Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How to Build a Barrel Stave for Winter Fun!

       It is not necessary to have a steel runnered sled to attain great coasting speed on a snowy hill. A bobsled can be built of an ordinary 2×12 inch plank and barrel staves which will pass anything on any hill, especially in deep snow. Besides the material just mentioned all that will be needed are a few pieces of 2×4 and a couple of carriage bolts.
       Saw a piece of 2 x 12 plank into a length of about 6 feet. If you cannot secure 2 x 12, two 2 x 8’s laid side by side will do the trick nicely and make a good stout body for the runners.
       Under the backbone of planks, cross members of 2 x 4’s are placed and spiked thoroughly as shown in the accompanying illustration. Two tiers of the two by fours will be required to lift the bob far enough above the ground to give good snow clearance. On the front cross beam the lower 2 x 4 is separated from the upper by a few washers, and is pivoted on a good 1/2 in. carriage bolt so that the runners will be able to turn when they are put on.
       Under the 2×4 cross members, fasten with spikes a piece of 2 x 8 plank. This is the final thickness of the cross members and is wider than the rest so that the runners will have bearing forwards and backwards. Saw out between the runners, which are of ordinary barrel staves, and the sled will be ready for use. A good scheme for finishing the sled to make it weather and ice proof is to paint it with boiled linseed oil, wiping the surplus off. The sled is then ready for use.
       The boiled oil, if generously applied to the runners, will make them especially tough and will most certainly increase the speed of the sled, as snow is wont to gather on the runners in weather which is this sled’s special forte; namely, light snows freshly fallen—just when the coasting fun is keenest!

The bobsled shown above, built of ordinary lumber and barrel staves, can outspeed the fleetest of stell runnered bobsleds in freshly fallen snow. Note the arrangement for steering the sled by pivoting the forward runners on a large carriage bolt.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Color this Christmas Angel and Include It in A Journal

       This Christmas angel is framed by a boarder of holly berries and leaves. She has large wings and holds an ancient instrument in her hands. Click on the coloring page to download the largest version of this coloring page.  
       You can also print it as a cover of a book and include many of the Christmas hymns and poems posted on this blog. Give your book as a gift or keep it full of special Christmas memories. Take pictures of your family and friends to paste inside your book of holiday memories as well. This makes a special keepsake that you will enjoy sharing year after year.

A beautiful sample art journal about "Journal Your Christmas"

The Colonial Christmases of Early Americans

       Christmas celebrations in New England were illegal during part of the 17th century, and were culturally taboo or rare in Puritan colonies from foundation until the 1850s. The Puritan community found no Scriptural justification for celebrating Christmas, and associated such celebrations with paganism and idolatry. The earliest years of the Plymouth Colony were troubled with non-Puritans attempting to make merry, and Governor William Bradford was forced to reprimand offenders. English laws suppressing the holiday were enacted in the Interregnum, but repealed late in the 17th century. However, the Puritan view of Christmas and its celebration had gained cultural ascendancy in New England, and Christmas celebrations continued to be discouraged despite being legal. When Christmas became a Federal holiday in 1870, the Puritan view was relaxed and late 19-century Americans fashioned the day into the Christmas of commercialism, spirituality, and nostalgia that most Americans recognize today. Read more...

