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Posts tagged ‘process’

Robocop Arm to the Rescue!

Thanks to everyone for the kind words and encouragement from my last post! It really means a lot to me and definitely encourages me that they will one day go off to new homes and be enjoyed each and every day by their owners – just as I enjoy some of the art toys I have from other artists. I’ve also have a few people interested in commissioned felties – and hoping that will pan out! I’ve still yet to have my first commissioned critter!

I confess I have not been very motivated to blog in the past few weeks – hence the lack of posts. My wrist injury has really been limiting what I can do creatively, so I’ve been a bit restless and spending a lot of time just sorta zoning out reading or watching TV. So this wrist thing – which I originally thought was a sprain from working out – turned out to instead be tendinitis in the thumb joint of my wrist… caused by – you guessed it – needle felting! So no, I don’t burn myself welding or pull muscles in pilates… instead I inflame tendons stabbing wool! Sheesh, who knew this was going to be such a dangerous hobby? =P

As per doctor’s orders, at night I get to wear this truly fabulous Robocop brace that immobilizes my thumb and wrist. During the day, thankfully I get to wear a smaller one that looks more like I got in a hardcore fight and punched someone’s lights out. Not gonna lie, I do pretend that’s the real story just to feel extra badass walking down the street or driving with it on. Hey might as well use some creativity to turn it into a positive, right?

So the past few weeks I’ve stopped felting pretty much entirely, trying to give myself a good chance to heal up. I cannot rock climb, I cannot kayak, and I’m insanely restless to do both! Thankfully, this week the pain has almost entirely subsided – Prednisone dosepack & Robocop arm to the rescue! I think I am only a week or two away from being able to do all of my favorite things again, and am even able to start doing little things this week like open bottles and cans and lift stuff. My god, I never realized how important thumbs are! I certainly have a new appreciation for these digits!

At this point its pretty obvious I won’t be making my June deadline for the art market, but you know what? That’s okay. Even if I don’t get selling at an actual market this year at all, this project has jump started some great stuff for my Etsy shop. I hope to start photographing everything soon so that I can get a bunch of it up in my otherwise barren shop in the next few months! Woo! Even if it’s not the outcome I originally desired, it’s progress! And it’s still making things I love and moving forward with my overall goals of making some money from doing what I love. =)

Two Weeks & Ten Little Heads

Two weeks into the project and I am on schedule with 10 felted heads completed! It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun to see all these little critters coming together! I’ve felted all over the place – from a lunch table at work to my friend’s house… even on the road traveling down to San Antonio and back this past weekend. My wool and needles now go pretty much everywhere with me!

So for my first 10 large felties in the picture here, I will have a mix of foxes, cats, dogs, lions, and possibly some other random critters like moles, bears, or rabbits. Each head measures approx. 2 1/4″ in diameter. Foxes are my personal favorite, so I’m really excited to see how they come out!

I’ve started to figure out about how long it takes me to make each head now… The basic round heads are taking about an hour – maybe a little less if I really hustle. The ones with snouts and ears take around an hour and a half. The trick is actually being mindful of working fast. Since felting is actually pretty relaxing to do… it’s find myself slowing down a lot without realizing it!

This week I will be starting in on the bodies and adding color to the heads! *excitement!*

Waiting, waiting and Side Projects

I know, its not November anymore! Tsk tsk, I am late finishing the project!

Sadly, I am still waiting on my laser cut pieces to arrive in the mail. *sigh* Definitely cramping my creativity over here..  In the meantime, I’ve been trying to finish up another project that I’ve been working on bit-by-bit all year – the ugly duckling desk! I’ve been rooting around for over an hour trying to find a picture of the original desk. Unfortunately, it seems I can’t locate those shots anywhere! Hopefully one will turn up soon. Until then, here’s the story and a few process pictures…

One fine spring day Andrew and I were driving off to meet some friends when we passed an old desk that had been left by the dumpster at my apartments. We drove by slowly, it looked to be solid wood. I debated rescuing it, but decided against it and off we went. Of course, ever since I was young I have been drawn to rescuing things – be it junk people threw out, baby birds that fell from nests, or stray pets that lost their homes. So, as we drove a few blocks further, the rescuer in me took hold! “Can we go back for that desk?!” I said, feeling like a bit of an inconvenience as we had to be somewhere. Without hesitation we did a u-turn as he said “I already knew you were going to want to” and smiled at me. We heaved the old thing into the back of the truck – indeed it was solid wood. It was hideous in color, but in good shape. There was potential.

