A Creative Dream

A Creative Dream

A little blog about the life of a somewhat lost dreamer....looking for my grace in this crazy world.

22 December 2016

A Froebel Star...

I'm going to leave you with one last project from the archives before I take a break for the year. It's paper, go figure...I never work in paper.  I'm taking a break to enjoy the holidays I celebrate at the end of the year, and will return in the new one. 

Until then...May light and joy fill your world, may you shed the old that is holding you back, may you learn from it as you move into the new.  May you ever move forward on your path...and may love always surround you.

I find that people tend to make things far more difficult than they need to be most of the time.  Especially when we are trying to create things.  Normally, I try to ascribe to the KISS method of things (Keep It Simple Stupid), but sometimes I just cannot do it.  Every year I make these stars, and every year they make me crazy.  Ok, crazier.  I can never, in spite of the fact I made them the year before, and the year before that, and the year before that, remember quite how to do them.  I try to make them far more difficult than they really are.

This is a Froebel star.  You may have heard them called a German Star, a Moravian Star, or other names.  It's attributed to Friedrich Froebel, the same man who proposed the concept of kindergarten.  What it really is, is a mathematical principle disguised as a star.  (That's how I like my mathematical concepts...disguised.)  I think they are beautiful...simple, sweet...just perfect.

They also fit perfectly into this KISS theory.  They take only four strips of paper, a bit of weaving and folding, and ta-da..a star.  I breeze right through these, until the last step.  The *&()$#*( folding (bending?), curving part that makes the point. I don't know why, but I try to make that point far more difficult than it is.  Drives me nuts.

Luckily, I found a great video on Origami Nut that makes it easy.   They make the perfect last minute package decoration, or do a whole bunch and hand them out to everyone!

20 December 2016

A coloring page...

For those of you who are into this adult coloring thing... why do you like it?  I have picked up a few of the books and thumbed through them, but I don't find an entire page of the same pattern particularly interesting, so I'm curious. 

And... here's an elephant for you to color. Let me know if you use it and what you think of it.  (Right click on the elephant and copy, open in your word processing program and paste.  Enlarge to full page.)

(The fine print:  you cannot use this elephant for anything other than personal enjoyment.  It may not be published in any way, and may only be re-posted if it includes a link back to my original post. you may not remove my name from the drawing.)

19 December 2016

Sock monkey...

So, besides abandoning things this weekend, I got the rest of my Christmas shopping finished, most things are even wrapped, lots of baking done, and two ornaments finished.

So, time to think of the new year... anyone participating in choosing a word for the year ahead?  What have you chosen?

17 December 2016

A little abandoning...

Christmas shopping is finished (whew) and I'm thrilled that I'm out of that fray.  But, as often happens, I do need to run to the grocery to get more supplies to bake goodies. So, while I'm out today I will be abandoning ornaments...

Are you guys doing random, or not so random, acts to surprise and make others smile? 

13 December 2016

Spiky ball tutorial...

Originally published in 2012, this is one of the most viewed tutorials I have on the site (more than 15,000)... here it is again, just in time for the holidays... (these are great made out of wrapping paper y'all...)

