Show-n-Tell Ceramics, A New Bowl

I have more Ceramics to post. This bowl was my attempt at making a larger, handmade bowl with a carved design that encircles the piece. Despite sealing all of the seams, a small crack appeared after glazing. My teacher suggested re-glazing and re-firing. The crack remained though it doesn’t go through to the bottom.

I consider this bowl a metaphor for me. I keep trying to seal the seams of doubt, “re-glazing and re-firing,” but the crack remains. Maybe this bowl is a metaphor for all of us, flawed but interesting and oh-so-pretty.

Hon, just like my manuscripts, some ceramics pieces were practice, some were thrown away, and some will be polished and glazed another time. But, I’m happy with these small vases and bowls. I especially like the carving on the vases and the throwing lines on one of the bowls.

Wishing me and you places to go in our minds, practice and work where creativity keeps us in the moment and allows anxiety and self-doubt to disappear into the background.

Cool Craft for Kids & Teens, Shrinky Dinks Animal Key Chains

Animal Lovers Kids and Teen Craft

Here’s another take on Shrinky Dinks crafts. Supplies and steps for these horse key chains are the same as the fashion key chains. I taught After School Enrichment classes for several years, and often had repeat students so, though projects may have used similar mediums and supplies, I varied content. Some kids traced patterns from scrapbooking paper while others made up their own designs. They used jump rings to attach pieces and Wikki Stix to create manes. Horses are just the start; templates for any animal can be created.

Shrinky Dinks Animal Key Chains

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Draw an animal and parts on a piece of paper and add small circles where the pieces will join. Add a small circle to the place where the key ring will later be attached. (On the horse, the key ring hangs from the middle of the back.) Trace outline of body and body parts on Shrinky Dinks sheets. All tracing and coloring should be on “rough” side of SD sheets.
  2. Using colored pencils, color patterns and designs and add animal’s facial features.
  3. Punch holes where small circles are drawn. Be careful to leave space between holes and edges so edges don’t split.
  4. Cut out animal parts.
  5. Follow Shrinky Dinks instructions to bake cut-outs.
  6. After baking, gently flatten pieces that curl up.
  7. Join pieces using jump rings.
  8. Create manes or fur with yarn or Wikki Stix. Feed Wikki Stix through holes and twist to secure. OR feed yarn through holes and knot and trim.
  9. Find the opening where the key ring is to be attached and feed a jump ring through that hole. Attach the key ring to that jump ring.

Tip: Shrinky Dinks shrink A LOT! Keep this in mind and trace a template large enough that when parts are baked and shrink, the key chain isn’t the size of a peanut! Please keep this in mind when drawing circles that will be punched out. You don’t want the holes to be so small, a jump ring won’t fit.

Cool Kids & Teen Craft, Shrinky Dinks Fashion Key Chains

Another Snow Day Kids and Teen Craft

Did you create key chains, jewelry and keepsakes with Shrinky Dinks when you were a kid? I did and my kids did, too. So, when discussing ideas for After School Enrichment classes with a camp art director, she suggested this cool craft. The 2nd – 5th graders in my ASE class loved tracing patterns from wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, and fashion magazines onto their own templates. They colored patterns, added facial features, cut out body parts, and punched holes so the baked pieces could be assembled with jump rings. They added Wikki Stix hair and a key ring and–voila–they had their own Shrinky Dinks Fashion key chains. More template ideas: kids playing sports, dancers, and superheroes. Be creative!

Shrinky Dinks Fashion Key Chains

Supplies:

Steps:

  1. Draw a body and parts on a piece of paper and add small circles where the pieces will join. Trace outline of body and body parts on Shrinky Dinks sheets. All tracing and coloring should be on “rough” side of SD sheets.
  2. Using colored pencils, color clothing patterns and add facial features.
  3. Punch holes where circles are indicated, being careful to leave space between holes and edges so edges don’t split.
  4. Cut out body parts.
  5. Follow Shrinky Dinks instructions to bake cut-outs.
  6. After baking, gently flatten pieces that curl up.
  7. Join pieces using jump rings.
  8. Create hair with yarn or Wikki Stix. Feed Wikki Stix through holes on top of head and twist to secure. OR feed yarn through holes and knot and trim.
  9. Feed a jump ring into middle hole on top of head and then feed key chain ring into that jump ring.

Tip: Shrinky Dinks shrink A LOT! Keep this in mind and trace a template large enough that when parts are baked and shrink, the key chain isn’t the size of a peanut! Please keep this in mind when drawing circles that will be punched out. You don’t want the holes to be so small, a jump ring won’t fit.

