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The Best Part

SciFi Man pointed out to me yesterday that I forgot to mention the best part of his Valentine’s Day gift to me. Which is that the “stem” of the flower is actually a retractable pointer, so I can tap things with it. (Apparently, he noticed how much I enjoyed tapping things the last time we bought wooden dowels at the hardware store.) And he’s totally right. Here’s some tapping in action:

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My Creative Sweetheart

Although SciFi Man and I love each other dearly, we aren’t always very big on giving each other the traditional Valentine’s Day cards and flowers. This is for a reasons both environmental and frugal. It can be difficult to find locally grown, pesticide-free, affordably-priced flowers in mid-February. This year our plans were minimal and we actually ended up spending the day with a friend, instead of as a romantic twosome. SciFi Man still managed to be a sweetheart, though. When my friend and I returned from shopping for her wedding dress (of course Valentine’s Day is a fine day to do wedding shopping!), I found this sweet, unexpected origami flower waiting for me.

My sweetheart doesn’t often get crafty and make things, so this is extra special. He also told me that he came up with the center piece all on his own. (He found directions for the rest of the flower online. When I told him I would blog about this, he asked me to warn you to be careful when googling for origami flowers, as his computer was almost infected with a virus when he was searching.)

It may not be red roses and chocolate, but it’s perfect. Thank you, darling. You can be my Valentine any day.

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New Magnet Sets in the Shop

Tonight I added some new sets of button magnets to the Etsy shop. Each set contains five magnets covered with either matching or coordinating fabric. They’re cute and practical. These are the types of magnets I use in my own kitchen, so I know that they’re strong and will last. We tend to use magnets to hold up more than one thing at a time around here, and these ones are up to the challenge!

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A Sneak Peek

A Little Peek

Here’s a little peek at the Tiny Toadstools and Snowy Little Hootie Owls that debuted at the Peoria Academy Holiday Fair this weekend. I absolutely love how the snowy owls turned out. Because they are all white, I added cream or grey appliqued faces to help their eyes stand out, and I think they look darling. And perfect for the chilly winter ahead!

I also added Tiny Toadstools, sets of five little hand-painted button mushrooms in red, green, and turquoise. I think they look great nestled in among the moss in my handmade terrarium (which requires no water, because it’s decorative craft store moss. My kind of plant!) The tiny toadstools and snowy owls (along with little Hootie owls in goldenrod, plum, and blueberry) will be appearing in the shop either Sunday or Monday, so be sure to check in!

As for the craft fair, it was a nice day, if a bit slow. I had an opportunity to visit the other vendors, buy myself a pretty hematite bracelet, and talk with the shoppers, which is always one of my favorite parts. This fair got me all excited about the Fancy Schmancy Holiday Shoppe next weekend. It’s going to be fun! The slowness also gave me time to make a bunch of new owls, and I can’t wait to share them with you!

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Hand Carved Rubber Stamps

Back when I was much younger, my mother got really into rubber stamping. Being the creative soul she is, my mother wasn’t content with the rubber stamps available to her and took it upon herself to carve her own. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose. I recently purchased a Speedball lino cutter and some Speedy Stamp and I’ve been mulling over some designs I want to try carving. I like to try new ways to create and be artistic, and the idea of reusable art appeals to me. Until I commit my ideas to Speedy Stamp, though, let me share a few of my favorite hand carved stamp Etsy shops with you.

Tiny Ingmar Swedish Horse Stamp from The Mayberry Sparrow

Two Etsy shops selling hand carved stamps stand out for me. They are The Mayberry Sparrow and Craft Pudding. Each has its own clear, unique style, and both create stamps that are undeniably cute. I absolutely adore the Tiny Ingmar Swedish Horse stamp at The Mayberry Sparrow. At Craft Pudding, I particularly love the little masked raccoon stamp. Of course, each shop has lots of other great stamps, too. And if I were you, I’d need to get more than one. Craft Pudding also has a great blog that I keep tabs on through my feed reader.

Raccoon Rubber Stamp from Craft Pudding

Do you use rubber stamps? Do you carve your own? Do you have any carving tips for me? My, I’m demanding today! Please, share a tip with me if you have one. Or any other comment. I don’t want to be too pushy.

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Circles and Stickers

Fiskars Circle Cutter and Finished Stickers

I tried out some new tools over the weekend. I got a Xyron 510 for Christmas that I hadn’t had a chance to use yet. I’d been imagining the stickers I would make with it and I realized that all my imaginary stickers were circular. I don’t have the steadiest of hands, so I figured I would just have to buy a large hole punch to get nice, circular stickers. Instead, I found a cool Circle Cutter from Fiskars. I can adjust it to cut circles from 1 inch in diameter to 8 inches. That seemed like a better deal that a punch that could only ever do one size, because I’m sure I will want different sizes at different times.