I was wondering what in the world I would share with everyone to start the new year off right, and then I opened my email. Y'all seem to really like my spiky balls... at least judging by the number of emails asking how I made them and requesting a tute. Honestly, I didn't share these earlier because I thought everyone knew how to make them. I remember doing them with my grandmother when I was little, so they're not something new. I was wrong... who knew? Always one who likes to give my readers what you want, seems the perfect thing to share to begin this new year. So here we go... the first tutorial of 2012...You know I use some really technical tools to create what I do, so let's hope you all have them... ready? You need:
Something round, about the size of what you want your finished ball to be. I used a blank cd (actually the spacer you get when you buy a mega bunch of cds). I have also used jar lids, the tops of cans, small plates, and even, from time to time, a drafting compass, although very infrequently. A sheet of white copy paper to draw the pattern on, a pencil, scissors, old book pages, and glue. You will also need some heavy thread, I used perle cotton, a needle, two sequins or tiny plastic washers (use a hole punch to punch them out of a plastic lid, and make a hole in the center) and two beads slightly larger than the hole in the sequin or washer. And, of course, my favorite handy-dandy-all-around-tool... the bamboo skewer.
First, you make the pattern. Using your circle, draw around it onto the white paper. I also drew inside the circle at the center of the cd just to give myself a reference point for later.Cut out the circle. You need to fold it so that you have 8 equal sections. That means you fold it in half, then fold that semi circle in half. Open it, and do it all over again so that you have eight folds. I marked the lines with a pencil, and then marked each line 1/2" out from the center fold. When I'm cutting the book pages later I won't go any farther down than that mark, leaving a solid center. You've now got your cutting pattern.Stack a few of the book pages and use whatever you made your original circle with to make a circle on the pages.

You can either cut them out now, or you can use your pattern to draw your cutting lines, then cut out the circle and the lines.

And, ta-da, there you have it... the beginning of the spikey balls.... Now, let me reassure you at this point, if your circle wasn't cut out perfectly... you're doomed. But... not really. The circles do not have to be PERFECTLY round. And, the cutting into the circles doesn't have to be perfectly even, just close. One thing I would caution about, if you stack too many of the pages, when you cut, especially the straight cuts from the outside of the circle toward the inside, you may well get very unevenly spaced sections. Trust me on that one... been there, done that. Should that happen, you have to toss that bunch and make new ones. Otherwise, you know I always encourage you to embrace the minor imperfections... it will all work out just fine.
Here comes the time consuming part. Grab your circles (you need about 17 for each ball you want to create), your bamboo skewer, and the glue, settle yourself in and turn on something entertaining on TV. Position your skewer so that the tip is almost in the center of one of the sections of paper.Wrap the paper around the skewer to create a cone shape. The sharper the point the better, and glue. Be sure to hold the paper for a few seconds so that you know it has adhered, trying to re-glue them later is not fun. Learning to make that really sharp point takes a bit of practice, probably took me making four or five balls before I became pretty consistent, so don't get discouraged, just keep going.When you have all of your points rolled, use the sharp end of your skewer to put a hole in the center of your piece. Once you have them all ready, it's time to string them.Completely ignoring the glue on my fingers, thread your needle with what you have chosen to use as thread. I used a neutral colored (832) perle cotton. Insert your needle into the bead, then through the sequin or washer.String seven of the stars, all with their "open" centers facing the same direction. Then string the remaining eight stars with their open centers facing the other direction. Be sure to not let everything fall off of your thread. It happens... and if it does, just restring... won't take that happening many times to make sure that it doesn't again.When you have all the stars on, load the sequin or washer, then the bead... then take your thread back down through the sequin/washer.Run your threaded needle all the way back through the stars and come out where you originally.Bring your needle up through the sequin/washer and through the bead (along side the thread that is already there).Position a knot, and gently, but firmly, tighten it. Be sure to double or triple tie it... making sure to not get any of the points caught in it...And there you go... a spiky ball. Simple, huh? If you want to get really fancy, as we did when making them for our tree when I was little, you can put glitter on them... just do it after you roll the tips and before you thread them... and be sure to let them dry completely before you string them.Personally, I love the simplicity of them, all stacked in and around a container on the table.

Note... Because the final steps can be a bit of confusing... it can be a bit tricky if you aren't watching it done.  I've created a little diagram below that might help.

 Use the same beading technique for the top, and the bottom of the ornament.

10 December 2016

Matchbox ornament, part two...the inside.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-DkEJiWlDatg/Tll6YGWOYWI/AAAAAAAAE_c/uwtTkFjtLpQ/s1600/DSC00656-1.JPGNow to the inside of the match box. I've lined the inside with another part of the book page that has been painted light blue. First the page was painted, then I tore the strip the height if the inside of the box, and added the length of the sides. Glued it down, being careful not to get air bubbles again, and then added the short sides by tearing strips their length and gluing them in.

