Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Are you as tired of those ugly wimpy silver or green wire hangers that are available to purchase for the holiday season?
So I decided to take my despair into my own hands and spend a little crafty time with my 20 gauge colored wire.
Here's the fun alternative I came up with...
Whimsical Swirled and twirled coils that are perfect for a fun Christmas (or anytime) display!
They are simple to make with a few standard tools, just a spin of your fingers and voila! In a matter of minutes you will have a whole collection of beautiful ornament hangers to decorate with!
Your ornament collection will thank you!
20 gauge wire in various colors
Round nosed needle-nose pliers
Wire cutters or strong scissors
Extra large cuticle stick (approx. 1/4-inch diameter)
1. Keeping the wire attached to the spool (to limit waste), pull out slack of 10 inches to work with and grab the end of wire with needle-nose pliers.
2. Bend into a 3/4 circle (not quite complete). The 3/4 circle should look like this...(see below)
3. Put the pliers down and grasp the partial circle between your thumb and pointer finger (flat across the surface) and begin to wind the wire into a flat coil.
4. It will eventually look like this...(see below). Don't worry about making it exactly perfect, the whimsical look is enhanced by lack of perfect symmetry...a good reason to relax and enjoy the process!
5. When the coil is approximately 4-5 rows (or as large as you prefer), bend the wire at an angle to come straight upward from the coil swirl. (see below)
6. Take the large cuticle stick with the pointed end directed towards the center of the coil (a larger cuticle stick will make a wider coil, a smaller one will be a skinnier coil), and hold tightly with your fingers while simultaneously holding the coil (this can be tricky as the stick likes to slip out of the grip, but you'll get the hang of it!)
7. Then begin wrapping the wire at the pointed end of the stick. It will gradually widen as you wrap up the tapered end of the stick, coiling it upward towards the thick part.
7. Continue wrapping up the stick for approximately 7 turns (or as many as you like), then bend the wire straight along the stick to begin creating the hanger hook.
8. Bend the wire into a hook shape approximately 1-1/2-inch long on each side.
9. Trim the end of wire, leaving enough length to form a nice hook to hang for decoration.
10. Using needle-nosed pliers, grasp the end of the hook and bend around into a tiny loop.
11. This tiny loop will keep the hanger from scratching any of your precious ornaments, or snagging anything that might rub against it.
12. Voila! You are now an official ornament hanger maker!!
12. Give yourself a pat on the back, and get ready to start your holiday decorations...its never to early to start!!
Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think! And please share you photos so we can see what magical things you are doing with your whimsical ornament hangers!!
With Sugarplum Hugs!
Friday, March 20, 2015
When I discovered the technique for making faux glass eyes using polymer clay, I was over the moon! It was on a random Youtube trail that led to a treasure trove of crafting information. There are so many uses for these, my mind is reeling! Not only suitable for doll eyes, they can also be used to create unique jewelry & artwork.
They really do look like glass!
Learning about Lisa Pavelka® Magic Gloss UV Resin was a great find. It dries/cures using either direct sunlight (UV rays) or a UV light, such as nail-gel drying lights. I happen to have one of those from 25 years ago when I thought I needed my own for my new "gel" nails...I think I used it twice...then it sat in my bathroom cabinet...until now!
I have been sculpting miniatures with polymer clay since the late 1970's but had not yet discovered that I could make such scrumptious eyes for my crafting desires.
The Youtube video that I discovered, quite unexpectedly, on a random excursion has enchanced my crafting experience and given extraordinary embellishment to my creations. If you would like to watch the original video tutorial that I learned how to make these eyes, you can find it here:
I have altered my eye-making process slightly from hers, finding it easier to eliminate the mold-making process for simpler "hole punched" versions which turn out just as splendidly. She has many other eye tutorials with techniques you may wish to explore. Her video tutorials are very detailed and will give you thorough instructions that won't leave you confused.
White Polymer Clay
I used Fimo for this project. I think Fimo works best because it has a firm consistency and is not too soft (even the "soft" version is more firm then Sculpey). You need the clay to hold its shape well as you add the colors, to keep the round shape.
