family traditions this holiday season?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pinecone Christmas Tree

Make a pine cone Christmas tree for your nature table. It's fast, easy, and fun.
First: cut two circles of felt and then glue or sew them together. This will be the base of your tree. It will keep the pine cone from falling over and act as a tree skirt.Embroider, bead, or glue the embellishments you plan to use for the skirt on now. I used some gold cording.
Glue the pine cone onto the felt using a generous amount of glue. I used a high temp glue gun for this part.Start glueing on the ornaments. Use seeds, beads, flowers, charms, sequins.. Basically what ever you can find, and don't forget the star.

Complete your Pine cone tree by adding the garland. This can be anything you can dream up. A broken chain of a necklace, tinsel, beads, ribbon, etc. I used embroidery floss. Then there you have it. A little Christmas tree for your nature table; just in time for the holiday season. Have fun!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hats and Mittens

Here is a fun project that makes a perfect gift. It adds an extra imprint of thoughtfulness because it is made by you and is still easy on the wallet. Go through your closets in search of sweaters that you no longer wear or stop at a thrift store and pick some out to fit the personalities of the people that you will be making them for. I will be making hats and mittens for a family of four this Christmas for only $15.
Turn the sweater inside out and use an old hat for a pattern. Line it up in the bottom edge of the sweater. Make sure that the back and front of the sweater are even before you cut or one side might end up being shorter than the other.
Leave at least half an inch extra when you cut around the pattern, this will be your seam allowance. Then pin the two halves together.
Use a tight zig-zag stitch to sew the two halves together. I used black thread so it would be visible in the photo. You might want to color coordinate the thread with your fabric. The knitted sweater was so loose that it kept sucking down into the machine no matter what setting it was on. To cheat I backed the fabric with tissue paper while sewing. It came right off and left no evidence once I was done. Tissue paper is a great cheat to have on hand when you have misbehaving fabric. Once sewn trim the excess fabric, turn inside right and you are done with the hat. You are half way there! Now we can move on the the mittens. Trace around your hand on a piece of paper leaving about a half of an inch extra for seam allowance. Cut the pattern out and then lay it on the inside out sleeves of the sweater. Note how I placed the pattern up a little away from the wrist of the sleeve. This will make a great cuff for your mitten and keep your wrists warm; just make sure that it is the same height on the second mitten. Cut, Sew (with zig-zag stitch like the hat), trim, turn inside right, and you are done. Fast, easy, and inexpensive gifts that are sure to be cherished because YOU made them. Have fun!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nature Table/Sented Pinecones

Ta Dah!! This is the new gnome house for my nature table. It's made with a wood base about the size of a square tissue box. I painted the roof green and then covered it with moss. Then I painted the walls of the house black and covered them with river stones. I used hot glue to attach the stones and moss. It might be a bit big for my nature table dolls, but for now it's supper cute. The pinecones are Cinnamon scented. You can buy them at $5. a bag OR you can make them yourself by brushing pinecones with cinnamon oil and tying them in a plastic bag with cinnamon sticks (you can also add dried orange peel and cloves). Shake the bag once in a while and in about a month or two they will be ready. Sure it takes a little while to cure, but it's worth it! You can sent your whole house this way.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Snow Fall

I woke up this morning and the world was covered in a thin blanket of snow. The first snow fall of the season. It's a bit early for snow but we are long over due for a Halloween Blizzard (like the one back in the 80's). It was the perfect time for this little fellow to be born. From his delightful nose to his wee little rump he is slightly less than 2 inches long and from the the tippy top of his head to his tiny toes he's only 1 inch tall. There is a brass wire armature in his core and he's wool felted just like the raccoon; however, I soaped his body to felt the extra fibers in a bit tighter. His eyes are made out of onyx seed beads. Today Bear and I will hibernate indoors much like our little felted bear emerging only to get refills of hot coco and cider. Happy first snow fall everyone!

Friday, October 9, 2009


This is my second attempt at needle felting.... I think I should have made him a bit bigger. Then it would have been easier for me to felt and easier for him to tip trashcans. This is one little raccoon that I wont mind living around my house. His arms legs and body are formed off of a wire armature. The head was attached last. He is the perfect size for my nature table. I made him this small because I want to make two to three inch sheep. AND I thought it would be cute to have a tiny raccoon.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Needle Felted Pumpkin

Something that I have been wanting to try for a few years is needle felting. After being challenged to work on a different craft everyday this week I finally got the courage to try this art form. This is my first attempt at needle felting. I started by making an orange wool ball, felting and rolling till it was more or less the shape that I wanted. Then I mixed a little brown and green wool and rolled it between my hands (like how you would make a play-dough snake). I folded it in half and rolled it again. I felted the end with a loop to the top of the pumpkin, and finished it off by making creases down the sides. I had to go over them repeatedly to make them deep enough. Still unsatisfied I felted the creases in with tightly rolled pieces of brown wool. The curlicue on the stem was made by tightly twisting the stem and letting go. I made several pumpkins and tucked them into my grapevine wreath (the pumpkin in the picture was the first one I made). My next attempt will be to try making animals.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Planting Crocus Bulbs in Clay

