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Currently Crafting – Polymer Clay Flamingos

Hello and welcome to this week’s Currently Crafting where I’m sharing a look at what’s on my proverbial crafting table! I realized that November two years ago is when we got ‘serious’ about experimenting with polymer clay, so today I’m sharing a couple of recent polymer clay projects and a few design tips.

My husband and I spent a weekend afternoon shortly before LG was born playing with clay and, while he also made a couple of Halloween pieces that seem odd to share now, we both ended up making a piece featuring a flamingo. I was inspired by two of my favorite polymer clay artists, and he was inspired by the Florida Lottery symbol. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

currently crafting - polymer clay flamingos

The style of my piece was very influenced by the work of Kay Miller of My Joyful Moments designs. Her Etsy store sells out super quickly after each update, so the best place to see her polymer clay and totally awesome cards is Instagram. I know that creating pieces inspired by other artists can be controversial, so I just wanted to let everyone know her blog specifically says to feel free to create your own designs inspired by her work. It’s always important to consider the wishes and preferences of an artist whenever you create something inspired by their work.

The way I actually constructed many of the elements was influenced by another pc artist I love, Mandarin Moon. We’ve purchased a couple of her tutorials on Etsy and while the flamingo piece is nothing at all like her work, I definitely used a lot of her tips while constructing the embellishments and selecting colors.

currently crafting - polymer clay flamingo

I intend to turn the flamingo medallion into a magnet that will probably be a Christmas present. At least, I made it with Christmas and a specific person in mind! I may like it too much to give it away…

If you’re interested in working with polymer clay or improving your designs, here are a few things I’ve learned in the past two years:

Use a range of values. Just like a painting or photograph, most pc pieces look best with a range of color value (lights, mid-tones, and darks). I tend to use mostly mid-tones with a few lighter and darker bits thrown in for contrast and interest.

Plan your colors ahead of time. Take a look at a color wheel to help you visualize what colors go well together, but remember that complements do not mix directly. Yellow and purple are complements, which means they look well together. However, physically mixing complementary colors, whether it’s paint, clay, or another medium, results in muddy, dull colors.

Don’t get discouraged. That flamingo too me a zillion tries to get just right! Polymer clay doesn’t dry out so if you’re not happy with your piece, just take it apart and try again. You’ll be glad you did.

Don’t stop learning! Even if you’ve been working with a medium for years chances are good you can still learn new techniques or experiment with something you’ve never tried before. We love free tutorials and YouTube, but we have also purchased a few tutorials to learn a really interesting technique. Investing in education is always worth it. 🙂

Whenever you follow someone else’s tutorial or pattern, make sure to read up on their policies regarding how you can use the finished item. Some artists are totally okay with you selling items made from their techniques/tutorials/patterns while others are not. Please be respectful.

Do you have any tips to add regarding designing and planning pieces, wether they’re clay, beadwork, mixed media, or something else?

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As regular readers know well by now, I’m a huge fan of handmade and homemade items for babies! In addition to an open-front ‘dresser’ and a baby shelf, we also made LG an activity gym. For her very first baby gym toys, I designed a set of very basic high contrast cards. She absolutely loves them! My husband and I enjoy just sitting there watching her watch the cards. I used the cards I designed to make a DIY high contrast baby gym mobile substitute using some inexpensive satin ribbon and just a few minutes of effort. I hope you enjoy these free printable high contrast baby gym cards for newborns whether you decide to display them in a changing area, for tummy time, or hang them!

Free Printable High Contast Baby Gym Cards [click to continue…]

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Currently Crafting – Knitted Sunny Baby Blanket

Hi and welcome to a new series I’m trying out called “Currently Crafting!” I make all sorts of things that never appear on the blog because I either didn’t feel like making a tutorial/didn’t think folks would be interested or because I’m following someone else’s pattern/tutorial/etc. I realized that I want to share these projects, though, and offer tips, advice, and observations about the process, so here we are with my first Currently Crafting post!

