Saturday, December 24, 2011

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

I volunteered to be in charge of the Christmas pageant at my church this year at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in downtown Renton. We only had three practices and for a while feared we might not have a Mary and a Joseph but at the last minute we pulled it together.

Last week I made a donkey costume, two angels...

 and Sage's King costume.

And though the sheep were restless and the angels were mischievous, we managed to pull off a pretty adorable pageant.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Am The Eggman

Yesterday I mentioned I'd have a few more eggs ornaments to share. This afternoon I whipped out the glitter and nail polish and googly eyes and felt and fake fur and went nuts on one little egg. A little too nuts apparently, because I broke it.

It was meant to be a goldfish, complete with a tinier googly-eyed fish inside, but attempting to attach a side fin did him in and my thumb broke through. Oh well, such is the peril of working in a fragile medium. That ornament I made for Sage the other day? Here was first attempt:

D'oh! But my snowman, I'm pleased to say, came out just as I planned. Here's how...

First, I made a felt top hat. Here are the pieces:

Fold the rectangle and stitch up the edge where the two sides meet.

Place the smaller circle on top and stitch it  all the way around. If you're not adept on the sewing machine, this part might be better done by hand.

Next, turn your hat top right side out and place on top of your larger circle. Using black thread, stitch it together all the way around.

Cut a hole underneath and stuff it with fiberfill.

You could always just skip that part and have a hatless snowman though. The main things you need for this project are 3 eggs and some hot glue.

I painted the eggs with white iridescent nail polish to add some strength and make them shimmer.

After I stuffed them with some fiberfill (it gives a little extra something for the glue to stick to), I glued the eggs together at the edges.

I covered the first glue ring with a felt scarf for his neck, then painted over the second glue-ring with the white iridescent nail polish. 

Then I carefully poked holes in his sides, squirted in some glue, and inserted some sticks from a tree in the yard. I poked a hole in his face for a carrot nose (1/4 of a toothpick painted orange) and with black sequins, gave him eyes, a mouth, and buttons. Behold, Frosty the Eggman!

There must have been some magic in that carton of eggs I found.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Easter... wait, what?

Years ago around Easter I wrote a blog post about artist June Hoffman and the art of Eggeury. In that post I talked about the Christmas ornaments my dad's secretary made for us out of eggs. I always found those fascinating and I think of them every year when we get out our ornaments to hang on the tree. Today I searched for "Christmas Eggs" on Etsy and compiled this treasury:

 (Click on the picture to go to Etsy and see the artists' other work.) 

I love the painstaking detail in each of them and the fact that they've elevated eggs from compost fodder to fragile keepsake.  Since the ornaments my dad's secretary made are all at my parents' house, I decided to make my own for our tree. One of my favorites was an egg that contained a picture of my brother and me, decorated with ribbon and trimmed in pearls. I wanted to do that with pictures of my kids, so here's my attempt:

Here are the supplies I used: an egg, a photo, ribbon and trim, fiberfill, and a hot glue gun.

I carefully poked a hole in the center of a blown-out egg. I'm sure expert use a Dremel or some other tool, but I just used a needle and my fingers, hence the rough edges.

Then I hot glued on some trim to cover it.

 Next, I filled the egg with fiberfiill and carefully inserted the photo inside...

then squirted a dollup of hot glue into the hole at the top, inserted the knot of a string of ribbon,

 tied it in a bow, and hung it on the tree.


For Sage's ornament, I did it a little differently. I painted the egg with nail polish, glued the photo to the edges of the egg-hole, then glued a ring of beaded wire around the photo.


For the hanging device I squirted some hot glue in the hole on the top and inserted a looped strand of beaded wire. Here it is hanging next to his Shrinky Dink snowman:


 And here they are together, two eggs-tra special ornaments for my eggs-eptional kids.

Check back tomorrow to see the Frosty the Eggman I made! and possibly some others. We had scrambled eggs for lunch today so I have a few more empty shells begging to be transformed.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Custom kokoleos

Whoa! December already? I've been so busy with commissions that I haven't had time to write any Christmas craft tutorials or post holiday photos. It's nice though. After a year of wondering where kokoleo was headed, I'm grateful for a steady stream of commissions that keeps coming my way. I never know what I'm going to make next, and I kind of like it that way. I used to worry about cranking out one-of-a-kinds and hoping they would sell but I'm finding now that custom one-of-a-kinds are where it's at. Here are a few recent commissions:

I have a few smaller Power Puff Girls dresses in my Etsy shop but this customer needed one to fit a 6 year old who loves Bubbles. Since I had some Power Puff fabric in stock, I obliged and even customized it with yellow buttons and trim to match Bubble's blond hair.