Gotta let it dry again (good heavens this patience thing... ) 

Now, I have a plan for this little thing... snow, snowman, trees... so I need to add some white paint for the snow. a little splatter to make it look as though snow is falling, and glitter to make it sparkle... It's a pretty simple inside.

Of course... it still needs the tree and snowman.

First, the tree.

Several lengths of the 28 gauge wire were cut, all of them somewhat shorter than the overall height of the match box. Some shorter, some taller... and then they were all twisted about half way up (creates the "trunk").


 Stand the tree inside the box to see if it needs shortened, and if it does, use wire cutters to cut from the bottom of the wrapped end. That will shorten the tree, and it will make sure that it is cut evenly across... no longer wires sticking out.Flare the "branches" to spread them out, remembering that you have only so much space inside that box. When the shape looks the way you want it to, paint it black, (or, you could have just used black wire to begin with) and if you'd like use white glue on the tips of the branches and sprinkle on a little glitter.


When it's all dry, use a drop of super glue (gel version) to glue the trunk to the bottom of the matchbox.Hold it steady for just a minute so it will set up and there you have it... a tree just waiting for a snowman under it... that will be coming up next.


So, now that we have a tree, let's make a little snowman to stand under it! You'll need just a little bit of Sculpey, and, almost like making a snowman of snow, roll three balls, each a little larger than the last, and stack them on on top another.  You can see how large my "big" guy is in the photo.

Now, it can be just as simple as the three balls, but I like my snowmen to have hats. This one is just a little cone, hollowed a bit (I used the non-brush end of a paint brush to create an indentation inside it) and plunked down on his head.

Notice that little loop of wire coming out of the top of his hat? It serves a couple of purposes... it goes down through the hat and the three balls that make his body... but the really important reason it's there is to hold the tassel... what's a hat without a cool tassel... right?

The tassel is just another small piece of Skulpey shaped, a few "strings" are made by dragging a blunt needle through the Skulpey, and another wire is inserted.  That not only keeps the pieces together, but gives me something to hang it from the hat with.

When everything is shaped, the pieces are baked according to the directions on the Sculpey package. 


After it's cooled, the fun part begins... I painted the snowman and tassel with a base coat of white, then added details. They get a coat of varnish, and then just hang around drying... notice the snowman got sprinkled with some glitter too... nice and sparkly.


Once all was dry, it was time to attach the tassel to the snowman. The Little One suggested I add a bead to give a bit more length to the tassel part and allow it more movement... good idea Little One... pretty cute huh? A few final touches and the ornament will be finished and ready to hang on a Christmas tree later this winter...


A bit if polyfill to add some fluff to the "snow" inside the box. The finished snowman is positioned (gotta account for that nose and the opening of the box). Once that is accomplished the snowman is glued down using another drop of the superglue gel. I glued the bottom and added a tiny drop behind his head where it rested in the match box to make sure it didn't move later.


Then it was time to decide how to handle the top. Something needed to be added to allow the match box be opened to see what's inside. I've used a bead before, but this time I went to a box of straight pins I had created a few years ago to use when I finished ornaments. Lots and lots of straight pins. All of these little guy have been created by using colored polymer clay to make whatever is on top, then baked and varnished. 

A couple of options were chosen, and the Little One decided a snowman was the way to go... so a snowman it was. I used a non-decorated straight pin to poke a hole in the top, and then cut off a substantial bit of the pin under the snowman to be able to curl it after the pin was seated. On the top I added a drop of the super glue gel and positioned the snowman. Once it had a few minutes to dry I curled the portion of the pin that was sticking inside the box into a loop to discourage it from pulling through. Tested it a few times and it works just right... always a good thing!

