Wiggleton Ebenezer Worm

•June 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

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Wiggle E. Worm is a scoundrel. He sneaks up while you’re concentrating on painting a straight line, or glazing neatly, or just trying to do a good job like the girl scout you are. Before you know it, you’re a’wigglin’.

Welcome him to world folks.

So much Christmas

•February 5, 2012 • Leave a Comment

All December long, while I was busy making presents of various sorts, I kept thinking “ooooh, I want to share my progress on this!”…and then I’d remember that these things were secrets and I couldn’t show them openly on the internet until January. So I resolved to make a big post about all of them when the new year rolled around.

Roll around it did, and where was this post, you ask? I uh, um, uh, about that. At first my excuse was that I was recovering. Then I was trying to get back in to my regular daily rhythm. Then…yeah, you got me, it was all procrastination. So here we are in February. I’d say it’s a little late to be thinking about the holidays, but really at this point it’s cleverly early for next year. Yep.

StollenThis is just one of five stollen I made during the month (ok, so I only made the recipe three times, but one of those was split into three smaller ones). Stollen is what fruitcake should be – lightly sweet, flecked with orange and currants, delicious. The initial idea was to just make one as a gift, but then I got to thinking that I should really make a test stollen to see how it would turn out before I packed one up to mail off across the country. So I looked up a lovely recipe and made one for a party early in December. It was, as you might imagine considering I made so many, amazing, so a second was made and packed up to be mailed off. But I wanted more for myself, and there were more parties to attend, soooo…

Cyborg Skull NecklaceMy Etsy shop has been almost entirely filled with recycled circuit board jewelry of late, and I did give out a number of pieces from the Cyborg Series, as I call those pieces. This skull necklace was special among those – it’s a new shape for me, chosen because the recipient is the queen of all skulls.

Orange Carambola MobileBlue Carambola Mobile

My latest obsession website is Pinterest, and it led me to the origami tutorial for these Carambola flowers. Warning – the video is in German, which doesn’t mean someone who doesn’t speak the language can’t follow along with the visuals, it just might be a slight bit trickier. It takes a few tries to get them right but once you do, they’re fairly simple, and they look so pretty all strung up.

Mug SweaterJust a simple little mug sweater here, something to keep those drinks warm without burning any fingers. The mug is filled with the recipient’s sweetener of choice, of course. This was simple and quick to whip up, but I think it’s sort of cute if I do say so myself.

Ribbed HatMy latest favorite crochet trick is ribs. So simple, how did I not figure them out sooner? This hat more or less follows this pattern except I used sock weight yarn and adjusted the number of stitches to reach the same length. I was skeptical about the top closing up smoothly, but it’s pretty magical how well it works.

Santa CrowThis crow. Oh, this crow. I’m not sure why he came into our lives. One of the friends we spent Halloween with decided to buy it the day of at Spirit, even though he had nowhere to put it at home, no desire to bring it there, and we didn’t want it in our apartment (we weren’t even there most of the night). So it just sort of migrated around our tiny apartment for a few months, getting in the way. My retribution? Make it a little Santa hat and regift it back to said friend.

Face Scrubby SetTunisian crochet is another thing I learned in 2011. It has the unique quality of being smooth on one side and bumpy on the other, making it wonderful for scrubbies. I made several sets of these little washable (yep, that’s machine washable) cotton scrubbies and paired them with some homemade sugar scrub.

Wee GiraffeThis little guy went out a few days late, but I swear I was saving the best for last. You would think after making the Babyraffe and diligently tracking the pattern to write it out, I would follow it. But no, I’m silly, I made this one up as I went along. It’s a bit smaller and the details are different, more like a younger cousin than a brother to the original.

And with that, phew! I can wrap up Christmas. See you again sometime around November, holidays*!

* Those of you who like to play holiday music around July, lalalalala I can’t hear you!

A Tauntaun of Your Very Own

•September 24, 2011 • 2 Comments

Some time ago I posted about the tauntaun I made for Timmy of ThinkGeek for San Diego Comic Con. At the time, several people asked how they could make their own. Well folks, rejoice, because that is now a possibility.

This pattern is customized to fit Timmy the ThinkGeek monkey, but it could easily be adapted to fit other similarly sized stuffed animals or more extensively tweaked to fit something of a different size. A word of warning: I wasn’t really working with specific numbers of rows or stitches here, it was more of a “design on the fly” approach with lots of measuring to fit, and I suggest anyone attempting to make a tauntaun and Luke suit from my directions do the same, it helps make up for differences in gauge and yarn and all that stuff. I’m not saying it’s the best or most efficient way to do this, but it’s how I did things.

 

Feel free to post questions or problems as a comment here (I prefer that to emails because it allows others to see the question and learn from it) and I’ll do my best to help.

