Wednesday, July 2, 2014

How to Make a Hummingbird Feeder -- Miniature Tutorial (1:12 scale)

I love using things that would normally hit the trash can. This project reminds me to look at familiar objects with fresh insight. For years I've tossed away the lids to the McDonald's beverages. I was amazed when I looked carefully and noticed the raised icons. I can't wait to see what I can do next with the other emblems!





SUPPLIES:

Red nail polish or acrylic paint
Yellow nail polish or acrylic paint
Red paper
Length of green floral wire (six inches)
Scissors
A needle or something to poke a small hole with
Circle punch (preferably the same diameter as the straw
Tacky Quick Drying glue
Clear drinking straw
The plastic lid from McDonald's cold beverage
Either--cardstock or air-dry clay


METHOD:

1. Locate the icon on the beverage that looks like a flower. Press air-dry class (such as DAS) into the icon and let dry. (Alternative: Cut out the flower. Glue it to cardstock. Cut out around it again.)
In the eleven o'clock position on the lid, you can see the flower icon.
 

2. When the icon is dry, paint it bright red. Add yellow dots to the flowers. (Tip: Use the end of a toothpick to make the dots perfect.)

3. Cut a length of the straw, about 1 inch long or so.

4. Cut a thin strip of red paper, about 3/8" wide and an inch long. Glue it around the top of your length of plastic straw. Let dry.

5. Put out a circle from the red paper with your circle punch. (Alternative: Trace the end of a straw on red paper. Cut out the traced circle.)

6. Put a tiny hole in the middle of the red circle. Enlarge it until the green floral wire will fit inside. Bend the floral wire into an upside down letter "L". Poke the shortest end into the hole in the red circle. Glue it to the red circle. You now have the cap of the lid and the wire stand.

7. Attach the red circle (cap of the lid and wire stand) to the top of the straw so that it meets the red strip of paper. Glue together. Coat with red nail polish.

8. Glue the flower to the bottom.

Monday, June 30, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

I've been re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things for the authors' book club I belong to. The book was my choice. It's almost guaranteed to spark a lively debate for many reasons. I find myself intrigued by the way that Alma, the main character, can find beauty and wonder in the world around her.

It is, I think, a talent well-worth having. To see past the broken, the ugly, and the dirty, and to find pockets of wonder. Perhaps it's a form of gratitude. Instead of taking the world for granted, it's an opportunity to appreciate the moment.

I try to do this in my books, leaving a trail of literary bread crumbs for the reader to follow. It's my way of sharing what has given me joy.  Because owning a Great Dane is out of the question for me at this juncture, I gave one to Kiki Lowenstein. Because I love turning trash into treasure, I assigned that job to Cara Mia Delgatto. Because I like to look like a lady (even if I don't behave like one!), I told Clancy that she has to be a Jackie Kennedy clone. The list goes on and on.

This morning, I was thinking about my favorite things, things that have or should become part of my books. What would you add to the list?



* blue patterned china
* sunrises
* miniatures
* ferns
* my Paris coffee mug
* my color printer
* my notebook computer
* our blue bedspreads
* Jax, my puppy
* Jax's toy, Foxie
* Hibiscus
* the beach
* thunderstorms
* a good book
* peanut butter
* fresh cherries
* the walk to my mailbox
* tissue paper
* greeting cards
* my comfy pajamas
* lavender the fragrance
* sandalwood

Okay, it's not all inclusive, but I think I'll stop and work on Kicked to the Curb, a book I love writing, but one that's been through TONS of rewriting!

Tell me about your favorite things!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

How to Make a Miniature Rustic Bench

My sister has this wonderful rustic chair outside her house. It was made with twigs (okay...BIG twigs), and I love it. Right now, rustic/twig furniture is all the small rage. This pattern will work for a real miniature setting (1:12 scale) or for a fairy garden.



This was also inspired by the wonderful tutorial by Lesley Shepherd. I urge you to check it out before you start this project. http://miniatures.about.com/od/miniatureprojects/ss/arustictble.htm

SUPPLIES:

Bendable twigs (I got mine from an Australian pine tree) in a variety of sizes (six, eight, and ten inches?)
Twigs of all sizes
Pine needles, dried (ditto that Australian pine) (or craft grasses or floral wire)
Cardstock (old cereal boxes are great)
Clothespins or clips
Wood glue or Elmers glue
Tacky glue (quick drying)
Waxed paper
Pencil
Black marker (a Sharpie)
Craft knife
Glass jar (2" across the lid. I used a 3 oz. jar of capers. Probably a glass Coke bottle would work, too.)
A pot to boil water in (I keep an old pot for crafting. Don't use it to eat out of later!)
Balsa wood, cut to 3" by 1 1/2" by 3/8" (This will be the seat of your bench)
Floral wires (Three or four. The plain uncolored type is best.T
Brown and black paint or markers
Hedge clippers or sturdy scissors
Tongs



METHOD:

1. Choose four small twigs to be legs for your bench. These should be roughly the same size. Set these aside. Tip: If they aren't the same length, use the hedge clippers or scissors on them. You can also sand them down to the right length. Mine are about 1 3/4" long.

