Book Review: Little Felted Animals

Felted White Bird - Book Review of Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting TechniquesFor some reason, attending classes to learn a new craft makes me uncomfortable. (That's kind of ironic since I actually offer classes to teach other people crafting skills.)

When I want to learn a new craft, I usually do a quick internet search to figure out the basics and then I head to the library, book store or Amazon to find more detailed information on the subject.

I was inspired by some of the adorable needle felted creations that I've seen on Etsy and wanted to learn how to make my own.

I started by reading a bit about needle felting on-line. Then I headed to the craft store for some wool roving and a felting needle.

How hard could it be?

This little sheep was my first attempt at the craft. He's cute, but kind of  wobbly, and let's just say that his limbs are barely hanging on.
I felt like I was missing some critical skill. So, I bought a book about felting from Amazon called Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques. The book has easy to understand explanations about the basic supplies used in needle felting as well as a step by step guide to create three basic animal shapes - birds, short legged animals and long legged animals.

I also decided to get some better quality fiber and bought this 12" Wool Roving 8-Pack on Amazon, as well. It's nice to work with and I still have a lot left,even after making all of the projects shown in this post.

Felted Cat - Book Review of Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques After reading the book, I was ready to try one of its projects, The Turkish Van Cat. I used different colors than the book suggested, but I was very pleased with the way my cat turned out.

I had barely finished creating this soft, little kitty when my teenage daughter claimed him as her own. I guess I'll take that as a compliment.
Felted Brown Bear - Book Review of Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques After the cat I tried another project from the book, The Brown Bear.
And then I tried the mice.
Needle felted Shaun the Sheep After following some of the patterns in the book, I finally had the confidence to attempt my own project. I decided to re-visit my first felt creation, the sheep.

This one is a lot sturdier than the original. I have been told he looks like Shaun the Sheep. (If you are unfamiliar with Shaun, Google it. He is absolutely hysterical and your kids will love him!)
My favorite felted creation so far is little Otto. He's a miniature Schnauzer. (He's not a project from the book. I made him all by myself.)  He's as cute as the real Otto, and a whole lot quieter :)

Needle Felted Miniature Schnauzer

Overall, I enjoyed Little Felted Animals: Create 16 Irresistible Creatures with Simple Needle-Felting Techniques. As the title states, the instructions are simple and the projects are truly irresistible!



Love it? Share it. Make it.


Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Bighorn SheepI was inspired recently by Jill over at Creating My Way to Success. She wrote a post titled "Blogging, Learning and My New 2014 Focus." She made one, very powerful statement in her post. She said:
...this year, I'm trying to blog smarter! I'm going to blog about what I am doing rather than doing things to blog about.
That was completely my plan when I started blogging a couple years ago. Overall, I'm pretty good at it, but once in awhile, I find that I am so focused on my next project for the blog that I start experiencing a little bit of crafter's block.

So, I am going to take Jill's advice, share one of my recent adventures and not stress about the next project.

The weather here in Tucson has been fantastic, sunny and 72. So, last weekend my husband and I headed out to The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Since a picture is worth 1000 words, I'll just let you see some of my best shots from our visit. You'll quickly see why we love this place.

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Javelina

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Deer Sculpture

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Road Runner

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Skunk

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Chipmunk

Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Toads
 
Field Trip: Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum - Squirrel

So take that crafter's block :)



Love it? Share it. Make it.


The Etsy Experience - Photography

The Etsy Experience: Photography - Boost your Etsy traffic and sales with inviting product picturesI recently received an e-mail from another Etsy seller, JoAnne at JJ's Bottega. She was one of the artists that was included in the Fun Find Friday - Snow Birds treasury I featured a couple weeks ago.

JoAnne wrote to me, asking if I had any tips to help direct more traffic to her Etsy shop. I sent her a basic list of some of the things I have learned about Etsy (and business) since I opened my shop, but it was hard to condense it all into an e-mail. There are so many things you can do to increase traffic, improve your Etsy shop and hopefully boost sales.

So, I'd like to start sharing some of my experiences as an Etsy seller.

A good product photo is an invitation for customers to visit your Etsy shop.

The Etsy Experience: Photography - Boost your Etsy traffic and sales with inviting product pictures Like many Etsy crafters, I take great pride in my work. I want people to know that I put a lot of thought and care into every item I create. Unfortunately, if my photos aren't enticing enough to get customer clicks when they are searching Etsy,  no one will ever know how passionate I am about my creations.