Traditional, Colonial-style Christmas
 decorations at Williamsburg.
       "The first century of colonial life saw few set times and days for pleasure. The holy days of the English Church were as a stench to the Puritan nostrils, and their public celebration was at once rigidly forbidden by the laws of New England. New holidays were not quickly evolved, and the sober gatherings for matters of Church and State for a time took their place. The hatred of "wanton Bacchanallian Christmasses" spent throughout England, as Cotton said, "in revelling, dicing, carding, masking, mumming, consumed in compotations, in interludes, in excess of wine, in mad mirth," was the natural reaction of intelligent and thoughtful minds against the excesses of a festival which had ceased to be a Christian holiday, but was dominated by a lord of misrule who did not hesitate to invade the churches in time of service, in his noisy revels and sports. English Churchmen long ago revolted also against such Christmas observance. Of the first Pilgrim Christmas we know but little, save that it was spent, as was many a later one, in work. . . .
       By 1659 the Puritans had grown to hate Christmas more and more; it was, to use Shakespeare's words, "the bug that feared them all." The very name smacked to them of incense, stole, and monkish jargon; any person who observed it as a holiday by forbearing of labor, feasting, or any other way was to pay five shillings fine, so desirous were they to "beate down every sprout of Episcopacie."
       Judge Sewall watched jealously the feeling of the people with regard to Christmas, and noted with pleasure on each succeeding year the continuance of common traffic throughout the day. Such entries as this show his attitude: "Dec. 25, 1685. Carts come to town and shops open as usual. Some somehow observe the day, but are vexed I believe that the Body of people profane it, and blessed be God no authority yet to compel them to keep it." When the Church of England established Christmas services in Boston a few years later, we find the Judge waging hopeless war against Governor Belcher over it, and hear him praising his son for not going with other boy friends to hear the novel and attractive services. He says: "I exhort mine from Christmas keeping and charge them to forbear."
       Christmas could not be regarded till this century as a New England holiday, though in certain localities, such as old Narragansett, an opulent community which was settled by Episcopalians‚ two weeks of Christmas visiting and feasting were entered into with zest by both planters and slaves for many years previous to the revolution." Alice Morse Earle

       Many American Colonists did actually celebrate Christmas but this depended entirely upon their history, beliefs and location. There were many Christians who were not Puritans and there were also Puritans who were not so particularly restrictive about holidays. As with much history, the records often reflect only a few opinions; so it is wise to remember that one must study a larger spectrum of civilization in order to glean a more accurate record of events and culture.

 Part 1, of American Colonial Christmas.

Decorative Color Designs for Furniture

Many floral patterns and one white rabbit.

Bouquets and singular blooms.

Butterflies, owls, tulips, roses, and daisies.

Attractive, vintage coat hangers for a child's nursery

       Trace these early 1930s designs on transparent paper and fold paper over for the other side of each hanger. Use wood about 3/8 inch to 1/2 inch thick and jig-saw out. Then sand off all sharp edges shaping them to graceful contours. Decorate designs in center with water colors, paint or lacquer.
Vintage Nursery Crafts:

Little Miss Muffet Jig-Saw Puzzle

       Download and print the above image of Little Miss Muffet on heavy stock paper, bright white is best. Lepage on wood1/4 inch or even 3/8 inch thick, if you prefer, and jig-saw on black lines. You can also make your own puzzles by tearing pictures from advertisements or magazine covers, drawing in the black lines and sawing out. Try it with a map of the United States cutting out on state boundary lines.

"Little Miss Muffet" is a nursery rhyme, one of the most commonly printed in the mid-twentieth century. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 20605. Read more...

"Little Sister" Book Ends

       Outside design for book ends. Child on her way to school carries both her books and a fistful of flowers for her teacher. She is wearing a hooded red cape and Mary Jane shoes, popular dress items of the late 1920s and early 1930s, for young children. There is an idealistic landscape behind her: home with a pitched roof, trees, birds, clouds etc...
       Made entirely from 3/8 inch plywood. Trace the outside lines of these shapes over carbon paper on wood or paste page on wood and jig-saw out. Dado a groove 3/8 inch wide and 1/4 inch deep in end of base and nail and glue upright to it. Shave base off at one end with planer or sander.

Craft More Book Ends:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"The Cherry Tree Carol"

       "The Cherry-Tree Carol" is a ballad with the rare distinction of being both a Christmas carol and one of the Child Ballads (no. 54). The song itself is very old, reportedly sung in some form at the Feast of Corpus Christi in the early 15th century. The versions eventually collected by Francis James Child are thought to be a combination of up to three separate carols that merged through the centuries.

"Judy Collins suns this traditional nativity ballad, thought to date back to the 15th century. The story tells of the fetus Jesus performing a miracle by lowering the bow of a cherry tree so that Mary can reach and pick the fruit. This clip comes from a 1996 performance at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, available on the 1997 DVD release titled "Judy Collins - Christmas at the Biltmore Estate." Look for more clips from the concert here on YouTube's Judy Collins Channel."

Angels did appear to Joseph to explain to him what was transpiring in his life and he shared this with Mary and others. So in his defense I have referenced the scripture. However, the carol is still quite lovely, however inaccurate it may be. (smile) The implications here are that Joseph actually had frequent directions from angels.

