Saturday, June 30, 2012

the words and stories

Here are the two "about stories" I wrote to accompany my plushes in Stuffed Magazine's Summer 2012 issue.  

Eben and Ella (Ellie Friends)

(Picture from our trip to Acadia National Park at our cabin in the woods)

Eben and Ella are husband and wife.  They live in a small and secluded valley where no other elephants live for miles around. This is okay with them because they prefer to be by themselves.  Their house is a lovely, cozy, stone structure that is in a small grove of sycamore trees. 

Ella enjoys tending her extensive flower garden behind their home.  She spends her winters studying new plant species and in the spring, she’s always trying new varieties. She loves plants that can grow tall and are very colorful.  Her perfect way to spend a day is with a nice pot of Oolong tea, a good gardening book, and her planting trowel within reach.  She is also an avid quilter and creates her own flower motifs for her pieced designs.

Eben spends his days making furniture from trees in the nearby forest.  This forest is one that was planted by his great grandfather and Eben plants three trees for the one he cuts down.  He has a small mill not too far away from Ella’s flower garden, so they can talk and break for tea together in the afternoons.  Eben has quite a collection of beautifully made furniture and every so often, he opens the mill for a special sale, which brings in animals from all over the valley.

Olive and Ethan (Twin Boys)

(Picture from our trip to Acadia National Park on Sand Beach)

Olive and Ethan are twins that live in a small coastal village on a small island in Maine.  They come from a long line of lobstermen, starting back with their great-great-great-great grandfather. The brothers have a lot of similar interests, like the sea, flying kites, and watching seabirds.  They often spend time together exploring the island, but also like to pursue their own hobbies. 

Olive never goes outside without his lucky orange scarf, even in the summer.  He can usually be found down at the harbor watching boats sail by.  He hopes to one day have a small boat of his own and already has the perfect orange and blue paint picked out for it.  Olive often thinks of sailing around the neighboring islands and looking at all the sea life beneath the surface. His current under the sea fascination are jellyfish and he’s keeping a log of all the different species he finds.  When not dreaming of sailing, Olive can be found playing in the village park or enjoying some honey brioche doughnuts from his favorite bakery. 

Ethan’s favorite color is blue.  He can usually be found, like Olive, down at the harbor.  Ethan usually stays along the quiet side and combs the shore for beach rocks and small pieces of driftwood.  He has quite a collection and hopes to one day display his findings in the small village historical museum run by his grandfather.  Ethan makes sculptures from the broken pieces of rocks he finds and sells them at the old general store. When not at the beach, Ethan can be found at the library, reading about his favorite animal, puffins.

Hope you like them!

Friday, June 29, 2012

progress and working...

I've been pretty busy working on a variety of different projects as well as restocking more of my plush designs for online and craft shows coming up.  Our soonest craft show will be SummerFair in Carlisle, PA.  We've never been to this show before, but have heard from other people it's worth it.  It will be the largest space we've ever had...20'x20'!  Kinsey and I will be sharing a space, so we'll each have plenty of room for our things.  If you're local to Carlisle, please come out and say hello!  The show is Saturday, July 7th!

Below are some partially finished boy heads (sounds rather disturbing, don't you think?).  After I embroider the facial features, sew everything up, and right before I turn them right side out, I always like to stop and take a look.  I really like how the embroidery looks from the backside with the faces.  You can clearly see the facial details, but it's kind of in a skewed way.  It reminds me a lot of vintage embroidered dolls and how the stitches have begun to fade and warp slightly.  

The next picture (sorry it's a little fuzzy) is of a massive pile of half finished pieces and well, body parts of dolls and animals.  (See the random arms?)  I have a lot of pieces like this around my work space.  I'm starting to try to get it a little more under control and have cleared this pile down significantly.  

This last picture I wanted to share, does NOT include random arms or heads removed from their body.   This is Thomas the Sailor.  He's the newest plush doll in my shop.  I finished him today and not to play favorites, but I like him a lot!   Instead of my usual felt buttons I sew on the shirts, I opted for a hand embroidered anchor emblem.  The colors really pop beautifully!  I actually have done this anchor emblem before on a handful of plushes, but have only sold those at craft shows or at brick and mortar shops.  

What kinds of projects have you been up to lately?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

published in stuffed magazine summer 2012!

Back in this post in February, I talked about sending my box of plush toys to Stuffed Magazine to be considered for an issue.  Well, the Summer 2012 issue is finally out!    

