Archive for the ‘cute’ Category

Project #268 – Christmas Ornament Collection

Monday, October 26th, 2009

I’m making a batch of ornaments to ship out with this month’s Little Black Box sample shipment. I need to make 100, so to avoid the tedium of making just penguins and cardinals, I’ve been experimenting with making some new birds.

I’m about two thirds of the way through my task and I’m astounded by how much time this is taking me. I estimated that I could do about 30 birds per hour, but it’s turning out to be about a third of that. I always overestimate my output!

I think I’m going to need a break from polymer clay for a little while. I noticed a lot of new smudges around the kitchen sink, on some of the light switches and along some of the walls in the house. It look me a little while to figure out that they all came from me. There is something about the new, softer formula of that really makes it cling to the skin on my hands after a while. Even with intense soap and water, I still retain a patina of clay and the house is starting to look once again like a steel worker lives here. I think I need to find out whatever they use to clean baby ducks soiled by oil spills, buy a bucket, and spray the whole house with it.

Project #253 – Needle Felted Chicken

Monday, October 12th, 2009

We’re out in sunny, warm San Diego for the wedding of a friend. Is it just me or has Southern California improved a lot since the 1990′s? Maybe I didn’t know about such cultural highlights as the Vietnamese Sandwich or the Hawaiian Crepe, but they are definitely making this trip worthwhile. Magnifique!

I always struggle a little bit to find projects to do while we travel. Clark and I prefer not to check bags and it can be a little difficult to come up with something where at least one of my tools won’t get confiscated by airport security.

Luckily I discovered needle felting. The needles seem to be A-OK for carry-on luggage. Of course, I missed my chickens, so I decided to make a little mini-version of one of them.

I made little puffs of wool and used my barbed needle to mat them together into one solid piece. Unfortunately, it ended up looking like a matted fur-ball. Essentially, that’s what a needle felted sculpture is, but I’d prefer if they didn’t look it so much.

My second try involved wrapping the wool around a little wire scaffolding, which kept all of the fibers laying in the same direction. The result was much improved.

Project #234 – Baby Pengiuns

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I guess wasn’t done making penguins even though I ran through almost all of my black polymer clay making yesterday’s penguins. Every flock needs their own little guys. I went through a few drafts trying some different beak, face and tummy colorations, but this was the better combination. Still, I think they need some work and it doesn’t help that the metallic clay is a little weird.

Project #233 – Pengiun Army

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

I’ve been talking to friends of Clark who are keen at business about how they started their own companies. The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten is that I should only consider starting a business if it encompasses my passion, and, no, making lots of money doesn’t really count as a passion. It’s a cliche, of course, “Follow your passion”, but they are right. I keep thinking of business ideas that would be profitable, but make me wince when I think about all of the tedious programming I would have to do just to set up a proof of concept.

Still, at the end of my fantasy of building a successful software company, I always sell it for a high price and retire to making and selling little things with my hands. Maybe I should just skip to the fun part at the end.

So, just to see if I could take hours and hours of making little things, I decided to make something big for once and put it up for sale in my etsy shop. I recreated my penguin decoration set from my wedding, but instead of making everything over the course of a few weeks I did it over two days. I think I handled my repetitive task well, but it was only for a few hours at a time.

I don’t think I will be quitting my job anytime soon, but it’s a nice chance to make a little extra money and get some feedback on what I’m working on.

If you’re interested in buying lots and lots and lots of penguins, the Etsy listing is here.

Project #231 – Mini Mushrooms

Sunday, September 13th, 2009

I made tiny mushrooms for my planters, you know, because mushrooms are awesome. Though it is a little odd that the cutest mushrooms in nature are usually poisonous. For instance, I know of no red toadstools that won’t at least make people violently sick when eaten. Hmm…there’s a metaphor in here somewhere.

Also, speaking of eating dangerous mushrooms, I had to take these out of my herb planters immediately because the chickens thought they were food. It’s like living with a backyard full of toddlers. I constantly have to chase them down yelling “What did you just put into your mouth!? Give it to me!!” Of course, the chickens are not fans of being yelled at, so I have to chase them down and hope they drop whatever little piece of plastic they were tasting.

I baked the mushrooms with little twisted pieces of wire inside them to keep them upright.

Project #107 – Tooth Doodles

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

I had one of my wisdom teeth removed today. I hate the sound the tooth makes as it gets pulled from the socket, but the whole process only took five minutes and I was sent off without any pain killers. I took an ibuprofen and spent the rest of the day feeling weird and uncomfortable, but not in any pain. I still have all of my wisdom teeth left on my right side, so I was able to eat eggs benedict. Yep, one at a time is the way to go.

