It's not what you gather, but what you scatter, that tells what kind of a life you have lived.

Friday, December 12, 2014

12 Days of Christmas 2014 - Day Twelve

Day 12! It seems like it came so fast! I am 60 years old today and sometimes I feel every day of it!  Haha! This is our last post for 12 Days for 2014, and like I said yesterday, it's another angel project. And I think this one is my favorite of the 12 for this year. In the past, I have posted pictures of trips to the coast of Oregon, including all the driftwood my hubby and I like to collect. Well, I thought some of the pieces would make pretty angels! If you don't have any driftwood, you can buy it at nurseries and the like, but you could use whatever you can find. Really big pine cones would be nice, or old, weathered wood that you could cut a shape from and file the edges.......use your imagination and see what you can find. I love  using "things" I have found for totally different uses.

Choose the pieces you want to use. I chose 3 pieces all different sizes and shapes, so you can see that all sizes and shapes work just as well! Ignore the holes for now. That comes later.
You will start with some baling wire. I chose it because it's black and rustic looking. And it will rust if you want that look. Now find something to use as a form for the wings. I happen to have a container of wipes that is oval instead of round and I used it to wrap my wire around, but you could use a round one, too, or a peanut butter jar, etc.

Wrap the wire 3 times and then slide it off the form.. If your form is round, squeeze your wire wraps into a kind of oval shape, and then pinch then in the middle. This takes a little muscle because baling wire is pretty stiff.

 Bend the short end of your wire at a 90 degree angle, wrap the long end around the middle of the wings, and cut it the same length as the short end. Using a pair of pliers, twist the two ends together like a bread twist.

Spread your wire loops out to look like wings. It doesn't matter if they are not all the exact same size. That just gives her more character. You can see in the photo below that one of my angels is quite a bit larger than the others, and I just coiled the wire by hand instead of trying to find something big enough to wrap it around..

Now is the time to drill your hole for the wings. Use a drill bit that will drill a hole that the twisted wires will fit into without being too lose. Choose which way is up on your wood and drill a hole at the top. Depending on your wood and it's shape, you might have to drill the hole right at the very top or down a little lower. Adjust for what you have.

Try the wires in the holes to make sure of the fit. If they fit well, then use a strong adhesive like Beacon 527 or E6000 to glue them into the holes. Let them dry before you go to the nest step, or they will keep falling out! (This is the voice of experience talking. I tend to be impatient and I had to glue them back in 4 time!!!) If you accidentally get the hole a little big, use a little piece of bamboo skewer or tiny dowel to put in the hole to fill the space. Just put the wings in first, with glue, and then wedge the skewer or dowel in the side. Let the glue dry before using some wire cutters to cut the skewer off.

All you have to do now is put on the finishing touches. Most important would be a head! She would look rather funny as the headless angel of Christmas! I used a head bead for the little angel. It had a hole all the way through, so I used some moss for hair to cover up the hole. For the two larger ones, I used wooden balls that had to be drilled. For all of them, drill a hole for a dowel that will fit the hole in the wood ball or bead and glue the head on the dowel and the dowel in the hole on the angel.

After the head is dry, glue some trim around it for a halo and some lace or half a doily around her neck. That's it! She's done. You can see that my three angels are completely different shape of driftwood, but they all look beautiful! You just have to see the potential of the wood.

It's kind of like people. You have to see the potential in them, even when they make it hard. We all have our weaknesses and strengths, but we don't always share them with others. This can make it hard for others to get to know the real us. At this Christmas season, I would challenge us all to look past the outer shell to see the good and the potential in everyone we come in contact with. It will change your whole outlook! And if we all do this one little thing, although not always easy to do, we can make a real difference in someone else's life, and therefore in our own lives. Remember the words of Christ when he said, "Love thy neighbor as thyself."

Spread some cheer, and have a very, merry Christmas!
Love to you and yours,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

12 Days of Christmas 2014 - Day Eleven

Wow! Time flies and it's already day 11! For the 12th day, I always do something to do with the nativity, but this year it's the last 2 days. And both are angels. I seem to be on an angel kick this year.  I cut a picture from a magazine, probably 35 years ago, of some cute little angels, and I've been trying to get around to making them ever since! I decided this is the year! I made mine with soft-sculpture faces, little pear-shaped bodies, jute arms and legs, and button hands and feet. So, let's get started.

Start by cutting a square of a nylon or knee high stocking.The square should be about 3" square. They stretch a LOT so it doesn't need to be any bigger than that. Take a ball of stuffing about the size of your fist, and roll it up into a ball.