A few months later, I borrowed an electric sander from a friend and went to work on the old desk. A mess of fine and likely toxic dust filled the air as we sanded the old finish off (knowing nothing at all about refinishing wood, I have since learned you can use chemicals to take off most of that, so you don’t have to subject your poor neighbors to the insane racket of sanding on an enclosed concrete patio. oops). We sanded away slowly, until finally the nasty old orange-yellow finish started to disappear. Underneath was something I never expected… a gorgeous pink-hued wood with some of the most beautiful grain I’d ever seen. That’s right, I had stumbled on a solid cherry wood desk that had been hidden for who knows how long under the wrong finish! What luck!

(Partially sanded, still a bit of the nasty orangey finish in a few places.)

It took months to slowly sand the desk down to where it was ready to be refinished. Working on my monthly projects meant that I probably only sanded it once a month, if that. But finally this fall, the sanding was done. I removed some base boards from the bottom to use for testing finish techniques (planning to replace them with new ones). The first two tests I did were a plain polyurethane coat and then a reddish stain. Neither came out how I wanted. The stain flattened all the color in the wood and just made it look dull and  sad. Hm. This was going to take some real experimenting.

(Top: Walnut Stain that dulled the tones of wood
Middle: Mahogany Stain, you can see the patchiness of absorption
Bottom: Shellac & Burnt Umber Oil Paint Glaze, gave great richness of tones and coloration)

I began researching with fervor the many ways to refinish cherry wood. As it turns out, there are some real no-no’s about applying stains directly to cherry because it absorbs oddly – leaving you with weird, patchy areas and – of course – dulling all the sumptuous tones away. After much research, I finally found a method on American Woodworker that piqued my interest – using artist’s oil paints to make a glaze! I was automatically interested based on the odd-ness of the idea, but it also sounded like it might just work. By sealing the wood first with shellac, and then applying the glaze, the color actually sits on top of the wood – giving you added color while allowing all the rich tones of the cherry to remain in tact! I tested it out and was quite amazed at just HOW beautiful it looked. This was exactly what I wanted! And with that I got busy on the desk.

(Freshly sanded desk, with thin coat of shellac applied)

(Glazing process – equal parts oil paint and painter’s medium from hobby store.)

This past few weeks, I’ve put on the shellac and the oil paint glaze and am currently putting on a few thin coats of semi-gloss polyurethane to make it nice and bullet-proof. I can scarcely believe how it looks, much less that I helped to create this beauty with my own hands. There is so much depth to it that – as the light moves across it when you walk past – you see a rich kaleidoscope of blushing auburn tones so delicious you almost want to taste it! I realize I may sound a bit overly passionate here, but is there any harm in getting carried away with the beauty of a thing? There’s a part of me that wishes I knew the people who threw it away, and that I could show them what the full potential of this little desk could be.

(Finished color, one full coat of glaze and a second coat on outer edges to darken and give an aged look.)

There are still a few final touches to be done – the bronzing on the hardware, the base boards around the bottom – but I expect to have this duckling-turned-swam done by Christmas!


Decided to do a practice run before getting to the final project for this month. To keep with the theme, this one is a breast cancer egg. Sketched out a ribbon design with pencil first, and then traced over the lines with wax. Tomorrow after work I’ll be swinging by the store to pick up some mason jars to put the dye in, and getting this little one dyed a pretty pink!



Preparing for Build Day

Two hours at Lowe’s and $100 later – and we’ve finally gathered all the materials we need for building the coffee table! Much thanks to the beau for helping out with wood selection, all the measurements and other such guy-stuff. ;) So now we’ve got wood legs, paint, wood stain, brushes, wood for the frame and some totally awesome paintable wallpaper that looks like tin ceiling tile! The plan is to cut panels of the wallpaper to lay over top of the glass panels on the window. A heck of a lot easier and cheaper than trying to use real tin ceiling tile.

Tomorrow morning we get started on the build… sanding, staining, painting, drilling and more. Totally stoked to get this project completed!

Glass Etching Methods

I’ve spent the last week or so doing a bit of research on glass etching for this month’s project. I’ve found that there are basically two main methods for doing glass etching: corrosive cream or sand-blasting. Being a chick who loves big, fancy power tools.. the idea of doing some hardcore sand-blasting certainly sounds like a lot of fun! I will likely end up having to go the route of the corrosive cream instead, for cost purposes and lack of having a giant awesome sand-blaster. Darnit!

The below video demonstrates these two methods in a pretty basic and easy-to-understand way. The creation of stencils is not covered in this video though, so going to do a bit more looking around to find some good examples of different ways to create designs. Enjoy!

Stuckness! When the Curve Balls Come

I haven’t posted in a while – and sadly I really have nothing of any great importance about this month’s project to share yet. I am however, happy to say that I have had some time today to do more thinking and researching and have definitely come up with a few exciting ideas. More to come soon!

