Saturday, August 13, 2016

Work in Progress on the Summertime Bears

When I finished the Quinlan Artist Doll and Bear Convention at the beginning of May I started work on the next batch of bears. I enjoyed working on all the bears together as a group preparing for the show, and I thought I would like to continue working like that over the summer. I am not sure at this point if I will work like this again.
I love seeing their cute faces everyday, but by seeing those faces everyday I think about the things that would like to change, and I have been doing just that.
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 I have 4 bears almost done, and another cut on my table to sew next week, is a larger black bear, I would like to also make a smaller black bear before I sell them all at once. Actually the three on the left are black bears. The one on the right is or will be a grizzly cub. Black bears come in many colors. I read somewhere that there is not a native North American animal that has more variety of color than a black bear. These are two cinnamon and a Kermode. 

My plan is to have a bear sale here. I will not go into details here, but of the 6 I will make, only 3 or 4 will be for sale.I will post each bear with photos, descriptions, and prices, but no “buy it now” button. I will sell them by lottery. Anyone who is interested in a particular bear will just leave a name and email address, and on a certain date I will draw names. The comments will be kept private.
I still plan to sell occasionally on eBay. The specials bears will go there, the more elaborate pieces. I really just like making plain unadorned bears with a simple accessory, and those bears will be sold through a lottery.
Have a great Saturday.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

This Old House

I have always been interested in crafts. My grandmother taught me to crochet when I was five years old. My mother always kept needlework kits around to keep us busy and out of trouble. I grew up in an area outside of Philadelphia that had a large Mennonite population. Both the Mennonite and the Amish have a rich history of making traditional crafts. In my twenties while many of my friends were buying clothes, I was at the craft shows buying beautiful Pennsylvania crafts from artisans. They have followed me back and forth from one side of the country to the other. I have moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona and back again twice. This house where I now live was sold in the Sear’s Craftsman Catalog. It was a do it yourself kind of house. It was built in 1930, during the Great Depression. It is the perfect house for my precious crafts to live.

The house has lots of wood. The floors are heart pine. I imagine that oak, which the house was trimmed in, was too expensive to put on the floors during this time for the average American family. On top of the armoire sits a Noah’s Ark, it is one of those items that has moved over and over again with me.  
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My collection of water birds have also made the trip. The three small ones are carved, the larger one is made of hardened fabric. It is my favorite.
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For now at least we have left the downstairs floors without any carpeting. It is a decision I seem to regret in the winter, rugs would keep it warmer, but plain wood floors are so much easier to clean, especially with the dogs, and I have two.
You can see my Ott light there next to the sofa, that is where I sit and work at night. When working on black bears I have that light almost touching the fur for me to see. I don’t know what I would do without it. This is my second one, and I would recommend them to anyone. I am very thankful for it.
We have only blinds in the windows, I could not bring myself to cover up the beautiful wood.
My husband and I both work from home, and his office is right on the other side of the wood entryway. I work upstairs. We meet for lunch in the kitchen, and then go our separate ways again.              
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The birds and the Theorem cat painting were done by artisans from Pennsylvania. These are three of my favorite things.
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I still keep some Arizona with me though. This cross was purchased at a mission in Tucson. It is also perfect for this house.
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Thank you for visiting. I hope you like my home. I think this may be the last house I will live, I like it that much.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Blogging Again

I have decided that it is time to start blogging again. I have spent a lot of time the last couple of years on Facebook. I don’t want to spend so much time there anymore. Because of the heated political climate right now in the US with a presidential election on the horizon, I am seeing a lot of hate. I don’t want or need it in my life. I have stopped following many of the people I was friends with because of their very vocal political views. It seems that is how I spend a lot of my time there now, clicking the unfollow button. I will still post bear updates and photos, but I will no longer be spending much time looking at posts.

I am living in a new place. Two summers ago we moved from Arizona to Pennsylvania which is on the other side of the country. Pennsylvania is where I grew up, and my husband’s mother needed us to come home. We purchased a home built in 1930, in the small town of Bloomsburg, which is in the central part of the state. It is a historic town, and we live in the town proper. I am happy here. The area is rural. The farms, the fields, the river,the traditional craftsmen that work here, it has helped bring creativity back into my life, and I missed that.
This blog will be more than about the bears, although they will still be a big part of it. It will be about where I live, my creative life back here in PA.


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My house, still needs work. You can see the green carpet on the porch, that is because we need a new one. My workspace is on the second floor, the two windows that are visible there on the right. The attic, well, we just had to have the “batman” in, we had bats. I love every inch of it.  

 Thank you for taking the time to visit. I hope you will stop by again.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Ordering Armature

I ordered 50 foot rolls of Lockline type plastic armature directly from the manufacturer Jeton. I also ordered the pliers that go with them too.

