Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sweater Monsters

I started off making my monsters out of socks, but after the 5 years I've been making monsters, my material preferences have swayed towards sweaters. I have a few theories about why this has come about. #1. "Worn out" sweaters tend to have a lot more "usable" material than worn out socks. Worn out socks are usually threadbare or stained on the heel and/or toe. Sweaters are rarely truly "worn out", just unwanted. At the most "worn out" means it has a hole or is unraveling, which is easily remedied. Whereas, threadbare-ness or stains on a piece lowers its quality appearance.
Anyway... reason #2 I like using sweaters is that I can get a lot more monsters out of one sweater than from one sock. These two monsters are the last of this particular sweater. (the same one I used for Ingrid and Iggy)

I haven't come up with names for these two yet, but I probably will when I list them in the shop.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Art Lesson with Little Kids: Color Mixing Chart Placemat

Today in art class, I did a project for little kids to teach them about mixing paint colors...their own Color Mixing Chart!

We've been working with paint lately and I thought it would be a good thing to cover (besides that it's a standard art requirement for homeschooling). So last night, I used a circle stencil and drew a blank chart onto pieces of 11x17 construction paper. (I have a bunch of this paper that I was given by a teacher friend I used to work with when I was a one-on-one aide for a kindergarten girl with autism)

To cut down on my costs, I only bought the primary colors of tempera paint. So whenever we're working with paint, I usually get asked "what colors make...~insert secondary color here~". Now, I can just ask them, "What does your chart say?"

I'm planning on either putting clear contact paper over them or taking them to Office Max to get them laminated so the kids can use them as their placemats. I've been using those blank pieces of paper as their placemats in an attempt to protect the table a bit, but un-laminated, they soak in water, paint, glue, or whatever else the kids are working with and I always end up throwing the paper away. When I laminate them, the various mediums can simply be wiped off and the placemat can be reused!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Festively Fall

I got on a treasury-making kick this week. Sometimes, when you make one, you've got to make more!

This first treasury was the last one I made, but is my favorite one. I was inspired by those grey fall days (it was quite grey and rainy the latter part of last week and the weekend), but with a splash of color...

The next one was inspired by my itch to go apple-picking (I'm hoping to finally go this weekend!). I live in apple country and it's become something of a fall tradition since we moved out here.

The final treasury (which was the first one I made this week) is all guessed it...MONSTERS! I find it interesting that the word "monster" no longer conjures up images of grotesque, scary creatures...but of funny, friendly, and sometimes furry creatures instead. I think this is thanks to Jim Henson, as well as the Disney/Pixar movie "Monsters Inc." The color scheme was inspired by a Halloween decoration aisle at a store. While shopping with my husband a few weeks ago, I noticed that turquoise seems to be the newest "Halloween color". At one time there was just orange and black. Then green was added. Then at some point purple joined in. Now it seems that turquoise has been added to the mix. You won't find me complaining though...turquoise is my favorite color! And I love pairing it with orange! So that's the back-story for this treasury.

Oh usual, please check out the Treasury Tuesday post I do over on the RNEST blog!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Art Lesson with Older Kids: Toilet Paper Tube Owls & Cats

The little kids had so much fun with the Toilet Paper Tube Owls/Cats that I decided to do the project with the older kids too...

Make It Monday: Toilet Paper Tube Owls & Cats

I've fallen behind in posting pictures of the kids' art classes, so I thought I'd make this a Make-It-Monday post...
I originally found this project for making owls out of toilet paper tubes via Pinterest (oh, how I love Pinterest!). The original project is for owls, but I thought the general shape would work for making cats as well, so I had this kids make one of each if they wanted to.

(this first owl & cat were my examples that I made)
  • Bend the opposite sides at the top of the tube to shape 2 pointy ears (the original instructions call for you to tape the top, but if you pinch the cardboard "ears", you don't need masking tape doesn't take the paint well)
  • Paint the tube (I use this part to teach the kids about color-mixing with the paint)
  • While you wait for the paint to dry, cut out eyes and beak/nose, and draw pupils onto the eyes. (I cut the eyes out with my Cricut before class, but the kids cut out the beaks/noses themselves)
  • When the paint is dry, glue on the eyes & beak/nose

This is how the table looked when the kids were done.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Purple, Orange, and Black

I was featured in a Halloween-esque treasury this week, created by my friend and fellow RNESTer, Jackbear.

Check out the Treasury Tuesday post on the RNEST Blog for some links to more Etsy Treasuries!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Make It Monday!: Go Ahead! Make Your Own Monsters!

