Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Art Lesson With Older Kids: Oval Penguins and Owls

As I was wracking my brain last night to come up with a good project for the Kids' Art Class today with the older kids, I turned to The Crafty Crow, a blog with all sorts of kid crafts.  There I found a link for a project for making penguins using the classic "potato print" method.  I liked the project, but thought the potato prints would be a bit too easy for the older kids' class (maybe I'll use it for the younger kids...I pinned it to my Kids' Art Class Pinterest board for later).  So I adapted the project a bit and had the older kids use some oval stencils I have.  As I created the example, I decided that the same ovals would work to make an owl as just needs bigger eyes! (and "ear tufts").  So each kid did an owl as well as a penguin.

The sample project I did before class
And the penguins in the snow were fitting for today, since we had our first real snow of the winter (finally!).  I had to brush off my car and shovel the walkway and everything!  I'm sure I'll get sick of it in a month, but for now I'm happy there is finally snow on the ground!

I cut a 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper into quarters.  I gave each kid a 6x6 square of colored paper (sky blue for the penguin, navy blue for the owl).  I thought the colored paper would be a nice touch.  Sometimes it's boring working on the same old white paper and it's nice to have a good background color without the kids having to worry about coloring the sky themselves.

We did the penguins first.  First they trace the ovals (They had to take turns, since I only had one sheet of oval stencils).  Then they paint them...the big one black (dark brown for the owls), the smaller one white (light brown/grey for the owls).  Then I had them paint the "snow" underneath for the penguins (a tree branch for the owls).

My original example didn't have any flippers/wings, since I wanted t keep it as simple shapes and imagined the penguin/owl with their flippers/wings tucked in at their sides, but the kids insisted on painting them on.  I indulged them and gave them creative license to go ahead and paint them on.  It's a difficult balance between letting kids be creative and making them stick to the instructions.  I don't want to squash their creativity, but I want them to learn to follow directions as well.

They then cut out a triangle for the beak, and squares for the feet...then glued them on, along with some googley eyes.

The finishing touch was using some rubber stamps & paint to create snowflakes for the penguin.  We did stars for the owl picture...although one student asked to do snowflakes for the owl since it was snowing outside!  Again...I chose not to squash her creativity.

One student asked to paint his owl's beak and feet, instead of cutting and gluing the paper.  He said he wanted to practice his color-mixing and painting.  I feel like using the cut-out paper looks neater, but I couldn't say no when he was taking the initiative to practice his painting skills!

All inall, it was a fun project for all, and the kids did great!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Handmade Holiday Pledge

I just said in my last post that I never officially signed the Handmade Holiday Pledge...
well, even though Christmas is over, I just went and did it!
A perk of "signing" it is that you get to add a link to your site/shop, so there's a little bit of self-promotion there. ;)

I like this pledge. I feel it is more realistic than pledging that ALL your gifts are handmade like some pledges I've seen in the past. Some people are hard to make or buy handmade gifts for. Men are notoriously difficult to make/buy affordable handmade gifts for.  Cool, handmade stuff for men is usually pretty expensive (but, as an artist, I understand the amount of work involved and why those items have to cost more).  I also like that they say "by me, a friend, or a cool artist" people who "can't" make anything (to which I say, "Yes, you can make something!") can feel like they can take the pledge because they can buy handmade items.

You can add a link to your own shop/site on the page for the site when you "take the pledge". 
"We are committed to making {and buying} handmade gifts this holiday season. Feel free to visit our websites, blogs, and shops. Take the Handmade Holiday 2011 Pledge, then scroll down and add yourself to the list. Click on the blue "add your link" button."  Then you can put the cool little button (like the one above) on your blog!

Handmade Christmas 2011!

I never officially signed the Handmade Holiday Pledge (which is "at least half of the holiday gifts I give will be handmade! *by me, a friend, or a super-cool artist), but I do believe that at least half of my gifts I gave this year were handmade.  This month, I was working on top-secret handmade Christmas gifts for my nieces.  I had to wait until after Christmas to post pictures, since I wasn't sure if they check my blog at all and didn't want to inadvertently spoil the surprise.  But now I can finally share!

Pieces cut out before sewing.

First up was an "Invader Zim" hat for my oldest niece.  (she is one of those teens who are borderline obsessed with the cancelled Nickelodeon show). I was originally going to make her a Cheshire Cat purse to match the plush I gave her two years ago, but my sister-in-law had asked about an "Invader Zim" hat, so I made that instead!

And the finished product!

 (modeling it myself in my bathroom mirror)

Next is a Monster Purse for my middle niece (the oldest's younger sister).  I made a monster purse last year that she really liked, but I ended up selling it at a show.  So this was the perfect opportunity for me to make her one of her own.

