Sweet, sweet curiosity.

This blog is all about things I have made. You can find intense embroidery, paper quilling mania, crazy gingerbread houses, masks, puppets, steampunk clothes, ornaments, wackiness and sculptures on this site. So have fun and check it out!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Alice working some Kung Fu on Cross Hatch Embroidery

I decided to make this Alice in Wonderland inspired hoop after looking at original illustrations from the books. I redrew the image, as I thought Alice's face looked a little mean in the drawing and I wanted to uncomplicate it by taking away all the animals at the bottom.  I also reshaped it so it fit better into the space of the hoop I had to work with. You can see the original image below...

I have never done cross hatching in embroidery before, and I must say it is quite liberating. I love the effect and it goes really quickly, looks clean and gives a neat sketchy feel to the embroidery. Working in a single coloured thread also lends to this sketchy feeling to.  For some reason the way I positioned her arms looks a bit like she is about to do Kung Fu, but once I saw how silly she looked I thought it kind of updated her in a way. 

I supremely enjoy working with cross hatching and will be employing it as a technique in my stitch arsenal from here on out.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Huichol Embroidered Pony

I have been fascinated by the bead and yarn paintings of the Huichol culture for some time now and decided that I would use that to create an embroidered piece.  I made this hoop for a woman who is a Spanish teacher and thought she might appreciate it.

 This is the orginal image I used to create the piece. I love these sculptures covered in tiny glass beads that the people of the Huichol Culture have been creating for many years.
 I am  a big fan of french knots and thought if I did the whole thing in french knots than it would be like the glass beads that the huichol used. The size of my knots in comparison to the beads, did change the definition a bit, but I really like the result it created.  It also reminds me of a pinata!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Look what the Yeti made...

For another swap I claimed a crafter for a "yeti" hoopla, so I started to sketch a lot of Yeti's and decided that this was a friendly Yeti. I thought I would make a happy Yeti, one that liked to craft just as much as me. He also felt the need to celebrate something, I think it was soon to be someone's birthday, so he made this pendant garland to decorate the trees and snow around him.
 I used very light pencil crayons to get the colour on his body. I was going to use felt, but I didn't have any the right colour and I have sworn to not buy any new materials this month. ( Which I have been okay with so far, only a little bit on the paper for my monograms but other than that I have been super good.)
What do you think? Should I do more drawings of this Yeti? I have grown quite fond of him! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Embroidered me some bones... yes I did.

I know, I know Halloween was some time ago, but  for my most recent hoopla swap, my partner was a forensic anthropologist and she likes bones. So I stitched her some! I personally have an attachment to hand bones, as I wouldn't have a career if I wasn't able to do what I can with my hands.

I wanted to try a slightly more realistic approach than I usually do with embroidery. I used different shades of thread to show shadows and highlights. I was really pleased with how this came out. I hope that she liked it!

You could also just give this embroidery a high five if you wanted.. wait that's kind of weird... oh well!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thanks to everyone who voted for me!!!

I just wanted to give a big thank you to those who follow my blog that may have voted for my Harry Potter Gingerbread house in the cookie challenge on instructables.com! Look what was behind door #2!

A 5 Qrt Kitchen Aid Mixer! I am so super excited. I won first prize! Okay here comes the acceptance speech: Thank you to the support and love of all of my peeps in the blogosphere and to those on instructables! Everybody gets 26.5 random awesome free bonus points!

Now I can make way more gingerbread, cookies, cakes, brownies, mmm... this will be awesome for the waistline! haha...

Also you should check out the other winners in this contest - amazing stuff!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Quilled Monograms - The Letters C and R

Today's Post is brought to you by the letter's C and R!
Here are the initial's of my swap partner and her hubby for this most recent swap I have completed. I had my hand again at doing some more monograms with paper quilling. I really like the way these turned out even more than the first ones I did
 I think the font I used on this one was much more simple ( times new roman) and I think that helped to simplify the letter, giving it a bit more contrast between the swirly lines and the hard lines.

