Election Day, featuring President Bird!

from twitter user and illustrator @A_TRAGIC_GYRO

Everyone’s biting their nails today, but I’m trying to focus on a less divisive issue: Kisses.  One of my absolute favorite webcomics, Three Word Phrase by Ryan Pequin, has run a few strips with the character of President Bird.  They are wonderfully non-partisan and ridiculous.   My husband’s pet name for me is Bird (literally a pet name, I just realized…) so we get a kick out of this wiggledy, one-issue president.  I like the mix of unassailable cuteness and dark humor.   Pequin has been keeping up with the pace of the current election, but you can judge for yourself whether or not he is taking sides.   In writing this ode to President Bird, I just found out it has a Twitter account! Of course it would have a Twitter account.  Also, this emoticon-  :V That emoticon works better in a San Serif. So last week, imagine my absolute glee in receiving a needle-felted President Bird sculpture from Etsy seller Stabwool.

President bird is made of wool, a little sculpey beek, painted wire feet and three different stick-on speech bubbles: WHEEEEE!, WHAT YOU DOIN’, and GIMME A KISS!  Even the packaging had details that put a smile on my face:

So, there’s my politics for this presidential race.  Stop over at Stabwool and see the wonderful creations there, and read over a few Three Word Phrase comics.


What We’re Making Today: Needle-felted Cloud Mobile

This was a perfect cloudy day craft!  Clouds can be any color, thanks to sunset and sunrise, storms and rain.  With some plain white wool and rolls of colored roving, we mixed colors together until we had lovely clouds of purple, blue and green (sometimes all three).

What you need:

  • plain (natural or white) loose wool
  • colored roving
  • felting needle
  • felting pad
  • thread (I chose blue, but get creative!)
  • 1 0r 2 dowel rods
  • beads (pony beads, glass, crystal, raindrop-like)
  • wire
  • floral tape

The needle-felting is the easiest part for kids– this project also requires lots of knots.  If that is something your child’s hands cannot handle yet, you can tie knots while they spend more time on the cloud’s design.

If you want to make a mobile with two rods that form a cross, make at least four clouds (for a single rod, 2-3 will do).  Start by mixing your cloud colors by grabbing a handful of white wool and bit of colored roving.  Mix until it looks pretty.

Roll the wool between your palms, letting the heat and pressure compound it a little into a ball.  Put the ball on the felting pad and poke at it from all directions, picking it up and turning it over to ensure even compaction.  The point is not to make a tight ball, but to form the cloud with nothing hanging off haphazardly.  You can lightly pull on sections of the cloud to fluff it up if it gets too flat.  This would also be a good time to talk about types of clouds, or look out the window and see what kind are already in the sky.

Once shaped as you like it, attach a thread at the top and one at the bottom of the cloud.  Thread a needle and attach the string by going through a thick part of the cloud, coming back through and tying  a knot.  The top thread will attach to the dowel rod, so leave enough length to tie knots and get creative with where the clouds hang.  On the other string, add a bead and secure it at the end of the thread with a knot.  Multiple “raindrops” can be added.  Note: too much bead weight could harm the structural integrity of the cloud (just like a real cloud!)

To make the cross-shaped base for hanging the clouds, you will need:

  • wire
  • dowel rods
  • floral tape
  • pliers (something that will cut wire)

Cut a piece of wire approximately 12 inches long.  Arrange the dowels in the shape of a cross and wrap the wire around the center of both pieces, alternating directions.  Try to keep the end of the wire from sticking out too much.

    With the remaining inches of wire, make a loop and tuck the end of the wire under the frame.  Twist the loop.
Cover the wire with floral tape, and tape up each dowel to make it more stable.  Tape sufficiently over the wire to hold down the ends of the wire.  Prevent pokes!  You’re done when the frame won’t wiggle.When all the clouds are done and have their strings and beads attached, and the frame is set up (you can paint that, too, if you have time) you can attach the top strings of each cloud to the frame.  I chose to put one cloud at the end of each dowel and one in the middle.  I tied the strings, but also used my scissors to make a small notch on the top of the dowel for the string to sit in.Note:  I would not recommend this as an infant mobile due to the small beads, fragility of the clouds and the wire.  Pretty much the whole thing would be a danger in a baby’s crib if it falls.  Put it somewhere out of reach and let it cast rainbows on the wall.

Mixing Paint for Kids Who Hate Getting Messy

How in the world?  I learned recently that some kids don’t like getting their hands messy, and that it is very distracting from creativity if they are constantly washing their hands.  Mixing colors in paint is much faster and yields results much faster, but mixing colors in different mediums strengthens the attention span, motor coordination and sometimes ends with a more interesting result (more so if you don’t mix all the way).  So, if your kid is adverse to getting paint on her hands, or you need a craft that can be done with little clean-up, try modeling clay or wool.

I do a lot of needle-felting with my client, and as we were making clouds yesterday (a post on that later!) I found this wool-mixing alternative.  We started with plain white wool roving and some assorted colors in rolls.  Grab a handful of the white, and depending on how dark you want the color to be, pluck out some colored roving from the rolls.  This gets the child used to incremental steps as she finds what amount of color she should use when mixing with a larger amount of white.


More felt flowers!

AAAAAH!  We’re leaving in two days for a Midwest holiday (more than two weeks!) and I’m scrambling to get my clothing together, let alone figure out blog stuff.  I’ve got post-its all over my computer reminding me to take pictures with my lightbox before I leave it, to wrap the damn gifts, and for some reason all these little ideas of crafty things to do that most sane people don’t have time for.  Must. Throw. Away. Post-its.

I entered the Lovely Package Exchange at Oh Hello Friend, and in getting to know my recipient learned about a new felt flower method.  This is MUCH less time-consuming than the lovely one I usually use from Holidash.  Thank you Janice (of Bellwether Thoughts) for the recommendation, and thank you Infarrantly Creative for coming up with it!

Now, as usual, I substitute needle felting for glue every time.  I have no time or love for glue when it comes to fabric projects.

Materials Needed:

  • Felt (sheets or by the yard)
  • Felting needle and pad
  • Pinback
  • needle and thread (I’m sure you could also just felt a piece of felt over the pinback onto the felt felt felt felt)

Look, I made a video!  Pretty, pretty.  What I don’t show in this video is how to put the flower together once you’ve cut the petals.  This is where the original tutorial would run glue along the roll as you’re rolling it.  I used a thread and needle and made little stitches, but I think just felting it at an angle as you go along works just fine.  Get all that stabby rage out!

Once you’ve got your strip all felted/glue/sewed up, you’ll cut the notches into the folded edge.  In all of my photos, I have cut the petals at an angle.  Test different patterns in your notching: more notches equal smaller petals, less bigger, and you can try starting small and getting larger. 

By the end, the felt almost looked like a solid mass, but if your needle skills aren’t that thorough, consider cutting an circle to fit right over the back and stitch it in place.  Stitch the pinback on before you do that! Saves hassle.