Continue reading ‘A Tauntaun of Your Very Own’

Finally, the Tree

•July 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

This project should have been finished at least six months ago. It’s been a long time coming. Looking at the photo of it below, it really doesn’t seem like it should have taken even close to so long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the results, I just haven’t absorbed the full weight of the design lessons this tree embodies.

The seed of the idea for this project began with my dissatisfaction with the boxes I kept my jewelry in. They were both designed for holding jewelry with little compartments and everything, but they just weren’t doing the job – plus it took two, one of which was quite bulky and took a lot of counter space, and I don’t even have all that much jewelry. I was ending up with a tangled mess of earrings and necklaces, to the point where if I wanted to wear one thing, I had to take everything in that compartment out to untangle it.

Something to hang on the wall seemed like a smart way to go, instead of taking up all the space on my nightstand or dresser (these boxes were with me in a few different living arrangements, and they were always problematic). That would also put the pieces I tend to wear often on display and hopefully streamline the difficult process of picking earrings for the day. The tree shape is just something I’m generally attracted to, I love to draw them and have for a long time. I’m not quite sure how to explain it, or if there is an explanation, or if there really needs to be.

There are actually lots of jewelry storage and display sculptures modeled on trees out there, in lots of different shapes and sizes. I found a number that were very pretty. None that I found fit my criteria though – they all stood on flat surfaces and were quite three dimensional, and thus wouldn’t help my space issue. I also found that despite taking up a lot of room, they didn’t fit many pieces of jewelry and usually just things that could be draped over the branches, so post backed earrings were problematic. I dug into my memory a little and turned up small earring holders they used to (perhaps still do?) market toward 11 year olds just starting to get jewelry and makeup, which were essentially just a round piece of wire mesh on a stand that earrings could be hung from. Somehow I had to smash these concepts all into one design. I hoped the composite would cover the design failings of each individual piece.

The result is a tree cut from fireplace screen, with the edges reinforced and wrapped in wire. The screen is a great inexpensive material that earrings – post back and hook type – can be hung from without damaging it over time. The branches and roots proved perfect for draping necklaces and bracelets over, but problematic in their thickness. This kind of screen is just wire woven together, it’s not joined in any way, and when it’s cut into thin pieces the weave starts to pop apart. On the one hand, wrapping wire around the edges held it together, but on the other hand, having the whole thing threaten to unravel made the wrapping a lot more tedious than necessary.

I should probably add that when I started the tree, I didn’t have the tools or space to do something like solder around the ends. It was all hand tools, no heat, nothing fancy. I personally think that limitations lead to greater creativity, and am pleased with how my simple (but labor and time intensive) solution turned out aesthetically. At the same time, having a rotary tool by the time I finished this off was very welcome, it allowed me to smooth out the remaining pokey edges quickly and avoid wrapping the entire perimeter. Sometimes a little step forward in technology is a good thing.

This is a lot of text for something that in the end is fairly basic. There really was a huge amount of learning on the fly with this thing though, from neatening my copper wire wrapped technique so it would spiral smoothly rather than zigzag back and forth, to shaping the brass wire into smooth curves without leaving plier marks everywhere, to holding the thing in place while I worked on one area without having another unravel before I got to it. I’ll admit it, I’m a little proud of my progress. I made something utilitarian, but at the same time it’s decorative and not purely useful. Look how pretty it is with all my baubles hanging on it!

It’s like a Spanish moss covered oak, or a weeping willow, but sparklier.

I would definitely like to make more like this, but…not like this. For one thing, the tree motif has to change. Maybe to another tree, maybe to a different shape altogether. The thin branches aren’t sturdy, and stronger thick ones work just as well. A built in hanger is called for, my tree is just held up with pushpins, and that’s something I might add to this piece as well. The technique of wrapping wire around all of the edges has pretty results, but it’s tedious. A simpler, faster way to clean up the edges is definitely in order, and I’m open to ideas. On its own this might not look like much, but as a prototype, there is some promise.

Also, for those who asked for a pattern for the tauntaun, it’s coming soon, I promise.

This Post Smells Even Worse on the Inside

•July 9, 2011 • 5 Comments

A few weeks ago, the website Think Geek put out a request for people to  make outfits for their mascot, Timmy the monkey. He gets photographed in all sorts of settings wearing these different things for various occasions. The costumes are specifically for San Diego Comic Con, but tend to have life beyond that. Heck yes I was going to make something!

It took a little brainstorming, but finally I settled on the above scene from Star Wars – what sticks out in my mind as the most bizarrely gross scene in the series, Luke stuffed inside a tauntaun.