 This really is like doodling, these two took me about half the time as the first two of these that I made.  It's really a zen like activity, not a lot of thought just patterns. 
There are a lot of possibilities with this art form that I have barely touched the surface on. I really do think it's quite keen though and do believe I will explore quilling a bit further.

I did a full tutorial on quilling on instructables.com.
I also sell Custom Quilled Monograms on my Etsy site, so if you like these and don't want to make it yourself, I would be happy to make one for you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A little Miniature Book Bling... Bookshelf Pendant

For another craftster swap, I made this bookshelf pendant. I am not normally a jewellery maker but something about this struck me so I decided to make it.  The idea for this came from this girl's etsy shop however, I liked the idea of using real book covers so I found some great covers from an exhibit on artistic book covers from the 1920's and 30's. There are some really great covers that work really well with this.
I have recently decided that I have tooo much stuff in my house, and I don't want to spend money! So I made this out of stick-on oak veneer that I had lying around from another project. I basically stuck two layers together and that's why you can see a line in the middle of each piece of wood. It worked really well and I used a little apoxie sculpt on the finished shelf to finish it off and put on the rings at the back.
To stain it I used a dollar store "fix your wood" stain pen. It works really well and the colour is always right with these. 
 Basically I printed out very tiny books on glossy paper ( as glossy paper seems to detain the most detail when things are very small.) Then I cut them out and put a bit of ApoxieSculpt inside of each book to be the pages and to make them stronger.  This dries incredibly hard when finished drying.

This is what the necklace looked like on.  Pretty wacky. Also just in case you were wondering about  the little white dots on some of the books- it's because they have a library sticker. I kind of liked it so I kept it on! Because really who doesn't wanna walk around with a miniature bookshelf with library books on it around their neck!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Tony Baker's wicked Art Show

This weekend I just went to a great art show in Toronto, at a pub called Wilson 96. My friend Tony Baker was showing a series of paintings that make me wanna switch careers.  I am not going to pretend like I am a fancy pants art critic, because I am not but I will tell you a bit about these paintings.  Tony has created this crazy alternate world in which his paintings are set - the world is filled with robots, factories, massive towns, burning buildings, all squished together in landscapes that have the end result of being both tinged with a bit of humour and sadness. It feels as though you are looking through the eyes of an innocent in the paintings, they have a childlike zeal both in application and in spirit. I really enjoyed the show and would recommend anyone in town to check it out until the end of January. Here is Tony's website should people who can't get to Toronto, want to check him out on their own.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Paper Quilled Monograms - Letter P

Today is brought to you by the Letter P. 

I have finished up my Second Letter monogram. I want to put both the M and the P up on the wall together, so I mirrored some of the design of the M onto the P on one side.  This one is a bit more spiraly than wavy, but as I said in my last post, this is really like doodling, so whatever you feel like doing makes the most sense to me!
 Here this one is full finished glory. I really am having a lot of fun with this.  Once you get the hang of it, it goes quite quickly.

Here are the M and the P together!

I did a full tutorial on how I made this on instructables.com.

If you don't want to make this yourself - I can make one for you as I sell Custom quilled monograms on my Etsy site

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Paper Quilled Monogram - Letter M

With the incentive of learning a new craft, I chose a partner for a craft swap that wanted a paper quilled monogram.  As I have never done this before, I tried it out with my husband's and my own monogram.  I am greatly influenced by Yulia Brodskaya, an amazing illustrator and paper quilling artist who's work I am in love with.  I am going to tell you how I did it!

Pick a font - I really like Anderson Four Feather Falls ( I got this from a free font site) so I decided to do it with that font.

Print it out - As I didn't want to really see the lines when I was finished with this I lightened the font colour to a very faint grey, then I printed it out on an off white card stock. 

