Christmas Thinking….I know it’s Early, like really Early

Now I hate holiday rushing as much as the next person, perhaps a wee bit more than average in fact. I am a firm believer in “One holiday at a Time!” I don’t like seeing Halloween candy when Labor day hasn't even happened yet, or worse the Christmas decorations that come out before the Halloween candy is not even on clearance yet! Be that as it may, there is one exception to this rule, and that is crafts. See if you want to make things for a holiday, you have to start early, there is thinking and planning to be done, and of course the time it takes to actually MAKE the stuff. Since I do like to make some of my Christmas presents, I have already started to think about what I might make, and for whom. Now real decisions yet, it is still technically summer after all, but the brain is always working! With that in mind I thought I would share with you the story behind my Air Dry Clay Ornaments. These ornaments were all created using a clay that doesn't have to be fired, which is good since I don’t have a kiln! Now since they don’t get fired, they can’t get glazed, which would be dull and boring, acrylic paint to the rescue! Each of these were created with a very specific person in mind. 

Moravian Star Ornament

Moravian Star Ornament

Take the Moravian Star, it was created for my Mom. The star is a classic Christmas ornament, and since she went to a college founded by the Moravians', it seemed a perfect choice for her. While the star isn't on the surface an overly complicated shape, I will say that making it out of clay turned out to be tougher than I thought. Making each of the arms of the star was the easy part, it was attaching all those arms to each other, and keeping them on the right angle, and straight, now that was the hard part! It took many an attempt, and more than a few false starts. In the end I am very happy with the way the shape turned out. The paint job was also very simple, just a little gold paint to give it that holiday shine.

Christmas Monkey

Christmas Monkey

The Monkey Ornament was just the opposite. The form of the monkey wasn't too tricky, as long as you don’t have long appendages floating off in space, they aren't too hard to work with. That’s why his arms connect back to the body, and why his tail tucks back into his back. This was one, where the paint made all the difference, before being painted he was a very boring monkey indeed. I think the paint adds character and a bit of Christmas cheer to the little guy! Since this little monkey was made for my nephew’s first Christmas, and since at that age, he was more likely to eat it that anything else, I was hoping my sister liked it, which she did.

Hippopotamus Ornament

Now the last ornament I am going to tell you about, is the Hippopotamus. A Christmas Hippo might sound like a strange choice for an ornament, but this Christmas Hippo was created for my former roomie, who collects them. So to me it made sense. I mean it’s not like you could go to a regular Christmas store and find one, so making one is perfect! This was the toughest of all the ornaments I've made by far. For one thing I’d never even drawn a hippo, let alone tried to sculpt one. It took many tries to get the proportions to something that made sense, even if it isn't anatomically perfect. There was one version where the mouth was so big it could have eaten it’s own head. That was not the look I was going for, so I had to start over on that part. Once I got it where i wanted it, and let it dry, the next challenge presented itself. How do you paint it to look real enough, but still cheerful? I think I achieved that, festive painted toe nails certainly add a touch of holiday whimsy, don’t ya think?

In the end I was able to achieve my goals of presents that were as personal as they were festive, and I had a little fun in the process!  I hope you liked them, and enjoyed hearing the how and why of their creation. Did this give you any ideas for holiday gifts for this year? Do you have a friend that collects something unusual and you know they’d love an ornament to add to that collection? Or is there someone on your list that you have an idea for an ornament, but can’t make it a reality? Let me know, and I can help you give the most personal gifts this year.

 
Please Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email



 

Christmas in July!

Christmas Tree Ornament

I know it's been a while since I last wrote and to the few people who've subscribed (thanks by the way!) I am sorry. Life sometimes get in the way. In this case it was in the form of a bath renovation that would not end.  Summer also just seems to make the time go so much faster, and me personally I like to spend as much time as I can outside when the weather is good.

