Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Kern Canyon in the Fall

It's been very gray here in Bako for the past several days. We didn't let that get us down this weekend as we decided to go to the river together as a family and shoot things with beebee guns. Actually, the boys shot things. I looked for rocks. Did I spell beebee right?

The river was really low and quiet. It wasn't that rushing torrential flood that we had most of the summer and was a welcome sight. I always get worried about losing my kids to the waters. This time the rocks were so far out of the water that we could nearly walk across in some spots. Still, with it cloudy, you never know if a sudden rain is going to change everything and kill your entire family in the process. Yes, I think thoughts like that.

I found the neatest looking rocks. At first I thought it was a white-spotted red sock, but then I noticed that all the rocks had those polka dots on them. The granite is just really weird in this part of the river. I'll take pictures of the polka-dotted rocks and post them later... I'm such a tease!

With the water so low, I was able to walk further down along the river's edge and look at stuff. This is as far as I can go in this direction because the log blocks my way. I thought the hole in the rotting wood was pretty. There was also a spot where you can tell water eddied and piled up a bunch of wood. The wood is all worn into lovely rounded shapes. I think this particular piece sums up how I felt...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quick Peek into December

Here's a teaser look at next month's freebie tutorial... :)
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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Flower Brooches

Using the same shapes I wrote about in yesterday's tutorial, you can also make these brooches.

I used about 21 circles for these brooches. Fold them all up into the single basic shape. I received an email from a friend today and she said it is called a preliminary base. I am taking her word for it because she is much more learned than I when it comes to origami. I don't know the words, I just fold. 

Holding one shape closed, put a bead of hot glue along one folded edge.

Put a second shape on top of the first one. Then glue the rest in the same manner. 

After you've glued as many together as you like - I did 21 for the pink buttoned one - glue the ends together to make a hemisphere. 

I have a badge maker that I bought last year to make badges for my Etsy shop (a goal for 2012?). Using that, I covered several badges with kraft paper and glued the hemisphere to the badge. Then I glued a button that matched the paper to cover the hole.

A word of caution: beware of putting pink or red buttons on old book paper brooches. They look a bit anatomical. I need to change the pink button on the left brooch. The paper is much lighter than in the picture and it looks, uh... youknow, nudge nudge, wink wink.

I wore the middle one to work today. It weathered getting snagged by my seat belt, hugged by my son and squashed by books. All in all, a sturdy piece of work, a definite keeper.

As long as I don't accidentally make any more basooma ones ...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Paper Ball Ornaments - Tutorial

I've been up to many lovely things lately. Since I figured out how to make these paper balls, I've been obsessive about trying all sizes and styles of circles. The other day at the library, I used their large balloon die-cut to make big circles. That's what I used to make that huge paper ball in the above picture. It's about 7 inches (18cm) across and would make a very nice pumpkin-like decoration for a Thanksgiving table or Halloween next year...

Here's how you make them:


Paper (I used map paper from an old encyclopedia - it has a feel like glassine)
Circle punch (I made several different sizes of circles for different-sized balls)
String or ribbon to hang (if desired)
Hot glue and glue gun

about an hour or so for your first one. Less on all the subsequent ones.

The toughest part of this craft is the folding of the circles into the base shape. Once you get it down, it's soothing to make these while listening to a good book on CD in bed, eating chocolates and cuddling next to your sleeping husband. I'm listening to A Discovery of Witches and eating salted caramels from Costco. It's pure joy. (And the husband is nice, too. :)  )

You will need about 45-75 circles. The larger the ball, the more circles you'll need. I used 45 for the small ones and 75 for the huge one. If nothing else, make a number of circles that is a multiple of three. The ball itself uses three circles glued together to make a single half circle shape, the basic unit for the entire ball.

Here's how the circle is supposed to look all folded

Take two circles and put a blob of hot glue inside one edge of the bottommost circle. I am calling the one closest to my palm the bottom one. You can see how much glue I used in the below picture.

Do the same with a third circle onto the soon-to-be-middle circle. I put the glue on the same sides of each circle so they would all lay the same direction. You can see from the below picture that I tucked the circles in the same place both times. 

Ta da! One unit done. Have a chocolate.

Continue making segments. I just keep making them until I feel like I have enough or am just too impatient to make more. A word of caution here - the number of segments you use affects the end product. The more segments you have, the fuller your ball will be. The fewer segments you have, the more open your ball will look. Neither is wrong - they are just different.

 I then glued the segments together with a line of hot glue on the long edge which will be the middle when it opens up. I didn't worry about gluing down every single circle to the one next to it. It's not necessary to hold the shape, but you be the judge. Perhaps I'm just impatient.

When you've glued a stack together, let the stack of shapes relax open into your hand. If you are going to put a ribbon or string on your ornament, now is the time to do so. Blob a bit of glue on a length of ribbon and adhere it to the folded sides of the stack where it won't show when you glue the final shape together. To close it up, put a line of glue along the middle like you are adding another segment. Very carefully, place the open circle's halves together so they form a ball...

Ta da! You can see that I didn't use that many segments for this example. It has a much more open texture or pattern on it. I forgot to put the ribbon on this one, too. Pretend it's beautiful.