(Not Oil Pastels)
(Such as used for drawing. Available at all craft stores)
*Optional: Mica Powders, Embossing Powders for color accents
Black Acrylic Paint
(to paint pupils)
Lisa Pavelka® Magic Gloss UV Resin
(I purchased from Amazon.com you can view the link below)
Nail "dotting" tools or Round Domed scultpting tools
These are inexpensive at the beauty supply store. I got mine on sale at Sally Beauty Supply, for $7.99 for a set including various sizes.
For larger sizes, you will need to buy them from the polymer clay tools area of your local craft store. You can also use whatever random item you can find that will allow you to press a rounded "crater" in a small piece of polymer clay. This will be the base for the eyeball.
These sculpting tools are fantastic and come in larger sizes which can be used for a multitude of sculpting and crafting situtations.
Micro-Brushes, Small Paintbrushes or Q-tips®
As described in the Fairysinmypond video tutorial, I purchased some micro brushes from the model/hobby section of my local Hobby Lobby store. These are more like tiny "puffs" at the end of the plastic stick, allowing for easy "pick-up" of pastel chalk dust.
Exacto Blade/Craft knife
Used to scrape chalk pastels to form a dust which is applied to the center of the eye to form iris colors.
Leather Hole-Punch Tool (with assorted sizes)
Available at craft stores. I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby.
Let's Get Started!
1. Knead and soften clay then roll into a long snake shape. Flatten to approx. 1/8" (inch) thick. Smooth out fingerprints or markings on the clay to smooth.
2. Using an exacto knife or craft blade, scrape along side or edge of white chalk pastel to form a small pile of white dust on a piece of aluminum foil. You will use this much like "flour" when you are making bread, to keep the stuff from sticking!
3. Using the hole-punch with the size you have chosen, press the hole punch first into the pile of white pastel dust, tap off excess, then press into the clay strip to form round eye bases.
Depending on your craft project, the size of the eyes you will need can vary. Experimentation is your best friend. My suggestion is to make lots of varied sizes so you have a lot of choices when it comes time to use them on a project.
*If the clay sticks inside of the tool, just push it out with a cotton-swab or piece of chenile stem. The eye "crater" indentation you will bemaking with the sculpting tool will press out any markings the cotton-swab might leave on the clay in the removal process. But if you dust the tool well with a tap of chalk dust, most of the circles will stay put on the strip of clay until you pull away the excess.
4. Using a rounded end sculpting tool, press a "crater" carefully into the center of the clay disc, forming an indentation for the iris color. The more you do, the easier it gets.
You can see from the above photo, that I was able to press out all of the markings from the ones that got stuck inside of the hole punch tool. I have the piece of chenile stem in the photo because thats what I used to poke out the stuck pieces.
5. Using an exacto blade/craft knife, scrape the end or side of chalk pastels in the colors you have chosen for your eyes, onto a work surface of aluminum foil. All combinations work well together, so use your imagination.
6. Using your micro-brush, gently dip it into the chalk pastel powder, then carefully (trying not to drop powder on outside of crater) then dab the micro-brush with color into the eye crater, tapping and lightly pressing the color into the unbaked polymer clay. Continue dipping into the color dust, then dabbing into the crater until you have achieved a well saturated color. If you wish to make varigated color eyes, dab colors into separate areas of the crater as you lay it in.
The photo above shows the first color (red) laid into the crater, for rainbow eyes. Each color is carefully placed inside to cover all white areas. Once you have finished laying in the colors, take a small brush dipped in the white chalk powder and go around the outside of the eye-white, brushing from the base upwards towards the crater edge, using the white powder to help clean up any color dust that may have escaped from the crater.
7. Using the same round tool that you made the crater with, press gently but firmly into the color dust to secure it to the clay crater, being careful not to lose the round shape.
8. You can add some optional "sparkle" to the eyes by adding a few tiny flecks of mica powders or embossing powder (Srapbooking section of the craft store), on top of the chalk pastel color. Add a tiny amount (especially if you are using embossing powder) so you don't cover your initial colors totally from view. Press the embellishment powders into clay with the round tool to secure.
