Embroiderdoodles

No, the title is not a new mix of Doberman Pinscher/Poodle/Labrador (Poopinschoodle?)  I am brainstorming some 1-hour textile projects for adults, and had this idea today while doodling in between uninspired ideas. Doodles! Embroidery can be an entry-level craft after learning a simple straight and satin stitch, and no pattern is needed.

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Freehand squiggles

I like the surprises that come from letting your mind wander through a pencil on a notepad.  It seems like it’s been too long since I’ve been bored– having a smartphone is a crutch in some ways.  There’s always something I can think to do, so I have to force myself to daydream*.  Even when I’m on the phone with my parents, I’m probably stitching something or preparing food.  Busy hands!

For this project, just doodle. Take some paper (not too big) and a black marker and doodle. Make it as simple or as complicated as you want.  Do you still have the scrap of paper with your girlfriend’s phone number on it, from the first time you asked her for it? Maybe a to-do list that got done on a day you thought nothing would go right?  Just jot something down real fast!

Materials needed:

  • muslin or other lightweight fabric
  • paper
  • black market
  • embroidery hoop
  • embroidery floss or sewing thread
  • needle
  • fabric marker
  • scissors

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The Pizza Pillow

Mr. Jibbles tests the prototype.*

I saw Sleepwalk with Me this weekend, the lovechild of Ira Glass and comic Mike Birbiglia.  The movie adaptation was great– all the great, sidling disasters, goofy but right-on metaphors, pillows made of pizza, Lauren Ambrose.  If you haven’t heard Birbiglia do stand-up, get over to the This American Life page and listen post-haste!

Unfortunately, there are no stills of the pizza pillow or video.  All I can say is that someone thought it would be awesome if your pillow was made of pizza.  Ultimate in lazy heaven.  Sleep on a pizza.  The scene was bizarre (I just typed “the scene was pizza”).

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to just craft for funsies, and the pizza pillow idea stuck in my head.  The tipping point was when I searched for other people making this specific pizza pillow, and nothing existed.  I decided to take a chance on something great.  I’m not sure if the Pizza Pillow will end up at the Jumbo Jibbles store, due to it not being my idea, but if I can get a thumbs up from Mike Birbiglia, maybe I’ll do it.

Must. Make. It. Exist.

How to Make a Pizza Pillow

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Camp is over!

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Duckface and duck faces.  One of the perks of being a camp counselor was first in line at the visiting petting zoo.

What an experience!  I just went from virtually no classroom experience to a hardened warrior.  I mean, literally, you have to develop an exoskeleton to avoid all the flailing five-year-olds with needles running at you.  We all survived, with just a few needle pokes and very few tears, and now over 100 kindergarten through seventh graders can thread a needle, do basic stitches and finish simple projects of their choosing.  They have the confidence to fix their torn teddy bears. Some can draft simple patterns or understand store-bought ones.  Some children can free-hand embroider while others are overjoyed to understand the simple mechanics of a needle and thread.

I’d highly recommend Steve & Kate’s Camp if you live in the Bay Area.  The food is good, the studios are varied and engaging and these kids came up with amazing ideas and had the time to follow through with them.  After camp, it seemed like every hour of their day was filled with lesson after lesson, so it was good that while they were with us, they did what they wanted.  They played.

But now I get to play for a little while.  Red rover, red rover, send my vacation on over!


How to Make a Giant Artichoke

First, go get an artichoke.  It helps to know what such a thing looks like.  Maybe draw a picture, or trace a few leaves.

Second, you can eat it now.  Steam it with lemon slices and garlic for about 40 minutes and dip the leaves in melted butter. Mmmmm.

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I started with my basic “beach ball” pattern, and made a series of overlapping leaf shapes.  The original artichoke was a little flatter, so I decided to give this one more dimension by making the largest leaves two layers with stuffing in between them.  My next innovation was to cut a long row of the smaller leaves and machine-sew them into gathers and coil them around the top.  I may do a scarf in this style!

The hardest part of my sculptures is the initial start-up.  I am always afraid of two things: I can’t make it better than before and I can’t make it at all.  I require a lot of pep-talks along the way.  Since I was making lots of changes to this piece, there were many steps where I thought I was about to fail.  In the end, I learned new things and came out with a most beautiful finished product.   I’ll post more of the photo shoot later this week.


The Artichoke Returns

Another artichoke was commissioned a few weeks ago, and now I’m making a new and improved globular fruit.  This is the shape that got me started, not so long ago when I was making things as a joke.    Giant stuffed fruit?  Mwhahahahaha.Image

It’s becoming quite beautiful, and I’ve discovered new techniques which may take me in a fashion direction.  On the agenda: leafy scarves and baby blankets.  

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Pardon the canister of Panko in the background. No, this will not be a breaded artichoke. It’s just a perfect size for holding puppets upright!

I’m loving my new job at Steve and Kate’s, but it’s hard to get work done when I get home.  Kids are so tiring!  I may not be making a lot of my own, but I’m helping a lot of other crazy stuff get made.  Lots.  A lot of the campers have started on embroidery, and while they’re still doing basic stitches, they are prolific and think it’s the greatest thing ever.  I showed one girl how to do a satin stitch without wasting all your thread on the back end, and she looked at me like I told her the meaning of life.  Teaching kids makes you rethink the way you do and say everything, and I think I’ll come out a more articulate person afterwards.  

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Dress pattern from young camper.


Puppets Away!

Image from muppets.wikia.com

I’m making fantastic progress on the mushroom cloud puppet, and am at the point where I needed to revisit the Henson, or Muppet, stitch.  I practiced on a small piece of the fleece I chose for the cloud’s column:

You can barely tell where the seam is, and I used red thread!  The trick really is to go slow and only do 3-4 stitches at a time. WAX. YOUR. THREAD.  Also remember that Muppets are made with fleece, not felt.  It makes a big difference.

I spent about six hours working on the puppet today, and everything is done but the eyes and bottom cloud (it’s kind of a cloud skirt).  I’m eager to have it done so I can move on to other things, like more Water Bugs, unicorn horn tutorials and whimsical photo shoots.


New Robot Duds!

Today I received my first set of Jelly Pins in the mail.  I came across the Jelly Pins store while I was searching Etsy for suppliers of pretty glass-head pins for my robots.  I ordered a set glow-in-the-dark pins to use as “lightbulbs”.  They work!

There you glow!

Their intended use is for jewelry, but the seller assured me they are oven-proof so I’ll do what I do best with them!  Check out Jelly Pins (they are just tiny and beautiful) and watch my store for lightbulb robots!

Bonus!  I’ve been working on some decorative pin cushions (not ready for the world yet) and had some side-fun making pins to go with them.  They are space-themed for now, and may be used as solar panels or antennae on robots in the future.