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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mom's Retro-Style Dress

Now I've finished Mom's dress.  It's cotton - a green background with a small 30's style yellow and white print.  A lot of times I like to work with vintage fabrics such as old feed sacks.  But I was in the local quilt store recently and saw this sweet little print - and the one I got for the child's outfit - and couldn't resist.

Once I started sewing I realized that the cotton is a little heavier than I would like, but it all worked out fine.

The dress buttons in the front and has a slightly gathered circle skirt - again, not much bulk around the waist.

The collar is muslin and I added tiny hand-crocheted detail.  I think she looks very nice!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rabbit Mom's Beautiful Under Garments

 
 
Mom has some pretty fancy underwear.  The first layer is a "onesie" with a flower design embroidered on the chest and crocheted trim around the panty legs.  Over that, she has a half slip.  The top of the half slip is a circle skirt and then there's a wide flounce at the bottom.  The circle skirt design on the upper portion eliminates bulk around the waist while the wide flounce adds "stick out" to support the dress that will come next. I've used new bleached muslin for these garments.  It's nice to sew with and is a nice light weight.  I don't wash it first because I like a little bit of "body" to the fabric while I'm sewing.
 
I use size 40 crochet cotton and a tiny steel needle for the crocheted trim.  It's difficult to handle such a small hook - especially keeping the thread loops from slipping off.  Nonetheless, I enjoy the crochet.
 
I made this rabbit's neck too long and her shoulders are quite sloped.  I plan to correct this look with the cut and style of the dress.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Rabbit Mom

Here's the Mom Rabbit getting the last bits of her beautiful fur coat.  And she still needs her mouth line and whiskers.  I didn't give her a white star on her forehead like her daughter has.  Whether or not to do that will be one of my last decisions after the clothes are all made.

I'm planning a new section for my Etsy shop with my needle-felted and costumed animal dolls.  Whenever I make one I get very involved with it.  In fact, I have to keep reminding myself that these animals are not real.  But I can't resist posing them and pretending that they're talking with each other.

It will be hard to part with these little animals.  But I'll put a high price on them and if they sell I can feel good about donating the money to animal charities.  And in the meantime, I'll keep them in a display cabinet and enjoy them.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Yes, it's a Rabbit - a Young One!

It was a rabbit lurking in that last photo - a rabbit child!  In that photo she was armature, core wool, ears, and eyes.  Here she is getting the last bits of her over-coat.  And in the picture below she's getting whisker surgery!  (It only hurts a little...)

She looks a bit skinny, but that's so the clothes will fit her nicely.  Next, I'm going to make her mama.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Foxes, Fully Dressed!

 
Here are the Fox sisters fully dressed in their new outfits.  You can't see the fabric that well, but it's stylized cats and kittens - so cute!  I got it on www.craftofquilting.com.  I like the vintage look of both the colors and the design.  The foxes also have bracelets, and dangling from each is one of my tiny signature tags, a small metal oval with my name engraved on it.
 
In the next picture, the two sisters are telling each other how much they love each other!  Such nice, calm young foxes!
 
But wait!  What's that on the right?  It looks kind of like the beginning of a rabbit.  We'll have to see what happens next....


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dresses for the Fox Sisters

The outfits for the fox sisters are well under way now.  Here are the girls, Lily and Rose, standing in the project box watching the action.  As you can see, they both have their underwear completed and are prim and proper.

I finished Lily's dress earlier.  It's the white one on the table, and Rose's pink dress is there too, in progress with pins sticking in it.  Because I needle felted the foxes over the same dimensions of armature and am making their dresses identical except for color, I am using the pattern I made for the white dress for the pink dress as well, checking as best I can as I go along that the pattern will also fit Rose.

I hand sew all the clothes.  For one thing, these clothes are awfully tiny to work with on the machine.  And for another, I enjoy hand sewing and find it relaxing.

We'll have to see how it turns out.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

And a Needle Felted Bluebird

 
My next bird is a bluebird - a bluebird of happiness, in fact.  She, too, has a shawl made from a vintage handkerchief.  For bird purists, yes, I recognize that this is actually a male rather than a female because a female's plumage would be duller.  Nonetheless, I used my artist's license to put a shawl on a male bird and pretend that everything somehow works!


Friday, December 18, 2015

A Needle Felted Sparrow

I began making these needle felted birds so long ago - last year, I think.  I found a shoe box with six of them in various stages of completion.  All this one needed was her shawl and a bit of chalk rouge to be finished.

Actually, the way the shawl sits on her, it's more like a babushka - birds in babushkas!  Very cute, I think.

So I plan to finish the rest of them and put them in my Etsy shop.  The hardest part is cutting up the vintage hankies for the shawls.  It seems a waste, but then how many people actually use handkerchiefs these days?  It's a new life for them.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

and a Squirrel Ornament

 The same customer who ordered the little needle felted cat also wanted a squirrel ornament, so here it is.

The squirrel is 5 1/2" tall and is holding an acorn.  The squirrel is needle felted and so is the nut of the acorn, but the nut is glued into a real acorn cap.

It's a bit difficult felting small because there's less armature to work with and all the details are smaller.  By some miracle I had short fiber wool for the body and matching longer fiber wool for the tail.

The tail was fun but time-consuming.  I would felt a section of the long fibers across the middle then lay the bundle around the felted tail core and felt along the center of the bundle attaching it to the core.  Then I would fold the bottom half of the bundle back up, pointing to the tail tip, and felt again at the fold.  By continuing this process from the tip to the base of the tail, I ended up with a nice fluffy - and posable - tail.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Captain Nemo


I made this little needle-felted cat for a custom order from my Etsy shop.  It's a portrait (a loose one, obviously) of a dear pet who has passed on, so I was honored to make it.