Cut out your quilling paper - So I went looking to buy quilling paper, but I guess this is a specialty item in which my craft stores didn't sell. No matter, I went and bought some paper, which wasn't terribly expensive ( 4 dollars for 50 sheets with 5 different colours in each package) I then began cutting them into 1/4 inch strips. I believe traditionally the strips are 1/8 inch, but my little paper cutter wasn't meant to cut pieces that small, so I went up to 1/4 inch thick. The paper I could find in the colours I liked was thicker than normal quilling paper, in fact it is a thin cardstock. It was either that or ugly colours so I went with the cardstock and tried my luck!
 Shape your Letter outline - This is the part that is the trickiest and takes the most work.  As you can see from the letter M below, I made a clear outline of the shape with paper. I did this by putting the paper on edge against my printed outline on my paper and bending the paper to fit that shape.  I have read in more than one quilling instructional that you let the paper do the work not the glue, meaning that you shape the paper exactly as it should be and it stays quite marvelously.  You don't have to fight the paper, you just gently curve and straighten into place. At the hard corners, I used needle nose pliers to ensure I was in the exact right spot before clinched the paper around the corner. Using the plies really helped me get the shape exactly right. It's also realllllly easy to twist the paper in ways you don't want to so when curving corners making sure that the paper is still 90 degrees to the base is important.  The other thing I would recommend is "dry" shaping the entire letter before beginning to use glue.  I found that you need the entire paper free in order to make all the twists and turns to make your letter, so if you glue something down you are limited a bit. 

Glue it down - Once your outline is figured out, I used a toothpick to put a little bit of PVA glue on to the edge of the paper.
 Curving the paper - In order to make curves and spirals I used two techniques. I ran my hand tightly down the paper much like you would do with scissors when decorating with ribbon.
 The other technique for tighter spirals is to wrap it tightly around something round.  I used a toothpick! There are fancy tools in order to do this, but I don't have money for those and also I am just trying this out, so I don't like to invest in a craft until I have given it a couple of tries to see if I like it! Basically you want to wrap this tightly around the toothpick, ensuring that you are holding it tightly and focusing on the paper rather than the toothpick.  You also want to be sure that it doesn't travel back and forth as when you glue this down onto your paper, it may lift. 
 The picture above is of a loosened spiral, you want to wind them much tighter, it was just difficult to take a picture while doing it, so this is a spiral I have let go of a bit.
 In order to get different tightness of spirals, you may have to let some of the spirals out a bit by pulling out the centre of the spiral. I like a bit of a looser spiral so most of mine are like that.
 Filling in the letter - I feel this is kind of like doodling. I wanted mine to have more of a wavy type feeling to it so there were a lot of really gentle curves and a couple spirals here and there.  I put spirals on the outside of the letters ( clearly a decision influenced by Ms. Brodskaya) continuing lines that were on the inside of the letter. I used some tweezers for the hard to reach spots, but I think this went rather well!
 So that's what it looks like when it is finished. I am in the midst of making another letter, P, when I am finished I will post it up here. I will also be making a C and an R for my swap partner, but I won't put those pictures up until she receives it.

If you aren't in the mood to make this yourself - I can make one for you! I sell Custom Quilled Monograms on my Etsy site, so there ya go!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cuckoo Clock Gingerbread House -Part Three - the final chapter!!

Well here it is in it's full finished Glory! 

It's kind of a sad Gingerbread Cuckoo Clock because no matter how I tried that Second Antler did not want to live. I stuck it back on about 6 times before I decided that perhaps I could let that go! It reminds me of that Dog from The Grinch with his one antler tied on his head! 

 The Acorn counterweights are hung with licorice string.

 So you know all the hype and the build up about the gears? Well it turns out that icing and free wheeling gears don't go well together. Not that you can even see it! I thought perhaps you would but you really have to look closely to see that there are gears inside the clock, even when you are standing in front of it, hence why you can't see it in the picture!
 Can you see the gears? Just barely in this picture.. perhaps if I shot some crazy bright light inside... maybe I should take a photo with some lights inside.. hmm.. that might come later!

 I really like this little bird ready to do his cuckoo sound. 