Place it in the middle of the nylon square and pull up the corners and then the sides, making sure that there is no stuffing showing any where.

Tie  it up really tight. You need to use something really strong so that you can tug on it pretty good. I used embroidery floss in the photo so you could see it, but I usually use heavy button and carpet thread.

Then trim off the excess stocking and string.

Now do the same thing again, only make the ball the size of a pea.

Next, you need a fairly long needle and some brown thread. Once you draw up the face, the thread won't show, but believe you me, it will if it's white! Thread you needle and tie a large knot in the ends. With the knot at the back, start by poking the needle from the back to the front left dot on the diagram above. If you take it through the thickness of the knot, it won't pull through.

 Now take a stitch and go under the cheek and back out at the first stitch of the mouth. Stitch around the mouth, go under the cheek, take a stitch and go back out the back. Pull on the thread and draw up the stitches so that the cheeks and mouth puff out a little. Tie a good knot, then come back out the front where the nose is attached. Got through the back of the nose where it's tied and then go back out the back of the head. Pull on the thread so that the nose is pulled into the face and tie it off good again. Clip your thread, but not too close, otherwise you take a chance on the knot coming undone. Glue on two little black seed beads for eyes and blush the cheeks, mouth and nose.

Now you're ready to make the angel's body. Cut two pieces of fabric 4" wide and 4 1/2" long. Fold them in half and cut a kind of pear shape with a flat top. You will also need two pieces of jute 10" long. Tie knots is both ends of the jute pieces..

Lay one body piece right side up and lay the jute pieces on top of it  in the position for the arms and legs. Then lay the other body piece over them, right side down and stitch around the body, leaving the top open.

Turn the body right side out and stuff lightly. Turn the top down 1/8" and run a gathering stitch around it. Gather the edge up a little and tie of your thread. Cut the jute pieces in the middle and wrap a little piece of scotch tape around each end. Roll the tape as tightly as possible and cut the end at an angle, making a kind of needle.

String 3 buttons for each foot onto the leg jute. I used red, green and white buttons. and I mixed them up. I wanted a kind of whimsical look. String white buttons on for the hands. I made my angels into a string-o-angels, so my hands are connected. I think if I ever make another string of these, I would do the arms separately and then tie the hands together.

The wings are two pieces of muslin, 4"" by 3 1/2" with some cotton batting sandwiched in between. I made mine kind of butterfly shaped. Draw your pattern on the top piece of muslin and stitch around the wings on the lines. Cut them out with pinking shears 1/8" from the stitching.

Now it's time to put her all together! Glue some hair of your choice to her head. Lay the wings down first, then lay the head where you like it and the body under the head. Glue it all in place with hot glue. Be sure to glue the front of the dress/body to the chin of the face.

 You can give each a different hair-do and color, or make them all match. I'm not a match-y match-y kind of person, so mine are all over the map!

True to my commitment not to spend much this year, I used embroidery floss for all the bows because I'm out of tiny red and green ribbon.

I have 7 angels altogether in my string-o-angels, and they look so cute! When I was storing them until it was time for this post, I folded them up like and accordion and stuffed them into a gallon Ziplock bag. That is a good way to pack them and keep them clean from year to year.

I hope you like these little angels and will give them a try. They sound a lot more complicated than they really are! I enjoyed making their little faces and seeing the character that came out of each one. I used to do soft-sculpture a lot and that was always my favorite part.
Tomorrow will be our 12th and last day for this year, and I think the angels for tomorrow are beautiful. Come back and find out if you agree. I leave you with one of my favorite quotes by an unknown writer:  "Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God will come to know God because they know you."
Until tomorrow.....

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

12 Days of Christmas 2014 - Day Ten

 How many of you out there have a set of Christmas cookie tree cutters from Wilton that are shaped like stars and have 10 sizes, ranging from 2 to 10 inches? I've had them for a long time and love to make cookie trees, but this year I used them for something different. 

I'm sure you won't be surprised to find that day 10 is another Christmas tree! And this one I'm NOT giving away! This one's for me!  I call it the Tall Tree and I really love the way it looks like a tall tree in the forest. Except, of course, for the fact that it's made from Christmas fabric!  lol

I used the cookie tree cutters for my patterns. I didn't use the two smallest ones, but started with the 3rd one. I traced them and them cut them out with an extra half inch all the way around. I included the photo above so you can see the shape of the stars and the size increments. I made the tree originally using these patterns and didn't like it. It wasn't tall enough for the look I wanted.