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The top one is 1/8” and the bottom is 3/16”.  These are the two smallest sizes they make.  They look bigger than the size says, because they take the size from the inside diameter of the hole where it snaps together.  The special pliers I never used for the smaller sizes because I wire them together. But when I break them apart in the wrong spot, they are difficult to get back together, so I ordered them too.

I usually order from CR Crafts, and I am always happy with their service.  But when I went to order this last time they were backordered on the 1/8” which was the one I really needed.  So I contacted Jeton directly.
It took about a week for them to reply to my initial email, but once they did the process was very smooth and quick.

For a 50ft roll of 1/8” armature they charge $62.96. That equals about $1.26 a foot
A roll of 3/16” was $67.90 = about $1.36 a foot.
The pliers were $14.00 each.
CR’s is about $3.00 a foot and the pliers are $35.00 each.

But not there are certainly other fees to consider; Jeton only takes a money transfer as payment.  I had to do that through my bank it cost me $45.00.  Shipping was another big expense, it was $71.00, they sent it express.  It came to my door in 3 days from Taiwan. So the total was about $275.00.  If I was to do it through Cr’s it would have been about $370 + shipping. 

Something else I was unaware of, from the company you can buy the coolant hose with the hole in it, or you can buy the snap proof armature.  You can only do this with 3/16” and larger, the 1/8” comes only as snap proof.  I told them in my email what I was using it for and they sent me the snap proof armature.  I like snap proof.  It is different from what I have gotten from Cr’s Crafts.  From them I am getting coolant hose, which is what Lockline is, it is a coolant hose.   Why not just buy Lockline?  Because you can not get it any smaller than 1/4" which is way to big  for small and medium sized bears.

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Top snap proof, bottom the coolant hose.

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I have never had the 1/8” break apart on me.  But one time I did have the 3/16th break.  I was forcing the head into a position it did not want to go.  I should have known better.  I doubt that any bear owner would have forced it like I did. I had to take the whole bear apart and replace the spine.  I wonder now if it would have happened with the stuff on the left, it does seem to bend better.

I now have enough armature to last for a couple of years.  Will I order directly from Jeton again? Absolutely.  Will I still use Cr’s Crafts? yes I will, but not for this, I think I will stick with Jeton.

ps: they also sell it in 25 ft rolls, but I do not know if the cost is the same per foot. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Elfing Ears

I had some questions about how I did this, so I thought I would post a little more about it.

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I have a little family of elves that lives at my house, they all have long pointy ears, because I love long pointy ears.  But I also love dolls without them, so my solution has been to give those dolls an ear makeover.  Here is Fig, she is very cute on the left, but now on the right to me she is perfection.

This is what I used.
Apoxie Sculpt, it is a two part epoxy clay.  I used white. I bought it on ebay.  I added flesh colored paint as I was kneading it to give it some color.  It is a sticky mess, but after it sets up a little it is not so sticky.  Nail sanding blocks, I bought these at the beauty supply, the different colors are different grits. An emery board, you can not see, but the one end is cut into a point.  This is my favorite sanding tool.  I have a knitting needle I used to help me sculpt. A set of small files, nice to have but not necessary. A dremmel and some very small bits.  I used this to sculpt the ear after the clay was set. Last but least a dust mask, to use when sanding, especially with the dremmel.  

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After mixing I put the clay on the edge of her ears.  Like I said it is very sticky.  That is good, because it will stick to the resin. After I got it on the ear tips I dipped my fingers in cornstarch, that will stop it from sticking to your fingers.  I used a picture of a doll with ears I liked.  I used my fingers to pull the epoxy to a point, then with my finger behind the ear holding it, I used a knitting needle to sculpt the inside of the ear.  I started at the tip and drew it in towards the old ear.  I removed excess as I got to the ear.  When I was fairly satisfied I dipped my finger in water and feathered the epoxy into the ear. 

This picture is after sculpting, before any sanding has been done. 

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Here you can really see the roughness of the clay.

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This next picture is after some sanding with the sanding blocks, but before dremmeling.  I wanted to remove some of the top of the old ear, not all of it, but just enough to make a smoother transition.  I could have done it with the emery board, or the files, but I am good with the dremmel I use it often.  If you are not good, I would not use it. I dremmeled down the top of her old ear. 

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Here you can see how the top of the ear now blends into the new ear.

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Next I painted with acrylic paint.  I used a combination of flesh, ivory, and pink to match the color of her resin.  I used very little paint on the brush so that I could not see the brush strokes.  When I was satisfied with the color I masked off the rest of her face and sprayed the ears with MSC, (Mister Super Clear) Flat UV Cut Sealer.  Then I got out the pastels and blushed the ear tips, and sprayed again.