Around the same time I was working on this dress, I got an email from a customer who had purchased my Monster Tail pants years ago. She mentioned that her son loved those pants but was outgrowing them and she asked if I could make a larger pair. Luckily, I had some flame fleece on hand, and I was able to whip up these:

I hadn't made a pair of these in years so it was nice to read that the ones I made years ago have been well-loved. I decided I should start making them again, and I'm now offering custom-made Monster Tail Pants on Fire in my Etsy shop.. I love seeing McKenna run around in Sage's old pair - the first I ever made - and they're always her first pick if they're in her pajama drawer.

Around the same time, I got a commission for a custom plush (also now available in my Etsy shop) based on this child's drawing:

and I came up with this:

So that's what I worked on last week. On one of the days when McKenna didn't have preschool, she came into my studio to draw and play with the vintage Little People. After intently sewing for a while, I turned around to find that she had gathered up my scraps and arranged them like this:

 I love it because it contains bits and pieces of things I was working on that week, but mostly because it's totally her style. Her smiley faces always have snaggle teeth, so the choice of pom poms for the mouth was perfect. After all the monsters I've made, I've never thought of that.

This week, we put it together in plush form.

and she named it RockMiss, the Lady Rocketship.

 Yes, I think I will be handing the kokoleo monster making department over to her very soon.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thrift Thursday: Vintage Stationary

I love finding vintage stationary at thrift stores and estate sales.  Somewhere, hidden in a drawer for 20-30 years, these papers stayed blank and never sent.  Thankfully, at least they were preserved, and when I happen to find them still bold and bright and crisp and blank and often for less than a dollar, I have to get them. Kokoleo customers might recognize some of these prints that I've used for the hand-written thank you notes I include in my packages.

I'm drawn to the kitchier patterns, like day-glow daisies and patchwork,

 butterflies and cartoon animals,

scalloped edges and fancy borders,

 and unique invitations (Evite be damned!),

or anything offbeat. These notepads reminded me of R. Crumb cartoons:

I tried to write a thank you on one once but it just came across as angry and yelling, so I didn't send it.

And since I don't want to end this blog post with screaming  and finger-pointing, I'll leave you with these sweet little girls...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Giving Tree

I'm a member of the PTO at Sage's school this year and my job is to create displays for the front hall. This winter we decided to make a "Giving Tree" where people could pluck off paper apples containing classroom material requests submitted by the teachers. The hope is that families will purchase some of these items and donate them to classrooms in need. As a former teacher I know how often I purchased items for my classroom without expecting reimbursement. 

Here's the tree (pre-apples) that I made for the hallway:

 After I stapled it to the wall I realized it was a little too fat but oh well, the kids didn't notice. I also made a felt banner with hand-cut letters in the style of the hand-drawn font on the title page:

While researching reference material for this project, I came across this animated version of the story I don't think I've ever seen before (though I've heard and/or read the story 100 times or more). It's from 1973 and narrated by Shel Silverstein himself. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Peek into the Process of a Custom Plush Commission

Two weeks ago I received another custom plush commission and a young girl's "Googly Eyeball Lady" drawing arrived in my inbox:

I have to admit, as adorable and imaginative as she is, I was a bit intimidated by the task of recreating this 32-eyeballed lady. When I do a custom plush commission, it's important to me to stay as true to the child's work as possible. Since this was a very detailed line drawing, I did this custom plush a little different than others I've done - I copied it. Here's how:

First, I enlarged it in Photoshop and printed it out in three parts which I then taped back together:

 Then, since the line drawing was faint, I traced it with a Sharpie:

and place it under white fabric and traced it with a pencil:

  You can barely see the pencil lines here without the drawing underneath:

First, I ironed on some stabilizer to give it added strength. Next, I referred to the original often as I sewed over the lines with an embroidery stitch on my sewing machine. When the stitching was completed, I ironed another layer of thin stabilizer onto the back to seal it and secure any loose stitches.

Here's a picture in progress I sent to to my customer so she could select a fabric for the back:


She chose this one:

And here's the finished product:

The Googly Eyeball Lady is now a Huggable Cuddly Googly Eyeball Lady.


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