So I added 4 more larger sizes! Now I have twelve layers, and the tree looks just like I had it pictured in my head. Now it's time to get started!

First, you need to choose 3 different Christmas fabrics. I chose a green with candy canes, a red one with big green polka dots and a black one with ornaments on it. I bought a half a yard of each and had some of the red and green left over. I used the black for the largest layer and there wasn't much left after I cut it and the other three black layers. 
Cut four sizes from each fabric. It will make it easier if you number your patterns 1 - 12. Cut numbers 1, 4, 7 and 10 from fabric 1. Cut sizes 2, 5, 8 and 11 from fabric 2. And cut sizes 3, 6, 9 and 12 from fabric 3. Stitch around all sizes 1/2 inch from the edge. Sew all the way around without leaving an opening. Using a sharp pair of scissors, snip fringes almost up to the stitching and about 1/2" apart. After you have snipped all 12 layers, throw them in the washer and dryer to make the fringes fray and curl.

Now, snip a little hole in one side of the star. Eventually, you will snip a hole in the other side, too, but if you do it now, it makes it really, really hard to stuff it, because the stuffing wants to go out the other side! Stuff all your layers, but not too firmly, because they don't stack as well if they're too firm.

After you have stuffed them all, snip a hole in the other side of each one and using a needle and thread, stitch around the holes, stitching both layers together like a buttonhole. 

Using the pattern for the smallest star, cut two from yellow felt. Stitch around them with a buttonhole stitch, like I did, or stitch them on the sewing machine. When you get to the last section, stuff the star and then finish stitching it. Glue a tiny dowel or a bamboo skewer in the star.

Now it's time to make the trunk of the tree. I was out in my son's backyard one day and noticed he still had his Christmas tree from last year laying in a pile of scrap wood. My brain just clicked and I knew I wanted to use that! In fact, the idea for this tree started with that trunk! Anyway, I got my husband to cut it off at about 2 feet long and straighten the bottom so it would stand upright. He cut off all the branches except for one little outcropping that I thought would be a good spot for a bird's nest. I fastened it to a board that I had painted a light blue and drilled a hole in it for a dowel. The dowel is 1/2" or 5/8" and I drilled a hole in the top of that for the star.

 Now you stack your stars up on the dowel and put your star on the top and you have a nice little woodland-type tree. I will be using some batting to cover the board and make it look like the tree is standing in snow.

Here is a close-up of the bird's nest. The bird's eggs are red jingle bells!

I almost forgot.....I tied some raffia on the dowel right under the star. I like the look of it and it helps cover the space between the dowel and the star. I had the thought that the pinecone elves and the little log reindeer would look cute under the tree. Make a whole little scene!

Well, that's day 10 done! It took me two days to make this one, what with all the time spent cutting and sewing and washing and stuffing, but I love it and it was worth it! I hope you like it! And when you look at all the gifts under YOUR Christmas tree, remember this little quote by Burton Hillis: "The best gift under the tree is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other!"

Love to all and see you tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

12 Days of Christmas 2014 - Day Nine

It's day 9 already!! Only 3 more to go! Christmas is getting closer and closer and I'm not ready yet. Arrrrg! I swore I was going to be ahead of the game this year, but so far, not happenin'. But I am closer than I usually am, so thank heaven for small favors!

Our project for today is a snowman swag. You know how much I love snowmen, and these are so cute! And we're back to making medallions again. Oh, yes, those lovely medallions! I told you they were good for so many things, and here's another example. You will need some scrapbook paper, or rather, cardstock, in your color of choice. I chose icy blues/silver because, after all, snowmen are kind of icy! I chose a stripe and a plaid, but it's not necessary to have two different prints. I just like to mix it up!

Start by cutting a star pattern, 5" across from tip to tip of any two points. Use this pattern to cut stars from your cardstock.  If you are using two different papers like I did, cut 4 stars from one and 5 stars from the other.

Now cut a 2" x 12" strip to go with each star. I cut striped strips for the plaid stars and plaid strips for the striped stars. Fold the strips into accordions like we did for the paper trees and glue the ends together. You will have to cut one fold off one end of each strip before you glue them to get them to match up right. Flatten them out into medallions and glue them to the stars.

Now draw some cute little snowmen and glue them to the medallions. Use permanent markers to draw eyes, nose and mouth. Use a paint brush to give them a light coat of glue and sprinkle them with super fine glitter. Use glitter glue or sparkly fabric paint to give them scarves and let them dry. Because I used paper with silver in it, I used a really thin silver cord and some little tiny blue clothespins to hang the stars. You can make the garland longer by spreading out the stars or shorter by taking out a star or two. That way you can easily use it in different places.