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Here is a pukipuki Ante, she is getting her ears elfed now.  This is a very tiny doll.  You can see how I have this stuff globbed on the ears.  I would rather spend my time sanding it off to make it the way I want it than being too picky while it is wet.

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Here is a close up of another pukipuki whose ears are done.  I have sanded the heck out of them to make them thin, and shaped them the way I want them.

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I did not start though working on expensive dolls, this is a word of caution.  I started by elfing Hujoo dolls ears.  They are very inexpensive compared to these.  My daughter has used Apoxie Sculpt on a Monster High doll to turn it into her World of Warcraft character.  Any doll will do for practice, but by all means practice first.

Victims one and two. 

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Questions? please ask, I will do my best to answer them. 
So here we are now one big happy elf family. 

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Making a Doll Wig

I make all the wigs for the dolls.  It is an easy thing to do.  I found the original tutorial here, in BJD Magazine.  This is where you will find how to measure for the wig cap.  I am just going to show you pictures after that fact.

I have the pieces I need together.  I am using some tea dyed muslin as the cap, and Aileen’s Fabric Fusion glue.  I have tried all different kinds and this one works the best for me.

I slipped a plastic bag over her head and added a very small rubber band around her head making it snug especially around her ears. I did notch the fabric around the sides, it helped it fit better without any fabric lumps.

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I put glue on the plastic, then added first the middle, painted glue all over it, then the side pieces, adding glue again.

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Then last the thin strip that goes around the perimeter pulling it snug.

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Let it dry, and then peel off the plastic and fit it on her head seeing where it needs to be trimmed. Trim it up.

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You can see the nice snug fit here.

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Put the plastic bag back on, and put the wig cap over it to begin gluing on the mohair.  I used locks that I purchased from an Etsy Seller Phoenix Farm,  I dyed them with Kool Aide.

Starting at the bottom I added a line of glue.  The locks will be in clumps, I clipped the end to make them open, then I opened up the top and spread it out.  With the help of a large needle I pushed it across the glue.  Only about 1/4” is actually sitting in the glue.

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Row by row, up the head, and around the sides.

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Before you begin, decide where want your part, because when you get there the way you add the mohair changes.

When you get to the part area, you need to glue the hair in at a 90 degree angle, so that it will not be flat.  I did this by holding the hair, trimming the end blunt, and applying glue to the ends.  Then I pushed it straight onto the wig cap.  Do this all along the part line.

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Let it all dry.  When it is dry, run a line of glue around the inside edge of the cap and glue mohair to it.  It will hide the cap line. 

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When it is all dry overnight,  I brush it.  I use a wire brush and gently brush the wig.  Lots of hair will come out, that is ok.  I then spray it down with water, scrunch it with my fingers and let it dry again.  When it is dry look to see it you need to add any more locks.  Sometimes I need to add more along the part line.  I save the hair I brushed out and use that.  I always do some trimming, adding layers, or bangs.  When I am done, I spray again and let dry. 

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Home For the Fae

Shortly after Fern came to live with me I began to work on a home for her. A place where I could take pictures of her and her friends, (I knew there would be more) just being happy in fairyland. That was two months ago, and now it is finally at the stage where it is presentable enough to be seen. 
In my mind these little folks live in our world, so as I was making this house I kept that in mind.  Things outside the house are to our scale.  I like to think of them roaming through the forests living in old trees.

So I began my tree house with some cardboard.

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I covered the cardboard with strips of newsprint that I dipped into a concoction of flour, water, and wallpaper paste. 

I put a second floor in using a piece of foam board.  Then I decided that I wanted the top of the house to be uneven, like the tree was rotten, so I added some more cardboard and covered that.  It took many, many layers.

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So here we are now, still no furniture.  I am going to make it myself from vines and things that are growing in my yard.

As you can see Fern has gotten herself a new friend, or as he tells me a little brother, his name is Wren.  I am obsessed with these little ones.  Don’t tell my husband I know that more will be showing up in the future.

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For the bark of the tree I wrinkled the newspaper and stuck it to the house vertically, after many layers of paint it began to look like bark. 

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A trip to the craft store for mosses and flowers and leaves and such, and they are beginning to feel right at home.

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As for the poor little homeless Hujoo girls.  Don’t worry about them.  Last weekend I found a big old vintage Childcraft doll house on Craigslist for a song.  They have already been bugging me to get to work on it.  One thing at a time girls. 

I need to get a bigger studio now with space for me and the dolls and the bears, and now their houses, and all their stuff.  It’s getting to be a tight squeeze.