If anyone ever gives you a hand knit blanket, they deserve so much respect and gratitude. Seriously. Even if the pattern is relatively simple, unless you’re using roving or a super duper thick yarn, blankets take a while to make! Even tiny baby blankets. I will admit to being a slow knitter, so I’m sure that’s part of it, but blankets are deceptively time-consuming. I didn’t realize just how much work a baby blanket would be when I decided, in early October, that I wanted to knit LG a blanket. She has a very nice cotton blanket my mom knit for her, which is great for Hawaii, but my husband recently started knitting and it made me want to start a project, too. I decided to make her a warmer blanket for our upcoming December trip to meet family using the “Sunny” baby blanket pattern available for free on How Stuff Works. You can see the blanket’s Revelry page here.

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Like I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’ve decided to bring back “Wellbeing Wednesday” printables, at least on an occasional basis! Sometimes I have thoughts I really want to share or come across a beautiful quotation I think others would enjoy and printables are the perfect opportunity to put these thoughts out there for the world. Today I want to share something I frequently need to remind myself of; every time you do something, you have the opportunity to create a new, positive experience, regardless of your past experiences with something similar.

I am creating a new experience - free printable

I’ve found it’s far too easy to assume something will be unpleasant or go poorly based on a prior experience. As I’ve written many times in the past, you overwhelmingly receive what you expect. If you go into a situation with a negative expectation, you’ll probably find things to be unhappy about. If you remind yourself that this is an opportunity to create an entirely new, positive experience, then you’re a lot more likely to receive a positive outcome!

Reframing your expectations takes consistent work over a period of time, but the results are totally worth it. As we begin a new month and head into the holiday season, I challenge you to work on viewing something coming up as a new opportunity instead of allowing previous experiences to dominate your expectations. 🙂

As always, this is available as an 8×10 printable in the ‘printables for subscribers’ section of the blog. If you’re not a member yet, you can sign up using the box below this post! I currently send out a max of two emails a month and your get access to loads of free printables, templates, and patterns.

I hope you have an enjoyable November and a stress-free rest of the year!

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DIY Nontoxic Stained Wood Coasters Tutorial

Somewhere in our apartment we have two sets of washable fabric coasters but, as the Aussies would say, most of them have gone on walkabout. Something we definitely do not have a shortage of is wood scraps, so I decided to make us some new coasters. These DIY nontoxic stained wood coasters have a cute rustic vibe that’s perfect for fall and they’re an easy way to start working with wood!

DIY Nontoxic Stained Wood Coasters Tutorial [click to continue…]

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Friday Photoshare – Gym Maternity Photoshoot

For several months during the past year I regularly created “Friday Photoshare” posts that looked at a recent photo, frequently a self-portrait, and a bit of the motivation, inspiration, or process behind the image. For several different reasons, I stopped these regular posts this spring. I’ve had several recent requests to bring the post series back and/or share some current photos of myself, so I decided to bring the theme back for today! I honestly haven’t taken any photos of myself in several months so I didn’t have anything to share until after our gym maternity photoshoot Columbus Day. I hope folks enjoy the photos!

Yes, you read that correctly – we did a gym maternity photoshoot. We attend a very pregnancy and family-friendly gym. The coach I work with most often is a physical therapist, mom of two, and has years of experiencing working with pregnant clients. I remained active, scaling and modifying weights and moments as needed, from the very beginning of my pregnancy until the very end! Our Little Gnome, or LG as she will be known here on the blog, was born on Friday, October 27 and my last true workout was that Monday. On Wednesday I did the warmup with the class but then stretched and did mobility for the rest of the hour because I really felt like our birthing time was near and wanted to avoid tiring myself out.

Gym maternity photoshoot - ring dips

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Welcome to our Family!

As friends, family, and regular readers know, I was pregnant. I can say “was” now because our baby girl is now out in the world with us! Baby made her grand entrance into the world last Friday afternoon and we’re so thankful both of us are happy and healthy. We’ve made the decision to not share full facial/identifiable photos Baby online at this time and I am going to use a ‘blog name’ for her here on The Artisan Life. For the time being, our little one will be known here as Little Gnome, or LG for short. 🙂 In her hospital issue hat and blanket, she looked like a tiny, cute little gnome to us!

It’s a cell phone selfie that’s crooked, but this is the real life us on Saturday afternoon at the hospital with LG. I just can’t get enough of that newborn yawn!