2. Bend your longer twigs so that one end touches the left and one touches the right of your piece of balsa wood. The twigs should NOT break but it might not want to bend to this shape easily. That's okay. We're going to help it along.

3. "Drill' holes on the left and right to hold the ends of the twig. I used the tip of my X-acto knife and turn it around and around to "drill" the holes.



2. Fill your pot with water and start it boiling. Take it off the stove and put your twigs in the water. After about a five minute soak, use your tongs to retrieve them. Bend them around the jar. Clip the two ends of each twig together with clothespins and let them sit for an hour or so.

3. Use your piece of balsa as a pattern and trace it onto the cereal box. Cut out the rectangle. Draw an X in the middle of the rectangle, to delineate four triangles. Number the triangles 1, 2, 3, and 4. Cut them out. Using the balsa as a pattern, mark the holes with your Sharpie. Punch out holes in the cardstock to match where you have the holes in the balsa.


Learn From My Mistake or LFMM (because I make a lot of mistakes!): You'll notice that I marked the triangles on the plain, unprinted side of the cereal box--and then I covered those markings with pine needles. DUH! Mark the printed side of the box, not the plain side. (In other words, do the opposite of what I'm showing you above.) You'll use the plain, brown, unprinted side to glue your pine needles on!)

LFMM Draw an arrow showing you which way to point your pine needles. They should all point in, towards the center of your seat. This arrow will go on the plain side of the box, as I've shown you below. If you don't do this, you can get confused. Your pattern won't come out right.



4. Using the wood glue, start gluing pine needles onto the triangles. Keep the needles straight and next to each other as you go. They will hang over the edge of your pattern. No biggie!

LFMM (Remember that acronym! I'll use it a lot!) Don't spread the glue all over the triangle. Instead, make a stripe of glue about a quarter of an inch wide. Work one stripe at a time. This will give you more control.

LFMM Cut the pine needles into shorter pieces, about two inches long. They naturally have a curve. By cutting them, you don't have to deal with the curve.

LFMM To corral these little suckers, and to get them to line up neatly, use the tip of your X-acto knife or a plastic credit card.

5. Wrap the triangles in a piece of waxed paper. make a sandwich of them. Put something flat on them to help them dry properly. Alternatively, you could use two pieces of heavy plastic (like from a take out container) and pinch it together with clothes pins to help the triangles to dry flat. You might also want to add a little more glue to the top of the triangles. But not too much or the glue will show a lot.



6. Neatly trim the excess pine needles. Use your scissors.



7. If the bent wood is dry enough, you can unclip it. (You'll be amazed at the wonderful bend you'll get!) Size one piece to be the primary bent back for your bench. Test it and put it in the holes. Trim it with the hedge clippers or scissors if necessary. Insert into the holes, add glue, and use a bit of masking tape to hold them in place until they dry.



8. Using paint or markers, color your floral wire brown-black. Let it dry.

9. Reassemble the four triangles that make up the seat for your bench. (You're going to be so happy about those numbers on the back. They'll really help!) Adjust holes for the bent twig back of the bench. If you are happy with how it looks, glue the triangles onto the bench seat, the balsa wood. Trim around the seat with longer pieces of pine needles. See the photo below? I used a bit of masking tape to keep the longer pine needles down as they dried on the trim.

LFMM Lesley Shepherd used longer "pine needles" (she bought craft grasses) and first set down an X in the middle of her seat. Then she added the triangles. This made the whole thing look more finished.


10. Add another bent twig back. This one will be larger than the first. Glue the ends of it next to the ends of the first bent twig back.

LFMM You might want to make a tiny notch in the bench seat for the new twig back. It'll help keep the twig stable.

11. Wrap wire between the two bent twig backs.

12. Add spindles made of more twigs to the back.

13. At this point, you're basically done. You can add "arms" by trimming another bent twig and gluing to to one of the backs and to the seat. You can also add spindles between the legs, wrapping them with wire, if so desired.



Don't forget to admire your work. What a clever, clever crafter you are!

If you have any questions, just put them in the comments section below or email me at JCSlan@JoannaSlan.com

Sunday, June 15, 2014

How to Make Your New Dad Love You

A special Father's Day post by Jax, the Havanese puppy.

Being adorable is hard work. Time for a nap!
Even if that male human wasn't entirely sold on getting a new dog--and a puppy at that--you can change his mind. Here's how:

1. When you first meet, leap into your new human Dad's arms and lick his face. Over and over.
2. Nibble on his ears while you wiggle with joy.
3. When you are in the car on that long ride home, refuse to sit on your new Mama's lap. Crawl into Daddy's lap instead.
4. Then fall asleep.
5. Wag your tail and look at Dad with adoring eyes when he speaks.
6. Go potty whenever he takes you outside.
7. Snuggle up to him at every opportunity.
8. When Mama puts you on the floor to play, run and find Daddy.

It's just that simple! In no time at all, you'll own his heart.

Okay, any tips from you for making your human parents crazy-in-love with you?