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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review- Decorating Eggs

Book review- Decorating Eggs by Jane Pollack

I'm always a little sad when great resource books go out of print, and then excited when they get re-released.

If you've ever had an interest in pysanka eggs, this book has almost everything you need to know about the art. So I'll start with what it doesn't have- instructions for centering a design on an egg. Those can be found easily enough in other books and on the internet.

What it does have? Tips, instructions and design help from someone who spent decades decorating eggs for sale, doing shows, teaching people how to do it, and becoming very, very good at it.

It starts with a list of the tools and supplies you'll need. Starting with how to find the right kind of eggs, and the difference between types of kitskas then explaining the wax, dyes and finishing techniques. This is not strictly traditional, because there are a lot of time saving tools used, like rotary tools for cutting, egg blowers and polyurethane. All of which help you make a better finished egg and give you more time for creating your art.

Next, a step by step tutorial tells you how dye, explains the order of the colors you use, and how to apply wax. Then it tells you how to get the wax off your colored egg and how to finish it for display.

None of that is the best part of this book, which is full of color photos and display ideas.

The best part is the design ideas, the author shows how designs can be taken from other arts, textiles like batik- which also uses wax for resisting color are natural, but the geometric quilt designs are my favorite. The examples show how color can radically alter a simple geometric design, and where to look for ideas. Lacey designs, designs that look like henna, showing how different lengths of time in a dye bath can create great tone on tone effects are all part of the ideas offered.

For more traditional designs, there is a great chapter on the meaning of the design elements in Ukrainian eggs, it explains motifs, bands and color usage with sketched examples and gorgeous photos of eggs. If you want to design an egg specifically for a person that would have relevancy and be traditional, this information is fantastic.

At the end of the book, there is information about designing jewelry from eggs. How to cut them and stabilize them to create brooches, barrettes and pendants.

It encourages you to play. That you can go traditional, but that you can also decorate an egg to fit your own personality. It takes a lot of the mystery out of these gorgeous eggs, and makes the basic techniques less scary. I recommend this book to anyone interest in egg art, but also to people who haven't ever considered it but do things like zentangles or henna. The same designs you build on paper or skin will work on these eggs for a new way to display and market your art.

I received a complimentary copy of this book to review, I received no other compensation, and my review is my honest opinion of the book. You can read more about my review policy here.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Pom Pom Bobby Pins

How to make pom pom bobby pins with pom pom instructions

Bobby pins go by a few names, but by any name, they are pretty awesome for crafters because it doesn't take much to decorate one. This project uses standard bobby pins- the inexpensive ones that are on cards at the drug store.

To make the pom pom bobby pin-
Make pom poms, slide the pin into the piece of yarn that ties all the strands together. It's that easy. Make them in school colors for your kids, make them in sport team colors to support your favorite team, or just make them in fashion colors because pom poms are fun.

To make the pom pom:

There are a lot of methods for making pom poms. Using forms and pom pom makers, using forks, using your fingers. For small ones, I like using my fingers. This is my method for making them, and includes how to get the tying strand through without trying to poke it through fingers that are tied together with yarn.

You will need:
yarn- of course!
crochet hook- I like a size H for this, but just grab what's convenient.

Cut a strand of yarn about 8 inches long to use for the tie in the middle.
Then put the hook between the index and middle fingers on your non-dominant hand. I'm lefthanded, so it's in my right hand. The hook have the open side facing your finger tips.
Start wrapping. For a small, very full pom pom, I like 50-70 wraps with worsted weight yarn. 

Once it's full enough, put the tying thread over the open end of the hook.

Pull the hook through with the yarn.
Now tie one half of a knot around the middle of the yarn bundle, and slide carefully off your fingers. Finish the knot pulling tight.
Cut the loops open. When you do, you'll notice that because of the layers, the yarn ends are all sorts of lengths. That's okay, that's how it's supposed to look.

Flatten, then cut into a disk shape.
It still won't be perfect, but it's a lot closer at this point!

Now it's time to trim, just trim the ends that stick out until you have a nice round pom pom.

The reason you start with a larger size is both because you're going to trim it to size, but also because it makes it easier to knot the center and work a fuller pom pom.

This also works just fine to make larger pom poms, putting the hook between the index and ring fingers, and then wrapping around all 4 fingers. You'll have to do a lot more wraps, and if you want a matched pair, count your wraps. Large pom poms can be put on bigger bobby pins and used to accent a ponytail.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Riddler, my garden, and some random photos

Some photos from this month...

Leather Magpie Barrette
 The barrette above was made by my good friend Andrea. She knows how much I love magpies and makes some of the most gorgeous fantasy leather accessories around. You can see her masks, barrettes, crowns and jewelry at her Etsy shop - Beadmask on Etsy

Real magpies!
Did you know that American magpies and Australian magpies are completely different looking birds? *waves to all her Aussie readers* I hope you're all staying warm! If you live in Australia and have a photo you took of magpies that you'd be willing to share, I'd love to share it with my readers.

Karen, another friend of mine, gave me some forget-me-nots for my yard. They look so pretty and dainty!

My sugar snap peas!
So many snap peas! I planted a bunch because we all grazed like crazy last year. We are doing the same thing this year. They taste so good.

The Amazing Turnip Girl told me she didn't have a costume for the Batman party we went to. But she dug a purple-ish shirt out of her closet, and a necktie with some green in it, and teamed it with a thrifted suede vest. Then she made the accessory that made it a costume!

This is made with cardboard, paper mache, duct tape, spray paint and acrylic paint. She didn't have a costume because she's been working on a costume for an upcoming Marvel event.

I need to get more Command hooks to use for displaying her costume accessories. She's getting so good at creating things out of minimal supplies and on a budget.

My raspberries are starting to redden, we've been fighting over the strawberries as they ripen, and watching more and more green tomatoes pop up on the tomato plants. I'm getting impatient waiting for them to change color!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Batman is 75!

Bat signal box and Funko Pop Nightwing

Batman's 75th Anniversary Celebration is underway, and DC is partnering with comic book stores around the country to celebrate. So The Amazing Turnip Girl asked me "Aren't you going to do anything on your blog for Batman?"

Check your local comic book store to see if it's participating. My local comic book shop, Bosco's will have cake, masks and discounts on Batman merchandise and books.

See, I'm a Dick Grayson fangirl, from when he was Robin in the elf booties on Superfriends, to Nightwing in the 80s with the silly wing costume and the popped collar, to 90s long haired bad boy Nightwing, the red costume and Grayson. Without Batman there would be no Robin, and so no Dick Grayson.

So I put together this quick printable treat box as a tribute to Batman. I hope you enjoy it.

Click the image below for a larger version to print on card stock, follow the instructions on the printable to make it.
Printable bat signal treat box

The figure in the photo is a Funko Pop! Nightwing that a good friend of mine got me as a present. 


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