Archive for November, 2012

Presents!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

It’s that time of year again, time for making Christmas presents! The smart crafter starts working on Christmas presents in June or July of course, but that would just be too easy for me. These are the yarns I’ll be using to make several Christmas presents including a few scarves, possibly a hat, and a chess set. The chess set may not be a Christmas present, I’m still not sure about that. But I’m going to make it no matter what. Several years ago I crocheted a chess set and created patterns for the chess pieces, so I’ll be crocheting the chess pieces to match a wooden board I made recently in a woodworking class I took. I will definitely post those patterns later, in their own post. I’ll also post pictures of the presents I make, but probably not until after Christmas as a few certain people I’m making gifts for happen to read this blog… No spoilers for you!

 

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Serenity is finished!

A while ago I posted here about making a model of the ship Serenity from the TV show Firefly (also from the movie Serenity, but the show was first). Now I am happy to say I have finished it! It sat around for a while and every time I walked by it I would look at it and think I should work on it but the shape just didn’t seem right and I wasn’t happy with it. Then one day I really felt like working on it so I just decided to go with it and see how it turned out. I started working on the back of the ship cause it was the bit with the most intricate detail, and as I worked more on that I realized it was starting to look like the ship! I was so excited that I’ve been working on it like crazy for about a week now. Although I discovered that trying to work on it while watching Firefly was not a good idea, I was far too distracted by actually watching the show, I have finally finished it. Here’s the process in pictures.

These two were in my other post, but here’s a quick recap. I made the basic shape of the ship out of plain white wool, something I have quite a bit of. Then I painted it with fabric spray-paint so I would be working on a surface that was more black than white, since the final piece was planned to be gray, the black is a better base color.

Here’s the back of the ship when I started working on it again, this is when I got inspired again. It’s not the best picture but I have better later.

The bottom part of the ship is quite square, so I had to work on that quite a bit. Needle felting doesn’t really want to do square and sharp corners, so it takes a lot more effort. And the original body shape was quite round so I had to add some extra fiber to get the square corners.

This is about halfway done. I have the basic coloration on the whole ship (except the front head bit, which is why it’s not in the picture) and I’ve got the shape on the bottom done but haven’t started shaping the top really yet.

One thing I knew from the beginning was going to be tough was the extra panels that stick off the ship. I haven’t seen them talked about anywhere but I imagine they’re solar panels, makes sense to me. I made the panels separately and attached them so that they actually stick out from the body of the ship, like they do in the pictures. You’ll notice later that I added some gray lines on the panels, they seemed to stick out way more than they should when they were just plain blue. You can also see the front windows in this shot.

I put the shuttles on the side of the ship and one of them turned out much better than the other, so I put the side panel right above the shuttle that didn’t turn out as well, figured I could kind of hide it that way. Although now that I’ve told you, it’s not really hidden.

I had been debating whether or not to put legs on the ship. What I really would have liked to do is put legs on that are actually retractable like on the real ship, but I think Ill need to make a bigger model to do that. When I had mostly finished the ship I realized it just wasn’t going to sit straight without support. It kept tipping to the sides, I think the engines are a bit heavy. So I decided I needed to make legs that would actually support the weight of the ship. Hence the pipe cleaners. I have seen lots of tutorials about working with pipe cleaners in needle felting for structure but this was my first time working with them, it worked out pretty well. And I think the legs look like they belong on some cute little alien creature. 🙂

And above is the finished piece from several angles. And now, because I am so happy with how it turned out, and I just can’t help bragging about the details, here are some close-ups of certain parts.

I put the windows on the round bit for the kitchen/dining area. There’s even windows on the front of that bit, I’m not sure what area those are for but they were in all the pictures and on all the models I could find online.

You can just see the little bit of air space under the ship here. The legs do in fact support the whole thing, that took a lot of doing when I attached them cause they just wanted to flop out to the sides, so I’m very happy they turned out.

And there’s the little shuttle in the side of the ship. I’m ashamed to say I almost forgot to put the shuttles on, but remembered when I was looking at the body of the ship and something just seemed to be missing. Its hard to show in a picture but the shuttles are even the right shape, with the little fold in wings on the back half.

So there it is. I am very much thinking about doing a larger one with functioning parts, like a cargo-bay door that opens, engines that swivel, and shuttles that are removable. It will probably be a while until I do that though, I have some Christmas presents I need to get working on, and something that big will take a lot of wool and a lot more time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanksgiving decorations

Today’s post is about a project that failed miserably. Gotta just love it when that happens. Thanksgiving in the US is coming up at the end of November and I decided to try making a cornucopia decoration. I’m kinda lazy when it comes to crafting so I decided to try and modify a technique for wet-felting a large carrot that I’ve been told about. Basically you put a bunch of wool in a nylon, tie string around it in strategic places to get the right shape and create the lines you get on a carrot, and stick it in the washing machine. I figured I could do the same but put something in the big end to make a little divot and then add some detail with needle felting to make it look more like a cornucopia. Here’s that process in pictures.