My how the time flies, especially in the summer! I didn’t mean to be away for so long but the bathroom renovation that would not end kinda ate up my June. But now I am back just in time to talk about Christmas in July. I don’t know who came up with such a concept, but I’ve always liked it, so I thought this would be a great excuse to tell you the tale of my Polymer Clay ornaments, without waiting several months.

I first made ornaments as presents for Christmas 2008, that was the year I got laid off, so I had way more time than money. This plan also aided in my quest to give gifts that are personal and not typical, easier said than done, a lot of the time. I made my list, and checked it twice. I wanted to make each person one ornament that was specific to them. I also made a group of more general Christmas ornaments.

Snowman Ornament

Snowman Ornament

One of the first personal ones that jumped to mind was the snowman, since I have a friend who collects them. The basic shape is straight forward, it’s the little details, like his hat and scarf, that are fun and interesting to create. The only tricky part for this one was his arms. Polymer clay doesn’t do a great job of supporting itself when it is thin. In this case I made an armature to support the stick arms.

Another bunch that jumped to mind as a group, where the Wreath, Poinsettia, Christmas Tree, Holly Leaves and the Bells. These are all shapes that my family makes as Christmas cookies.  I did think back to how we ice them for inspiration on how to make them in clay. I think the wreath and the poinsettia are the ones that I am most pleased with. I just love the way the textures turned out. The last group I created were more general in nature, a stack of presents, and a group of candy canes, a fall of snowflakes, Christmas balls and even pieces of ribbon candy.

Some of the ideas I had for personal ornaments for friends and family I made out of air dry clay, painted with acrylics, but that is a story for another day. Hopefully one I will post about sooner rather than later!

So do any of you give personalized gifts at Christmas? Think you might want to this year, but don't have the time or skill? Drop me a line, and we can get you started nice and early on that Christmas list!

 

If you want to know what I am up to you can follow me on twitter @KCsCustomCrafts, or you can email me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com if you have questions about a custom craft for you.

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email
Wreath Ornament

Wreath Ornament

Holly Ornament

Holly Ornament

Candy Cane Ornament

Candy Cane Ornament

Poinsettia Ornament

Poinsettia Ornament

 

To buy or not to buy from the Registry?

I don't know about you, but I have mixed feelings about wedding registries. On the one hand, they are awesome and I wish they were common for all gift giving opportunities. The most advantageous part is, you can know with absolute certainty that what you are giving, will be wanted, liked and used. On the other hand, you also have certainty that the receiver with know exactly what you chose to spend on them. That's the part that I've never been comfortable with. I think what you spend on a gift does not determine how good a gift it is, how much it will be enjoyed does. This is harder to balance when you buy off the registry. 

Invitation Map

Invitation Map

Enter the custom gift! I (obviously) think custom gifts are a great idea! I think that creating  a keepsake out of the wedding invitation gives the couple something lovely for there home. And as a bonus, as the giver you know they liked the invitation, since they created it! The invitation keepsake I am referring to is my invitation map.  I think the combination of the couples wedding invitation and a custom map cut out, created a way to remember not just the when but the where of their special day. 

What do you think of this as a non traditional wedding present? Do you wish someone had commemorated your day with such a gift? Let me know in the comments! 

If you want to know what I am up to you can follow me on twitter @KCsCustomCrafts, or you can email me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com if you have questions about a custom craft for you, or as a gift.

 

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email
 

Chevrons everywhere! Or how to Surprise the Picky Mama.

Right about the time I started this site I found out one of the women I work, S. with was gonna have a baby. So I or course, offered to make her a blankie,  having a crafty friend does have its benefits. I asked S. what she wanted, and of she knew if it was going to be a boy or a girl. (It's going to be a boy) She gave me more direction then I'm used to, even showing me an existing blanket online that she liked, a yellow, grey and white Chevron. So how do you surprise someone, if they lay it all out for you? How do balance direction with creativity?