"But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." Matthew 1:20

"When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." Matthew 2:13 

       And also the name of Joseph carries big news in scripture; any man selected by God and given the name is in for an unusual life story according to the Bible. The name literally means "to add to or give increase." 

       The ballad, "The Cherry Tree Carol," relates an apocryphal story of the Virgin Mary, presumably while traveling to Bethlehem with Joseph for the census. In the most popular version, the two stop in a cherry orchard, and Mary asks her husband to pick cherries for her, citing her child. Joseph spitefully tells Mary to let the child's father pick her cherries.
       At this point in most versions, the infant Jesus, from the womb, speaks to the tree and commands it to lower a branch down to Mary, which it does. Joseph, witnessing this miracle, immediately repents his harsh words. The more contemporary versions sometimes end here, while others often include an angel appearing to Joseph and telling him of the circumstances of Jesus's birth. Other versions then jump ahead several years, where the next verse picks up with Jesus on his mother's lap, telling her of his eventual death and resurrection. Read more...


       "Among recent additions to the list of American versions of British ballads is "The Cherry-Tree" (Child, No. 54). This quaint and beautiful carol was found by the present writer in the mountain region of Kentucky near Hindman, Knott County.
       The text is based on an apochryphal story in the Pseudo-Matthew Gospel, xx. The earliest English version is to be found in the fifteenth-century mysteries, where, as in all English versions, the
cherry-tree figures. In some Continental versions the date-tree, which has the authority of the Apochrypha, is preserved (see Child).
       Significant in connection with the last stanza is the fact that in certain sections of the Kentucky mountains Christmas is still celebrated on January the sixth (Old Christmas) Louisville, Ky." Josephine McGill

When Joseph was an old man,
An old man was he,
He married Virgin Mary,
The Queen of Galilee.

As Joseph and Mary
Were walking one day:
" Here are apples, here are cherries
Enough to behold."

Then Mary spoke to Joseph
So meek and so mild:
"Joseph, gather me some cherries,
For I am with child."

Then Joseph flew in anger,
In anger flew he:
"Let the father of the baby
Gather cherries for thee."

Then Jesus spoke a few words,
A few words spoke he:
"Let my mother have some cherries;
Bow low down, cherry-tree."

The cherry-tree bowed low down,
Bowed low down to the ground,
And Mary gathered cherries
While Joseph stood around.

Then Joseph took Mary
All on his right knee:
"O, what have I done?
Lord have mercy on me!"

Then Joseph took Mary all,
All on his left knee:
"O, tell me, little baby,
When thy birthday will be."

"On the sixth day of January
My birthday will be,
When the stars in the elements
Shall tremble with glee."

Who Wants a Polly?

Click to enlarge pattern.
       This parrot makes a very colorful ornament. Trace or transfer design on thin wood with carbon paper and jig-saw out, cutting notch in bottom to fit trapeze, ring or pedestal mounting.

More wooden patterns for the birds:
 Crafting birds from other materials for the Christmas tree:
Crafting Christmas birds from felt:

Black and White Silhouettes

Click directly on the images to download
the largest available size.
Lepage design on thin wood, saw out outline, paint
edge bright color, glue to a white or colored back panel.
All of these silhouettes can also be lepaged
as plaques to children's furniture, etc...
Trace outline on wood and saw out coloring to suit taste.
Screw in metal eye and suspend with cord for child's tooth brush holder.
These designs can also be used for door-stops and
 book-ends by tracing outline and coloring in.
A very cool project for woodworking. Use the silhouettes
 above to make one or more shadow casting lamps
 for Christmas. Love it, folks; give it a try!

Our "Dutch Cousins" Door Stops

Click to download the largest available size. This Dutch cousin
holds a bouquet of flowers and her white apron is trimmed
with a ribbon of polka-dots.
       Either trace the outside lines on transparent paper and transfer to wood, jig-saw out and color yourself, or print and cut figures out, lepage or paste them on wood and saw out. Use plywood, Presdwood or other thin wood 1/4 inch to 3/8 thick. Dado one end of base to hold cut-out and put gradual bevel on other end with belt or drum sander. Lepage upright to base. 

More Ideas for a Dutch/Swiss Christmas:
More Vintage/Antique Doorstopes:
Little Dutch cousin holds a wooden sailboat toy.
He wears wooden clogs and has a patch on his pants
"Dado one end of base to hold cut-out and put gradual bevel on
other end with belt or drum sander. Lepage upright to base."