Here's a selection of ones I've made. You can use different types of circle punches for different effects (duh). I used a scalloped circle punch for the mid-sized balls. I think these would look beautiful on a tree, in a bowl or in a display. If you live in a non-snowing place like Bakersfield, you can also throw them at your loved ones.

Not that I've ever done that. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Trading and Bartering

I am a big fan of bartering. There are times when handmade objects are worth more than money and they feel better when you trade for them. I am making this book for my friend, Julie, in return for the beautiful cake she made me last week for my son. I've learned how to make prettier letters (lower case) that wouldn't be hard to translate into a whole alphabet. Hmmm....

Monday, November 7, 2011

Paper Ball


Look what you can make with a bunch of paper circles while you watch three different Shakespearean plays! I've seen Phiona Richards at Rare Notions use these shapes to make jewelry. After the amount of time and effort it took me to make this ball, I'm leaving the rest of the making up to HER. I see why it's worth buying some things!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Free Pattern

Happy November to you all. Here is a tutorial for all you book folders out there for an acorn. I hope you enjoy making it. It was a lot of fun (and hard work) to put it together.

Hopefully this will get easier over time! I have to keep relearning things!

Friday, November 4, 2011

We Have a 14-year old in the Family

This past weekend, Brian's eldest son turned fourteen. I have been around this kid for nearly seven years and it's been an interesting time. We're still getting to know each other and sometimes don't know what to make of the other. He's sooooo into sports and I could be happier scratching out my eyes than listening to endless rehashes of past sporting events. Still, I wanted him to have a happy birthday. A friend of mine from the library traded me a book for her mom (oops - I need to finish that!!!!) in exchange for the cake. I definitely came out the winner...


Here's the birthday boy in all his silliness. He looks a lot like Brian when he was fourteen. Except for the eyes - he has his mother's eyes. (ooh, how Harry Potter!)

Here's the rest of the crew. Kenneth was keeping a steady eye on that cake. He wanted to eat one of the decorations very badly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sneak Peek for November

Here's a little peek at what is in store for all you book folders in the next few days... I finished folding up the prototype this morning and it turned out better than I'd hoped! Now I just need to fuss the pattern up and it will be ready to post... (December's is in the works, too!)

Here's another sample of my crocheted stones. I am trying very hard to allow myself to use the types of rocks we have here in Bakersfield and not seek only for the smooth, flat river stones I've seen others use for this craft. The rocks here are rough and crystalline. They are also mostly browns in color. Isn't it hard to see how you slavishly copy others because that is "the right way to do something" and fail to do it either the way you have at hand or allow yourself to do it the way that is "you"?

With that thought I asked myself why I was copying crochet patterns at all - why I was insisting on doing uniform rows or rounds. I prefer asymmetrical and freeform sometimes. At least, I did last night... Here's my first foray into a more organic crocheted rock. The shape of the rock is more triangular and it is sooooo smooth. I love touching the back of it. I experimented with crocheting on top of other stitches, using long threads to connect (I guess you could call them really loose stitches) sections and mixing up the lengths of everything. I rather like how it turned out. I'm not sure the picture does it justice - it looks a little bulky, but it isn't at all...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Free Tutorial Coming!

Don't fret - I haven't forgotten doing a free pattern for folded books this month. I just haven't been able to finish it yet to take a picture to give to you. Puh-ray for the Heather... to get her act together.

In other news, I've been taking it easy in the evenings by working on crochet therapy. Here are a couple of lovelies that I've finished. The blue one is going off to a very sweet little girl who keeps taking her momma's rock for now...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Happy November!

October went out of my life very quietly. I was not feeling well for a couple of days and slept as much as I could. Alas! No art was finished!

Still, the Eddys celebrated Halloween for the first time in their own neighborhood and we enjoyed watching the parade of trick-or-treaters all evening. Last year we weren't home for some reason and Kiff still didn't understand the concept of it all. The other two kids were a little old for trick-or-treating so we didn't encourage it for them - we'd had a church function where we let them gorge on candy.

This year Kiff DID understand all the hoopla. For the last week, he's been asking how many more days until Halloween. He's been learning the days of the week and it's been fun to watch him do the weekday song and add in his own bits. Anyway, here are the Eddys celebrating in the ways they do best:

Brian is so uncomfortable in front of the camera. He can't help striking a pose!
Brian has a fog machine and a ton of glycerine he got for free at work. He made his own fog juice and played with it all evening. We sat in the front yard eating pizza at a card table. He turned on the fog just as people would start walking up to our house. The kids would go to the front door and Brian would put on a deep voice and say, "Happy Halloween."  from the gloom. Scared some kids silly.

Balloon Boy! Everyone thought he was from Up. Oh well.
I took Kenneth out trick-or-treating. As we walked up to the first house, I quizzed him on what he was supposed to do: knock on the door, say "Trick or Treat!" when they answered, say "Thank you" and "Happy Halloween" as he walked away. I was a bit choked up as I watched him walk up by himself (he's not afraid of anything!!!) to the door and knock. My baby is growing up!

When the woman answered he launched into song: "Trick or Treat! Smell My Feet! Give me Something Good to Eat! If you don't, I don't care, I can see your underwear." I froze. He said 'underwear' to a complete stranger.

After a hard night of begging for candy. He's pooped.
We cut off all the balloons when we came back. Then we attached glow sticks to them and let them go into the night. We hope they scare people into thinking they see UFOs.