No "Crafts" so to speak of today. Yesterday I planted 120+ crocus bulbs in my front lawn. Yes, I said lawn. The plan is for them to come up before the grass starts growing next spring and to be spent before the first mowing of the season. Around Easter, after a long winter, when every one's lawns are mud my front lawn will be covered in flowers for every one to enjoy. Now here is the catch, my yard is clay. To plant these bulbs I used a paddle bit on an electric screwdriver to make the holes. Then I carefully put the bulbs in (right side up). Next year I might try long tweezers to put them into the holes. I did have a slight problem of the bulbs wanting to flip. The holes were to small for me to flip them right side up. I solved that problem by drilling a second hole close by and digging the bulb out to replant properly. Tweezers would allow me to put them in right all the way down. Then I filled in the holes with potting soil so the frost can not get to the bulbs. I can't wait for spring. I will have either a beautiful lawn or fat squirrels. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Halloween is fast approaching. I saw this neat decoration at an antique store this past summer. They wanted a small fortune for it; so I decided that it was simple enough and that I would just make one. I took a section of 2X4 and cut two squared pieces and one slightly longer (no measuring required ;) The corners were sanded slightly to remove the sharpness. Then I painted them black. When they dried I cut pieces of black felt to fit on the bottoms so they would not scuff up any surface I chose to display them on. The letters were painted on free hand, and the outer edges of the letters were outlined in glitter glue to give it an extra bit of spooky sparkle. BOO!

Grape Vine Wreath

I wanted to get a wreath for my front door. After seeing the ungodly prices for wreaths at the store I decided to make my own. My parents orchard is plagued with wild grape vines. I untangled as many of them as I could and slowly wound the vines together while they were still supple. The end result was beautiful. I could not have bought a more beautiful wreath. The green parts will brown up and the vines will shrink a bit as it dries; but this is more or less how it will look when it is done. I have plans to tuck flowers and pine cones into it corresponding with the seasons.

Pencil Holder

This is a pencil holder that I made for Bear's office. His office has a north shore cabin theme. I took a soup can and wrapped it in burlap. Then I cut twigs to size and baked them in the oven to make sure that the twigs had dried out completely and that there were no little critters living inside. I used a glue gun to attach them to the burlap, and finished it off with a ribbon of raffia glued in place with a big wooden button. Bear loved it. It was fun and easy to make. Reminiscent of kindergarten.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Napkin Rings Everywhere!

I've been making Napkin Rings for every season out of hard cardboard tubes. They were left over from a label making roll. A woman I know came up with the fabulous idea of making them into napkin rings. You just can't throw out a good cardboard tube ;) Here are my fall rings. I will post the other seasons when they are done. I started out with a plan to make grand rings full of beads, fibers, paint and glitter. I guess the old saying of "less in more" proved to be right. I set the table with place-mats cut from burlap to give the table a homey fall feel. I love the simple elegance of them. Then again hasn't simple elegance been the theme of my life?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Fall is here

Fall is my favorite time of the year; the colors, the smell, hot cider, apple crisp, back yard fires, the crinkle of leaves as you shuffle through them, smores, children returning to school, birds flying south, and apples. Fall is the time when the earth holds it’s breath before winter’s long sleep. It seemed fitting to leave myspace and begin this blog the first week of fall. As the leaves change I reflect on the year, its blessings, and all that has transpired. This certainly has been a busy year. Bear and I are getting cozy in our new home. The strange weather patterns have made our yard the envy of the neighborhood. It seems that we are the only ones that are blessed with fall colors this year. Our tree in the front yard is a brilliant orange with enough yellow to make the tree look as if it has been touched by King Midas. While most of the state is morning the loss of color and a poor harvest this fall my neighborhood is counting its blessings. Every where there is drought but here everything is lush and fertile. I guess that is why there are farms for miles in all directions and people come from far away to enjoy the savings of our local farmers market. There was not enough time for me to plant a garden when we moved in. I am already eagerly planning and anticipating our garden and harvest for next year. In the mean time I have bushels of apples to pare and core from my parents orchard, fall crafts, and a business to look after. Truly, this was a year of blessings. There are rooms that need painting, a furnace that needs replacing, ceilings that need to be redone and a whole plethora of other repairs; but for right now it’s time to sit back and just enjoy our blessings mixed with a hot cup of chai tea and watch the fall colors swirl.