Friday, April 29, 2016

"Mad Cat" Bench for Children

Illustration of "Mad-Cat" bench along with diagram on a grid.
       A novel settee like this is something every youngster will prize, and it is very easily made. The drawing above shows one end piece drawn to scale. This you can enlarge to any size you wish by simply ruling off a piece of paper in squares to sizes proportionately larger than those shown and drawing in the lines. The design should then be traced onto a piece of 5/8 inch or 3/4 inch close-grained wood with the grain running vertically, and cut out with the jig-saw. The dotted lines on the drawing are not for cutting. They indicate the positions for back and seat.
       The back should be the same thickness as the ends but can be of open-grained, cheaper wood, about 14 inches wide and 24 inches long depending on the overall length desired. The seat measures 9 inches wide with length same as back, of 7/8 inch or 1 inch stock. After these are sawed to size the back and seat are nailed together and secured in place on the ends with the cat's tail acting as the back brace. The feet being cut cross-grain should be reinforced with small cleats on the inside. The strip across the bottom is essential as it provides additional strength. All nails or screws should be countersunk and filled with putty or other filler before painting.
       Any combination of colors can be used in lacquering or enameling the bench to harmonize with surroundings. The seat can easily be padded with cotton or curled hair and covered with bright colored cretonne. Cat's whiskers are painted on in white as finishing touch.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Craft a Pea Pod from Cotton Batting

       If you have never sculpted a tiny cotton batting ornament before, this project is perfect for beginners. I included a project similar to this one last year, an ear of corn, but this one is even easier!

Left, the unpainted pea pod ornament. Right,
The finished version of this vegetable made
from cotton batting.
Supply List:
  • cotton balls
  • white school glue
  • tacky white glue
  • newsprint
  • masking tape
  • wire for hanging
  • green and white acrylic paints
  • tiny paint brush
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Crush the newsprint into a small narrow pea pod shape, approximately two inches long.
  2. Wrap this newsprint form in masking tape.
  3. Insert a wire for hanging at the wider end of your pod. Tape and glue in this wire firmly.
  4. Unravel a couple of cotton balls and take a very tiny piece between your finger tips with a small bit of glue and roll this wad into a tiny ball. (unravel pictured below)
  5. Repeat this process until you have made four or five pea sized balls.
  6. Use the tacky white glue to begin sticking one, two, three peas side by side from the top to the bottom of your pea pod shape. Press these peas together as you go. Take your time and let these dry as you go. It helps to work near a warm light or heater. 
  7. Now wrap a layer of cotton batting around the sides and back of your pea pod. Layer glue on top of this addition before painting it. The front of your peas should not have any additional batting wrap on them. (see picture of unfinished peas in pod above.)
  8. Let your finished pea pod dry overnight.
  9. Paint the pea pod using multiple shades of greens. Use a very tiny brush to get down inside the cracks with paint.
  10. Let the cotton batting ornament dry and then seal it with a acrylic gel (Matt finish) to keep your ornament looking clean over time. 
  11. Store your cotton batting ornaments between white tissues inside a tin box with a tight sealing lid. These boxes are the types used to store butter cookies and sometimes candies.
Unravel ordinary cotton balls to craft this pea pod ornament.

"On Our Way Rejoicing!"

"On Our Way Rejoicing" CD by The Concordia
College Christmas Choir.
        This classical music CD is one of my favorites to play during the Christmas holidays. I know that the choir also has a newer versions that I have yet to hear so I've posted a link to their website below for you to visit and check them out. 
       The college maintains five choirs, three bands, two orchestras, three jazz ensembles, two percussion ensembles, and two hand bell choirs. Historically, music education began with the college's 1891 formation, when piano and organ lessons were taught by one instructor. The college has since expanded to hold a music department of 45 faculty, which offers five Bachelor of Music degrees and two Bachelor of Arts degrees.
       The Concordia Choir is an 78-member mixed choir that travels internationally and has performed at major performance venues, including Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. The choir was founded in 1919 by the college's voice instructor and began touring in 1923 under the direction of Herman Monson. The choir grew to national prominence in the following decades when Paul J. Christiansen, son of conductor F. Melius Christiansen, became the director. Christianson remained in the position for 49 years until composer René Clausen took over in 1986, who remains there today. Under Clausen, The Concordia Choir has released numerous recordings and has performed with the King's Singers.
       The college has put on an annual Christmas concert since 1927, which remains a tradition of the local community. From its inception, it has featured the music department's choirs and orchestra. In 1940, Christianson began working with painter Cyrus M. Running to incorporate murals with the concert to reflect the music's themes. Running completed the designs until 1978, when their development was taken over by David J. Hetland, whose murals have traditionally extended 56-by-20 feet. After Hetland's 2006 death, mural designs were taken over by artist Paul Johnson. The concert is currently performed four times annually on Concordia's campus and twice annually at Orchestra Hall. Over 450 students perform for an audience of twenty thousand, and the concert is broadcast on radio and television. The 2009 concert, Journey to Bethlehem, was recorded by Twin Cities Public Television and won a regional Emmy. It was broadcast nationally by members of the Public Broadcasting Service.
Time lapse shots with music of the choir.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

