Saturday, November 22, 2008

new devilry!

new devilry!
Originally uploaded by slothmuffin

Meet Bitty Demon! (So named because of the Pleasant Company Bitty Baby dolls.) My mom does that hobbit thing where you give other people presents on your birthday, so since it was my birthday last week, I made her up this little guy. (We jointly watch two television shows involving demons, so this isn't as random a choice as it seems! The same goes for the windchime and slice of pie he's clutching in his tiny claws. It was so much fun to make something this totally custom and weird. And I am now in like, 300% more awe of people who make gorgeous mini-food from polymer clay. That pie slice was difficult.)

I was initially inspired by this crocheted devil by SandysDandies on etsy. I used the Amigurumi World book by Ana Paula Rimoli for the head shape (although I probably shouldn't have tried to play with the increases, because I ended up with the weird lego-head shape you see here...), and made a bunch of polymer clay pieces---his horns, talons, and accessories.

I couldn't find anything in the book that fit the shape I wanted for the body, so I consulted The Internet. This animal pattern list was the most helpful thing ever. I poked around in the patterns until I found these adorable octopi, which were about the shape I wanted, except a little too fat on top, so I messed with the increases, which worked better on the body than it did on the head. For the wings, I used this bat pattern, but stopped at row five, since they looked big enough and I thought the shape was cute. For the tail, I worked the tentacle from this squid until I was satisfied-ish with the spade-shape. (...It became really clear to me while I was doing this that I really, really don't know anything about crocheting. I've learned how to follow a pattern in the round, but I was a lot more confused by the idea of making wing and tail shapes not in the round. And I couldn't consult my mom for help!) The arms went through about three permutations (two different crocheted ones, which were way too clunky; one inadvisably involving pipe cleaners...) before I gave up and made some more polymer clay pieces (these hilarious little stalks with claws on the ends), sewed them in, and wrapped them in yarn.

He was definitely a challenge, and involved lots of sewing, which I was somehow able to be patient with. Probably just because I was so thrilled to be making something so absurd. He's stuffed with fiberfill and a rock, since all the clay stuff made him too front-heavy to sit straight with just fiberfill.

My favourite feature[s] are his talons, which were an awesome surprise---when I finally finished the assembly and sat him in my palm, the talons actually poked at me vaguely, like I was holding a hamster or something.

Friday, November 21, 2008

holiday shopping, part one.

The only Christmas gift I've acquired so far is this set of beautiful napkins for my mom from margotbianca on etsy. I was lucky enough to win some gorgeous items in Jessica Jane's autumn giveaway last month, one of those being a batik bandana by Margot, so I went to check out her shop. My mom has been talking to me about batik since I was a little kid and didn't really understand what she meant about the wax keeping the dye off of select parts of the fabric, and she uses cloth napkins, so I thought these would be a good gift. The set I got are this wheat pattern, and Margot was so wonderful about custom-dying them for me in my mom's favourite blue-green. She even sent me a photo after they'd been dyed to make sure they were okay. A few days after I bought them, she was a featured seller on etsy. (...Do I have enough links in this post yet? Wait until you see my next post when I'm going to list all the different patterns I used to make a complicated crocheting project.) I've been shopping on etsy for over a year now, but it never gets any less exciting to be able to buy stuff from people who've actually made it, who you can talk to and whose blogs you can read to find out more about their lives and their art.

Now comes the hard part, which is hanging onto these until December 25th.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


that thing, you know, with feathers.
Originally uploaded by slothmuffin

My polling place yesterday was the local elementary school (and was within walking distance of my house, yay! Unfortunately, all the free election day goodies at Starbucks and Ben & Jerry's weren't. And I didn't feel like driving, so I was sans complimentary coffee and ice cream.), and after I voted, I just walked around a little looking at the various art projects that were posted on the walls. Everything was very much fall-themed...there were a group of pumpkins, done in acrylic paint and obviously designed to teach the kids about shading, since each one featured the moon as a light source, casting yellow highlights on the pumpkins, with varying degrees of success. There was a whole hallway of leaf-prints, done in beautiful bright colours on black construction paper. (I need to go outside and get some nicely-shaped leaves to try this one myself...) The photo with this post was my favourite from a whole selection of art made from various natural materials---leaves, pinecones, seeds, some kids even used rocks. I wish I'd had a better camera with me!

I feel sort of silly saying it was inspiring, but it was. I had a love/hate relationship with art class in school. Even as a little kid, I didn't really like having a set assignment and then getting graded on it, but there were some projects I remember really enjoying. I was in the Art Club, which only sixth graders were allowed to join, and we built our own birdhouses from little kits and then painted them. For some reason, actually putting something together out of wood pieces with tiny nails was the most exciting thing ever for me when I was eleven. Elementary school art is the only reason I can identify one of Henri Rousseau's jungle paintings when I see it. So I was happy to see that arts education is alive and well in my school district. As someone who sort of drifted away from visual and tactile artistic pursuits for a while and came back to them with a vengeance, it seems especially important to me. You can never tell when you'll need to know that you can use crayons and watercolour paints for a cool wax-resist effect, after all.

The voting itself seemed to be going pretty smoothly here, I was only on line for about...ten to fifteen minutes. I went into this election feeling pretty cynical and nervous, but I'm so happy about the result. I went to sleep last night feeling like the country, collectively, had actually made a good decision (where the presidency is concerned, anyway), and that was such a good---and surprising!---feeling to have.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

hello november.

ready for its closeup.
Originally uploaded by slothmuffin

The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episode aired today, and I think that was unfortunately the last hurrah of the Halloween season for me. As a[n ostensible] grownup, the buildup to Halloween, with all of the decorating and crafting, is more exciting than Halloween itself, which is sadly devoid of asking strangers for free candy. I keep telling myself that one of these years, I'm just going to wear a costume involving a mask and go anyway. I'm only 5'2"! I could totally still be in middle school.

I have my little skull earrings on today for All Souls/Day of the Dead. When I lived in the city, I used to go to St. Patrick's Cathedral on All Souls Day and light a candle, even though I'm not at all religious---I'm not even one of those people who says I'm not religious, but I'm spiritual. It always felt like the right thing to do anyway. It's always nice to be in a building with beautiful vaulted ceilings at least once a year.

Today has been one of the chillier days we've had so far this fall, and it's got me feeling nervous about winter. I hate being cold all the time.

I crocheted a stuffed pear today, which came out huge. (I knew it would be huge when I looked at the pattern, but I was afraid to modify it and possibly mess up the shape.) I'm not really sure why I was in such a rush to finish it, since I have to take my truck to be inspected tomorrow and now I'll have to think of a new project to start while I wait at the mechanics'.