Classic Chevron Blanket

Classic Chevron Blanket

The timing of this blankie also gave me a great opportunity, to finally keep track on how long I actually spend making an average blanket. See, this is a question I have been asked a LOT but I've never had a answer or even a good guess. Since I've always had 4-5 months to work on a blanket it never mattered much. I don't think the average person would want to wait that long, so it’s great to now know what a real lead time will be for custom orders. I also learned that I need to get faster, because this blanket took me over 20 hrs to make!  

Whenever I am creating something for someone else I try to balance what I think they want, and what I think works best for the project. This blankie really wasn't much different, in a way it was easier, since I didn't have to guess at what she wanted! In the end, I think I got to put my spin on a classic design, and create a blanket I know she is gonna love!

I stuck to a Chevron pattern, because that was what she obviously wanted.  Since I didn’t need to focus on creating pattern, I instead focused on getting the color just the exact shade of yellow she wanted. I took a little liberty with the shade of grey, to find one that I thought worked best with the yellow she wanted. Chevron patterns abound if you look for them, the trick was picking the right one, and adjusting it to the size and look I wanted. With a little experimentation I had the look I wanted. I felt the Yellow needed to be the dominant color, so those rows are bigger than either the white or the grey.

How do you think it turned out? Do you like my take on the Classic Chevron? Did it give you an idea of the custom craft you want? Don’t worry if you aren't a fan of Yellow, color is always customizable! Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

If you want to know what I am up to you can follow me on twitter @KCsCustomCrafts, or you can email me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com if you have questions about a custom craft for you.

The Classic Chevron Blankie. 

The Classic Chevron Blankie. 

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email
 

A Baby Blanket for the Secret Keeper Mama

So you want a blanket for an expectant mama, but you don't know if they are having a boy or girl? What to do? This is where forgetting the traditional baby colors of blue for boys and pink for girls comes in handy. Not to mention that those traditions were reversed not that long ago.

When my friend J. told me she was expecting, I of course asked what she wanted for her blanket. To be honest I can’t remember if she didn't yet know the sex of the baby, or if she didn't want to share, or if she just didn't want to go the traditional blue route. One of her favorite colors is green, and she had plans for a green and yellow nursery so that was the way to go! J. is also not one for excessive frills, so clean and simple were also requirements. She wanted something the baby could use for a good long time, so practical she is!

Geometric Crochet

Geometric Crochet

So with those ideas in mind I started working on a drawing to create the pattern for her blanket. Once I had the pattern, off to the yarn store I went. I had the basic colors in mind, but I can never make the final decisions until I have the materials in my hands. After much comparison of this shade of green verses that one, and this yellow or that one, I had my palette of colors for her blanket. From a yellow so pale it is nearly cream to a vibrant  grass green, with a nice taupe shade for contrasting elements. After the colors are picked the real fun can begin!

I always love when the blanket moves from design to reality. I will admit that even when I have created a pattern for the blanket, I am always stopping to make sure it is looking the way I want it to. Sometimes this leads to undoing work, to move in a better direction, but it always leads to a better finished product. With this blanket it was all about having a good flow from one color into the next while keeping the amount of each color balanced. Once the pattern was complete I reversed it to create the border and then the trim got a shell detail. I think that borders really finish off a blanket nicely, like framing a photograph.

I hope you like this blanket, and have enjoyed learning it’s back story. Did it give you any ideas for non-traditional baby blanket? Let me know in the comments! Do you love the pattern, but aren’t a big fan of green? Don’t worry I could make you one in all the shades of whatever your favorite color is!

If you want to know what I am up to you can follow me on twitter @KCsCustomCrafts, or you can email me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com if you have questions about a custom craft for you.

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email
 

The Pictorial Blanket, or What was I thinking?

When I found out I was going to be an Aunt again I knew that I wanted to make a blanket for my soon to be second nephew. Since I am the second child, and he would be, I have an extra soft spot for him. As the second child, it always seems that you never get the best stuff, lots of hand me downs, and cast offs. I didn't want this for my nephew, so I set out to make his blanket extra special! 