An Old-Fashioned Christmas Tree Trimmed In Silver Tinsel

Left, In 2015, my husband has set up the white pine near to the front window of our cozy little family room. I am relieved to report that these pictures were taken last week and the tree is still very fresh. Give your real trees plenty of cool water to drink white they are exhibited during the holidays. Right, the lights are strung and I have yet to cover the rug and plastic at the bottom.
This year my adult children requested that the tree be decorated in traditional silver; it is not my husband's preference but we will make the exception this time. For a few years I have accumulated silver tinsel garlands, picks, baubles and snowflakes on after Christmas sales for mere pennies. This is the only time to shop for such frivolities if you can bring yourself to do it. Most folks are "burned out" by this time; they are tired of the shopping and crowds. However, if your funds are limited such as mine, this is the most practical time to purchase items for your future Christmas trees.
Here is a photo of the tree top to bottom. This white pine is very delicate and only light weight trimmings may be used to hang from it's branches. My youngest loves the shimmery glow of lights reflecting off of silver on old-fashioned trees like these. This year she chose the theme and colors of our family tree. I rarely have decorated trees using this theme because my husband does not like them so very much. However, he did find this one nostalgic and pleasing. Our oldest family member who is 91 was delighted to see it. Grandpa Al said that it looks just like a Christmas tree from his childhood approx. 1910. The silver tinsel, cotton batting and Victorian scrap all were typical of that time period. Below I have included links to some of the ornaments included on my little Christmas blog. You can make your own versions for the tree this year or next.
Near to the top center of our family tree, hangs a lovely porcelain head angel trimmed in white feathers and silver tinsel.
Left, is a wrapped, cotton batting Christmas Bell that I designed after a vintage photograph. Right, is one of a set of 12 icicles hand spun from cotton batting last year.
Left, This Victorian wire ribbon rosette is so light weight that I hung it easily from the very tip of this white pine branch. Right, barely seen is a vintage chenille stem Santa; his friend, a snowman, hangs from a lower branch.
Left, the Birch Yule Log ornament with a hollow opening for Christmas letters and or treats. Right, the DIY Sea Shell Star ornament made from cotton batting sheets and paper clay shells.
Upper Left, is a snowball garland made from cotton batting and glass bugle beads. These garlands were very common place on Christmas trees 100 years ago.  Right, is the cotton batting basket ornament that I crafted for this tree several night before.
Left, is a Victorian scrap angel made with a cup cake liner and a silver snowflake. Right, at the top of my tree hangs an angel trimmed with a golden tassel skirt.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Cotton Batting Baskets

       Originally I intended to turn these little wire frame baskets into paper mache´ornaments. But because I decided to decorate my living Christmas tree with cotton batting ornaments this year, I chose to wrap them with cotton. 
       Our family tree this year is a white pine and as some of you may know, these branches can hold little weight and the foliage is generally quite sparse. The white pine needles are long, fine and soft. For all of these reasons, many people avoid cutting white pines and opt for a sturdy blue spruce instead.
        The positive aspect of selecting a white pine is, however, what is looks like when properly trimmed. These trees are often used to display very light weight, antique glass ornaments because it is much easier to view large collections through fewer branches from every angle and although I do not have an expensive glass collection, I do have many cotton batting reproductions that I like to show off with similar flair.
These wire shaped baskets were made with chenille stems intertwined 
together across the backside of a small bowl. The examples are not yet 
wrapped with cotton batting because I thought that I would craft them
into paper mache´ baskets.  If you wish to make your own using cotton,
 I recommend that you wrap them first with batting before shaping the
basket on the backside of a small bowl. 