9. Bake eyes (prior to painting the black pupil) in a 275 degree F. oven for 12-15 minutes. Ovens vary, so do a "test bake" with one pair of eyes first, before baking an entire batch. You would be heartbroken if they ended up burnt! See package instructions for recommended baking times and temperatures for other types of polymer clay.
I like to make my eyes in pairs on separate tiny pieces of aluminum foil so I can keep them together and make them as similar as possible, then bake them directly on the tiny piece of foil that I transfer to a baking sheet. If you have a ceramic tile, they are great for baking polymer clay, and you can bake them directly on the ceramic tile.
If you find that the aluminum foil piece slides around, you can temporarily secure it by placing a small piece of double-stick tape underneath. This will secure it to your work surface (or work tray, as I like to use). When you are ready to bake, carefully remove the double stick tape from the foil (do this slowly and very carefully so you do not disturb the shape of your eyes) and place on your baking sheet or ceramic tile for baking.
10. After baking, allow eyes to cool completely. They will still be flexible while they are warm, but will firm up once cooled.
*If you used embossing powder, you will see that it has gently spread across the iris and created an irridescent effect, depending on what color you used.
11. Using a very small dotting tool, take a tiny bit of black paint and touch it to the direct center of the eye crater to make the "pupil". Allow to dry completely.
12. Using the same round scultpting tool that you made the eye "crater" with, dip into the Lisa Pavelka® Magic Gloss (just as if it was a paintbrush) then drop the resin carefully into the eye cavity. You want a nice rounded dome to form over the crater, so if you need additional resin, dip it in again and drop additional resin to form a full rounded eye.
You will be amazed at how big of a dome you can achieve with this resin. Be careful not to allow it to fall over the edge of the crater though, because once a "leak" happens, you will need to do some wiping and clean-up around the eye with drips. This is not a happy moment to endure. But everything can be repaired, so do not fret! Simply wipe off and start again.
*The Lisa Pavelka® Magic Gloss resin will not dry on its own. You need to either place it in direct sunlight to cure, or use a UV light for curing. I use my gel nail polish UV light dryer that I purchased 25+ years ago. I barely used it for my short-lived fake-nail experience, but I kept it in my bathroom cabinet for some crazy reason...and now I know...the crazy reason...these EYES!!!
I am crazy for these eyes!
I love them so much that I plan on making some fun jewelry pieces that I can wear! I'm letting my imagination run wild, so stay tuned!!
I hope you enjoy exploring the world of polymer clay and its many wonderful possibilities!
Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think you ofthis project, and what you might be able to make with these magical eyes!
Have Fun Being Creative!!
With Sugarplum Hugs!
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
As I have mentioned previously, I have a mad love affair with miniatures.
Itty Bitty ANYTHING makes me happy...okay, giddy!
This litte leprechaun is a perfect example!
I call him "Smijjin O'Toole"...it just fits.
He is about 1-1/2" tall, give or take a tad. I made it as a Good Luck charm for the upcoming year...having my own leprechaun couldn't hurt, right?!! It can be a pocket-charm or you can add a jumpring to wear it on a necklace.
It is crafted by creating a wire armature, then wrapping evenly with fine weight yarn or embroidery thread, then creating clothing using colored thread/yarn, and accessories such as his hat. I chose to leave his face blank so he has the ability to create whatever magic he needs with the appropriate expressions!
20 or 22 gauge wire
(I used copper color, but silver or any color is fine to use)
Deborah Norville Collection "Serenity" yarn
(sample uses cream color for armature & skin tone and uses varigated color yarn cut apart to make shirt & pants colors)
Embroidery thread in assorted colors
(hair, hat & shoes)
Scrap piece of Chenile Stem (pipe-cleaner) for hat
Tacky Craft Glue (Aleene's® Fast Dry works great)
Nail Polish: Green for Lucky Clover & Glittery Green for a top glaze
Small Sharp Scissors
Wire Cutters or Heavy Duty Scissors
Work Surface or Plastic Tray to contain project
1. Take a 5" (inch) piece of wire and bend in half, keeping a rounded fold (top of head).
2. Squeeze just under the bend to form a neck area.
3. Twist to secure.
4. Continue twisting to form the torso. The ends become the legs.
5. Take a 3" (inch) piece of wire (for the arms) and lay behind the torso just under the head.
6. Wrap one side of wire around the torso to secure.
7. Repeat with the opposite side wire to secure.
8. I used Deborah Norville Collection "Serenity" yarn to wrap the wire armature. You can also use embroiderery thread in flesh tone or any color of your choice.