I am always looking to learn new skills, so I didn't let my current skill set at the time impact my design of the blanket. I knew I would figure out a way to make it work.  I'm not sure where the image came from exactly. I knew I wanted it to be happy and like a children’s book illustration. 

Once I settled on the image of the sunny day and the apple tree, I set out to learn how to create such a thing! Enter much research into Intarsia and Fair Isle knitting. Since the pattern was more than just color blocks, Fair Isle was the way to go. Once I thought I had the basics down I jumped in and got to work. What I didn't anticipate was the amount of time I would spend on untangling yarn on the back side of the blanket, and making my transitions smooth! Instead of smoothly knitting along, it was more like knit a few, change colors, knit a few, change colors, stop, untangle, and knit a few more. The more color changes on a given line, the greater the opportunity for the yarns to get tangled. 

Since this blanket caused me more than a moment or two of grief, I haven't made another one yet. When creating any craft for someone else, I try to start with what I want it to look like, in my head, then on paper. It is only after I have worked out the design that I decide how to best execute the design. Sometimes this causes me headaches, like H's blanket, but it is the only way I know how to work. In the end I love the blanket, and it is one effort I am particularly proud of.  I love how big and soft it turned out. I hope my nephew H will always treasure it, or at least for a few more years! 

So if you like what you see, and want a custom piece for your next bundle of Joy, contact me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com  or Tweet me @KCsCustomCrafts

The starting point, a computer drawing

The starting point, a computer drawing

The Final Product! 

The Final Product! 

H. enjoying the Pictorial Blanket for the first time. 

H. enjoying the Pictorial Blanket for the first time. 

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email
 

So you want to get married on Halloween?

 

Well you won't be the first one to do so, for I know one couple, at least, has beaten you to it!  My friend L. and her now husband M. Wanted to get married on Halloween, and they wanted it enough to get married on a Tuesday!  M. and L. both loved the movie "The Nightmare Before Christmas"  and Halloween,  so that may have played a part in their decision for the wedding date, but to be honest it was several years ago now, so those details escape me. 

What I remember is wanting to help my friend realize her dream Halloween wedding. So I asked her if she would like me to make her a cake topper that would go along with the theme of the wedding. She said sure, or more likely sweet!

So I set off to find the perfect inspiration from the movie, that I could customize for her wedding. Once I had the basics of the characters down, I wanted it to be more L and less the character, so I persuaded her to give me pictures of her wedding dress.  Once I had those I was all set, I was able to change the characters typical clothes and put her in L's dress, and give her the same type of bouquet.  

The final Cake Topper on their cake

After the topper was done, now came the tricky part, getting it to the wedding over 2,000 miles away! Thankfully I was going to the wedding, which meant I didn't have to trust the postal system, hand delivery it would be. So I carefully wrapped it up, and boxed it up and took it as my carry-on for the plane. I was a bit concerned what it would look like going through the Xray machine, since there is a metal armature inside, but the TSA didn't bat an eye. The only scary moment was when I changed planes. I got halfway off the plane before I remembered it was in the overhead bin. Let me tell ya that trying to move back into a plane when everyone is trying to leave, is not easy.  I am happy to say that was the worst of the trip tribulations.  

The wedding turned out great they had jack-o-lanterns to line the aisle down the beach,  a justice of the peace dressed as Elvis, and the topper looked great on their spider web cake.  To this day I am really happy with how it all turned out, that I got to create something special for their wedding, and that they still have it in their home. 

 

UPDATE: L. and M. are getting ready for their 10 yr anniversary! 2 kids, and 3 moves later they still have the topper on display in their home year round. They still love the movie and the topper! 

So if you like what you see, and want a custom piece for your wedding contact me at KCsCustomCrafts@gmail.com  or Tweet me @KCsCustomCrafts

The Haloween Bride to be: L 

The Haloween Bride to be: L 

Share this Post!
Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest StumbleUpon Email