I know this isn't a very good picture, but you can see how cute the swag would be if you could see it!  lol  Now go make one for yourself and two or three for friends!

I love Christmas! It's my favorite time of year! I love the cold weather, the snow (when I live where it snows), the Christmas tree with it's lights and ornaments, the children's faces when they see the pile of gifts under the tree, and most especially, the spirit of giving and loving that comes with knowing the true meaning of Christmas.

See you tomorrow!

Monday, December 8, 2014

12 Days of Christmas 2014 - Day Eight

It's day 8 and I have the cutest little log reindeer for you! I have wanted a set of these deer for years.......the big ones that stand in the yard! But I have never been able to talk my husband into making them for me, so I made my own in miniature! From the bottom of his feet to the top of his antlers, he stands about 6" tall and I love his cute little personality. I haven't decided yet what to name him, but I'm sure the grandkids will be more than glad to help me with that.

You need a little "log" to start with. It's a branch about 1" around and 4" long for the body and 1" x 1 1/2" for the head. You can see in the side view further down the page that I found a log with a bump where a branch was cut off, and I cut the log right there, so that little branch bump becomes his tail. It was just perfect!

You will also need some Sculpey clay in red or green, a silver pipe cleaner and a tan or brown pipe cleaner, 2 googly eyes, a little black pom-pom, a pair of needle-nose pliars for cutting and bending your wire, and some good, strong glue. I used Beacon 527 glue, which along with E6000, is my glue of choice for gluing metal, (like the jar rings from day 3). 

I used nice, heavy baling wire to put him together because I knew that if I used little sticks or tiny dowels, they would get broken and I would have to fix him every year! You need to cut 5 pieces of wire.  1will be 1" long for his neck, and the other 4 will be 4" long for his legs.

Okay, take the 4 leg wires and using the needle-nose pliars, bend a 1/2" crook in one end of each wire. Take the Sculpey clay out of the package and squeeze and pull it, kind of like pulling taffy. This will warm ot up and make it easier to work with. Make 4 small balls approximately the size of a large grape and shape them into boots. Take one of the wires and push it up through the bottom of one of the boots and push the crook into the clay until it's even with the boot bottom. Do the other 3 legs and then stand them up on a cookie sheet and bake them according to the directions on the package. When they are baked, take the cookie sheet out of the oven and let them cool thoroughly before you touch them. The wires will be HOT!

While your boots are baking and cooling, you can drill holes for them, and for the neck, ears and antlers. You will need a little tiny drill bit for this. Try to find one that is the same size as your wire so it will fit nice and snug. Drill one hole at the back end of the head and one at the front end of the body. Drill holes for your legs, 2 at the front and 2 at the back, angled out slightly from the center, and on the opposite side of the log from the neck hole. Drill 3 more holes in the head, 1 in the middle at the back of the head for the antlers and 2 for the ears, angling them outward. These holes may need to be a little larger. Check the photo near the bottom to see where to drill the holes. Now you're ready to put him all together.

First of all, glue his leg wires in thier holes. He's much easier to work with when he's standing instead of rolling around. Glue his neck wire in his body and glue his head onto the neck wire. Set him aside while you make his antlers and ears. Cut your silver pipe cleaner in half and then fold each half in half. Bend each half into the shape shown below. It will look a little like the vein of a leaf. Now twist the two pieces together at the bottom. Do the same with the other  piece. Cut two pieces of the tan pipe cleaner 1 1/2" long. Fold them in half and twist the two ends together. This is his ears. Glue the antlers and ears into the holes you drilled for them.

You can see the placement of the antlers and ears in the close-up below. Sorry it's blurry, but my phone doesn't take very good pictures close up and it's the only camera I have right now.

Glue on his eyes and nose and you have the cutest little reindeer ever! I know I said yesterday that the next time you saw him he'd have a bell, but I totally forgot! So you will have close your eyes and imagine him with a little bell tied around his neck.  lol  

Isn't he cute? And he looks great with the pinecones elves. He's just the right size for one of them to ride, if reindeer liked to be ridden.

Okay, that's day 8 all wrapped up. I think I need to make 8 more of these and then figure out how to make a little sleigh to go with them! I hope you are all in the Christmas spirit and getting ready for the most wonderful time of the year!.I am really close to having everything finished and ready to be wrapped and some of it shipped. Just a few more things to make.

See you tomorrow!

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