Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Felt Fortune Cookies

I'm getting really into felt food. I am planning to make a nice set for the kids at my school to play with, but these fortune cookies are for an adult.

I learned to make them from a good video lesson by Hilary Seabolt. Seabolt is one of many designing and selling felt food. She owns Lily Bean Market, a small business that sells felt food and kits, patterns and material to make felt food. Lily Bean employs a few Amish seamstresses to do hand sewing.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wooden Doll on display

Yesterday I visited the East Tennessee History Center and looked at the "Voices of the Land" exhibit. In the collection of handicrafts is a wooden doll made by Polly Page. You can see an example of Page's work here.

Page taught Jane Fonda about whittling for Fonda's role as Gertie Nevels in The Dollmaker (read my review of the book). It's a shame this movie is only available on VHS. Levon Helm, from the Band plays Clovis, the handy husband.

The Crafty Sitcom Character

Iola from the syndicated sitcom, Mama's Family came up in conversation recently. She was the next door neighbor who was always visiting the family, taking care of her parents or making silly crafts. I remember a toothbrush fashioned to look like the tooth fairy, lots of cozies, and that she liked felt. What else did she make?

Friday, December 26, 2008

More Handmade Christmas

My friend Yumiko in Japan made this pop-up Christmas card for me.

My best friend Sarah made me a pouch to carry tea bags in.

My Aunt Peggy made these beautiful Christmas cakes.

She also made homemade candy for everyone in the family.

Peggy's mother, Janie gave me Pear Honey and Strawberry Fig Preserves.

I made this birdie on a ribbon for baby Maddie's carrier (find the pattern to make your own here.)

I bought these recipe cards from Kiss + Tell's etsy shop for Mrs. Goddard (who made me a wonderful coffee cake I should have photographed before I ate.)

I ordered this pair of birdie notebooks from Story by Mia for my after care staff, but I ended up keeping one for myself.

These earrings were made by HModine. I gave them to Sarah, who made the cute tea pouch above.

This article
says that more people gave handmade gifts this year. If you gave or received a handmade gift this year, share it by posting a comment below.

All Natural Handmade Heating Pads and Hand-Warmers

For Christmas gifts for co-workers, family and friends I made hand-warmers and heating pads. They were so simple - just a cotton cloth bag filled with rice and sewn shut.

For hand-warmers cut two 4 1/2" squares of 100% cotton. Fold them in half with the pretty sides touching each other and sew the long edge and one of the short edges. Then turn the pouch inside out so that the pretty sides show and fill half full with rice. To close the pouch tuck in the edges of the open end and sew along the edge. Then microwave until warm (about 45 seconds in a new microwave) and put inside your pockets or gloves.

To make a heating pad start with one 14" x 14" piece of cotton and follow the directions above. Microwave for about two minutes then put on any aching body part or use to keep a covered dish warm.

Readers: Please share what gifts you made in the comment section.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Purple Polyester Find

I love this dress. The sheer sleaves, the pleated ruffle - could I be any luckier? I found it last week when I ran into Goodwill on my lunch break (in the same trip I found a vintage pop-up book that I will post about later). I wore it to my work Christmas party and had so much fun.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Visions of Sugar

Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. with the vision of this candy cane in my head. Then I couldn't get back to sleep, so I whipped it up. It'll be a cute decorative stocking stuffer.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Creative Baby Gift

I love the idea of making up a little story and illustrating it. With these blank board books, homemade can still be sturdy enough for a baby.

I'm picturing a book of collage pictures. Or maybe a simple contrast of stamped or doodled images in one primary color.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Dollmaker by Harriette Arnow

Harriette Arnow’s The Dollmaker tells the story of a woman’s struggle to take care of her family in unfamiliar surroundings. Her story is sad, but honest. I feel like I am better for having read it.

Set in Detroit during World War II against a background of union picket lines and the threat of closing factories, it’s a novel that speaks out against the industrial revolution and voices the complaints of someone who never spoke very loudly.

Though readers meet protagonist Gertie Nevels as a strong heroine, they soon find out that a strong woman today and a strong woman in rural Appalachia in the 1940s have a different level of obstacles.

Gertie packs up her children and the life she loved to trudge alongside husband Clovis in his chase of the American Dream. Gertie only finds peace in her cramped housing project when whittling. She makes dolls and toys for children whenever her hands have nothing else to busy themselves with. When people begin admiring her woodcraft, she starts earning money for her family with a little whittling business. That makes me hope that in difficult economic times, more people will find the drive and the time to make things.

Gertie’s life is filled with struggle, yet she is a character that I missed after I finished it the book. At 599 pages, I had enjoyed spending time with her.

Avon Books published The Dollmaker in 1954. It got good reviews, became a bestseller and was even first runner up to one of William Faulkner’s books for the National Book Award. The current economic climate could inspire another wave of interest in the book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tutorials Galore

I've just made an amazing internet find. Kymy, who writes the Everything Your Mama Made blog, has compiled an amazing list of tutorials. It's basically having access to the fruits of an internet-savvy, organized and experienced crafter's search for good how-to articles.

She calls it a bookmark clean-up. The number of tutorials is nearing 500, and they are organized into categories.

You could make a gift for everyone on your list from this list. There are links to quality tutorials on everything from a fabric dollhouse to a plastic bag dispenser to quilting techniques.


I always feel like gift-giving is so telling of the giver and reciever's relationship. Giving someone something that they don't like means that 1) The giver doesn't know the reciever well enough to get them something that suits them or 2) The giver didn't care enough to search out something that would. Giver just wanted the task to be done.

With that in mind, holiday shopping is so hard.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Applique circles

Who knew aluminum foil is the secret ingredient to a better circle? I like this trick I found on Anna Maria Horner's blog.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Buy Handmade

I Took The Handmade Pledge!
Going to the mall makes me disapointed in humanity. I will enjoy the holidays so much more if I just don't do it. I'm buying and making handmade gifts instead. The things I find on and at craft fairs are unique and interesting. It's satisfying to buy something from the person who made it.

Buying something handmade is benefitting society so much more than buying something mass produced.
If you aren't convinced, read more here

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Handmade Thread Earrings

I bought these earrings for my sister for her cosmetology school graduation. They were made by SincearJewlery out of Atlanta. They are made of thread handwoven around what looks like a spring from a pen. This pair was designed to look like a sunset, but there are a lot of different color combinations available in SincearJewlery's etsy shop.