 On all of the gingerbread pieces I added dark brown shadows to emphasize the "wood cut" feeling of the gingerbread.  I also painted with icing on the clock.  The hands are made with icing that was put directly onto parchment paper to get that detail.

 Well Here it is. Overall I think it looks the way I want it to, but I wish I could have gotten that antler to stay on!!! What do you think? Are you disappointed I couldn't get my gingerbread gears to work and that you can't even see them? It's okay - I know that they are there and it's like I gave my little cuckoo clock a heart instead of being a hollow shell.

I really do like making gingerbread! I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to when I can do this again! I will just have to keep brainstorming ideas for next year... 

Just for those who can't get enough of this project I have created a full tutorial in more depth on instructables.com .

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Cuckoo Clock Gingerbread House! Part two...

This is Part 2 of 3 of my Gingerbread Clock Stories. As My Model was done, I began to make Gingerbread Dough.  I whipped up a quick batch of Gingerbread using the standard tasty yet hard recipe. The funny part is, I don't really like Ginger, so I just put a lot more cinnamon in and didn't put any ginger in... I would call this a Cinnamonbread House, but I don't think it sounds right... Anyways after I let it chill for two hours I started rolling out the dough and I got my first piece all ready to put on the cookie sheet when lo and behold my cookie sheet was TOO SMALL! I cut off a corner of the largest pieces ( the back and the front) and I think that the branches that go on the front will cover up my mishap, but boy, did I ever feel silly.

 This front piece has the Clock face and Cuckoo Bird hole. This took a lot of careful cutting in the gingerbread to make this work.
 Here is what cutting out the gears looked like using my gear templates.  I used a sharp paring knife to cut all the gingerbread.
 This is a picture of about half of the pieces. You can see that I did carve in some details on each piece of gingerbread. I thought it was appropriate because I wanted this to look like carved wood. It took me a day to bake all the pieces for this clock, and 2 batches of gingerbread.

Here is my first attempt at putting the gears together with candy cane axles. They seem to work which is pretty darn exciting...!
Here is my final assembly for the gear parts. I have left the icing to dry and have crossed my fingers that the Gears will still work after all of it dries...
The reindeer shield came out okay, I wasn't terribly impressed by the whole thing, it's really heavy and the antlers were realllllly hard to stick on.. I hope they last!

Stay tuned for Part Three! The final reveal! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cuckoo Clock Gingerbread House! Part One...

 Last year I had so much fun making that Harry Potter gingerbread house, that I thought I would try it again this year.  I had been thinking for quite some time about what I wanted to do and this is what I came up with - a Gingerbread Cuckoo Clock with working gears inside!

I love Cuckoo Clocks in general and a lot of real Cuckoo Clocks are called "Gingerbread" Cuckoo clocks because of all of the wooden details on them. ( Unless it's because they used to be made out of gingerbread? nah...) I did a bit of research and found several clocks that I liked and amalgamated the bits I found interesting to make this clock here.  I did a quick sketch and then started out by making the first base shape. I then added the sides and roof.  I then made the branches, birds and leaves.
 For the top piece, I really wanted to make a reindeer, I haven't the foggiest idea how this is going to turn out in gingerbread, but why not give it a go!

 So here's where people might think I am a little off my rocker. For some reason, probably because I like steampunk so much, I wanted the clock to have working gears. By that I mean Gingerbread Gears that turn in sequence.  I used this great program called a gear template generator in order to create the gears so that they will work.  I made the clock face see through so you can see the gears, and there are three layers to my clock, a backdrop, the gears and what I am calling an axle holder. My foam core model worked okay when I did it, although soft material like foamcore doesn't really like being pushed the way the gears were pushing it. The foam core kind of got squished a bit. I am hoping the Gingerbread will be harder.  However, I am not going to be crushed if they don't work BUT wouldn't it be cool if they did?

 This is what I am hoping it will turn out like, but I will probably have two birds on the real thing. Oh, and I am also going to get a special shelf so it can sit on the wall, like a real clock! What do you think of that Gepetto?