Near the beginning of the magazine (pages 14 and 15 to be exact) are Olive and Ethan.  These two were my first ever "good" attempts at making plush people.  I literally made these two days before I sent off my package.  I wanted to try out a doll, but was having a hard time getting it perfect and finding a good fabric for the faces.  I hand embroidered the facial features and need a fabric that can handle being poked with a needle and doesn't show through.  I actually have since making these two, changed to a different face fabric.  Very similar in color, but the new fabric is much softer and easier to work with.  (FYI: All the plush people in my shop are made with the newer fabric.)

When your work is chosen for publication in Stuffed, you are responsible for writing everything in your article.  This was really fun and gave me a chance to really personalize Olive and Ethan.  My article about them was centered around the coast of Maine (surprise, surprise) and even mentioned one of Kinsey's favorite treats we had in Maine: honey brioche doughnuts! (We get them at the best bakery in the entire world, Morning Glory Bakery in Bar Harbor. )  

A little further back in the magazine, are my plush elephants.  This story was about Eben and Ella (husband and wife, of course) and included all kinds of things I like: a house in the woods, gardening, drinking tea, reading, making furniture, and drinking lemonade with your husband.
I love how they posed Eben and Ella in this shot! 

Here's Ella (very similiar to the one featured in Stuffed- same name but slightly different clothes) checking out her relatives in the magazine.

I'm thrilled to be included (twice!) in this issue and am looking forward to submitting again!  If you have any interest in soft toys or plush sculpture, this is a wonderful magazine to check out!  
(I'll be posting the small stories for each I wrote in the next few days.)

Friday, June 8, 2012

quick flower tutorial project

I recently made these lovely flowers for my sister in law's birthday.  They are super easy to do, fairly quick, and involve supplies you most likely already have.  

You will need:
*yarn of any color you want for your flowers
*glue gun and glue sticks
*small twigs, dowel rods, or other type of "stem" for your flowers

Choose your yarn and wrap the strand around two of your fingers as shown.  You can use three fingers if you'd like - this will make the flower head bigger.  I used two fingers for all of mine.  

Continue wrapping the yarn around your fingers, but not too tightly!  You don't want to lose feeling in your fingers.  I wrapped the yarn about 50 to 75 times around.  Experiment with what outcome you like best.

After wrapping the yarn around your fingers the number of times you want, slide the whole thing off.

Cut off a piece of yarn from the skein that is somewhere between 5 to 8 inches long.  Place the piece of yarn directly under the wrapped yarn pile.  Try to center it the best you can.

Next, tie the piece of yarn tightly around the wrapped yarn pile.  I double knotted it.  

This will pull the yarn together and you will see all these little loops.  Take your scissors and cut through all the loops.

Cut, cut, cut.

You will be left with this crazy looking pom pom.  Take your scissors and keep trimming off pieces of the yarn, making it even all the way around.  You can make it as long or short as you want.  Although, you won't want to cut too much off because you might show the center piece of yarn you knotted. 

Here's a finished example.  

Now you're ready to attach the flower head to the stem.  Twigs, dowel rods, whatever you want.  I used twigs for mine because that's what I had and I liked the idea of mixing the soft yarn with the rustic sticks from nature.  

Here's the finished set.  I displayed them in a glass Ball jar with pieces of brown felt for "dirt".  I wanted the arrangement to look like it was still growing in the ground, although the flowers would look just as good without the felt base.  I just tossed scraps in the bottom and arranged the flowers.  Finally, I  found two vintage buttons and tied a piece of ribbon around the top.  

Perfect, easy, and looks great!  
Now of course, I need to make some for me!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

boy meet girl

So it was only a matter of time.  Everyone has been asking and telling me I really need to make one.  And here she is:
Get ready plush boys.  Look for the first girl in the next day!  Available exclusively in the shop.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

the ultimate woodsman...

Meet the latest plush fellow in the shop.  

The Lumberjack! 

Likes: flannel shirts, sharp axes, hot (very hot) coffee, watching the sun come up, and the smell of wood
Dislikes: rusty axes, cold coffee, uncomfortable shoes, soggy sandwiches, and hornets
I've been playing with the idea for this plush for a while and recently came across some sketches I made earlier in the year for this outdoors man.  I discovered the red/black plaid fabric in a mystery box of fabric I have in my closet that still has not been probably unpacked from our move almost 3 years ago.  The box mainly contains plaids and thicker fabrics I often don't work with much.  Needless to say, when I came across this swatch of fabric I knew it was time to finally make the lumberjack a reality.  
Now all he needs is a plush axe!