My materials. The yarn is stuff that doesn’t felt, I figured that would be important for taking things apart later.

I tied off one end of the shape so I would have a small, pointy end. Then I started stuffing from there. It was a lot more difficult to stuff than I expected, I guess I don’t have much experience with nylons so it didn’t occur to me how slippery and clingy they can be. Yes, both slippery and clingy at the same time, gotta love contradictions.

I decided this was a good size and amount of wool. That decision was pretty much arbitrary, but I did remember that it will shrink some when felted, so it’s good to make it a bit larger than you want it to end up as.

I decided the best way to make the opening in the wide end was by putting a bowl in it and letting things felt around that. I went with a plastic bowl, even though I had some ceramic ones I liked the shape and size of better, because I didn’t want the bowl breaking in the washer. Then I distributed the wool around the bowl and tied the nylon tight around it to keep things in place.

I tied a few strings along the length of the cornucopia hoping to keep things in place better and to add a bit of dimension to the finished piece that I could work with later to give it a woven look.

Then I tossed the piece into the washer, which is when things  went wrong. I think putting the bowl in there was the main problem, although the washer also may have been too rough for the nylon. Basically I think the bowl rubbed through the nylon around it and the whole thing fell apart. It might have worked if I had to whole bowl covered, and didn’t leave the edge of the bowl right against the nylon where it could rub. But I didn’t think of that at the beginning.

This is what I got out of the washer. It was very disappointing, and I dont think Ill be trying this particular technique again very soon.

I was just going to throw the whole mess away but I realized that the wool had felted into some interesting little shapes that are quite nicely felted, so I’ve decided to keep those. I have no idea what Ill do with them, but I may as well save them, they might inspire me later. If not I can always use them as pincushions or something. Or just throw them away later too.

I haven’t given up on making a cornucopia though! I’ve decided I’m going to try knitting and felting one. It should be pretty simple to knit, the first hat I ever tried to make was very triangular, so I know I can make the shape! And I have patterns for lots of different fruits and vegetables to knit, including a banana that has a zipper in the peel so you can actually peel it! Bananas aren’t exactly your traditional cornucopia food, but I like them and it’s cool, so it’s going in. I might try this wet felting technique again later when I have more patience and time for it, and once I’m not quite to peeved at the way it fell apart, but probably not this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration

I had an interesting train of thought about inspiration recently. I had just been to the thrift store looking for a particular type of picture frame to make a holder for earrings. I didn’t find the frame I wanted but I got a whole bunch of picture frames that I am going to use for needle felted pictures. I haven’t posted about my needle felted pictures yet but I will soon. Anyway, lots of these frames were quite small and when I saw them I was just hit with the inspiration to do small detailed studies of things like flowers, in these frames. It was one of those things that seemed like such an obvious idea once it occurred to me.

That got me thinking about where I get inspiration from and, of course, how to get more. I get lots of inspiration from strange dreams, not usually the whole dream but just an image or two from the dream that tends to stick with me. I also get lots of ideas from images that just sort of form in my head when I’m only mostly asleep. I think that’s what I miss most about when I used to sleep 12 or more hours a night on weekends in school. When I would sleep that much I would usually actually be sleeping more like 10 hours and spending a couple hours in the morning drifting in and out before I got up. Those times were when I got some of my best ideas.

Other artists’ work, of course, can be quite inspirational, but I tend to be hesitant about that, because I want to be inspired to do something unique, not copy someone else’s work, no matter how beautiful their work is. And then I found myself thinking that I wish I made more long drives, because I always seem to get inspiration after driving for a half hour or more. Of course, I don’t have the money to spend on gas to take long drives every day or even once a week or month. Then I realized that it’s not so much the driving, although the constantly changing scenery from a drive helps a bit, it’s the fact that I am forced to sit there for a long stretch of time with no busy work to do. It gives me a chance to quiet my body and the constant litany of thoughts about things I need to do, and just listen to my mind. And then I realized that that process sounds familiar. It sounds a whole lot like meditation. Just another reason I should meditate more.

If I’m working on a project and start to feel my inspiration slipping, or get stuck at a point, I like to take a break or go back to what originally inspired me. If that doesn’t work I find that talking to my mom is wonderfully helpful! It’s amazing how sometimes describing a project, and trying to answer questions about it, my mom always has good questions, really makes you think differently about it. Sometimes it seems like half my ideas on works in progress come to me smack dab in the middle of a conversation with my mom. Not that I ever tell her that, usually I just tell her the idea like I’ve had it all along, don’t want her to get a big head ;-D.

So what inspires you? Do you like to take long walks in park, read a book, watch a movie, clean the house, or take a nap? Do you have someone you always talk to about your projects? Or someone you go to when you’re stuck?

 

And just because I can’t seem to make a post without a picture, and it’s so pretty, here’s a picture of the awesome hand-made journal my parents brought me from Italy!

Isn’t it just so pretty?!?!?!?! *squee*

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