Paper circles, about to become stickers

I tested out the circle cutter on the latest Paper Source catalog (their catalogs are so pretty, and the next best thing to all the pretty papers they sell.) It makes excellent circles. My mom (who of course already had a circle cutter) gave me some tips for how to best use it. Specifically, you should only ever turn it in one direction (I chose clockwise.) Also, when turning, hold on to the blade end of the cutting arm and apply a little downward pressure to ensure that you cut all the way through the paper. Once I cut my circles, and you can tell from the picture that I cut a lot, I ran them through the Xyron and turned them into stickers. All in all, I was quite pleased with the results.

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My Top 5 Tools of the Trade

Cicada Daydream (who has some really lovely items in her Etsy shop) blogged about her “Top 5” tools of the trade yesterday, and inspired me to do the same! Ivy & Mae and Fog and Thistle also blogged about their Top 5, and I found it pretty interesting to read about the tools each of them love/use the most.

top5.jpg

  1. Baby Lock Creative Pro – I love this sewing machine. I sew almost every day, and this new machine handles fabric more smoothly than my old one ever did.  If I had a top 6, I would probably also mention the walking foot, which I bought separately. The walking foot makes sewing stacks of fabric together so much nicer than I ever thought it could be!
  2. Fiskars 45mm Rotary Cutter – I almost always cut my fabric with a rotary cutter. My lines end up straighter and I can cut through several layers at once. Not to mention it’s so much faster than scissors.
  3. Westcott Titanium 4″ Curved Embroidery Scissors – I use these little scissors all the time to trim threads close to the fabric.
  4. Olfa 18″x24″ Self-Healing Cutting Mat – A rotary cutter isn’t much good without a mat. I love the grid and diagonal lines on this mat. It is large enough for most of my projects, serves as a ruler, and also helps me to mark diagonal lines I use when quilting some projects.
  5. Donna Dewberry 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ Easy Read Ruler – Large enough to easily measure out pieces for card wallets, which I make frequently, transparent, and with clearly marked half inches. This ruler also came with optional stick on feet to keep it from slipping on fabric, which made a big difference for me.

These are the 5 tools I use most often and would be lost without. I’m not sure they are all the coolest tools I own, though (Baby Lock excepted), so I may have to do another top 5 of my coolest tools. What are your top 5 tools of your craft?

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Creative Weekend Plans

The weekend is upon us! In what creative way will you spend this weekend? I plan to start mine with some delicious homemade pizza topped with basil, tomatoes, and slices of fresh mozzarella, a glass of wine, and an episode or two of Quantum Leap. (If you are a fan of Quantum Leap and Scott Bakula, check out this excellent song on YouTube.)

Scott Bakula

Alright, so this post was supposed to be about helping you get some inspirations to be crafty and creative this weekend, but I just went to YouTube to find the link to the Scott Bakula song, and I came across all these other great Scott Bakula clips. So what if this is a crafty blog? I need to stop for a moment and pay homage to Scott Bakula. My Quantum Leap watching buddy and I (we’re on Season 5 now, and sad about the impending end of the series) both have a special place in our hearts for that time when Scott Bakula sang Volare. (You’ll have to Google for a video…)

Ok, I realize most people don’t share my love of Quantum Leap and Scott Bakula. Even so, you have to give him kudos for doing his own singing (more singing here). I guess if your weekend plans don’t include watching Quantum Leap, you could try some of these crafty things instead:

Whether you try some of these suggestions or not, I’d like to hear what your creative plans are for this weekend! Even more, I’d love to hear that I’m not alone on this whole Scott Bakula/Quantum Leap thing.

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Amigurumi Octopi

Amigurumi Octopi

When I got back from my vacation, I found these little guys waiting in my mail. Aren’t they the cutest octopi you’ve ever seen? I have always loved cephalopods (it’s true, ask my mom), like octopi (octopuses?), squid, and cuttlefish. As I’ve explored more of the creative things people are writing about online, I’ve discovered amigurumi and fallen in love with that, too. Amigurumi is Japanese for “knitted or crocheted doll,” and from my observations, appears to also mean “terribly cute!” According to Wikipedia, “The pervading aesthetic of amigurumi is cuteness. To this end, typical amigurumi animals have an over-sized spherical head on a cylindrical body with undersized extremities.”

I have been amazed with what can be created with crochet or knitting, which I had also associated with not-quite-as-cool scarves and afghans. Here are some of my flickr favorites:

Amigurumi on Flickr

Credits: 1. Flock of Amigurumi Birds, 2. Perita, 3. Amigurumi Crocheted Snails, 4. Hello Sapinho, 5. Toadstool amigurumi, 6. Amigurumi Dogs