I realize it sounds a little silly to call a photo of a newborn identifiable, but it’s a habit we want to set for ourselves. My husband was on a submarine for several years so “operational security” and “personal security” have been pretty drilled into us! We may change our minds at some point in the future, but it’s how things are for now. We are more than happy to share additional photos with family and friends privately, so please just ask one of us. We’ll be doing a newborn photo shoot within the next couple of weeks, so we’ll try to get some ‘nice’ pictures we consider post-abe, too.

As I’ve written multiple times over the last few months, I’ve been hard at work writing and scheduling posts. Things will remain at least mostly active here on The Artisan Life so don’t forget to check back for more tutorials and other goodness soon!

 

 

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Sometimes one thing just leads to another and then all of a sudden you find yourself trying to knit a baby blanket even though you live in the tropics and are a basic knitter, at best. It’s kind of a long story that began with making a crochet baby ‘pod’ photo prop, included my husband deciding that he wanted to visit the local yarn store, and ended with me deciding I wanted to go back to the yarn store for myself. Anyway, I was merrily knitting along one day when I realized the design looked a little off…because I’d accidentally knit two additional rows. I didn’t have a row counter and was trying to make tally marks on paper, but apparently had forgotten to make those marks a couple of times. Womp-womp. Me, being me, decided that surely I could make something to serve as a row counter and started searching the internet. Most of the tutorials I found for DIY row counters were either far nicer and more elaborate than what I had the supplies for (think nice looking bracelets) or not very well explained/photographed, which is why I decided to share this tutorial for a super easy DIY row counter for knitting and crochet!

easy DIY row counter for knitting and crochet

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As I’ve mentioned several times recently, I’m trying really hard to celebrate the seasons this year, no matter what the weather is like in Hawaii! Some days I feel like it’s lucky I have a strong imagination, but it’s been fun. I put a lot of time into writing posts for this fall since babies tend to follow their own schedules and arrive when they’re ready, not when the calendar says they’re “due,” so I actually made this garland quite a while ago! I’m just now fitting it into my schedule because I brainstormed tutorial ideas a little too well and have more things I want to write about than weeks to share them in. Make I’ll have to start posting multiple tutorials a week! Anyway, I’m excited to finally share this cute felt mushroom garland tutorial today and I hope you enjoy it!

Felt mushroom garland tutorial with free pattern [click to continue…]

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Free Blog Planner Printables for November 2017

As regular readers know, I’ve used my own blog planner printables quite a lot in 2017.  I scheduled posts ahead for our month long trip to West Virginia and the first couple of weeks after our return. After getting back in July, I immediately set to work planning ahead for the fall. I, like most babies, don’t really believe in “due dates” and have worked to be physically and mentally prepared whether baby comes “early” or “late.” If Baby is born early like I was, we’ll have a newborn at home when this post goes live. If Baby decides to stick closer to the average number of days and weeks for a first time mom, I’ll still be pregnant for a couple more weeks! That’s why I’ve tried to be physically ready to bring a newborn home any time in October, but mentally prepared for it to be November. It’s kind of funny scheduling a post and not knowing what my life will look like when it goes live! Needless to say, planning posts for November has been particularly important for me – no matter what I expect to have a newborn at home at least most of the month. So, without further ado, I present to you…free blog planner printables for November 2017!

The November calendar page is part of the entire year’s blog scheduler printable. If you don’t have it yet and want to go ahead and print the last couple of months, please stop by this post.

If you already have a calendar ready to go and just want the social media and views stats tracker page, here’s what it looks like:

free blog planner printables for November 2017

As usual, this page is available in the printables for members area. If you’re not a member yet and would like to be, you can either subscribe using the box at the bottom of this post or grab the PDF from my Selz “store” here. I’m currently sending out a max of 2 emails a month so becoming a member is totally not going to flood your inbox. As the saying goes, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

Alright, fellow schedule enthusiasts, I have an important question for you!

I’m working on my 2018 calendar so I can share it in mid-December. This year I’m probably adding on some extras, like pages to brainstorm your goals. Here is my question: should I include the stats tracker page with the calendar release or continue to share the tracker page on a month-by-month basis? I feel like I’m more likely to remember my stats page when I make a point of sharing and printing it each month, but I can also see how having the whole thing printed in one go could be helpful. Which should I do?? All the pages will be finished and ready to go in 2017, I’m just not sure when to share them.

Whachya think? The whole year all at one or stats tracker pages monthly again in 2018?

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