I'm often amazed that more people don't make/sell upcycled plush toys like I do. Although, the fact that there aren't a lot of plush-makers in my neck of the woods probably helps my sales at craft shows!

I've heard comments before about "not giving away my secrets" in order to help my sales. But, honestly, I like to spread the joy of making things and I actually encourage people, especially kids, to try their hand at making their own monsters. Sometimes, once someone tries their hand at something, they appreciate the work that goes into it and are more likely to purchase your work. I learned this concept from a guy that I met at the Niagara Celtic Festival who makes chainmail jewelry and does free tutorials at the festival. He says since he started doing the tutorials, his sales have actually gone up, since people appreciate the work that goes into making the jewelry. Sure, some people may just stat making their own, or even selling their own, but I prefer to think of it as creating a colleague instead of a competitor.

Anyway, in the spirit of "giving away my secrets", here is a nice, simple tutorial I came across on one of my favorite blogs, Craftzine, for making your own "free range monsters". (As an FYI, I didn't write this tutorial, nor do I have any affiliation with Craftzine other than simply enjoying the blog!)

* image credit: Craftzine

Here's a tip from the tutorial that is also one of my own secrets about where I get my materials:
"I find the best and cheapest place for crazy monster skin to be the children's clothing section of my local thrift store. For a couple of bucks, you can take home a bright pink fun-fur jacket or a pair of bright blue corduroy pants. Cut the clothes up, making sure to maximize the usable flat parts of the fabric." Most of my best, most colorful sweaters come from the children's section of my local thrift store...specifically the girls' section. Although I often have to repress a twinge of guilt that I am taking a cute sweater away from a potential little girl!

Friday, October 7, 2011

New Nubbins Photos For Etsy

I took some new photos today of some Nubbins for my Etsy listing. The photos I had for the listing previously were from back before I started using the wooden crate background and the spools of thread, so I did a re-shoot so my shop photos have some continuity and look cohesive.

Gotta love my berry basket of vintage wooden spools of thread as photo props! (and the vintage cloth tape measure!)

If anyone had walked up to my porch while I was staging this photo, I'm sure I must have looked ridiculous, painstakingly placing those spools of thread around the Nubbins, trying not to knock them over. Yes...even the spools in the background in the basket. I specifically placed the most colorful threads on top of the pile. LOL! But it makes for a good looking picture!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Monty the Sweater Gremlin

I just finished this guy last week after buying the sweater at the thrift store on Monday. I LOVE the turquoise color! This has got to be one of my new favorite monsters! I'm so tempted to keep him for myself!
*EDIT: I've actually decided to submit him for the Whimsical Art Trail exhibit at Strong national Museum of Play!

He photographs really well! I love that first picture.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Treasury Tuesday: Most Beautiful Stripes

I was featured in this beautiful, stripey treasury this week...

Unfortunately, the item that was featured is a sweater monster that I sold this weekend at the AC Homecoming Celebration! Naturally, if I sell something at a show, I need to take the Etsy listing down so it doesn't get double-sold, right? But if I unlist it, it won't show up in the treasury! temporary solution has been to label it as "reserved" so no one will buy it, but I can still keep it in the shop and in the treasury for a little while! I'll probably unlist it in a week or so. In the meantime, you can click on over and see it as a part of the treasury.

I also featured this treasury over at the RNEST Blog's Treasury Tuesday post. I often feel weird making the featured treasury one that features my own work, but I think that this treasury is beautiful and well-put-together even without my item in it! Plus, it reminds me of the recent hulabaloo and brouhaha a few weeks ago over the Missoni line coming to Target. (I use the term "recent" loosely. I know I'm a few weeks late on the uptake here). Pfft! Don't go crazy waiting in line at the store! If you want mod, stripey, multicolored items, this treasury proves that you just have to check out Etsy! And you support independent artists instead of a mega-corporation! (Not that I have anything against shopping at Target...) ;)

Speaking of the Missoni craziness, a friend of mine wrote this on her Facebook status a few weeks ago and it made me laugh! "Damn you Missoni for Target and your wild zig-zags, making women everywhere look like my grandma's old couch!" Ha ha ha!

Speaking of DIYing the Missoni trend, here's a tutorial I found via Craftzine for making your own chevron shoes!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Custom Raccoon Bride & Groom

I made this custom bride & groom raccoons set for a friend who wanted them as a wedding gift for her friends (their last name will be Coon).