Last is an Owl Purse for my youngest niece.  She's REALLY into owls (of course, who ISN'T into owls nowadays?) and my mother-in-law had suggested that I make her an owl purse. (I know there are feet shown in the cut-out-pieces photo...but I forgot about them when I sewed the purse up!  I don't think it mattered much to anyone though.)

And now the big reveal!...

(I wasn't at a good angle to get a good picture of her reaction...but she was VERY excited)

She was so excited that she couldn't stand still enough for me to get a good picture!

I made all 3 girls line up so I could get good pictures. 

I also have a nephew (the youngest niece's brother), but I was at a loss at what to make for him.  He's 17, and teenage boys are so difficult to hand make gifts for!  But we got a tip from my mother-in-law that he wanted a set of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" books, so we got him a boxed set, which he was very happy with!  And I an get behind that.  If you can't hand-make something, books are a good way to go!  I fully endorse the activity of reading! (I was quite the book-worm when I was a teen)

They were all thrilled with their gifts, which made me very happy!  I think I am officially the "cool aunt"! ;)
I have a feeling I am going to start getting lots of requests for purses now!  I've already gotten a few after I posted the pictures on Facebook! 

I wasn't very confident in making purses before.  I had only made one before as an experiment. But I thought they would look unfinished if I didn't line them, and the idea of lining them was daunting to me.  But I find that if I make the purses out of sweaters, the "raw" seams on the inside of the bag look okay.  So I may be adding purses to my line of products pretty soon!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"God rest ye merry gentlemen, let nothing you dismay!
Remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's pow'r when we were gone astray
Oh tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy!
Oh tidings of comfort and joy!"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Custom Plush: "Hobbes the Stuffed Tiger"

Some friends of mine asked me to make a "Hobbes" tiger plush for their son for Christmas.  He's been really into the "Calvin & Hobbes" comic.  

The image above is from the comic and is what I based the design off of.  In the comics, Hobbes is a real live tiger to Calvin, but to everyone else, he's seen as the stuffed toy tiger in the picture.

I'm really pleased with how he turned out!  I almost wish I could keep him! Well, I can always make another one!  I'm sure I'll end up making another one at some point anyway! ;)

After doing the stuffed lion, I didn't think a tiger would be too difficult. The most "difficult" (ie: time-consuming) part was doing the stripes. The stripes on his back, legs, and tail were machine-stitched. But I hand-stitched the stripes on his head, since they had to wrap around from the back tot he front.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

RNEST Monthly Challenge: December (Culinary Trends & Sweet Treats)

Life has been a bit crazy & busy with the holidays coming up.  I apologize for the lack of blog posts lately.  I have some pictures I'm dying to post, but they are of the Christmas gifts I've made for my nieces and don't want to risk any spoilers!  But even with how busy I've been, I scratched out a few moments to whip up this little Cupcake Nubbin as my entry for the RNEST Monthly Challenge for December.  The theme for this month was "Culinary Trends & Sweet Treats".  I could have done a gingerbread man, but that seemed almost too obvious of a choice!  Plus I've noticed that cupcakes are pretty popular food as well.

Please take a minute to  go over to the RNEST blog and cast your vote in the poll in the upper-right hand corner.  (you don't have to register for anything, just click your choice!) I'm the last entry listed.

I didn't win last month's challenge, but it was neck-and-neck for awhile.  I only lost by one or two votes.  I did end up selling the Moustache Nubbin though!

I made this little guy in a rush, since I'd forgotten about the challenge until the day before the deadline to enter, but I'd like to make another version of the Cupcake that is a little more of a round 3D cupcake.  This guy was done in more of a "pillow" or "sandwich" style.  I'm looking forward to trying out designs and maybe making them a new line of Nubbins...which may be crazy of newest "specialty Nubbins", the Barn Owls and Ninja Nubbins, have been immensely popular!  I've sold out of almost all of them at the last few shows I did this year.  I probably don't need another product line, I have so much on my plate already...but I keep thinking of more ideas!  We'll see.  Maybe I'll offer certain Special Edition Nubbins seasonally. ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Custom Westie Sock Dogs

I got a custom order for these 2 "Westie" (West Highland White Terrier) Sock Dogs. It was a challenge, since I haven't tried to make a sock dog in a particular breed before...

(requested monograms on the of my first attempts at embroidering letters!)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Craft Show! : Craftmas First Friday 2011

The Mega-Nubbin found a home!

TARDIS earrings!

The winner of the RNEST Handmade Garbage Plate scavenger hunt with her prize!