9. Place a small line of glue along the lower half of arm, then lay yarn/thread across wire and begin wrapping tightly in place, covering wire, leaving 1/8" of the wire end open (DO NOT CUT THREAD), then carefully bend wire inward towards body (creating a tiny loop as the hand) with the thread still attached.
10. Place a tiny spot of glue on the thread and wire then continue wrapping up the arm. Overlap the thread as you are wrapping if you find that the limb is too skinny. When you get to the top of arm, end the wrap on back side and place a small spot of glue, then secure the thread/yarn and cut off.
11. After cutting the thread, place a tiny spot of glue on top of the cut end then use your clean finger to swipe across the glue and thread end to press flat in place. The glue will dry clear and will help to hold other wraps in place for additional security.
(You can see from this photo above, that the arm is a bit thick...thicker then I like actually...I had forgotten to take photos of this part of my original leprechaun and had to make a re-do so I could show you details, so the arm is not accurate for what the finished doll is.)
12. Repeat wrapping on opposite arm, then take thread up to neck area (no need to cut the thread after finishing the second arm), and wrap up neck to top of head. Place small dot of glue on top of head to keep thread from rolling off. Swipe your clean finger across glue to spread and cover threads to secure.
13. Continue wrapping thread to create a full oval head shape, then place small dot of glue on back of head, secure thread in place then trim off. Apply additional glue across back of head and swipe with a clean finger to spread glue across threads to secure in place.
14. Wrap legs as done for the arms, leaving a larger bend/loop at the end for the feet.
15. Place a small dot of glue above bend for foot and continue wrapping up leg.
17. Finish off thread end at back side of top of leg.
18. Wrap opposite leg then continue wrapping up torso to fill out to the size you desire. Mine is a svelt leprechaun but you can create a pot-bellied leprechaun if you prefer!
19. You can see from this photo (above) that it would be really easy to transform the body into a scary "Mummy" for Halloween! Just leave some threads hanging in various places and voila!
20. These varigated yarns from Deborah Norville Collection® Premier yarns are ideal for making thread wrapped doll clothing. You can cut the colors into separate pieces as needed and get a huge palette of colors to choose from at a fraction of the cost of buying multiple skeins of yarn colors. They have cool muted tones as well as bright jewel tones that give a different look than the embroidery thread colors offer.
(*Sorry I forgot to take a photo beginning to wrap the shirt!)
21. To wrap the shirt, start with securing the thread with a dot of glue at the back of the torso. Wrap evenly to the shoulder area, then wrap a few criss-cross times across the chest/back areas to hide the armature wrapping that may be showing through. Do not cut the thread just take it over to an arm and wrap down to the length you want the sleeve to be, then wrap back up the arm for a second layer of color. Now take the thread across the upper body (in the easiest most diguisable place) and begin wrapping the opposite arm down to the corresponding sleeve length, and back up to the top, then glue off the end at the back of arm/torso area.
Even before he has his pants and hair, I can tell he's a feisty lil guy!
22. Wrap pants by gluing the end of thread as an anchor point at back of torso just below the bottom edge of shirt, then wrap upper pants to cover armature, then begin to wrap down the leg to length desired. Be sure to leave room for boots/shoes.
He is starting to come together!
23. To make his boots, first take your thread (color of choice) and with a tiny anchor point of glue at bottom of (bent) foot, then taking it across the toe with a dot of glue on the toe; allow to dry for 2-3 minutes, then continue wrapping around foot up to the shoe/boot height you desire.
These leprechaun boots are made for walkin'!!
24. To make curls for your leprechaun's hair and beard, wet the embroidery thread and wrap around a toothpick then allow to dry completely.
25. Slide dry curls off toothpick for soft supple curls. If you want stiffer curls, you can put a bit of liquid starch on the embroidery thread, but it gets pretty stiff.