My dentist allowed me to take my tooth home saying “It’s technically medical waste, but…” The dental assistant placed it in a little white envelope. I waited a little while for it to dry out before opening. It’s gruesome, but fascinating. Any realistic drawings would be pretty lurid, and probably take more than I’ve got right now, so a few cartoon drawings of my tooth in its final moments will have to substitute.

Project #105 – Tanuki Embroidery

Monday, April 20th, 2009

We had a few friends over for a late dinner and/or cupcakes on Saturday. Two of them got into a discussion about some of my projects, including a skirt with an embroidered tanuki on it. Which, is funny, because I’ve never made an embroidered skirt before, let alone one with a tanuki on it.


I sketched the outline of my tanuki onto my linen using some blue tailor’s chalk. I finished the embroidery fairly quickly, but I’ll wait to sew the whole thing into a skirt until another Make-A-Skirt Thursday.

Traditional tanukis are depicted with rather prominent…umm…huevos, so those ain’t feet at the bottom of the figure. It’s comical, but underestimate the mightiness of the tanuki at your own peril.

Project #80 – Flying Saucer Drinking Glasses

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

A friend requested an entire hand-drawn set of dishes for her wedding, so I thought I would do a small project that would help me estimate time for a the big one. I had a few quick sketches of flying saucers in my notebook that would translate well as a ceramic decoration.

I finally cracked open a new glaze pen after using the same old one for months. Why don’t I do this all the time? Right. Because I’m a cheapskate and I have to use all of my old pens until the only thing keeping the ink flowing is constant shaking and a fluent stream of obscenities. It might be worth a few dollars to keep extras around if newer pens help me finish projects in one quarter of the time and with one quarter of the cursing.

I only let the aliens snatch one person per glass. Depending on your perspective it could be a picture of someone getting kidnapped or someone returning after a joy ride.

Projects from the Past – Cardinals vs. Penguins Chess Set

Monday, March 9th, 2009

I’m a bit under the weather today, so I’ll be posting a project from last year. I made a bird-themed chess set as a surprise for a friend. I’m terrible at chess, but it was a little hard to give away after I spend so long crafting the pieces. Still, my birdies are in better hands now. Six months later I’m better at parting with things I make, especially because now I have more than ever before.

The queens are the taller ones with smaller crowns.


I ran out of red clay so the cardinals had to hire mercenaries.



Project #61 – Marzipan Panda

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

One of my excellent co-workers put together a really thoughtful fish picnic lunch at the office to today for the two of us. We had smoked salmon, salmon paste, and herring of various kinds along with veggies, crackers and cheese, and I am a fan of all cracker based meals. This is my fourth year in a row of going without meat except for fish or eggs for Lent (a.k.a the Nothing with Feet Diet); she’s a pescatarian so it’s the one time of the year when we eat the same things.

All of my remaining co-workers have pretty mainstream food tastes that don’t include fish from a tube, so they each declined heartily. One even watched us eat with the same expression a cat wears as it watches its owner take a shower. “How can you do that to yourself?” Well, that means more herring for us, I guess.

To show my gratitude for the lovely meal I made my generous co-worker a panda out of marzipan, one of her favorite desserts.

I used about 1/3 of a stick of marzipan. It’s best to have everything at a uniform level of texture and moisture, so I always knead it for a few minutes and remove any stubborn lumps.

I dyed a little more than half of my lump of marzipan black using about 1/4 teaspoon of food coloring. Flatten out your piece to maximize the surface area and pour the dye on top and give it a few minutes to soak in. Knead until it is a uniform color and use a paper towel to soak up the excess dye.

Black food coloring will stain almost anything it touches, so work off of a surface you don’t care about and wear gloves if you need to have your hands and fingernails looking nice in the near future. I washed my hands 4 or 5 times and may hands are still gray and my fingernails make it appear that I’ve been mining coal by hand.

I formed the body and legs from the black marzipan and saved a little extra for the ears, nose and eyes. I washed may hands (again!) and made the head and tummy out of the remaining undyed marzipan. I assembled everything while the marzipan was pretty moist. The black dye is pretty aggressive, so I left a few smudges.

Lastly, I had some of the white marzipan left, so I colored it green to make some bamboo. I let the stalk the panda is holding dry out for a few hours so that it would hold its shape.

I don’t know if I would be excited about eating something that has so many fingerprints on it, but at least I washed my hands. I hope my co-worker likes it. Too bad I didn’t think to dip it in chocolate ahead of time.