Easy DIY Winter Kids Craft, Felt Mitten Bookmarks

Snow Day Activity

I’m re-posting this Easy DIY Winter Kids Craft because it’s quick and creative. Though my K-2 After School Enrichment students enjoyed making their own Felt Mitten Bookmarks, pre-schoolers can also assemble them (Supplies for my Two’s are portioned out in our “Virtual Learning Bin.”) Don’t have suggested supplies? Use what you have. Set up a workstation, fill bowls with decorations, and invite kids to assemble, glue and decorate. Fun and done!

Gather supplies.

Measure ribbon and cut out mitten shapes.

Sandwich ribbon between back and front mittens. Decorate. Let dry.

Felt Mitten Bookmarks
Supplies:  
  • felt (or a thick fabric), small pieces will do
  • fabric glue
  • grosgrain ribbon (or satin ribbon), about 14 inches per bookmark
  • tiny pom-poms
  • small googly eyes
  • any other things to use for decorating such as glitter glue, thin ribbon, foam shapes, sparkly stars
  • ruler
  • scissors
  • marker
  • craft stick (or cotton swabs)
  • newspaper, wax paper, tin foil, or cloth (whatever you don’t mind getting glue-y)
Steps:
  1. Set up craft area with newspaper, wax paper, etc.
  2. What size book is the bookmark being made for? A picture book? A chapter book? Measure the book, then add 6 inches to that measurement, which will allow ribbon to stick out of the top and bottom of the book and to be sandwiched between the felt. For example, if a book measures 8 inches, I’d add 6 inches and cut a 14 inch piece of ribbon
  3. Draw mittens on the felt. Cut 4 mittens out of the felt, making sure they are the same shape so that when they’re glued together, they match up.
  4. Match up the felt mittens, figuring out which will be the fronts and which will be backs. Using craft sticks (or cotton swabs), spread fabric glue on the insides of the mitten. Sandwich 1 inch of the ribbon between the fronts and backs. Press to help glue adhere.
  5. Decorate mittens, either one side of each mitten or both, there’s no right or wrong.Let dry.

Tips:  Trim excess felt. Check seams for gaps and, using craft stick (or cotton swab), add extra fabric glue where needed.

Yarn Picks the Person Infinity Scarf

When deciding which knitting project to work on, sometimes I start with the pattern and sometimes I start with the yarn. When I found this chunky, variegated, green, wool yarn, I knew immediately who it was meant for. Using an easy rib pattern, I knit this infinity scarf as a holiday gift for my niece’s fiancé, Cherie. Looking forward the day when this pandemic is over and we can attend and celebrate the postponed wedding of she and Aline!

Want to know how talented Cherie, the stage manager for Hadestown, is? Click here to see all of her professional pursuits?

Happy holidays, hon!

 

Sweater Weather

Loopy Mango Long-Sleeved, Cropped Cardigan and Pullover modeled by my daughters.

Last year, when I wanted to knit sweaters again, I got into patterns and chunky wool by Loopy Mango. I knit two perfect-for-Spring Loopy Mango Puffed Sleeve Tops: one in bright yellow and one in gray. I recently finished knitting two more sweaters. The forest green and gray, long-sleeved, cropped sweaters are perfect for sweater weather. My daughters modeled the chunky sweaters, gifts for two nieces, before they were wrapped. I’m so happy with how the sweaters turned out! The patterns were fun to work on, so I may knit more once I check out wool and colors at my favorite yarn shop, Wool & Grace.

Happy creating and giving gifts, hon!

Ceramics: Two-Year Tea Set

Teaset glazed in nutmeg and slate.
I had no idea that a tea set project would take two years!

Wheel throwing a tea set was a challenging project for many reasons. Who knew that centering and opening a ball of clay that could fit in the palm of your hands would be so hard?! In my attempt to create tea cups, it looks weeks to get six, relatively similar sizes. Some were too thin and some were too lopsided–so many throw-aways!

Then there was the teapot itself. This proved so challenging that almost all of us students needed hands-on help from our instructor (Shout out to Beatrice!) She patiently taught us how to form a vessel and spout, a lid and, much harder than it looks, a handle.

After the tea cups and tea pot were made, what about a tray? My first attempt cracked in the kiln, and that’s where the project stalled. I didn’t want to glaze the pieces until I’d made them all so, discouraged, I put the them away. I waited and waited until I was ready to hand-build another tray. Two years later, this summer, I did.

The tea pot set saga is a metaphor for my writing, though working through the disappointments and successes of pottery feels completely different. In Ceramics, I’m more interested in the process than the product. When working on a manuscript, I enjoy the process, but have a specific goal in mind–to bring my characters and stories to life.

Whereas, the clay ignites my imagination…my imagination ignites the stories.

Hon, happy creating and imagining and working and persevering.

Raku Extruded Bowls

Pieces glow orange when they’ve been Raku fired to about 1,700-1,800 degrees F.