Supply List:
  • ornamental picks with berries and strong wire stems
  • cotton balls
  • white glue
  • masking tape
  • chenille stems
  • quail eggs (hollow)
  • a small bowl to use as a form
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Twist masking tape around the chenille stems until the furry parts have all been covered and as you twist the tape, pull it slightly to help stiffen the wires a bit.
  2. At this point I recommend that you coat the masked wire with white glue and begin to wrap the wires with white cotton. This is a vert messy prospect but you will get the hang of it in time.
  3. You can also try rolling the wire between the palms of your hands in order to twist the cotton in a more uniform coating about the wire. It doesn't matter if your surfaces are imperfect at this point. 
  4. Take the longest cotton wrapped stem and twist it around the outer rim of a very small bowl. Tape the edges together. You should let these overlap a bit. When you are finished with this step, you should have a wire circle the same circumference as the lip of your bowl. 
  5. Leave this around the outer lip of the bowl. Now you will need to begin to weave additional wires around this wire "hoop" and across the back of the bowl. Cross these wires back and forth and tape them together with strips of masking tape wherever they come in contact with each other. See photo above. When you are finished, you should have some lovely, abstract wire baskets to fill.
  6. I decided to twist some decorative, artificial raspberries, leaves and stems around my baskets and to also give each one a handle as well. I took apart a few inexpensive picks to accomplish this. 
  7. When the baskets looked the way I wanted them to, I then lined each one with some soft fluffy cotton padding and a bit of glue. At this point you could line your wire baskets with tinsel instead to craft an alternative look. 
  8. I stuffed the inside of my cotton batting baskets with hollowed out quail's eggs. These baskets are so light weight that they can be hung from the branches of a white pine quite successfully!
Far left, the wire frames taken off the bowls are neatly shaped and ready to paint, mache´ or wrap with cotton balls. (unraveled cotton balls) Center, close up, side view of one basket. Right, I filled my small, light weight baskets with hollow quail's eggs and more soft cotton before hanging it on my Christmas tree.

Mosaic Shell Baubles

       When I was a young girl, I often visited my grandmother who lived next door to a very unusual house. The home owner loved to decorate his front lawn with crushed bits of glass, shell, and porcelain pressed into cement forms. That's right, he had no grass. 
        Being a very young person, I thought this was quite the fantastic display. However, I am certain that his neighbors did not appreciate his taste so much. His creation was dismantled after the house exchanged hands but I still remember it fondly and I thought of him while crafting these ornaments for my white Christmas tree.
These paper baubles are fashioned from egg cartons.

Supply List:
  • paper egg carton
  • shell pieces for mosaic crafts
  • tiny shells
  • porcelain figures of sea creatures
  • tacky white glue
  • white school glue
  • wire for hanging
  • aqua blue glitter (fine)
  • masking tape
Step-by-Step Instructions:
  1. Cut apart the small units of your paper egg carton and glue/tape these together in order to shape your paper bauble forms. I crushed newsprint into small "spikes" and taped these shapes to my egg carton pieces in order to replicate vintage bauble forms from the late 1800s. 
  2. This process takes time, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be crushing and taping enough ornament shapes to open your own factory! Don't forget to crush and tape around wooden toothpicks in order to craft features that would ordinarily bend or bust off over time if not reinforced by stiff materials inside your bauble. 
  3. Tape in a wire hook for hanging and reinforce it with a bit of glue as well.
  4. Now you are ready to glue shells and shell mosaic pieces onto the bauble surface. Use a very tacky white glue for this procedure. If your ornaments are three dimensional like mine, this will take much time and patience because it takes time for the glue to dry properly. I know that many of you are thinking, "wouldn't hot glue be a better alternative?" Well, it wouldn't for many reasons. The most obvious reason being that you would definitely get burned many more times than you expect. Secondly, it is my opinion that hot glued work looks sloppy and it is not really permanent. I could continue to rant but that is enough for now.
  5. Next, I pooled white glue inside the crevices of my shapes and sprinkled aqua colored glitter. This may take a couple of days to dry. Don't bother trying to smooth out this surface. In nature, it would not likely be so smooth. My intent here was to suggest a shallow pool or puddle of water where one might see a small sea creature, such as a tide pool.
  6. I then purchased a couple of miniature sea creatures from a local hobby shop to swim about these mosaic shell baubles. I chose a tiny fish and an octopus that have the same shiny surface as the shell pieces.
I glued the shell mosaic pieces directly onto the masked surfaces with tacky glue.
Details of the finished mosaic baubles. The tiny octopus and clown fish are made from porcelain.
More Ocean or Beach Themed Christmas Decorations:
 M/S of waves crashing in over rocks, Bovey Tracey, Devon.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Last Christmas I Acquired A White Christmas Tree