26. Cut curls into small pieces (approx 1/8" - 1/4" long) for my leprechaun boy...but if you want to make a girl, cut the curls longer.
27. Place a generous amount of glue on head in the place you want hair to be. I generally start with 2 or 3 strands at the top of head framing the face for "bangs". Then I add a strand or two to each side of the face. From there, fill in the back and top of head, nestling the curls snuggly with the glue tighly next to each other so you hide the head underneath.
28. Make sure that no white "scalp" shows through on your leprechaun's head...we don't want a balding fellow, do we??
29. As you can clearly see, Smijjin O'Toole has magically appeared with a beard...Sometime during the wee midnight hours, it just appeared on his face!
Okay, maybe his beard didn't just appear...maybe I forgot to take photos of gluing those teensy weensy curls to his chin? But isn't it more fun to think it grew all by itself?
30. The tophat begins with a scrap of cotton chenile stem. Fold over 1/8" of the stem end. Put a small dot of glue to anchor the end of thread that will cover the tip of the top of the tophat. *When you wrap wire or chenille stems it is very difficult to hide the exposed end, so it is important to hide it as best as possible when you begin, such as is done here.
31. Wrap tip of chenille stem approx 3/16" (size of a matchstick head), adding a swipe of glue to secure it. Continue wrapping to create a tophat shape or you can make a different style as your imagination leads you.
32. To make the brim of hat, begin wrapping thread at base of tophat wrapping on chenille stem, then add thin line of glue along each round of the thread that is wrapped upon itself (applied with a toothpick) to build up the tophat brim. Approx 3 or 4 rounds should be enough to create a nice brim. Cut of the thread, securing in place with an extra swipe of glue with a clean finger, if necessary.
33. To add a hat band to your tophat, pick a color and glue an anchor point to the back of tophat just above the brim. Wrap twice and glue at back to secure in place.
34. Using metallic gold embroidery thread cut 4 small pieces (1/16" each) then glue in place to form a "buckle" on the hat band.
35. Cut tophat off of chenille stem.
36. Decide where you want to place your hat on the leprechaun.
37. Place a small puddle of glue on head to attach hat.
38. Attach hat to head and press firmly to secure. Set aside to dry.
I also added a stripe to his shirt. Just one wrap of a contrasting color to add some character to his clothing.
To make the Lucky 4-Leaf Clover:
Using 22 gauge wire, wrap a loop around a tootpick
Holding the two wire ends, twist to form a loop.
Continue twisting for 3 full twists to secure. *Wire can break easily if it is bent back and forth, so twist, do not bend back and forth.
Remove the loop from toothpick and repeat the process to create a second loop and twist to secure.
Repeat the process until you have 4 loops, then bring the two wire ends together, gathering the 4 loops together forming them into a clover shape with petals evenly spaced apart. Twist the wire ends together as you hold firmly to the top 4 loops, making one stem.
Gather green nail polish and some glittery green for enhancement on top, if you like it. *Old thick nail polish works best but you can definitely use new polish as well. I have a 3-leaf clover above, but 4-leaf clovers are thought to be the lucky ones.
With your nail polish brush draw the polish across the wire loops one at a time. The polish will grab onto the wire frame of each loop and fill in the middle. If your loops are really large, make sure to be touching both sides of the loop wire so the polish will grab, otherwise the polish will not grab the framework and fill it in. This is why the thicker polish works best, it grabs the wire framework.
Using embroidery thread, wrap the wire "stem" to cover with green. Anchor it with a small amount of glue on the wire.
Continue wrapping on glue covered wire to secure it firmly in place.
Attach the lucky 4-leaf Clover by tying it snuggly to leprechaun's arm with green embroidery thread to match the stem wrapping. Tie a knot on the back side, then trim and place a tiny amount of glue on knot end to keep from coming untied. Coil up the stem end by wrapping a few times around a toothpick to give it a cute curl.
Your Luck has Arrived in Adorable Style!!
Be sure to let me know what you think about the project in the comments below and post photos of your creations, I would LOVE to see them!!!
With Big Sugarplum Hugs!