One of my favorite things is to Raku fire with my teacher and potter extraordinaire Peter Syak. In a (small, masked and socially distanced) ceramic class this summer, Peter introduced the extruder, which is like a giant Play-Doh machine, but for clay.

I made seven bowls: three small ones without feet and four large ones with feet. My carving needs a ton of practice, but I like how some of the pieces came out.

Though Raku pottery is generally not food-safe, it’s safe with “dry” food such as candy, nuts, and pretzels.

The Copper Blue Luster glaze is beautiful, and I always like the crackles that show up when using Clear Glaze.

Happy creating, hon!

 

A Week of Positives: Ceramics

1,750 degrees F! That’s the temperature the Raku kiln must reach before Peter removes pottery and then sets them in a bed of sawdust where they burst into flames!

Pottery is therapy!

Wheel throwing, hand building, trimming, carving, sanding and glazing force me to be in the moment. This summer, due to Covid-19, one of my Ceramics teachers offered a limited-spot, mask-wearing class. One of the wonderful things about learning from and working with Peter Syak is ending class with an always-dramatic Raku firing. My favorites pieces from the class are a desk caddy and lamp bases (my first ever lamps!). We used an Extruder, which is like a giant Play-Doh tool, to make unique bowls. I carved them and added feet, but won’t know they turn out until I Raku fire them this Fall.

Want to know more about Raku firing? Check out Raku Intensive.

Lamp base, unglazed.

Lamp base, unglazed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unloading the Raku kiln.

Lamp bases, glazed.

Desk caddy.

 

Make Do and Mend, Hand Knit Market Bags Lined with Pretty Prints

“Make Do and Mend,” a philosophy of repairing and reusing clothes and material, originated in the UK during WWII. Though I often see alternate possibilities for household items and fabric (My family says I’m a pack rat. I call it being creative!), during quarantine the whole family was making do and mending. So, it’s no surprise that when I wanted to line my hand knit market bags (pattern below), I dug into our bag of bags and found the perfect liners:  pretty printed cotton shopping bags.

Steps to create liners out of cotton shopping bags:

  • Wash and iron bags.
  • Cut off handles.
  • Insert into knit bags and pin to fit.
  • Fold over and iron top seams.
  • Pin liners inside knit bags.
  • Sew.

During WWII, the British Ministry of Information released a pamphlet titled “Make Do and Mend.” It provided tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. Readers were advised to create pretty “decorative patches” to cover holes in warn garments, unpick old sweaters to reknit into new styles, turn men’s clothes into women’s, as well as darn, alter, and protect against the “moth menace.”                                                    Green America

Pattern for Double Handled Market Bag from Plymouth Yarn.

DOUBLE HANDLED MARKET BAG

Yarn: 2 (3) 100g skeins of yarn

Gauge: 4.5 sts=1″ over st st on size 7 needles.

Needles: 16″ circular size 7. 24″ circular size 13.

Finished Size: Approx. 16 (20)” long. Bag will stretch.

BOTTOM: With size 7 circular needles, loosely cast 25 sts. Working back and forth in garter st, knit 46 rows or until square. Bind off loosely, leaving last st on needle. Do not cut yarn. Continuing with the circular needle, pick up and knit 96 its all around the base (24 sts per side). Place marker and join. Knit 1 round.

SIDES: Change to larger circular needle and begin pattern:

Round 1: Knit.

Round 2: *(Yo, k2tog); repeat from* around.

Round 3: Purl.

Repeat rounds 1-3 9 (11) more times until there are 10 (12) sets of “eyelet holes” up the side. End with round 3.

Next round: Change back to the smaller circular needle.

Round 1: Knit.

Round 2: Purl. Repeat these 2 rounds until there are 7 (8) ridges: 14 (16) rounds total. End with a purl round.

STRAPS: On next round: BO 14 sts, K10, BO 14 sts, K10, BO 14 sts, K10, BO 14 sts, K10. Working back and forth on these last 10 sts only–knit every row until total length of strap is 11 (14)”, ending with a WS row. Pick up the 10 sts from the opposite side (1st set of knit sts) and holding and right sides together, work the 3 needle bind off–attaching the 2 sets of sts.

Reattach yarn to second set of 10 sts with WS facing. Knit every row until total length of strap is 11 (14)”, ending with WS row. Pick up the 10 sts from the opposite side (3rd set of knit sts) and holding the right sides together, work the 3 needle bind-off-attaching the 2 sets of sts.

Weave in all ends.

Abbreviations: K=knit, p=purl, st(s)=stitch(es), RS=right side, WS=wrong side, yo=yarn over, k2tog=knit 2 sts together, BO=bind off, st st=stockinette stitch