      Now many folks debate over politics, religion, sporting events, evening meals etc.... But in my home the debates surround the Christmas decor. 
       I had it in my mind to decorate a white Christmas tree and put the progress online. So now I am off to wander a bit today to see what I can find. My younger daughter has told me that she does not want me to decorate this tree in red, white and blue. She told me this because she knows that I would try to do that very thing, given the fact that my two favorite colors are red and blue. 
       Wish me luck, I'm thinking perhaps a pale aqua and copper color scheme instead? I'll be back to show you my progress . . .

Here are some of the items that I purchased. Pale blue snowflakes,
white snowflakes, two different copper colored glitters, copper foil spray
 paint and aqua blue and copper colored sea glass (acrylic).
       As I consider designing the ornaments for my tree, there are several practices that I usually conform to. The selection of a color scheme is the most obvious of these practices. Keep in mind that color schemes should be obvious from an easy distance. Although, it is not important that every ornament shares the exact same color. In fact, it is better for there to be slight variations in a color palette in order to lend a greater sophistication to a Christmas trees' appearance overall. For my white tree this year, I will be sticking with two color selections: copper and teal. I will also be over emphasizing the white of the tree as well.
       A large group of similar ornaments should also be evenly distributed throughout the tree from top to bottom. As you can see in the photo above, I have acquired these ornaments already: snowflakes in white and pale blue. Snowflakes are a motif that I prefer to ordinary glass baubles because of the textures and visual complications these add to my trees. These are also affordably priced in the states and seldom break. I will also accumulate and alter a generous selection of pine cones to wire to my white tree from my neighborhood. Not only are these inexpensive to decorate with but large numbers of similar ornaments, like pine cones, will give my tree a formal regulated appearance.
       The lighting of my tree needs to be consistent as well. For this tree I will most likely select white lights. But what is more important to me, is that the length of wiring attaching the lights should be white. In order for the wiring on any tree to be less evident, it must be the same color as the tree itself.
Left. Baubles that I purchased on clearance after Christmas. The red versions will be put on the green tree only I think. Center. A few more art supplies for this year's white tree. Right. The tree topper that I began to work on last year. It is partly finished but I will show how to paint it on a future post. I will look really nice on the white Christmas tree I think.
       Selecting metallic baubles for each of my Christmas trees is also a matter of routine. I usually hang these close the the interior of my trees, just behind the electric lights. These metallic finishes will help reflect the artificial lights and lend more sparkle to my tree overall. Because my color palette is copper and teal for the white tree this year, I will use metallic glass baubles already in my collection with similar color variations.
       The crowning glory of the tree should be consistent with the overall appearance of the tree but for many folks, a tree topper is a neglected item. Perhaps this is because tree toppers generally cost more and there are fewer choices to be had in the Christmas market places of America. Most Americans will top off their tree with an angel, star, or Santa. I will be making my own tree topper in order to save money and I already know in advance that this particular topper will be a star of some sort.
       When designing my tree ornaments, I try to remember my husband's eccentricities. He is not fond of tinsel. I, however, am of the mind that every Christmas tree should have some sparkle! For this reason, I have had to come up with more complicated designs in order to achieve an overall "glittery" affect without using obvious ropes or prefabricated icicles on our family trees. Sometimes I feel like the cook in that child's classic book, "Stone Soup." After every member of my family takes what they don't like off of my Christmas trees, there is very little left! One daughter doesn't like this color, the other doesn't like too many ornaments and the husband wants only trees to look like his mother's versions, wow. And you thought picking out the perfect tree was a contentious process among your family members?  That event is only the beginning of negotiations at our home.