This little guy is 5" long, not counting the tail, so the felting of the details was a bit tricky.  The cat's name was "Captain Nemo" and I wish I could have met him as he looks so sweet in his photos.  I hope his mom will be happy with him.

Monday, December 14, 2015

The Remaining Snowflake Rabbits

Three more - the final three, at least for now - snowflake rabbits.  I used the new crystalline glazes that I recently ordered for their robes.  But I must say that I'm somewhat disappointed.  The color chips on the website showed much more interesting results.  These glazes are rated for a range of temperatures and I fired these pieces at the low end of the temperature range.  So maybe I would have gotten better results if I had fired them hotter.  There's just so much to know about firing!

But on a more positive note, I only used two (rather than three) coats of the Ivory Belleek glaze for the white on the rabbits and the large snowflake and I think it worked out better.  The glaze didn't fill so much of the incised detail, leaving shadow to show the texture.  Lesson learned!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Miss Bumbles' Reindeer

 While surfing on Etsy I came across Miss Bumble's (Ruth Rivers') shop of charming needle-felted animals.   She is in London, and I remember thinking that if only I were anywhere near there, and if she teaches, I'd love to take a class from her.  Then I noticed that she sells kits, so I bought this one as the next best thing to taking a class from here.  Here are the finished results!
I was interested in her techniques, and I'd have to say that the main way in which hers and mine differ is that she doesn't use an armature.  It's all just wool, beginning with a firmly felted basic shape and then adding on.

What I found particularly interesting is her use of embroidery over the felted wool.  On this piece, the detail on the "sweater" is embroidered.

And speaking of the sweater - it is simply blue wool felted onto the body and arms.

It was fun and interesting doing this kit.  I may very well use the embroidery techniques and felting clothing in some of my work, but will continue to use armatures as I like the animals to be posable.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Calgary

 
My sister, Michelle, wanted to make a small figurine of her vet's horse as a present to that wonderful woman who shepherded Michelle and her beloved horse Alduran through his last illness.  She found a small photo of the horse, Calgary's, face and found out from vet staff that Calgary has four white socks.  That's pretty much all I had to go on as I sculpted this small (about 3" tall) figurine from polymer clay.  Michelle then added his lovely "winner's circle collar" which she made from seed beads and a Swarovski crystal heart.
 
The whole time I was working on the sculpting I was so nervous because a vet - who knows much more about horse conformation, especially about her own horse, than I will ever know - would be the recipient.
 
After the sculpting was finished and the clay cured, I added the white markings with acrylic paint then applied a coat of matte varnish.  By the way, the eyes are glass (from www.glasseyesonline.com) and I brushed around his eyes with black mica powder and over the mane and tail with interference gold mica powder.
 
Thankfully, Dianna was very happy with her gift! 


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shaman-in-Training

 This little rabbit is a shaman-in-training.  The little ones start simple, learning to get in touch with flower power.

The glazing on this piece turned out really good.  I stamped the clay for the robe, and the glaze I chose pooled in the hollows for a darker look and so made the stamp pattern show up so nicely.

And the glaze I used for the rabbit's head and tail did the same thing.  So this is a good glaze for fur, as opposed to the white one I used on the Snowflake Rabbits.

I poked a hole through the center of the flower before I fired it, thinking I'd add a beaded dangle.  But in the end, I decided on a simple glass drop bead.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Second Snowflake Rabbit

 Here's the second of the five snowflake rabbits.  I like this glaze better than the one on the first rabbit.  It ran a lot - like the first one - but I like the colors better.

Last week I ordered three new glazes and plan to use them on the remaining rabbits.  So, there'll be a bit of a wait on that until the shipment arrives, which I hope will be soon.

Also, I think the rabbit could be a better color than this plain white which is called "Ivory Belleek."  It's a pretty glaze, but it doesn't show the texturing in the fur.  I'll have to look for an alternative for white animals.

Monday, December 7, 2015

The First Finished Snowflake Rabbit

 I have now glazed and finished the first of my five snowflake rabbits.  I used this one for our art club's art exchange at our Christmas party and I think that Debra, the lady who received it, truly liked it.

I used a crystalline glaze but wasn't thrilled with the results.  I think I may have put it on a bit too thickly because I didn't expect the melting crystals to run as much as they did.  They didn't do that on the sample chip I made but the sample chip was fired flat whereas this surface was closer to vertical in the kiln.
Anyway, after firing, the finishing touches were the Swarovski crystals. 

I attached the large hanging one by threading a looped ribbon through the hole I had put downwards through the top of the head.  A 3/8" wooden bead threaded with the ribbon - along with glue around the bead - holds it in place inside the cone shape of the robe.  I then simply tied the crystal snowflake pendant to one end of the ribbon and cut the other end off.

I used E6000 glue to attach the tiny crystals on the robe.  All in all, a success I'd say.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

The Fox Shows off her New Dress

 
 She now has both an outfit and a name - meet Lily!  I think she has a pretty cute expression, and I am also quite proud of her dress and underwear.  (As you know, it's important for proper young foxes to wear nice underwear.) 
 
I just love this fabric that I bought from www.craftofquilting.com.  I also bought the same fabric in pink with white cats, and that's what I'm planning to use for Lily's sister's dress which is my next project.