 Of course, if it is an ornament it needs a little bit more glitz... so I used the remaining snowflake charm and some seed and bugle beads to create a tassel (used sewing thread to string them). Using a straight pin to make a hole in the bottom part of the box, I then threaded a jewelry pin head through the hole, cut off the extra length I didn't need with wire cutters, and then used jewelry pliers to bend the length left into a loop. I used the length of wire I had cut off to thread through the top bead and make a loop to connect it to the box with.

Insert the inside box into the outer cover and... ta-da.... the finished ornament/winter shrine/cutsie thing is all done!

Here's what it looks like closed...



And here's what it looks like open...

What do ya think?

09 December 2016

A match box Christmas ornament...part one, the outside...

This post grouping originally appeared in as five different posts.  I've joined several of them together to make two rather long posts.  First, we'll do the outside...

I had an idea for a little ornament/winter shrine/cutsie-tootsie made from a matchbox... and I finally finished it... so what else would I do but share it with you just in case you want to make something similar?

You start off with an empty match box (of all things, huh?), gather some old book pages (another shocker coming from me, I know), acrylic paints, a little bit of Sculpey, wire (28 gauge and jewelry head pins), glue (white glue and super glue), seed beads, larger glass beads and bugle beads, some brass snowflake charms, ribbon... I'm sure I'm forgetting something, but we'll catch it as we go.

First, let's work on the outside of the match box. It was covered with a portion of a book page. I like torn edges, so I semi-
measured how much I'd need (you can see it was a bit longer than I needed). Spread a thin layer of glue on the paper and tightly wrap it over the outer match box cover. You want to be careful here and get rid of any air bubbles. I used my trusty Formica chip to smooth as I went and didn't have any issue, just be sure to smooth, smooth, smooth. Let it dry well, and tear off any extra page.



Once the glue was dry, I added a coat of a medium blue acrylic paint and let that dry...



I have a stamp that looks like a checker-board, and thought that might look interesting, so I painted it white and stamped it on the box.

And while the paint was still wet, I sprinkled micro-fine glitter all over it and tamped it off. (It was at this point that I got a healthy dose of the glitter all over me too...) Again, it needs to dry a bit before I do anything else.

Everything is dry now, glitter is stuck in the paint... and now, let's finish up the outside of the ornament... This is what the outside of the match box looks like now. I think it needs some "snow"... so it seems some splattering is in order.

Using the white acrylic paint, and watering it down a bit load it onto a brush, and then, putting the match box in the line of fire, tap it gently across one of my fingers. It spreads splatters over whatever surface is near (seriously... be careful of the things you have near). You can also do this using a tooth brush, you just rub your thumb over the bristles rather than tap the paint brush.) Of course, allow it to dry a bit before moving on.


I found several different styles of alphabet stamps a few months ago, and thought I'd use them to stamp "let it snow" on the ornament. Using letters from all three of the different fonts, I thought I had enough room to stamp the words, but obviously messed that up as the word snow trials off the side.

Everyone scream with me now... ARGHHH!!!

Ok, after a few deep breaths and curse words it was time to deal with it... maybe a few snowflakes and more "let it snow"?
First... the snowflakes. Mine were painted on, I've painted for so many years I feel more comfortable using a brush than most other tools, but if you are creating something similar, and are not comfy with a brush, use a gel pen...

A bit more stamping, a few more snowflakes... and you'd never know it wasn't planned this way... would ya?


After giving it some thought I decided the hanger was going to go from side to side (left to right) so the hanger needed to go in this section of the ornament.  

I used a very small hole punch to put two holes in the sides after I marked an equal distance down from the top. 

A pretty long length of thin light blue ribbon was run, from inside the match box, through the hole, through a brass snowflake charm I had, and through a white glass bead, finally tying a knot in it. Clip off the excess ribbon and there you go. Repeat on the other side and the outside of the ornament is finished...

Next, the inside...