The debate over real or artificial continues. Which is best?
 Go with both! I get one real one for the sake of tradition
 and then put up several artificial ones. These I have 
kept for many, many years.

The ornaments that I am in the process of crafting for this tree:
Links to Decorating White Christmas Trees:

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Redwork Pet Patterns

      Here is a fanciful collection of antique-looking pet patterns for those of you who love to embroider old-fashioned redwork. You can enlarge the pictures, if you need to, by printing them out and rescanning them in your photo copier.

dog and cat seated, side by side
kitten and puppy in a basket together
cat fishing for trouble

Mandy Shaw loves her redwork and inspired by this antique quilt she shares with us how
 to design your own and then transfer the designs ready for stitching; this is just a taster
video; the watch the full film you should go to

More free redwork patterns from my Prickly Pins Blog:

Turn a Novel Mexican Table Set

      The Mexican couple shown right, and the "jumbo" cactus just below, provide novel containers for salt, pepper and sugar. The cactus is turned by following the method described for the powder box. It should be finished smoothly on the inside. The handles are notched around the edge and hollowed out in the center to resemble flower blossoms. The one at the top can be turned with the lid and later carved, while those glued to the sides are turned separately. Holes bored lengthwise through the salt and pepper shakers are tapered at the bottom to fit the corks, after which a number of small holes are drilled through the top to meet the center opening.
Use three shades of green paint for this cactus sugar bowl: dark green, a lighter shade of green and then a very
pale green for the star shaped, prickly needles.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Cut This Novel, Dutch Boy Pipe Holder!

Click to enlarge pattern.
      This holder will provide a novel decoration to dad's smoking set. The figure is scroll sawed from 1/4-in. plywood and the base is of 21/2 inch solid stock. Tenons extending down from the feet fit snugly in holes in the base to support the figure, which is sanded and painted in appropriate colors. Note that a small oval depression is made near the end of the base to take the pipe bowl so that it will not tip.

Charring Enlarges Pipe Stem

      A rubber pipe stem that does not fit tightly can often be made to fit by charring it with a match to increase the diameter of the portion that fits into the bowl. Hold the stem in the match flame until small bubbles appear in the rubber, then stick it into water to harden. 

Craft a Crossword Puzzle Fan

Croosword-puzzle fan.
Crossword-Puzzle Fan Pulls Lettered Strips to Find Words

      Here's a clever gadget that will help anyone in solving crossword puzzles as it is based on the fact that it is easier for most people to see combinations of letters than it is to imagine them. Twenty-six strips of tough paper, each lettered from A to Z, are slipped next to each other in a holder which has a slotted face through which any selected arrangement of letters can be seen. The width of the strips should be such that they can be slid back and forth individually in the holder.

Make a Ladies' Crocheted Hood

This pattern first published in 1916.

Columbia Heather Yarn
3 balls No. 301
Columbia Worsted Knitting Yarn
1 hank Bottle Green
1 Bone Crochet Hook No.3
1 large Button
Instructions No. 1

   Starting at the top, with brown yarn make a chain of 71 stitches.
   Row 1 - Work 1 Sg. C. in first stitch, * 1 D. C. in next stitch, 1 Sg. C. in next stitch, repeat from * to end of row, chain 1, turn.
   Row 2 - * 1 Sg. C.  on top of D. C. of preceding row and 1 D. C. on top of Sg. C. of preceding row, taking up the whole stitch, repeat from * to end of row, chain 1, turn.
    Repeat row 2 until you have 6 rows brown.
   Row 7 - With green yarn work 1 Sg. C. in each stitch, taking up the whole stitch, chain 1, turn.
   Row 8 - With green yarn work 1 Sg. C. in each stitch, taking up the back loop to form a rib. Repeat these 8 rows until you have 6 brown stripes and 5 green stripes. * With green yarn take up 35 stitches, repeat pattern, decreasing 1 stitch at each end every 4th row until there are 6 brown stripes and 6 green stripes, there should be 9 stitches left, finish end with a loop of 8 chain, work 10 Sg. C. on loop, now repeat from * on the other side of hood, sew hood together at the top and with brown yarn work a row of Sg. C. all around, with green yarn finish with picot edge.
   Form 2 pleats at the top where hood is sewed and finish with button, the ends of the cap are crossed at the back and held with the loops over the button.