I am not a photographer. I would much rather be crafting than taking pictures. However, I decided it was worth the time and effort to learn a few photography basics to improve my pictures.
One resource that I found particularly helpful is a book called The Crafter's Guide to Taking Great Photos: The Best Techniques for Showcasing Your Handmade Creations. The first section is about camera basics and how to set up your photo shoot. It also has inexpensive ways to create your own photo equipment like a light tent, reflector and tripod. (You don't have to spend a fortune on cameras and equipment to take decent photos.) This book also has chapters dedicated to photographing particular types of items like jewelry, apparel, knitting, ceramics and more.

I also find it useful to have basic photo editing software to help me crop and resize my pictures. I use two different photo editing programs and both are free.

The Etsy Experience: Photo Editing - Boost your Etsy traffic and sales with inviting product pictures The first program is PhotoScape. It is super easy to use and has all the basic features you need like resizing, brightness and color adjustment, white balance, backlight correction, cropping, filters, red eye removal and more.

The second program, Paint.Net has even more features, but takes a little more complicated. (I also used Paint.Net to create my own blog and Etsy banners as well as my own social networking buttons.)
Finally, since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a couple of examples of inviting pictures from some Etsy shops I like.

Japanes Marimo Moss Ball Terrarium by A Gift of Nature on Etsy
Japanese Marimo Moss Ball Terrarium by A Gift of Nature

Fused Glass Jewelry Set by Home for Glass Lovers on Etsy
Fused Glass Jewelry Set by Home for Glass Lovers
 
Quilled Birthday Card by Rolling Ideas on Etsy
Quilled Birthday Card by Rolling Ideas

One way to boost your traffic and sales on Etsy is by taking clear and inviting product photos.



Love it? Share it. Make it.


Crafty Saturday Show and Sell #3

Welcome to Crafty Saturday Show and Sell! Many thanks to all of last week's participating shops.

Amy D's Crochet
Asta Artwork
Beaded Necklace Shoppe
Beads and Threads by Amy
Beechtree
Blossoming Dream
Butterfly Sisters
Carol Made
Curious Gigi
Elda's Creations
Gulf Coast Inspired
Gulf Coast Laser Graphics
Gumpaste Garden
Hanji Naty
Home For Glass Lovers
JJ Ladell's Woodcarving
Knotwork Sanctuary
Ladyrose52 Kid's Knits
Lari's Jewelry Designs
Madischarms
Pamposh
Pretty Byrd Designs
Rolling Ideas
Serendipitini
Serendipitini Pet

Three of my favorites items from last week were:

Emily the Giraffe Crochet Pattern by Knotwork Sanctuary on Etsy

Gum Paste Briar Roses by Gumpaste Garden on Etsy


Red Poppy Purse by Butterfly Sisters on Etsy

Each week I also feature some of my favorites on Facebook and Twitter and post many of the listings on my Crafty Saturday Show and Sell Pinterest board. Please stop by to see if your item is there.


Love it? Share it. Make it.


Fun Find Friday - I Love Paper

'Paper Magic' by tinawan

Mini Calla Lilies - 10 white mulberry paper flowers with wire stems - Great for dollhouses, card making, wedding favor & boutonnierres - SQUISHnCHIPS
Mini Calla Lilies - 10 ...
$2.75
NEW Pale Blue and Silver Ornament, Paper Star, Luxe Home Decor, Frosty Blue Decoration, Small Ornament, Pretty Gift - Winter Frost, 3 inch - kissadesign
NEW Pale Blue and Silve...
$20
Quiller Earth Flow- Paper Quilled Art - Custom Build - 8 x 10 - aCoCC
Quiller Earth Flow- Pap...
$70
Moth origami lampshade gradient yellow - nellianna
Moth origami lampshade ...
$79
Rooftop Balloons Multicolor Print - Original Papercut Illustration - 8x10 Fine Art Print - SarahTrumbauer
Rooftop Balloons Multic...
$20
DIY papercraft template Lion Trophy head no. 4, 3D puzzle - PaperwolfsShop
DIY papercraft template...
$44
Hawaiian Islands -floated- 8 x 10 layered papercut art - Crafterall
Hawaiian Islands -float...
$50
FREE SHIPPING: Origami Paper Swan - RutisRoots
FREE SHIPPING: Origami ...
$59
Statement Ring - made of Book Pages and colored papers - size 7 - PaperStatement
Statement Ring - made o...
$140
Pebble: Origami Paper Table Lamp / Floor Lamp / Pendant / Lamp Shade - White - FiberStore
Pebble: Origami Paper T...
$100
Paper Mache Bowl in White and Gold - The Mini - Made to Order - etco
Paper Mache Bowl in Whi...
$15
Clockwork Print - jackiehuang
Clockwork Print
$20
White Spiky Pendant Light - Overlapping Folds Origami Paper Hanging Lamp SHADE ONLY - Zipper8Lighting
White Spiky Pendant Lig...
$175
Map Paper Origami Star Ornament - Recycled Atlas Book Paper Art Christmas Holiday Decoration - Global Traveler - Geometric Art - bookBW
Map Paper Origami Star ...
$9.5
Romantic art, heart, papercut, proposal, anniversary gift, Christmas wife, paper cut, wedding gift, teal, UK - CraftyLou2
Romantic art, heart, pa...
$180
Paper Art Sculpture "Rainbow" - abadova
Paper Art Sculpture &qu...
$190