But this post is just a little bit about what I’ve actually done for the past few weeks of the month. Well, as often happens… life has snuck up on me. Stresses were high for the beau early this month. We had some mis-communication which led to a bit of a rough spot.. followed quite inconveniently by my coming down with a rather nasty cold last week! Fortunately the love spat has smoothed over and is quite resolved, but the cold is still holding on strong – complete with a nearly convulsive cough (my co-workers can attest to as they have been totally annoyed by it for days now).

It’s definitely tough to think about side projects and creative stuff when the curve balls get thrown in. I’ve had a bad habit in the past of letting certain parts of my life take over my whole world – leaving me unbalanced and abandoning a bunch of other areas during my stressing. I definitely know better than to do that now – but old habits die hard and often resurrect themselves! This month has definitely been a learning and growing experience though – and slowly but surely I am getting back on track and ready to tackle the awesomeness of nature art in outer space! or outer space in nature! or whatever it happens to be!

Sometimes curve balls will throw us off track a bit with our goals and projects. When it happens, I just try to remember to stop, be calm and quiet, and refocus myself as quickly as possible to keep balanced. I also remind myself that it’s okay that I got off track or messed up! I’m only human after all.

While writing this up, I did a quick search on the topic and found this article – which had some great tactics for getting yourself unstuck and keeping yourself on track when the curve balls come. A few of them I have never tried myself, and will have to add to my toolbox! Good stuff.



First Quarter: Lessons Learned

Hi friends,

The project has been going for 3 full months now. This seemed like a great time to sit down and reflect on the project thus far and record what I have gained from it – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Like any journey, it’s had its ups and downs.. here’s a few of the bigger ones:

Creative Confidence:

When I first started this project, my only real goal was to do all the things I’d thought about doing for a long time. Pretty simple really. No fame or fortune or grand discoveries. Just the ole Nike slogan working here.

In just a few short months though, I’ve already realized that this project is going to leave me changed in a lot more ways than I expected. Much like the things I create, the project has become a part of me. It is something that belongs to me and something that no one can take away or ruin. It’s given me a confidence and deeper belief in my creative abilities simply by giving me permission to just do all these things. It has served as a sanctuary for my creative spirit – a place where I can play as a child does, without judgment or concern for how things will turn out in the end.

Creative Connection & Trust:

It’s also given me a new level of trust in my own creative abilities and in the abilities of others. And believe me, for a creative control freak this is a VERY new experience! For the first time in my life, I am really learning to let go and trust others to help me create things. Together we can create beautiful things and have such a great experience, but to have this requires letting go of trying to control it all. I’ve been practicing this sort of thing in other parts of my life for a while now – but never really thought about how control (or the illusion of it) hindered my creativity. February’s friendship project is where I learned about this kind of trust and creative connection. It’s probably the lesson I am most grateful for thus far, as it has really improved my creative relationships at work as well as in my personal life.

The Flow and what Interrupts It:

I’ve learned some important stuff about The Flow of Creativity in these few months. For one, it’s not always there.. but there are usually reasons why it’s not there. Some things flow inexplicably and effortlessly.. the ideas just appears and you know with all your soul “yup, that’s the one!”. Why does this happen sometimes but not others? I’ve found that, for me, the effortless flow comes only when I have managed to let go of my expectations, judgments, fears, and insecurities so that the ideas CAN flow and my creative spirit feels safe enough to even get excited.

When I find myself stumped and really struggling to get excited about any idea.. it always seems to happen because I am carrying around all those negative emotions while I’m trying to create. It just doesn’t really flow – it can’t. I start trying to control and strive for perfection. It’s as though I get so caught up in trying to find THE idea that my creative spirit cannot even get excited about ANY ideas at all. I mean really, how could it? I’ve totally terrified it by saying it needs to make something incredibly brilliant and clever (while also saying that I don’t really think I am that clever) and make something that everyone will love and that we cannot, under any circmstances, FAIL at this thing. Ick. What creative spirit would want to come out to play with all those rainclouds brewing overhead?

March taught me a lot about this. I created quite a hefty cloud cover for myself and my creative spirit. And no, she definitely did NOT want to come out and play. Thus most of the month was full of avoidance of the project and general stress and frustration. Looking back, It’s a bit disappointing to see how things took such a turn and I only now am noticing it. Short film was a scary place though – so it’s not surprising that I fell back into some old bad habits. But now hopefully I will be able to catch it quicker the next time around and remind myself: We’re not making things that are “good enough” or “the best” or “perfect” (ick) – we are making things we LOVE! Things that excite us and fill us with wonder and awe! And if the question is asked “What if we are the only person on EARTH that thinks it is cool?” The answer will be a resounding and most certain “That is precisely the reason that we should make it!” followed by a very sassy “I don’t care if they don’t like it – I’m not making it for them!” ;)

I could probably go on and on about all the awesome things I’ve learned through this project so far, but those are some of the more important points. Hopefully, a bit of this may help you on your own creative endeavors – no matter how big or small!

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