I’m going to stop rambling and just commence with the photo dump. I’m pretty proud of how this turned out. >;{B

Timmy’s Luke Skywalker outfit:

The tauntaun:

The two united:

Nerd Chic

•July 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Lets start with a confession: The pendant I’m talking about in this post is crude and unfinished. I mean, it’s done, it’s just rough. I’m telling myself it’s more like a rustic stew full of large chunks of vegetables served with a hunk of bread torn from the fresh loaf than a light, dainty creamed soup served in an interestingly shaped modern bowl with a fancy swirl of crème fraiche. That is partly true, but the other half of the truth is that this is my first experiment in the realm of recycling computer parts into jewelry. There are a few techniques that are new to me, a few that I’m making up as I go, and all in all I think it came out fairly pretty with that considered. Nothing exploded in the process of making it either, which is a small miracle and cause for celebration in its own right.

Most of the above pendant started out as pieces of a broken computer. The idea for this came in to my head when my laptop’s keyboard kicked the bucket. I paid an utterly unreasonable amount to have some people-who-shall-remain-nameless-but-often-drive-around-in-VW-bugs-with-their-logo-on-the-side fix it, and when they finally did so (after many, many weeks, I might add), they returned the defunct keyboard to me like I was going to be able to do something with it. It turned out they weren’t so far off, because just having the thing meant I had to rip it apart down to its smallest components. Those components are actually rather pretty.

Then for a long time I did nothing with it. The idea was there, almost exactly like this pendant in my head, but the motivation was not. That is, until two more dead keyboards found their way to me via a garage raid. Now I had so much material I couldn’t just tuck it under the coffee table and forget about it.

I love a lot of the concepts behind this project – for one, I’m recycling, which I’m always for. I’m also exposing the inner workings of a computer component that most people don’t ever really see, and finding that they are actually rather beautiful.

The backing of the pendant is the metal bottom plate of the keyboard (which is inside of the plastic case you see, if it’s an external keyboard). On top of that is the clear plastic sheet with lines and dots on it that makes up the next layer in a keyboard and which probably does something fancy like make pressing the keys work, but I’m not smart or educated enough to really know. All I know is that it’s pretty.

To give the whole thing some rigidity and durability, this assembly is covered in clear resin – and to hold in that resin, I bent copper wire around the edges and used it to make a shallow cup. Essentially what I’m saying is I made a lazy brilliant bezel setting. Sort of. It leaked resin while it was curing (did I mention this was my first time using resin and I didn’t really know what I was doing anyway?), making an uneven layer across the back which was easy enough to sand off but left that part with a rough texture. Neat looking, but it made extra work and was not the best way to do things.

I do plan to make a lot more of these though. Not exactly like this – I’ll probably vary the shapes, make some pendants or earrings or beads, and refine the technique so they’re cleaner and neater in the future. Some will probably be made with other parts of dead computers (I’m looking at you, pretty blue plastic being used as the stand in the above photo). It’s an unrefined start, but an exciting one.

Ugly Sweater Family, Part 1

•June 21, 2011 • 1 Comment

Sometimes inspiration doesn’t pussyfoot around, it just comes straight at you. That’s what happened with this project. I got a phone call from Lory, a family friend, a while back talking about a store his friends had opened that specialized in recycled goods, that he was working on paintings for it, and that he thought it would be a neat idea for me to use recycled materials for some of the goofy amigurumi stuffed animals I make. Doesn’t take much more than that to get the wheels turning in my head. I’ve wanted to take apart a sweater for a while anyway, ever since I saw instructions for it and realized just how easy it is. So I found one at a thrift store.

To make a sweater takes a lot of yarn. When you take it apart again, you wind up with close to the same amount, maybe a little less if you account for chopping off ends and any parts that get tangled. A first timer like me is bound to accidentally cut the wrong thread here and there, meaning that for a section of the sweater you only pull out short strands instead of one big long piece suitable for re-use. I kept all of the little bits and pieces though, they’re being chopped up into fluff and used to supplement the stuffing. I like to think of it as transplanting a little bit of the guts of their former incarnation into each one.

To make an amigurumi generally does not take all that much yarn. I was going to get a lot of stuffed animals out of this one sweater. Enough to make a whole family! Thus, the ugly sweater family is begun.


Here are the matriarch and patriarch of my first ugly sweater family. This particular sweater was made with two different kinds of yarn, one green and one fading rainbow vomit colors, alternated in stripes. It’s admittedly not the ugliest sweater I’ve ever seen, but there’s a certain something to it that made me say “yeah, this thing is ripe for a new life”. Somehow I didn’t connect the two different colors with the fact that they were two different yarns when I looked it over in the thrift store (I didn’t figure it out until I unraveled to the first color change in the sleeve), which probably reveals my relative newbie status at this. I think of it as great luck – the first family is distinctly interspecies (interracial?)!

Mom and dad look pretty different, how will their traits combine in their children? Only time will tell. Stay tuned to see how this goofy family grows. I plan to keep going until I run out of yarn from the sweater. Something tells me this is a fertile couple.

 
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