Love it? Share it. Make it.


Lotus Books

Paper Craft Tutorial: How to make a lotus book - A great keepsake gift for birthdays, Valentine's Day, Mother's or Father's Day or an anniversary.For our 10th anniversary, I made my husband a lotus book filled with photos and memories from the first ten years of our marriage. This month, when we celebrated our 20th anniversary, it only seemed logical that I would create another.

You are probably wondering what, exactly, a lotus book is. They are small, square books and when you open the cover, the pages fold out, opening sort of like a flower in bloom. The pages can then be filled with pictures or written sentiments worthy of a keepsake birthday, Valentine or anniversary card. These would also make lovely little albums, perfect for proud grandparents.

Materials


  • two 4 3/8 inch squares of tagboard
  • five 12 x 12 inch pieces of scrap booking paper
  • paper trimmer
  • 30 inches of ribbon (1/8-1/4 inch wide)
  • 1/2 inch wide double sided tape
  • rubber stamps, ink or die cuts to decorate the cover
  • pictures to fill your book

Directions


We'll start with the front and back covers of the book.

Pick which piece of paper you will be using for the cover. Use a paper trimmer to cut two 5 1/2 inch squares from the paper.
Turn a piece of the cover paper, face down.

Place double sided tape around the edges of one of the tagboard pieces.
Center the tagboard over the paper, sticky side down, and press the pieces together.
Fold the top and bottom edges of paper over the tagboard and crease them.
Apply double sided tape to the paper along the folded sides and press it firmly to the tagboard.
Next, fold down the corners of the paper.
Here's a close up so you can see what I mean.
Fold and tape the  remaining sides of the cover paper and press it down to the tagboard.

Repeat the process for the other cover.
On to the pages of your book.

Begin by cutting four 8 1/2 inch squares from your paper.

Set one of your pages, face up, on your work surface.
Fold the page in half.

It's really important that all of your pages are folded neatly and firmly or they will not align correctly as you assemble your book later.
Open the page back up.
Fold the page in half the other direction.
Open the page back up.
Turn your page over.
Fold in half, diagonally then open it up again.
Now you'll make the “lotus” part of the book.

Turn your page face up.
Pinch the diagonal fold at each of the corners and bring the unfolded corners to the center.
Your page should look like this.

Repeat this process with the remaining three pages of your book.
Now it's time to assemble the pieces of your lotus book.

Start with one of the pages. Apply double stick tape around the wrong side of one of the pages.

(In the picture, my hand is on the open corner of the page.)
Position the next page directly above the first, making sure they are aligned with the opening edges in the same direction. Press the pages together.

Attach the two remaining pages in the same manner.
Now, the ribbon goes between the cover of the book and the page it is attached to.

Fold the ribbon in half. Place the fold at the back corner of the book and the tail at the open edge. You can use a piece of double stick tape to secure the ribbon.
Apply double stick tape along the edges of the page.

Position the book cover over the pages so that is centered and press it firmly against the pages.
Paper Craft Tutorial: How to make a lotus book Repeat the process of positioning the ribbon and adhering the other cover to the pages.

Now that the book is assembled, you can decorate the cover. Use stamps, die cuts, paper punches or whatever you choose.
I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut a piece of paper that looked like a boy kissing a girl. Then I used a star shaped paper punch to cut a foil star that shines over the happy couple.

Fill the pages of your book with happiness. I put different pictures of our family in the square sections of each page and text on the sections with the diagonal folds.

Paper Craft Tutorial: How to make a lotus book - A great keepsake gift for birthdays, Valentine's Day, Mother's or Father's Day or an anniversary.


Once you have added all your memories, refold the pages, tie the ribbon and it's ready to share with someone you love!


Love it? Share it. Make it.